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Virtual Futures Podcast #1: Cyborg Experiments, with Professor Kevin Warwick

Humans, we’re pret­ty lim­it­ed in what we can do, let’s face it, men­tal­ly par­tic­u­lar­ly. We just have a bunch of brain cells. And the pos­si­bil­i­ty of enhanc­ing our brain, our men­tal capa­bil­i­ties, I think is enor­mous.

Rebel Scientists

I’m going to make an argu­ment in this talk that dis­sent is valu­able not mere­ly to estab­lish your moral dimen­sion or to make a moral act or moral pos­ture. It’s essen­tial to sci­en­tif­ic progress. So we can’t do with­out dis­sent; it’s not an affec­ta­tion.

Forbidden Research: Why We Can’t Do That

Quite often when we’re ask­ing these dif­fi­cult ques­tions we’re ask­ing about ques­tions where we might not even know how to ask where the line is. But in oth­er cas­es, when researchers work to advance pub­lic knowl­edge, even on uncon­tro­ver­sial top­ics, we can still find our­selves for­bid­den from doing the research or dis­sem­i­nat­ing the research.

Forbidden Research: Sexual Deviance: Can Technology Protect our Children?

One of the big things that we’re going to talk about here is para­phil­ia. We’re going to talk about sex­u­al deviance. We’re going to talk about the prob­lem of peo­ple whose sex­u­al desires lead to attrac­tion to chil­dren, lead to attrac­tion towards vio­lent sex, lead to sex­u­al trans­gres­sion in one fash­ion or anoth­er.

Forbidden Research: Messing with Nature Part II: Climate

Solar geo­engi­neer­ing rests on a sim­ple idea that it is tech­ni­cal­ly pos­si­ble to make the Earth a lit­tle more reflec­tive so that it absorbs a lit­tle less sun­light, which would part­ly coun­ter­act some of the risks that come from accu­mu­lat­ing car­bon diox­ide in the atmos­phere. When I say tech­ni­cal­ly pos­si­ble, it appears that at least doing this in a crude way is actu­al­ly easy, in the sense that it could be done with com­mer­cial off-the-shelf tech­nolo­gies now, and it could be done at a cost that is real­ly triv­ial, sort of a part in a thou­sand or a part in ten thou­sand of glob­al GDP.

Forbidden Research Welcome and Introduction: Ethan Zuckerman

As we dug into this top­ic, we real­ized research gets for­bid­den for all sorts of rea­sons. We’re going to talk about top­ics today that are for­bid­den in some sense because they’re so big, they’re so con­se­quen­tial, that it’s extreme­ly dif­fi­cult for any­one to think about who should actu­al­ly have the right to make this deci­sion. We’re going to talk about some top­ics that end up being off the table, that end up being for­bid­den, because they’re kind of icky. They’re real­ly uncom­fort­able. And frankly, if you make it through this day with­out some­thing mak­ing you uncom­fort­able, we did some­thing wrong in plan­ning this event.

Forbidden Research Welcome and Introduction: Joi Ito

Talking to peo­ple who study the his­to­ry of sci­ence, and you look at Nobel Prize win­ners, many of them have real­ly tak­en sort of career-threatening risks in order to win Nobel Prizes. So even sci­ence, which feels like an area where you’re sup­posed to ques­tion author­i­ty and think for your­self, you actu­al­ly have to be rather risk-taking and dis­obe­di­ent.

Social Contagion

The rea­son that I am inter­est­ed in behav­ioral con­ta­gions is that I firm­ly believe that if we can under­stand how behav­iors spread in a social net­work and thus in a pop­u­la­tion from per­son to per­son to per­son to per­son, that we could poten­tial­ly pro­mote behav­iors like…condom use, or tol­er­ance.

Studying Harm

One of the most recent par­a­digms that we’ve used to try to get this under exper­i­men­tal con­trol is to ask peo­ple to act out pre­tend harm­ful actions. So for instance, we’ll give them a dis­abled hand­gun. We’ll show them that it’s fake. That it couldn’t pos­si­bly harm a fly. We put it in their hands and then we ask them to shoot us in the head.

The Conversation #25 — Frances Whitehead

Some of my artist friends think what I’m doing isn’t art, and I’ve giv­en up on art. It’ll take care of itself. You know. I mean it’s always been there, it will always be there, and we always know that new art nev­er looks like art at first, ever. So why should this be any dif­fer­ent? We just have to trust the process. And I would say that must be true for every oth­er dis­ci­pline.

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