On Morality

I believe morality can be summed up as a conscious decision that affects the interests of others.

Conscious Decision

It has to be a conscious decision. As an example, if you are sleeping and you get up and sleepwalk outside and trample your neighbors flower garden, you cannot say that is immoral. Yes, killing your neighbors flowers is bad, but you did not decide to do it, you did not do it consciously. This would be something amoral with a negative affect on the interests of others.

By extension if you have a robot that is programmed to travel between two points and on one of its trips it runs over a persons foot, again, this would be amoral. The robot did not decide to run over the person. With this in mind we need to be careful as we program AI in the future. We need to take into account the unintended consequences of our creations. Being sufficiently intelligent to program an advanced AI, we are also capable of understanding the risks associated with it and thus to ignore this would be immoral.

The Interests of Others

This is the key to my definition of what is Moral. Morality is based on the persons actual interests for themselves. Not what other people think their interests are or what other people want their interests to be.

The golden rule is flawed. It states that you should treat others as you would want to be treated. That only works if the other people are very similar to you, most of the time they would need to be part of your close social network. Think about people from other countries as an example. If you go to China you may want to shake someones hand because based on your experience that is the polite way to greet someone. But this person may prefer bowing as their greeting. In this case the way you want to be treated is not the way the other person wants to be treated.

A lot of interests can be inferred, such as it being universal that people would not want you to steal from them, or murder them. Those are shared interests across the world. But not all interest can be assumed. The great side effect of this fact is that in order to be a moral person you have to have a dialogue with the people you affect in order to find out what their interests are.

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