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MA Thesis Defense: Burgandy Basulto

June 25, 2019 @ 1:00 pm - 3:00 pm

Burgandy Basulto (Cal State Long Beach)
‘Relevant features that could qualify AI systems as persons with moral standing’
25 Jun 2019  •  1:00pm–3:00pm  •  MHB–915

Abstract: What conditions would have to be met for us to possibly consider artificial intelligence (AI) systems as persons? To address this question, I discuss what it would take for AI systems to become metaphysical persons, otherwise referred to as ‘intelligent agents’. An intelligent agent is goal-based, acts upon information it perceives from its environment, and is capable of making decisions and choosing a course of action based on its own experiences. First, I make important distinctions in definitions of persons and personhood, such as the distinction between metaphysical personhood, moral personhood, and moral standing. Second, I present Michael Tooley’s notion of personhood, focusing on his requirement that an entity have self-consciousness and a concept of itself as a continuing subject of experiences and mental states. Third, I suggest that self-consciousness, understood as access consciousness, and emotion, are two relevant features for intelligent agency. Fourth, influenced by Peter Singer, I suggest that moral dilemmas such as the taking of a life reveal that the value of a life is driven by certain characteristics, such as the ability to hope, plan and work toward future goals. These characteristics relate to the functions of an intelligent agent and are facilitated by the possession of self-consciousness and emotion. 

Oral defenses are open to the public. For a draft copy of the thesis in advance, please contact Burgandy Basulto directly.


June 25, 2019
1:00 pm - 3:00 pm