Ethics of Artificial Intelligence

John-Stewart Gordon, Sven Nyholm

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingEntry for encyclopedia/dictionaryAcademicpeer-review


This article provides a comprehensive overview of the main ethical issues related to the impact of Artificial Intelligence (AI) on human society. AI is the use of machines to do things that would normally require human intelligence. In many areas of human life, AI has rapidly and significantly affected human society and the ways we interact with each other. It will continue to do so. Along the way, AI has presented substantial ethical and socio-political challenges that call for a thorough philosophical and ethical analysis. Its social impact should be studied so as to avoid any negative repercussions. AI systems are becoming more and more autonomous, apparently rational, and intelligent. This comprehensive development gives rise to numerous issues. In addition to the potential harm and impact of AI technologies on our privacy, other concerns include their moral and legal status (including moral and legal rights), their possible moral agency and patienthood, and issues related to their possible personhood and even dignity. It is common, however, to distinguish the following issues as of utmost significance with respect to AI and its relation to human society, according to three different time periods: (1) short-term (early 21st century): autonomous systems (transportation, weapons), machine bias in law, privacy and surveillance, the black box problem and AI decision-making; (2) mid-term (from the 2040s to the end of the century): AI governance, confirming the moral and legal status of intelligent machines (artificial moral agents), human-machine interaction, mass automation; (3) long-term (starting with the 2100s): technological singularity, mass unemployment, space colonisation.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationInternet Encyclopedia of Philosophy
PublisherInternet Encyclopedia of Philosophy (IEP)
Number of pages30
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • Artificial Intelligence (AI)
  • Ethics


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