Previous work on ethical machine reasoning has largely been theoretical, and where such systems have been implemented it has in general been only initial proofs of principle. Here we address the question of desirable attributes for such systems to improve their real world utility, and how controllers with these attributes might be implemented. We propose that ethically-critical machine reasoning should be proactive, transparent and verifiable. We describe an architecture where the ethical reasoning is handled by a separate layer, augmenting a typical layered control architecture, ethically moderating the robot actions. It makes use of a simulation-based internal model, and supports proactive, transparent and verifiable ethical reasoning. To do so the reasoning component of the ethical layer uses our Python based Beliefs, Desires, Intentions (BDI) implementation. The declarative logic structure of BDI facilitates both transparency, through logging of the reasoning cycle, and formal verification methods. To prove the principles of our approach we use a case study implementation to experimentally demonstrate its operation. Importantly, it is the first such robot controller where the ethical machine reasoning has been formally verified.
Bremner, P., Dennis, L. A., Fisher, M., & Winfield, A. F. (2019). On proactive, transparent and verifiable ethical reasoning for robots. Proceedings of the IEEE, 107(3), 541-561. https://doi.org/10.1109/JPROC.2019.2898267