Journal #9

While searching for a topic to cover for the group presentation, my group members and I stumbled upon the emerging technology of Brain to Brain Interface. BTBI connects the brains of two organisms, and allows for the transmission of signals from one (the sender) to the other (the recipient). BTBI involves either invasive or noninvasive operations. The use of BTBI calls into question an array of ethical issues. Some of which include Neural Privacy, Enhancement, and Agency and Identity.

Neural Privacy is in jeopardy when BTBI is used because the brain has no ability to refuse the impulse that it receives, and there have been very few measures taken to protect neural data. Without protection of neural data, the hacking of neural impulses could become possible in the future. Potentially the most frightening threat pertaining to neural privacy is the possibility of silent communication. Imagine if two people could communicate without any trace of interaction (text or verbal). The possibilities of silent communication could enhance the ability for criminals to execute missions more efficiently.

Enhancement through the use of BTBI refers to the ability to enhance learning and skill acquisition; a sure way to widening the inequality gap. The use of at-home BTBI is very costly, and will therefore only be available to those who can afford it. using such technology to enhance learning skills and decrease sill acquisition time could lead to the enhancement of wealth accumulation for the rich, and the resulting widening gap of inequality.

lastly, this technology brings about the ethical issue of agency and identity. Assuming one’s identity is defined by their neurophysiology, their sense of identity may be skewed if they are connected to another brain. If one is connected to another’s brain, they may adopt a communal sense of being rather than an individualistic sense of being.

With the advancements that have been made in the use of BTBI comes great ethical issues that must be considered. Without the approbate introspection into these ethical issues, the further development of BTBI could be detrimental to its users.

Journal #8

In class on Tuesday Professor Perrone presented about the concept of memory and the connection between human memory and computer memory. During the discussion, there was a mentioning of a new device being constructed by Elon Musk. Musk has been a figure at the forefront of scientific discovery, exploration, and innovation for years, and his newest development may very well be one of his most controversial.

It is safe to say that forgetfulness can conditionally be a beneficial characteristic. For instance, it can be very beneficial for athletes to forget the moment they were injured, or devastating losses, or maybe even mistakes they made earlier in a game. When athletes or other professionals are able to forget information or memory from their short term or long term memory, they production and efficiency can benefit greatly. Elon Musk has created a device which will enhance memory and provide space for external memory to be held outside of the relatively minimal  capacity the human brain has.

This device would be implanted into the body of humans and allow for human memory to be “logged” on the hard drive. After class, i thought deeper about the potential that this device could have on the livelihoods of many people. The most beneficial impact I could conceive of was the potential to aid those with Alzheimers Disease. As Alzheimers attacks the memory of the human brain, the presence of this device could enhance memory and allow for more retention and less degradation of memory. On the other hand, this device could have negative impacts on the ability for athletes and professionals to take advantage of their ability to selectively forget certain memories.

Journal #7

The concept of general information systems has been explored throughout class this week. On Thursday, we discussed the capabilities of perfect and complete knowledge. The human capabilities with access to perfect knowledge could be endless. the subject here that particularly interests me is the idea of perfect knowledge and its impacts on prejudice and ability to promote acceptance in society. As we discussed in class, Stars in my Pocket touches on the idea of foreign and familiar and the dichotomy between them. in Particular, things that are foreign to some people, can often lead to judgements and prejudices due to their lack of knowledge of the subject.

An instance of this would be one person holding prejudices of the Islam tradition regarding sacrifice and Jihad. these prejudices may very well be due to a lack of knowledge of the religion and the related traditions/beliefs. With access to perfect knowledge, perhaps there would be a greater understanding of tradition and culture. This greater understanding takes the Islam tradition from a foreign/unfamiliar subject and turns it into a more familiar one. With familiarity comes understanding/appreciation. As certain things are better appreciated, prejudices could be suppressed.

“Stars,” in my opinion, is a peep into this concept. The book presents readers with circumstances they may be unfamiliar with (homosexuality, lack of gender, oddly configured characters, etc). With increased exposure to these unfamiliar aspects of the book, the reader is able to better understand/ accept the circumstances for how they are. In other words, throughout the book, the discomfort or unfamiliarity of the book evolves into a more familiar feeling. The knowledge that the book provides, just as a perfect knowledge system would, provides an opportunity for once unfamiliarity to become custom.


Journal #6

The show “Humans” encapsulates all of my beliefs about robots since the start of this class. I was shocked to see how parallel the portrayal of Anitta’s displacement of the mother was to be beliefs/fears of AI. At the very beginning of the episode, it was apparent that humans were the superior beings as the father simply said he was “going shopping” and bought Anitta to take care of the house. As she integrated into the household, it seemed as if she began to contest and challenge the mom. This idea parallels my fear, and the fear we have discussed earlier in this class, that as humanoids become integrated into their environment they will begin to adapt the customs and practices of humans.

An example of this is when the mother finds Anitta reading to the daughter and putting her to bed. The mother confronts her and tells her to never read to her daughter again, this is an example of a human trying to retain superiority and prevent displacement by robots. IN response, Anitta assures her that she must value and obey the orders of her owner; referring to Asimov’s law. Although I have these fears of AI displacing humans and replacing them in society, there are moments in the film that ensure that robots are not considered human.

When the peace worker visits Dr Milikan’s house, she comments about how the house was so large for just one person, knowing that he had a robot. Dr. Milikan responded and did not make reference to his robot, “son” being a human. Dr. attempts to humanize his robot by calling him son due to the loss he has endured with the passing of his wife, but the viewer is reassured throughout that the robot does not have merit as a human.


Towards the end of the episode, the husband tells the wife that he did not get the robot to act as the wife, he simply got it to take care of the house; a sign that humans are using robots for their own personal gain. Despite the family’s attempts to dehumanize Anita and robots as a species, I would anticipate the rise of robots and their acceptance as “humans” in future episodes; a fear i have of developments being made in AI in today’s technology world.

Journal #5

In class on Thursday, we discussed the three ways in which slaves attempted to gain recognition for being human, rather than simply slaves. The three ways we discussed slaves attempting to gain recognition as humans were: through owner’s benevolence, trying to look/act white, or through rebellion. We observed the “Am I Still Not a Man and a Brother” picture which displays the concept of slaves being granted humanhood through the benevolence of their owners; a submissive view of slaves. Secondly, the picture of the slave holding the Bible sitting in elegant clothing and mimicking the iconic pictures of George Washington. By publishing a picture like this, slaves are looking to gain their humanhood through mimicking the look of whites with signs of affluence. Holding the Bible was a sign that slaves began to educate themselves and find larger meaning for life through their divine rights. Lastly, we looked discussed the image of Toussaint Louverture, the Haitan slave revolt leader. This image showed the third way in which slaves looked to gain humanhood; fighting for their rights. Upon further thought after class, i believe that there is a relationship to draw between this discussion of slaves and the conversation we had earlier about the introduction of humanoids into society.

There are many ethical issues that can be discussed in the conversation of flooding society with robots that are indistinguishable from humans. After taking the slave conversation into account, i can only imagine that robots could take the same measures in trying to blend into the society. In order to be treated as humans and gain their human rights, perhaps they will attempt one if not all three of the aforementioned methods used by slaves. It is scary to imagine a world in which robots inhabit the earth and mimc the attitudes and looks of humans. It is assumed that many humans will not grant robots humanhood out of their benevolence, therefore, robots will be forced to gain their rights in other, more forceful, manners.

In the event that robots must resort to rebelling against the people (assuming they are not programmed with Asimov’s three laws) to gain their humanhood, massive destruction could be brought upon Earth and the human race. Having this knowledge, might it be in the best interest of the human race to develop the robots right away and grant them humanhood upon creating in order to avoid this delayed rebellion that could lead to massive destruction. Perhaps the inevitable presence of humanoids should be expedited, and they should be accepted in order to create peace amongst the species.