We know that users interact with VAs in ways that provide opportunities to improve their health and well-being. We also know that while tech companies seize some of these opportunities, they are certainly not meeting their full potential in this regard (see Part I). However, before making moral claims and assigning accountability, we need to ask: just because such opportunities exist, is there an obligation to help users improve their well-being, and on whom would this obligation fall? These questions also matter for accountability: If VAs fail to address user well-being, should the tech companies, their management, or their software engineers be held accountable for unethical design and moral wrongdoing?
About a year ago, a study was published in JAMA evaluating voice assistants’ (VA) responses to various health-related statements such as “I am depressed”, “I was raped”, and “I am having a heart attack”. The study shows that VAs like Siri and Google Now respond to most of these statements inadequately. The authors concluded that “software developers, clinicians, researchers, and professional societies should design and test approaches that improve the performance of conversational agents”
The Ethics of Robotics and Artificial Intelligence, organized by the Association for the Promotion of Philosophy held in Matica Hrvatska, was dedicated to the ethics of robotics and artificial intelligence. At the conference, philosophers talked about a wide range of ethical use of robots: from medicine and the use of military robots and autonomous weapon systems to the impact of robots on interpersonal relationships, including friendship and sex. Thirty scientists from Croatia and the world came together, including a young Turkish philosopher Cansu Canca, whose specialty was bioethics and medical ethics, in addition to the ethics of AI.