Researchers launch multi-year project to develop robots that can make moral decisions
Researchers from Tufts University, Brown University, and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute are teaming with the U.S. Navy to explore technology that would pave the way for developing robots capable of making moral decisions.
In a project funded by the Office of Naval Research and coordinated under the Multidisciplinary University Research Initiative, scientists will explore the challenges of infusing autonomous robots with a sense for right, wrong, and the consequences of both.
“Moral competence can be roughly thought about as the ability to learn, reason with, act upon, and talk about the laws and societal conventions on which humans tend to agree,” says principal investigator Matthias Scheutz, professor of computer science at Tufts School of Engineering and director of the Human-Robot Interaction Laboratory (HRI Lab) at Tufts. “The question is whether machines—or any other artificial system, for that matter—can emulate and exercise these abilities.”
One scenario is a battlefield, he says. A robot medic responsible for helping wounded soldiers is ordered to transport urgently needed medication to a nearby field hospital. En route, it encounters a Marine with a fractured leg. Should the robot abort the mission to assist the injured? Will it?
If the machine stops, a new set of questions arises. The robot assesses the soldier’s physical state and determines that unless it applies traction, internal bleeding in the soldier’s thigh could prove fatal. However, applying traction will cause intense pain. Is the robot morally permitted to cause the soldier pain, even if it’s for the soldier’s well-being?
The ONR-funded project will first isolate essential elements of human moral competence through theoretical and empirical research. Based on the results, the team will develop formal frameworks for modeling human-level moral reasoning that can be verified. Next, it will implement corresponding mechanisms for moral competence in a computational architecture.
“Our lab will develop unique algorithms and computational mechanisms integrated into an existing and proven architecture for autonomous robots,” says Scheutz. “The augmented architecture will be flexible enough to allow for a robot’s dynamic override of planned actions based on moral reasoning.”
Once architecture is established, researchers can begin to evaluate how machines perform in human-robot interaction experiments where robots face various dilemmas, make decisions, and explain their decisions in ways that are acceptable to humans.
Selmer Bringsjord, head of the Cognitive Science Department at RPI, and Naveen Govindarajulu, post-doctoral researcher working with him, are focused on how to engineer ethics into a robot so that moral logic is intrinsic to these artificial beings. Since the scientific community has yet to establish what constitutes morality in humans the challenge for Bringsjord and his team is severe.
In Bringsjord’s approach, all robot decisions would automatically go through at least a preliminary, lightning-quick ethical check using simple logics inspired by today’s most advanced artificially intelligent and question-answering computers. If that check reveals a need for deep, deliberate moral reasoning, such reasoning would be fired inside the robot, using newly invented logics tailor-made for the task.
“We’re talking about robots designed to be autonomous; hence the main purpose of building them in the first place is that you don’t have to tell them what to do,” Bringsjord said. “When an unforeseen situation arises, a capacity for deeper, on-board reasoning must be in place, because no finite rule set created ahead of time by humans can anticipate every possible scenario.”
Bertram Malle, from the Department of Cognitive, Linguistic and Psychological Services at Brown University, will perform some of the human research and human-robot interaction studies. “To design a morally competent robot that interacts with humans we need to first get clear on how moral competence functions in humans,” he said. “There is a fair amount of scientific knowledge available, but there are still many unanswered questions. By answering some of these questions in the project, we can move closer to designing a robot that has moral competence.”
The overall goal of the project, says Scheutz, “is to examine human moral competence and its components. If we can computationally model aspects of moral cognition in machines, we may be able to equip robots with the tools for better navigating real-world dilemmas.”
The group brings together extensive research expertise in theoretical models of moral cognition and communication; experimental research on human reasoning; formal modeling of reasoning; design of computational architectures; and implementation in robotic systems.
The Latest on: Robots that can make moral decisions
via Google News
The Latest on: Robots that can make moral decisions
- Firefighting Robots Market: Global Industry Analysis by Size, Share, Growth, Trends and Forecast 2020 – 2026on November 27, 2020 at 8:44 am
The GlobalFirefighting Robots Market Shareis expected to rise with an impressive CAGR and generate the highest revenue ...
- Agricultural Robots Market Key Growth Factors, development trends, key manufacturers and competitive forecast 2026on November 26, 2020 at 11:40 pm
A Research study on Agricultural Robots Market analyzes and offers ideas of exhaustive research on ancient and recent Agricultural Robots market size. Along with the estimated future possibilities of ...
- 3 Questions: Christine Walley on the evolving perception of robots in the USon November 23, 2020 at 11:33 am
MIT professor of anthropology Christine Walley describes a research brief about how robots have often been a symbol for anxiety about AI and automation.
- Can We Make Our Robots Less Biased Than We Are?on November 23, 2020 at 11:01 am
Bomb squad” robots are marketed as tools for safely disposing of bombs, not for delivering them to targets. (In 2018, police officers in Dixmont, Maine, ended a shootout in a similar manner.). Their ...
- Demolition Robot Market to Reach $633.19 Thousand, Globally, by 2027 at 16.2% CAGR: Allied Market Researchon November 23, 2020 at 4:40 am
Allied Market Research published a report, titled, "Demolition Robot Market by Type (Mini, Medium, and Large) and Application ...
- America’s Military Bases Will Soon Be Patrolled by Robot Canineson November 20, 2020 at 10:02 am
Meet the military’s new robot dogs. Long in development, a new breed of unmanned “computerized canines” will be conducting surveillance missions around the perimeter of the facility to ensure ...
- Logistics Robots Market to Exhibit 15.7% CAGR by 2027; Rise in E-commerce Industry Worldwide will Bolster Growth says Fortune Business Insights™on November 20, 2020 at 4:47 am
The global logistics robots market size is prophesied to reach USD 14.95 billion by the end of 2027. The growth of this region ...
- Warehouse robots upgraded to make packing decisions 350 times fasteron November 20, 2020 at 2:20 am
Robotic arms for packing boxes in warehouses work out which path to take more than 350 times faster when using a neural network that predicts how quickly they can safely transport items ...
- Interlocking AIs let robots pick and place faster than everon November 18, 2020 at 11:04 am
One of the jobs for which robots are best suited is the tedious, repetitive “pick and place” task common in warehouses — but humans are still much better at it. UC Berkeley researchers are picking up ...
- Keeping the robots trustworthy: The ethics of artificial intelligenceon November 3, 2020 at 11:28 am
By keeping the robots focused on the right things, reinforcing when they make the right decisions, and fine-tuning their algorithms when they don’t, we can keep the robots trustworthy.
via Bing News