Top News, Articles, and Interviews in Philosophy

#55 - Baum on the Long-Term Future of Human Civilisation

In this episode I talk to Seth Baum. Seth is an interdisciplinary researcher working across a wide range of fields in natural and social science, engineering, philosophy, and policy. His primary research focus is global catastrophic risk. He also works in astrobiology. He is the Co-Founder (with Tony Barrett) and Executive Director of the Global Catastrophic Risk Institute. He is also a Research Affiliate of the University of Cambridge Centre for the Study of Existential Risk. We talk about the importance of studying the long-term future of human civilisation, and map out four possible trajectories for the long-term future.You can download the episode here or listen below. You can also subscribe on a variety of different platforms, including iTunes, Stitcher, Overcast, Podbay, Player FM and more. The RSS feed is available here. Show Notes0:00 - Introduction1:39 - Why did Seth write about the long-term future of human civilisation?5:15 - Why should we care about the long-term future? What is the long-term future?13:12 - How can we scientifically and ethically study the long-term future?16:04 - Is it all too speculative?20:48 - Four possible futures, briefly sketched: (i) status quo; (ii) catastrophe; (iii) technological transformation; and (iv) astronomical23:08 - The Status Quo Trajectory - Keeping things as they are28:45 - Should we want to maintain the status quo?33:50 - The Catastrophe Trajectory - Awaiting the likely collapse of civilisation38:58 - How could we restore [More]

Episode #54 - Sebo on the Moral Problem of Other Minds

In this episode I talk to Jeff Sebo. Jeff is a Clinical Assistant Professor of Environmental Studies, Affiliated Professor of Bioethics, Medical Ethics, and Philosophy, and Director of the Animal Studies M.A. Program at New York University.  Jeff’s research focuses on bioethics, animal ethics, and environmental ethics. He has two co-authored books Chimpanzee Rights and Food, Animals, and the Environment. We talk about something Jeff calls the 'moral problem of other minds', which is roughly the problem of what we should to if we aren't sure whether another being is sentient or not.You can download the episode here or listen below. You can also subscribe to the show on iTunes and Stitcher (the RSS feed is here). Show Notes0:00 - Introduction1:38 - What inspired Jeff to think about the moral problem of other minds?7:55 - The importance of sentience and our uncertainty about it12:32 - The three possible responses to the moral problem of other minds: (i) the incautionary principle; (ii) the precautionary principle and (iii) the expected value principle15:26 - Understanding the Incautionary Principle20:09 - Problems with the Incautionary Principle23:14 - Understanding the Precautionary Principle: More plausible than the incautionary principle?29:20 - Is morality a zero-sum game? Is there a limit to how much we can care about other beings?35:02 - The problem of demandingness in moral theory37:06 - Other problems with the precautionary principle41:41 - The Utilitarian Version [More]

Episode #53 - Christin on How Algorithms Actually Impact Workers

In this episode I talk to Angèle Christin. Angèle is an assistant professor in the Department of Communication at Stanford University, where she is also affiliated with the Sociology Department and Program in Science, Technology, and Society. Her research focuses on how algorithms and analytics transform professional values, expertise, and work practices. She is currently working on a book on the use of audience metrics in web journalism and a project on the use of risk assessment algorithms in criminal justice. We talk about both.You can download the episode here or listen below. You can also subscribe to the show on iTunes or Stitcher (the RSS feed is here).Show Notes0:00 - Introduction1:30 - What's missing from the current debate about algorithmic governance? What does Angèle's ethnographic perspective add?5:10 - How does ethnography work? What does an ethnographer do?8:30 - What are the limitations of ethnographic studies?12:33 - Why did Angèle focus on the use of algorithms in criminal justice and web journalism?23:06 - What were Angèle's two key research findings? Decoupling and Buffering24:40 - What is 'decoupling' and how does it happen?30:00 - Different attitudes to algorithmic tools in the US and France (French journalists, perhaps surprisingly, more obsessed with real time analytics than their American counterparts)39:20 - What explains the ambivalent attitude to metrics in different professions?44:42 - What is 'buffering' and how does it arise?54:30 - How people [More]

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