The contemplation of intelligence and/or agency among machines, in popular discourse, seems to
settle on a future technological dystopia or conversely, a machine-led utopia. While the media creates
these dichotomous futures, there needs to be a deeper discussion on how intelligence, agency, and
ethics in machines will affect society. Is the expectation of ethical behaviour in machines, an all-or-
nothing proposition? Most attempts at inserting ethical behaviour into autonomous machines adopt
the ‘designer’ approach, i.e., the ethical principles/behaviour to be implemented are known in
advance. Some scientists have tried to use rule-based evaluation of moral choices, reinforcement-
learning, and logic-based approaches to adding ethics in robots/software. However, all these
approaches assume a single moral agent interacting with a single moral recipient. What happens when
‘real’ sociality meets AI? This talk will take a whirlwind tour of machine ethics implementations in
robots and software agents, while touching upon the issues, and the challenges involved in answering
the above questions.
Vivek Nallur is an assistant professor at the School of Computer Science, at University College Dublin.
He obtained his MS at Carnegie Mellon University and PhD at the University of Birmingham, UK. His
research interests include machine ethics, autonomous and adaptive systems, and emergent
behaviour. His career has spanned working for small startups in India and the UK, large software
companies in Palo Alto, and research and educational institutions in multiple countries.