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Category: ethics

Robotics | IoT

Understanding the Hidden Bias in Emotion-Reading AIs

Facial recognition technology has progressed to point where it now interprets emotions in facial expressions. This type of analysis is increasingly used in daily life. For example, companies can use facial recognition software to help with hiring decisions. Other programs scan the faces in crowds to identify threats to public safety. Unfortunately, this technology struggles […]

3D Printed Heads Can Unlock Phones. What Does that Mean for Biometric Security?

Facial recognition technology is likely not as safe as you may have thought. This was illustrated by a recent test where 3D printed busts of peoples’ heads were used to unlock smartphones. Out of five tested phones, only one refused to open when presented with the fake head. Other biometric security measures are also showing […]

Blacklisted in China—Misbehaving Scientists Poised for “Social” Punishment

When Dr. He Jiankui announced the birth of CRISPR-edited babies last month, the world grappled with how to handle the aftermath. Should journals overlook his dangerous ethical violations and publish the results? Will he now be barred from conducting clinical trials or obtaining funding? What level of punishment is appropriate for what he did—with absolutely […]

CRISPR Babies: Stumbling Over Mankind’s Next Giant Leap

During the last weekend in November, MIT Tech Review broke a world-changing story: the birth of the first children to have undergone gene editing as embryos. The Associated Press swiftly followed with a longer report on the small Chinese clinical trial in which seven couples, all including HIV-positive men, donated eggs and sperm that Dr. […]

Welcome to the CRISPR Baby World—Here’s What You Should Know

Last week, the gene editing world was hit by news the equivalent of a nuclear bomb. In a video on YouTube, Dr. Jiankui He at Southern University of Science and Technology in China revealed that the first CRISPR babies—a pair of twin girls named Nana and Lulu—had been born. Engineered to resist HIV infections, the […]

Britain Is Developing an AI-Powered Predictive Policing System

The tantalizing prospect of predicting crime before it happens has got law enforcement agencies excited about AI. Most efforts so far have focused on forecasting where and when crime will happen, but now British police want to predict who will perpetrate it. The idea is reminiscent of sci-fi classic Minority Report, where clairvoyant “precogs” were […]

How Small Tech Tweaks Can Have a Big Impact on Our Conversations

After Twitter extended its character limit from 140 to 280 in November 2017, there was a bit of an uproar. Stephen King and JK Rowling were among the voices arguing that the 140 character constraint actually spurred creativity. Others speculated that the enforced brevity mitigated information overload. Some even resorted to using a Google Chrome […]

Digital Authoritarianism Is Rising. Here’s What That Means

The internet has long been touted as a force for freedom that can topple dictatorships around the world. But according to a new report on digital freedom, authoritarian forces are clawing back control and even re-purposing the web in ways that undermine democracy. Back in 2010, the Arab Spring was seen as definitive proof of […]

Sci-Fi Movies Are the Secret Weapon That Could Help Silicon Valley Grow Up

If there’s one line that stands the test of time in Steven Spielberg’s 1993 classic Jurassic Park, it’s probably Jeff Goldblum’s exclamation, “Your scientists were so preoccupied with whether or not they could, they didn’t stop to think if they should.” Goldblum’s character, Dr. Ian Malcolm, was warning against the hubris of naively tinkering with […]

Technology and Compassion: A Conversation with the Dalai Lama

From how we get around to how we spend our time to how we manage our health, technology is changing our lives—not to mention economies, governments, and cities around the world. Tech has brought good to individuals and societies by, for example, democratizing access to information and lowering the cost of many products and services. […]