Will robots have rights in the future?

Perhaps sooner than we think, we'll need to examine the moral standing of intelligent machines.

  • If eventually we develop artificial intelligence sophisticated enough to experience emotions like joy and suffering, should we grant it moral rights just as any other sentient being?
  • Theoretical philosopher Peter Singer predicts the ethical issues that could ensue as we expand the circle of moral concern to include these machines.
  • A free download of the 10th anniversary edition of The Life You Can Save: How to Do Your Part to End World Poverty is available here.
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How Mengzi came up with something better than the Golden Rule

What could be better than "do unto others as you would have others do unto you"?

Alain Nogues/Corbis via Getty Images

There's something I don't like about the 'Golden Rule,' the admonition to do unto others as you would have others do unto you.

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Should we blame biology for our biosphere-bashing behavior?

Determining whether human nature is short-sighted when it comes to survival-necessary situations

Illustration by Julia Suits, author of The Extraordinary Catalog of Peculiar Inventions, and The New Yorker cartoonist.
  • Do you know what evidence supposedly supports the claim that "human nature" is short sighted?
  • Can our abstract math help us weigh the "utility," or value, of cupcakes against burning the biosphere?
  • By mixing moral or survival-needed items with trinkets, this math seduces many into calling "rational" what we know will logically lead to collective doom.
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Yet another American divide: 'crunk' vs 'bible studies'

How deep are America's cultural fault lines? Depends on which data you crunch.

Image courtesy of Boyd L Shearer Jr / OutrageGIS
  • America is a divided nation, but perhaps its divisions are as much in the eye of the beholder.
  • This map charts the geographic fault lines between 'crazy drunk' America and 'bible study' America.
  • Strangely, Las Vegas falls in the latter category – and Salt Lake City in the former.
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Immigration: Why the well-meaning ‘successful immigrant’ narrative is faulty

We tend to promote foreigners by broadcasting their economic and scholarly value, instead of their intrinsic humanity.

  • There's a tendency to fight dehumanizing narratives about immigrants and refugees with stories about how much value they have to the United States, in terms of economic and academic achievements and abilities.
  • Though these counternarratives might come from a good place, Adam Waytz doesn't believe they "really consider people in terms of human dignity." They fail to call out immigrants and refugees inherent dignity.
  • The image of the deceased Aylan Kurdi washed ashore evoked immense sympathy for refugees. Besides showcasing their economic values, it highlighted their shared humanity.
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