The 18th World Congress of Jewish Studies

From iRobot to myRobot: A Jewish Ethical Perspective on Conscious AI

The openly stated goal of the AI industry is to develop conscious humanoid robots. As ethicists, the actual achievability of the goal is of less concern than that of the moral issues at stake if it is achieved. It has been noted that ethical treatments often lag technological breakthroughs and given the many ethical questions that arise from conscious AI, there is an urgency to discuss this technology today. Indeed, the most urgent question is: Should we even create such beings? And if so, what kind of ethical obligations do we have toward such beings – are they pets or people? Can we turn them off or is that murder? Furthermore, some have proposed that it would be ethical to design them to desire to fulfill our needs (e.g., robots that want to fold my laundry). Is making “a fool satisfied” ethical? Finally, it has been noted that conscious AI “may be the greatest threat to Christian theology since Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of the Species.” Does Judasim perceive such a threat? It is the intent of my presentation to apply ancient, medieval and modern Jewish thought to confront these futuristic dilemmas.