Technology and ethics: the question of the culpability of machines and AI

3 min read



That's not meant to be an attack on Tesla in particular, it just makes more sense to include Elon as a person for the sake of tragic comedy. The examples with autonomous driving cannot be measured against the actual reality. A car will not decide whether to run over a grandmother or a child, as is the case in another common example; there is no such decision parameter.

What is interesting, however, is who is actually to blame for such an accident and can therefore be sentenced to financial compensation or even a prison sentence. It is not only observable in this case that the responsibility for damage, which can also be of a social nature (social media), is transferred to the technology itself in an obvious yet subliminal way. Your marketing campaign is not delivering results? Surely the algorithm is to blame, not your advertising text or the asset used, and certainly not the product itself. It's easy to blame the technology, after all, it can't defend itself against it.

You can't put an algorithm in jail, or condemn a program that created an autonomous weapon system based on a mistake (if it was an accident) by a court of law. The abstract nature of a company also plays into the hands of this development. It is by no means a single "mad" scientist who develops something like this, but international teams who sometimes work for different subcontractors and are also subject to different country-specific legal regulations. It is therefore becoming increasingly difficult to name a perpetrator as a person in such cases. Of course, one could simply ban certain technologies, but this would only lead to another company from another country gaining an enormous competitive advantage. It also seems impossible to estimate the consequences of today's technical development for just 10 years.

The human being seems to like to be freed from the guilt itself. If the machine was the cause, then it also bears the responsibility, I don't have to worry about anything and I don't have to show any remorse. However, one could also say that we are all responsible for it, which results also only in the fact that if everyone is responsible, practically considered then also nobody is responsible. Basically paradisiacal conditions. Or hell on earth, depending on how you look at it.

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