Guest Editors
Alan Winfield, Katina Michael, Jeremy Pitt, and Vanessa Evers
Publication Date

Machine Ethics: The Design and Governance of Ethical AI and Autonomous Systems

Guest Editors:

  • Alan Winfield, University of the West of England (UWE), UK
  • Katina Michael, University of Wollongong, Australia
  • Jeremy Pitt, Imperial College London, UK
  • Vanessa Evers, University of Twente, Netherlands


The primary focus of this special issue will be on machine ethics, that is the question of how autonomous systems can be imbued with ethical values. Ethical autonomous systems are needed because, inevitably, near future systems are moral agents; consider driverless cars, or medical diagnosis AIs, both of which will need to make choices with ethical consequences. Using the terminology of James Moor (2006)[1] we seek papers that deal with both implicit ethical agents, that is machines designed to avoid unethical outcomes, and explicit ethical agents, that is machines which either explicitly encode or learn ethics and determine actions based on those ethics. Of course ethical machines are socio-technical systems thus, as a secondary focus, we invite papers that explore the educational, societal and regulatory implications of machine ethics, including the issue of ethical governance. Ethical governance is needed in order to develop standards and processes that allow us to transparently and robustly assure the safety of ethical autonomous systems and hence build public trust and confidence.

[1] James H. Moor: The Nature, Importance, and Difficulty of Machine Ethics, IEEE Intelligent Systems, vol. 21, no. 4, pp. 18-21, July/August 2006.

Publication Date: 2018

Submission Deadline: December 11, 2017