A former Pentagon official is warning that autonomous weapons would likely be uncontrollable in real-world situations thanks to design failures, hacking, and external manipulation. The answer, he says, is to always keep humans “in the loop.”
An international team of neuroscientists claims to have successfully carried out a head transplant on a monkey, along with other related experiments. But because the details haven’t been published, experts remain skeptical.
There were an alarming number of science scandals in 2015, from fabricated data to sexual harassment. Here are our picks for the worst of the worst.
The U.S. National Institutes of Health has stopped funding experiments in which human stem cells are transplanted into the embryo of an animal. Now, a group of researchers from Stanford University are speaking out, claiming that the restrictions are holding back important medical research—and that the NIH’s reasons…
Devices like laser-guided bombs and nonlethal weapons have the potential to reduce civilian casualties and wanton suffering. But as these new technologies emerge, are humans actually becoming more ethical about waging war, or is killing just becoming easier?
A recent campaign argues that a ban should be placed on the development of sex robots. While well-intentioned, it’s a shortsighted idea that fails to recognize the ways in which these technologies will help us explore new ideas of inclusivity, legality, and social change.
Off-license users of modafinil—a drug developed to treat various sleep disorders—have known for some time that it doubles as a surprisingly effective cognitive enhancer, and with very few side effects. A new systematic review shows it’s true, raising some important ethical questions about the use of smart drugs.
Sure, who wouldn’t want to be more creative? But what about a pill to improve your self-control, or sociability? What if you enjoy being impulsive, or revel in your alone time? If a pharmacological enhancement changed a defining aspect of your personality, how would it change your perception of that enhancement?
Earlier this summer, more than a thousand prominent thinkers and specialists signed an open letter calling for a ban on autonomous killing machines. Since then, a number of critics have condemned the motion, citing it as both dangerous and useless. Optimization researcher Toby Walsh explains why we shouldn’t be so…
The Global Energy Balance Network— a research institute supported by Coca-Cola—is claiming that exercise, and not diet, is the best way to prevent weight gain. It’s a dubious and self-serving message that’s not going over well amongst diet and obesity experts.
When moral philosopher Gary Steiner first adopted his cat Pindar, the vet advised him to put the cat to sleep. A rescue animal, Pindar had tested positive for FIV (feline AIDS) and feline leukemia, and has since developed other chronic health issues, including kidney disease. Steiner decided to keep Pindar, triggering…
This week, an open letter was presented at an AI conference in Buenos Aires, Argentina calling for a ban on autonomous weapons. The letter has been signed by nearly 14,000 prominent thinkers and leading robotics researchers, but not everyone agrees with its premise. Here’s the case against a ban on killer robots, and…
Since the 9/11 attacks, researchers in the United States have conducted exceptionally cruel, even superfluous, experiments on animals to develop countermeasures to weapons of mass destruction. But as BuzzFeed reporter Peter Aldhous asks: Is all this suffering really necessary?
By editing a single gene, researchers from South Korea and China have engineered pigs that produce about twice the amount of muscle as normal pigs. The goal is to produce leaner meat and at higher yields, but early results show it could be a long time before this jacked-up pork appears on your dinner plate.
Several months ago, the UK approved a groundbreaking reproductive technique in which babies are created from the genetic material of three people. The US is now considering the procedure, but Congress’s new spending bill will require religious experts to review a forthcoming report.
A new study shows racehorses have gotten progressively quicker over the past 160 years, and in sprint races, especially. But given the startling number of race-related deaths each year, it’s nothing to be proud of.
In April, NASA Chief scientist Ellen Stofan predicted we would “have strong indications of life beyond Earth within a decade,” and “definitive evidence within 20 to 30 years.” Assuming this timeline is correct, how do we ensure the life we encounter—which astrobiologists predict will be non-sentient—will be respected?
The Jane Goodall Institute, in collaboration with other animal welfare groups, has successfully petitioned the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to declare a new rule under which all chimpanzees—both wild and captive—must be protected as an endangered species.
Earlier today, a NYC judge heard arguments on the rights of two chimps being used for science experiments. During the two-hours of proceedings, the president of the Nonhuman Rights Projects described the chimps as “autonomous and self-determining beings.” A decision on their fate is expected in one to two months. More
This week’s future is a social experiment. What if Earth had a robotic overlord who decided to ban all weapons? All fights would have to be hand to hand. Would there be less death that way? Less casualties? What counts as a weapon anyway? Listen to the episode to find out!