"It's important to realize that targeting a weapon is an act - a moral act," Asaro said. "Choosing to pull the trigger, to engage that weapon, is another moral act. I think these are the two crucial acts that we should not have become fully autonomous."
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Elsewhere at the conference there was talk about autonomous cars and the privacy issues involved when a vehicle is intelligent, networked and constantly surveilling. Adam Kolber, of Brooklyn Law School, gave an intriguing presentation about virtual currency systems like Bitcoin, which aren't A.I. in any meaningful sense, but are designed on the binary level to be unshackled and self-sufficient.
"Bitcoin isn't run by the people," Kolber said. "Bitcoin is run by itself." Does an intelligent virtual currency market require ethics? Can you code a moral code?
At the end of the day, Devlin's discussion of the ethics of robot sex and companionship held the most resonance, if only because it's the issue we're likely to be dealing with soonest. Sex drives innovation like nothing else; the internet porn industry, rather famously, was the prime mover in creating online credit card payments.