Department of Philosophy



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The Department of Philosophy and School of Computing Colloquium Series presents

Bartek Chomanski
Western University

Mind Design and the Ethics of Parenting

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

3:00 pm

Watson Hall, Room 517

According to some views on the matter, the ultimate goal of artificial intelligence (AI) research is to build an artificial person (whose moral status is no different than that of an adult human). Suppose this goal realized. A plethora of questions arises as a result, both having to do with what this development will mean for humans, and with what sorts of duties will humans have towards such beings. In this talk I will focus on one, relatively underexplored aspect of the latter issue. I will consider whether, and to what extent, the relationship between a designer of the AI and the AI themselves should be modelled on the relationship between parents and children.  I will argue that we should be wary of building AIs in a way that resembles natural procreation and childrearing. While typical childrearing generally involves placing children in the condition of vulnerability (that is, in the condition where the children depend on the adults for their continued survival), this need not be an aspect of designing artificial persons. I will argue that placing another in the condition of vulnerability, when it could be avoided, is wrong. Hence, the AI design process should not be made to resemble childrearing in that regard. This remains true even if one person’s vulnerability to another is necessary for the development of a uniquely robust emotional connection between them.

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