“We don’t want to get to the point where we should have had this discussion 20 years ago,” said Colin Allen, a philosopher at Indiana University and a co-author of “Moral Machines: Teaching Robots Right From Wrong,” published this month by Oxford University Press.
This might seem like a scary subject (probably because it is), but then again: how ethical do you think your average 18-year old is, after having lost several buddies? Check this out:
A 2006 survey by the surgeon general of the Army, found that fewer than half of soldiers and marines serving in Iraq said that noncombatants should be treated with dignity and respect, and 17 percent said all civilians should be treated as insurgents. More than one-third said torture was acceptable under some conditions, and fewer than half said they would report a colleague for unethical battlefield behavior
Maybe the question should be the other way around: Could we make robots as immoral as humans? An intriguing discussion, relevant however since technology develops so quickly. Personally I think we will get used to autonomous robots, just like we got used to airplanes and things like that. Of course there will always be flaws in the system. But how many flaws does the human system have?
Take cars that drive themselves. This is now possible. Since I am Dutch I find this a very interesting subject. Why? Because 10 years from now nobody will be going anywhere in our country. One big traffic jam! And the government doesn't seem very visionary. They are not building enough roads and they are not investing sufficiently in the public transport system. Bunch of dumb-asses! So, our roads will continue to fill up until things get so bad that the only way out will be to have cars drive themselves on the highway (this way you can fit many more cars on the same road because they will all drive at a fixed distance of each other and at the same speed). Of course, people won't want this. It scares us to think a car drives itself. Can I trust it? However, if you look at this from a national perspective: Currently, every year 1000 people die in Dutch traffic! One thousand! Personally I am not surprised. People are nervous out there! And give 'm a few seconds delay and they get pissed..
..Nah, I'll take a robotic system over your average emotionally confused & insanely impatient human driver any day now.