This paper presents the principal findings from a three-year research project funded by the US National Science Foundation on ethics of human enhancement technologies. To help untangle this ongoing debate, we have organized the discussion as a list of questions and answers, starting with background issues and moving to specific concerns, including: freedom & autonomy, health & safety, fairness & equity, societal disruption, and human dignity. Each question-and answer pair is largely self-contained, allowing the reader to skip to those issues (...) of interest without affecting continuity. (shrink)
The computer revolution can beusefully divided into three stages, two ofwhich have already occurred: the introductionstage and the permeation stage. We have onlyrecently entered the third and most importantstage – the power stage – in which many ofthe most serious social, political, legal, andethical questions involving informationtechnology will present themselves on a largescale. The present article discusses severalreasons to believe that future developments ininformation technology will make computerethics more vibrant and more important thanever. Computer ethics is here to stay!
A series of imitation games involving 3-participant (simultaneous comparison of two hidden entities) and 2-participant (direct interrogation of a hidden entity) were conducted at Bletchley Park on the 100th anniversary of Alan Turing’s birth: 23 June 2012. From the ongoing analysis of over 150 games involving (expert and non-expert, males and females, adults and child) judges, machines and hidden humans (foils for the machines), we present six particular conversations that took place between human judges and a hidden entity that produced (...) unexpected results. From this sample we focus on features of Turing’s machine intelligence test that the mathematician/code breaker did not consider in his examination for machine thinking: the subjective nature of attributing intelligence to another mind. (shrink)
Computer and information ethics, as well as other fields of applied ethics, need ethical theories which coherently unify deontological and consequentialist aspects of ethical analysis. The proposed theory of just consequentialism emphasizes consequences of policies within the constraints of justice. This makes just consequentialism a practical and theoretically sound approach to ethical problems of computer and information ethics.
Computing plays an important role in genetics (and vice versa).Theoretically, computing provides a conceptual model for thefunction and malfunction of our genetic machinery. Practically,contemporary computers and robots equipped with advancedalgorithms make the revelation of the complete human genomeimminent – computers are about to reveal our genetic soulsfor the first time. Ethically, computers help protect privacyby restricting access in sophisticated ways to genetic information.But the inexorable fact that computers will increasingly collect,analyze, and disseminate abundant amounts of genetic informationmade available through the (...) genetic revolution, not to mentionthat inexpensive computing devices will make genetic informationgathering easier, underscores the need for strong and immediateprivacy legislation. (shrink)
The standard interpretation of the imitation game is defended over the rival gender interpretation though it is noted that Turing himself proposed several variations of his imitation game. The Turing test is then justified as an inductive test not as an operational definition as commonly suggested. Turing's famous prediction about his test being passed at the 70% level is disconfirmed by the results of the Loebner 2000 contest and the absence of any serious Turing test competitors from AI on the (...) horizon. But, reports of the death of the Turing test and AI are premature. AI continues to flourish and the test continues to play an important philosophical role in AI. Intelligence attribution, methodological, and visionary arguments are given in defense of a continuing role for the Turing test. With regard to Turing's predictions one is disconfirmed, one is confirmed, but another is still outstanding. (shrink)
Many have claimed that split-brain patients are actually two persons. I maintain that both the traditional separation argument and the more recent sophistication argument for the two persons interpretation are inadequate on conceptual grounds. An autonomy argument is inadequate on empirical grounds. Overall, theoretical and practical consequences weigh heavily in favor of adopting a one person interpretation.
The precautionary principle (PP) is thought by many to be a useful strategy for action and by many others useless at best and dangerous at worst. We argue that it is a coherent and useful principle. We first clarify the principle and then defend it against a number of common criticisms. Three examples from nanotechnology are used; nanoparticles and possible health and environmental problems, grey goo and the potential for catastrophe, and privacy risks generated by nanoelectronics.
The capacity and availability of computers has been increasing exponentially, and people are connected with others around the world in ways unparalleled in history. The web is J.S. Mill's dream machine to the extent that it enhances people's freedom of expression, pursuit of projects, and interaction with others. But, freedom can come at a cost to justice, and we need to be cautious when confronting concentrations of power and limitations of access in cyberspace as well as understanding some special features (...) of cyberspace such as the invisibility factor and the unreality factor. Ultimately, the freedom of cyberspace may provide the best defense of justice in cyberspace. (shrink)
In this paper I argue for a computational theory of thinking that does not eliminate the mind. In doing so, I will defend computationalism against the arguments of John Searle and James Fetzer, and briefly respond to other common criticisms.
In this paper a conception of rationality is developed which bears on three important issues in the social sciences -- the status of the principle of rationality, the criteria for rational actions, and the nature of rational explanations. It is argued that the principle of rationality should be interpreted as a methodological principle and is valuable only inasmuch as it leads to true hypotheses about human action. Definitions of rational beliefs, rational means, and rational ends are provided. These definitions provide (...) criteria for rational actions which better accord with our intuitive judgments about what should count as rational action than the criteria given in traditional accounts. Finally, the nature of rational explanations is specified and arguments for their usefulness and respectability presented although these explanations do not necessarily fit the standard covering law model. (shrink)