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DEGREE REGULATIONS & PROGRAMMES OF STUDY 2020/2021

Information in the Degree Programme Tables may still be subject to change in response to Covid-19

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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Philosophy, Psychology and Language Sciences : Philosophy

Undergraduate Course: Ethics of Artificial Intelligence (PHIL10167)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Philosophy, Psychology and Language Sciences CollegeCollege of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 10 (Year 4 Undergraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryArtificial intelligence (AI) is developing at an extremely rapid pace. We expect to see significant changes in our society as AI systems become embedded in various aspects of our lives. This course will cover philosophical issues raised by current and future AI systems, with a special focus on normative concerns. Questions we consider include:

- What larger sociotechnical systems, historical forces, cultural values, and power relations have shaped the design, development and use of AI systems, and how might these be shaped by AI in the future?
- What sort of ethical rules, principles, rights or norms should govern AI systems and decisions?
- How do we prevent learning algorithms from acquiring morally objectionable biases?
- Should autonomous AI systems ever be used to kill in warfare, or to make other decisions with irrevocable and morally grave consequences?
- How will AI systems affect human dignity, skills, virtues, purpose, and work?
- What kinds of social roles (e.g. teacher, friend, supervisor, caregiver, lover) are ethically permissible for AI systems to occupy?
- Should AI systems be allowed to deceive or manipulate people, even if for beneficial rather than malicious purposes? Should they be allowed to imitate human emotions?
- Can an AI system suffer moral harm, or be a morally responsible agent?
- Does the future of AI pose an existential threat to humanity? Can we keep the values of AI systems safely aligned with our own?
- How should the benefits and risks of AI systems be distributed in societies and globally?
Course description The aim of this course is to introduce students to a range of ethical issues that arise regarding current and future artificial intelligence (AI). The main questions we will consider are listed in the course summary. No previous familiarity with the literature on AI will be assumed.

The classes will be primarily discussion based, so students are expected to have done the reading in advance of class. During class, students will work in small teams to answer a question (approximately 1 per team) based on the reading for the week. They may be instructed to argue for a particular case (pro or contra). They may be asked to assess the merits of a given view. They may be asked to look for counterexamples to a generalisation or fallacies with a specific argument. In second part of the class, we will come together to discuss what each group has achieved to see how it helps us to answer our questions.

Topics covered in class:
- Ethics of AI in government, health, education, transportation, media, finance, and warfare
- Ethics of AI prediction, classification, manipulation, and surveillance of humans
- Ethics of social robots
- AI and the future of work
- Justice and human rights in AI decision-systems
- AI safety, reliability and existential risks
- AI agency, responsibility and moral status
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Students MUST have passed: Knowledge and Reality (PHIL08017) AND Mind, Matter and Language (PHIL08014)
Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements Students who have not taken Knowledge and Reality (PHIL08017) and Mind, Matter and Language (PHIL08014) must gain permission from the Course Organiser before enrolling on this course.
Students studying on MA Cognitive Science (Humanities) are permitted to take this course without having met the pre-requisites of Mind, Matter and Language and Knowledge and Reality. However, it is advisable that students discuss the suitability of the course with their PT and the course organiser before enrolling.
Information for Visiting Students
Pre-requisitesVisiting students should have completed at least 3 Philosophy courses at grade B or above. We will only consider University/College level courses. Applicants should note that, as with other popular courses, meeting the minimum does NOT guarantee admission. These enrolments are managed strictly by the Visiting Student Office, in line with the quotas allocated by the department, and all enquiries to enrol in these courses must be made through the CAHSS Visiting Student Office. It is not appropriate for students to contact the department directly to request additional spaces.
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2020/21, Available to all students (SV1) Quota:  35
Course Start Semester 2
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Seminar/Tutorial Hours 22, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 174 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 0 %, Coursework 100 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) Midterm 1500 Words (40%); Final 2500 Words (55%); Participation (5%)
Feedback Not entered
No Exam Information
Academic year 2020/21, Part-year visiting students only (VV1) Quota:  1
Course Start Semester 2
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Seminar/Tutorial Hours 22, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 174 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 0 %, Coursework 100 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) Midterm 1500 Words (40%); Final 2500 Words (55%); Participation (5%)
Feedback Not entered
No Exam Information
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Demonstrate knowledge of philosophical issues involved in ethics of artificial intelligence
  2. Demonstrate familiarity with relevant examples of AI systems
  3. Demonstrate ability to bring philosophical considerations to bear in practical contexts
  4. Demonstrate ability to work in a small team
  5. Demonstrate skills in research, analysis and argumentation
Reading List
Representative reading list; specific readings change year to year

Lin, P., Abney, K. and Jenkins, R. (2019) Robot Ethics 2.0, Oxford University Press
Wallach, W., Allen, C. (2009) Moral Machines, Oxford University Press
Dubber, M.D., Pasquale, F. and Das, S. eds. (2020), The Oxford Handbook of Ethics of AI, Oxford University Press.
Liao, M., ed. (2020) Ethics of Artificial Intelligence, Oxford University Press.
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Not entered
KeywordsNot entered
Contacts
Course organiserProf Shannon Vallor
Tel: (0131 6)50 3886
Email: svallor@ed.ac.uk
Course secretaryMiss Ann-Marie Cowe
Tel: (0131 6)50 3961
Email: Annmarie.Cowe@ed.ac.uk
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