Building Moral Robots, With Whose Morals?

BEAR, or Battlefield Extraction-Assist Robot, is designed to help soldiers in need. But other robots could take on roles as combatants. Credit Telemedicine & Advanced Technology Research Center

BEAR, or Battlefield Extraction-Assist Robot, is designed to help soldiers in need. But other robots could take on roles as combatants.
Credit Telemedicine & Advanced Technology Research Center

I certainly wouldn’t trust the politicians or corporate money-mongers. Heather Goldstone proposes three sources: The Geneva Convention, Asimov’s Laws of Robotics, and/or The Ten Commandments. Whose morals would you want AI to model?

Via at WCAI:

Giving robots morals may sound like a good idea, but it’s a pursuit fraught with its own moral dilemmas. Like, whose morals?

Stop and look around you right now. You’re sitting in front of a computer and, chances are, there’s a phone or some other “smart” device in your vicinity. As our devices get more capable, and we become more reliant on them, there’s increasing hand-wringing over whether our relationships with technology have gone awry.

In some circles, the conversation has a particular urgency to it – because they’re talking about whether or not robots could – or should – be entrusted with life and death decisions, and whether such robots could ever be conferred with anything comparable to our morals.

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The Triumph of the Military-Industrial-Congressional Complex

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, Ashton Carter’s predecessor, greets Sen. Carl Levin and Sen. John McCain, at right in the blue and red ties, respectively. Photo via Wikipedia

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, Ashton Carter’s predecessor, greets Sen. Carl Levin and Sen. John McCain, at right in the blue and red ties, respectively. Photo via Wikipedia

Via Ben Cohen & Winslow Wheeler at Medium:

In his farewell address in January 1961, Pres. Dwight Eisenhower famously cautioned the American public to “guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex.”

Today it’s routine for critics of wasteful military spending to cite Eisenhower’s warning. Unfortunately, Eisenhower did not warn us that the military-industrial complex would become increasingly malignant as it morphed into less obvious forms.

The “complex” is no longer just “military” and “industrial,” and it has extended far beyond just its congressional branch, which Eisenhower also intended to include.

It’s now deeply embedded in the fiber of the American political system, academia, the civilian leadership of the Defense Department and—increasingly—the White House itself.

• • •

The military-industrial-complex was on display—but passed without wide notice—on Dec.

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A Guide to Skinner’s Genealogy of Liberty

delacroix_liberty

This was originally published on Philosophical Disquisitions.

What does it mean to be free? Liberty is the most important concept in modern political theory. That’s an overstatement, of course. There are other important concepts — equality? well-being? — and somebody could no doubt make the case for them. Still, liberty is very important, particularly to those who have temerity to call themselves “liberal”. It would help if they had some more detailed conception of liberty.

The traditional philosophical approach to this is to provide a conceptual analysis of what it means to be at liberty. The philosopher, from their privileged position in a comfortable armchair, thinks deeply about the nature of freedom. They propose a definition — a set of necessary and sufficient conditions for the application of the predicate “liberty” — and then they defend this analysis from a range of counterexamples and counterarguments, some proposed by themselves, some proposed by their philosophical friends and enemies.… Read the rest

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The Gympie-Gympie Tree Has an Insanely Painful Sting

Have you ever known anyone stung by the Gympie-Gympie tree? It sounds horrifying — the pain can last for up to several months with reocurrences for years afterwards.

Sumitra writes at Oddity Central:

‘Gympie-Gympie’ is hardly the name you’d expect for a stinging-tree. It looks quite harmless too, but in reality, the Gympie-Gympie is one of the most venomous plants in the world. Commonly found in the rainforest areas of north-eastern Australia, the Moluccas and Indonesia, it is known to grow up to one to two meters in height.

In fact, the Gympie-Gympie sting is so dangerous that it has been known to kill dogs, horses and humans alike. If you’re lucky enough to survive, you  only feel excruciating pain that can last several months and reoccur for years. Even a dry specimen can inflict pain, almost a hundred years after being picked!

With the exception of its roots, every single part of the deadly tree – its heart shaped leaves, its stem and its pink/purple fruit – is covered with tiny stinging hairs shaped like hypodermic needles.

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Politicians or central bankers: who runs the world?

401(K) 2012 (CC BY-SA 2.0)

401(K) 2012 (CC BY-SA 2.0)

By Mark Beeson, University of Western Australia

Global governance sounds like a good idea. Solving the sorts of “collective action problems” that are an inescapable part of geographically dispersed activities – especially economic ones – is something only some sort of supranational authority can do.

Until relatively recently we looked primarily to states to provide the institutional and legal infrastructure that allowed people to conduct commercial relationships with strangers. Now, when economic activities and relationships are increasingly transnational, states cannot provide such a regulatory framework – or they can’t on their own, at least.

Not all states are alike, of course, and some have a much greater capacity to influence the way economic activities are conducted, especially within national borders, than others. But even the most powerful states are now subjected to pressures and constraints that they’ve never faced before.

True, the US still exerts more influence over the structure and practices of the international economic system than anyone else, but even the world’s current hegemon finds its power constrained.… Read the rest

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Texas woman claims Bigfoot just had a baby

JD Hancock (CC BY 2.0)

JD Hancock (CC BY 2.0)

The woman from Texas, Brenda, claims (via Cryptozoology News):

“We didn’t know what was going on until just a few years ago. At first, we found the house that they were living in. My husband and I didn’t know what it was, and he kind of joked at me about it… at that time we didn’t realize it was a Bigfoot. Since then, our property had a fire, it burned down, so we moved a mile and a half from where we knew they were into another house. Little did we know that we were just coming into a family of them,” she told Coast to Coast guest host Dave Schrader late Friday in an open-line phone call made to the nightly radio show.

“They throw rocks on the house, I hear them talking. People thought I was crazy, but I know what I heard.

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Depression may result from “hyperactivity” in “the disappointment circuit” of the brain

Gerald Gabernig (CC By 2.0)

Gerald Gabernig (CC By 2.0)

Dr Jeremy Dean writes at PsyBlog:

People who are depressed may have hyperactivity in a part of the brain known as ‘the disappointment circuit’, a new study finds.

Scientists led by Professor Roberto Malinow of the University of California, San Diego, found what could amount to an antidote to feeling let-down.

The study focused on a part of the brain called the lateral habenula, which has been linked to the feeling of disappointment which follows from the absence of an expected reward.

Professor Roberto Malinow, who led the study, said:

“The idea that some people see the world as a glass half empty has a chemical basis in the brain.

What we have found is a process that may dampen the brain’s sensitivity to negative life events.”

The neuroscientists found that this area, unlike almost any other in the brain, produces neurotransmitters which both ramp up and damp down brain activity.

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How the CIA made Google

Patrick Barry (CC BY 2.0)

Patrick Barry (CC BY 2.0)

Nafeez Ahmed writes at Medium:

INSURGE INTELLIGENCE, a new crowd-funded investigative journalism project, breaks the exclusive story of how the United States intelligence community funded, nurtured and incubated Google as part of a drive to dominate the world through control of information. Seed-funded by the NSA and CIA, Google was merely the first among a plethora of private sector start-ups co-opted by US intelligence to retain ‘information superiority.’

The origins of this ingenious strategy trace back to a secret Pentagon-sponsored group, that for the last two decades has functioned as a bridge between the US government and elites across the business, industry, finance, corporate, and media sectors. The group has allowed some of the most powerful special interests in corporate America to systematically circumvent democratic accountability and the rule of law to influence government policies, as well as public opinion in the US and around the world.

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Rapper Tiny Doo Facing Long Prison Sentence Over Lyrics

So now you can go to prison because of the lyrics of a song? In California, the answer may be “yes” reports CNN:

Song lyrics that glorify violence are hardly uncommon. But a prosecutor in California says one rapper’s violent lyrics go beyond creative license to conspiracy.

San Diego-based rapper Tiny Doo has already spent eight months in prison, and faces 25 years to life in prison if convicted under a little-known California statute that makes it illegal to benefit from gang activities.

The statute in question is California Penal Code 182.5. The code makes it a felony for anyone to participate in a criminal street gang, have knowledge that a street gang has engaged in criminal activity, or benefit from that activity.

It’s that last part — benefiting from criminal activity — that prosecutors are going after the rapper for.

Tiny Doo, whose real name is Brandon Duncan, faces nine counts of criminal street gang conspiracy because prosecutors allege he and 14 other alleged gang members increased their stature and respect following a rash of shootings in the city in 2013.

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