Friday, May 13, 2016

Episode #3 - Sven Nyholm on Love Enhancement, Deep Brain Stimulation and the Ethics of Self Driving Cars


This is the third episode in the Algocracy and Transhumanism project podcast. In this episode I talk to Sven Nyholm who is an Assistant Professor of Philosophy at the Eindhoven University of Technology. Sven has a background in Kantian philosophy and currently does a lot of work on the ethics of technology. We have a wide ranging conversation, circling around three main themes: (i) how technology changes what we value (using the specific example of love enhancement technologies); (ii) how technology might affect the true self (using the example of deep brain stimulation technologies) and (iii) how to design ethical decision-making algorithms (using the example of self-driving cars).

The work discussed in this podcast on deep brain stimulation and the design of ethical algorithms is being undertaken by Sven in collaboration with two co-authors: Elizabeth O'Neill (in the case of DBS) and Jilles Smids (in the case of self-driving cars). Unfortunately we neglected to mention this during our conversation. I have provided links to their work above and below.

Anyway, you can download the podcast here, listen below or subscribe on Stitcher or iTunes.


Show Notes

0:00 - 1:30 - Introduction to Sven

1:30 - 7:30 - The idea of love enhancement

7:30 - 10:30 - Objections to love enhancement

10:30 - 12:30 - The medicalisation objection to love enhancement

12:30 - 21:10 - Medicalisation as an evaluative category mistake

21:10 - 24:00 - Can you favour love enhancement and still value love in the right way?

24:00 - 28:10 - Evaluative category mistakes in other debates about technology

28:10 - 30:50 - The use of deep brain stimulation (DBS) technology

30:50 - 35:20 - Reported effects of DBS on personal identity

35:20 - 41:20 - Narrative Identity vs True Self in debates about DBS

41:20 - 46:25 - Is the true self an expression of values? Can DBS help in its expression?

46:25 - 50:30 - Use of DBS to treat patients with Anorexia Nervosa

50:30 - 55:20 - Ethical algorithms in the design of self-driving cars

55:20 - 1:02:40 - Is the trolley problem a useful starting point?

1:02:40 - 1:06:30 - The importance of legal and moral responsibility in the design of ethical algorithms

1:06:30 - 1:09:00 - The important of uncertainty and risk in the design of ethical algorithms

1:09:00 - end - Should moral uncertainty be factored into the design?  


  • Jilles Smids (Sven's Co-author on ethical algorithms for self-driving cars)

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