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Archive for the ‘Morality’ Category

 

Brain to Brain interface in real time. It has happened. Now what?

via BBC News – One rat brain ‘talks’ to another using electronic link.

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“Now, it should be noted that the researchers aren’t trying to emulate a complete honey bee brain, but rather two specific and complex functions within it, namely vision and sense of smell.”

“By isolating and modeling these particular functions, the researchers hope to provide their flying robot with the cognitive power required to perform basic tasks — and without a set of pre-programmed instructions. It is hoped, for example, that the robotic bee will be able to detect particular odors or gasses in the same way that real bee can identify certain flowers.”

via New project aims to upload a honey bee’s brain into a flying insectobot by 2015.

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Being Cruel: It’s Not Blind Obedience; There is Enthusiasm in the Act

We’ve relied on the Milgram Experiment (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Milgram_experiment) and the Stanford Prison Experiment (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stanford_prison_experiment) for explaining how and why ordinary people, like ourselves, can commit acts of extreme cruelty and harm. While they tell part of the story, it seems we may have overlooked other important pieces of human motivation inherent to committing cruel acts. 

A new study argues that “…tyranny does not result from blind conformity to rules and roles. Rather, it is a creative act of followership, resulting from identifying with authorities who represent vicious acts as virtuous. “Decent people participate in horrific acts not because they become passive, mindless functionaries who do not know what they are doing, but rather because they come to believe—typically under the influence of those in authority—that what they are doing is right,” Professor Haslam explained.”

via Human obedience: The myth of blind conformity.

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Conclusions

What can we do to encourage people to help more?

  1. Present them with a single, identifiable victim who they can help: people are more motivated to help if they can feel a personal connection with the victim.

  2. Appeal to their emotions: heightened emotional responses encourage altruistic behaviour.

  3. Instill a sense of responsibility to help, and an understanding that doing so is not futile.

via Blog: Why don’t people help others more? – part 1 | 80,000 Hours.

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Human animals have always had a hefty egoic sense of exceptionalism which has proven harmful, and often lethal, to all other animals. We tell ourselves we are the only animals who can feel pain, then discover most other creatures have fully

 functioning nervous systems. We tell ourselves we are the only animals with emotional capacities, so we call evidence of emotions in other animals “merely instinct”. We tell ourselves we are the only animals with a sense of morality, until we experience it in animals with whom we have become familiar.

Human Beings may seem exceptional to themselves, but in the whole scope of things, we are just one member of a very large tribe of living creatures, all of whom are in various stages of evolutionary adaptation.

via Mark Rowlands – Animal morality.

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P
eople aren’t really stupid.

These people are not stupid. These people were well educated and intellectually groomed. Stupid isn’t the right word for these people.

These people were susceptible. Their individual and collective egos were reaching up towards an ideal which held them as superior beings.

I proffer that this type of egoic reaction is somewhat involuntary. Many are able to resist the enticement of superiority, or worship, of self-aggrandizement, but eventually all but the rarest of creatures gives way and wallows within the hope of it.

I think it is a security vulnerability in the software of the human brain. Just as we rush to prepare patches to shore up the vulnerabilities on our technological counterparts, so, too, could we rush to prepare a patch for this paradigm shifting vulnerability which has been repeatedly exploited throughout history by those who have a clear understanding of how it works.

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For many people, meat and leather are an ethical and environmental nightmare, causing misery to billions of animals and wreaking havoc on the planet’s ecosystems.

The company Modern Meadow is one of the cutting edge labs working on in-vitro meat and now have announced in-vitro leather, too.

Within the next decade, there will be no excuse other than cruelty to eat the flesh of non-human animals or to wear their skins.

Now, that’s progress!

via Modern Meadow plans on producing lab-grown leather.

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Think your moral choices are clear, concise and firm? Read this and think again.

Choice Blindness is a phenomena occurring in the areas of taste, smell and aesthetic appeal. Now, moral choice has been shown to be just as malleable. So, what is choice blindness? and why does it matter?

A simple test was conducted by researchers at Lund University. They asked random people walking through a park if they would fill out a simple questionaire about their moral principles. The questions covered topics ranging from prosititution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Surveys were filled out by 160 people, but unknown to the participants, there was a trick to them (see video): While the second page of the survey was being completed, the statements on the first page of the survey were surreptitiously changed to the opposite moral position, while leaving the participants answers the same.

Then, the participants were asked to read three of the moral positions on page 1, including two which had been altered, and discuss their response to them. The results were surprising.

HALF of the participants did not detect the changes at all. 69% accepted at least one of the altered statements. An unimaginable 53% argued unequivocally for the reversed moral position.

This is “choice blindness”. It demonstrates how malleable and flexible people really are.

A psychologist adds, “These findings suggest that if I’m fooled into thinking that I endorse a view, I’ll do the work myself to come up with my own reasons [for endorsing it],” .

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KO_cDCoRACg&feature=player_embedded

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When 25 of the top minds in the world met earlier this year to discuss non-human animal consciousness, they were compelled to issue a declaration regarding their momentous conclusions. They, as a scientific body of experts, declared to the world “Non-human animals are conscious creatures”. 

Their “Declaration of Animal Consciousness” is a simple document laying out the facts and points of their findings. 

Humans, being conscious and intelligent creatures, will now begin a (likely) slow process of redefining our relationships to, and our treatment of, the other other animals with which we share this planet. 

We are moving fast in the direction of major scientific discoveries and breakthroughs. Technology gives us an edge not previously known to mankind. What will we do when the first robot passes the Turing Test? What if we make “first contact” with beings not of our own kind? What kind of protocol will advanced beings have regarding us? What kind of protocol would we like them to have? 

We are learning more and more about our own cosmos. Each discovery moves us in the direction of understanding more, and requiring large shifts, at times, of our current view of ourselves and the cosmos which we inhabit. How do we better implement these new pieces of knowledge and understanding? How can we streamline the process to make the understanding known to all humans faster, quicker and with efficiency?

via Non-Human Consciousness Exists Say Experts. Now What? – Forbes.

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On the morning of May 24, 1987, sometime after 1:30 A.M., a 23-year-old Canadian named Kenneth Parks drove 14 miles to his in-laws’ home, strangled his father-in-law to the point of unconsciousness, and beat and stabbed his mother-in-law to death. A year later he was acquitted of both assault and murder. After a careful investigation, specialists reached the astonishing conclusion that Parks had been sleepwalking—and sleep driving and sleep attacking—during the incident.

Neuroscience will inform our justice system in the very near future. It is already having an impact. Does this defense qualify? or is it just another cop-out murder defense?

via Are Sleepwalking Killers Conscious?: Scientific American.

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