I started looking through some of the papers and so far I don't feel enlightened.

I've never been able to tell whether I don't understand Kantian ethics, or Kantian ethics is just stupid. Take Prospects For a Kantian Machine. The first part is about building a machine whose maxims satisfy the universalizability criterion: that they can be universalized without contradicting themselves.

But this seems to rely a lot on being very good at parsing categories in exactly the right way to come up with the answer you wanted originally.

For example, it seems reasonabl... (read more)

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Every sufficiently smart person who thinks about Kantian ethics comes up with this objection. I don't believe it's possible to defend against it entirely. However...

After all, Kant universalizes "I will deceive this murderer so he can't find his victim" to "Everyone will deceive everyone else all the time" and not to "Everyone will deceive murderers when a life is at stake".

That may be what Kant actually says (does he?) but if he does then I think he's wrong about his own theory. As I understand it, what you're supposed to... (read more)

0lukeprog9yFor Googleability, I'll not that this objection is called the problem of maxim specification.
2lukeprog9yBTW, I so identify with this quote: In fact, I've said the same thing myself, in slightly different words.

A Brief Overview of Machine Ethics

by lukeprog 1 min read5th Mar 201191 comments


Earlier, I lamented that even though Eliezer named scholarship as one of the Twelve Virtues of Rationality, there is surprisingly little interest in (or citing of) the academic literature on some of Less Wrong's central discussion topics.

Previously, I provided an overview of formal epistemology, that field of philosophy that deals with (1) mathematically formalizing concepts related to induction, belief, choice, and action, and (2) arguing about the foundations of probability, statistics, game theory, decision theory, and algorithmic learning theory.

Now, I've written Machine Ethics is the Future, an introduction to machine ethics, the academic field that studies the problem of how to design artificial moral agents that act ethically (along with a few related problems). There, you will find PDFs of a dozen papers on the subject.