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Mechanical Morality

What is the compelling question or challenge?

How do we teach autonomous machines from self-driving cars to smart appliances to nanobots how to make ethical judgments as well as practical decisions?

What do we know now about this Big Idea and what are the key research questions we need to address?

As humans invest in developing intelligent versions of everyday technologies, from self-driving cars to surveillance networks made out of smartdust, it is imperative that we teach our robots how to make ethical judgements as well as practical decisions.I propose that the National Science Foundation (NSF) fund an inquiry into an ethical philosophy of and for artificial intelligence or a Mechanical Morality. This research would combine the efforts of computer scientists and programmers as well as biologists, medical doctors, engineers, human/technology interaction experts, and ecologists as well as scholars in the social sciences and the humanities such as linguists and psychologists.

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