Ethics and consciousness in artificial agents
In what ways should we include future humanoid robots, and other kinds of artificial agents, in our moral universe? We consider the Organic view, which maintains that artificial humanoid agents, based on current computational technologies, could not count as full-blooded moral agents, nor as appropriate targets of intrinsic moral concern. On this view, artificial humanoids lack certain key properties of biological organisms, which preclude them from having full moral status. Computationally controlled systems, however advanced in their cognitive or informational capacities, are, it is proposed, unlikely to possess sentience and hence will fail to be able to exercise the kind of empathic rationality that is a prerequisite for being a moral agent. The organic view also argues that sentience and teleology require biologically based forms of self-organization and autonomous self-maintenance. The organic view may not be correct, but at least it needs to be taken seriously in the future development of the field of Machine Ethics.