From Pluralistic Normative Principles to Autonomous-Agent Rules

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With recent advancements in systems engineering and artificial intelligence, autonomous agents are increasingly being called upon to execute tasks that have normative relevance. These are tasks that directly---and potentially adversely---affect human well-being and demand of the agent a degree of normative-sensitivity and -compliance. Such norms and normative principles are typically of a social, legal, ethical, empathetic, or cultural (`SLEEC') nature. Whereas norms of this type are often framed in the abstract, or as high-level principles, addressing normative concerns in concrete applications of autonomous agents requires the refinement of normative principles into explicitly formulated practical rules.

This paper develops a process for deriving specification rules from a set of high-level norms, thereby bridging the gap between normative principles and operational practice. This enables autonomous agents to select and execute the most normatively favourable action in the intended context premised on a range of underlying relevant normative principles. In the translation and reduction of normative principles to SLEEC rules, we present an iterative process that uncovers normative principles, addresses SLEEC concerns, identifies and resolves SLEEC conflicts, and generates both preliminary and complex normatively-relevant rules, thereby guiding the development of autonomous agents and better positioning them as normatively SLEEC-sensitive or SLEEC-compliant.
Original languageEnglish
JournalMinds and Machines
Publication statusPublished - 29 Oct 2022

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  • normative principles
  • social, legal, ethical, empathetic, and cultural (SLEEC) norms
  • SLEEC rules

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