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Archive for the ‘ethics’ tag

Aug 17, 2017

Life or Death: Will Robo-Cars Swerve for Squirrels?

Posted by in categories: automation, driverless cars, drones, electronics, ethics, fun, humor, media & arts, robotics/AI, transportation

Self Driving Cars and Ethics. It’s a topic that has been debated in blogs, op-eds, academic research papers, and youtube videos. Everyone wants to know, if a self-driving car has to choose between sacrificing its occupant, or terminating a car full of nobel prize winners, who will it pick? Will it be programmed to sacrifice for the greater good, or protect itself — and its occupants — at all costs? But in the swirl of hypothetical discussion around jaywalking Grandmas, buses full of school-children, Kantian Ethics and cost-maps, one crucial question is being forgotten:

What about the Squirrels?

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Jun 22, 2017

Are Artificial Wombs the Future of Birth?

Posted by in categories: biological, biotech/medical, ethics, evolution, futurism, health, science, sex, transhumanism

In April, Scientists based in Philadelphia unveiled an artificial womb undergoing testing on fetal lambs. With a prediction from one of the researchers that the technology could be ready for human testing in three to five years, artificial wombs suddenly became the most unexpected rage of 2017. But what sort of artificial wombs might realistically be a part of healthcare in the near future?

In this video series, the Galactic Public Archives takes bite-sized looks at a variety of terms, technologies, and ideas that are likely to be prominent in the future. Terms are regularly changing and being redefined with the passing of time. With constant breakthroughs and the development of new technology and other resources, we seek to define what these things are and how they will impact our future.

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Jul 27, 2015

How to save the planet: environmental conflicts in a new light — By Justin Farrell | Financial Times

Posted by in categories: environmental, science

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One of the most symbolic and substantively important examples of environmental conflict is over Yellowstone National Park. Yellowstone is the first national park in the world, and perhaps the most important natural treasure in the US. More recently it has become a site for bitter and long-lasting environmental conflict. And it has made me wonder how the scientific arguments around the issues sit with the emotional reactions inspired by the landscape and history.

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Jul 22, 2014

‘A struggle between humans and nature’

Posted by in categories: biological, entertainment, philosophy, transhumanism
. @IEET. @HJBentham. @ClubOfINFO. #nature. #philosophy. #ebook.

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Jul 15, 2014

Political futurism, ethics energized by sci-fi

Posted by in categories: entertainment, ethics, existential risks, philosophy, transhumanism
[email protected] . @clubofinfo. @dissidentvoice_ . @ieet. #scifi. #philosophy. #ethics.
Literature has served an indispensable purpose in exploring ethical and political themes. This remains true of sci-fi and fantasy, even if there is such a thing as reading too much politics into fictional work or over-analyzing.


Since Maquis Books published The Traveller and Pandemonium, a novel authored by me from 2011–2014, I have been responding as insightfully as possible to reviews and also discussing the book’s political and philosophical themes wherever I can. Set in a fictional alien world, much of this book’s 24 chapters are politically themed on the all too real human weakness of infighting and resorting to hardline, extremist and even messianic plans when faced with a desperate situation.

The story tells about human cultures battling to survive in a deadly alien ecosystem. There the human race, rather than keeping animals in cages, must keep their own habitats in cages as protection from the world outside. The human characters of the story live out a primitive existence not typical of science-fiction, mainly aiming at their own survival. Technological progress is nonexistent, as all human efforts have been redirected to self-defense against the threat of the alien predators.

Even though The Traveller and Pandemonium depicts humanity facing a common alien foe, the various struggling human factions still fail to cooperate. In fact, they turn ever more hostilely on each other even as the alien planet’s predators continue to close in on the last remaining human states. At the time the story is set, the human civilization on the planet is facing imminent extinction from its own infighting and extremism, as well as the aggressive native plant and animal life of the planet.

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May 21, 2014

VIRUS: Rebutting the fear of synthetic biology @HJBentham @IEET

Posted by in categories: biological, biotech/medical, disruptive technology, economics, energy, ethics, existential risks, futurism, genetics, science

- @ClubOfINFO — A recent massive leap forward in synthetic life, recently published in Nature, is the expansion of the alphabet of DNA to six letters rather than four, by synthetic biologists – the technicians to whom we entrust the great task of reprogramming life itself.

Breakthroughs such as the above are quite certain to alert more and more people to synthetic biology and its possible consequences. For as long as such breathtaking discoveries continue to be made in this area of research, it is inevitable that latent fears among society will come closer to the surface.
There is likely to be a profound distrust, whether inculcated by religion or by science fiction horror movies and literature, towards the concept of tampering with nature and especially the very building blocks that brought us into existence. While the people with this profoundly negative reaction are not sure what they are warning against, they are motivated by a vitalistic need to believe that the perversion of life is going to provoke hidden – almost divine – repercussions.
Is it really true that no-one should be meddling with something so fundamental to life, or is synthetic biology the science of our century, our civilization’s key to unlimited energy? Whatever the answer may be, the science enabling it already exists and is growing rapidly, and history seems to show that any technology once invented is impossible to contain.

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Apr 24, 2014

Parables involving the Theft of Knowledge

Posted by in categories: cybercrime/malcode, philosophy, security, transhumanism

From CLUBOF.INFO

All religions have points of agreement concerning human toil and its relationship to the divine. This essay considers some of the Biblical and Hellenic parables of human origin, specifically the origins of human knowledge and instrumentality.

Here I want to present how knowledge and instrumentality are reported to originate with an act of mischief, specifically the theft of a divine artifact. My argument is that, although the possession of knowledge may be seen as a sin to be atoned for, the kind of atonement originally promoted may have simply been for us to apply our knowledge constructively in our lives. The concept of atoning for original sin (whether it is the Biblical or Hellenic sin) can then be justified with secular arguments. Everyone can agree that we retain the capacity for knowledge, and this means our atonement for the reported theft of such knowledge would simply rest with the use of the very same tool we reportedly stole.

The story of the titan Prometheus, from ancient Greek mythology, has been interpreted and reinterpreted many times. A great deal of writers and organizations have laid claim to the symbolism of Prometheus, including in modern times. [1] I would argue that too many writers diluted and over-explored the meaning of the parable by comparing everything to it, although this is not the focus of my essay. Greek mythology is notably weak on the subject of “good and evil” because it predates the Judeo-Christian propagation of their dualism, and this means most of the characters in Greek mythology can be defended or condemned without violating Hellenic theology. Prometheus as a mythic figure could be condemned from a Christian standpoint, because he seems strikingly similar to other scriptural characters engaged in a revolt against the divine. Yet the spirit of Prometheus and his theft has also been endorsed by people and organizations, such as the transhumanists who see him as an expression of the noblest human aspirations. [2]

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Apr 9, 2013

Morality => Immortality, claims Kant

Posted by in categories: ethics, philosophy

Dead Immortalist Sequence - #1: Immanuel Kant (1724−1804)

kant1 Kant is often misconstrued as advocating radical conformity amongst people, a common misconception drawn from his Categorical Imperative, which states that each should act as though the rules underlying his actions can be made a universal moral maxim. The extent of this universality, however, stops at the notion that each man should act as though the aspiration towards morality were a universal maxim. All Kant meant, I argue, was that each man should act as though the aspiration toward greater morality were able to be willed as a universal moral maxim.

This common misconception serves to illustrate another common and illegitimate portrayal of the Enlightenment tradition. Too often is the Enlightenment libelled for its failure to realize the ideal society. Too often is it characterized most essentially by its glorification of strict rationality, which engenders invalid connotations of stagnant, statuesque perfection – a connotation perhaps aided by the Enlightenment’s valorization of the scientific method, and its connotations of stringent and unvarying procedure and methodology in turn. This takes the prized heart of the Enlightenment tradition and flips it on its capsized ass. This conception of the Enlightenment tradition is not only wrong, but antithetical to the true organizing gestalt and prime impetus underlying the Age of the Enlightenment.

The Enlightenment wasn’t about realizing the perfect society but rather about idealizing the perfect society – the striving towards an ever-inactualized ideal which, once realized, would cease to be ideal for that very reason. The enlightenment was about unending progress towards that ideal state – for both Man as society and man as singular splinter — of an infinite forward march towards perfection, which upon definitively reaching perfection will have failed to achieve its first-sought prize. The virtue of the Enlightenment lies in the virtual, and its perfection in the infinite-perfectibility inherent in imperfection.

This truer, though admittedly less normative, interpretation of the Enlightenment tradition, taking into account its underlying motivations and projected utilities rather than simply taking flittered glints from the fallacious surface and holding them up for solid, tangible truth also serves to show the parallels between the Enlightenment gestalt and Transhumanism. James Hughes, for one, characterizes Transhumanism as a child of the Enlightenment Tradition [1].

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Sep 9, 2012

The Recurring Parable of the AWOL Android

Posted by in categories: cybercrime/malcode, defense, ethics, media & arts, military, robotics/AI

Greetings to the Lifeboat Foundation community and blog readers! I’m Reno J. Tibke, creator of Anthrobotic.com and new advisory board member. This is my inaugural post, and I’m honored to be here and grateful for the opportunity to contribute a somewhat… different voice to technology coverage and commentary. Thanks for reading.

This Here Battle Droid’s Gone Haywire
There’s a new semi-indy sci-fi web series up: DR0NE. After one episode, it’s looking pretty clear that the series is most likely going to explore shenanigans that invariably crop up when we start using semi-autonomous drones/robots to do some serious destruction & murdering. Episode 1 is pretty and well made, and stars 237, the android pictured above looking a lot like Abe Sapien’s battle exoskeleton. Active duty drones here in realityland are not yet humanoid, but now that militaries, law enforcement, the USDA, private companies, and even citizens are seriously ramping up drone usage by land, air, and sea, the subject is timely and watching this fiction is totally recommended.

(Update: DR0NE, Episode 2 now available)

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Feb 12, 2012

Badly designed to understand the Universe — CERN’s LHC in critical Reflection by great Philosopher H. Maturana and Astrophysicist R. Malina

Posted by in categories: complex systems, cosmology, education, engineering, ethics, existential risks, futurism, media & arts, particle physics, philosophy, physics, scientific freedom, sustainability

Famous Chilean philosopher Humberto Maturana describes “certainty” in science as subjective emotional opinion and astonishes the physicists’ prominence. French astronomer and “Leonardo” publisher Roger Malina hopes that the LHC safety issue would be discussed in a broader social context and not only in the closer scientific framework of CERN.

(Article published in “oekonews”: http://oekonews.at/index.php?mdoc_id=1067777 )

The latest renowned “Ars Electronica Festival” in Linz (Austria) was dedicated in part to an uncritical worship of the gigantic particle accelerator LHC (Large Hadron Collider) at the European Nuclear Research Center CERN located at the Franco-Swiss border. CERN in turn promoted an art prize with the idea to “cooperate closely” with the arts. This time the objections were of a philosophical nature – and they had what it takes.

In a thought provoking presentation Maturana addressed the limits of our knowledge and the intersubjective foundations of what we call “objective” and “reality.” His talk was spiked with excellent remarks and witty asides that contributed much to the accessibility of these fundamental philosophical problems: “Be realistic, be objective!” Maturana pointed out, simply means that we want others to adopt our point of view. The great constructivist and founder of the concept of autopoiesis clearly distinguished his approach from a solipsistic position.

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