and Society at AAAI 2016, and the Workshop on
Ethics for Artificial Intelligence at IJCAI 2016. Teaching resources on robot ethics are also relevant for AI
ethics. For example, Illah Nourbakhsh created an
open course website for teaching robot ethics15 that
contains teaching resources to teach a lecture or a
whole course on the topic. Several books exist on the
topic of machine ethics or robot ethics (Wallach and
Allen 2008; Capurro and Nagenborg 2009; Anderson
and Anderson 2011; Gunkel 2012; Lin, Abney, and
Bekey 2014; Trappl 2015). Case studies can be found
at the onlineethics website.
We have provided a case study from the movie Robot
& Frank as a template for use as is, or as inspiration for
discussion of other movies. This case study is not
intended to be a complete catalogue of ethical issues
or cases, but should function as inspiration and guid-
ance for faculty wanting to devote a few classes to
some of the societal implications of the work we do.
Our position is that we as educators have a responsibility to train students to recognize the larger ethical issues and responsibilities that their work as technologists may encounter, and that using science
fiction as a foundation for this achieves better student learning, retention, and understanding. To this
end some of us have, in the last several years, published work on our course, Science Fiction and Computer Ethics (Bates et al. 2012; Bates et al. 2014; Burton, Goldsmith, and Mattei 2015, 2016b, 2016a).
This course has been popular with students, as has
Goldsmith and Mattei’s previous work running an
undergraduate AI course that uses science fiction to
engage students about research (Goldsmith and Mattei 2011, Goldsmith and Mattei 2014).
Emanuelle Burton and Judy Goldsmith are supported
by the National Science Foundation under Grant No.
1646887. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or
recommendations expressed in this material are
those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the
views of the National Science Foundation. Research
by Benjamin Kuipers at the University of Michigan
Intelligent Robotics Lab is supported in part by grants
from the National Science Foundation (IIS-1111494
and IIS-1421168). Research by Sven Koenig at the
University of Southern California is supported by
NSF under grant numbers 1409987 and 1319966.
Some research by Nicholas Mattei was performed
while he was employed by Data61, CSIRO (formerly
NICTA), and UNSW Australia. Data61, CSIRO (
formerly NICTA) is funded by the Australian Government through the Department of Communications
and the Australian Research Council (ARC) through
the ICT Centre of Excellence Program.
Toby Walsh is supported by the ARC, the ERC, and
1. We create artifacts that take multiple forms including
intelligent computing systems and robots. In this article we
use the term AI and AIs to refer to any artificial,
autonomous decision maker.
2. See, for example, futureoflife.org/open-letter-autonomous-weapons.
5. webcast.amps.ms. mit.edu/fall2014/AeroAstro/index-Fri-
10. An anonymous reviewer suggested that we can summarize Asimov’s three laws as decreasing priorities of human-preservation, human-obedience, and robot-self-preserva-tion; the 0th law would be humanity-preservation.
12. Clip available at youtu.be/eQxUW4B622E.
13. Clip available at youtu.be/3yXwPfvvIt4.
14. Clip available at youtu.be/xlpeRIG18TA.
15. See www.sites.google.com/site/ethicsandrobotics.
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