iai.tv news RSS feed https://iainews.iai.tv/articles-old/technology-and-society Can Artificial Intelligence Give Our Lives Meaning? https://iainews.iai.tv/articles/can-ai-generate-meaning-in-our-lives-auid-1101 <img src="https://iainews.iai.tv/assets/Uploads/_resampled/ScaleWidthWzE1MF0/can-artificial-intelligence-give-our-lives-meaning-philosophy-iaitv.png" /><br />Work is an unavoidable necessity. The promise of autonomous and intelligent systems (A/IS) challenges this central fact of human existence. The anxieties this arouses are puzzling. We ought to be relieved by the prospect of being freed of degrading and precarious work which risks turning each of us into what Karl Marx called a ‘crippled monstrosity’. Instead, we are fearful, not simply of a world without work, but one where there is no point to our human contribution. Life reduced to hobbies and entertainment does not seem worthwhile. In other words, we want a world which can keep creating meaningful work. Being frightened by the prospect of not having anything to do which really matters is neither self-indulgent nor irrational. When no-one calls upon our labour for a serious purpose, we face the terrifying prospect of being rendered socially invisible, reduced to what Italian philosopher Giorgio Agamben called ‘bare life’, and therefore no longer worthy of anyone’s consideration. In o... Tue, 26 Jun 2018 12:38:20 +0000 Ruth Yeoman https://iainews.iai.tv/articles/can-ai-generate-meaning-in-our-lives-auid-1101 The New Utopianism https://iainews.iai.tv/articles/the-new-utopianism-auid-763 <img src="https://iainews.iai.tv/assets/Uploads/_resampled/ScaleWidthWzE1MF0/the-new-utopianism-5.jpg" /><br />The term “utopia” is used in two distinct ways: 1)       As a term of criticism; as in: “Your ideas are utopian; they are uselessly over-idealistic, they could never work.” 2)       As a term of positive appraisal; as in: “These utopian ideas give one real hope: the utopia they describe would be worth aiming for.” The standard view is that it is utopian in the first sense to seek to radically transform our society. This unfortunately tends to rule out the possibility of utopia in the second sense. And I believe it is that possibility which we have great need of, at the present time.Why? Because without it, we are probably finished. I mean: we are now in a situation which makes it the case that without radical transformation, without radical hope, we are doomed. Mere reformism will not be enough to save us from climate catastrophe and its causes: rampant fossil fuel interests; uncontrolled capitalist accumulation and commodification; the hegemony of economic growthism; continual product... Mon, 23 Jan 2017 18:10:32 +0000 Rupert Read https://iainews.iai.tv/articles/the-new-utopianism-auid-763 The Unfounded Fear of Monopolies https://iainews.iai.tv/articles/the-unfounded-fear-of-monopolies-auid-874 <img src="https://iainews.iai.tv/assets/Uploads/_resampled/ScaleWidthWzE1MF0/Deirdre-image-3-edited.png" /><br />The premise of the discussion here is wrong, which is, after all, a common problem with discussions of public policy. “Trade is zero sum.”  Wrong. “People do not respond to incentives.”  Wrong.  “Socialism had nothing to do with the collapse of the Venezuelan economy.” Wrong. Or in the present case, “When a company such as Facebook or Google has suddenly grown, it must be a dangerous monopoly and needs to be regulated by wise heads in Whitehall.” Wrong. Sure, in the short run we are all terrified that the big shoe company will sell us only its own shoes, or that Cadbury under Kraft will change the formula for Whole Nut, or that in other ways “the corporations” such as Google will upset our lives.  There are two things wrong with such a premise. For one thing, it is not at all obvious, in the case of the computer giants no less than in the case of New Balance or Cadbury, that the government can do better.  Suppose the Monopolies Commission or the Anti-Trust Division of the Department of... Mon, 04 Sep 2017 13:01:02 +0000 Deirdre McCloskey https://iainews.iai.tv/articles/the-unfounded-fear-of-monopolies-auid-874 When the Winner Takes All https://iainews.iai.tv/articles/when-the-winner-takes-all-in-favour-of-digital-monopolies-auid-873 <img src="https://iainews.iai.tv/assets/Uploads/_resampled/ScaleWidthWzE1MF0/Deirdre-image-3-edited.png" /><br />The premise of the discussion here is wrong, which is, after all, a common problem with discussions of public policy.  “Trade is zero sum.”  Wrong.  “People do not respond to incentives.”  Wrong.  “Socialism had nothing to do with the collapse of the Venezuelan economy.”  Wrong.  Or in the present case, “When a company such as Facebook or Google has suddenly grown, it must be a dangerous monopoly and needs to be regulated by wise heads in Whitehall.”  Wrong. Sure, in the short run we are all terrified that the big shoe company will sell us only its own shoes, or that Cadbury under Kraft will change the formula for Whole Nut, or that in other ways “the corporations” such as Google will upset our lives.  There are two things wrong with such a premise.  For one thing, it is not at all obvious, in the case of the computer giants no less than in the case of New Balance or Cadbury, that the government can do better.  Suppose the Monopolies Commission or the Anti-Trust Division of the Departm... Mon, 04 Sep 2017 12:47:39 +0000 Deirdre McCloskey https://iainews.iai.tv/articles/when-the-winner-takes-all-in-favour-of-digital-monopolies-auid-873 The Networks of Control https://iainews.iai.tv/articles/the-networks-of-control-dangers-of-digital-monoplies-875-auid-875 <img src="https://iainews.iai.tv/assets/Uploads/_resampled/ScaleWidthWzE1MF0/stucke-edited.png"><br>Are monopolies extinct in the data-driven economy?  Some argue yes. Pointing to the transformative powers of disruptive innovation, they reject concerns about monopolization. As Google’s chairman said, “the reason that you should trust us is that if we were to violate that trust people would move immediately to someone else.”[1] Barriers to entry are negligible, he noted, “because competition is just one click away.”[2] Others disagree. While competitors may be a click away, competition is not. Digital giants may abuse their power, push out competitors, and exploit users. Illustrative is the EU Commission’s recently fining Google 2.4 billion Euros.[3] As a complainant in that case said: “For well over a decade, Google’s search engine has played a decisive role in determining what most of us read, use and purchase online. Left unchecked, there are few limits to this gatekeeper power. Google can deploy its insidious search manipulation practices to commandeer the lion’s share of traffic ... Mon, 04 Sep 2017 13:01:54 +0000 Maurice E. Stucke https://iainews.iai.tv/articles/the-networks-of-control-dangers-of-digital-monoplies-875-auid-875 Trust, Technology and The Young https://iainews.iai.tv/articles/trust-technology-and-the-young-auid-878 <img src="https://iainews.iai.tv/assets/Uploads/_resampled/ScaleWidthWzE1MF0/Davies-children-online-image-1.jpeg" /><br />Two concepts have recently emerged that invite us to rethink the relationship between children and digital technology: the datafied child (Lupton &amp; Williamson, 2017) and children’s digital rights (Livingstone &amp; Third, 2017).  The datafied child highlights the amount of data that is being harvested about children during their daily lives and the children’s rights agenda includes a response to ethical and legal challenges the datafied child presents. Children have never been afforded the full sovereignty of adulthood (Cunningham, 2009) but both these concepts suggest children have become the points of application for new forms of power that have emerged from the digitisation of society. The most dominant form of this power is called platform capitalism (Srnicek, 2016). As a result of platform capitalism’s success, there has never been a stronger association between data, young people’s private lives, their relationships with friends and family, their life at school, and the broader polit... Mon, 04 Sep 2017 13:23:29 +0000 Huw Davies https://iainews.iai.tv/articles/trust-technology-and-the-young-auid-878 Being in the Digital World https://iainews.iai.tv/articles/being-in-the-digital-world-auid-995 <img src="https://iainews.iai.tv/assets/Uploads/_resampled/ScaleWidthWzE1MF0/Being-in-the-Digital-World.png" /><br />Two true stories. After sitting down on a bus, a girl of about ten takes a vacated seat with her father and little brother at her sides, and then pulls out a paper fortune teller she obviously made herself. She asks two women sitting across the way for colours and numbers, working the folds in the fortune teller once they answer. Both were clearly amused as the girl told them their futures. There was something strange in this scene: strangers talking on a bus in a good-natured way. But there was equally something missing. A couple of weeks later, four students sit at a round table in a busy cafeteria at the university where I teach. They’re chatting, joking, and like the people on the bus, happy to be there. But about a foot or so in front of their faces they’re holding smartphones like cherished religious icons, repeatedly glancing at them during their conversation. Their talk takes place around, over, and through their iPhones, now an essential part of their worlds. They can’t leave ... Wed, 06 Dec 2017 18:19:50 +0000 Doug Mann https://iainews.iai.tv/articles/being-in-the-digital-world-auid-995 Privacy and the Dark Side of Control https://iainews.iai.tv/articles/privacy-the-dark-side-of-control-auid-882 <img src="https://iainews.iai.tv/assets/Uploads/_resampled/ScaleWidthWzE1MF0/hartzog-edited.png"><br>To hear some in industry and government tell it, the answer to our modern privacy dilemma is simple: give users more control.  There is seemingly no privacy-relevant arena, from social media to big data to biometrics that cannot be remedied with a heaping dose of personal control. Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg said “What people want isn’t complete privacy. It isn’t that they want secrecy. It’s that they want control over what they share and what they don’t.”[1] Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella summarized his company’s focus on user control by stating, “Microsoft experiences will be unique as they will…keep a user in control of their privacy”, adding that the company will “[a]dvocate laws and legal processes that keep people in control.”[2] Google asserts that it “builds simple, powerful privacy and security tools that keep your information safe and put you in control of it.”[3] Privacy regulators love the concept of control, too. The Federal Trade Commission, one of the chief pri... Mon, 04 Sep 2017 14:22:56 +0000 Woodrow Hartzog https://iainews.iai.tv/articles/privacy-the-dark-side-of-control-auid-882 Is Facebook Making Us Less Free? https://iainews.iai.tv/articles/the-big-brotherhood-of-digital-giants-is-taking-away-our-freedom-auid-884 <img src="https://iainews.iai.tv/assets/Uploads/_resampled/ScaleWidthWzE1MF0/facebook-3198088-1920.jpg" /><br />Imagine the position of women in relation to their men in a society where husbands have legal power over their wives: the power, for example, to determine where they may appear in public, who they may associate with, what church they may attend, and so on. And now imagine a woman whose husband dotes on her, as Torvald dotes on Nora in Ibsen’s play, A Doll’s House, giving her carte blanche: allowing her, in effect, to act as she wills within the range, intuitively, of personal liberty. Does Nora free enjoy freedom of choice in that domain, thanks to Torvald’s indulgence? Surely not. Nora can act as she wishes in that range of choice, it is true. But she can only act as she wishes because Torvald is willing to let her act as she wishes. She depends on his will for being able to act as she wills, so that it is his will that is ultimately in charge. Like a horse that is given its head, to invoke an old metaphor, she may enjoy free rein. But it is Torvald who is in the saddle, able to pull ... Wed, 13 Sep 2017 12:07:41 +0000 Philip Pettit https://iainews.iai.tv/articles/the-big-brotherhood-of-digital-giants-is-taking-away-our-freedom-auid-884 Is Facebook a Problem? https://iainews.iai.tv/articles/why-regulation-is-not-the-answer-to-the-facebook-scandal-auid-1066 <img src="https://iainews.iai.tv/assets/Uploads/_resampled/ScaleWidthWzE1MF0/zuckmccloskey.png" /><br />You’ve witnessed the recent brouhaha about Facebook selling your life to advertisers and, especially, if indirectly, to Cambridge Analytica. (Can the University or the City of Cambridge sue for damages for the misuse of their name?  I wish they would.)  Is it a problem?  No, not especially.  What should we do about it?  Nothing. It is indeed a problem when a company, or the state, fools people by telling them they are being taken care of when they are not.  Free exchange among informed adults benefits both sides, and practically everyone else.  But if the exchange is fraudulent, it does not.  “Not to worry,” says Facebook, “We have your privacy for social chitchat in mind, and would never abuse it.”  “Not to worry,” says the state, “We have your entire privacy, income, safety, right to vote, education, health, legal justice, protection from knife attacks, and freedom in mind, and would never abuse them.”  In Facebook’s case, if the fooling becomes egregious, and is publicized through a... Wed, 11 Apr 2018 14:14:04 +0000 Deirdre McCloskey https://iainews.iai.tv/articles/why-regulation-is-not-the-answer-to-the-facebook-scandal-auid-1066 The Science of Society https://iainews.iai.tv/articles/social-tech-evidence-into-policy-auid-467 <img src="https://iainews.iai.tv/assets/Uploads/_resampled/ScaleWidthWzE1MF0/Nvog1vnwJFEdcDfFlH4UUbKAs4DmcXYMBI9Cwhm0liA.jpg" /><br /> Society invests a great deal of money in social science research. Surely the expectation is that some of it will be useful not only for understanding ourselves and the societies we live in but also for changing them? This is certainly the hope of the very active evidence-based policy and practice movement, which is heavily endorsed in the UK both by the last Labour Government and by the current Coalition Government. But we still do not know how to use the results of social science in order to improve society. This has to change, and soon. Last year the UK launched an extensive – and expensive – new What Works Network that, as the Government press release describes, consists of “two existing centres of excellence – the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) and the Educational Endowment Foundation – plus four new independent institutions responsible for gathering, assessing and sharing the most robust evidence to inform policy and service delivery in tackling crim... Sat, 01 Nov 2014 14:22:55 +0000 Nancy Cartwright https://iainews.iai.tv/articles/social-tech-evidence-into-policy-auid-467 A Cyborg's Take on Utopia https://iainews.iai.tv/articles/a-cyborgs-take-on-utopia-auid-765 <img src="https://iainews.iai.tv/assets/Uploads/_resampled/ScaleWidthWzE1MF0/The-Future-of-Human-Enhancement.jpg" /><br />Looking back to the use of fire and sticks, humans have long since enhanced their abilities through external measures. We witness this now aeroplanes for flying, telephones for communication and computers for just about everything else. Even if we wish to enhance our looks this can be done through makeup and clothing. More drastically this can be achieved through medical intervention, referred to as cosmetic surgery. Sometimes this might be in order to restore an individual to their original appearance after an accident but in many cases it is simply because that person wishes to look different (arguably better) in some way.We also have a plethora of medical interventions which act as therapeutic aids.  Everything from life-saving surgical technology to cochlea implants overcoming hearing difficulties, pacemakers that assist heart malfunctions to deep brain stimulation treating the effects of Parkinson’s Disease and Clinical Depression. Twenty years ago, the idea of blasting lasers int... Mon, 23 Jan 2017 18:45:32 +0000 Kevin Warwick https://iainews.iai.tv/articles/a-cyborgs-take-on-utopia-auid-765 What I Learned From Utopia https://iainews.iai.tv/articles/what-i-learned-from-utopia-auid-764 <img src="https://iainews.iai.tv/assets/Uploads/_resampled/ScaleWidthWzE1MF0/What-I-learned-2.jpg" /><br />Ten years ago I quit my job, sold my house, and used the proceeds to set up a post-apocalyptic commune in the Scottish Highlands. We would try to live as if we had survived the collapse of modern civilisation. We would re-learn skills that had been largely forgotten in industrial economies – growing and catching our own food, building our own accommodation, and making everything else we needed to survive. Although the post-apocalyptic narrative was very pessimistic, the commune itself would be quite the opposite.It would be a phoenix arising from the ashes of civilisation, a return to a simpler way of life free of the many problems of modernity. It would be a kind of utopia.Needless to say, it didn’t quite work out that way. In fact, things got so bad that I ended up in a psychiatric hospital for a month. I have told this story in detail in The Utopia Experiment (Picador, 2015), so I won’t repeat myself here. Instead, I’ll tell you what I gained from this unusual experience, and how it... Mon, 23 Jan 2017 18:18:00 +0000 Dylan Evans https://iainews.iai.tv/articles/what-i-learned-from-utopia-auid-764 Virtual Monopolies and The Workers' Voice https://iainews.iai.tv/articles/virtual-monopolies-and-the-workers-voice-auid-881 <img src="https://iainews.iai.tv/assets/Uploads/_resampled/ScaleWidthWzE1MF0/online-work-image-1.jpg" /><br />In 2017, over half of the world’s population will have joined the Internet. Many of these three and a half billion connected people will look to so-called ‘online labour platforms’, such as Freelancer.com and Fiverr, for work. These platforms allow workers to escape some of the constraints of their local labour markets and find work that they might not otherwise have been able to obtain. This same ability for clients – potentially located anywhere in the world- to access labour power – also potentially located anywhere – has created a $5 billion market for online work that is served by 48 million workers. In the UK 11% of the labour force earn income from what has become known as the gig economy and 3% do so regularly. Online labour platforms connect individual workers with clients to carry out a wide range of contingent digital projects ranging from data entry to software programming. The Online Labour Index measures the utilisation of online labour platforms and suggests that their u... Mon, 04 Sep 2017 13:57:15 +0000 Alex J. Wood https://iainews.iai.tv/articles/virtual-monopolies-and-the-workers-voice-auid-881 The Big Money and Digital Masterminds https://iainews.iai.tv/articles/dirty-money-and-digital-masterminds-auid-877 <img src="https://iainews.iai.tv/assets/Uploads/_resampled/ScaleWidthWzE1MF0/Allen-image-1.jpg" /><br />Does digital technology have an inequality problem? Based on recent news coverage, you’d certainly think so. One common theme is robots and AI (Artificial Intelligence) taking over jobs, particularly less skilled jobs, threatening to increase the wage inequality that has been rising in the developed world since the 1970s and 80s. Uber is working furiously to replace their drivers with autonomous vehicles. Amazon appears to be swallowing retail sector after retail sector. A now infamous Oxford University study estimated that 47% of all US jobs are at risk to be automated over the next 20 years. Another common theme is stories of gender and ethnic inequality in technology. Women and ethnic minorities are already seriously under-represented in technology industries. Media accounts of tech culture range from unsupportive, to openly hostile (see stories of Uber’s Las Vegas escapades for an eye-opening example). Technology seems to be uniquely resistant to this type of equality. Since 1980, ... Mon, 04 Sep 2017 13:14:04 +0000 Jonathan P. Allen https://iainews.iai.tv/articles/dirty-money-and-digital-masterminds-auid-877 The Memory Monopoly https://iainews.iai.tv/articles/the-memory-monopoly-auid-879 <img src="https://iainews.iai.tv/assets/Uploads/_resampled/ScaleWidthWzE1MF0/Yasser-digital-memories-image-3.jpg" /><br />The internet does not forget but we people do. And we do it quicker than ever. Are the Internet and information bombardment of social media responsible for our shortening attention spans? Or does the ever-lasting memory provided by the Internet enable us to recall past events perpetually? Does social media decide what to bring to our attention and what to quietly hide behind the flood of information? “Yes and no” is probably the right answer to all these questions. There has been little research on these topics so far, but the existing research suggests that depending on the conditions, the design of the platform, the level of engagement of the users, and other parameters, online tools could have a great influence on the way we distribute our attention and rather limited memory between the competing items in the attention market. __   &quot;We do not exactly know who the gate-keepers of our attention are, but whoever they are, they could manoeuvre the whole flow of attention at the societal... Mon, 04 Sep 2017 13:45:47 +0000 Taha Yasseri https://iainews.iai.tv/articles/the-memory-monopoly-auid-879 Shadow of the Golem in Silicon Valley https://iainews.iai.tv/articles/shadow-of-the-golem-myths-in-silicon-valleyauid-880-auid-880 <img src="https://iainews.iai.tv/assets/Uploads/_resampled/ScaleWidthWzE1MF0/mosco-myth-and-sublime-image-2-edited.png" /><br />We make myths whenever we make technology. To assert that the telegraph would bring world peace, that the telephone would speed gender equality, that radio would end war, and if not radio, then television, was to make a myth of communication technology. Today, myths about technology anchor sublime visions contained in the promise of using digital systems to extend life, even achieve immortality, in what mythmakers call the Singularity, the merging of humans and machines. Inspired especially by the Internet of Things, another mythology is taking hold: the ability to make things come alive. They are both key myths propelling the Next Internet and masking the significant social problems facing citizens in the digital world. The concept of the Singularity has been around in one form or another since the 1950s when the polymath John van Neumann used the term to describe a process whereby machines equipped with artificial intelligence enter an accelerated learning phase to produce a superint... Mon, 04 Sep 2017 13:52:21 +0000 Vincent Mosco https://iainews.iai.tv/articles/shadow-of-the-golem-myths-in-silicon-valleyauid-880-auid-880 Science: Power and Politics https://iainews.iai.tv/articles/science-power-and-politics-auid-542 <img src="https://iainews.iai.tv/assets/Uploads/_resampled/ScaleWidthWzE1MF0/John-Horgan-33.jpg" /><br />We believe science is rational. But, like the church it once fought, it has its own established power structures and its own politics to defend. Has it become the new church, with beliefs tended by the faithful and heretics excluded from publication? Or is this a travesty of an institution that has brought so much advance?John Horgan is a science journalist and director of the Center for Science Writings at Stevens Institute of Technology in New Jersey. He was a senior writer at Scientific American from 1986 to 1997, and has also written for The New York Times, National Geographic, Time, and Newsweek. Horgan’s most recent book is 2012’s The End of War, which argues that war should be viewed as a scientific problem to be solved like any other. Here, he speaks to the IAI about the power of science and the twin threats of politics and postmodernism.   We are repeatedly told that scientific developments and technology will be able to solve all of our problems. For example, Macmillan the ca... Sun, 12 Jul 2015 13:47:22 +0000 John Horgan https://iainews.iai.tv/articles/science-power-and-politics-auid-542 AI: Artificial Imagination? https://iainews.iai.tv/articles/ai-artificial-imagination-auid-485 <img src="https://iainews.iai.tv/assets/Uploads/_resampled/ScaleWidthWzE1MF0/Margaret-Boden.jpg" /><br />Most of us are fascinated by creativity. New ideas in science and art are often hugely exciting – and, paradoxically, sometimes seemingly “obvious” once they’ve arrived. But how can that be? Many people, perhaps most of us, think there’s no hope of an answer. Creativity is deeply mysterious, indeed almost magical. Any suggestion that there might be a scientific theory of creativity strikes such people as absurd. And as for computer models of creativity, those are felt to be utterly impossible. But they aren’t. Scientific psychology has identified three different ways in which new, surprising, and valuable ideas – that is, creative ideas – can arise in people’s minds. These involve combinational, exploratory, and transformational creativity. The information processes involved can be understood in terms of concepts drawn from Artificial Intelligence (AI). They can even be modelled by computers using AI techniques. The first type of creativity involves unfamiliar combinations of familiar ... Sat, 17 Jan 2015 08:33:23 +0000 Margaret Boden https://iainews.iai.tv/articles/ai-artificial-imagination-auid-485 Science: The Purity Myth https://iainews.iai.tv/articles/the-inherent-politics-of-science-auid-461 <img src="https://iainews.iai.tv/assets/Uploads/_resampled/ScaleWidthWzE1MF0/science.jpg" /><br />The relationship between science and politics has never been simple. For some, the two should never be mixed; for others, the two can never be separated. When the role of science in formulating public policy was discussed by two high-profile science communicators recently – physicist Brian Cox and comedian Robin Ince – there was a lively response. It’s very heartening to see how much engagement and argument this issue can provoke. But who’s got it right? At face value, the recommendations for “good practice for the provision of scientific advice for public policy” offered by the Royal Society’s president, Nobel laureate Paul Nurse, seem hard to contest: “Scientific advice should be based on the totality of observation and experiment, be based on rational argument, and reflect the consensus views of expert scientists, views which have been rigorously peer reviewed by other independent experts. If there is no strong consensus or if knowledge is still tentative, then these uncertainties s... Fri, 24 Oct 2014 09:47:34 +0000 Philip Ball https://iainews.iai.tv/articles/the-inherent-politics-of-science-auid-461 Connecting the World https://iainews.iai.tv/articles/connecting-the-world-auid-399 <img src="https://iainews.iai.tv/assets/Uploads/_resampled/ScaleWidthWzE1MF0/world-after-tomorrow-4.jpg" /><br />Rarely is technology ever out of the news: from Edward Snowden's surveillance revelations to the use of drones in Iraq, Facebook's share price, or the power of social media for gender equality. So is technology a force for good or evil? Or does it simply depend on who is wielding its power?We spoke to technology expert Kate Russell, presenter of the BBC's flagship technology show Click, to find out more. Here, Russell, whose books include Working the Cloud, talks about the positive impact of technology across the globe and why we shouldn't be surprised when our digital carelessness comes back to haunt us. What evidence is there for technology being a driving force towards global equality? In my experience technology empowers people, even in the poorest rural communities, with access to knowledge, which gives them options for making their lives easier or more rewarding. Admittedly, there are plenty of ways technology is negatively impacting poor communities too, but social media is th... Mon, 11 Aug 2014 16:46:33 +0000 Kate Russell https://iainews.iai.tv/articles/connecting-the-world-auid-399 We are the Disaster https://iainews.iai.tv/articles/we-are-the-disaster-auid-391 <img src="https://iainews.iai.tv/assets/Uploads/_resampled/ScaleWidthWzE1MF0/JG-Ballard-is-rad.jpg" /><br />Simon Ings is a novelist, science writer and editor of Arc, New Scientist's magazine about the future. His latest novel, Wolves, explores an imagined future world where Augmented Reality reigns. Here, he speaks to Vassili Christodoulou about science fiction, J.G. Ballard, and whether Google Glass will ever really take off.   Wolves is identified as a tribute to Ballard. What do you consider his influence on you as a writer and contemporary literature and science fiction as a whole? It's much more an homage to John Wyndham than to Ballard. Wyndham lived near my home town and the house where my protagonist dispenses the body of his mother is actually the house where Wyndham lived. So there’s a bit of self-indulgent forelock tugging there. Obviously no writer of my generation or the generation previously is going to be without influence from Ballard, but I think what’s especially interesting is where Ballard is drawing his influences from, largely Joseph Conrad. That form of delivery, tha... Tue, 29 Jul 2014 16:43:58 +0000 Simon Ings https://iainews.iai.tv/articles/we-are-the-disaster-auid-391 In Praise of Sci-Fi https://iainews.iai.tv/articles/in-defence-of-sci-fi-auid-385 <img src="https://iainews.iai.tv/assets/Uploads/_resampled/ScaleWidthWzE1MF0/SciFi-Adam-Roberts-1.jpg" /><br />Professor of Literature at Royal Holloway University, science fiction writer and critic, Adam Roberts is the author of numerous award-winning books, including Anticopernicus and New Model Army. Interviewed here by Vassili Christodoulou, Roberts speaks about the role of anarchist science in science fiction, how 1950s youth culture became today's mainstream culture and why Ballard shouldn't be remembered as a dystopian writer.   Twenty Trillion Leagues is your second novel using Verne as a heuristic. Verne famously disagreed with Welles as to the liberties an author of scientific romance should take with technological plausibility and invention. How important is it to you to be true to Verne’s mandate for speculative fiction? Is it something you actively consider when drawing on his oeuvre, and if not, how does his work impact your own? You’re right that Verne is sometimes taken as representing a ‘hard SF’ or scientific literature approach to genre, where Wells is a broader-brush fantas... Wed, 16 Jul 2014 16:24:29 +0000 Adam Roberts https://iainews.iai.tv/articles/in-defence-of-sci-fi-auid-385 Acting on Evidence https://iainews.iai.tv/articles/acting-on-evidence-auid-379 <img src="https://iainews.iai.tv/assets/Uploads/_resampled/ScaleWidthWzE1MF0/James-Ladyman-4.jpg" /><br />James Ladyman is Professor of Philosophy at the University of Bristol, co-editor of Arguing About Science and Scientific Metaphysics. His work has focused on the philosophy of science and mathematics. Here, he discusses the difference between everyday and scientific truths, and whether or not science has too much power in contemporary culture.   What would it mean for science not to be true? Well, there are lots of examples of false science… Science itself, not just a part of science. Well, it makes no sense to talk about science being true. I think science is something like an institution or a collective activity. As such it’s not really true or false, but it produces various statements that might be true or false. Some of them are true and some of them are false. So can science produce things that we know are true, or can it only produce things that aren’t yet false? I think, within a reasonable degree, it can produce things that are true; what an ordinary person would think of as kn... Sat, 28 Jun 2014 14:56:57 +0000 James Ladyman https://iainews.iai.tv/articles/acting-on-evidence-auid-379 Suspended Ethics? https://iainews.iai.tv/articles/suspended-ethics-auid-361 <img src="https://iainews.iai.tv/assets/Uploads/_resampled/ScaleWidthWzE1MF0/surgeon.jpg" /><br />The recent news that selected patients are to be placed in suspended animation without their consent has far-reaching implications. In order to test a new experimental procedure for the first time, Doctors at UPMC Presbyterian Hospital in Pittsburgh will try to save the lives of 10 victims of gun and knife wounds by placing them in suspended animation. The procedure involves replacing the patient’s blood with a cold saline solution in order to slow down cellular activity. It’s exciting news from the cutting edge of medical science, but also raises some troubling questions about our thirst for immortality and our willingness to overlook issues such as patient choice in the process. We spoke to American philosopher and sociologist, Steve Fuller, to find out what such news says about our relationship with medical science. What does a story such as this say about research ethics? The story highlights two rather opposite things at once: on the one hand, the overriding societal value placed... Sat, 03 May 2014 21:48:13 +0000 Steve Fuller https://iainews.iai.tv/articles/suspended-ethics-auid-361 Defeating the Digital Oligopoly https://iainews.iai.tv/articles/defeating-the-digital-oligopoly-auid-382 <img src="https://iainews.iai.tv/assets/Uploads/_resampled/ScaleWidthWzE1MF0/LUFlV6G49mmv-2tcY2w-YQ-YEEXDFGNfBoK1Aau-RBQ.jpg" /><br />It wasn’t meant to be this way. The internet’s supposed low barriers to entry were going to allow for a competitive, democratic marketplace. Instead we have digital oligopoly. Despite their protestations and proclamations, the internet’s giant corporations - be it Google in search, Amazon in publishing or Facebook in social media – are monopolies, pure and simple. We shouldn’t need to argue the fact. What we must do instead is think long and hard about how we can inject a little equality into the digital marketplace. At this year’s HowTheLightGetsIn Festival Phillip Blond, Aditya Chakrabortty and Google’s very own Adam Cohen came together to do just that in the debate Markets, Monopolies and Freedom. Blond, the author of Cameron’s Big Society project, argued that there are deep structural problems with the internet as a marketplace. More than any form of capitalism we have known, the digital variety is a “rigged game for dominant players”. Take for example the ‘self-preference’ phenome... Mon, 30 Jun 2014 16:14:33 +0000 Tom Phillips https://iainews.iai.tv/articles/defeating-the-digital-oligopoly-auid-382 The Problematic Rise of Big Neuro https://iainews.iai.tv/articles/the-problematic-rise-of-big-neuro-auid-354 <img src="https://iainews.iai.tv/assets/Uploads/_resampled/ScaleWidthWzE1MF0/Big-Neuro.jpg" /><br />The first “Big Science” projects came from physics and astronomy – think the atomic bomb, CERN or the Hubble telescope. No longer; now it is the turn of the biomedical sciences. Although the 1990s was supposed to be the decade of the brain and the 2000s that of the mind, brain science has hitherto lacked a big project and certainly a big budget. Now, suddenly, it has two. Last year the EU announced that one of the winners in its €1billion “Grand Challenges” competition was the Human Brain Project (HBP) – which recently received a funding boost thanks to a 40% increase in the number of partners in the HBP consortium. Also launched last year, with much fanfare, was President Obama’s $3billion “Brain Action Map” (BAM). Obama cited the Battelle Institute’s claim that every dollar spent on the Human Genome Project (HGP) had yielded $140 to the US economy, though as yet only the first $100 million has been committed to the project. For both the Europeans and the Americans, “solving” the huma... Sat, 19 Apr 2014 17:41:29 +0000 Hilary Rose https://iainews.iai.tv/articles/the-problematic-rise-of-big-neuro-auid-354 Is Modernity Biodegradable? https://iainews.iai.tv/articles/is-modernity-biodegradable-auid-343 The American biologist Edward Wilson once said that the human species is an &quot;environmental abnormality&quot;. We rationalise the destruction of the planet as if we live somewhere else. And, we are now told (in a 2013 paper presented to the Royal Society) that we may be seeing the end of this civilisation if we don’t change our ways and change them  soon. Yet we continue to behave like those poor souls on the Titanic who couldn’t stop dancing even after their ship had hit an iceberg. It does not seem to have entered our consciousness that if the planet suffers, we suffer, and that we have nowhere else to go. We have lost sight of ourselves as being a part of nature,  that destroying the natural world means destroying ourselves. By alienating ourselves from nature we have reduced it, and by extension ourselves, to an exploitable resource. In the Islamic tradition, we are required to submit ourselves to the divine presence, not dominate the natural world to serve our consumerist appetites. So,... Sun, 06 Apr 2014 20:46:48 +0000 Fazlun Khalid https://iainews.iai.tv/articles/is-modernity-biodegradable-auid-343 The Artifice of Eternity https://iainews.iai.tv/articles/the-artifice-of-eternity-auid-336 <img src="https://iainews.iai.tv/assets/Uploads/_resampled/ScaleWidthWzE1MF0/Marcel-Theroux.jpg" /><br />Some time ago I bought a book called The Transhumanist Reader, a collection of essays published last year by thinkers associated with the transhumanist movement. Transhumanists are a diverse bunch, but what they have in common is the desire to use technology to overcome what they see as the limitations of the human condition. Their goal, if you like, is to become post-human.  &quot;Post-human beings would no longer suffer from disease, aging and inevitable death,&quot; writes Max More in the book's introductory essay. &quot;They would have vastly greater physical capability... much greater cognitive capabilities, and more refined emotions (more joy, less anger, or whatever changes each individual prefers).” It's a vision of the human future that's as vivid as it is extraordinary, and it speaks to one of our species' deepest wishes: the longing for eternal life. &quot;Consume my heart away;&quot; Yeats wrote, &quot;sick with desire and fastened to a dying animal. Gather me / Into the artifice of eternity.&quot; Alchemica... Sat, 22 Mar 2014 22:41:57 +0000 Marcel Theroux https://iainews.iai.tv/articles/the-artifice-of-eternity-auid-336 The Values Fix https://iainews.iai.tv/articles/the-values-fix-auid-346 <img src="https://iainews.iai.tv/assets/Uploads/_resampled/ScaleWidthWzE1MF0/values.jpg" /><br />From the Industrial Revolution onwards, human societies have witnessed dramatic changes to their lifestyles; from the technologies they use to the availability of a wealth of new consumer goods. Millions have benefited. We have seen massive improvements in health, housing, diet, electronic gadgets, communications and so forth. Despite these major advancements, today we are witness to a number of warning signs about planet Earth. We are in the midst of an immoral and draining poverty crisis where two billion people remain below poverty levels. We have re-invented greed at unimaginable scales in our financial and banking services. We seem hell bent on destroying the Earth’s natural systems by depleting and degrading our forests, our lands and our water. We plunder our planet with new and seemingly exciting greenhouse-gas laden technologies, inviting climate change. Perhaps our greatest challenge? To provide jobs for the more than one and a half billion kids under fifteen and the entire 3... Sun, 06 Apr 2014 20:58:29 +0000 Ian Johnson https://iainews.iai.tv/articles/the-values-fix-auid-346 Thinking the Grey Areas https://iainews.iai.tv/articles/thinking-the-grey-areas-auid-320 <img src="https://iainews.iai.tv/assets/Uploads/_resampled/ScaleWidthWzE1MF0/Luciano-Floridi1-Oppositesattractbystellamarina.jpg" /><br />Award-winning philosopher of the information age, Luciano Floridi, is Professor of Philosophy and Ethics of Information at the University of Oxford. In this interview, Floridi comments on the peculiar human obsession with oppositions.Some philosophy has questioned the reality of all direct oppositions. How far would you agree that all oppositions are constructed?Oppositions are not constructed – as if it were up to us to decide about them entirely – but they are not discovered either – as if we only needed to acknowledge them by registering their presence in the world from some God’s eye perspective. They are designed, and this means that they are a mixture of objective data and subjective manipulation. We can see the world in black or white, appreciate it as big or small, evaluate it in terms of right or wrong, or think that it must be discrete or continuous. But the truth is that any opposition is the outcome of a specific abstraction – that is, a specific way of processing the const... Sun, 09 Feb 2014 13:07:52 +0000 Luciano Floridi https://iainews.iai.tv/articles/thinking-the-grey-areas-auid-320 Community, Tribalism and Facebook https://iainews.iai.tv/articles/community-tribalism-and-facebook-auid-812 <img src="https://iainews.iai.tv/assets/Uploads/_resampled/ScaleWidthWzE1MF0/Daniel-Miller-5-new.JPG" /><br />One of the problems in teaching anthropology is the awareness that so many people come to study this discipline because of some romantic idyll of kinship, the village or community. These seem to be imagined as some kind of paradise lost, remaining only in these enclaves studied by anthropologists. This romantic otherness is largely used as a stick to beat ourselves with. All sorts of faults and deficiencies are assumed to exist in our own society as against these others. One of the reasons I try to conduct research in areas as varied as London, Manila, village India or Trinidad is in order to contest such assumptions. We all live equally in the present. Peoples studied by anthropologists in tribes or villages are not some evolutionary remnant of our own past. Having said all that, sitting in this quiet rural hamlet in Trinidad, it is quite hard to entirely escape from this romance of community. I can just feel sentimentality creeping up my spine, softening my resolve, despite all my at... Mon, 10 Apr 2017 09:54:34 +0000 Daniel Miller https://iainews.iai.tv/articles/community-tribalism-and-facebook-auid-812 Trust Me, I'm Google https://iainews.iai.tv/articles/trust-me-i-m-google-auid-297 <img src="https://iainews.iai.tv/assets/Uploads/_resampled/ScaleWidthWzE1MF0/1-codinghorror.com.jpg" /><br />Move over Dr Google, there’s a new junior doctor in town: Dr Twitter. And he’s throwing up a new set of challenges connected to digital media and healthcare. Medics and patients seem to have become two of the most natural groups of tweeters – perhaps it’s those long hours in waiting rooms for the latter, ease with beepers for the former. The combined cohort can dominate Twitter with discussions about treatment and patient care. And an example of this at its best is the campaign like #hellomynameis initiated by Dr Kate Granger, a doctor who has terminal cancer, and is using her experience to better care for all patients.Meanwhile, hospitals are tweeting everything from jobs to what’s happening in A&amp;E. NHS Blood and Transplant can send out tweets when they are running low on blood stocks and get an instant and fantastic response. Drugs companies are reaching out beyond their natural audience straight into consumers’ timelines. Lifestyle healthcare companies are advertising their products... Sun, 12 Jan 2014 10:14:30 +0000 Victoria Lambert https://iainews.iai.tv/articles/trust-me-i-m-google-auid-297 Under Surveillance https://iainews.iai.tv/articles/under-surveillance-auid-298 <img src="https://iainews.iai.tv/assets/Uploads/_resampled/ScaleWidthWzE1MF0/privacy-image2.jpg" /><br />Yes, you are under surveillance. Yes, it is odious. Yes, it should bother you. And yes, it’s hard to know how to avoid it. Most of the steps you might take with regard to your government to lessen surveillance are proscribed or made ineffective by law. In the UK, you must provide your encryption keys on demand. In other nations, encryption is flat-out illegal. In the commercial arena, most of the steps you might take with regard to corporate snooping carry a penalty of being unable to use many of the central services on the Internet.If you weren’t under surveillance, everything on the Internet would cost money. The reason entities like the NSA and the Government Communications Headquarters exist is to seek to obtain and analyse every bit of signals intelligence they can. The business models of Google, Amazon and Facebook are based on trying to understand who you are and why you buy so that this information can then be used to sell you things. If it’s any consolation, though it shouldn’... Sun, 12 Jan 2014 10:23:28 +0000 Nick Harkaway https://iainews.iai.tv/articles/under-surveillance-auid-298 A Universe of Causes https://iainews.iai.tv/articles/a-universe-of-causes-auid-257 <img src="https://iainews.iai.tv/assets/Uploads/_resampled/ScaleWidthWzE1MF0/nothing-1.jpg" /><br />Mathematician George Ellis made his name focusing on some of the big questions of cosmology and relativity. Along with Stephen Hawking, he co-authored 1973’s The Large Scale Structure of Space-Time, which attempted to describe the very foundations of space itself. More recently, Ellis has been focusing on top-down causation – the process by which higher level organised systems, such as humans, interact with their own component parts. His theories have important repercussions across many fields of research – from consciousness and free will to understanding quantum phenomena. Ellis is also an active Quaker and was a vocal opponent of apartheid during the 1970s and ‘80s.We spoke to Ellis about his theories, their implications, and the reasons behind certain resistance to these ideas.What exactly is top-down causation?A key question for science is whether all causation is from the bottom up only. If forces between particles are the only kind of physical causation, then chemistry, biology,... Sat, 23 Nov 2013 12:58:14 +0000 George Ellis https://iainews.iai.tv/articles/a-universe-of-causes-auid-257 Science Says So https://iainews.iai.tv/articles/science-says-so-auid-255 <img src="https://iainews.iai.tv/assets/Uploads/_resampled/ScaleWidthWzE1MF0/presidential-leadership2.jpg" /><br />“Gravity exists. The world is round. Climate change is happening.”So tweeted Barack Obama's advocacy group Organizing for Action on Monday, adding the hashtag #ScienceSaysSo. Had the hashtag read #ThePresidentSaysSo, no one would have bought the bogus appeal to authority. But many will buy the appeal to scientific authority.Few nowadays defer to the traditional authority figures of old – parents, priests or politicians. But many are inclined to take scientists' word for things. If scientists say that anthropogenic climate change is happening, well, then anthropogenic climate change is happening. (Mr. Obama's tweeters must mean anthropogenic climate change, since no one denies that the climate is changing, as it always does.)Deference to scientists is sometimes warranted. But the general deference to science suggested by President Obama and other campaigners is absurd. It underestimates the variety of science and the incentives scientists have to exaggerate the credibility of their theo... Sat, 23 Nov 2013 12:47:38 +0000 Jamie Whyte https://iainews.iai.tv/articles/science-says-so-auid-255 Lockdown https://iainews.iai.tv/articles/lockdown-auid-254 <img src="https://iainews.iai.tv/assets/Uploads/_resampled/ScaleWidthWzE1MF0/sarahfrost06.jpg" /><br />General-purpose computers are astounding. Even the most apparently straight-forward home computers are so astounding that our society still struggles to come to grips with them, what they're for, how to accommodate them, and how to cope with them. This is most apparent when it comes to the complex relationship between technology (especially the internet) and law, but is also an issue of increasing in the spheres of politics, privacy and surveillance. In the beginning, we had packaged software and we had sneakernet. We had floppy disks in ziplock bags, in cardboard boxes, hung on pegs in shops, and sold like candy bars and magazines. They were eminently susceptible to duplication, were duplicated quickly, and widely, and this was to the great chagrin of people who made and sold software. Enter Digital Rights Management in its most primitive forms. They introduced physical indicia which the software checked for – deliberate damage, dongles, hidden sectors – and challenge-response protoco... Sat, 23 Nov 2013 12:12:18 +0000 Cory Doctorow https://iainews.iai.tv/articles/lockdown-auid-254