Sometimes, the best way to illustrate a complicated philosophical concept is by framing it as a story or situation. Here are nine such thought experiments with downright disturbing implications.
There’s been a lot of discussion over the ethics of posting violent livestreams on Facebook, and the social media site has decided to release subjective guidelines: if a person posts violent content to “raise awareness,” the video can stay. If someone shared the same video to mock the victim, it will be removed.
The hammer has finally dropped on blood-testing startup Theranos and its beleaguered CEO Elizabeth Holmes. US federal health regulators have announced their decision to ban Holmes from operating a lab for two years, while withdrawing regulatory approval for its California lab.
In an effort to learn more about the dreaded disease, the National Institutes of Health is funding a study in which a group of US athletes, coaches, and staff will be monitored for exposure to the Zika virus while attending the 2016 Summer Olympics and Paralympics in Brazil.
A recent survey shows that people want self-driving cars to be programmed to minimize casualties during a crash, even if it causes the death of the rider. Trouble is, the same survey shows that people don’t actually want to ride in cars that are programmed this way. That’s obviously a problem—and we’re going to have…
Here we go again: A jaguar that was brought out during an Olympic torch event earlier this week was shot and killed shortly afterward when it escaped its handlers. The local Games organizing committee is now investigating the incident, but animal welfare advocates say the big cat should never have been there in the…
Six months after researchers in China bioengineered monkeys to have autism, a Japanese team of scientists has used the same technology to create monkeys with Parkinson’s. It’s a scientific first, and it could lead to effective treatments—but do the ends justify the means?
A former Pentagon official is warning that autonomous weapons would likely be uncontrollable in real-world situations thanks to design failures, hacking, and external manipulation. The answer, he says, is to always keep humans “in the loop.”
Researchers in China have genetically engineered monkeys to exhibit autistic-like behaviors, including impaired social skills and increased anxiety. This research is poised to improve our understanding of brain disorders, but ethicists say the harm endured by these monkeys is simply not worth it.
An international team of neuroscientists claims to have successfully carried out a head transplant on a monkey, along with other related experiments. But because the details haven’t been published, experts remain skeptical.
Asshat Martin Shkreli, the pharmaceutical entrepreneur who was arrested last week on charges of security fraud, has been removed from his post as CEO of drugmaker KaloBios.
There were an alarming number of science scandals in 2015, from fabricated data to sexual harassment. Here are our picks for the worst of the worst.
People at the end of life may not actually be the best target for expensive drugs.
The U.S. National Institutes of Health has stopped funding experiments in which human stem cells are transplanted into the embryo of an animal. Now, a group of researchers from Stanford University are speaking out, claiming that the restrictions are holding back important medical research—and that the NIH’s reasons…
Devices like laser-guided bombs and nonlethal weapons have the potential to reduce civilian casualties and wanton suffering. But as these new technologies emerge, are humans actually becoming more ethical about waging war, or is killing just becoming easier?
Last year, scientists in China used a gene-editing technique to produce pint-sized pigs for medical research. Now they want to sell them as pets. Critics say the precedent could lead to bizarre versions of cats and dogs, while at the same time preventing biologists from focusing on more important research.
A recent campaign argues that a ban should be placed on the development of sex robots. While well-intentioned, it’s a shortsighted idea that fails to recognize the ways in which these technologies will help us explore new ideas of inclusivity, legality, and social change.
Off-license users of modafinil—a drug developed to treat various sleep disorders—have known for some time that it doubles as a surprisingly effective cognitive enhancer, and with very few side effects. A new systematic review shows it’s true, raising some important ethical questions about the use of smart drugs.
Sure, who wouldn’t want to be more creative? But what about a pill to improve your self-control, or sociability? What if you enjoy being impulsive, or revel in your alone time? If a pharmacological enhancement changed a defining aspect of your personality, how would it change your perception of that enhancement?
Earlier this summer, more than a thousand prominent thinkers and specialists signed an open letter calling for a ban on autonomous killing machines. Since then, a number of critics have condemned the motion, citing it as both dangerous and useless. Optimization researcher Toby Walsh explains why we shouldn’t be so…