Ethics in designing intelligent systems

Pertti Saariluoma (Corresponding author), Jaana Leikas

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference article in proceedingsScientificpeer-review


    The idea of Hume’s guillotine contains the argument that one cannot derive values from facts. As intelligent systems operate with facts, Hume’s famous dilemma seems to contradict the very idea of being able to create ethical intelligent systems. In a closer look, ethics is a system of rules guiding actions. Actions always have factual or cognitive aspects, as well as evaluative or emotional aspects. Therefore, Hume’s juxtaposition of facts and norms is not well-founded. Instead of separating the facts and norms it should rather ask what kinds of facts are associated to what kinds of norms. Consequently, Hume’s guillotine sets no limits in processing ethical information, as one can combine facts and values while constructing information processes. However, intelligent machines cannot process ethical information independently of the human mind, as one cannot discuss ‘relevance’ in any formal language. Intelligent systems can be given descriptions of ethical situations and related norms, but machines cannot initiate ethical rules themselves.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationHuman Interaction and Emerging Technologies, IHIET 2019
    EditorsTareq Ahram, Redha Taiar, Serge Colson, Arnaud Choplin
    Place of PublicationCham
    Number of pages6
    ISBN (Electronic)978-3-030-25629-6
    ISBN (Print)978-3-030-25628-9
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2020
    MoE publication typeA4 Article in a conference publication
    Event1st International Conference on Human Interaction and Emerging Technologies, IHIET 2019 - Nice, France
    Duration: 22 Aug 201924 Aug 2019

    Publication series

    SeriesAdvances in Intelligent Systems and Computing


    Conference1st International Conference on Human Interaction and Emerging Technologies, IHIET 2019


    • ethics
    • Hume's guillotine
    • appraisal
    • designing intelligent systems
    • the probleme of relevance


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