The Ethics Blog

A blog from the Centre for Research Ethics & Bioethics (CRB)

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Science and society: a changing framework and the role of RRI (by Daniele Mezzana)

The STARBIOS2 project has carried out its activities in a context of the profound transformations that affect contemporary societies, and now we are all facing the Covid-19 pandemic. Science and society have always coevolved, they are interconnected entities, but their relationship is changing and it has been for some time. This shift from modern to […]

We do not know if cancer patients receive better treatment by participating in clinical trials

How do we know? That is the recurring question in a scientific culture. Do we have support for what we claim or is it just an opinion? Is there evidence? The development of new cancer treatments provides many examples of the recurring question. The pharmaceutical company would like to be able to claim that the […]

Inspiration for responsible research and innovation

Our attitude to science is changing. Can we talk solemnly about it anymore as a unified endeavor, or even about sciences? It seems more apt to talk about research activities that produce useful and applicable knowledge. Science has been dethroned, it seems. In the past, we revered it as free and independent search for the […]

Anthropomorphism in AI can limit scientific and technological development

Anthropomorphism almost seems inscribed in research on artificial intelligence (AI). Ever since the beginning of the field, machines have been portrayed in terms that normally describe human abilities, such as understanding and learning. The emphasis is on similarities between humans and machines, while differences are downplayed. Like when it is claimed that machines can perform […]

We cannot control everything: the philosophical dimensions of life

Life always surpasses us. We thought we were in control, but then something unexpected happens that seems to upset the order. A storm, a forest fire, a pandemic. Life appears as a drawing in sand, the contours of which suddenly dissolve. Of course, it is not that definitive. Even a storm, a forest fire, a […]

Proceed carefully with vaccine against covid-19

Pharmaceutical companies want to quickly manufacture a vaccine against covid-19, with human testing and launch in the market as soon as possible. In a debate article, Jessica Nihlén Fahlquist at CRB warns of the risk of losing the larger risk perspective: “Tests on people and a potential premature mass vaccination entail risks. It is easy […]

What is a moral machine?

I recently read an article about so-called moral robots, which I found clarifying in many ways. The philosopher John-Stewart Gordon points out pitfalls that non-ethicists – robotics researchers and AI programmers – may fall into when they try to construct moral machines. Simply because they lack ethical expertise. The first pitfall is the rookie mistakes. […]

Herb Terrace about the chimpanzee Nim – do you see the contradiction?

Have you seen small children make repeated attempts to squeeze a square object through a round hole (plastic toy for the little ones)? You get puzzled: Do they not see that it is impossible? The object and the hole have different shapes! Sometimes adults are just as puzzling. Our intellect does not always fit reality. […]

What shall we eat? An ethical framework for food choices (By Anna T. Höglund)

To reflect ethically on what we eat has been part of Western culture for centuries. In pre-modern times, the focus was mainly on the consumption of food, although it varied whether the emphasis was on the amount of food one should eat (as in ancient Greece) or on what kind of food one was allowed […]

Artificial intelligence and living consciousness

The Ethics Blog will publish several posts on artificial intelligence in the future. Today, I just want to make a little observation of something remarkable. The last century was marked by fear of human consciousness. Our mind seemed as mystic as the soul, as superfluous in a scientific age as God. In psychology, behaviorism flourished, […]

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