Atheism and Transhumanism, Ethics and Automation

We’ve got a couple articles on ethics and automation this morning, with Aeon Magazine giving an large overview and Singularity transhumanism and religionHub looking at robots writing news stories. Michael Sacasas covered this topic for us several weeks ago in his Conscience of a Machine.

We’ve also got an article on the ethics of Twitter with a particularly catchy title, and a peak into what an atheist is saying about the “transformative cultural storm” of transhumanism.

Can we design systems to automate ethics? – Aeon Magazine

What happens, though, when we are not simply programming ever-nimbler procedures into our tools, but instead using them to help determine the principles behind these decisions in the first place: the weighting of triage, the moment at which a chemical plant’s doors are automatically sealed in the event of crisis? At the other end of the scale, we might ask: should we seek to value all human lives equally, by outsourcing our incomes and efforts to the discipline of an AI’s equitable distribution? Taxation is a flawed solution to the problem; but, with determination and ingenuity, brilliant programs can surely do better. And if machines, under certain conditions, are better than us, then what right do we have to go on blundering our way through decisions likely only to end badly for the species?

More News is Being Written by Robots than You Think – Singularity Hub

Software is writing news stories with increasing frequency. In a recent example, an LA Times writer-bot wrote and posted a snippet about an earthquake three minutes after the event. The LA Times claims they were first to publish anything on the quake, and outside the USGS, they probably were.

When Jesus Said “Follow Me” Did He Mean “On Twitter?” Ethics and Social Networking – Roger E. Olson

We think of social networking software as a tool we use while, in fact, we often become its tools. It uses us. Like all technology, social networking technology, henceforth “SNT,” raises questions about what it means to be human, to be persons, to be good persons. The paradox of SNT is that it has the power to enhance community and to destroy community. Christians and humanists agree that community lies close to the center of what it means to be human; we are created for each other, for healthy relationships, for the common good. Our good depends on the common good; we cannot be islands. “It is what it is” will not suffice when thinking about SNT because it has such power. A better saying would be “It is what it does to us.”

I’m an Atheist, Therefore I’m a Transhumanist – Huffington Post

Sometime in the next decade, the number of worldwide godless people — atheists, agnostics, and those unaffiliated with religion — is likely to break through the billion-person mark. Many in this massive group already champion reason, defend science, welcome radical technologies, and implicitly trust and embrace modern medicine. They are, indeed, already transhumanists. Yet many of them don’t know it because they haven’t thought much about it. However, that is about to change. A transformative cultural storm comprised of radical life improving technologies is set to blow in soon.


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About the Contributor

Benjamin Robertson

Benjamin Robertson
Benjamin Robertson is a founding editor at Second Nature. He has worked in advertising for the Chicago Tribune and Gannett, and now is a web developer at Mediacurrent. He studied Communications and Media Studies under Dr. Read Schuchardt at Wheaton College in Illinois. He has presented papers on Marshall McLuhan, media ecology, and Christianity at the Media Ecology Association, National Communication Association, and the McLuhan's Philosophy of Media Centennial Conference in Brussels. He lives with his wife, Ruth, in Greenville, SC. His personal website is

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