Tag Archives | Ethics

Should we criminalise robotic rape and robotic child sexual abuse?

Editor’s note: We want to thank John Danaher for publishing his thought provoking work under a Creative Commons License. Support him by following his blog or following him on Twitter. If you like his essays, you’ll love his Twitter account.

Also, take a look through his recent posts (either republished on Disinformation or not) and let John know which ones you liked best.

I recently published an unusual article. At least, I think it is unusual. It imagines a future in which sophisticated sex robots are used to replicate acts of rape and child sexual abuse, and then asks whether such acts should be criminalised. In the article, I try to provide a framework for evaluating the issue, but I do so in what I think is a provocative fashion. I present an argument for thinking that such acts should be criminalised, even if they have no extrinsically harmful effects on others.… Read the rest

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Torture Is Who We Are

Elvert Barnes (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Elvert Barnes (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Peter Beinart writes at the Atlantic:

Torture, declared President Obama this week, in response to the newly released Senate report on CIA interrogation, is “contrary to who we are.” Maine Senator Angus King added that, “This is not America. This is not who we are.” According to Kentucky Congressman John Yarmuth, “We are better than this.”

No, actually, we’re not. There’s something bizarre about responding to a 600-page document detailing systematic U.S. government torture by declaring that the real America—the one with good values—does not torture. It’s exoneration masquerading as outrage. Imagine someone beating you up and then, when confronted with the evidence, declaring that “I’m not really like that” or “that wasn’t the real me.” Your response is likely to be some variant of: “It sure as hell seemed like you when your fist was slamming into my nose.” A country, like a person, is what it does.

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TV News Station Creates Fake News Advertising Car Dealership

This is a summary podcast from the Indie Bohemians Morning Show. A morning show for people who hate morning shows based in Nashville, TN.

Ron Placone speaks with professor and activist John Anderson about a case in Las Vegas. A television station had been creating fake news stories that was advertising a car dealership. The dealership had paid for the “stories.” This is unethical journalism at its finest though tactics similar to this are perfectly legal. We talk sponsored content, details of this case, the FCC’s role, and then speak on the Media Reform Movement.

Also: Angie Dorin checks in with a Monkey Minute, Rob Haynes lets us know what’s going on in Sports and gives us a Vex on letters via mail. 

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A Scientific Study by Maggie Simpson and Kim Jong Fun Accepted by Two Journals

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via Vox:Maggie_Simpson

A scientific study by Maggie Simpson, Edna Krabappel, and Kim Jong Fun has been accepted by two journals.

Of course, none of these fictional characters actually wrote the paper, titled “Fuzzy, Homogeneous Configurations.” Rather, it’s a nonsensical text, submitted by engineer Alex Smolyanitsky in an effort to expose a pair of scientific journals — the Journal of Computational Intelligence and Electronic Systems and the comic sans-loving Aperito Journal of NanoScience Technology.

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The Transhumanist Wager: Can We and Should We Defeat Death?

"Pascal’s Wager advances a pragmatic argument for the existence of the Christian God."

“Pascal’s Wager advances a pragmatic argument for the existence of the Christian God.”

via h+ Magazine:

The Transhumanist Wager, brainchild of noted transhumanist Zoltan Istvan, can be understood as follows. If one loves and values their life, then they will want (the option) to live as long as possible. How do they achieve this?

Alternative #1 – do nothing and hope there is an afterlife. But since you don’t know there is an afterlife, doing nothing doesn’t help your odds.

Alternative #2 – use science and technology to gain immortality. By doing something you are increasing your odds of being immortal.

The choice is between bettering your odds or not, and good gamblers say the former is the better choice. At least that’s what the arguments supporters say.

There are two basic obstacles that prevent individuals from taking the wager seriously. First, most people don’t think immortality is technologically possible or, if they do, believe such technologies won’t be around for centuries or millenia.

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Learn physics with CERN’s John Ellis in ‘A Brief Guide to Everything’

iai-academy

Last month, The Institute of Art and Ideas (IAI), an organization committed to spreading “a progressive and vibrant intellectual culture in the UK,” launched IAI Academy — a new online educational platform that features free courses in everything from theoretical physics to the future of feminism. Get up to speed with what physicists do and don’t know with CERN physicist John Ellis’ ‘A Brief Guide to Everything’ or discover the meaning of life with sociologist Steve Fuller.

The initial lineup has 12 courses – here’s the list:

  • A Brief Guide to Everything – Web Video – John Ellis, King’s College London, CBE 
  • The Meaning of Life – Web Video – Steve Fuller, University of Warwick
  • New Adventures in Spacetime – Web Video – Eleanor Knox, King’s College London
  • Minds, Morality and Agency – Web Video – Mark Rowlands, University of Miami
  • Nine Myths About Schizophrenia – Web Video – Richard Bentall, University of Liverpool
  • The History of Fear – Web Video – Frank Furedi, University of Kent
  • Physics: What We Still Don’t Know – Web Video – David Tong, Cambridge
  • Science vs.
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Combining The DNA Of Three People Raises Ethical Questions

Stuart Caie (CC BY 2.0)

Stuart Caie (CC BY 2.0)

via NPR:

In a darkened lab in the North of England, a research associate is intensely focused on the microscope in front of her. She carefully maneuvers a long glass tube that she uses to manipulate early human embryos.

“It’s like microsurgery,” says Laura Irving of Newcastle University.

Irving is part of a team of scientists trying to replace defective DNA with healthy DNA. They hope this procedure could one day help women who are carrying genetic disorders have healthy children.

“We are talking about conditions for which there is currently no cure,” says Dr. Doug Turnbull, a professor of neurology at Newcastle University who is leading the research. These mitochondrial diseases are caused by hereditary defects in human cells.

“Mitochondria are like little power stations present in all our cells,” Turnbull says. These power stations provide the energy that cells need. If the mitochondrial DNA is defective, the cells don’t work right.

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From Gary Webb to James Risen: The struggle for the soul of journalism

Gary Webb In His Own Words 623.jpg

Gary Webb

Andrew O’Hehir  has a nuanced view of ethics in journalism, reflected here in this essay for Salon:

In thinking about the cases of Gary Webb and James Risen, two famous investigative reporters aggressively persecuted for their explosive revelations (in very different situations, and with different results), we are drawn into the thorny question of journalism and its so-called professional ethics. How well do the supposed codes of journalism work, and whom do they serve and protect? Is the primary role of journalism as a social institution to discover the truth as best it can and raise the level of public discourse, or to preserve its own power and prestige and privilege? I don’t claim to know the answers with any certainty. If anything, the stories of Webb and Risen suggest that those questions yield different answers in different contexts.

I’ve been a working journalist for more than 25 years, across the demise of print and the rise of the Internet, and I’ve always viewed the idea of journalism as a profession as, at best, a double-edged sword.

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Live Your Own Horror Movie: McKamey Manor

Warning: The following videos show intense footage that could be triggering and/or disturbing.

You have to be at least 21 to attend this four to seven hour trip through Hell.

via Can You Actually:

Here are a few requirements you must pass to even be able to enter: you now must be 21 years of age (previously was 18), you’re required to sign a wavier, and you must be in excellent physical condition. Only two people go in at a time, and get this… it can last anywhere from 4 – 7 hours. They actually now only take four people through the haunted house each week.

They’re allowed to touch you, gag you, put a bag over your head and pretty much anything that’s not illegal. It’s also one of the few haunted houses that stays open year round, and the only haunted house in the world where admission is free….. I’m serious.

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When is torture okay?

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

via Psychology Today:

Imagine that someone close to you was in imminent danger and the only solution involved having police use torture to extract information from a suspect in custody. Would you agree or not?

While torture remains a divisive topic with many countries around the world authorizing its use,  international human rights codes and the legal codes of most countries provide comprehensive legal protections against torture under any circumstances. Public opinion polls tend to be consistent in showing that only 34 percent of people worldwide actual endorse the use of torture though the numbers vary from country to country.  Still, despite the consensus that torture is both immoral and ineffective, both as a means of punishment and as a way of gaining information, controversy still surrounds its use. Issues such as  renditionwaterboarding, and the very definition of torture continue to influence international relations, especially given the current “War on Terror”  that shows no sign of ending.

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