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From erewhon to alphaGo: For the sake of human dignity, should we destroy the machines?

Brownsword, R., 2017. From erewhon to alphaGo: For the sake of human dignity, should we destroy the machines? Law, Innovation and Technology, 9 (1), 117 - 153.

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Erewhon cut.pdf - Accepted Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial.


DOI: 10.1080/17579961.2017.1303927


This paper asks whether, for the sake of human dignity, regulators should adopt a precautionary approach to the development of smart machines. Having identified a set of essential (or commons’) conditions for the existence of human social agents, including respect for human dignity in both foundational and non-foundational senses, consideration is given to human reliance on personal digital assistants, to the development of autonomous vehicles and lethal autonomous weapons systems, and to the use of smart machines in the criminal justice system. The paper concludes that, while smart machines should not be destroyed, a degree of precaution for the sake of human dignity is warranted. In particular, it is recommended that international agencies should monitor the impact of smart machines on the commons’ conditions; and that national commissions should facilitate the articulation of the local social licence for the development and application of such machines.

Item Type:Article
Uncontrolled Keywords:Smart machines, machine learning, human dignity, personal digital systems, autonomous vehicles, autonomous weapons, criminal justice, precautio
Group:Faculty of Media & Communication
ID Code:33737
Deposited By: Symplectic RT2
Deposited On:10 Mar 2020 15:45
Last Modified:14 Mar 2022 14:21


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