Dr Stephen Rainey (University of Oxford)
Tracing affords us a means of accounting for how, despite apparent relevant control being missing at the time of a given action, one can nonetheless ascribe moral responsibility for that action by tracing back to a point where an action was taken with relevant control. Responsibility is transmitted along an identifiable causal sequence from the earlier to the later action. How does tracing serve to account for responsibility when it comes to synthetic speech realised by a neuroprosthesis? In the case of neuroprosthetic-mediated speech for someone with complete bodily paralysis, there is no control of the physical body. The relevant control at the point of uttering synthetic speech is over the functioning of the neuroprosthesis, the speech device. This is no straightforward matter, however. For one thing, at the point of synthetic speech production, there is a hybrid sort of control at play between the processing of the device and user intentions. This hybrid sort of control may also be seen as extending backward temporally, making tracing hard to do.
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