PoS seminar 13.9. with Nils Köbis

At the next Perspectives on Science seminar on Monday 13.9., Nils Köbis (Max Planck Institute for Human Development | Center for Humans & Machines) will give a presentation titled “How AI influences human ethical behavior”. The seminar takes place in Zoom from 2 to 4 pm.

Perspectives on Science is a weekly research seminar which brings together experts from science studies and philosophy of science. It is organized by TINT – Centre for Philosophy of Social Science at the University of Helsinki. More information about the seminar here.

To join the seminar, please sign up here.


As machines powered by artificial intelligence (AI) influence humans’ behaviour in ways that are both like and unlike the ways humans influence each other, worry emerges about the corrupting power of AI agents. To estimate the empirical validity of these fears, we review the available evidence from behavioural science, human–computer interaction and AI research. We propose four main social roles through which both humans and machines can influence ethical behaviour. These are: role model, advisor, partner and delegate. When AI agents become influencers (role models or advisors), their corrupting power may not exceed the corrupting power of humans (yet). However, AI agents acting as enablers of unethical behaviour (partners or delegates) have many characteristics that may let people reap unethical benefits while feeling good about themselves, a potentially perilous interaction. On the basis of these insights, we outline a research agenda to gain behavioural insights for better AI oversight.

Author bio:

Nils Köbis is a research scientist at the Center for Humans and Machines, Max Planck Institute for Human Development in Berlin. In his work, he uses behavioral science methods to study corruption, (un-)ethical behavior, social norms, and, more recently, artificial intelligence. He is the co-founder of the Interdisciplinary Corruption Research Network and, together with Matthew Stephenson (Harvard Law School) and Christopher Starke (University of Amsterdam), co-hosts KickBack – The Global AntiCorruption Podcast.