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The Dark Side of Ethical Robots

Vanderelst, Dieter; Winfield, Alan

Authors

Dieter Vanderelst



Abstract

© 2018 ACM. Concerns over the risks associated with advances in Artificial Intelligence have prompted calls for greater efforts toward robust and beneficial AI, including machine ethics. Recently, roboticists have responded by initiating the development of so-called ethical robots. These robots would, ideally, evaluate the consequences of their actions and morally justify their choices. This emerging field promises to develop extensively over the next few years. However, in this paper, we point out an inherent limitation of the emerging field of ethical robots. We show that building ethical robots also inevitably enables the construction of unethical robots. In three experiments, we show that it is remarkably easy to modify an ethical robot so that it behaves competitively, or even aggressively. The reason for this is that the cognitive machinery required to make an ethical robot can always be corrupted to make unethical robots. We discuss the implications of this finding to the governance of ethical robots. We conclude that the risks that unscrupulous actors might compromise a robot's ethics are so great as to raise serious doubts over the wisdom of embedding ethical decision making in real-world safety-critical robots, such as driverless cars.

Citation

Vanderelst, D., & Winfield, A. (2018). The Dark Side of Ethical Robots. In Proceedings of the 2018 AAAI/ACM Conference on AI, Ethics, and Society - AIES '18, (317-322). https://doi.org/10.1145/3278721.3278726

Conference Name AIES 2018 - Proceedings of the 2018 AAAI/ACM Conference on AI, Ethics, and Society
Start Date Feb 2, 2018
End Date Feb 3, 2018
Acceptance Date Dec 19, 2017
Publication Date Dec 27, 2018
Deposit Date Feb 18, 2019
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Pages 317-322
Book Title Proceedings of the 2018 AAAI/ACM Conference on AI, Ethics, and Society - AIES '18
ISBN 9781450360128
DOI https://doi.org/10.1145/3278721.3278726
Keywords machine ethics, ethical robots, malicious use, cybersecurity, ethical governance
Public URL https://uwe-repository.worktribe.com/output/871656
Publisher URL http://doi.org/10.1145/3278721.3278726
Additional Information Title of Conference or Conference Proceedings : Proceedings of the 2018 AAAI/ACM Conference on AI, Ethics, and Society