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Archive for the ‘ethics’ category

Dec 5, 2016

Westworld is raising some huge issues about our future

Posted by in categories: ethics, mobile phones, robotics/AI

But Westworld is more than just entertainment. It raises problems that society will have to face head-on as technology gets more powerful. Here are a couple of the biggest.

1. Can we treat robots with respect?

Westworld raises a moral question — at what point do we have to treat machines in a responsible manner? We’re used to dropping our smartphones on the ground without remorse and throwing our broken gadgets in the trash. We may have to think differently as machines show more human traits.

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Nov 22, 2016

China is at the forefront of manipulating DNA to create a new class of superhumans

Posted by in categories: bioengineering, biotech/medical, ethics, genetics, neuroscience

In China, there are fewer regulations and ethical quandaries standing in the way of genetic progress.

Nov 10, 2016

Lifespans Are (Not) Long Enough

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, ethics, life extension, neuroscience

Aubrey de Grey and Brian Kennedy debate the motion that “Lifespans are long enough” at Intelligence2. This was a great show and the results speak for themselves as do the convincing arguments presented by Brian and Aubrey. If you missed it first time around earlier this year you should watch it now.


“What if we didn’t have to grow old and die? The average American can expect to live for 78.8 years, an improvement over the days before clean water and vaccines, when life expectancy was closer to 50, but still not long enough for most of us. So researchers around the world have been working on arresting the process of aging through biotechnology and finding cures to diseases like Alzheimer’s and cancer. What are the ethical and social consequences of radically increasing lifespans? Should we accept a “natural” end, or should we find a cure to aging?”

On February 3rd, 2016, SRF’s Chief Science Officer Aubrey de Grey joined forces with Buck Institute for Research on Aging President/CEO Brian Kennedy to oppose the motion that “Lifespans Are Long Enough”, in a debate hosted at New York’s Kaufman Center by Intelligence2 Debates. The team proposing the motion comprised Paul Root Wolpe, Director of the Emory Center for Ethics, and Ian Ground of the UK’s Newcastle University.

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Oct 30, 2016

Breaking into the Simulated Universe

Posted by in categories: computing, Elon Musk, ethics, internet, neuroscience

I argued in my 2015 paper “Why it matters that you realize you’re in a Computer Simulation” that if our universe is indeed a computer simulation, then that particular discovery should be commonplace among the intelligent lifeforms throughout the universe. The simple calculus of it all being (a) if intelligence is in part equivalent to detecting the environment (b) the environment is a computer simulation © eventually nearly all intelligent lifeforms should discover that their environment is a computer simulation. I called this the Savvy Inevitability. In simple terms, if we’re really in a Matrix, we’re supposed to eventually figure that out.

Silicon Valley, tech culture, and most nerds the world over are familiar with the real world version of the question are we living in a Matrix? The paper that’s likely most frequently cited is Nick Bostrom’s Are you living in a Computer Simulation? Whether or not everyone agrees about certain simulation ideas, everyone does seem to have an opinion about them.

Recently, the Internet heated up over Elon Musk’s comments at a Vox event on hot tub musings of the simulation hypothesis. Even Bank of America published an analysis of the simulation hypothesis, and, according to Tad Friend in an October 10, 2016 article published in New Yorker, “two tech billionaires have gone so far as to secretly engage scientists to work on breaking us out of the simulation.”

Oct 19, 2016

Program good ethics into artificial intelligence

Posted by in categories: ethics, robotics/AI

Concerns that artificial intelligence will pose a danger if it develops consciousness are misplaced, says Jim Davies.

Oct 7, 2016

How to Get Lost in Augmented Reality — By Tanya Basu | Inverse

Posted by in categories: augmented reality, ethics

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“Augmented reality offers designers and engineers new tools and artists a new palette, but there’s a dark side to reality-plus.”

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Oct 5, 2016

Food production in a world without meat — By Mbali Kgame | Design Indaba

Posted by in categories: environmental, ethics, food, futurism

“Meat production is detrimental to the environment and at the high rate at which it is consumed, it can also increase the risk of colorectal cancer by 18 per cent. This is according to a review of 800 studies conducted by the World Health Organisation (WHO).”

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Sep 30, 2016

Tech Giants Team Up To Devise An Ethics Of Artificial Intelligence

Posted by in categories: ethics, robotics/AI

Amazon, Facebook, Google DeepMind, IBM, and Microsoft announced the Partnership on AI, which will research ways to use the tech responsibly.

Sep 29, 2016

The Biggest Companies in AI Partner to Keep AI Safe

Posted by in categories: ethics, policy, robotics/AI

Industry leaders in the world of artificial intelligence just announced the Partnership on AI. This exciting new partnership was “established to study and formulate best practices on AI technologies, to advance the public’s understanding of AI, and to serve as an open platform for discussion and engagement about AI and its influences on people and society.”

The partnership is currently co-chaired by Mustafa Suleyman with DeepMind and Eric Horvitz with Microsoft. Other leaders of the partnership include: FLI’s Science Advisory Board Member Francesca Rossi, who is also a research scientist at IBM; Ralf Herbrich with Amazon; Greg Corrado with Google; and Yann LeCun with Facebook.

Though the initial group members were announced yesterday, the collaboration anticipates increased participation, announcing in their press release that “academics, non-profits, and specialists in policy and ethics will be invited to join the Board of the organization.”

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Sep 24, 2016

Breaking Taboo: Swedish Scientist Modifies DNA in Human Embryos –“Ignores Ethical Boundaries of Science”

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, ethics, genetics, science

In a recent experiment, a Swedish scientist, Fredrik Lanner, a developmental biologist at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, attempted to modify the genes of a human embryos injecting a gene-editing tool known as CRISPR-Cas9 into carefully thawed five human embryos donated by couples who had gone through in vitro fertilization (IVF). One did not survive the cooling and thawing process, while another one was severely damaged while being injected. The remaining three embryos, which were two-days old when they were injected, survived in good shape, with one of them dividing immediately after being injected.

Scientists have viewed modifying a human embryo as over the line for safety and ethical concerns. The fear is that Lanner’s work could open the door to others attempting to use genetically modified embryos to make babies. One mistake could introduce a new disease in the human gene pool that can be inherited by future generations. Scientists are also concerned on the possibility of “designer babies,” where parents could choose traits they want for their babies.

Fredrik Lanner (right) of the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm and his student Alvaro Plaza Reyes examine a magnified image of an human embryo that they used to attempt to create genetically modified healthy human embryos. (Credit: Rob Stein/NPR)

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