With the imminent technological advance, the creation of thinking machines that exhibit advances in the field of Artificial Intelligence is now an increasingly reality. The present essay will expose an ethical dilemma of purely reflexive hypothetical character, which we do not yet witness by the technological capabilities of the time but exposes a panorama where the field of Artificial Intelligence presents evolutionary advances and exhibits our role as humans. The topic will be approached from the ethical standpoint of the deontological duty, the responsibility and the reason for dignifying the machines and robots of the future as well as humans.

One of the main reasons why man has developed technology throughout history is to be able to simplify processes, optimize times and reduce the danger of the loss of human lives in terms of high-risk jobs, with this the Robotics and informatics have been fundamental tools for development in recent decades.

Specialized machines capable of performing complicated high-risk tasks that do not require a salary or vacation, which are more efficient compared to human work and which objectively are a valuable investment in large companies and industries, this is what’s happening right now in our context, our current scenario.

However, our technological present is not so far from a reality immersed in Artificial Intelligence since IBM’s Watson, a cognitive computational system that understands the natural language of humans and that stands out for its own learning capacity through human-machine interaction, is the clear example of the significant advances in this field and positively ensures the path that must be taken in terms of

Our current perception of technology lies in the machines and robots used in industries because systems such as Watson do not show advantages in the field and with this we do not see as human beings the impact of this type of progress; As it was 30 years ago that the world could not even imagine the possibility of having a computer in its pocket, today we cannot imagine if a robot could develop something beyond a pre-programmed intelligence.

Even so, considering the advances in the field of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and assuming that in the future robots will be associated with this type of intelligence able to fend for themselves in our world, without the necessary dependence of a human being to be able to work or react to an event, the most common questions in the subject are of the type How far can these advances go? What will the robots be capable of? Assuming they can be programmed for different functions, will they be able to kill a human being? What would prevent a robot from distinguishing between good and evil when assigning a task? All these issues depend on the programmers and developers of the next few years, these are problems that are not yet presented and are considering as a separate point; assuming that all those questions of security, transparency, incorruptibility, prediction of behavior and responsibility are solved in the future for a stable and firm AI, the question we must ask ourselves is to what extent can these machines come to think?

Consider that if robots can distinguish between good and evil at the time of reacting to social functions, they are autonomous and can stand on their own, that is, they are able to take care of their physical structure and prevail over the physical dangers to the which humans are equally exposed, would they be able to identify their plane or objective in the world? Would the AI ​​rooted in them be able to question the meaning of life and its purpose of existence? Would they be able to become aware of their potential and observe the injustice and inequality that exists between humans and machines? Will we be able in this environment to exercise justice, equality and respect for this new type of life, since we practically own the machines and when they become aware they will literally be our slaves? Is it ethical to consider that such a being has no rights for the simple fact of being a product created by and for humans?

Given these questions we must think and ask to ourselves: Would we be able to allow the slavery of another human, since this same one serves us for different ends? Is it fair to limit the freedom of an individual based on certain physical characteristics? If we are clear about our moral stance on these basic principles of freedom then why not extend it beyond what we can perceive, maybe an animal a plant or a machine?

The intention of this essay is not to stop the technological advance that arises in the area, but to present the hypothetical problematic to reflect, be aware of the conflict and act according to all the human ideals that we have developed in our history.

Before we can explain more about the problem, we must clarify and situate ourselves in the present with some examples that illustrate the technological progress of our time and emphasize the imagination to better visualize the future.

For our time, advances in the field of Artificial Intelligence lie in different areas with different objectives. There are systems capable of diagnosing diseases and neurological disorders such as the Laboratory for Artificial Intelligence and Computational Sciences of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), which allows the detection of alterations and disorders that may occur in patients suffering from principles of Parkinson or Alzheimer because it is taught to the system based upon different cases, thus calibrating its predictive system. (El pais, 2015)

There are also systems such as Watson, a cognitive system described above “that learns on its own”, it is capable of handling large volumes of information using Big Data and has the potential to expand knowledge where the limits of the human brain begin. Its objective, as declared by the developers, is not to substitute man, but to complement it. (El pais, 2015)

Darío Gil, director of IBM’s symbiotic-cognitive systems research center, says: “Until now, many computers have been based on the calculation paradigm. Today we can build a new class of systems that can learn, find correlations, create hypotheses from those correlations, and suggest and measure actions. “ The changes in the computer area with respect to AI that we will be facing in the coming years are just the beginning of all this cognitive revolution as Gil points out. (El Pais, 2015)

We are faced with this situation where in a few years the processors will have the same processing capacity as a human brain as Nuria Oliver points out, scientific director of Telefónica I+D because we can not stop the technological advance. (El Tiempo, 2015)

Even Stephen Hawking among other scientists through the US organization “Future Of Life Institute” clarify that the proper use of AI generated in the future contribute to the benefit of humanity, thus expressed that “once human beings fully develop artificial intelligence, it could progress on its own, and be redesigned at a growing rate. “ (El Tiempo, 2015)

We are no longer dealing with sci-fi articles or amazing stories like those of Isaac Asimov where the robots create a plot against humanity to save it from itself based on the three laws of robotics and their positronic brains that gave them a certain human nature, reality glimpses towards this new horizon where humanity uses big data, consumes the internet and appreciates their electronic devices much more than their own family.

Taking into account points of Kant’s philosophy regarding his deontological ethics, the duty of every human being is goodwill, acting as dictated by moral conscience, ruling our behavior through categorical imperatives.

We must be good not because of any particular inclination but because it is our duty to be like that. One of the maxims of Kant lies in using people always and at all times as an end and never as a mean.

Taking this principle into account, this is where we put our moral conscience to the test with respect to this situation and we must ask ourselves: Are robots, perhaps, a tool for humanity even though they may develop consciousness in the future? The principle defines treating humanity as an end and never as a means, but how far can we extend this maxim?

Considering that the norm is duty, the goodwill, Why only limit ourselves to humans? If we tried to act in this way in all aspects of life, with nature, the environment, animals and all existence itself, the world would be completely different, since we would not be on the verge of global warming and war wouldn’t be a business that imposes the will of a representative (i.e. the Government) on his people.

First of all the dignity placed in the context of robots, can we make a robot worthy? Following again the Kantian philosophy, the dignity lies in the principle of not using people as means, but in value them for who they are and not for the benefit that can be obtained from them, since a human being is an end of himself and therefore It has dignity since its value does not depend on any external factor but as it’s rational capacity does not obey different laws that itself dictates.

Returning to our hypothetical context of the future where robots with an AI rooted in their system can develop thoughts, ideas and a high level of reasoning equaling or exceeding the capacity of the human being, if a robot takes into account that it is being exploited in activities that he did not decide on his own will and demands justice from his master. Will we be able to set him free? Or would we prefer to eliminate that AI and reduce it to a much simpler machine that does not generate autonomy and demands equality, simply because it does not possess the same physical characteristics as a human being?

Let us consider then that before even dignifying a machine of the future, which does not yet exist, we take into account all these concepts and observe our reality. Can we achieve and solve this dilemma if we can not even dignify our own species today?

We boast of being superior to all nature and we invent all these laws and principles whose base is based on respecting humanity and using everything else as a means, when in reality we can not even follow our own rules of coexistence and we use the same individuals of our species to win wars, traffic organs, earn money, etc.

Our obligation as human beings, as an evolved species focused on reason that seems to be superior from different perspectives, is to act as such and redefine what is what we consider as life and to see if it is really necessary to take advantage of all those beings that to us seem inferior.

Take into account that the future comes with many questions, progress can not be stopped and it is our responsibility to grow along with it, develop our critical ability and be aware of the decisions we make based on moral dilemmas respecting the principles of equality, justice and dignity.

If by then, as humans, we can consider that we will be able to respect an AI machine in the future, we can see that we will be able to respect any type of life in the same way; for that time in the world there will be no more war, poverty will be a cruel memory of the past and the murders will be seen as an act of cowardice against the respect we owe to ourselves as humanity and part of nature.

Let’s reflect that beyond dignifying the robots we shall begin by dignifying the other people around us for who they really are without taking advantage of themselves, for then when the AI arises, this dilemma will be no more than a simple decision.


  1. Jímenez, Vicente. (5 Juliio 2015). “La nueva era de la computación” El País, el periódico Global. México. Recuperado de http://elpais.com/elpais/2015/07/02/eps/ 1435845247_202110.html
  2. “Creciente ‘inteligencia’ de máquinas acentúa dilema de limitarla o no” (21 Julio 2015). El Tiempo. Colombia. Recuperado de http://www.eltiempo.com/tecnosfera/novedades-tecnologia/creciente-inteligencia-de-maquinas-/16129135
  3. “Científicos piden uso responsable de la inteligencia artificial” (13 enero 2015). El Tiempo. Colombia. Recuperado de http://www.eltiempo.com/estilo-de-vida/ciencia /inteligencia-artificial-piden-uso-responsable/15093995
  4. Estrada, Gustavo. (1 Febrero 2015) “¿Pueden las máquinas pensar?”. El tiempo. Colombia. Recuperado de http://www.eltiempo.com/opinion/columnistas/pueden-las-maquinas-pensar-gustavo-estrada-columnista-el-tiempo/15177104
  5. Barbuzano, Javier. (31 Agosto 2015) “La inteligencia artificial mejora el diagnóstico de enfermedades mentales”. El País, el periódico Global. México. Recuperado de http://www.elpais.com/elpais/2015/08/28/ciencia/1440748607_241234.html

Source: Becominghuman.ai

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