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Future Robot Artificial Intelligence
Predicting the Moral Consideration of Artificial Intelligences
Janet Pauketat
Research Fellow
Jacy Reese Anthis
July 22, 2022

Sentience Institute sees artificial sentience as an important frontier of moral circle expansion. One of our goals is to help build the research literature on this topic. In 2021, we published a review of the literature on the moral consideration of artificial entities. Following this literature review, we conducted a more in-depth survey of the moral consideration of artificial intelligences and its demographic and psychological predictors (e.g., substratism, techno-animism).

We are pleased to announce that the resulting paper, “Predicting the Moral Consideration of Artificial Intelligences,” has been published in the journal Computers in Human Behavior.


Understanding the moral consideration of AIs as moral patients is increasingly critical given their rapid integration into daily life and the projected proliferation of advanced AIs. We present the results from a preregistered online survey with 300 U.S. Americans on the psychological predictors of the moral consideration of AIs to develop psychological theory surrounding this phenomenon. We tested an array of psychological predictors inspired by the literature on human-human and human-animal relations: perspective (future orientation, construal level), relational (social dominance orientation, sci-fi fan identity), expansive (human-centric norms, anthropomorphism, global citizenship, openness to experience, techno-animism), technological (affinity for technology, substratism, human-AI overlap, realistic threat, identity threat), and affective (emotions felt towards AIs). The strongest predictors were substratism, sci-fi fan identity, techno-animism, and positive emotions. We also identified three conceptual dimensions of moral consideration with an exploratory factor analysis of eight moral consideration indices drawn from prior literature: mind perception, psychological expansion, and practical consideration. Additionally, the temporal existence of AIs impacted moral consideration: AIs existing in the future were attributed more emotional capacity and more value as feeling entities than were current AIs.  These results illustrate nuances in the moral consideration of AIs and lay the foundation for future research.

Author’s preprint version (non-paywalled):

Computers in Human Behavior version of record (paywalled):

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