History and introduction to machine ethics
Machines are tools that make work easier by changing the direction of torque applied on a piece of workload. The general notion is that a machine is just a good size container with a system of gears and motors which are used for industrial purpose. The steam engine is a good indication of machines since its invention in the industrial revolution to power industries to different levels of output. However, the human race has been evolving thereafter and it is agreeable that the machines have also been evolving gradually hence the need to be au fait about the evolution to ensure we are at par. The definition of machines today has gone beyond the normal gearboxes we knew and has been taken to another level. The prominent machine invention or understanding of the twentieth century is the mathematical invention of the Turing machine.
The Turing machine was a development of the scientific study of mathematics. This was an augur of the current day computers as it acted as its foundational pillar. It was the idea that led to the invention of computers by renowned scientists like the father of computers, Charles Babbage (Anderson, Michael & Susan, 2007). These led to subsequent augmentation of the same idea to what is prevalent currently. Computers can be able to do the same task anywhere given enough space and memory regardless of its geographical location. This, therefore, develops the aura of global virtual machine on the idea. The ability to compute any junk of information in any place makes a computer a good virtual machine. They are designed such that any new development in processors, operating system or memory could easily meld up with its predecessors. This gives them room for more discoveries and innovations thereafter to cascade mellifluously. Superintelligence is the capability of any intellect to outwit the best of human brains in any field and this is in particular regards to computer developments today (Anderson, Michael & Susan, 2007).
Ethics is the understanding of the principles guiding what is right and what is wrong for the human population. The general rules of a certain society are called moral ethics. Every society develops its moral ethics through various ways like past unpleasant occurrence as a deterrent measure for future; it can also be developed through intuition and by the concepts adopted from the ancestors. However, these moral laws have been continuously changing to cope with the immediate context of our ever-changing environments today. It has been the general pattern that any innovation comes with control measures by the society in the name of ethics. So machines cannot be left out as far as this case is concerned. Language grammars follow certain austere rules which without them, the grammar goes awry. The same case applies to moral codes. They are controlled by an epicenter of coordination in the human brain and are programmed to alert a human being on what is right and what is wrong.
Machine ethics is, therefore, the field of giving machines ethical principles and developing new ways of dealing with ethical challenges the machines encounter (Anderson, Michael & Susan, 2007). This aspect should steer them towards working in an ethically responsible manner. This field arose as an auxiliary field of artificial intelligence and was meant to focus on the obligation of making sure that artificial agents’ ethical behavior is intact under the auspice of computer science and philosophy. This is contrary to the past proponents of the study of ethics regarding machines on its effects to humans as it studies ethics in favor to the machines therefore. The researchers of this field have articulated that artificial moral agents (AMAs) are capable of performing their tasks in a secure responsible manner which ensures maximum output.
Machine ethics came to being through various considerations by scientists on the ethical treatment of machines by human beings. Developments did occur all through the different eras and regimes technologically. The twentieth century has seen enough discoveries for instance. Neil Armstrong landed on the moon under the auspice of a rocket that was computerized. The discovery of human command controlled robots also came to existence. All these developments relied on the human command and control even though they performed more than a human being could do (Good & Irving, 1995). Company decision makers and stakeholders today consider employing robots more than manpower due to their efficiency.
What brought the machine ethics to limelight is the fact that human beings believe that morality was only bestowed on them with the notion that they are the only moral agents. Contrary to these, it is a fanciful fact that human beings are the custodians of responsibility over the other creatures. It is however satirical to discover that human beings have employed less consideration as far as to machine ethics is concerned. Instead, they have consistently exploited their capabilities without taking care of the machines. This became the base of the argument on whether machines should be ethically treated. Various researchers have invested into the field and have documented various advancements on the topic. Isaac Asimov came up with the three laws of Robotics which supported the idea to some extend though the magnitude of moral ethics a machine should possess has not been concluded (Veruggio & Gianmarco, 2006). Suggestions were developed including use of evolutionary algorithms to manmade agents to ensure morality and machine ethics.
Research and developments on machine ethics
We made machines intelligent through various advancements but can they be ethical? The gradual improvement of processing power through various innovations has been backed by processor size. This is in accordance to Moore’s computer technology law which indicates that the average processing power of computers would increase by 150% per annum. It is the processing power explosion and the development of internet that has ensured that computer technology develops as per the society. They act as tools of scientific discovery in relation to this field. Furthermore, it has not yet came to the end of revolutions as augured by Moore’s law. The current developments should just act as bases for future expectations as the changes unfold daily. We are yet to experience more super intelligence micro machines which are smaller in size but more efficient. This should be advantageous in a gazillion number of ways as compared to the current technology which still relies heavily on human control.
Philosophy has it that anything that is conscious has feelings and can be hurt. It interrogates on how one knows that one mind is conscious and another one is not. Adam Smith developed a general rule through his articulation that any conscious which has no feelings can face fervid challenges as far as hurt is concerned. Trees, for instance, are classified as living organisms but since the human race count on their unconsciousness, they are easily destroyed. It is, therefore, conclusive that no ethics for non-conscious minds in the society today. Computers are developed by human creativity and innovative discoveries. The developments have however superseded the human capability in terms of processing capabilities and memory. This makes computers more vital in the conduct of different tasks as compared to human beings due to their plausible efficiency.
The problem arises where we are subjected to an arena of dilemma where we cannot conclusively decide whether machines deserve the moral ethics or not. Since they can do anything that humans can do, why don’t we just treat them like normal human beings? The big roadblock to the success of this argument is that human beings consider themselves more superior than anything else on the planet. Some questions, however, need to be answered since we are in an unending development of better machines which can adapt to our needs. This should include machines which could easily sense the environment and react like human beings to changes in stimuli. Should we treat them as our fellow human beings? Another immoral inconsideration by human beings is the indifference of handling the machines. They even go beyond the scope when they limit the machine’s capabilities by programming it just to manipulate their needs but not allowing it to exploitatively exploit its capabilities (Hall & John, 2007). Therefore, the ethical consideration of machines thought should be refurbished and reestablished again.
Controversy and current issues
Ethical considerations in relation to machines have a hand fold of significance on our daily routine and relations. In the society today, machines make a good significance impacting vastly on almost every aspect of our living. Machines are known to make accurate decisions, and the ethics of decision making should be regarded as much as possible to machines. When humans are left vested on the power of decision making, we remain at a standstill in development. Machines, therefore, need to be ethically treated if they are to make any good outcome through the implicit, interactive and explicit ethics approaches.
The great challenge to machine ethics is the veil of ignorance in the human race. According to Rawl’s veil of ignorance scheme, an ethical society is one in which the population can decide basing on a set of rules considering they never had any clue on their niche of occupation before (Graham, 2006). Human beings tend to choose out of ignorance only the prevalent factors or rules and don’t include any other considerations. If human beings were to be faced out of the universe and only robotic machines deployed, it is an ipso facto result to experience great and diverse changes which are positive and good for us all. The only challenge will be envy by human beings in relation to their capabilities. The advancement also faces a challenge in the production of machines of equal conscious to human beings. Human beings treat beings according to the amount of conscious. In some societies, women are considered of lesser conscious making them subordinate. This implicates that unless machines are installed to conscious of aggregate equivalence to man, the ethical treatment remains the same. The most challenging phase of the development is the exact development of man conscious on a machine which is a tedious process.
Get a Price Quote
The future of machine ethics
The evolution of machines is in a constant incredible and invincible continuity. The use of robotics and their appreciation is growing by day in our planet. The predecessors of the robotics did not come up with a lucid development as far as robot consciousness is concerned however. This introduces the future that robots are to be created in a more user amicable way that can perform expected tasks even without any command issued (Kurzweil & Ray, 2005). The development should consider understanding the conscious of human beings first which is quite tedious as less has been ventured into the field of human conscious study. Therefore, as far as we expect the development of conscious robots, the correct rationality of the end product should be considered. When the robots are over invigorated with more conscious, we are likely to produce invidious machines that cause much harm instead of helping. Therefore, the need for development of ironclad plans and developments incipiently before any consideration is tabled.