Artificial Morality: Virtuous Robots for Virtual Games

By Peter Danielson | Go to book overview
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I use ‘world’ to stress the need for a rich test—but ‘ecosystem’ is more appropriate for my simple robot agents.
Previously I called these things agents but this is confusing in two directions. Philosophers think of agents as richer things, the subjects of action theory. Computer scientists think of agents as more meagre things, the ingredients of which players might be built (cf. Minsky (1986)). My players fall between these two.
For other problems, other environments (that beg other questions) would be appropriate.
I could run it tomorrow if enough of you are interested. Indeed, I have used this test in several classes I teach, where grades are the prizes.
Compare Axelrod and Dion (1987), Kelly (1990) and Langton (1989).
I greatly oversimplify. See Danielson (1990c) for a less crude account.
A ‘senior EC official’ quoted in Leggett (1990, p. 9) expresses the latter perspective beautifully: ‘If the IPCC scientists are right, then we are on the Titanic, and the only question that remains is whether we go first class or steerage. I prefer first class.’
These are conventionally labelled C (for co-operate) and D (for defect) respectively. The interaction of this pair of individual choices results in four possible social outcomes: both burn more, one burns less, etc. which each player ranks from best through good and bad to worst according to her own values. For example, we agree that both conserving is better than both continuing to burn much but we disagree about whether it is better that only I or only you shall continue burning cheap fuel.
The argument has the form of a constructive dilemma.
This fantasized classic technological challenge to morality is from Plato’s Republic, 359c-360b. See the discussion in Gauthier (1986a, Chap. X) which links Plato’s problem to the Prisoner’s Dilemma.
Cf. Brand (1988).
The canonical story has two prisoners, separated by the prosecutor,


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