Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies



Technoprogressive? BioConservative? Huh?
Quick overview of biopolitical points of view



UPCOMING EVENTS: Cyber



MULTIMEDIA: Cyber Topics

Evan Selinger on Algorithmic Outsourcing and the Value of Privacy

Will World War 3 Be Prevented Because of Global Interdependence?

A glimpse of the future through an augmented reality headset

Terrorists Might Be Dumb, but They’re Tech-Savvy

Why Apple is Rejecting FBI’s Request for Universal Access to iPhones

Cloud-Brained Humanoid Robots Are Right around the Corner

A delightful way to teach kids about computers

A robot that runs and swims like a salamander

All your devices can be hacked

Military robots and the future of war

The wonderful and terrifying implications of computers that can learn

Non-lethal weapons, a moral hazard?

Podcast Interview - Is High Tech Turning Us Into the Borg?

Manifesto for Cyborgs

Singularity 1 on 1: Compassion is the reason to reverse aging!




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Cyber Topics




Does Self-Tracking Promote Autonomy? An Initial Argument

by John Danaher

Seneca was a wealthy Roman stoic and advisor to the emperor Nero. In the third of his Letters from a Stoic, entitled ‘On True and False Friendship’, he makes the following observation:

As to yourself, although you should live in such a way that you trust your own self with nothing which you could not entrust even to your own enemy, yet, since certain matters occur which convention keeps secret, you should share with a friend at least all your worries and reflections.



MIT Journal, Presence: Teleoperators and Virtual Environments Call for Papers

Advancements in virtual reality are not only technology driven, but actions within virtual environments implicate numerous issues in policy and law. For example, are virtual images copyrightable? Is the speech produced by a virtual avatar afforded rights under the U.S. and other Constitutions? How does criminal law relate to actions performed within virtual environments, or contract law apply to the lease and sale of virtual objects? These and other questions form the theme for this special issue. Legal scholars and practitioners from the U.S. and other jurisdictions are encouraged to submit.

See CFP here.

Link to Presence: Teleoperators and Virtual Environments



The Ethics of Intimate Surveillance (1)

by John Danaher

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.



The Habit of Thought That Made U.S. #1 in Prisons and Wars

by David Swanson

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.



“Intelligence Squared” Artificial Intelligence Debate

by Jules Hamilton

I attended the Intelligence Squared artificial intelligence debate at the 92nd St. Y’s Seven Day of Genius Festival (March 9th) and felt like I had a seat at the edge of the world.

Full Story...



Review of Phil Torres’ The End: What Science and Religion Tell Us About the Apocalypse

by John G. Messerly

Phil Torres’ new book The End: What Science and Religion Tell Us about the Apocalypse, is one of the most important books recently published. It offers a fascinating study of the many real threats to our existence, provides multiple insights as to how we might avoid extinction, and it is carefully and conscientiously crafted.

Full Story...



The Problem of AI Consciousness

by Susan Schneider

Some things in life cannot be offset by a mere net gain in intelligence.

The last few years have seen the widespread recognition that sophisticated AI is under development. Bill Gates, Stephen Hawking, and others warn of the rise of “superintelligent” machines: AIs that outthink the smartest humans in every domain, including common sense reasoning and social skills. Superintelligence could destroy us, they caution. In contrast, Ray Kurzweil, a Google director of engineering, depicts a technological utopia bringing about the end of disease, poverty and resource scarcity.

Full Story...



Who’s Afraid of Existential Risk? Or, Why It Is Time to Bring the Cold War out of the Cold

by Steve Fuller

At least in public relations terms, transhumanism is a house divided against itself. On the one hand, there are the efforts of Zoltan Istvan – in the guise of an ongoing US presidential bid — to promote an upbeat image of the movement by focusing on human life extension and other tech-based forms of empowerment that might appeal to ordinary voters. On the other hand, there is transhumanism’s image in the ‘serious’ mainstream media, which is currently dominated by Nick Bostrom’s warnings of a superintelligence-based apocalypse. The smart machines will eat not only our jobs but eat us as well, if we don’t introduce enough security measures.

Full Story...



Wendell Wallach at Connecticut Science Center

IEET Fellow Wendell Wallach will be speaking at the Connecticut Science Center on May 5, 2016.

Full Story...



Introducing the Subfield of Agential Riskology

by Phil Torres

The field of Existential Risk Studies has, to date, focused largely on risk scenarios involving natural phenomena, anthropogenic phenomena, and a specific type of anthropogenic phenomenon that one could term “technogenic.” The first category includes asteroid/comet impacts, supervolcanoes, and pandemics. The second encompasses climate change and biodiversity loss. And the third deals with risks that arise from the misuse and abuse of advanced technologies, such as nuclear weapons, biotechnology, synthetic biology, nanotechnology, and artificial intelligence.

Full Story...



A New Doomsday Argument

by Phil Torres

I want to elaborate briefly on an issue that I mentioned in a previous article for the IEET, in which I argue (among other things) that we may be systematically underestimating the overall probability of annihilation. The line of reasoning goes as follows:

Full Story...



Summary of Marshall Brain’s, “The Day You Discard Our Bodies”

by John G. Messerly

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.



Cyberspace is the Child of the Industrial Age - Defining it as Independent is Nonsense

by Woody Evans

In February, 1996, John Perry Barlow (of Grateful Dead, Electronic Frontier Foundation, etc.) declared cyberspace to be independent of states and their industries, economies, and politics.  He was wrong.  “Cyberspace” (and we’ll use the same term here, for what it’s worth) is an expression of fleshly and natural and mechanical processes; it is derived from human politics and industry, and it cannot be independent of it.

Full Story...



Summary of Hans Moravec’s, Robot: Mere Machine To Transcendent Mind

by John G. Messerly

Hans Moravec (1948 – ) is a faculty member at the Robotics Institute of Carnegie Mellon University and the chief scientist at Seegrid Corporation. He received his PhD in computer science from Stanford in 1980, and is known for his work on robotics, artificial intelligence, and writings on the impact of technology, as well as his many of publications and predictions focusing on transhumanism.



Transhumanismus: Der neue Politiktrend?

by Roland Benedikter

Das humanistische Menschenbild prägte die Entwicklung westlicher Gesellschaften. Doch inzwischen ist der Transhumanismus auf dem Vormarsch. Vertreter dieser neuen ideologischen Strömung beraten westliche Regierungen, Firmen und Entscheidungsträger. Sie streben eine Cyborgisierung des Menschen an. Doch was sind die politischen Folgen?



Wendell Wallach book signing at Connecticut Science Center

IEET Fellow Wendell Wallach will be giving a talk and singing his recent book A Dangerous Master:  how to keep technology from slipping beyond our control at the Connecticut Science Center on Thursday, May 5, 2016.

Full Story...
Link to A Dangerous Master: how to keep technology from slipping beyond our control



The Internet of Things and the Great Recalibration

by Anthony Miccoli

I’ve been playing catch-up since my tenure application and my class preps for the Spring semester, but I’ve finally been able to re-engage with my usual sites, and all of the fantastic content in my Google+ communities.  One thing that’s been coming up in various iterations is the concept of the “internet of things.” In a nutshell, the term loosely (and, I think perhaps a little misleadingly) refers to a technological interconnectivity of everyday objects: clothes, appliances, industrial equipment, jewelry, cars, etc, now made possible by advancements in creating smaller microprocessors.

Full Story...



Who Controls the Internet?

by David Brin

The End of the Internet Dream?

Ever since Congress passed Al Gore’s bill, around 1990, setting the Internet free to pervade the world and empower billions, repressive governments have complained, seeing their despotic methods undermined. And yes, democratic governments have often muttered: “Why’d we go and do that?” as their citizens became increasingly rambunctious, knowing and independent-minded!

Full Story...



IEET Affiliate Scholar Seth Baum interviewed on the History Channel

On Monday, January 4, 2016, the History Channel aired a 2-hour documentary called “The Seven New Signs of the Apocalypse” at 9pm ET.

Full Story...
Link to The History Channel



Is there Trouble with Algorithmic Decision-making? Fairness and Efficiency-based Objections

by John Danaher

Tal Zarsky’s work has featured on this blog before. He is an expert in the legal aspects of big data and algorithmic decision-making. He recently published a paper entitled “The Trouble with Algorithmic Decision-Making” in which he tries to identify, categorise and respond to some of the leading objections to the use of algorithmic decision-making processes. This is a topic that interests me too, so I was eager to see what he had to say.



Paranoia, Conspiracies and Surveillance

by David Brin

== Another summons to resigned despair ==

Conspiracy theories abound.  They erupt out of human nature, it seems, and your ethnicity or caste or political leanings only affect which direction you credit with devilish cleverness, secret power and satanic values. For sure, as a science fiction author I can concoct plausible schemes and plots with the best of them!  Indeed, let me add that some real life cabals are so blatant and proudly obvious that you just have to admit – sometimes “they” are completely real and up to awful mischief.



Confronting Future Catastrophic Threats to Humanity

by Seth Baum

This is the introductory editorial to the Futures special issue.  It was co-written with Bruce E. Tonn.

Humanity faces a range of threats to its viability as a civilization and its very survival. These catastrophic threats include natural disasters such as supervolcano eruptions and large asteroid collisions as well as disasters caused by human activity such as nuclear war and global warming. The threats are diverse, but their would-be result is the same: the collapse of global human civilization or even human extinction.

Full Story...



Responses to catastrophic AGI risk: a survey

by Roman Yampolskiy

Abstract

Many researchers have argued that humanity will create artificial general intelligence (AGI) within the next twenty to one hundred years. It has been suggested that AGI may inflict serious damage to human well-being on a global scale (‘catastrophic risk’).

After summarizing the arguments for why AGI may pose such a risk, we review the fieldʼs proposed responses to AGI risk. We consider societal proposals, proposals for external constraints on AGI behaviors and proposals for creating AGIs that are safe due to their internal design.

(This report was co-written with IEET contributing writer Kaj Sotala)

Full Story...



Don’t Know Mind: Zen and the Art of AGI Indecision

by Gareth John

By now I’ve clocked up a relatively comprehensive slew of reading up on Artificial General Intelligence, in particular concerning its ethical implications. Still mostly in the dark when it comes to any of the difficulties and scientific quandaries that go into creating such a machine, I am at least at a level of understanding whereby I can begin to tease out for myself some of the wider implications AGI would present for humankind.



#23: The Age of Transhumanist Politics Has Begun: Will It Change the Concepts of Left and Right?

by Roland Benedikter

According to IEET readers, what were the most stimulating stories of 2015? This month we’re answering that question by posting a countdown of the top 30 articles published this year on our blog (out of more than 1,000), based on how many total hits each one received.

The following piece was first published here on April 27, 2015, and is the #23 most viewed of the year.

Full Story...



Magic Blockchains, but for Time? Blocktime Arbitrage

by Melanie Swan

There is no doubt that blockchains are a reality-making technology, a mode and means of implementing as many flavors of our own crypto-enlightenments as we can imagine! This includes newer, flatter, more autonomous economic, political, ethical, scientific, and community systems. But not just in the familiar human social constructs like economics and politics, possibly in physical realities too like time. Blocktime’s temporal multiplicity and malleability suggest a reality feature we have never had access to before – making more time.



#28: Posthumanisms: A Carnapian Experiment

by Daryl Wennemann

According to IEET readers, what were the most stimulating stories of 2015? This month we’re answering that question by posting a countdown of the top 30 articles published this year on our blog (out of more than 1,000), based on how many total hits each one received.

The following piece was first published here on March 19, 2015, and is the #28 most viewed of the year.

Full Story...



Obfuscation: protect privacy by destroying the Web!

by David Brin

Time for a return to the core issue of our time: how shall we best preserve and extend freedom?  Along with freedom’s contingent benefits, like privacy?

In the LA Review of Books, Internet Privacy: Stepping Up Our Self-Defense Game, Evan Selinger reviews a slim book—Obfuscation: A User’s Guide for Privacy and Protest, by Finn Brunton and Helen Nissenbaum.



After Paris, can we be both safe and free?

by David Brin

Of course we are all still quivering, following the attacks in Paris last week that killed 129 people, not so very far from where my wife and I lived for a couple of years, as newlyweds during the 1990s.  Our hearts go out to the brave folk of Liberté, Egalité and Fraternité in la Ville Lumiere.



Anonymous vs ISIS: Vigilante justice in the War against Terrorism

by Stefan Morrone

The last few weeks have been a whirlwind centred around the terrorist group knows as the Islamic State.  First, several attacks in Paris left 129 dead and countless others injured, then a bomb threat in Germany and a threat by ISIS to attack the rest of Europe and Washington, D.C. Fear grips the hearts of people around the world in an iron vice. And that is exactly what ISIS wants.  Right now, they are winning.

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