How Robotic AI for Space will Change Practical Wisdom

This paper will look at a deceptively simple set of questions concerning the applicability of virtue concepts to space technologies and to expansion: (1) what are the appropriate virtues for an era of space expansion and how do they diverge across different kinds of space related activity (security, scientific, and commercial)?; (2) to what extent do virtues for space represent a change in our understanding of the virtues and, more generally, the good life for humans?; finally, (3) should we be trying to get robotic AI in space to duplicate this changed understanding of a human conception of good, or merely to act in ways that virtuous agents would approve of? Put simply: should we be trying to build virtuous machines, or machines whose actions may themselves teach something to virtuous agents.

I will show that if we adopt the latter approach, approval by virtuous agents is unlikely to entail an ability to arrive at the same course of action independently, without mediation by robotic AI. In this respect, what we understand by phronesis/practical wisdom will change.