For the Debaters: What Shall We Do About the Tech Careening Our Way?

September 21, 2016: Read article in the New York Times. “Here’s a question I’m hoping comes up at Monday’s presidential debate: Secretary Clinton and Mr. Trump, what would you do about self-driving trucks?…According to the boosters, autonomous trucks would avert lots of accidents, saving thousands of lives annually. They could reduce congestion and carbon emissions by cutting the number of trucks on the road…In the long run, if the trucks prove successful and our logistics infrastructure adjusts to accommodate them, they could begin to displace the three million Americans (mostly men) who now drive trucks for a living, not to mention truck stops and the small towns that depend on...

Plan to Fabricate a Genome Raises Questions on Designer Humans

June 2, 2016: Read article in MIT Technology Review. A group of scientists have proposed a research plan to fabricate the human genome, but their proposal does not tackle any of the looming ethical difficulties of such an endeavor. However, one of the main authors of the proposal has made his viewpoint clear in a book published in 2012: George Church of Harvard, author of Regenesis: How Synthetic Biology Will Reinvent Nature and Ourselves, believes that this technology can and should allow mankind to further evolve itself and the rest of nature with it, according to scientific...

How to Be Good: Why You Can’t Teach Human Values to Artificial Intelligence

April 2016: Read article in Slate. Artificially intelligent machines will soon be in situations where they have to make values-based decisions. For example, if a self-driving car must make a choice between protecting its passengers or pedestrians, the programmers of the self-driving vehicle must give it a definite answer. The question is not whether machines can be made to obey human values but which humans ought to decide those values. Ultimately, what gives Western, well-off, white male cisgender scientists the right to determine how the machine encodes and develops human...

Would YOU Want to Live Forever?

April 21, 2016: Read article in the Daily Mail.  Ray Kurzweil, an author who describes himself as a futurist and works on Google’s machine learning project, predicts that by 2029, humans will be extending their lives considerably or even indefinitely. He also believes the human brain could be enhanced by tiny robotic implants that connect to cloud-based computer networks to give us ‘God-like’...

Chinese Researchers Experiment with Making HIV-Proof Embryos

April 8, 2016: Read article in MIT Technology Review. Scientists in China recently completed an unsuccessful experiment aimed at modifying human embryos to resist HIV. Modifying embryos has been a hot topic of debate among scientists worldwide, with some saying modification is dangerous and wrong and others saying the risks are worth the possibility of preventing genetic diseases and improving human...