bioethics tags

Bull Session

Ethics and Bias in AI

March 24, 2017          

Episode Summary

On The Digital Life this week, we discuss ethics and bias in AI, with guest Tomer Perry, research associate at the Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics at Harvard University. What do we mean by bias when it comes to AI? And how do we avoid including biases we’re not even aware of?

If AI software for processing and analyzing data begins providing decision-making for core elements critical to our society we’ll need to address these issues. For instance, risk assessments used in the correctional system have been shown to incorporate bias against minorities. And, when it comes to self-driving cars, people want to be protected, but also want the vehicle, in principle to “do the right thing” when encountering situations where the lives of both the driver and others, like pedestrians, are at risk. How we should deal with it? What are the ground rule sets for ethics and morality in AI, and where do they come from? Join us as we discuss.

Resources
Inside the Artificial Intelligence Revolution: A Special Report, Pt. 1
Atlas, The Next Generation
Stanford One Hundred Year Study on Artificial Intelligence (AI100)
Barack Obama, Neural Nets, Self-Driving Cars, and the Future of the World
How can we address real concerns over artificial intelligence?
Moral Machine

Bull Session

Chimeras and Bioethics

August 25, 2016          

Episode Summary

This week on The Digital Life, we discuss human-animal chimeras and bioethics. If you know your Greek mythology, you might be familiar with the chimera — a monstrous fire-breathing hybrid creature, part lion, part goat, with a tail that ends in a snake’s head. Today, the term chimera is used in embryology to describe a hybrid organism that has tissues from multiple species. And there’s interest in producing chimeras for studying disease pathology, testing drugs, and eventually organ transplantation.

Last year, however, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) said it wouldn’t support this research and banned funding for it, due to bioethical and animal welfare concerns. Now, the NIH is requesting public comment on a proposal to amend sections of their guidelines for human stem cell research on the proposed scope of certain human-animal chimera research.

 
Resources:
You Can Soon Grow Human-Animal Hybrids, But You Can’t Breed ‘Em
Strange Beasts: Why Human-Animal Chimeras Might Be Coming
NIH consideration of certain research proposals involving human-animal chimera models

Bull Session

Writing Human Code

June 2, 2016          

Episode Summary

On this episode of The Digital Life, we discuss the plan to create a complete artificial human genome. A few weeks ago, scientists, entrepreneurs, and government officials met in a closed door meeting at Harvard University at an event intended to create interest and momentum around the follow-up to the Human Genome Project — a public / private collaboration to synthesize a human genome.

Over the past decade, the technology for encoding genes has improved at a fantastic rate. Since the early 2000s, the cost has dropped from four dollars to just three cents per base pair. However, while big pharma and big agriculture currently synthesize gene sequences for products including biologic drugs and GMO plants, these strands of genetic material are usually only a few thousand letters in length. Contrast that with the 6 billion letters needed for the human genome, and we can begin to see the ambition of this new proposed endeavor. In this episode, we explore some of the arguments in favor of and against writing human code.

Resources:
Ethical Questions Loom Over Efforts to Make a Human Genome from Scratch