Dr. Korbinian Rüger

Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität in Munich

Artificial Intelligence and Distributive Justice


Rapid advances in the development of artificial intelligence (AI) raise a number of moral questions. These range from privacy and surveillance issues, to algorithmic discrimination, to the development of autonomous vehicles and weapons systems, to the potential risk of human extinction from maladaptive artificial general intelligence (“AGI”) or even “superintelligence.” Some of these issues involve questions of justice. These fall broadly into two categories. The first category includes issues related to the use of AI. An example of this category is how we can ensure that decisions made by algorithms are not biased and do not discriminate against certain individuals or groups. We are addressing an issue here that can best be understood as one of procedural justice. This is an important and complex issue. However, it is at the heart of the current debate on AI ethics and is already well researched. A second category of issues tends to be neglected in comparison. This category concerns the equitable distribution of the benefits that accrue from the use of AI, whatever those benefits may be. These questions concern the area of distributive justice. The project is concerned with this second, more neglected category. It identifies at least three contexts in which distributive justice issues raised by the application of AI are particularly acute: work life, the use of personal data, and the use of autonomous machines such as autonomous vehicles and weapons. This project examines the distributional issues raised in these areas through three dimensions of distributive justice: human well-being, equality, and freedom. The goal of this research project is to develop a framework that will allow us to systematically assess the moral status of AI applications in terms of their distributive implications, and to guide future AI development in a direction that is conducive to achieving distributive justice.