science
China’s Social Ranking System Will Now Target Rule-Breaking Scientists

To tackle widespread scientific misconduct, the Chinese government has expanded its controversial social credit system to include infractions made by research scientists. The plan could scare some scientists straight—but the potential for abuse is very real. Read More >>

uncategorized
It’s Time to Plan for How Quantum Computing Could Go Wrong, Say Entrepreneurs and Physicists

Quantum computers that can crack our strongest encryption methods might be decades away – but a group of entrepreneurs and researchers think we better start talking ethics now. Read More >>

science
Reports of First Genetically Enhanced Babies Spark Outrage

Twin girls born earlier this month had their DNA altered to prevent them from contracting HIV, according to an Associated Press report. If confirmed, the births would signify the first gene-edited babies in human history—a stunning development that’s sparking an outcry from scientists and ethicists. Read More >>

amazon
Amazon Breaks Silence on Aiding Law Enforcement Following Employee Backlash

During a company-wide meeting recently, Amazon addressed its relationship with US law enforcement agencies, including Immigrations Customs and Enforcement — its first direct response to employees concerns raised in June about the company’s often successful attempts to provide cloud infrastructure and facial recognition software for these government authorities. Read More >>

science
UK Ethics Council Says It’s ‘Morally Permissible’ to Create Genetically Modified Babies

The UK’s Nuffield Council on Bioethics says it’s acceptable to genetically engineer human embryos, so long as the interventions aren’t harmful to the future child or society as a whole. The council is taking a surprisingly progressive position on the matter, but we’re still a long way off from the birth of the world’s first designer baby. Read More >>

microsoft
Facebook, Google, and Microsoft Use Design to Trick You Into Handing Over Your Data, New Report Warns

Your favourite tech companies are trying to trick you into giving up your data, and a new study shows how they’re using design to do it. Read More >>

science
Scientists Kept Disembodied Pig Brains ‘Alive’ for 36 Hours – and It’s Testing Our Conceptions of Death

A neuroscientist from Yale University is claiming to have developed a technique that preserves the brain tissue of pigs for an extended period following decapitation. The brains are apparently not conscious, but the new technique is raising a number of important ethical issues. Read More >>

artificial intelligence
Government Proposes Five Basic Principles to Keep Humans Safe From AI

A new report by the Lords Select Committee claims that Britain is in a strong position to be a world leader in the development of artificial intelligence. But to get there—and to keep AI safe and ethical—tech firms should follow the Committee’s newly proposed “AI Code.” Read More >>

robots
Experts Sign Open Letter Slamming Europe’s Proposal to Recognise Robots as Legal Persons

Over 150 experts in AI, robotics, commerce, law, and ethics from 14 countries have signed an open letter denouncing the European Parliament’s proposal to grant personhood status to intelligent machines. The EU says the measure will make it easier to figure out who’s liable when robots screw up or go rogue, but critics say it’s too early to consider robots as persons—and that the law will let manufacturers off the liability hook. Read More >>

science
People Are Really Great at Forgetting If Their Jeans Are Made Through Child Labour

We humans are plenty talented at seeing, hearing, and speaking no evil. But when push comes to shove, as a recent study published in the Journal of Consumer Research demonstrates, we’re also great at forgetting any evil existed at all—especially if that memory loss will make our buying choices a little less guilt-ridden. Read More >>

ai
Google Censors Gorillas Rather Then Risk Them Being Mislabelled As Black People—But Who Does That Help?

Two years ago, the object-recognition algorithm fueling Google Images told a black software engineer, Jacky Alciné, his friends were gorillas. Given the long, racist history of white people claiming the people of the African diaspora are primates instead of human beings, Alciné was predictably upset. As was his employer: Google. Read More >>

pets
Good Luck Trying to Pronounce the Names of the American Kennel Club’s Newest Dog Breeds

The adorable and challengingly named Nederlandse Kooikerhondje and the Grand Basset Griffon Vendéen are the first breeds to be added to the American Kennel Club roster since 2016. Read More >>

science
Why the Law Doesn’t (and Sometimes Shouldn’t) Protect Us From the Algorithms That Rule Our Lives

Most people are aware that algorithms control what you see on Facebook or Google, but automated decision-making is increasingly being used to determine real-life outcomes as well, influencing everything from how fire departments prevent fires to how police departments prevent crime. Given how much these (often secretive) systems have come to dominate our lives, it’s time we got specific about how algorithms can hurt people. A new report seeks to do just that. Read More >>

science
AI Professor Details Real-World Dangers of Algorithm Bias

However quickly artificial intelligence evolves, however steadfastly it becomes embedded in our lives—in health, law enforcement, sex, etc.—it can’t outpace the biases of its creators, humans. Microsoft Researcher Kate Crawford delivered an incredible keynote speech, titled “The Trouble with Bias,” at Spain’s Neural Information Processing System Conference on Tuesday. In Crawford’s keynote, she presented a fascinating breakdown of different types of harms done by algorithmic biases. Read More >>