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Artificial Intelligence: Reasoning About An Ethical Issue

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Artificial Intelligence is the simulation of human intelligence through the use of computer software. The main processes of intelligence that it focuses on include: the ability to learn, the ability to evolve, and the ability to reason. A key distinction is that while Artificial Intelligence may perform these functions the programs are still not sentient. A sentient being must have or develop the capacity to feel, perceive, or experience subjectivity. Even without sentience, a machine with these capabilities is extremely vital to the technology of the future.

Before humanity could program a machine to think logically, the concept of logic had to be developed. Greek philosophers Plato, Aristotle, and Socrates laid the foundation for modern thought and developed the system of using algorithms to come to a conclusion. After thousands of years of development, logic can now be conceived as a systematic process of calculations, probabilities, and predicted outcomes. The idea of a programmable machine has been around for over one hundred years. Joseph Marie Jacquard invented a loom in 1805 that could be programmed using punch cards. The idea that a machine could be programmed to think for itself, however, is a relatively new idea with effects that are now seen in everyday life. Artificial Intelligence is the simulation of human intelligence through the use of computer software. The main processes of intelligence that it focuses on include: the ability to learn, the ability to evolve, and the ability to reason.

In 1955, John McCarthy, Alen Newell, Herbert Simon, and many other leading technology researchers held a conference at Dartmouth College for the sole purpose of discussing Artificial Intelligence’s development. Artificial Intelligence as a scientific field was developed and named at this conference in 1955. This conference was the beginning of a new, exciting, and innovative era in computing and logic development.

The early stages of Artificial Intelligence development were met with many challenges and drawbacks. In order to gain an accurate model of logic and how humans make decisions, processes and systems from engineering, biology, experimental psychology, communication theory, game theory, mathematics, statistics, logic, philosophy, and linguistics must be understood and connected to one another. In addition to the need to understand the fundamentals behind human logic, early programs were necessarily limited in scope, size, and the speed of memory and processors. Early rudimentary research on Artificial Intelligence began in 1955 with a computer called LT (Logic Theorist), which was capable of seeking and finding proofs of theorems by a process of heuristic, or selective, search. Although the program could derive proofs, its uses were not applicable (or even useful) to the scientific community. Following the Logic Theorist came the General Problem Solver which, unlike Logic Theorist, was designed from the start to imitate human problem-solving protocols. The General Problem solver approached problems by separating the end goal into a series of subgoals, which made it the first machine to approach a problem using a human’s approach.

Applications of Artificial Intelligence can already be found in our daily lives; one of the most important uses is in the internet. Search engines use Artificial Intelligence to decide which websites and photos to display. Artificial Intelligence also plays a major role in entertainment through its use in Hollywood animations, Video games, and Special Effects.

Artificial Intelligence’s use in science has greatly improved the ability to model millions of different variables. Using this, psychologists and neuroscientists have developed powerful theories on the mind. These include a model of how the physical brain works. Artificial Intelligence is also used in biology in the form of “Artificial Life”, which develops computer models of different aspects of living organisms and can use multi-varied experimentation an unlimited number of times.

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Artificial Intelligence is also used in industry. One example of industrial usage of Artificial Intelligence is a welding robot. These welding robots can perform lengthy and complex tasks in a shorter amount of time than manual labor. These robots can also be used for particular parts that are produced in large quantities. Instead of having many men do a job that takes up a substantial amount of their time, these robots can do the job much more quickly and the men can work on smaller more specialized products. Using these robots can also reduce the overall costs for businesses, by reducing the hours of manual labor spent on the jobs that can be automated. Other Applications of Artificial Intelligence can already be found in our daily lives; one of the most important uses is in the internet. Search engines use Artificial Intelligence to decide which websites and photos to display.

Even with all these innovative uses, many people are still worried about Artificial Intelligence. The worries can be attributed the threats and dangers of it. There are two main kinds of threatening Artificial Intelligence. The first is Artificial Intelligence that is programmed to do harm; an example of this is autonomous drones and missiles. Because they operate on a computer and are considered a machine, many people are scared that the programs will lack the emotion of a human, and that they may make a mistake through its objectivity.

The second kind of threat stems from an artificially intelligent benevolent application that develops a destructive method for achieving its goal. Because (as aforementioned) Artificial Intelligence is a machine, it is extremely objective and will always choose the most efficient method to achieve its programmed goal. These goals can create an issue if the best way for Artificial Intelligence to reach its goal is to follow a course of action that involves steps that are not aligned with what humanity wants. An example of this would be if someone programmed Artificial Intelligence to stop climate change, and the system calculated that the best course of action is to kill all humans. Because of all these risks, the question is posed of how to handle and contain them. The first and simple choice is for the government to impose legislation enforcing strict guidelines on the use of Artificial Intelligence.

Artificial Intelligence poses a host of unanswered ethical questions. The most challenging are: Could a computer simulate an animal or human brain in a way that the simulation should receive the same animal rights or human rights as the actual creature? And can a computer that must be considered sentient ever be turned off?

Because of these ethically challenging questions, many groups, (including but not limited to): Algorithmic Justice League, A.I. Ethics Lab, and Open A.I., are all fighting to not only keep humans safe from A.I. but to also keep A.I. safe from humans, because the groups are scared that over time, human’s will corrupt A.I. and use it for harmful purposes.

To keep humanity safe from Artificial Intelligence these groups are fighting for harder regulation on Artificial Intelligence. The regulation that should be imposed on Artificial Intelligence must have clear guidelines on what uses of A.I. are acceptable and what are not. Before this can be done, the government must create an insight committee so that all members of the government can gain a better understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of Artificial Intelligence. After developing insight in Artificial Intelligence, the next logical step would be to enact an oversight committee that would only handle laws surrounding Artificial Intelligence. When analyzing the issue with the frame of mind of Emmanuel Kant (utilitarianism), it becomes clear that he would want dangerous applications of Artificial Intelligence to be illegal. Following this guideline for the regulation of Artificial Intelligence would allow for the majority of people to obtain an easier life (without being exposed to the dangers) because of all the ways A.I. can help them.


  1. “Artificial Intelligence.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily. Accessed November 9, 2019.
  2. Catalog, Menu SLS |Course. “Regulating Artificial Intelligence.” Stanford Law School. Accessed November 9, 2019.
  3. Erde ́lyi Olivia, and Judy Goldsmith. “Regulating Artificial Intelligence Proposal for a Global Solution.” Regulating Artificial Intelligence Proposal for a Global Solution. Accessed November 9, 2019.
  4. Etzioni, Oren. “How to Regulate Artificial Intelligence.” The New York Times. The New York Times, September 2, 2017.
  5. Mihajlovic, Ilija. “How Artificial Intelligence Is Impacting Our Everyday Lives.” Medium. Towards Data Science, October 13, 2019.
  6. Narula, Gautam. “Everyday Examples of Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning.” Emerj. Emerj, October 23, 2019.

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