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Science Ethics




Concepts & Definitions

Accuracy If statement X is accurate, it is true. Example: “Carbon emissions by man are causing climate changes of planet Earth.”
Precision If statement X is precise, it contains a certain level of detail. Example: “The distance to the moon is 358.094 Km.”
Accuracy vs. Precision An accurate statement can be precise to various levels. So can an inaccurate one.
Truthfulness Truth is ultimately an issue of accuracy. Truth, like accuracy, comes in gradations of precision.
Responsibility Only autonomous agents can take responsibility for their actions. In Western society only homo sapiens can be an autonomous agent.
'Taking responsibility' is the act of an autonomous agent that, in light of particular events, affect his/her life and existence.
A promise to take responsibility is not the act of doing so - it is just a promise. Responsibility can only be taken as part of ones' conduct (although admitting to have done something may count as part of taking responsibility).
Informed decision making The act of using truthful information as the main/only foundation for making decisions.




Science & Precision

The importance of precision Precision is not the primary aim of science, accuracy is.
When to be precise Science aims to be precise when it matters. Example: Global warming - how much do we have to reduce carbon emissions to maintain the current status of the Earth? Is it 350 ppm?
Bottom line Ultimately it is more important to be accurate than precise: Precision does not guarantee accuracy. Example: “The Moon is 1.23256 m in diameter.”




Science & Responsibility

Main responsibilities of a scientist To improve the state of knowledge in the world.
To share knowledge for the benefit of humankind.
To be truthful.
Science: the most reliable method for knowledge creation Because of its power, the responsibility of scientists is probably greater than that of any politician.
Scientists are responsible for their work The scientific community has repeatedly proven to have among the highest ethical standards of any profession. We'd like to keep it that way. It is part of what gives science its power.




Science & Governance

Responsibility of Scientists Assist society/government to make informed decisions.
Double-Edged Sword Knowledge can be used for good or evil - it really is a double-edged sword.
Recent Call for Scientific Responsibility In wake of the atomic bomb, and especially in recent decades, an increase in demands that scientists take action to ensure the responsible use of the knowledge they create.
Scientific Advisor/adviser Most governments have a scientific advisor to assist in making informed decisions.




Science & War

War? Huh!? What is it good for? A scientist can look at war like any other government act which has a purpose, a method and consequences.
What history suggests Most wars only benefit a small group of people, while the majority takes a net loss. Wars also seem to create more problems than they solve.
Should scientists participate in war-related activities? Examples: Build bombs or guns whose main purpose is to kill people.
Build artificial intelligence to control autonomous drones that can target specific individuals and deliver lethal poisons or bombs to them.
Should scientists accept grants from war-related government funds? Example: DARPA
Bottom line Ultimately, scientists are human. Some issues in government are a matter of emotions and outlook on life, which is beyond science as a practice. However, scientists have an obligation to make informed decisions, looking objectively at means and ends. Increasingly growing sense that scientists participate in ensuring the beneficial use of the information and knowledge they uncover and generate.




Declarations of Ethical Conduct - Examples

Dutch Royal Society Ethical & Legal Aspects of Informatics Research - Dutch Royal Society, 2016
IIIM Ethics Policy of the Icelandic Institute for Intelligent Machines
First such policy in the world.
Denounces military/war-related funding for AI and informatics research.
Call for International Ban on Killer Robots https://futurism.com/un-discusses-banning-killer-robots/
https://futureoflife.org/open-letter-autonomous-weapons/





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/var/www/ailab/WWW/wiki/data/pages/public/rem4/rem4-18/ethics.txt · Last modified: 2018/03/05 10:32 by thorisson