Thematic day at PRIMA2017 – 30 October 2017


  • Virginia Dignum, Delft University of Technology,
  • Louise Dennis, Liverpool University
    Invited speaker: Raja Chatila

In the near future, the public will encounter new AI applications in domains such as transportation and healthcare. These applications must be introduced in ways that build trust and understanding, and respect human and civil rights. In fact, the issue of the Ethics of AI is hot. You can’t click on a news site nor open a newspaper these days without finding an article about the role of ethics in Artificial Intelligence. If we wish to avoid unintended negative consequences for society, the hype around this subject is warranted. However, many of the issues raise questions, from a technical and societal view.

Ethics by Design concerns the methods, algorithms and tools needed to endow autonomous agents with the capability to reason about the ethical aspects of their decisions, and, the methods, tools and formalisms to guarantee that an agent’s behavior remains within given moral bounds. How and to what extent can agents understand the social reality in which they operate, and the other intelligences (AI, animal and humans) with which it co-exists? What are the ethical concerns in the emerging new forms of society, and how do we ensure the human dimension is upheld in interactions and decisions by autonomous agents.

During this thematic meeting, the central question is:

Can we, and should we, build ethically-aware agents?

We will take a highly interactive approach, rather than a traditional paper presentation format. After a short introduction of the topic and aims of the day, the topic will be further elaborated by the invited speaker, Raja Chatila, and short pitches by participants. After this, participants will discuss specific hot topics in groups, following a semi-structured deliberation method aimed at generating a few concrete points for action. The day will conclude with the plenary presentation of these points.

Topics for discussion include, but are not limited to:

  • From BDI to ethical-awareness: what is needed?
  • Can ethical-awareness be built over normative (meta)reasoning models? Or, what are main differences between norms and values?
  • Human-in-the-loop: function, need, or requirement?
  • Ethics in multi-cultural (heterogeneous agents) environments? What is ‘good’ and ‘bad’?
  • How to elicit, represent and maintain the link between human values, social norms and system functionalities, in dynamic situations?
  • Accountability, Responsibility and Transparency: how to formalize and how to ensure that agents comply to these principles?
  • Ethical verification (design-time) versus ethical monitoring (run-time)

Interested participants are invited to submit a short motivation for their participation (maximum 300 words), together with contact information and to indicate whether they are interested in pitching a position point. Submissions must be sent by email to Virginia Dignum, by 21 September 2017.