Cognition Lunch Salon: “On the Matter of Robot Minds”
Presenter: Brian P. McLaughlin (Distinguished Professor of Philosophy and Cognitive Science; Director, Rutgers Cognitive Science Center)
Abstract: A number of AI researchers are predicting that there will be sentient robots with human-level intelligence or greater within the next thirty or so years. If this prediction is correct, we face enormously difficult moral and social issues. Status as a moral agent or moral patient depends only on mental abilities. Sentient robots would have moral rights, and so should have legal rights to protect them. Moreover, the sale of robots with intelligence even approaching human-level intelligence would be slavery. There is a tsunami of humanoid robots soon to enter our lives. I argue, however, that the prediction that sentient robots with human-level intelligence will soon be here is based, in part, on a false behaviorist assumption about mentality. Although the tsunami will bring a flood of difficult moral and social issues in its wake, robots rights is not among them. The robots will be devoid of mentality. They could be damaged or destroyed, but neither harmed nor wronged.
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