Can20 Artificial20 Intelligence20 Help20 Us20 Be20 More20 Moral2008
Aug 1, 2021

Can Artificial Intelligence Help Us Be More Moral? With Dr. Walter Sinnott-Armstrong, Dr. Jana Schaich Borg & Dr. Vincent Conitzer (video)

Artificial intelligence is here, beginning to interact with our everyday lives in new ways. Learn how researchers are pairing AI systems and human wisdom and how that deepens our understanding of human moral philosophy and behavior.

By Templeton Staff

By pairing the power of AI systems and human wisdom, researchers Drs. Walter Sinnott-Armstrong, Jana Shaich Borg, and Vincent Conitzer at Duke University hope to offer a tool for strengthening the moral capacities of humans.

AI is being implemented across a wide spectrum of use and this proliferation is giving rise to concern. One day, researchers expect to advance a moral structure to these technologies.

The research group has focused on kidney donations. With many recipients waiting for their exchange and limited donors, the moral decisions of the next in line become complex. Artificial Intelligence does not mind filtering huge amounts of data in order to streamline decisions that ultimately will be made by humans.

The concept of a single human morality is one that may never be agreed on but researchers are taking steps with basic concepts like, do no harm, and maintaining human rights. Technology with a moral compass is perhaps decades away but the concerns are evident and preliminary efforts are underway.

Human decision is being studied through data gathered from large segments of the population. The choices that we make are being collected and from this collection, researchers expect to inform the machines about human morality in a general way. Morality is a very personal matter, so the paths taken by AI will not match for every individual, but we will have a basic safeguard in place. 

Highlights from this installment of our award-winning “Stories of Impact” video series:

  • The system that researchers at Duke University are working on will not react in the same way to similar conditions each time. The available information will be scrutinized on multiple levels and from there, recommendations will be made.
  • AI can act as a check against human bias, and can even enhance the development of human morality.
  • Machines are fallible, and humans also struggle with attaining perfection. These shortcomings on both fronts often fall into predictable patterns. Awareness of these threads will make for a more efficient and equitable future for humankind.

Discover the podcast version of this interview.

Learn more about the TWCF-funded research project related to this episode.

Read the transcript from the full interview conducted by journalist Richard Sergay featuring: Ethicist Dr. Walter Sinnott-Armstrong, Chauncy Stillman Professor of Practical Ethics and Kenan Institute for Ethics in the philosophy department. Also affiliated with the Duke Institute for Brain Science and Duke’s law school, computer science program, and psychiatry department; Neuroscientist Dr. Jana Schaich Borg, Assistant Research Professor and Director of the Master and Interdisciplinary Data Science at Duke Social Science Research Center; Computer scientist Dr. Vincent Conitzer, Kimberly J. Jenkins University Professor of new technologies, as well as a Professor of computer science, economics, and philosophy.

Templeton World Charity Foundation’s “Stories of Impact” videos by journalist and senior media executive Richard Sergay feature human stories and critical perspectives on breakthroughs about the universe’s big questions. The inspiring narratives and observations in these award-winning videos portray the individual and societal impacts of the projects that bring to life TWCF-supported research.