Do Counterfeit Digital People Threaten the Cognitive Elite?
Philosophical Disquisitions
by John Danaher
3w ago
In May 2023, the well-known philosopher Daniel Dennett wrote an op-ed for The Atlantic decrying the creation of counterfeit digital people. In it, he called for a total ban on the creation of such artifacts, arguing that those responsible for their creation should be subject to the harshest morally permissible legal punishments (not death, to be clear, since Dennett does not see that as legitimate). It's not entirely clear what prompted Dennett's concern, but based on his memoir (I've Been Thinking) it's possible that part of his unease stemmed from his own experiences with the DigiDan pro ..read more
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Technology and the Dematerialisation of Sex
Philosophical Disquisitions
by John Danaher
1M ago
The 'sex scene' from Demolition Man (This article was originally commissioned for the Wired Ideas column, but due to delays on my part, and the subsequent discontinuation of that column (as I understand it) it never appeared. Rather than consign it to the dustbin of history, I have decided to publish it here. Obviously, given the intended audience for the original piece, it is a bit shorter and snappier than most of the things I write). As ever, science fiction got there first. In the largely forgettable 1993 action movie, Demolition Man, two characters from the 1990s, a hard ..read more
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Anselm's Ontological Argument: A Guide for the Perplexed
Philosophical Disquisitions
by John Danaher
2M ago
St Anselm (allegedly) The ontological argument for the existence of God is remarkably resilient. Originally formulated by Anselm of Canterbury in the late 11th century, it has been continuously debated, reformulated, critiqued and resurrected over the subsequent millennium. Very few philosophers find it, or its descendants, convincing; most think it must be wrong in some way; but many concede that it is hard to pinpoint exactly what is wrong with it. In this article, I want to examine Anselm’s original argument in some detail. I will do so by first formulating what I believe to be ..read more
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TITE 10 - Bonus Episode: Audience Q and A
Philosophical Disquisitions
by John Danaher
2M ago
In this episode, John and Sven answer questions from podcast listeners. Topics covered include: the relationships between animal ethics and AI ethics; religion and philosophy of tech; the analytic-continental divide; the debate about short vs long-term risks; getting engineers to take ethics seriously and much much more. Thanks to everyone that submitted a question. You can download the episode here or listen below. You can also subscribe to the podcast on Apple, Spotify, Google, Amazon and a range of other podcasting services. Subscribe to the newsletter ..read more
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TITE 9 - Human-Technology Futures
Philosophical Disquisitions
by John Danaher
2M ago
What does the future hold for humanity's relationship with technology? Will we become ever more integrated with and dependent on technology? What are the normative and axiological consequences of this? In this episode, Sven and John discuss these questions and reflect, more generally, on technology, ethics and the value of speculation about the future. You can download the episode here or listen below. You can also subscribe to the podcast on Apple, Spotify, Google, Amazon and a range of other podcasting services. Recommended Reading Mark Coeckelbergh The Poli ..read more
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TITE 7 - Can Machines be Moral Patients?
Philosophical Disquisitions
by John Danaher
2M ago
In this episode Sven and John discuss the moral status of machines, particularly humanoid robots. Could machines ever be more than mere things? Some people see this debate as a distraction from the important ethical questions pertaining to technology; others take it more seriously. Sven and John share their thoughts on this topic and give some guidance as to how to think about the nature of moral status and its significance. You can download the episode here or listen below. You can also subscribe to the podcast on Apple, Spotify, Google, Amazon and a range of other ..read more
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TITE 6 - Moral Agency in Machines
Philosophical Disquisitions
by John Danaher
2M ago
In this episode, Sven and John discuss the controversy arising from the idea moral agency in machines. What is an agent? What is a moral agent? Is it possible to create a machine with a sense of moral agency? Is this desirable or to be avoided at all costs? These are just some of the questions up for debate. You can download the episode here or listen below. You can also subscribe to the podcast on Apple, Spotify, Google, Amazon and a range of other podcasting services. Recommended Reading Amanda Sharkey, 'Can we program or train robots to be good?' Paul Formosa a ..read more
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TITE 5 - Technology and Responsibility Gaps
Philosophical Disquisitions
by John Danaher
2M ago
In this episode Sven and John discuss the thorny topic of responsibility gaps and technology. Over the past two decades, a small cottage industry of legal and philosophical research has arisen in relation to the idea that increasingly autonomous machines create gaps in responsibility. But what does this mean? Is it a serious ethical/legal problem? How can it be resolved? All this and more is explored in this episode. You can download the episode here or listen below. You can also subscribe to the podcast on Apple, Spotify, Google, Amazon and a range of oth ..read more
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TITE 4 - Behaviour Change and Control
Philosophical Disquisitions
by John Danaher
2M ago
In this episode, John and Sven talk about the role that technology can play in changing our behaviour. In doing so, they note the long and troubled history of philosophy and self-help. They also ponder whether we can use technology to control our lives or whether technology controls us. You can download the episode here or listen below. You can also subscribe to the podcast on Apple, Spotify, Google, Amazon and a range of other podcasting services.   Recommendations Brett Frischmann and Evan Selinger, Reengineering Humanity. Carissa Véliz, Privacy is Power ..read more
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TITE 3 - Value Alignment and the Control Problem
Philosophical Disquisitions
by John Danaher
4M ago
In this episode, John and Sven discuss risk and technology ethics. They focus, in particular, on the perennially popular and widely discussed problems of value alignment (how to get technology to align with our values) and control (making sure technology doesn't do something terrible). They start the conversation with the famous case study of Stanislov Petrov and the prevention of nuclear war. You can listen below or download the episode here. You can also subscribe to the podcast on Apple, Spotify, Google, Amazon and a range of other podcasting services. Recommendations for further reading ..read more
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