Hiding Behind Machines: When Blame Is Shifted to Artificial Agents

01/27/2021 ∙ by Till Feier, et al. ∙ 0

The transfer of tasks with sometimes far-reaching moral implications to autonomous systems raises a number of ethical questions. In addition to fundamental questions about the moral agency of these systems, behavioral issues arise. This article focuses on the responsibility of agents who decide on our behalf. We investigate the empirically accessible question of whether the production of moral outcomes by an agent is systematically judged differently when the agent is artificial and not human. The results of a laboratory experiment suggest that decision-makers can actually rid themselves of guilt more easily by delegating to machines than by delegating to other people. Our results imply that the availability of artificial agents could provide stronger incentives for decision makers to delegate morally sensitive decisions.

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