Tuesday, March 29, 2022

AI and the Future of the Work Ethic

That's the title of a talk I delivered to the IEET/UMass project on the future of work. You can watch it above. I look at the history of technological displacement in work and argue that, even if widespread technological unemployment does not happen, automating technologies will make work less valuable for most workers.

I also wrote a short article summarising the key arguments from the talk for the Institute of Arts and Ideas. You can read it here. (Unfortunately, this article, like most on the IAI website, seems to be periodically paywalled; if you are interested in reading the full text, contact me and I will send it to you).

Friday, March 11, 2022

Tragic Choices and the Virtue of Techno-Responsibility Gaps (New Paper)

I have a new paper coming out in the journal Philosophy and Technology. It's about responsibility gaps and why, on some occasions, they are good thing and we shouldn't always try to plug them. More specifically, it has how one of the benefits of autonomous machines is that they enable a reduced cost form of moral delegation. More details below.

Title: Tragic Choices and the Virtue of Techno-Responsibility Gaps

Links: Official; Philpapers; Researchgate

Abstract: There is a concern that the widespread deployment of autonomous machines will open up a number of 'responsibility gaps' throughout society. Various articulations of such techno-responsibility gaps have been proposed over the years, along with several potential solutions. Most of these solutions focus on 'plugging' or 'dissolving' the gaps. This paper offers an alternative perspective. It argues that techno-responsibility gaps are, sometimes, to be welcomed and that one of the advantages of autonomous machines is that they enable us to embrace certain kinds of responsibility gap. The argument is based on the idea that human morality is often tragic. We frequently confront situations in which competing moral considerations pull in different directions and it is impossible to perfectly balance these considerations. This heightens the burden of responsibility associated with our choices. We cope with the tragedy of moral choice in different ways. Sometimes we delude ourselves into thinking the choices we make were not tragic (illusionism); sometimes we delegate the tragic choice to others (delegation); sometimes we make the choice ourselves and bear the psychological consequences (responsibilisation). Each of these strategies has its benefits and costs. One potential advantage of autonomous machines is that they enable a reduced cost form of delegation. However, we only gain the advantage of this reduced cost if we accept that some techno-responsibility gaps are virtuous.