Consciousness Club #34: Buddhists and the Trolley Problem—Implications for AI Ethics
Speaker: Kin Cheung (Moravian College)
Abstract: A 2017 article in The Atlantic by Alexis C. Madrigal is titled “If Buddhist Monks Trained AI.” The subheading is “Monks take on the trolley problem, a classic moral dilemma that has big implications for driverless cars.” Buddhists are outliers in their responses to the trolley problem sets because they would push the large person. I explore possible reasons for their position including the role of intention and the impact of karma. Though there are scholars who argue Buddhist ethics is most closely matched with virtue ethics, consequentialism, or even deontology, I hold the position that Buddhist ethics is interesting precisely because it does not fit neatly into one of the three main Western ethical systems. This talk investigates Buddhist stances and their implications for the development of autonomous vehicles and AI ethics in general.
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