A Conceptual and Computational Model of Moral Decision Making in Human and Artificial Agents

Document Type: 
Article Type: 
moral decision making, artificial general intelligence, artificial intelligence, Global Workspace Theory, machine morality, machine ethics
Date of Issue: 
Wendell Wallach, Stan Franklin, Colin Allen
Wallach, W and Franklin, S
Journal/Publication Title: 
Topics in Cognitive Science
Series Name: 
special issue on Cognitive Based Theories of Moral Decision Making
Cognitive Science Society
Official URL: 
Publish status: 
Recently there has been a resurgence of interest in general, comprehensive models of human cognition. Such models aim to explain higher order cognitive faculties, such as deliberation and planning. Given a computational representation, the validity of these models can be tested in computer simulations such as software agents or embodied robots. The push to implement computational models of this kind has created the field of Artificial General Intelligence, or AGI. Moral decision making is arguably one of the most challenging tasks for computational approaches to higher order cognition. The need for increasingly autonomous artificial agents to factor moral considerations into their choices and actions has given rise to another new field of inquiry variously known as Machine Morality, Machine Ethics, Roboethics or Friendly AI. In this paper we discuss how LIDA, an AGI model of human cognition, can be adapted to model both affective and rational features of moral decision making. Using the LIDA model we will demonstrate how moral decisions can be made in many domains using the same mechanisms that enable general decision making. Comprehensive models of human cognition typically aim for compatibility with recent research in the cognitive and neural sciences. Global Workspace Theory (GWT), proposed by the neuropsychologist Bernard Baars (1988), is a highly regarded model of human cognition that is currently being computationally instantiated in several software implementations. LIDA (Franklin et al. 2005) is one such computational implementation. LIDA is both a set of computational tools and an underlying model of human cognition, which provides mechanisms that are capable of explaining how an agent's selection of its next action arises from bottom-up collection of sensory data and top-down processes for making sense of its current situation. We will describe how the LIDA model helps integrate emotions into the human decision making process, and elucidate a process whereby an agent can work through an ethical problem to reach a solution that takes account of ethically relevant factors.
LIDA_and_Ethics.doc205.5 KB