ETU “LETI”: Ethics for Future Cyborgs to be Developed

The project, supported by a grant from the President of the Russian Federation, seeks to delineate under what conditions a user of augmented intelligence technologies can be considered the same person before the augmentation and after the procedure. The researchers also aim to determine whether such a user can be fully responsible for his or her actions, or developers of the technologies can partially or fully take the responsibility.

Konstantin Frolov, Associate Professor at the Department of Philosophy of ETU “LETI,” heads the project. The project will also involve the department’s assistants Andrey Ponomarev and Timofey Dyomin.

“Our project is a fundamental one. In short, there is the problem of personal identity at the heart of it. Imagine a ship leaving point A on a long voyage with many intermediate stops, at each of which the ship undergoes minor repairs and replacement of parts. When this ship arrives at final destination B, it no longer contains any of the original parts. The question is: Is the ship that docked at point B the same ship that departed from point A? Different identity criteria give different answers to this question,” Konstantin Frolov explains.

The young scientist notes that the same criteria can be applied to the problem of personal identity: can a person at different stages of life, for example, before and after implantation of some artificial information processing systems in a brain, be considered the same person? And just as in the case of a ship, different criteria will sometimes give opposite answers.

“This problem is conceptual in its nature, that is, it doesn’t derive from a lack of empirical knowledge. We do not need to conduct any experiments or tests to solve it. In this case, we need conceptual analysis, an analysis of the initial concepts, as well as limits and criteria of their applicability.”

Konstantin Frolov, Associate Professor at the Department of Philosophy of ETU “LETI”
Within the project, there will be a series of colloquia in cooperation with colleagues from the Moscow Center for Consciousness Research at Moscow State University, during which young researchers will present their ideas on the topics of the project. By the end of 2022, scientists plan to develop a comprehensive methodology for the ethical review of augmented intelligence technologies.