Teaching Computers to Lie

By on May 22nd, 2016 in Ethics, Societal Impact

A recent Wall St. Journal article on the limitations of computer “players” in online games is that they don’t know about lying. No doubt this is true. Both the detection of lies (which means anticipating them, and in some sense understanding the value of misrepresentation to the other party) and the ability to use this capability are factors in “gaming.” This can be both entertainment games, and “gaming the system” — in sales, tax evasion, excusing failures, whatever.

So here is a simple question: Should we be teaching computers to lie?

(Unfortunately, I don’t expect responses to this question will alter the likely path of game creators, or others who might see value in computers that can lie.) I will also differentiate this from using computers to lie. I can program a computer so that it overstates sales, understates losses, and many other forms of fraud. But in this case it is my ethical/legal lapse, not a “decision” on the part of the computer.

Image: By Photograph taken by Jared C. Benedict on 16 October 2005. Background made transparent by Mikael Häggström (Own work) [CC BY-SA 2.5 ], via Wikimedia Commons