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David Gunkel

Last updated March 31, 2013 - 1:01pm by Mark A. McCutcheon

David Gunkel, Presidential Teaching Professor of Communication Studies, Northern Illinois U

“Response-Able Machines: The Opportunities and Challenges of Artificial Autonomous Agents”

Abstract: We currently occupy the world science fiction writers and filmmakers have been predicting for decades—a world populated by and increasingly reliant on intelligent or semi-intelligent machines. Robots, or more generally artificial autonomous agents, are everywhere. We chat with them online, we play with them in digital games, we collaborate with them at work, and we rely on their capabilities to help us manage all aspects of our increasingly data-rich, digital lives. This paper investigates the opportunities and challenges of these Response-Able Machines—machines that are designed for and are able to respond to human users as if another intelligent agent and in doing so have both legal and moral responsibilities to the human beings with whom they communicate and interact. In particular the paper will 1) trace the development and recent proliferation of artificial autonomous agents in both online, virtual environments and physical reality; 2) investigate the effect these machine have on conceptualizations of identity and agency; and 3) explicate the consequences of this development for the way we understand and operationalize concepts of legal rights and moral responsibility. The paper, therefore, addresses and evaluates fundamental changes in identity and agency in the age of intelligent machines.


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