Lying, computers and self-awareness

Paulo Castro
Published Online: 11 Oct 2021
Page range: 10 – 34

From the initial analysis of John Morris in 1976 about if computers can lie, I have presented my own treatment of the problem using what can be called a computational lying procedure. One that uses two Turing Machines. From there, I have argued that such a procedure cannot be implemented in a Turing Machine alone. A fundamental difficulty arises, concerning the computational representation of the self-knowledge a machine should have about the fact that it is lying. Contrary to Morris’ claim, I have thus suggested that computers – as far as they are Turing Machines – cannot lie. Consequently, I have claimed that moral agency attribution to a robot or any other automated AI system, cannot be made, strictly grounded on imitating behaviors. Self-awareness as an ontological grounding for moral attribution must be evoked. This can pose a recognition problem from our part, should the sentient system be the only agent capable of acknowledging its own sentience.

Castro, Paulo. “Lying, computers and self-awareness” Kairos. Journal of Philosophy & Science, vol.24, no.1, 2020, pp.10-34.

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