Understanding Whether, When, and How Artificial Intelligence Can Strengthen Human Virtues

TWCF0472
  • TWCF Number:

    0472

  • Project Duration:

    January 3, 2020 - April 30, 2022

  • Core Funding Area:

    Big Questions

  • Priority:

    Diverse Intelligences

  • Region:

    North America

  • Amount Awarded:

    $233,999

Director: Barbara Fredrickson

Institution: The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Against this backdrop, concerns have arisen that reliance on artificial intelligence (AI) may further erode human moral capacities. Yet this decline may not be inevitable if we design AI with a different goal in mind.

Barbara Fredrickson’s expertise in psychology spotlights the emotion of love as a means through which humans can improve moral decisions. This Diverse Intelligences project aims to program and test an AI agent to teach humans (particularly young digital natives) that face-to-face positive connection with other humans is vital physical and emotional health.

In Dr. Fredrickson’s 2013 book, Love 2.0, she theorizes that this connection—termed “positivity resonance”—is the most elemental building block of love. Such moments, she proposes, function as crucibles for strengthening virtue—specifically, self-transcendence that recognizes a oneness across all humanity, and in turn inspires selfless altruism and humility.

Dr. Fredrickson has connected with Jonathan Gratch, a world-renowned developer of responsive AI agents, to forge a new multi-disciplinary collaboration, one that also includes philosophy doctoral student Michael Prinzing. The team herein seeks basic science funding to test whether, when, and how AI can strengthen human virtues. Deliverables include empirical reports to spark discussion in both scientific and lay communities about the unique potential AI may hold to accelerate human moral development, plus a roadmap for developing AI tools to help humans reach their higher ground by enacting virtue daily.

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