Action and Agency in Artificial Intelligence: A Philosophical Critique

Philosophia: International Journal of Philosophy (Philippine e-journal) 24 (1):73-90 (2023)
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The objective of this work is to explore the notion of “action” and “agency” in artificial intelligence (AI). It employs a metaphysical notion of action and agency as an epistemological tool in the critique of the notion of “action” and “agency” in artificial intelligence. Hence, both a metaphysical and cognitive analysis is employed in the investigation of the quiddity and nature of action and agency per se, and how they are, by extension employed in the language and science of artificial intelligence. The advent of the science of artificial intelligence and cognitive science, and the technological applications of artificial intelligence in the production of agents such as driverless cars and expert systems, have raised the question of moral, ethical and/or legal responsibility in AI agents. This has re-emphasized the importance of the philosophical discourse on the notions of action and agency, which in contemporary intellectual discourse are now perceived to be phenomena within the epistemic competence of the natural sciences. This paper argues that AI systems do not and cannot possess free agency and autonomy, thus cannot be morally and ethically responsible, hence, it recommends a socio-political response to the question of responsibility in AI. It is then the duty of individual nations, or the global community to define and enact policies on who shoulders the responsibility of actions executed by AIs.

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Justin Nnaemeka Onyeukaziri
Fu Jen Catholic University


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