2017 list of emerging ethical dilemmas and policy issues in science and technology

December 21, 2016, University of Notre Dame

For the fourth year in a row, the University of Notre Dame's John J. Reilly Center for Science, Technology and Values has released a list of emerging ethical dilemmas and policy issues in science and technology. The 2017 list includes freezing brains and swarms of drones and highlights issues in robotics, neuroscience, education and medical management.

In putting out the annual list, the center aims to present items for scientists, policymakers, journalists, teachers, students and the public to consider in the coming months and years as new technologies develop.

The 2017 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 military's Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) 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 uploaded 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 EEG 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.

Explore further: Reilly Center releases its annual top 10 list of ethical dilemmas in science

More information: More information on these issues is available at reillytop10.com

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