Top News, Articles, and Interviews in Philosophy

85 - The Internet and the Tyranny of Perceived Opinion

 Are we losing our liberty as a result of digital technologies and algorithmic power? In particular, might algorithmically curated filter bubbles be creating a world that encourages both increased polarisation and increased conformity at the same time? In today’s podcast, I discuss these issues with Henrik Skaug Sætra. Henrik is a political scientist working in the Faculty of Business, Languages and Social Science at Østfold University College in Norway. He has a particular interest in political theory and philosophy, and has worked extensively on Thomas Hobbes and social contract theory, environmental ethics and game theory. At the moment his work focuses mainly on issues involving the dynamics between human individuals, society and technology. You download the episode here or listen below. You can also subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, Spotify and other podcasting services (the RSS feed is here). Show NotesTopics discussed include: Selective Exposure and Confirmation Bias How algorithms curate our informational ecology Filter Bubbles Echo Chambers How the internet is created more internally conformist but externally polarised groups The nature of political freedom Tocqueville and the tyranny of the majority Mill and the importance of individuality How algorithmic curation of speech is undermining our liberty What can be done about this problem?Relevant Links Henrik's faculty homepage Henrik on [More]

84 - Social Media, COVID-19 and Value Change

Do our values change over time? What role do emotions and technology play in altering our values? In this episode I talk to Steffen Steinert about these issues. Steffen is a postdoctoral researcher on the Value Change project at TU Delft, Ph.D. His research focuses on the philosophy of technology, ethics of technology, emotions, and aesthetics. He has published papers on roboethics, art and technology, and philosophy of science. In his previous research he also explored philosophical issues related to humor and amusement.You can download the episode here or listen below. You can also subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, Spotify and other podcasting services (the RSS feed is here). Show Notes Topics discussed include: What is a value?Descriptive vs normative theories of valuePsychological theories of personal valuesThe nature of emotionsThe connection between emotions and valuesEmotional contagionEmotional climates vs emotional atmospheresThe role of social media in causing emotional contagionIs the coronavirus promoting a negative emotional climate?Will this affect our political preferences and policies?General lessons for technology and value change Relevant Links Steffen's HomepageThe Designing for Changing Values Project @ TU DelftCorona and Value Change by Steffen'Unleashing the Constructive Potential of Emotions' by Steffen and Sabine RoeserAn Overview of the Schwartz Theory of Basic Personal Values [More]

83 - Privacy is Power

Are you being watched, tracked and traced every minute of the day? Probably. The digital world thrives on surveillance. What should we do about this? My guest today is Carissa Véliz. Carissa is an Associate Professor at the Faculty of Philosophy and the Institute of Ethics in AI at Oxford University. She is also a Tutorial Fellow at Hertford College Oxford. She works on privacy, technology, moral and political philosophy and public policy. She has also been a guest on this podcast on two previous occasions. Today, we’ll be talking about her recently published book Privacy is Power. You can download the episode here or listen below. You can also subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, Spotify and other podcasting services (the RSS feed is here).  Show Notes Topics discussed in this show include: The most surprising examples of digital surveillanceThe nature of privacyIs privacy dead?Privacy as an intrinsic and instrumental valueThe relationship between privacy and autonomyDoes surveillance help with security and health?The problem with mass surveillanceThe phenomenon of toxic dataHow surveillance undermines democracy and freedomAre we willing to trade privacy for convenient services?And much more Relevant Links Carissa's WebpagePrivacy is Power by CarissaSummary of Privacy is Power in AeonReview of Privacy is Power in The Guardian Carissa's Twitter feed (a treasure trove of links about privacy and surveillance)Views on Privacy: [More]

82 - What should we do about facial recognition technology?

 Facial recognition technology has seen its fair share of both media and popular attention in the past 12 months. The runs the gamut from controversial uses by governments and police forces, to coordinated campaigns to ban or limit its use. What should we do about it? In this episode, I talk to Brenda Leong about this issue. Brenda is Senior Counsel and Director of Artificial Intelligence and Ethics at Future of Privacy Forum. She manages the FPF portfolio on biometrics, particularly facial recognition. She authored the FPF Privacy Expert’s Guide to AI, and co-authored the paper, “Beyond Explainability: A Practical Guide to Managing Risk in Machine Learning Models.” Prior to working at FPF, Brenda served in the U.S. Air Force. You can listen to the episode below or download here. You can also subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, Spotify and other podcasting services (the RSS feed is here). Show notesTopics discussed include: What is facial recognition anyway? Are there multiple forms that are confused and conflated? What's the history of facial recognition? What has changed recently? How is the technology used? What are the benefits of facial recognition? What's bad about it? What are the privacy and other risks? Is there something unique about the face that should make us more worried about facial biometrics when compared to other forms? What can we do to address the risks? Should we regulate or ban?Relevant [More]

81 - Consumer Credit, Big Tech and AI Crime

In today's episode, I talk to Nikita Aggarwal about the legal and regulatory aspects of AI and algorithmic governance. We focus, in particular, on three topics: (i) algorithmic credit scoring; (ii) the problem of 'too big to fail' tech platforms and (iii) AI crime. Nikita is a DPhil (PhD) candidate at the Faculty of Law at Oxford, as well as a Research Associate at the Oxford Internet Institute's Digital Ethics Lab. Her research examines the legal and ethical challenges due to emerging, data-driven technologies, with a particular focus on machine learning in consumer lending. Prior to entering academia, she was an attorney in the legal department of the International Monetary Fund, where she advised on financial sector law reform in the Euro area. You can listen to the episode below or download here. You can also subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, Spotify and other podcasting services (the RSS feed is here).Show Notes Topics discussed include: The digitisation, datafication and disintermediation of consumer credit markets Algorithmic credit scoring The problems of risk and bias in credit scoring How law and regulation can address these problems Tech platforms that are too big to fail What should we do if Facebook fails? The forms of AI crime How to address the problem of AI crime Relevant Links Nikita's homepage Nikita on Twitter 'The Norms of Algorithmic Credit Scoring' by Nikita 'What if Facebook Goes Down? Ethical and Legal Considerations for the Demise of Big Tech [More]

80 - Bias, Algorithms and Criminal Justice

Lots of algorithmic tools are now used to support decision-making in the criminal justice system. Many of them are criticised for being biased. What should be done about this? In this episode, I talk to Chelsea Barabas about this very question. Chelsea is a PhD candidate at MIT, where she examines the spread of algorithmic decision making tools in the US criminal legal system. She works with interdisciplinary researchers, government officials and community organizers to unpack and transform mainstream narratives around criminal justice reform and data-driven decision making. She is currently a Technology Fellow at the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. Formerly, she was a research scientist for the AI Ethics and Governance Initiative at the MIT Media Lab. You can download the episode here or listen below. You can also subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, Spotify and other podcasting services (the RSS feed is here).Show notes Topics covered in this show include The history of algorithmic decision-making in criminal justiceModern AI tools in criminal justiceThe problem of biased decision-makingExamples of bias in practiceThe FAT (Fairness, Accountability and Transparency) approach to biasCan we de-bias algorithms using formal, technical rules?Can we de-bias algorithms through proper review and oversight?Should we be more critical of the data used to build these systems?Problems with pre-trial [More]

79 - Is There A Techno-Responsibility Gap?

 What happens if an autonomous machine does something wrong? Who, if anyone, should be held responsible for the machine's actions? That's the topic I discuss in this episode with Daniel Tigard. Daniel Tigard is a Senior Research Associate in the Institute for History & Ethics of Medicine, at the Technical University of Munich. His current work addresses issues of moral responsibility in emerging technology. He is the author of several papers on moral distress and responsibility in medical ethics as well as, more recently, papers on moral responsibility and autonomous systems. You can download the episode here or listen below. You can also subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, Spotify and other podcasting services (the RSS feed is here).          Show NotesTopics discussed include:  What is responsibility? Why is it so complex? The three faces of responsibility: attribution, accountability and answerability Why are people so worried about responsibility gaps for autonomous systems? What are some of the alleged solutions to the "gap" problem? Who are the techno-pessimists and who are the techno-optimists? Why does Daniel think that there is no techno-responsibility gap? Is our application of responsibility concepts to machines overly metaphorical?  Relevant Links Daniel's ResearchGATE profile Daniel's papers on Philpapers "There is no Techno-Responsibility Gap" by Daniel "Artificial [More]

78 - Humans and Robots: Ethics, Agency and Anthropomorphism

   Are robots like humans? Are they agents? Can we have relationships with them? These are just some of the questions I explore with today's guest, Sven Nyholm. Sven is an assistant professor of philosophy at Utrecht University in the Netherlands. His research focuses on ethics, particularly the ethics of technology. He is a friend of the show, having appeared twice before. In this episode, we are talking about his recent, great, book Humans and Robots: Ethics, Agency and Anthropomorphism. You can download the episode here or listen below. You can also subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, Spotify and other podcasting services (the RSS feed is here). Show Notes:Topics covered in this episode include: Why did Sven play football with a robot? Who won? What is a robot? What is an agent? Why does it matter if robots are agents? Why does Sven worry about a normative mismatch between humans and robots? What should we do about this normative mismatch? Why are people worried about responsibility gaps arising as a result of the widespread deployment of robots? How should we think about human-robot collaborations? Why should human drivers be more like self-driving cars? Can we be friends with a robot? Why does Sven reject my theory of ethical behaviourism? Should we be pessimistic about the future of roboethics?Relevant Links Sven's Homepage Sven on Philpapers Humans and Robots: Ethics, Agency and Anthropomorphism 'Can a robot [More]

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