Monday, November 25, 2013

Already Anticipating ‘Terminator’ Ethics; New York Times, 11/24/13

John Markoff, New York Times; Already Anticipating ‘Terminator’ Ethics: "What could possibly go wrong? That was a question that some of the world’s leading roboticists faced at a technical meeting in October, when they were asked to consider what the science-fiction writer Isaac Asimov anticipated a half-century ago: the need to design ethical behavior into robots... All of which make questions about robots and ethics more than hypothetical for roboticists and policy makers alike. The discussion about robots and ethics came during this year’s Humanoids technical conference. At the conference, which focused on the design and application of robots that appear humanlike, Ronald C. Arkin delivered a talk on “How to NOT Build a Terminator,” picking up where Asimov left off with his fourth law of robotics — “A robot may not harm humanity, or, by inaction, allow humanity to come to harm.” While he did an effective job posing the ethical dilemmas, he did not offer a simple solution. His intent was to persuade the researchers to confront the implications of their work."

Weighing Free Speech in Refusal to Photograph Lesbian Couple’s Ceremony; New York Times, 11/18/13

Adam Liptak, New York Times; Weighing Free Speech in Refusal to Photograph Lesbian Couple’s Ceremony: "A New Mexico law forbids businesses open to the public to discriminate against gay people. Elaine Huguenin, a photographer, says she has no problem with that — so long as it does not force her to say something she does not believe. In asking the Supreme Court to hear her challenge to the law, Ms. Huguenin said that she would “gladly serve gays and lesbians — by, for example, providing them with portrait photography,” but that she did not want to tell the stories of same-sex weddings. To make her celebrate something her religion tells her is wrong, she said, would hijack her right to free speech."

Monday, November 18, 2013

Activists say they have found way round Chinese internet censorship; Guardian, 11/18/13

Jonathan Kaiman, Guardian; Activists say they have found way round Chinese internet censorship: "Cyber-activists have retaliated against Chinese authorities' censorship of foreign media websites by exposing an apparent weakness in the country's vast internet control apparatus. China blocked the Wall Street Journal and Reuters Chinese-language websites on Friday after a New York Times exposé revealed business ties between JP Morgan and the daughter of the former premier Wen Jiabao. Both websites appear to still be blocked on Monday. The New York Times's English and Chinese-language websites have been blocked in China since 2012. Charlie Smith, the co-founder of, a website which monitors internet censorship in China, says he has helped discover a strategy to make these sites available in mainland China without the aid of firewall-circumventing software."

Trending: The ethics of live-tweeting a break-up; BBC News, 11/18/13

BBC News; Trending: The ethics of live-tweeting a break-up: "The apparent break-up of a young couple in New York has been documented by their neighbour - a comedian - who live-tweeted the whole episode. His tweets have been widely shared. But is it OK to live-tweet something you just happen to overhear? Eavesdroppers who turn to Twitter have made waves several times in the past, for example the tweeting of off-the-record briefings by a former National Security Agency (NSA) chief... City University journalism professor Roy Greenslade says social media has magnified the issues faced by traditional newspapers in the past. Some journalists might violate people's privacy to focus only on public interest issues, but others do it to uncover salacious human interest stories."

Pa. student newspaper editors ban ‘Redskins’ nickname _ and get sent to principal’s office; Associated Press via Washington Post, 11/16/13

Associated Press via Washington Post; Pa. student newspaper editors ban ‘Redskins’ nickname _ and get sent to principal’s office: "The Playwickian editors started getting heat from school officials after an Oct. 27 editorial that barred the use of the word “Redskins” — the nickname of the teams at Neshaminy, a school named for the creek where the Lenape Indians once lived... Nonetheless, Principal Robert McGee ordered the editors to put the “Redskins” ban on hold, and summoned them to a meeting after school Tuesday, according to junior Gillian McGoldrick, the editor-in-chief... I don’t think that’s been decided at the national level, whether that word is or is not (offensive). It’s our school mascot,” said McGee, who said he’s consulted with the school solicitor and others. “I see it as a First Amendment issue running into another First Amendment issue... Both the student law center and the American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania believe school districts are on shaky ground if they try to compel students to use a given word, especially one the students deem offensive.”

Friday, November 15, 2013

Facebook Amends Privacy Policies; New York Times, 11/15/13

Vindu Goel, New York Times; Facebook Amends Privacy Policies: "Facebook pressed ahead on Friday with changes to its privacy policies, first proposed in August, that make it clear that users’ postings on the service and other personal data can be used in advertising on the site. But the company deleted controversial language that had declared that any teenager using the service was presumed to have gotten parental permission for their data to be used in advertising. The company says it already has that permission from other terms of use... Facebook’s use of teenagers’ information in ads is particularly sensitive for privacy advocates, who say that children are especially vulnerable to marketing messages and are more likely to respond to endorsements from friends."

Thursday, November 7, 2013

IFLA Signs on to Major International Document regarding Human Rights and Surveillance; IFLA, 10/30/13

IFLA; IFLA Signs on to Major International Document regarding Human Rights and Surveillance: "IFLA has become a signatory to the International Principles on the Application of Human Rights to Communications Surveillance. The Principles document is the product of a year-long negotiation process between Privacy International, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Access, Human Rights Watch, Reporters Without Borders, and the Association for Progressive Communications. The document spells out how existing human rights law applies to modern digital surveillance and gives civil society groups, industry, lawmakers and observers a benchmark for measuring states' surveillance practices against long-established human rights standards. It contains 13 principles which have now been endorsed by over 260 organizations from 77 countries, from Somalia to Sweden."

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

In Bullying Case, Questions on N.F.L. Culture; New York Times, 11/4/13

John Branch and Ken Belson, New York Times; In Bullying Case, Questions on N.F.L. Culture: "Their unfolding saga is forcing the National Football League to uncomfortably turn its gaze toward locker room culture and start defining the gray areas between good-natured pranks and hurtful bullying."

Medical Ethics Have Been Violated at Detention Sites, a New Report Says; New York Times, 11/4/13

Denise Grady and Benedict Carey, New York Times; Medical Ethics Have Been Violated at Detention Sites, a New Report Says: "A group of experts in medicine, law and ethics has issued a blistering report that accuses the United States government of directing doctors, nurses and psychologists, among others, to ignore their professional codes of ethics and participate in the abuse of detainees in Afghanistan, Iraq and Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. The report was published Monday by the Institute on Medicine as a Profession, an ethics group based at Columbia University’s College of Physicians and Surgeons, and the Open Society Foundations, a pro-democracy network founded by the billionaire George Soros. The authors were part of a 19-member task force that based its findings on a two-year review of public information. The sources included documents released by the government, news reports, and books and articles from professional journals."

Rand Paul’s plagiarism allegations, and why they matter; Washington Post, 11/4/13

Aaron Blake, Washington Post; Rand Paul’s plagiarism allegations, and why they matter: "Over the last week, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) has been accused of multiple counts of plagiarism — both in speeches he gave and in a book he wrote. So what has happened, and what does it mean going forward? Here’s what you need to know."