Published Date: 2018-02-08
Registration: ISSN 2374-3468 (Online) ISSN 2159-5399 (Print)
Copyright: Published by AAAI Press, Palo Alto, California USA Copyright © 2018, Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence All Rights Reserved.
A computer science faculty member and a philosophy faculty member collaborated in the development of a one-week introduction to ethics which was integrated into a traditional AI course. The goals were to: (1) encourage students to think about the moral complexities involved in developing accident algorithms for autonomous vehicles, (2) identify what issues need to be addressed in order to develop a satisfactory solution to the moral issues surrounding these algorithms, and (3) and to offer students an example of how computer scientists and ethicists must work together to solve a complex technical and moral problems. The course module introduced Utilitarianism and engaged students in considering the classic "Trolley Problem," which has gained contemporary relevance with the emergence of autonomous vehicles. Students used this introduction to ethics in thinking through the implications of their final projects. Results from the module indicate that students gained some fluency with Utilitarianism, including a strong understanding of the Trolley Problem. This short paper argues for the need of providing students with instruction in ethics in AI course. Given the strong alignment between AI's decision-theoretic approaches and Utilitarianism, we highlight the difficulty of encouraging AI students to challenge these assumptions.