Archive for the ‘ethics’ category

Oct 6, 2015

UN panel warns against ‘designer babies’ and eugenics in ‘editing’ of human DNA

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

Warning that rapid advances in genetics make “designer babies” an increasing possibility, a United Nations panel today called for a moratorium on “editing” the human genome, pending wider public debate lest changes in DNA be transmitted to future generations or foster eugenics.

While acknowledging the therapeutic value of genetic interventions, the panel stressed that the process raises serious concerns, especially if the editing of the human genome should be applied to the germline, thereby introducing hereditary modifications.

“Gene therapy could be a watershed in the history of medicine and genome editing is unquestionably one of the most promising undertakings of science for the sake of all humankind,” the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) said in a news release on a report by its International Bioethics Committee (IBC).

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Sep 22, 2015

First application to pursue genome editing research in human embryos

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, ethics

Human embryos are at the center of a debate over the ethics of gene editing (credit: Dr. Yorgos Nikas/SPL)

The first application to pursue CRISPR/Cas9 genome-editing research in viable human embryos has been submitted to the UK’s fertility regulator by a team of researchers affiliated with the Francis Crick Institute in London.

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Sep 20, 2015

Why we really should ban autonomous weapons: a response

Posted by in categories: ethics, robotics/AI

We welcome Sam Wallace’s contribution to the discussion on a proposed ban on offensive autonomous weapons. This is a complex issue and there are interesting arguments on both sides that need to be weighed up carefully.

His article, written as a response to an open letter signed by over 2500 AI and robotics researchers, begins with the claim that such a ban is as “unrealistic as the broad relinquishment of nuclear weapons would have been at the height of the cold war.”

This argument misses the mark. First, the letter proposes not unilateral relinquishment but an arms control treaty. Second, nuclear weapons were successfully curtailed by a series of arms-control treaties during the cold war, without which we might not have been here to have this conversation.

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Sep 19, 2015

Google’s Demis Hassabis – misuse of artificial intelligence ‘could do harm’

Posted by in categories: ethics, robotics/AI

The head of DeepMind says the rise of artificial intelligence could be as important as the industrial revolution – and it must put ethics at its heart.

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Sep 15, 2015

The Imminence of Transhuman Technologies

Posted by in categories: bioengineering, ethics, existential risks, genetics, health, innovation, neuroscience

Progress always seems to ride a slippery slope. Innovations generally bring a plethora of potential benefits and just as many dangers, the obvious and the hidden. Technologies that tamper with our biological constructs is well underway in the neuro- and biotech industries. Historically, innovations in medicine have usually been beneficial on the aggregate.

But these new breakthroughs go beyond preventing and healing pre-existing causes. Transhuman technologies hold the promise of enhancing who we are as individuals and potentially as an entire species, and the decisions surrounding these technologies are far from simple. Dr. Nayef Al-Rodhan, a philosopher, neuroscientist, and director of the Geneva Center for Security Policy, believes we should be acting now to prepare for the inevitable and the unpredictable ramifications.

Framing Human Motivation

Considering our mixed track record as a species in rolling out groundbreaking innovations, discussing and finding potential solutions to many of the hidden dangers, and obvious ones, seems more than reasonable. One of the more puzzling questions is, where do we begin to have a pragmatic conversation on the ethics of these technologies?

There are plenty of theories about what drive human decisions, not least because human morality is infinitely complex and our minds crave frames through which to make sense of chaos. Dr. Al-Rodhan has his own conception of what drives human motivations. He makes meaning using the lens of “5 P’s” – Power, Pride, Profit, Pleasure, and Permanence – which he posits drive human motivations. “This is my view, the foundation of my outlook…this perceived emotion of self interest drives our moral compass.”

Continue reading “The Imminence of Transhuman Technologies” »

Sep 1, 2015

ON THE EDGE — The State and Fate of the World’s Tropical Rainforests | The Club of Rome

Posted by in categories: environmental, ethics

“This Report to the Club of Rome attempts to assess the condition of the tropical rainforests over the past 40 years and to project their likely future over the next 40 years, in terms of forest cover change, drivers of deforestation, impacts on biodiversity, and the consequences of climate change.”

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Aug 5, 2015

If every woman has a smartphone imagine all the empowered people — By Melinda Gates | The Economist

Posted by in categories: ethics, innovation


““Who is Sabita?” I was looking right at Sabita Devi when she said these words. She was describing her life as a wife and mother in Jharkhand, one of the poorest states in India, where she has spent most of her days inside the four walls of her home. “No one in my village knew my name,” Sabita told me. Her contact with the outside world was mediated entirely by her husband: who she could talk to, what she could buy, when (and if) she could see a doctor. She was isolated from everyone and everything but her children.”

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Aug 1, 2015

So — what is Ethereum; and, how does it relate to Law?

Posted by in categories: automation, big data, complex systems, disruptive technology, economics, ethics, governance, human trajectories, information science, law

Quoted: “Traditional law is a form of agreement. It is an agreement among people and their leaders as to how people should behave. There are also legal contracts between individuals. These contracts are a form of private law that applies to the participants. Both types of agreement are enforced by a government’s legal system.”

“Ethereum is both a digital currency and a programming language. But it is the combination of these ingredients that make it special. Since most agreements involve the exchange of economic value, or have economic consequences, we can implement whole categories of public and private law using Ethereum. An agreement involving transfer of value can be precisely defined and automatically enforced with the same script.”

“When viewed from the future, today’s current legal system seems downright primitive. We have law libraries — buildings filled with words that nobody reads and whose meaning is unclear, even to courts who enforce them arbitrarily. Our private contracts amount to vague personal promises and a mere hope they might be honored.

For the first time, Ethereum offers an alternative. A new kind of law.”

Read the article here >

Jul 9, 2015

Machine ethics: The robot’s dilemma — Boer Deng | Nature

Posted by in categories: ethics, robotics/AI

“Advocates argue that the rule-based approach has one major virtue: it is always clear why the machine makes the choice that it does, because its designers set the rules. That is a crucial concern for the US military, for which autonomous systems are a key strategic goal. Whether machines assist soldiers or carry out potentially lethal missions, ‘the last thing you want is to send an autonomous robot on a military mission and have it work out what ethical rules it should follow in the middle of things’.”

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Jul 7, 2015

Giant Battle Bots from Japan and the US Are Scheduled To Duel | TNW News

Posted by in categories: engineering, ethics, futurism, hardware, humor


Remember Pacific Rim? Giant battle droids kicking the hell out of monsters? Well, that’s (almost) becoming a reality: Giant bots built in Japan and America are set to go head-to-head in combat.

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