Tag Archives | Ethics

No More Top Billing for Violence, Tragedy, Dysfunction & Corruption

Ahmad Hammoud (CC BY 2.0)

Ahmad Hammoud (CC BY 2.0)

Or so says Arianna Huffington at Huffington Post:

There’s an old saying in the news business, one that’s guided editorial thinking for decades: “If it bleeds, it leads.” That is, stories of violence, tragedy, dysfunction and corruption get top billing — at the top of the hour, at the top of the computer or phone screen or above the newspaper fold — driven by the assumption that these are the stories the public will be most drawn to watch or read.

This ethos is wrong, both factually and ethically. And it’s lousy journalism. As journalists, our job is to give our audience an accurate picture — and that means the full picture — of what’s going on in the world. Just showing tragedy, violence, mayhem — focusing on what’s broken and what’s not working — misses too much of what is happening all around us.

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The powerful cheat for themselves, the powerless cheat for others

Via Cathleen O’Grady at Arstechnica:

Research has previously shown that upper-class individuals are more likely to behave unethically than lower-class people. But, says David Dubois, lead researcher of a new paper in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, it’s not that simple: both groups behave unethically in different contexts.

Dubois’ research group found that people with higher socioeconomic status (SES) were more likely to behave unethically when the behavior benefitted themselves, while lower-SES people were more likely to be unethical to benefit other individuals. “Many people think of unethical behaviour in terms of selfish behavior—violating moral standards to give yourself an advantage,” explains Jared Piazza, who was not involved with the research. “But the researchers here draw a distinction between violating a moral standard like ‘it’s wrong to steal’ to benefit others, and violating a moral standard to benefit yourself.”

This distinction is important, says Dubois.

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Davos Says: 7 Reasons Why Elon Musk Is Wrong To Believe Intelligent Robots Will One Day Kill Us All

Maurizio Pesce (CC BY 2.0)

Maurizio Pesce (CC BY 2.0)

Jim Edwards writes at Business Insider:

A panel at the World Economic Forum at Davos in Switzerland has just completely dismantled the idea — currently trendy in the tech sector — that artificially intelligent robots, lacking morals, may one day independently decide to start killing humans.

The idea has been spread, somewhat tongue in cheek, by Tesla and SpaceX founder Elon Musk, who has even suggested that the robots may even thwart any humans who try to escape them by blasting off to Mars.

AI research is advancing rapidly inside private companies right now like Facebook and Google. That R&D is mostly a secret, which is why people like to speculate about it. Plus, everyone loves the Terminator movies, in which killer AI robots are the main protagonists.

The panel was hosted by two UC Berkeley professors, Ken Goldberg (who studies robotics) and Alison Gopnik (who studies psychology).

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Transcendence: RU Sirius & Jay Cornell on Transhumanism

TranscendenceR.U. Sirius and Jay Cornell are the authors of Transcendence: The Disinformation Encyclopedia of Transhumanism and the Singularity. Transhumanism has been a hot but divisive topic on disinformation, so we felt there was a need to foster greater understanding of just what transhumanism is, and is not, hence the format of the book is an A-Z encyclopedia.

We asked Jay and R.U. to answer a few questions about the book and the topic in general:

RU, you have long been associated with the transhumanism movement; can you tell us how you got hooked and what your personal interest in transhumanism is?

RU: In a sense, I go way back to the 1970s, although I wasn’t familiar with the term transhumanism then. I think the only person using it at that time was a guy named F.M. Esfandiary. I was, if you will, turned on and tuned in by Timothy Leary and his cohort in conscious evolution Robert Anton Wilson.… Read the rest

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Car bomb kills 30 in Yemen. No protests held.

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Russia Today reports that a car bomb attack against a police college in Yemen killed 30 people and injured 50 more on January 7th. This is the same day as the now-infamous Paris shooting at the magazine, Charlie Hebdo. A quick Google search of news stories for both of these appalling incidents reveals 78,800 results for the Yemen car bombing and 26 million for the Charlie Hebdo shooting.

If we could attach a moderately objective standard to evaluate the exposure level of these two incidents—say loss of human life; then, obviously the Yemen car bombing deserves our attention more.  So what’s the difference?

I’ll brave a guess: we, as Westerners, assume we know what the Paris shooting was about; whereas, we have no idea what the car bombing in Yemen was about. The narrative for the Paris shooting we are provided is cut-and-dry: it was about narrow-minded religious intolerance of ‘free speech’.… Read the rest

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Colonialism of the Mind, Part I

Dady Chery writes at CounterPunch:

“Les intellectuels ont toujours été des courtisans. Ils ont toujours vécu dans le palais.”

“Intellectuals have always been courtesans. They have always lived in the palace.” – Pier Paolo Pasolini (1922-1975)

Western journalists increasingly assume the voices of subjugated countries’ natives while muzzling them by denying them access to the press. In the United States, the more visible venues of the alternative press, such as online news sites Truthout, Common Dreams, and Huffington Post are essentially closed to native writers. This colonialism of the mind is rampant when it comes to Haiti.

Inspect the US alternative press for news of Haiti. You will find articles there by Beverly Bell, Mark Weisbrot, Robert Naiman, Jane Regan, Noam Chomsky, Stephen Lendman and others, but you will be hard put to find a Haitian name. Westerners, whatever their political leaning, do reserve their right to rule the world, and the right to pontificate to the ignorant natives is very much a part of it.

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3 Reasons Why God is a Nihilist; Or, Showing Sympathy for God

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Paul Chiariello writes at Applied Sentience:

I want to start with a disclaimer and a qualification.

First, this post isn’t about bashing God.  This post is about understanding humanity.  It’s about finding joy as flourishing individuals and friends.  It’s about exploring meaning and morality in a difficult world.  In this way, this post isn’t about God at all – it’s about you and me.  With this goal in mind, I’m hoping to explore someone I see as a literary figure, just like Aesop’s Tortoise and Hare, Heinlein’s Valentine Michel Smith, or anyone else from the infinite list of fictional characters out there.  Regardless of whether you love Him or hate Him, whether you’re a theist or an atheist like me, God is probably one of the most interesting and novel characters of all time, and certainly the one with the biggest fandoms and fanfics ever.

Second, as to my qualification, there are a wide range of nihilisms.  Someone might be called a nihilist for their skepticism of external reality or for their refutation of any legitimate political institutions or for their dismissal of certain religious beliefs.  Here I’ll be referring specifically to moral nihilism, or at least certain kinds of moral nihilisms.  And just so I’m being clear and up front, I’m specifically arguing that God doesn’t believe in objective or non-arbitray ethics or values, or, at very least, simply lives in a world where He knows about these things but yet cannot take part in them.

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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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