Preprint Article Version 1 Preserved in Portico This version is not peer-reviewed

Ethical Regulators and Super-Ethical Systems

Version 1 : Received: 30 July 2019 / Approved: 31 July 2019 / Online: 31 July 2019 (10:40:58 CEST)

How to cite: Ashby, M. Ethical Regulators and Super-Ethical Systems. Preprints 2019, 2019070349. Ashby, M. Ethical Regulators and Super-Ethical Systems. Preprints 2019, 2019070349.


This paper combines the Good Regulator Theorem with the Law of Requisite Variety and seven other requisites that are necessary and sufficient for a cybernetic regulator to be effective and ethical. The resulting Ethical Regulator Theorem provides a basis for systematically evaluating and improving the adequacy of existing or proposed designs for systems that make decisions that can have ethical consequences; regardless of whether the regulators are human, machines, cyberanthropic hybrids, organizations, corporations, or government institutions. The theorem is then used to define an ethical design process that has potentially far-reaching implications for society. A six-level framework is proposed for classifying cybernetic and superintelligent systems, which highlights the existence of a possibility-space bifurcation in our future time-line. The implementation of “super-ethical” systems is identified as an urgent imperative for humanity to avoid the danger that superintelligent machines might lead to a technological dystopia. Third-order cybernetics is defined as the cybernetics of ethical systems. Concrete actions, a grand challenge, and a vision of a super-ethical society are proposed to help steer the future of the human race and our wonderful planet towards a realistically achievable minimum viable cyberanthropic utopia.


ethics; regulator; superintelligence; super-ethical systems; requisite variety; cybernetics; third-order cybernetics; cyberanthropic utopia; grand challenge


Engineering, Control and Systems Engineering

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