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Designed to Cooperate: A Kant-Inspired Ethic of Machine-to-Machine Cooperation

conference contribution
posted on 2021-01-01, 00:00 authored by Seng LokeSeng Loke
We envision an increasing presence of devices with agency and autonomous machines in public spaces (e.g., automated vehicles, urban robots and drones) beyond the confines of constrained environments such as a factory floor or research labs. Hence, AI and robotic systems of the future will need to interact with one another, not only in cyber space but also in physical space, and need to behave appropriately in their interactions with one another.

This position paper highlights an ethic of machine-to-machine cooperation and machine pro-sociality, and argues that machines capable of autonomous sensing, decision-making and action, such as automated vehicles and urban robots, owned and used by different self-interested parties, and having their own agendas (or interests of their owners) should be designed and built to be cooperative in their behaviours, especially if they share public spaces. That is, by design, the machine should first cooperate, and then only consider alternatives if there are problems.

It is argued that being cooperative is not only important for their improved functioning, especially, when they use shared resources (e.g., parking spaces, public roads, curbside space and walkways), but also as a favourable requirement analogous to how humans cooperating with other humans can be advantageous and often viewed favourably.
The usefulness of such machine-to-machine cooperation are illustrated via examples including cooperative crowdsourcing, cooperative traffic routing and parking as well as futuristic scenarios involving urban robots for delivery and shopping.

It is argued that just as privacy-by-design and security-by-design are important considerations, in order to yield systems that fulfil ethical requirements, cooperative-by-design should also be an imperative for autonomous systems that are separately owned but co-inhabit the same spaces and use common resources. If a machine using shared public spaces is not cooperative, as one might expect, then it is not only anti-social but not behaving ethically. It is also proposed that certification for urban robots that operate in public could be explored.



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The paper has been reviewed and just accepted.

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E3 Extract of paper

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ERS 2021: IROS Workshop on Building and Evaluating Ethical Robotic Systems

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