Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Is it moral to kick a robot?

As long as robots are non-sentient, non-feeling beings, it would only be immoral to kick a robot in the sense of potential property damage to others. It would be like kicking a couch or a car.

If robots were sentient, emotional beings, it would certainly be immoral to kick one. It would be like kicking a human.

If a robot were sentient but non-emotional, non-feeling, would it be immoral to kick it? Yes, for both the potential physical damage and an as yet undefined area of implied morality amongst sentient beings. Even if the robot did not ‘feel’ a kick as physical pain in the same way a human or animal would, the robot would have some sort of sensor network awareness that perceived and coded the action as inappropriate and possibly dangerous and illegal. A sentient robot would likely be able to take some action against the mistreatment.

How sentient or feeling does a robot need to become for it to be immoral to kick it? There will be early stages as robots are in the beginnings of sentience and emotion. If the kicker knows that the robot is or could be sentient or emotion-feeling, then it would be immoral to kick the robot. This would be similar to situations between adults and children, the former are assumed to have an uneven control and influence advantage over the latter who may not be consciously aware and able enough to perceive damage and protect themselves.

6 comments:

Cyber Cat said...

Before you kick robot think that robot will kick you back. Since AI developer DID put isKicked() method in silicon brains...

LaBlogga said...

Hi cyber cat, thanks for the comment. Hehehe, yes of course the bigger worry is the robot's retaliation or perhaps premeditated plotting and deception...

samantha said...

To me a perhaps more tangled question is of ethics within computer games and virtual worlds with respect to AI fellow players and inhabitants. I imagine the same sorts of rules apply as in "meat space" with regard to the level of intelligence particularly social/emotional intelligence and awareness of the non-human virtual inhabitants.

I have always found it a bit alarming that people who seem perfectly ethical and reasonable in meat space happily go blood-lust crazy in MMORPGs fragging everything in sight. It leads me to wonder what they would be like if uploaded or if they knew that everyone was fully backed up.

LaBlogga said...

Hi Samantha, thanks for the comment.

I think humanity will have a host of ethical issues to face regarding appropriate and legal interaction with a variety of tiers of intelligence (human, human-level, less-than-human and dynamically increasing), both physically and digitally embodied.

Existing ethics and laws will likely be a model. Fragging a backed up and easily restored digital human, if not occurring in consensual gaming (e.g.; as in Charles Stross' Glasshouse) or perpetual ARG (alternate reality gaming) covenants societies, would be a prosecutable offense, though clearly of a lesser magnitude than meatspace's homicide or manslaughter.

Mark Seery said...

why is it immoral to kick a sentient being with emotions?

LaBlogga said...

Hi Mark, thanks for the comment. Do you mind if people kick you? Presumably you are a sentient being with emotions.