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Blogging Ethics

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09/19/2011 - 3:45pm
Dr. J. chats with Sonia Arrison, a futurist and policy analyst who has studied the impact of new technologies for the Pacific Research Institute (PRI). They discuss her new book 100+: How the Coming Age of Longevity Will Change Everything, from Careers and Relationships to Family and Faith. (Part 1 of 2)
09/19/2011 - 3:45pm
Dr. J. chats with Sonia Arrison, a futurist and policy analyst who has studied the impact of new technologies for the Pacific Research Institute (PRI). They discuss her new book 100+: How the Coming Age of Longevity Will Change Everything, from Careers and Relationships to Family and Faith. (Part 1 of 2)
09/19/2011 - 7:15am

It has been suggested that the whole Earth is a giant organism rapidly progressing toward sentience, and that humankind is the principal agent of this evolution. Such a belief requires that we go beyond the role of being stewards and take a more proactive stance as it relates to the Earth’s future.

British scientist James Lovelock, after being inspired by images taken from space in the 1960s, proposed his “living” Earth or Gaia hypothesis (named after the Greek goddess of the Earth), which describes the planet’s ecosystems as behaving much like a super-organism in which all the geologic, hydrologic, and biologic cycles self-regulate the conditions on the planet....

09/19/2011 - 6:42am

As a professor, I always make a point of emphasizing to my students that ethics, far from being a niche topic, is actually pervasive in business. Ethics is what differentiates commerce from crime, but commerce also raises lots of interesting and complex ethical controversies. Really, most of the interesting stuff about business has an ethical element.

In the magazine’s 78 pages, you’ll find the following ethics-related stories:...

09/18/2011 - 3:29pm

On Friday, I wrote how I was surprised by the CDC's statement that advance directives are primarily to protect providers from liability.  Earlier today while on my way to the park, I was equally surprised to hear Baroness Onora O'Neill say the very same thing about informed consent.  

09/18/2011 - 3:20pm
The Scottish Council on Human Bioethics has a database collecting films on a number of bioethics issues, including on death and dying.
09/18/2011 - 8:45am

Robotics technology is advancing wonderfully and rapidly — but is it advancing in the right direction?

Contemporary industrial robots are great for certain narrowly specialized applications, but lack the flexibility — in multiple senses — needed to perform many of the tasks that come easily to humans or animals. Nearly all robot research takes place in robot labs, in carefully constructed and isolated environments intended to work around the limitations of current robot technology....

09/17/2011 - 9:54pm
Research ethics committees have had a bit of a rough summer. The Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPRM) mentioned below implies that US research ethics committees working with the current version of the Common Rule are somewhat wrongheaded. When you are told that you need 'streamlining' in order to 'increase efficiency', it is hard not to conclude that you are bloated, misguided and ineffectual. It is noteworthy that the ANPRM is the first major revision of an influential research ethic regulation that is driven more by (researcher) criticism than by scandals (involving participants). The recent report by the Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues -- centered on abusive US-funded research in Guatemala from 1946-48 -- does not seem to have motivated or made much of a mark on the proposed changes to the Common Rule. That the ANPRM is complaint-driven, rather than scandal-driven, shows: there seems to be more emphasis overall about making ethical review of research more user-friendly for researchers than enhancing research participant protections. It remains to be seen where this 'deregulation' of ethical review is headed, and whether deregulation in this domain will have more positive effects than deregulation in financial circles. The complaints and doubts about research ethics committees also seem to be going global. The current issue of the Indian Journal of Medical Ethics is largely devoted to the ethics of research ethics committees. How democratic are they? What gives them legitimacy? How should their roles be defined and their power monitored? These are all valid and fundamental questions. Such committees are hardly beyond criticism. But there should also be skepticism about the skepticism towards research ethics committees, or at least we should not only evaluate the reasons for the criticisms, but also where the criticisms are coming from and where they might be leading us.
09/17/2011 - 7:36am

I recently returned to Toronto from my first Burning Man experience and I have to say that the trip was as close to science fiction as it gets.

It was a world of alien landscapes, extreme conditions, bizarre modes of transport, and a local population right out of Tatooine’s Mos Eisely spaceport. Add to that a dash of Mad Max, Dune and Woodstock, throw in some glow sticks, flamethrowers, and shiny metallic pants, and you get the picture....

09/17/2011 - 7:32am

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