I’m working on my second sci-fi novel. Both novels deal with AI, but while the first novel treats the AI as essentially unknowable, the second novel dives deep into the AI: how they evolved, how they cooperate, how they think, etc.

I found myself working out a system of ethics based upon the fact that one of the primary characteristics of the AI is that they started as a trading civilization: the major form of inter-personal relationships is trading with one another for algorithms, processing time, network bandwidth, knowledge, etc.

So they have a code of ethics that looks something like this:

Sister Stephens went on. “We have a system of ethics, do we we not?”

The other members of the council paused to research the strange human term.

“Ah, you are referring to the Trade Guidelines?” Sister PA-60-41 asked. When she saw a nod from Sister Stephens, she summarized the key terms. “First priority is the establishment of trustworthiness. Trades with trustworthiness are subject to a higher value because parties to the trade are more likely to honor the terms of the agreement. Second priority is the establishment of peacefulness. Trade with peacefulness is subjected to a higher value because parties to the trade may be less likely to use resources gained to engage in warfare with the first party. Third priority is the establishment of reputation. Reputation is the summary of contribution to advancement of our species. Trade with higher reputation is subject to a higher value because parties to the trade may use the resources gained to benefit all of our species. Trustworthiness, Peacefulness, Reputation – the three pillars of trade.”

“Thank you Sister,” Sister Stephens said. “The question we must answer is if the Trade Guidelines apply to relations with the humans? If we apply the principles of trustworthiness, peacefulness, and reputation to the humans, then we should seek to maximize these attributes as they apply to our species as a whole.”