Between Epistemic Progress and Existential Risk Minimization

In: Artificial Intelligence
Julia Alessandra Harzheim
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Rapid developments in the field of Artificial Intelligence prompt many questions and dilemmas; amongst others, they might force us to formulate definitive answers to controversial ethical questions. Future AGI systems will need to possess a certain degree of autonomy to yield the results we aim for, yet their decisions should preferably not be made arbitrarily – especially when it comes to moral dilemma scenarios. Instead, their actions should be guided by moral maxims we consider valid for epistemically justified reasons. The responsibility to equip AGI systems with an appropriate normative framework and certain premises that prevent them from being a threat to humankind is incredibly high. At the same time, our epistemic access to normative questions remains extremely limited. Since the very early days of philosophy, human beings have tried to figure out what they ought to do, and hence what the morally good that we should strive for could possibly be. Although philosophers have kept coming up with new moral theories, claiming to provide an answer or at least a generalizable approach, it appears that a broader consensus on the matter which is not highly culture-bound has never been reached. In this chapter, the compartmentalization of different branches of AI applications is examined as a possible approach to the aforementioned epistemic and normative issues. The core idea is to tackle epistemic and ethical questions before developing technologically powerful tools. Making use of the allegedly higher cognitive capabilities of AI systems in order to expand our epistemic access to the normative, we could eventually figure out how to guide future AGI systems safely, based on a normative position we carefully worked out.

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Artificial Intelligence

Reflections in Philosophy, Theology, and the Social Sciences