Neuroethics and Artificial Intelligence Opinion

The neurosciences have provided knowledge that has greatly influenced medicine, education, and justice. Companies such as Google, Microsoft, Apple and Facebook, to name just the largest, use them together with the knowledge of artificial intelligence (AI) in the field of “neuromarketing”, among other things. In its neurophysiological diversity, the brain can rationalize stimuli by blocking unethical attitudes as much as possible. However, the idea of ​​creating AI-powered agents that can behave contrary to human ethics is a matter of great concern.

The cognitive processes on which ethical and unethical attitudes are based can be extrapolated to the AI. Computer scientists develop AI that learns and learns and continuously adapts (adaptive memory through synaptic plasticity) and mimics what happens to the human brain in its relationship with the spirit. These are “machine learning algorithms” that replicate neural networks that communicate over links of varying intensity using processes configured as “neuromodulation”. It has a parallel in the chemical neuromodulation of synapses induced by psychotropic drugs and / or by non-invasive brain stimulation (electrical and / or magnetic) or deep brain stimulation. The main ethical problem is the legitimacy of using these methods as enhancers of cognitive activity in “normal” people. It is important to prevent the neurosciences from becoming a tool for shaping society by controlling behavior in pathological cases (under strict control by ethics committees). Temptation, supported by ideological radicalisms, now with new and so robust neurotechnological means (in many cases without ethical regulation).

The knowledge of the places in the brain where decisions are made, which neural circuits are involved, ie “impart biological substance” to the concepts of ethics, is the subject of investigation in the neurosciences of ethics using scientific and, if possible, experimental methods. Much of the progress has resulted from an intense and growing desire to understand the neural basis of behavior, personality, consciousness, and states of spiritual transcendence through functional neuro-imaging, brain implants, and brain-machine interfaces. The neurosciences of ethics also study the brain functions that define our ideas of freedom, personal identity, intention, moral choice, that is, knowing which areas of the brain are most active, which circuits are involved, which chemical mediators work in specifically reinforced synapses for the facility of these concepts.

It is extremely important to know whether ethical thinking is just a variant of rational thinking. Will it be so that we make ethical decisions in the same way as when we solve an arithmetic question? The idea of ​​”neuroessentialism” where more than our genes our brain defines what we are and where we are going; How is our brain that ultimately decides on the progress of neuroscience and creates a circular function, the knowledge of which will be inaccessible for many neuroscientists (the “last frontier of knowledge”) (knowing the brain with the brain itself). Advances in this knowledge also depend on AI, which has been instrumental in advancing math, engineering, robotics, computational biology, communication, economics, health sciences, and many others.

However, we cannot ignore potentially “fearful” and anxiogenic aspects that AI specialists have considered: fear of the unknown; Fear of AI abuse: criminal use, e.g. B. Cyber ​​attacks, health use with loss of ‘art’ (humanity, compassion …) in medical practice, regardless of the differences between each of us during the act (s) doctor (s); fear of creating social priorities, employment / unemployment; the fear that machine owners are too rich and powerful and everyone else too poor; Fear of a nightmare scenario where humans may not be necessary at all, and some experts like Hintze, professor of integrative biology and computer science and engineering at Michigan State University, may push this to the evolutionary speed of AI within 50 to 250 years.

An ethical framework for AI with technical committees to ethically evaluate research projects and teams is essential. The “complexity” of the field requires that the AI ​​contain codes and algorithms of ethical responsibility that can be verified by others, not just the inventors themselves

How can neuroscience knowledge be reconciled with a stable society without compromising diversity and individual freedom? Prior to the existence of ethics committees for the life sciences, some of the experimental research studies (on laboratory animals as assessed by the ethics committees) were performed directly on humans (e.g. the study called the Tuskegee Syphilis Experiment, a clinical investigation conducted between 1932 and 1972 by US Public Health). This would now be impossible, e.g. B. Studies with radioactive substances, even in animal and in vitro experiments, are subject to strict approval and control. The use of radioactivity for peaceful and / or non-peaceful purposes has been “relatively controlled” due to ethical regulations and international legislation.

It is therefore important to have an ethical framework for AI with expert commissions to ethically evaluate research projects and teams. The “complexity” of the field requires that the AI ​​contain codes and algorithms of ethical responsibility that can be reviewed by others, not just the inventors themselves. It is the duty of the Academy and the remaining consciously informed citizens to address the concerns that currently exist to judge political power. This will surely lead to laws and regulators upholding ethical values ​​regarding AI.

European guidelines indicate that the discussion on AI, which has so far been largely organized by industry itself, should be analyzed and discussed by universities and civil society as we are in a rapid historical transition that is taking place on many levels simultaneously . “The time window to at least partially control the future of AI and to effectively defend the philosophical and ethical foundations of European culture will close in a few years. We must act now. “