Streaching the notion of moral responsibility in nanoelectronics by appying AI

In Ethics in Nanotechnology Social Sciences and Philosophical Aspects, Vol. 2. Berlin: De Gruyter. pp. 75-87 (2021)
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The development of machine learning and deep learning (DL) in the field of AI (artificial intelligence) is the direct result of the advancement of nano-electronics. Machine learning is a function that provides the system with the capacity to learn from data without being programmed explicitly. It is basically a mathematical and probabilistic model. DL is part of machine learning methods based on artificial neural networks, simply called neural networks (NNs), as they are inspired by the biological NNs that constitute organic brains. Despite its similarity to biological organs such as human brains, major problems arise in trying to attribute moral responsibility to autonomic systems based on hardware including nano-electronic devices, which are sought to replace humans (moral agents) in the context of AI. It is suggested that the required emotional environment which enables actions according to reasons in humans is not witnessed at AI devices. Though AI technology raises an enticing resemblance to human actions, this resemblance is to be considered with a skeptical eye. It is because actions are associated with reasons while causes are connected to operations. Human agents are capable of acting upon their reasons, while AI devices are limited only to operations as they are conditioned by their programming, which is considered as an embodiment of some causes. As moral responsibility goes hand in hand with the capacity to act (according to reasons), attributing moral responsibility to AI devices is revealed to be but a misleading metaphor.

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Robert Albin
Sapir College


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