Morality and AI

Is all ethics human-centric. Is it, therefore, anthropocentric?This human-centric ethics is simply reductive and looks at everything from the privileged position of being human. Can ethics be post-human-centric ? Humanities produced disciplinary societies. The knowledge project of these societies was human-centric. We can see how sociology. Economics. History etc ., are concerned with human affairs. Posthumanities attempts to overcome human-centic reductivism and attempts to develop inclusive knowledge project. We cannot just build knowledge and ethics based on human exceptionability.

We are sharing our genes with other animals through genetic engineering by introducing stem cells in rats and other organisms (using crisper) . In some way, we are creating Smart animals/ Genetically modified organisms (GMO). Therefore, are these smart animals moral agents? This question takes us into posthumanities. Do we have a post-human ethics? It appears that such an ethics is possible. It does not just embrace non-humans but also Smart machines. Besides, these smart machines will be introduced into human bodies as therapy as well as enhancement. This cyborgization of humans is said to lead towards transhuman evolution. This view is championed by Ray kurzwiell. Maybe we need to expand our ethics for a transhumans future. But the issue that concerns us here is the ethical status of AI or smart machines. Perhaps, posthuman ethics opens the scope of discussion of the moral status of smart animals, smart humans or transhuman and smart machines.

It is somewhat easy to discern the moral status of genrich/smart animals. This is because we share biology as well as consciousness with them. But from the point of view of a posthumanity ethics, since they are generated for human purpose, it amouts to thier exploitation. But it is not easy to discern the ethical status of smart machines as we do neither share biology nor consciousness with them. What we share with these machines is capacity. Hence, maybe we have to begin our ethical reflection on our common experience of capacity even though these AI driven smart machines out smart us in most of the specified tasks.

The basis of development of post-human ethics is based on the common experience of the smart machines and humans. But to discern whether the smart machines do conciously share this experience of commonality is difficult to discern. Although, we may have much agreement as regard our sharing of our ability of conciousnes and biological-ableness of smart animals, it is also difficult to truly discern it. What we may say in this regard is what we share with smart animals is our capacity for being a body or having bodily life as well our capacity for consciousness. The manner in which we outsmart even smart animals in these capacities that we share , we are also outsmarted by the smart machines.

We have what is called phenomenal consciousness of capacities of smart animals and smart machines. We do not have subjective consciousness of any of them but are concious of their capacities. Smart animals have some degree of self consciousness . Smart machines do not seems to have any self-consciousness. We may have grant that smart machines may become conscious to some degree in the future. This is because of the research that is moving in two directions. One is whole brain emulation and the other is the interface with human brain. Here we have to avoid our tendency to anthroposize. Yet we can ask the question do we have any test for machine consciousness?

Maybe we have ask if this smart machines produce language and interact with humans or smart machines, we may say that such smart machines have some degree of consciousness. Chatbots like Chat GPT does exhibit such a consciousness.But it is faking it because it is deriving its content from the Internet. Thus , if the chat bot is able speak without being linked to the Internet than we may admit that there is consciousness. Non-linguistic abilities like smiling, expressing pain, laughing at a joke etc., may offer us some insight about some degree of consciousness in the machines. But all of can be faked . What we have at best may be unconcious automatons. Hence, So far we really cannot say any of the smart machines are concious but we maybe approaching to it in the near future. Hence, with extreme caution, we may say we might have concious machines in the future. Therefore, we may have to begin considering the moral status of smart machines. Will they be regarded as electronic persons who are moral beings having legal rights? may be time will tell. But we cannot think of them with our anthropocentric ethics. We have to think through new ways offered to us by posthumanities.

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Hypocrisy is the tribute that vice pays to virtue.

- Fr Victor Ferrao