I have written a paper on ethics with special concentration on machine ethics and formality with the following abstract:
Most ethical systems are formulated in a very intuitive, imprecise manner. Therefore, they cannot be studied mathematically. In particular, they are not applicable to make machines behave ethically. In this paper we make use of this perspective of machine ethics to identify preference utilitarianism as the most promising approach to formal ethics. We then go on to propose a simple, mathematically precise formalization of preference utilitarianism in very general cellular automata. Even though our formalization is incomputable, we argue that it can function as a basis for discussing practical ethical questions using knowledge gained from different scientific areas.
Here are some further elements of the paper (things the paper uses or the paper is about):
- (machine) ethics
- artificial life in cellular automata
- Bayesian statistics
- Solomonoff's a priori probability
As I propose a formal ethical system, things get mathy at some point but the first and by far most important formula is relatively simple - the rest can be skipped then, so no problem for the average LWer.
I already discussed the paper with a few fellow students, as well as Brian Tomasik and a (computer science) professor of mine. Both recommended me to try to publish the paper. Also, I received some very helpful feedback. But because this would be my first attempt to publish something, I could still use more help, both with the content itself and scientific writing in English (which, as you may have guessed, is not my first language), before I submit the paper and Brian recommended using the LW's discussion board. I would also be thankful for recommendations on which journal is appropriate for the paper.
I would like to send those interested a draft via PM. This way I can also make sure that I don't spend all potential reviewers on the current version.
DISCLAIMER: I am not a moral realist. Also and as mentioned in the abstract, the proposed ethical system is incomputable and can therefore be argued to have infinite Kolmogorov complexity. So, it does not really pose a conflict with LW-consensus (including Complexity of value).