Philosophical Disquisitions
Philosophical Disquisitions
John Danaher
Things hid and barr'd from common sense
93 - Will machines impede moral progress?
Thomas Sinclair (left), Ben Kenward (right) Lots of people are worried about the ethics of AI. One particular area of concern is whether we should program machines to follow existing normative/moral principles when making decisions. But social moral values change over time. Should machines not be designed to allow for such changes? If machines are programmed to follow our current values will they impede moral progress? In this episode, I talk to Ben Kenward and Thomas Sinclair about this issue. Ben is a Senior Lecturer in Psychology at Oxford Brookes University in the UK. His research focuses on ecological psychology, mainly examining environmental activism such as the Extinction Rebellion movement of which he is a part. Thomas is a Fellow and Tutor in Philosophy at Wadham College, Oxford, and an Associate Professor of Philosophy at Oxford's Faculty of Philosophy. His research and teaching focus on questions in moral and political philosophy. You can download the episode here or listen below. You can also subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, Spotify and other podcasting services (the RSS feed is here).   Show NotesTopics discussed incude: What is a moral value?What is a moral machine?What is moral progress?Has society progress, morally speaking, in the past?How can we design moral machines?What's the problem with getting machines to follow our current moral consensus?Will people over-defer to machines? Will they outsource their moral reasoning to machines?Why is a lack of moral progress such a problem right now? Relevant LinksThomas's webpageBen's webpage'Machine morality, moral progress and the looming environmental disaster' by Ben and Tom
Jul 19
92 - The Ethics of Virtual Worlds
Are virtual worlds free from the ethical rules of ordinary life? Do they generate their own ethical codes? How do gamers and game designers address these issues? These are the questions that I explore in this episode with my guest Lucy Amelia Sparrow. Lucy is a PhD Candidate in Human-Computer Interaction at the University of Melbourne. Her research focuses on ethics and multiplayer digital games, with other interests in virtual reality and hybrid boardgames. Lucy is a tutor in game design and an academic editor, and has held a number of research and teaching positions at universities across Hong Kong and Australia. You can download the episode here or listen below. You can also subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, Spotify and other podcasting services (the RSS feed is here) Show NotesTopics discussed include: Are virtual worlds amoral? Do we value them for their freedom from ordinary moral rules?Is there an important distinction between virtual reality and games?Do games generate their own internal ethics?How prevalent are unwanted digitally enacted sexual interactions?How do gamers respond to such interactions? Do they take them seriously?How can game designers address this problem?Do gamers tolerate immoral actions more than the norm?Can there be a productive form of distrust in video game design? Relevant LinksLucy on TwitterLucy on Researchgate'Apathetic villagers and the trolls who love them' by Lucy Sparrow, Martin Gibbs and Michael Arnold'From ‘Silly’ to ‘Scumbag’: Reddit Discussion of a Case of Groping in a Virtual Reality Game' by Lucy et al'Productive Distrust: Playing with the player in digital games' by Lucy et al'The "digital animal intuition": the ethics of violence against animals in video games" by Simon Coghlan and Lucy Sparrow #mc_embed_signup{background:#fff; clear:left; font:14px Helvetica,Arial,sans-serif; } /* Add your own MailChimp form style overrides in your site stylesheet or in this style block. We recommend moving this block and the preceding CSS link to the HEAD of your HTML file. */ Subscribe to the newsletter
Jul 9
91 - Rights for Robots, Animals and Nature?
Should robots have rights? How about chimpanzees? Or rivers? Many people ask these questions individually, but few people have asked them all together at the same time. In this episode, I talk to a man who has. Josh Gellers is an Associate Professor in the Department of Political Science and Public Administration at the University of North Florida, a Fulbright Scholar to Sri Lanka, a Research Fellow of the Earth System Governance Project, and Core Team Member of the Global Network for Human Rights and the Environment. His research focuses on environmental politics, rights, and technology. He is the author of The Global Emergence of Constitutional Environmental Rights (Routledge 2017) and Rights for Robots: Artificial Intelligence, Animal and Environmental Law (Routledge 2020). We talk about the arguments and ideas in the latter book. You can download the episode here or listen below. You can also subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, Spotify and other podcasting services (the RSS feed is here). Show notes Topics covered include:Should we even be talking about robot rights?What is a right? What's the difference between a legal and moral right?How do we justify the ascription of rights?What is personhood? Who counts as a person?Properties versus relations - what matters more when it comes to moral status?What can we learn from the animal rights case law?What can we learn from the Rights of Nature debate?Can we imagine a future in which robots have rights? What kinds of rights might those be? Relevant LinksJosh's homepageJosh on TwitterRights for Robots: Artificial Intelligence, Animal and Environmental Law  by Josh (digital version available Open Access)"Earth system law and the legal status of non-humans in the Anthropocene" by Josh #mc_embed_signup{background:#fff; clear:left; font:14px Helvetica,Arial,sans-serif; } /* Add your own MailChimp form style overrides in your site stylesheet or in this style block. We recommend moving this block and the preceding CSS link to the HEAD of your HTML file. */ Subscribe to the newsletter
Jun 30
90 - The Future of Identity
What does it mean to be human? What does it mean to be you? Philosophers, psychologists and sociologists all seem to agree that your identity is central to how you think of yourself and how you engage with others. But how are emerging technologies changing how we enact and constitute our identities? That's the subject matter of this podcast with Tracey Follows. Tracy is a professional futurist. She runs a consultancy firm called Futuremade. She is a regular writer and speaker on futurism. She has appeared on the BBC and is a contributing columnist with Forbes. She is also a member of the Association of Professional Futuriss and the World Futures Studies Federation. We talk about her book The Future of You: Can your identity survive the 21st Century? You can download the podcast here or listen below. You can also subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, Spotify and other podcasting services (the RSS feed is here).   Show Notes Topics covered in this episode include: The nature of identityThe link between technology and identityIs technology giving us more creative control over identity?Does technology encourage more conformity and groupthink?Is our identity being fragmented by technology?Who controls the technology of identity formation?How should we govern the technology of identity formation in the future? Relevant Links The Future of You by TraceyTracey on TwitterTracey at ForbesFuturemade consultancyTracey's talk to the London Futurists #mc_embed_signup{background:#fff; clear:left; font:14px Helvetica,Arial,sans-serif; } /* Add your own MailChimp form style overrides in your site stylesheet or in this style block. We recommend moving this block and the preceding CSS link to the HEAD of your HTML file. */ Subscribe to the newsletter
Apr 28
89 - Is Morality All About Cooperation?
What are the origins and dynamics of human morality? Is morality, at root, an attempt to solve basic problems of cooperation? What implications does this have for the future? In this episode, I chat to Dr Oliver Scott Curry about these questions. We discuss, in particular, his theory of morality as cooperation (MAC). Dr Curry is Research Director for Kindlab, at kindness.org. He is also a Research Affiliate at the School of Anthropology and Museum Ethnography, University of Oxford, and a Research Associate at the Centre for Philosophy of Natural and Social Science, at the London School of Economics. He received his PhD from LSE in 2005. Oliver’s academic research investigates the nature, content and structure of human morality. He tackles such questions as: What is morality? How did morality evolve? What psychological mechanisms underpin moral judgments? How are moral values best measured? And how does morality vary across cultures? To answer these questions, he employs a range of techniques from philosophy, experimental and social psychology and comparative anthropology. You can download the episode here or listen below. You can also subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, Spotify and other podcasting services (the RSS feed is here).   #mc_embed_signup{background:#fff; clear:left; font:14px Helvetica,Arial,sans-serif; } /* Add your own MailChimp form style overrides in your site stylesheet or in this style block. We recommend moving this block and the preceding CSS link to the HEAD of your HTML file. */ Show NotesTopics discussed include: The nature of moralityThe link between human morality and cooperationThe seven types of cooperation How these seven types of cooperation generate distinctive moral normsThe evidence for the theory of morality as cooperationIs the theory underinclusive, reductive and universalist? Is that a problem?Is the theory overinclusive? Could it be falsified?Why Morality as Cooperation is better than Moral Foundations TheoryThe future of cooperation Relevant linksOliver's webpageOliver on TwitterOliver's Podcast - The Map'Morality as Cooperation: A Problem-Centred Approach' by Oliver (sets out the theory of MAC)'Morality is fundamentally an evolved solution to problems of social co-operation' (debate at the Royal Anthropological Society)'Moral Molecules: Morality as a combinatorial system' by Oliver and his colleagues'Is it good to cooperate? Testing the theory of morality-as-cooperation in 60 societies' by Oliver and colleagues'What is wrong with moral foundations theory?' by Oliver Subscribe to the newsletter
Mar 26
88 - The Ethics of Social Credit Systems
Should we use technology to surveil, rate and punish/reward all citizens in a state? Do we do it anyway? In this episode I discuss these questions with Wessel Reijers, focusing in particular on the lessons we can learn from the Chinese Social Credit System. Wessel is a postdoctoral Research Associate at the European University Institute, working in the ERC project “BlockchainGov”, which looks into the legal and ethical impacts of distributed governance. His research focuses on the philosophy and ethics of technology, notably on the development of a critical hermeneutical approach to technology and the investigation of the role of emerging technologies in the shaping of citizenship in the 21st century. He completed his PhD at the Dublin City University with a Dissertation entitled “Practising Narrative Virtue Ethics of Technology in Research and Innovation”. In addition to a range of peer-reviewed articles, he recently published the book Narrative and Technology Ethics with Palgrave, which he co-authored with Mark Coeckbelbergh. You can download the episode here or listen below.You can also subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, Spotify and other podcasting services (the RSS feed is here).   Show Notes Topics discussed in this episode includeThe Origins of the Chinese Social Credit SystemHistorical Parallels to the SystemSocial Credit Systems in Western CulturesIs China exceptional when it comes to the use of these systems?The impact of social credit systems on human values such as freedom and authenticityHow the social credit system is reshaping citizenshipThe possible futures of social credit systems Relevant LinksWessel's homepageWessel on Twitter'A Dystopian Future? The Rise of Social Credit Systems' - a written debate featuring Wessel'How to Make the Perfect Citizen? Lessons from China's Model of Social Credit System' by Liav Orgad and Wessel ReijersNarrative and Technology Ethics by Wessel Reijers and Mark Coeckelbergh #mc_embed_signup{background:#fff; clear:left; font:14px Helvetica,Arial,sans-serif; } /* Add your own MailChimp form style overrides in your site stylesheet or in this style block. We recommend moving this block and the preceding CSS link to the HEAD of your HTML file. */ Subscribe to the newsletter
Feb 26
87 - AI and the Value Alignment Problem
How do we make sure that an AI does the right thing? How could we do this when we ourselves don't even agree on what the right thing might be? In this episode, I talk to Iason Gabriel about these questions. Iason is a political theorist and ethicist currently working as a Research Scientist at DeepMind. His research focuses on the moral questions raised by artificial intelligence. His recent work addresses the challenge of value alignment, responsible innovation, and human rights. He has also been a prominent contributor to the debate about the ethics of effective altruism. You can download the episode here or listen below. You can also subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, Spotify and other podcasting services (the RSS feed is here).  Show Notes: Topics discussed include:What is the value alignment problem?Why is it so important that we get value alignment right?Different ways of conceiving the problemHow different AI architectures affect the problemWhy there can be no purely technical solution to the value alignment problemSix potential solutions to the value alignment problemWhy we need to deal with value pluralism and uncertaintyHow political theory can help to resolve the problem  Relevant LinksIason on Twitter"Artificial Intelligence, Values and Alignment" by Iason"Effective Altruism and its Critics" by IasonMy blog series on the above article"Social Choice Ethics in Artificial Intelligence" by Seth Baum #mc_embed_signup{background:#fff; clear:left; font:14px Helvetica,Arial,sans-serif; } /* Add your own MailChimp form style overrides in your site stylesheet or in this style block. We recommend moving this block and the preceding CSS link to the HEAD of your HTML file. */ Subscribe to the newsletter
Dec 23, 2020
85 - The Internet and the Tyranny of Perceived Opinion
  Are we losing our liberty as a result of digital technologies and algorithmic power? In particular, might algorithmically curated filter bubbles be creating a world that encourages both increased polarisation and increased conformity at the same time? In today’s podcast, I discuss these issues with Henrik Skaug Sætra. Henrik is a political scientist working in the Faculty of Business, Languages and Social Science at Østfold University College in Norway. He has a particular interest in political theory and philosophy, and has worked extensively on Thomas Hobbes and social contract theory, environmental ethics and game theory. At the moment his work focuses mainly on issues involving the dynamics between human individuals, society and technology.  You download the episode here or listen below. You can also subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, Spotify and other podcasting services (the RSS feed is here).   Show NotesTopics discussed include: Selective Exposure and Confirmation Bias How algorithms curate our informational ecology Filter Bubbles Echo Chambers How the internet is created more internally conformist but externally polarised groups The nature of political freedom Tocqueville and the tyranny of the majority Mill and the importance of individuality How algorithmic curation of speech is undermining our liberty What can be done about this problem? Relevant Links Henrik's faculty homepage Henrik on Researchgate Henrik on Twitter 'The Tyranny of Perceived Opinion: Freedom and information in the era of big data' by Henrik 'Privacy as an aggregate public good' by Henrik 'Freedom under the gaze of Big Brother: Preparing the grounds for a liberal defence of privacy in the era of Big Data' by Henrik 'When nudge comes to shove: Liberty and nudging in the era of big data' by Henrik #mc_embed_signup{background:#fff; clear:left; font:14px Helvetica,Arial,sans-serif; } /* Add your own MailChimp form style overrides in your site stylesheet or in this style block. We recommend moving this block and the preceding CSS link to the HEAD of your HTML file. */ Subscribe to the newsletter
Oct 27, 2020
84 - Social Media, COVID-19 and Value Change
Do our values change over time? What role do emotions and technology play in altering our values? In this episode I talk to Steffen Steinert (PhD) about these issues. Steffen is a postdoctoral researcher on the Value Change project at TU Delft. His research focuses on the philosophy of technology, ethics of technology, emotions, and aesthetics. He has published papers on roboethics, art and technology, and philosophy of science. In his previous research he also explored philosophical issues related to humor and amusement. You can download the episode here or listen below. You can also subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, Spotify and other podcasting services (the RSS feed is here). Show Notes Topics discussed include: What is a value?Descriptive vs normative theories of valuePsychological theories of personal valuesThe nature of emotionsThe connection between emotions and valuesEmotional contagionEmotional climates vs emotional atmospheresThe role of social media in causing emotional contagionIs the coronavirus promoting a negative emotional climate?Will this affect our political preferences and policies?General lessons for technology and value change Relevant Links Steffen's HomepageThe Designing for Changing Values Project @ TU DelftCorona and Value Change by Steffen'Unleashing the Constructive Potential of Emotions' by Steffen and Sabine RoeserAn Overview of the Schwartz Theory of Basic Personal Values #mc_embed_signup{background:#fff; clear:left; font:14px Helvetica,Arial,sans-serif; } /* Add your own MailChimp form style overrides in your site stylesheet or in this style block. We recommend moving this block and the preceding CSS link to the HEAD of your HTML file. */ Subscribe to the newsletter
Oct 20, 2020
83 - Privacy is Power
Are you being watched, tracked and traced every minute of the day? Probably. The digital world thrives on surveillance. What should we do about this? My guest today is Carissa Véliz. Carissa is an Associate Professor at the Faculty of Philosophy and the Institute of Ethics in AI at Oxford University. She is also a Tutorial Fellow at Hertford College Oxford. She works on privacy, technology, moral and political philosophy and public policy. She has also been a guest on this podcast on two previous occasions. Today, we’ll be talking about her recently published book Privacy is Power. You can download the episode here or listen below. You can also subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, Spotify and other podcasting services (the RSS feed is here).  Show Notes Topics discussed in this show include: The most surprising examples of digital surveillanceThe nature of privacyIs privacy dead?Privacy as an intrinsic and instrumental valueThe relationship between privacy and autonomyDoes surveillance help with security and health?The problem with mass surveillanceThe phenomenon of toxic dataHow surveillance undermines democracy and freedomAre we willing to trade privacy for convenient services?And much more Relevant Links Carissa's WebpagePrivacy is Power by CarissaSummary of Privacy is Power in AeonReview of Privacy is Power in The Guardian Carissa's Twitter feed (a treasure trove of links about privacy and surveillance)Views on Privacy: A Survey by Sian Brooke and Carissa VélizData, Privacy and the Individual by Carissa Véliz #mc_embed_signup{background:#fff; clear:left; font:14px Helvetica,Arial,sans-serif; } /* Add your own MailChimp form style overrides in your site stylesheet or in this style block. We recommend moving this block and the preceding CSS link to the HEAD of your HTML file. */ Subscribe to the newsletter
Oct 10, 2020
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