Consciousness and Ethics: Artificially Conscious Moral Agents.
Abstract: What roles or functions does consciousness fulfill in the making of moral decisions? Will artificial agents capable of making appropriate decisions in morally charged situations require machine consciousness? Should the capacity to make moral decisions be considered an attribute essential for being designated a fully conscious agent? Research on the prospects for developing machines capable of making moral decisions and research on machine consciousness have developed as independent fields of inquiry. Yet there is significant overlap. Both fields are likely to progress through the instantiation of systems with artificial general intelligence (AGI). Certainly special classes of moral decision-making will require attributes of consciousness such as being able to empathize with the pain and suffering of others. But in this article we will propose that consciousness also plays a functional role in making most if not all moral decisions. Work by the authors of this article with LIDA, a computational and conceptual model of human cognition, will help illustrate how consciousness can be understood to serve a very broad role in the making of all decisions including moral decisions.