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  • Writer's pictureThe JSBF Report

Artificial Intelligence and Ethics

By: Prof. Ashaawari Datta Chaudhuri

The development of full artificial intelligence could spell the end of the human race." said Stephen Hawking. It is important to understand why artificial intelligence has come to being before going into a debate regarding its dangers. With the advent of the internet in the early 2000s, human beings had found ways to ease their livelihood. It cannot certainly be dismissed that technology has shaped mankind’s way of living for over a decade now. The human race has progressed tremendously over the years. The real question here is how far is too far?

What is Artificial Intelligence?

The Oxford Dictionary defines Artificial Intelligence (AI) as, “the theory and development of computer systems able to perform tasks normally requiring human intelligence, such as visual perception, speech recognition, decision-making, and translation between languages”.[1] The definition rights points out certain tasks that a non-human-entity hence ‘artificial’ can perform. Artificial intelligence is mostly for doing chores or work which would otherwise require a human to do them.

Roger Penrose and The Emperor’s New Mind:

Any discussion on Artificial Intelligence is incomplete without the mention of Dr. Roger Penrose. In his book, The Emperor’s New Mind[2], he brings into light that there lies a connection between human consciousness and quantum theory. He is however very certain that AI can never reach the intelligence level of human beings. Dr. Penrose in his book goes on to give a rational explanation to how AI works and the whole concept of neural networks. He however does emphasize that there can be only certain possibilities or patterns that AI can recognize and work with. His major work suggests that the neural networks inside the brain can detect certain patterns which they respond to. This leads to consciousness. He believes that our consciousness which cannot be described in scientific terms, actually has no particular explanation to it. The question is can these patterns be replicated into AI? He goes on to emphasis on the fact that humans can never know it all and can never create human intelligence in a machine. There are certain mysteries which the human body still has not revealed. There are certain gaps and certain situations which only humans can recognize. Sometimes we do not even know how we react in a certain manner. We take decisions based on circumstances, emotions, feelings etc. Would the AI be able to do the same? There is an innate quality in us humans which even we cannot tap into.

Suppose we say that 2*3=6 and 3*2=6. We know that both are true. But how? What makes us immediately know that if 2*3= 6, then automatically the reverse will be true as well? Humans have a way to recognize patterns and logically deduce them really fast. AI will still take some time to grasp this as it has to be programmed inside it.

Ethics and liability of Artificial Intelligence:

As there are a lot of AI machines around us, it has become important to understand that there might be a threat to life as well. There have to be some ethics and norms that are to be followed in order to be able to live in the society. We are all developing AI since we want them to be human like. Robots or AI will be more reliable and relatable if they are so. But just as humans also follow certain ethics and norms in unison with everyone else, AI need to do the same. There has to be certain checks that are necessary for being part of system. Ethics are an important part of life and therefore it is essential that AI has ethics so that they may understand the inner workings of behaviour before interpreting a following order.

Self-driving cars are becoming more of a reality every day.[3] However, along with the numerous benefits of convenience and safety,[4] these new technologies pose major ethical dilemmas.[5] The major AI which could pose any kind of liability are self- driven cars. It is becoming an increasing issue pertaining to liability in case of an accident done by a car. Does one sue the car, or the company which made the car? If there is a robot which is made and it makes a mistake or kills someone or hurts someone, will it be held liable or will the company that manufactured it?

There could be three parties that one could blame. The individual, the manufacturer or the insurer. Suing the manufacturer would be the most accurate way to go since it is he who is "ultimately responsible for the final product”.[6] The manufacturer is the easiest to blame as they are the ones that manufactured the AI and it is due to their flaws that the accident had occurred. Returning to the question at hand. There are a couple of questions that need to be answered first. They are that do human values bring with it a sense of responsibility? Are human values necessary at all to shift the blame directly to AI? This requires time and more advanced technology to answer this.


It is essential to understand that the human mind is priceless. Artificial Intelligence being its brainchild. We can never replicate human emotions in a machine. Human values would make them more relatable and maybe even put some compassion into AI, but it will never be able to think for itself, unless it is programmed in that way. Therefore what is important is AI outgrowing humankind could be a possibility one day. Building ethics in AI could amount to an issue and still has a long way to go.

Prof. Ashaawari Datta Chaudhuri is an Assistant Lecturer at JSBF. You can check her profile here.


[1],making%2C%20and%20translation%20between%20languages. [2] Roger Penrose ,The Emperors New Mind: Concerning laws of Computers, Mind and the Laws of Physics.(1990) [3] See Self-Driving Cars Coming to a Street Near You, THE ECONOMIST (Sept. 18, 2014), -making-autonomous-vehicles-reality coming-street-near-you last accessed on 14th November 2018 [4] Don Howard, Robots on the Road: The Moral Imperative of the Driverless Car, SC. MATTERS (Nov. 13, 2014),; See also Christopher Mims, The Potential Benefits of Driverless Cars are Stunning, QUARTZ (Oct. 22, 2013), Last accessed on 14th November 2018 [5] Adam Gopnik, A Point of View: The Ethics of the Driverless Car, BBC NEWS MAG., (last updated Jan. 24, 2014) last accessed on 13th November 2018 [6] Gary E. Marchant & Rachel A. Lindor, The Coming Collision Between Autonomous Vehicles and the Liability System, 52 SANTA CLARA L. REV. 1321, 1329 (2012)

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