The John J. Reilly Center for Science, Technology and Values at the University of Notre Dame has released its annual list of emerging ethical dilemmas and policy issues facing the science and technology communities. This year’s group includes brain "hacking," swarms of drones used as warfare and research designed to predict criminality.
The center says the list is issued for consideration by scientists, policymakers, journalists, teachers, students and the public.
The center says the full list includes:
- NeuV’s "emotion engine" – A blend of artificial intelligence, robotics and big data that lets your car know how you’re feeling.
- Swarm warfare – The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency is looking for a way for drones to act in unison so that hundreds or thousands can be controlled on the battlefield at the same time.
- Reanimating cryonics – An old fad that now aims to freeze your brain so it can be downloaded into a computer in the future.
- Edublocks – By 2026 we may have a large marketplace of informal experts and learners exchanging skills and knowledge for money, buying and selling education piece-by-piece.
- Brain hacking – Wearable devices that measure electronic brain waves are easy to come by, but a simple hack into your headset could reveal a whole host of your most private information.
- The self-healing body – There are at least two projects going on now that aim to create bots so small they can move through your blood or attach to your nerve endings. Either by electrical stimulation or a release of chemicals, these bots may regulate our bodies before we even know something is wrong.
- Medical ghost management – Pharmaceutical companies can hire firms to perform their clinical trials, write up the research, find academics to put their names on publications, place them in journals and run their marketing campaigns. An invisible and monumental conflict of interest.
- Predicting criminality – Two researchers are returning to the pseudoscience of physiognomy, claiming they can program a computer to guess with great accuracy whether or not someone is a criminal.
- Automated politics – What can we do about the thousands of Twitter bots that post hundreds of times a day with the purpose of misleading voters and skewing public opinion?
- The robot cloud – A combination of massive data transfers between robots and programming robots to solve problems in their “dreams” means it’s time to talk about how much autonomy we should give them.