Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies



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



UPCOMING EVENTS: FreeThought

Humans, Machines, and the Future of Work Conference
December 5-6
Rice University, Houston, Texas




MULTIMEDIA: FreeThought Topics

Zoos Enrich Our Lives but Cost Animals Their Dignity

The Psychology of Solitude: Being Alone Can Maximize Productivity

Work/Life Balance Is a Non-Issue If You Find Your Purpose

History Lesson: Trump’s Rise Might Signal the Collapse of the Republican Party

How We Fail Non-traditional Students

This virtual lab will revolutionize science class

The Neuroscience of Enlightenment

US Anti-Drug Laws Aren’t Scientific — They’re Colonialist and Racist

The Key to Universal Science Writing Is Subjectivity and Personalization

The Algocracy and Transhumanism Podcast: Episode 3

Why we should give everyone a basic income

Enhance Creativity by Utilizing Both Your Conscious and Unconscious Mind

The Digital Economy Should Be about Capital Creation, Not Extraction

How Your Brain Rewards Love Is a Double-Edged Sword

How Meditation Can Lead to a Vegan Diet




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FreeThought Topics




Mens Health Week: One Doctor Thinks We Should Be Talking about Better Birth Control for Guys

by Valerie Tarico

Dr. Stephanie Page at the University of Washington talks about why male birth control matters.

The Centers for Disease Control declared June 13 to 19 of 2016 as “National Men’s Health Week.” If it was Women’s Health Week, media experts would be talking a lot about sexual health and, especially, how women can safeguard against ill-timed or unwanted pregnancy. But for guys, pregnancy prevention is not even on the list, which instead emphasizes sleep, tobacco, food choices, and exercise.



On tragedy, ethics and the human condition.

by Alex McGilvery

The shootings at the Pulse club in Orlando highlight once more just how far we humans need to go in the evolution of our ethics. People on all sides have already weighed in on how their particular way of seeing the world would have prevented the crime. Almost immediately they began talking past each other with little or no effort to hear the other side.



Pourquoi la théorie du genre effraie-t-elle encore?

by Marc Roux

La rentrée des classes en France a été particulièrement médiatisée cette année, notamment à cause de la hausse des effectifs scolaires. Mais avant même que les suppressions de postes et leurs conséquences n’eurent atteint les médias nationaux, une toute autre polémique, concernant le contenu des nouveaux programmes de SVT, avait déjà occupé le paysage médiatique et crée un débat sociétal assez peu commun.



Review of Bryan Magee’s, “Ultimate Questions”

by John G. Messerly

Bryan Magee (1930 – ) has had a multifaceted career as a professor of philosophy, music and theater critic, BBC broadcaster, public intellectual and member of Parliament. He has starred in two acclaimed television series about philosophy: Men of Ideas (1978) and The Great Philosophers (1987). He is best known as a popularizer of philosophy. His easy-to-read books, which have been translated into more than twenty languages, include:



The Monotony of Work

by John G. Messerly

I corresponded with an old friend yesterday who was communicating the tedium of his work as a software engineer. He is thankful that he earns a six-figure salary, and he understands that most people in the world would happily trade places with him, but that doesn’t change the fact that a future filled with a lifetime of coding doesn’t excite his probing and restless mind. Minds like his need stimulation, and they could contribute so much to the rest of us if they were freed to follow their interests . Moreover, while technology companies pay some of the best wages in the United States, they expect more than 40 hours of work in return, which leaves my friend with less time with his children than he would like.



Is Effective Altruism Fair to Small Donors? (Guest Post by Iason Gabriel)

by John Danaher

NOTE: This is a guest post by Iason Gabriel from St. John’s College Oxford. I recently did a series on Iason’s excellent article ‘Effective Altruism and its Critics’. In this post, Iason develops his counterfactual critique of effective altruism. Be sure to check out more of Iason’s work on his academia page.)



IEET Affiliate Scholar John Danaher Interviewed by Futurezone

When machines take all the jobs that people need to find new meaning in life. This could be for the company, according to John Danaher both curse and blessing.

Full Story...
Link to Futurezone



Is Effective Altruism actually Effective?

by John Danaher

(Part one; part two; part three)

This is going to be my final post on the topic of effective altruism (for the time being anyway). I’m working my way through the arguments in Iason Gabriel’s article ‘Effective Altruism and its Critics’. Once I finish, Iason has kindly agreed to post a follow-up piece which develops some of his views.



Is Effective Altruism Methodologically Biased?

by John Danaher

(Part One; Part Two)

After a long hiatus, I am finally going to complete my series of posts about Iason Gabriel’s article ‘Effective Altruism and its Critics’ (changed from the original title ‘What’s wrong with effective altruism?). I’m pleased to say that once I finish the series I am also going to post a response by Iason himself which follows up on some of the arguments in his paper. Let me start today, however, by recapping some of the material from previous entries and setting the stage for this one.



IEET Affiliate Scholar John Danaher Publishes New Paper - Robots, Law and the Retribution Gap

Here is a new paper that John Danaher, IEET Affiliate Scholar, has published and will be coming out in the journal Ethics and Information Technology. In case you are interested, the idea for this paper originated in this blogpost from late 2014.

Full Story...
Link to Ethics and Information Technology



Capital Lust, Not Capitalism, is Destroying the Earth and the Economy - See more at: http://ehumanda

by Nicole Sallak Anderson

I don’t like the word capitalism, but not because I’m against the free market. Open trade and markets provide wealth and raise the standard of living for the majority of people in democratic societies. Free markets also allow the exchange of ideas and innovations without the meddling of governments or religion.



Dr. Martine Rothblatt Speaks at 2016 MOOG Fest Protesting Transgender Bias Law

Moogfest will feature a keynote address from IEET Trustee Martine Rothblatt, a transgender woman who is the chief executive of United Therapeutics, a biotechnology company, and a founder of Sirius Satellite Radio, now SiriusXM. United Therapeutics has an office and manufacturing facility outside of Durham.

Full Story...
Link to New York Time



The Injustice of Sexism

by John G. Messerly

I read an interesting article this morning titled, “Late-breaking sexism”: why younger women aren’t excited about electing a woman president.” Its main theme is that while women have made great strides, there is still a lot of sexism in the USA, especially the kind that manifests itself in a woman’s late twenties and early thirties when the demands of career and family intersect.



What’s Killing the American Middle Class?

by Richard Eskow

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.



The Future of PR in Emotionally Intelligent Technology

by Jules Hamilton

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.



Ontario Could Soon Require Anti-Vaxxer Parents to Attend a Science Class

by George Dvorsky

In an effort to curb the dangerous trend of vaccine avoidance, the Liberal government in Ontario wants parents seeking vaccine exemptions for their kids to attend a mandatory education session. It’s a good idea, but getting anti-vaxxers to change their opinions will probably require more than that.



Ethicists Generally Agree: The Pro-Life Arguments Are Worthless

by John G. Messerly

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.



Artificial Intelligence in the UK: Risks and Rewards

by Alexander Karran

The following report was created by Transpolitica senior consultant Alexander Karran in response to the ongoing inquiry into robotics and artificial intelligence by the UK parliament’s Science and Technology Committee. The report was submitted on behalf of Transpolitica, to address the topics listed on the Science and Technology Committee inquiry page:



“We’ll Live Forever and We’ll Become Cyborgs”

by David Orban

I’ve been interviewed in Panorama, an Italian weekly magazine. (Thanks to Dotwords for the English translation, which I slightly edited.)

Originally published on DavidOrban.com on April 24 2016



I Know What You’re Thinking…

by Nicole Sallak Anderson

“What I hate is ignorance, smallness of imagination, the eye that sees no farther than its own lashes. All things are possible. Who you are is limited only by who you think you are.”

~ Egyptian Book of the Dead, written between 2000 – 1500 B.C.



How to maintain a vigorous, positive sum society… in theory

by David Brin

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.



What Is a Global Citizen, and Can it Save Us?

by David Swanson

Headlines this past week claimed that for the first time ever more than half of poll respondents around the world said they saw themselves more as a global citizen than as a citizen of a country. What did they mean in saying that?



A Pro- and Anti-War Dialogue

by David Swanson

Anti-War Advocate: Is there a case that can be made for war?

Pro-War Advocate: Well, yes. In a word: Hitler!



The Ethics of Intimate Surveillance (2): A Landscape of Objections

by John Danaher

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).



The Deeper Meaning of the Anthropocene

by Rick Searle

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.



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



IEET Affiliate Scholar Hank Pellissier’s Athiest Ugandan Orphanage and School

Sarah Sloat, a writer at Inverse, has published an article discussing the successful venture spearheaded by Bwambale Robert Musubaho, Hank Pellissier and Zoltan Istvan in funding and developing an An Atheist Ugandan Orphanage.

Link to Inverse



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.



What’s happening inside the black box? Three forms of algorithmic opacity

by John Danaher

The debate about algorithmic governance (or as I prefer ‘algocracy’) has been gathering pace over the past couple of years. As computer-coded algorithms become ever more woven into the fabric of economic and political life, and as the network of data-collecting devices that feed these algorithms grows, we can expect that pace to quicken.



Better Birth Control for Men – How Would It Work? What’s in the Pipeline?

by Valerie Tarico

Most people think of contraception as an issue of women’s health and rights. But for millennia, men too have wanted choices—the means to decide whether, when, and with whom they father a child.

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