Gentlemachines
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Gentlemachines
What's new at the crossroads of culture, technology and science
Curated by Artur Alves
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Should We Keep a Low Profile in Space?

Should We Keep a Low Profile in Space? | Gentlemachines | Scoop.it
There are fears that sending messages into space could provoke alien aggression.
Artur Alves's insight:

«

Broadcasting is likened to “shouting in the jungle” — not a good idea when you don’t know what’s out there. The British physicist Stephen Hawking alluded to this danger by noting that on Earth, when less advanced societies drew the attention of those more advanced, the consequences for the former were seldom agreeable.

It’s a worry we never used to have. Victorian-era scientists toyed with plans to use lanterns and burning pools of oil to contact postulated Martians. In the 1970s, NASA bolted greeting cards onto spacecraft that will leave our solar system and wander the vast reaches between the stars. The Pioneer and Voyager probes carry plaques and records with information about what humans look like and where Earth is, as well as a small sampling of our culture.

»

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Facebook’s Unethical Experiment Manipulated Users’ Emotions

Facebook’s Unethical Experiment Manipulated Users’ Emotions | Gentlemachines | Scoop.it

Facebook has been experimenting on us. A new paper in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences reveals that Facebook intentionally manipulated the news feeds of almost 700,000 users in order to study “emotional contagion through social networks.”  The study raises a number of ethics and privacy issues, since no authorization or warning was issued for the experiment.

Artur Alves's insight:

Social scientists team up with Facebook, manipulate data feeds, and ignore ethical good practices in experiments with human subjects.

 

 

«Facebook has been experimenting on us. A new paper in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences reveals that Facebook intentionally manipulated the news feeds of almost 700,000 users in order to study “emotional contagion through social networks.”

The researchers, who are affiliated with Facebook, Cornell, and the University of California–San Francisco, tested whether reducing the number of positive messages people saw made those people less likely to post positive content themselves. The same went for negative messages: Would scrubbing posts with sad or angry words from someone’s Facebook feed make that person write fewer gloomy updates?

(...)

Here is the only mention of “informed consent” in the paper: The research “was consistent with Facebook’s Data Use Policy, to which all users agree prior to creating an account on Facebook, constituting informed consent for this research.”

That is not how most social scientists define informed consent.

 

(...)

Over the course of the study, it appears, the social network made some of us happier or sadder than we would otherwise have been. Now it’s made all of us more mistrustful. «

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On algorithms - is there still a place for human judgment?

On algorithms - is there still a place for human judgment? | Gentlemachines | Scoop.it
Computers could take some tough decisions out of our hands, if we let them. Is there still a place for human judgement?
Artur Alves's insight:

One the most important questions of our times: what can we externalize into algorithms, and what should we keep as human responsibility?

 

"What lies behind our current rush to automate everything we can imagine? Perhaps it is an idea that has leaked out into the general culture from cognitive science and psychology over the past half-century — that our brains are imperfect computers. If so, surely replacing them with actual computers can have nothing but benefits. Yet even in fields where the algorithm’s job is a relatively pure exercise in number- crunching, things can go alarmingly wrong."

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MIT professor and former fighter pilot Missy Cummings in The Daily Show - Fake News | Comedy Central

In this exclusive, unedited interview, MIT professor and former fighter pilot Missy Cummings disputes the popular dystopian vision of drone warfare.

Artur Alves's insight:

More of the exclusive interview:

http://www.thedailyshow.com/watch/wed-january-23-2013/exclusive---missy-cummings-extended-interview-pt--2

http://www.thedailyshow.com/watch/wed-january-23-2013/exclusive---missy-cummings-extended-interview-pt--3

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Google’s Driver-less Car and Morality

Google’s Driver-less Car and Morality | Gentlemachines | Scoop.it

"The thought that haunts me the most is that that human ethics themselves are only a work-in-progress. We still confront situations for which we don’t have well-developed codes (e.g., in the case of assisted suicide) and need not look far into the past to find cases where our own codes were dubious, or worse (e.g., laws that permitted slavery and segregation). What we really want are machines that can go a step further, endowed not only with the soundest codes of ethics that our best contemporary philosophers can devise, but also with the possibility of machines making their own moral progress, bringing them past our own limited early-twenty-first century idea of morality.

Building machines with a conscience is a big job, and one that will require the coordinated efforts of philosophers, computer scientists, legislators, and lawyers." - Gary Marcus

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Edward Snowden urges professionals to encrypt client communications

Edward Snowden urges professionals to encrypt client communications | Gentlemachines | Scoop.it
Exclusive: Whistleblower says NSA revelations mean those with duty to protect confidentiality must urgently upgrade security Watch Snowden's interview with the Guardian in Moscow Read the full interview with Snowden by Alan Rusbridger and Ewen...
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As engineers, we must consider the ethical implications of our work

As engineers, we must consider the ethical implications of our work | Gentlemachines | Scoop.it
Abbas El-Zein: Engineers are behind government spying tools and military weapons. We should be conscious of how our designs are used
Artur Alves's insight:

"One aspect of Edward Snowden's revelations in the Guardian about the NSA's surveillance activities has received less attention than it should. The algorithms that extract highly specific information from an otherwise impenetrable amount of data have been conceived and built by flesh and blood, engineers with highly sophisticated technical knowledge. Did they know the use to which their algorithms would be put? If not, should they have been mindful of the potential for misuse? Either way, should they be held partly responsible or were they just "doing their job"?

...

 

Our ethics have become mostly technical: how to design properly, how to not cut corners, how to serve our clients well. We work hard to prevent failure of the systems we build, but only in relation to what these systems are meant to do, rather than the way they might actually be utilised, or whether they should have been built at all. We are not amoral, far from it; it's just that we have steered ourselves into a place where our morality has a smaller scope."

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An Open Letter to Professor Michael Sandel from the Philosophy Department at San José State University

Artur Alves's insight:

The "Open Letter to Professor Michael Sandel from the Philosophy Department at San José State University" is making the rounds of the online discussion about the use of MOOCs and the inherent flaws of online education re standardization (of content, pedagogy and methods) and reification of student-teacher relations.

"(...) in a high quality course, the professor teaching it must be able both to design the course and to choose its materials, and to interact closely with the students. The first option is not available in a pre-packaged course, and the second option is at grave risk if we move toward MOOCs.

...

We respect your desire to expand opportunities for higher education to audiences that do not now have the chance to interact with new ideas. We are very cognizant of your long and distinguished record of scholarship and teaching in the areas of political philosophy and ethics. It is in a spirit of respect and collegiality that we are urging you, and all professors involved with the sale and promotion of edX-style courses, not to take away from students in public universities the opportunity for an education beyond mere jobs training. Professors who care about public education should not produce products that will replace professors, dismantle departments, and provide a diminished education for students in public universities."

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US cyber-weapons exempt from "human judgment" requirement

US cyber-weapons exempt from "human judgment" requirement | Gentlemachines | Scoop.it

"As custom government malware becomes an increasingly common international weapon with real-world effects—breaking a centrifuge, shutting down a power grid, scrambling control systems—do we need legal limits on the automated decision-making of worms and rootkits? Do we, that is, need to keep a human in charge of their spread, or of when they attack? According to the US government, no we do not."

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Cyberwarfare takes Heidegger's ideas to their logical end

Cyberwarfare takes Heidegger's ideas to their logical end | Gentlemachines | Scoop.it
Cyberwarfare offers governments the prospect of waging casualty-free wars, writes John Naughton...
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