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Robots, AI and the Moral Culture of Patiency

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[This is the text version of a talk I delivered to the Swedish AI Society Conference, via Zoom, on the 17th of June 2020]Will the increased use of robotics and AI change our moral culture? In this talk I want suggest that it will. Specifically, I want to argue that the diffusion of robots and AIs into our political, social and economic lives will cause us to shift away from a moral culture of responsibility towards a culture of moral patiency. The argument I put forward is tentative and suggestive only. I am not trying to predict the future today. I am, instead, trying to sketch a way of looking at it and understanding the impact that technology might have on our moral beliefs and practices. In some ways, it is this style of thinking about the future that I hope to defend, not the specific claims I make about the future, but I do this by showing how this style of thinking works and not by just talking about it. I have three things I need to cover in the remainder of my talk: (a) what is a moral culture?; (b) how can we think about changes in moral cultures?; and (c) how might robots/AI cause a shift to a culture of moral patiency? 1. What is a moral culture?The concept of a moral culture is something that is common parlance among sociologists and social psychologists. That said, it is not always well or precisely defined. Different theorists and commentators seem to mean slightly different things when they use the terminology. For present purposes, I will define “moral culture” in the following way: Moral Culture = “A reasonably stable set of moral beliefs and practices, associated with an identifiable social collectivity/group, usually defined by a common core of key moral concepts”  This definition is inspired by, but not the same as, the definition offered by Vygautus Kovalis in his 1977 article “Moral Cultures and Moral Logics”. One thing that Kovalis claims in that article is that there is a distinction to be drawn between moral cultures. . .

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News source: Philosophical Disquisitions

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