Current law doesn’t yet specify who’s at fault should a driverless car crash cause human injury. Ethical issues, for now, also remain unresolved over the use and consequences of smart weaponry.
And the list continues: How should society react to ever more people losing their jobs to robots? And should we tolerate computer monitoring of human communication, be it email, phone calls or even open dialog?
Moral principles long have guided interactions and behavior on multiple human levels and those ethics have extended to animals, nature and the entire planet. But a modern-day moral quandary involves human interaction with machines — and particularly the smart ones.
Those issues, known as robo-ethics and artificial-intelligence ethics, will command even greater attention at Carnegie Mellon University with a $10 million gift from K&L Gates LLP, a global law firm based in Pittsburgh, to establish the K&L Gates Endowment for Ethics and Computational Technologies at the university.
Carnegie Mellon president Subra Suresh said two endowed academic positions — one for a senior researcher and another for a junior professor — will be established with the gift, along with three doctoral student fellowships. It also will allow CMU to sponsor a biennial conference on artificial-intelligence ethics to encourage and share research and promote education to help policymakers deal with the complex issues of AI ethics.
The money also will fund a student scholarship and commencement prize.
The recent White House Frontiers Conference held at CMU and the University of Pittsburgh, with President Barack Obama as keynote speaker, focused attention on CMU’s work in ethics policy and regulation, all in light of daily advances in smart machine technology and its impact on human lives and activities.
The gift is expected “to propel our momentum in this critical work,” Mr. Suresh, who holds a doctorate in science, said in an interview last week. “The president coming here for the third time while in office to one university caught the attention of everyone, and not just here but overseas.”