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.
Daniel Dennett (1942 – ) is an American philosopher, writer and cognitive scientist whose research is in the philosophy of mind, philosophy of science and philosophy of biology, particularly as those fields relate to evolutionary biology and cognitive science. He is currently the Co-director of the Center for Cognitive Studies, the Austin B. Fletcher Professor of Philosophy, and a University Professor at Tufts University. He received his PhD from Oxford University in 1965 where he studied under the eminent philosopher Gilbert Ryle.
Ask Siri where to get an abortion and get a list of adoption agencies–for five years that was the experience of Apple users in cities ranging from San Francisco to Philadelphia. Recent technical upgrades appear to have resolved the problem, but advocates seeking to end abortion stigma say they intend to keep an eye on Siri and her competitors.
John Searle (1932 – ) is currently the Slusser Professor of Philosophy at the University of California, Berkeley. He received his PhD from Oxford University. He is a prolific author and one of the most important living philosophers.
George Pitcher is emeritus professor of philosophy at Princeton where he was a member of the philosophy department from 1956-1981. His 1984 article, “The Misfortunes of the Dead,” addresses the question of whether the dead can be harmed.
The necessity to create various remedies for degenerative age-related diseases is beyond any doubts. But this process is somewhat like a Sisyphean task, because the aging of each person only deepens over time, persistently destroying the results of treatment. Pharma is forced to deal with the countless consequences, rather than with their cause. The primary cause of aging is still deeply buried in gerontological terra incognita. Meanwhile, a growing and imminent new threat for humankind is becoming increasingly apparent. This threat is the increasing aging of the human population as a whole.
Epictetus (c. 55 – 135 CE) was born as a slave in the Roman Empire, but obtained his freedom as a teenager. He studied Stoic philosophy from an early age, eventually lecturing on Stoicism in Rome. He was forced to leave the city in 89 CE, after the Emperor Domitian banished philosophers from Italy. He then established his own school at Nicopolis on the Adriatic coast in Greece, where he taught and lectured until he died around 135. Today he is regarded as one of the preeminent Stoic philosophers.
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