AI safety engineering through introduction of self-reference into felicific calculus via artificial pain and pleasure

Andrew M. Majot, University of Louisville
Roman V. Yampolskiy, University of Louisville


In the 18th century the Utilitarianism movement produced a morality system based on the comparative pain and pleasure that an action created. Called felicific calculus, this system would judge an action to be morally right or wrong based on several factors like the amount of pleasure it would provide and how much pain the action would inflict upon others. Because of its basis as a type of "moral mathematics" felicific calculus may be a viable candidate as a working ethical system for artificial intelligent agents. This paper examines the concepts of felicific calculus and Utilitarianism in the light of their possible application to artificial intelligence, and proposes methods for its adoption in an actual intelligent machine. In order to facilitate the calculations necessary for this moral system, novel approaches to synthetic pain, pleasure, and empathy are also proposed.