Robotic intelligence

Philosophical and ethical challenges

in The freedom of scientific research
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Advances in robotics and artificial intelligence are posited by some as one of – if not the – greatest potential threats to humanity. This chapter examines this view and casts it in a new light. Artificial intelligence can be divided into that which exists – unconscious artificial intelligence – and the posited superintelligent AI, with intelligence equal to or greater than our own. Regulation and policy around the development of these two types presents different challenges – the former raises questions around liability, ownership, the workforce, and more; but the latter presents issues we have never before faced. A sapient intelligence may in effect be a novel being, a potential person – and there is reason to think we should treat it as such. The possibility of non-Homo sapiens persons engenders questions about the very nature of humanity and our place at the top of the moral status ‘ladder’. Ultimately, it may be that there is no good reason to treat an artificial intelligence of this type as being substantively different to ourselves.

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