Centre for Service Management

News and Events

2 Mar 2022

CSM publishes in a FT 50 Journal

We are delighted to announce that Prof Thorsten Gruber, Director of CSM, recently published an article in the Journal of Business Ethics (JBE) together with colleagues from Durham University (lead author Dr Zsofia Tóth), the University of Nottingham (Prof Rob Caruana), and the University of Cologne (Prof Claudia Loebbecke). JBE is one of the 50 journals used by the Financial Times in compiling the prestigious Business School research rank. The whole FT 50 list can be found here.


Business, management and business ethics literature pay little attention to the topic of AI robots. The broad spectrum of potential ethical issues pertains to using driverless cars, AI robots in care homes, and in the military, such as Lethal Autonomous Weapon Systems. However, there is a scarcity of in-depth theoretical, methodological or empirical studies that address these ethical issues, for instance, the impact of morality and where accountability resides in AI robots’ use. To address this dearth, this study offers a conceptual framework that interpretively develops the ethical implications of AI robot applications, drawing on descriptive and normative ethical theory. The new framework elaborates on how the locus of morality (human to AI agency) and moral intensity combine within context-specific AI robot applications, and how this might influence accountability thinking. Our theorization indicates that in situations of escalating AI agency and situational moral intensity, accountability is widely dispersed between actors and institutions.  ‘Accountability clusters’ are outlined to illustrate interrelationships between the locus of morality, moral intensity and accountability and how these invoke different categorical responses: (i) illegal, (ii) immoral, (iii) permissible and (iv) supererogatory pertaining to using AI robots. These enable discussion of the ethical implications of using AI robots, and associated accountability challenges for a constellation of actors – from designer, individual/organizational users to the normative and regulative approaches of industrial/governmental bodies and inter-governmental regimes.


Keywords: artificial intelligence; AI robots; descriptive ethical theory, normative ethical theory; locus of morality, moral intensity, accountability. 


Publication details:

Tóth, Z., Caruana, R., Gruber, T. and Loebbecke, C. (2022), “The Dawn of the AI Robots: Towards a New Framework of AI Robot Accountability”, Journal of Business Ethics

The article can be downloaded for free here.