A Word on Machine Ethics: A Response to Jiang et al. (2021)


Ethics is one of the longest standing intellectual endeavors of humanity. In recent years, the fields of AI and NLP have attempted to wrangle with how learning systems that interact with humans should be constrained to behave ethically. One proposal in this vein is the construction of morality models that can take in arbitrary text and output a moral judgment about the situation described. In this work, we focus on a single case study of the recently proposed Delphi model and offer a critique of the project’s proposed method of automating morality judgments. Through an analysis of Delphi, we examine broader issues that would be applicable to any similar attempt. We conclude with a discussion of how machine ethics could usefully proceed, by focusing on current and near-future uses of technology, in a way that centers around transparency, democratic values, and allows for straightforward accountability.