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 >>

science
Unconscious Patient With ‘Do Not Resuscitate’ Tattoo Causes Ethical Conundrum at Hospital

When an unresponsive patient arrived at a Florida hospital ER, the medical staff was taken aback upon discovering the words “DO NOT RESUSCITATE” tattooed onto the man’s chest—with the word “NOT” underlined and with his signature beneath it. Confused and alarmed, the medical staff chose to ignore the apparent DNR request—but not without alerting the hospital’s ethics team, who had a different take on the matter. Read More >>

science
This Guy Just Injected Himself With a DIY HIV Treatment on Facebook Live

Tristan Roberts sits sandwiched between two men on a couch in a bland DC apartment, with leafy, dusk-lit trees peeking out from the sheer curtains behind him. The mundanity of the setting betrays the extremity of what is about to happen next. On the elliptical glass coffee table in front of him is a bottle of hydrogen peroxide and a tray holding a glass of water, several vials, and syringes. Roberts is about to inject himself with an experimental gene therapy for HIV, a DIY prototype treatment designed by three biohacker friends. The treatment had never been tested in humans. Read More >>

futurism
Why Banning Killer AI Is Easier Said Than Done

As we head deeper into the 21st century, the prospect of getting robots to do the dirty business of killing gets closer with each passing day. In Max Tegmark’s new book, Life 3.0: Being Human in the Age of Artificial Intelligence, the MIT physicist and founder of the Future of Life Institute contemplates this seemingly sci-fi possibility, weighing the potential benefits of autonomous machines in warfare with the tremendous risks. The ultimate challenge, he says, will be convincing world powers to pass on this game-changing technology. Read More >>

animals
Unethical Breeding is Creating Serious Health Problems for German Shepherds

German Shepherds are among the most popular dog breeds in the world, but their numbers have started to decline. New research suggests the decreasing demand for German Shepherds may have something to do with the breed’s propensity for health problems—likely the result of selective breeding for cosmetic traits. Read More >>