Artificial agents are gradually entering positions in human communities, whether as work partners, medical assistants, or social companions. These roles require them to have at least rudimentary moral competence—at a minimum, they must abide by social and moral norms. But this is a much harder problem than it may seem. I introduce a model of norms that identifies a number of properties of human norms. I then examine what it takes for an artificial agent to have norms with such properties and how these norms could be learned and taught. I close with a few domains of applications in which robots may pose serious societal threats and others in which they may offer genuine societal benefits.
Bertram F. Malle was born in Graz, Austria, and studied psychology, philosophy, and linguistics at the University of Graz. After receiving his Masters degrees in psychology and philosophy, he entered graduate school in psychology in the United States in 1990. Malle received his Ph.D. at Stanford University in 1995 and joined the faculty of the University of Oregon that year. During his tenure at the University of Oregon, Dr. Malle also served as the Director of the Institute of Cognitive and Decision Sciences (2001-2007). He became Professor of Psychology in 2007, and in 2008 he joined Brown University.
Malle’s research, funded by the NSF, Army, Templeton Foundation, Office of Naval Research, and DARPA, focuses on social cognition (intentionality, mental state inferences, explanations), moral psychology (blame, guilt, norms), and human-robot interaction (moral competence in robots, socially assistive robotics). He uses a wide variety of methodologies, including text content analysis, observations of social interaction, eye tracking, and reaction times. He was recipient of the Society of Experimental Social Psychology Outstanding Dissertation award in 1995 and of a National Science Foundation CAREER award in 1997. In 2009, he was president of the Society of Philosophy and Psychology.
Malle’s publications comprise over 120 scientific papers as well as several books: Intentions and intentionality: Foundations of Social Cognition (with L. J. Moses and D. A. Baldwin, eds., MIT Press, 2001); The Evolution of Language Out of Pre-language (with T. Givón, eds., Benjamins, 2002); How the Mind Explains Behavior: Folk Explanations, Meaning, and Social Interaction (MIT Press, 2004); and Other minds: How humans bridge the divide between self and other (with S. D. Hodges, eds., Guilford, 2005).