Big Problems in Big Data Critiques

Did you click on the right links today? If you are a citizen of China, this might become relevant for your “citizen score”, which, if high enough, enables you to enjoy certain benefits and avoiding restrictions. The “Digital Manifesto”, written by a number of well-respected researchers, condemns citizen scores as much as you probably do. But in their critique of Big Data and Artificial Intelligence, the authors of the manifesto go a bit too far. Here is why. Continue reading

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Ethics of self-driving cars

Here I wrote a few words about the recent ethics report (short version in English) for the German Transportation Secretary about autonomous driving (in German).

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Automation without limits

In their work on “Markets without limits“, Jason Brennan and Peter Jaworski argue that money does not change the morality of an act. So, for example, if Alfred and Berta exchange a Rolex watch as a gift, and that transaction is entirely within the limits of morality (i.e. the good has not been stolen etc.), selling the good does not change the morality of this act. Brennan and Jaworski use this argument against those who think that there are some things that cannot be sold. There are, to be sure. But the reason for this does have nothing to do with the fact that the good is sold. It has to do with the morality of the act or the good itself. The simple rule or principle that Brennan and Jaworski establish is: “If an act X is morally okay as such, it remains so if act X is done for money”, or, in their words: “If you can do it for free, then you may do it for money” (Brennan & Jaworski, 2015, p. 10). If giving one’s kidney to someone else so that s/he can survive is okay, selling the kidney is okay, too. If it is permissible to give one’s child to someone else so that it can be raised by these people, it is also permissible to charge these people for giving them one’s child. It is not okay to give child porn as a gift (or to produce it or to possess it), so it is not okay to sell it. “But the problem with these markets isn’t the markets themselves—it’s that the items for sale should not be possessed, period” (p. 11).

Now, I am wondering if the spirit behind this argument – morality determines the permissibility of an act, not whether the act is a commodification of a good, a person, etc. – can be applied to other domains, too. To be more precise, I wonder if many questions surrounding the ethics of automation (e.g. roboethics, artificial intelligence) can be fruitfully answered by using a heuristic similar to Brennan and Jaworski’s. Continue reading

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Es gibt keine Balance von Freiheit und Sicherheit. Wie wir trotzdem sicher leben (I)

Cross-posted bei andreaswolkenstein.net

Terroristische Anschläge lösen regelmäßig öffentliche Debatten über die richtige Balance von Freiheit und Sicherheit aus. Dabei ist dieses Bild falsch: Es gibt eine solche Balance nicht. Was uns nicht davon befreit zu fragen, wie Sicherheit hergestellt wird. Continue reading

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Life on the fast lane. In defense of net a-neutrality

Tomorrow, the European Parliament (EP) will decide about new net neutrality rules for the European Union (EU). Net neutrality has been subject to many debates around the world, not just since the introduction of net neutrality rules in the United States in spring 2015. Also, as it is often the case, debates about net neutrality are not always about the same subject. Here, when using the term “net neutrality” I refer to the question of “how data packets should be transmitted over the Internet” (Knieps & Stocker, 2015, p. 46), where net neutrality demands that “traffic service providers should be obliged by regulation to treat all traffic and thus all data packets equally” (Knieps & Stocker, 2015, p. 46). Continue reading

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Commercially assisted suicide – what’s wrong with it, if at all?

So let’s kick off this blog with a topic that is not really at the center of my interests. But I have discussed it quite regularly with a friend of mine, Roland Kipke, over lunch and he has succeeded in publishing a paper on it in Bioethics (open access). Since it has provoked a lot of criticisms ahead of and after final publication, leading to several online discussions where Roland himself took actively part in, I want to take the chance and note a few points. I always enjoyed our discussions and I like Roland’s ideas in general and this paper in particular very much. Still, we typically end up with having very different positions on almost everything. Continue reading

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