Recent events highlight an unpleasant scientific practice: ethics dumping

“Dig deeper, though, and what happened starts to look more intriguing than just the story of a lone maverick having gone off the rails in a place with lax regulation. It may instead be an example of a phenomenon called ethics dumping.

Ethics dumping is the carrying out by researchers from one country (usually rich, and with strict regulations) in another (usually less well off, and with laxer laws) of an experiment that would not be permitted at home, or of one that might be permitted, but in a way that would be frowned on. The most worrisome cases involve medical research, in which health, and possibly lives, are at stake. But other investigations—anthropological ones, for example—may also be carried out in a more cavalier fashion abroad. As science becomes more international the risk of ethics dumping, both intentional and unintentional, has risen. The suggestion in this case is that Dr He was encouraged and assisted in his project by a researcher at an American university.”

Recent events highlight an unpleasant scientific practice: ethics dumping
https://www.economist.com/science-and-technology/2019/02/02/recent-events-highlight-an-unpleasant-scientific-practice-ethics-dumping
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The new elite’s phoney crusade to save the world – without changing anything

“That vast numbers of Americans and others in the west have scarcely benefited from the age is not because of a lack of innovation, but because of social arrangements that fail to turn new stuff into better lives. For example, American scientists make the most important discoveries in medicine and genetics and publish more biomedical research than those of any other country – but the average American’s health remains worse and slower-improving than that of peers in other rich countries, and in some years life expectancy actually declines. American inventors create astonishing new ways to learn thanks to the power of video and the internet, many of them free of charge – but the average US high-school leaver tests more poorly in reading today than in 1992. The country has had a “culinary renaissance”, as one publication puts it, one farmers’ market and Whole Foods store at a time – but it has failed to improve the nutrition of most people, with the incidence of obesity and related conditions rising over time.”

The new elite’s phoney crusade to save the world – without changing anything
http://www.theguardian.com/news/2019/jan/22/the-new-elites-phoney-crusade-to-save-the-world-without-changing-anything
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‘Merging man and machine doesn’t come without consequences’. Gerd Leonhard comments

“Google’s director of engineering Ray Kurzweil is aligned with Mr Musk on this issue, and regularly enthuses about the possibility of man and machine combining to optimise our skills and extend our lifespans. Mr Leonhard, however, does not share this utopian vision. “I don’t want to be faced with the challenge of becoming a cyborg,” he says. “There are things we’d stop doing. Anything slow and inefficient, we wouldn’t do any longer, and I think that’s dehumanising. Also, it means that the rich can augment themselves and become superhuman, while the unaugmented will become useless in comparison.”

But perhaps we’re getting ahead of ourselves. Current experiments with non-invasive BCIs (ie, not implanted inside the skull) are still limited in their scope, and the technology would have to improve by several orders of magnitude before it could boost our lifespans (or, indeed, end up sowing divisions in society). But work is being done outside the field of EEGs that might speed up that journey. New York company CTRL-labs has produced a wristband that senses electrical pulses in the arm, and according to chief executive Thomas Reardon, has all the capabilities of a cranial implant. “There’s nothing you can do with a chip in your brain that we can’t do better,” he boasted in interview with The Verge in June. In tests, CTRL-labs have successfully demonstrated the movement of virtual objects by the power of thought, and gaming enthusiasts have been fascinated. Once problems of speed and accuracy have been conquered, it could represent a gaming revolution where controllers are no longer needed, and experiences become fully immersive.

But while he acknowledges that it is the job of scientists and companies to build this kind of advanced technology, Mr Leonhard says that they also have a responsibility for unforeseen side-effects. “If we have a serious uptake in this kind of augmented reality, I believe we’re going to have a lot of issues with health, mental health and attention deficits.” So how far should we go with the convergence of man and machine? “I’m excited about the future,” he says. “But I’m a humanist. I don’t think we should use technology to leave humanity behind us.””

‘Merging man and machine doesn’t come without consequences’
https://www.thenational.ae/arts-culture/comment/merging-man-and-machine-doesn-t-come-without-consequences-1.780792
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GSMA sharpens focus on ethical digitalisation with the launch of 'Digital Declaration'

Hear hear ! Better late than never :))


“Social, technological, political and economic currents are combining to create a perfect storm of disruption across all industries,” said Mats Granryd, director general of the GSMA.

“A new form of responsible leadership is needed to successfully navigate this era. We are on the cusp of the 5G era, which will spark exciting new possibilities for consumers and promises to transform the shape of virtually every business. In the face of this disruption, those that embrace the principles of the Digital Declaration will strive for business success in ways that seek a better future for their consumers and societies. Those that do not change can expect to suffer increasing scrutiny from shareholders, regulators and consumers,” he added.”

GSMA sharpens focus on ethical digitalisation with the launch of 'Digital Declaration'
https://www.totaltele.com/501995/GSMA-sharpens-focus-on-ethical-digitalisation-with-the-launch-of-Digital-Declaration
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World Leaders at Davos Call for Global Rules on Tech

“The rapid spread of digital technology in daily life and the implications that has on the future of work and data security will require more international cooperation, not less, Ms. Merkel said. But she acknowledged that nobody knows how to write the rules.

Neither the American nor the Chinese approach would work for Europeans, who place a high value on privacy and social justice, Ms. Merkel said.

“I still have yet to see any global architecture that deals with these questions,” she said.”

World Leaders at Davos Call for Global Rules on Tech
https://www.nytimes.com/2019/01/23/technology/world-economic-forum-data-controls.html
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The World Is Choking on Digital Pollution

“As always, progress has not been without a price. Like the factories of 200 years ago, digital advances have given rise to a pollution that is reducing the quality of our lives and the strength of our democracy. We manage what we choose to measure. It is time to name and measure not only the progress the information revolution has brought, but also the harm that has come with it. Until we do, we will never know which costs are worth bearing.

We seem to be caught in an almost daily reckoning with the role of the internet in our society. This past March, Facebook lost $134 billion in market value over a matter of weeks after a scandal involving the misuse of user data by the political consulting firm Cambridge Analytica. In August, several social media companies banned InfoWars, the conspiracy-mongering platform of right-wing commentator Alex Jones. Many applauded this decision, while others cried of a left-wing conspiracy afoot in the C-suites of largely California-based technology companies.”

The World Is Choking on Digital Pollution
https://washingtonmonthly.com/magazine/january-february-march-2019/the-world-is-choking-on-digital-pollution/
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Don’t believe the hype: the media are unwittingly selling us an AI fantasy | John Naughton

“The tech giants that own and control the technology have plans to exponentially increase that impact and to that end have crafted a distinctive narrative. Crudely summarised, it goes like this: “While there may be odd glitches and the occasional regrettable downside on the way to a glorious future, on balance AI will be good for humanity. Oh – and by the way – its progress is unstoppable, so don’t worry your silly little heads fretting about it because we take ethics very seriously.””

Don’t believe the hype: the media are unwittingly selling us an AI fantasy | John Naughton
http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/jan/13/dont-believe-the-hype-media-are-selling-us-an-ai-fantasy
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Beware corporate ‘machinewashing’ of AI

“To compound the problem, the baleful effects of AI are often rooted in the very algorithms that drive many tech companies’ profit streams. Economists call such societal costs “negative externalities.” A key component of a negative externality is that the selling or buying of the product itself doesn’t price in the costs borne by others in society as a result of this transaction.

For instance, if people are clicking like crazy on ideologically divisive content served up by personalized algorithms designed to manipulate emotions, it may make both the social media company and the individual user happy in the moment. But it’s inarguably a bad thing for the world. However, those clicks equal money, and when you’re answering to impatient shareholders, greed has an edge over principle.”

Beware corporate ‘machinewashing’ of AI
https://www.bostonglobe.com/opinion/2019/01/07/beware-corporate-machinewashing/IwB1GkAxBlFaOzfo8Wh0IN/story.html
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How Much of the Internet Is Fake?

“What’s gone from the internet, after all, isn’t “truth,” but trust: the sense that the people and things we encounter are what they represent themselves to be. Years of metrics-driven growth, lucrative manipulative systems, and unregulated platform marketplaces, have created an environment where it makes more sense to be fake online — to be disingenuous and cynical, to lie and cheat, to misrepresent and distort — than it does to be real. Fixing that would require cultural and political reform in Silicon Valley and around the world, but it’s our only choice. Otherwise we’ll all end up on the bot internet of fake people, fake clicks, fake sites, and fake computers, where the only real thing is the ads.”

How Much of the Internet Is Fake?
http://nymag.com/intelligencer/2018/12/how-much-of-the-internet-is-fake.html
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A Conversation with Rudy Rucker

“one of Wolfram's points has been that any natural process can embody universal computation. Once you have universal computation, it seems like in principle, you might be able to get intelligent behavior emerging even if it's not programmed. So then, it's not clear that there's some bright line that separates human intelligence from the rest of the intelligence. I think when we say "artificial intelligence," what we're getting at is the idea that it would be something that we could bring into being, either by designing or probably more likely by evolving it in a laboratory setting.”

Episode 76: A Conversation with Rudy Rucker
https://voicesinai.com/episode/episode-76-a-conversation-with-rudy-rucker/?utm_campaign=Petervan%27s+Delicacies&utm_medium=email&utm_source=Revue+newsletter
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