This paper investigates the use of high-level action languages for designing ethical autonomous agents. It proposes a novel and modular logic-based framework for representing and reasoning over a variety of ethical theories, based on a modified version of the Event Calculus and implemented in Answer Set Programming. The ethical decision-making process is conceived of as a multi-step procedure captured by four types of interdependent models which allow the agent to assess its environment, reason over its accountability and make ethically informed choices. The overarching ambition of the presented research is twofold. First, to allow the systematic representation of an unbounded number of ethical reasoning processes, through a framework that is adaptable and extensible. Second, to avoid the common pitfall of too readily embedding moral information within computational engines, thereby feeding agents with atomic answers that fail to truly represent underlying dynamics. We aim instead to comprehensively displace the burden of moral reasoning from the programmer to the program itself.
computational ethics, answer set programming, event calculus, reasoning about actions and change
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