AI virtues -- The missing link in putting AI ethics into practice

Thilo Hagendorff

Several seminal ethics initiatives have stipulated sets of principles and standards for good technology development in the AI sector. However, widespread criticism has pointed out a lack of practical realization of these principles. Following that, AI ethics underwent a practical turn, but without deviating from the principled approach and the many shortcomings associated with it. This paper proposes a different approach. It defines four basic AI virtues, namely justice, honesty, responsibility and care, all of which represent specific motivational settings that constitute the very precondition for ethical decision making in the AI field. Moreover, it defines two second-order AI virtues, prudence and fortitude, that bolster achieving the basic virtues by helping with overcoming bounded ethicality or the many hidden psychological forces that impair ethical decision making and that are hitherto completely disregarded in AI ethics. Lastly, the paper describes measures for successfully cultivating the mentioned virtues in organizations dealing with AI research and development.

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