XS grant for Elizabeth O’Neill

May 3, 2023

NWO grant on what roles computers should play in conversations about morality

Elizabeth O’Neill, Assistant Professor in the Philosophy & Ethics group of the Department of Industrial Engineering and Innovation Sciences, has received an Open Competition XS grant from the Social Sciences and Humanities Domain of the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research (NWO). In the one-year research project, O’Neill will do preliminary work to investigate what roles computers should play in conversations about morality.

When Computers Join the Moral Conversation

Recent developments in Artificial Intelligence (e.g. ChatGPT) mean computers are poised to play an unprecedented role in the human moral conversation. If no action is taken, by default humans will routinely encounter computer systems that appear to praise and blame, make claims about right and wrong, command and scold, and express moral emotions. Such interactions have the potential to profoundly influence human values and norms. This project will identify important moral conversational roles that computer systems are already playing, which urgently need ethical scrutiny, and will develop initial ethical recommendations for further research and debate.

About XS grants
The NWO Domain Science has established a new category in the Open Competition with the aim of encouraging curiosity and new ideas in research as part of promising, high-risk projects: XS proposals. These are proposals for ground-breaking research with a real risk of failure. The XS category emphatically strives to encourage curiosity-driven and bold research involving a relatively quick analysis of a promising idea. As an applicant, you are also an assessor in the XS assessment process; this is emphatically a pilot and not a regular NWO procedure.