A new study by the Pew Research Center spurred a rash of headlines last week about “the dying middle class.” But the word “dying” might be more appropriate if we were watching the regrettable but inevitable effects of natural forces at work. We’re not. We’re seeing the fruits of deliberate action—and sometimes of deliberate inaction—at the highest levels of power.
PR is essentially the practice of managing the spread of information, and this is a tactical craft. For the PR professional years of experience combine knowledge of pragmatic practice and human intuition to generate desired results, a positive image and receptive message.
Students taking an online course at Georgia Tech’s School of Interactive Computing were duped into thinking one of their teaching assistants, named Jill Watson, was an actual human. And how can you blame them—the virtual TA managed to answer many of their questions with 97 percent certainty.
Abortion continues to make political news, but a question rarely asked by politicians or other interlocutors is: what do professional ethicists think about abortion? If ethicists have reached a consensus about the morality or immorality of abortion, surely their conclusions should be important. And, as a professional ethicist myself, I can tell you that among ethicists it is exceedingly rare to find defenders of the view that abortion is murder. In fact, support for this anti-abortion position, to the extent it exists at all, comes almost exclusively from the small percentage of philosophers who are theists. Yet few seem to take notice of this fact.
I’ve long urged folks to go have another look at one of the founders of the Western-Pragmatic Enlightenment, Adam Smith. Lately, Smith has been picked up by ever more economists and thinkers seeking to understand how we’ve gone astray.
This is the second in a two-part series (read Part I here)looking at the ethics of intimate surveillance. In part one, I explained what was meant by the term ‘intimate surveillance’, gave some examples of digital technologies that facilitate intimate surveillance, and looked at what I take to be the major argument in favour of this practice (the argument from autonomy).
Last year when I wrote a review of E.O. Wilson’s book The Meaning of Human Existence I felt sure it would be the then 85 year old’s last major work. I was wrong having underestimated Professor Wilson’s already impressive intellectual stamina. Perhaps his latest book Half-Earth: Our Planet’s Fight for Life is indeed his last, the final book that concludes the trilogy of The Social Conquest of Earth and the Meaning of Human Existence.
‘Intimate Surveillance’ is the title of an article by Karen Levy - a legal and sociological scholar currently-based at NYU. It shines light on an interesting and under-explored aspect of surveillance in the digital era. The forms of surveillance that capture most attention are those undertaken by governments in the interests of national security or corporations in the interests of profit.
I’m going to start with a few brief opening remarks about what I think is the habit of thought that has made the United States #1 in the world in prisons and wars. And then I’ll be glad to try to answer as many questions as you think of. These remarks will be published online at American Herald Tribune.
At a post-screening discussion where I questioned the director of Eye in the Sky about the disconnect between his drone-kill movie and reality, he launched into a bunch of thought-experiment stuff of the sort I’ve tried to avoid since finishing my master’s in philosophy. Mostly I’ve avoided hanging out with torture supporters.
Ursula K. Le Guin’s The Left Hand of Darkness, a classic sci-fi, and Nebula Award winner for best novel, is about descendants of the human race that, due to evolution, periodically alternate their genetic sex. Sometimes they’re male and sometimes they’re female; it’s an intriguing exploration on the role of culture and gender. The story’s protagonist is like you and me, a visiting alien trying to understand the customs of this other world. What is gender? And why is everyone talking about it so much right now?
I have long been persuaded that there are strong parallels between transhumanism and religion, not only “new” religions but the traditional religions of our grandfathers as well. There are, of course, differences, but I prefer to emphasize the parallels. After some deep reading and thinking, I realize that Christianity and Transhumanism are closer than I thought, and much closer than you probably think.
What kind of person becomes a full time abortion provider, traveling across state lines to end unhealthy or unwanted pregnancy despite screaming protesters threatening death and damnation? Whatever image you may have in mind, Dr. Willie Parker probably doesn’t fit it.
Régulièrement, la question est posée de savoir si le transhumanisme est une religion. Ma réponse personnelle, comme celle des membres de l’Association Française Transhumaniste : Technoprog!, est résolument négative. Ce mouvement de pensée ne rentre décidément pas dans cette définition. Pour autant, je pense que d’une part le transhumanisme a quelque chose à dire aux religions et que d’autre part, il n’est pas du tout impossible d’envisager le transhumanisme d’un point de vue religieux ou au moins spiritualiste.
On the 8th August 1963, a gang of fifteen men boarded the Royal Mail train heading from London to Glasgow. They were there to carry out a robbery. In the end, they made off with £2.6 million (approximately £46 million in today’s money). The robbery had been meticulously planned. Using information from a postal worker (known as “the Ulsterman”), the gang waylaid the train at a signal crossing in Ledburn, Buckinghamshire.
Vanderbilt University’s Michael Bess has written an extraordinarily thoughtful new book: Our Grandchildren Redesigned: Life In The BioEngineered Society Of The Near Future. The first part of the book introduces the reader to the technologies that will enhance the physical, emotional, and intellectual abilities of our children and grandchildren: pharmaceuticals, bioelectronics, genetics, nanotechnology, robotics, artificial intelligence, synthetic biology, and virtual reality.
It was hailed as the most significant test of machine intelligence since Deep Blue defeated Garry Kasparov in chess nearly 20 years ago. Google’s AlphaGo has won two of the first three games against grandmaster Lee Sedol in a Go tournament, showing the dramatic extent to which AI has improved over the years. That fateful day when machines finally become smarter than humans has never appeared closer—yet we seem no closer in grasping the implications of this epochal event.
I am currently editing a book with Neil McArthur on the social, legal and ethical implications of sex robots. As part of that effort, I’m trying to develop a clearer understanding of the typical objections to the creation of sex robots. I have something of a history on this topic. I’ve developed objections to (certain types of) sex robots in my own previous work; and critiqued the objections of others, such as the Campaign Against Sex Robots, on this blog. But I have yet to step back and consider the structural properties these objections might share.
Marshall Brain (1961 – ) is an author, public speaker, and entrepreneur. He earned an MS in computer science from North Carolina State University where he taught for many years, and is the founder of the website HowStuffWorks, which was sold in 2007 to Discovery Communications for $250,000,000.
1. Aujourd’hui est le jour le plus beau et le plus dangereux de l’histoire de l’humanité
Aujourd’hui, comme presque chaque jour depuis plus de cinquante ans, nous vivons le jour le plus heureux parce que partout dans le monde, notre espérance de vie, notre santé ainsi que notre confort matériel n’ont cessé d’augmenter. Malgré l’impression que nous en donne l’actualité médiatique, la famine et la guerre déclinent.
This post is the first substantive entry in my series about effective altruism. In a previous post, I offered a general introduction to the topic of effective altruism (EA) and sketched out a taxonomy of the main objections to the practice. In that post, I adopted a ‘thick’ definition of EA, which holds that one ought to do the most good one can do, assuming a welfarist and consequentialist approach to ethics, and favouring evidentially robust policy interventions.
Movies like Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and Inception suggest it may eventually be possible to erase, modify, or even implant memories into your brain. An upcoming episode of NOVA introduces viewers to this futuristic possibility and the scientists who are trying to make it happen.
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