Artificial Intelligence: The Shylock Syndrome

David R. Lawrence, César Palacios-gonzález, John Harris

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


It seems natural to think that the same prudential and ethical reasons for mutual respect and tolerance that one has vis-à-vis other human persons would hold toward newly encountered paradigmatic but nonhuman biological persons. One also tends to think that they would have similar reasons for treating we humans as creatures that count morally in our own right. This line of thought transcends biological boundaries—namely, with regard to artificially (super)intelligent persons—but is this a safe assumption? The issue concerns ultimate moral significance: the significance possessed by human persons, persons from other planets, and hypothetical nonorganic persons in the form of artificial intelligence (AI). This article investigates why our possible relations to AI persons could be more complicated than they first might appear, given that they might possess a radically different nature to us, to the point that civilized or peaceful coexistence in a determinate geographical space could be impossible to achieve.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)250-261
JournalCambridge quarterly of healthcare ethics
Issue number2
Early online date9 Mar 2016
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2016


Dive into the research topics of 'Artificial Intelligence: The Shylock Syndrome'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this