Reasons to Punish Autonomous Robots

The Gradient 14 (2023)
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I here consider the reasonableness of punishing future autonomous military robots. I argue that it is an engineering desideratum that these devices be responsive to moral considerations as well as human criticism and blame. Additionally, I argue that someday it will be possible to build such machines. I use these claims to respond to the no subject of punishment objection to deploying autonomous military robots, the worry being that an “accountability gap” could result if the robot committed a war crime. (Sparrow 2007). But these robots will be blameworthy and morally responsible for their wrongful conduct. I then show that we have reasons to punish them based both on good effects and the impact on the robot, itself.



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Zac Cogley
Ohio State University (PhD)

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