The Ethics of Pandemics


Book edited by Meredith Celene Schwartz: “The rapid spread of COVID-19 has had an unprecedented impact on modern health-care systems and has given rise to a number of complex ethical issues. This collection of readings and case studies offers an overview of some of the most pressing of these issues, such as the allocation of ventilators and other scarce resources, the curtailing of standard privacy measures for the sake of public health, and the potential obligations of health-care professionals to continue operating in dangerous work environments….(More)“.

Humanocracy


Book by Gary Hamel and Michele Zanini: “In the age of upheaval, top-down power structures and rule-choked management systems are a liability. They crush creativity and stifle initiative. As leaders, employees, investors and citizens, we deserve better. We need organizations that are bold, entrepreneurial and as nimble as change itself. Hence this book.

In Humanocracy, Gary Hamel and Michele Zanini make a passionate, data-driven argument for excising bureaucracy and replacing it with something better. Drawing on more than a decade of research, and packed with practical examples, Humanocracy lays out a detailed blueprint for creating organizations that are as inspired and ingenious as the human beings inside them….(More).

Morphing Intelligence From IQ Measurement to Artificial Brains


Book by Catherine Malabou: “What is intelligence? The concept crosses and blurs the boundaries between natural and artificial, bridging the human brain and the cybernetic world of AI. In this book, the acclaimed philosopher Catherine Malabou ventures a new approach that emphasizes the intertwined, networked relationships among the biological, the technological, and the symbolic.

Malabou traces the modern metamorphoses of intelligence, seeking to understand how neurobiological and neurotechnological advances have transformed our view. She considers three crucial developments: the notion of intelligence as an empirical, genetically based quality measurable by standardized tests; the shift to the epigenetic paradigm, with its emphasis on neural plasticity; and the dawn of artificial intelligence, with its potential to simulate, replicate, and ultimately surpass the workings of the brain. Malabou concludes that a dialogue between human and cybernetic intelligence offers the best if not the only means to build a democratic future. A strikingly original exploration of our changing notions of intelligence and the human and their far-reaching philosophical and political implications, Morphing Intelligence is an essential analysis of the porous border between symbolic and biological life at a time when once-clear distinctions between mind and machine have become uncertain….(More)”.

Calling Bullshit: The Art of Scepticism in a Data-Driven World


Book by Carl Bergstrom and Jevin West: “Politicians are unconstrained by facts. Science is conducted by press release. Higher education rewards bullshit over analytic thought. Startup culture elevates bullshit to high art. Advertisers wink conspiratorially and invite us to join them in seeing through all the bullshit — and take advantage of our lowered guard to bombard us with bullshit of the second order. The majority of administrative activity, whether in private business or the public sphere, seems to be little more than a sophisticated exercise in the combinatorial reassembly of bullshit.

We’re sick of it. It’s time to do something, and as educators, one constructive thing we know how to do is to teach people. So, the aim of this course is to help students navigate the bullshit-rich modern environment by identifying bullshit, seeing through it, and combating it with effective analysis and argument.

What do we mean, exactly, by bullshit and calling bullshit? As a first approximation:

Bullshit involves language, statistical figures, data graphics, and other forms of presentation intended to persuade by impressing and overwhelming a reader or listener, with a blatant disregard for truth and logical coherence.

Calling bullshit is a performative utterance, a speech act in which one publicly repudiates something objectionable. The scope of targets is broader than bullshit alone. You can call bullshit on bullshit, but you can also call bullshit on lies, treachery, trickery, or injustice.

In this course we will teach you how to spot the former and effectively perform the latter.

While bullshit may reach its apogee in the political domain, this is not a course on political bullshit. Instead, we will focus on bullshit that comes clad in the trappings of scholarly discourse. Traditionally, such highbrow nonsense has come couched in big words and fancy rhetoric, but more and more we see it presented instead in the guise of big data and fancy algorithms — and these quantitative, statistical, and computational forms of bullshit are those that we will be addressing in the present course.

Of course an advertisement is trying to sell you something, but do you know whether the TED talk you watched last night is also bullshit — and if so, can you explain why? Can you see the problem with the latest New York Times or Washington Post article fawning over some startup’s big data analytics? Can you tell when a clinical trial reported in the New England Journal or JAMA is trustworthy, and when it is just a veiled press release for some big pharma company?…(More)”.

#HashtagActivism: Networks of Race and Gender Justice


Open Access Book by Sarah J. Jackson, Moya Bailey and Brooke Foucault Welles: “The power of hashtag activism became clear in 2011, when #IranElection served as an organizing tool for Iranians protesting a disputed election and offered a global audience a front-row seat to a nascent revolution. Since then, activists have used a variety of hashtags, including #JusticeForTrayvon, #BlackLivesMatter, #YesAllWomen, and #MeToo to advocate, mobilize, and communicate. In this book, Sarah Jackson, Moya Bailey, and Brooke Foucault Welles explore how and why Twitter has become an important platform for historically disenfranchised populations, including Black Americans, women, and transgender people. They show how marginalized groups, long excluded from elite media spaces, have used Twitter hashtags to advance counternarratives, preempt political spin, and build diverse networks of dissent.

The authors describe how such hashtags as #MeToo, #SurvivorPrivilege, and #WhyIStayed have challenged the conventional understanding of gendered violence; examine the voices and narratives of Black feminism enabled by #FastTailedGirls, #YouOKSis, and #SayHerName; and explore the creation and use of #GirlsLikeUs, a network of transgender women. They investigate the digital signatures of the “new civil rights movement”—the online activism, storytelling, and strategy-building that set the stage for #BlackLivesMatter—and recount the spread of racial justice hashtags after the killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, and other high-profile incidents of killings by police. Finally, they consider hashtag created by allies, including #AllMenCan and #CrimingWhileWhite….(More)“.

Rethinking Readiness: A Brief Guide to Twenty-First-Century Megadisasters


Book by Jeff Schlegelmilch: “As human society continues to develop, we have increased the risk of large-scale disasters. From health care to infrastructure to national security, systems designed to keep us safe have also heightened the potential for catastrophe. The constant pressure of climate change, geopolitical conflict, and our tendency to ignore what is hard to grasp exacerbates potential dangers. How can we prepare for and prevent the twenty-first-century disasters on the horizon?

Rethinking Readiness offers an expert introduction to human-made threats and vulnerabilities, with a focus on opportunities to reimagine how we approach disaster preparedness. Jeff Schlegelmilch identifies and explores the most critical threats facing the world today, detailing the dangers of pandemics, climate change, infrastructure collapse, cyberattacks, and nuclear conflict. Drawing on the latest research from leading experts, he provides an accessible overview of the causes and potential effects of these looming megadisasters. The book highlights the potential for building resilient, adaptable, and sustainable systems so that we can be better prepared to respond to and recover from future crises. Thoroughly grounded in scientific and policy expertise, Rethinking Readiness is an essential guide to this century’s biggest challenges in disaster management…(More)”.

#HumanRights: The Technologies and Politics of Justice Claims in Practice


Book by Ronald Niezen: “Social justice and human rights movements are entering a new phase. Social media, artificial intelligence, and digital forensics are reshaping advocacy and compliance. Technicians, lawmakers, and advocates, sometimes in collaboration with the private sector, have increasingly gravitated toward the possibilities and dangers inherent in the nonhuman. #HumanRights examines how new technologies interact with older models of rights claiming and communication, influencing and reshaping the modern-day pursuit of justice.

Ronald Niezen argues that the impacts of information technologies on human rights are not found through an exclusive focus on sophisticated, expert-driven forms of data management but in considering how these technologies are interacting with other, “traditional” forms of media to produce new avenues of expression, public sympathy, redress of grievances, and sources of the self. Niezen considers various ways that the pursuit of justice is happening via new technologies, including crowdsourcing, social media–facilitated mobilizations (and enclosures), WhatsApp activist networks, and the selective attention of Google’s search engine algorithm. He uncovers how emerging technologies of data management and social media influence the ways that human rights claimants and their allies pursue justice, and the “new victimology” that prioritizes and represents strategic lives and types of violence over others. #HumanRights paints a striking and important panoramic picture of the contest between authoritarianism and the new tools by which people attempt to leverage human rights and bring the powerful to account….(More)”.

Turning Point Policymaking in the Era of Artificial Intelligence


Book by Darrell M. West and John R. Allen: “Until recently, “artificial intelligence” sounded like something out of science fiction. But the technology of artificial intelligence, AI, is becoming increasingly common, from self-driving cars to e-commerce algorithms that seem to know what you want to buy before you do. Throughout the economy and many aspects of daily life, artificial intelligence has become the transformative technology of our time.

Despite its current and potential benefits, AI is little understood by the larger public and widely feared. The rapid growth of artificial intelligence has given rise to concerns that hidden technology will create a dystopian world of increased income inequality, a total lack of privacy, and perhaps a broad threat to humanity itself.

In their compelling and readable book, two experts at Brookings discuss both the opportunities and risks posed by artificial intelligence—and how near-term policy decisions could determine whether the technology leads to utopia or dystopia.

Drawing on in-depth studies of major uses of AI, the authors detail how the technology actually works. They outline a policy and governance blueprint for gaining the benefits of artificial intelligence while minimizing its potential downsides.

The book offers major recommendations for actions that governments, businesses, and individuals can take to promote trustworthy and responsible artificial intelligence. Their recommendations include: creation of ethical principles, strengthening government oversight, defining corporate culpability, establishment of advisory boards at federal agencies, using third-party audits to reduce biases inherent in algorithms, tightening personal privacy requirements, using insurance to mitigate exposure to AI risks, broadening decision-making about AI uses and procedures, penalizing malicious uses of new technologies, and taking pro-active steps to address how artificial intelligence affects the workforce….(More)”.

Science Fictions: Exposing Fraud, Bias, Negligence and Hype in Science


Book by Stuart Ritchie: “So much relies on science. But what if science itself can’t be relied on?

Medicine, education, psychology, health, parenting – wherever it really matters, we look to science for guidance. Science Fictions reveals the disturbing flaws that undermine our understanding of all of these fields and more.

While the scientific method will always be our best and only way of knowing about the world, in reality the current system of funding and publishing science not only fails to safeguard against scientists’ inescapable biases and foibles, it actively encourages them. Many widely accepted and highly influential theories and claims – about ‘priming’ and ‘growth mindset’, sleep and nutrition, genes and the microbiome, as well as a host of drugs, allergies and therapies – turn out to be based on unreliable, exaggerated and even fraudulent papers. We can trace their influence in everything from austerity economics to the anti-vaccination movement, and occasionally count the cost of them in human lives….(More)”.

Digitising Democracy: On Reinventing Democracy in the Digital Era – A Legal, Political and Psychological Perspective


Book by Volker Boehme-Neßler: “This book argues that in the digital era, a reinvention of democracy is urgently necessary. It discusses the mounting evidence showing that digitalisation is pushing classical parliamentary democracy to its limits, offering examples such as how living in a filter bubble and debating with political bots is profoundly changing democratic communication, making it more emotional, hysterical even, and less rational. It also explores how classical democracy involves long, slow thinking and decision processes, which don’t fit to the ever-increasing speed of the digital world, and examines the technical developments some fear will lead to governance by algorithms.In the digitalised world, democracy no longer functions as it has in the past. This does not mean waving goodbye to democracy –  instead we need to reinvent it. How this could work is the central theme of this book….(More)”.