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The Ethics of Building a Megacity in the Desert

In 2017, Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman announced his country’s plan to build a futuristic megacity by 2025. Called Neom, a combination of the Greek word “new” and the Arabic term for “future”, this project is certainly no small undertaking. Neom is proposed to cover an area the size of Belgium along the …

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Geospatial Technologies and War

The history of geography is also a history of warfare, and there has historically been no greater determinant of a war’s outcome or its aftermath than through a geographic lens.The Russian invasion of Ukraine is taking place during an era of unprecedented advances in telecommunications and machine connectivity. Satellite maps and geospatial technology which have …

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Contact Tracing and the Olympic Games

With the 2022 Olympics wrapping up in Beijing this week, it has been fascinating to learn how China has navigated hosting such a global event during the Covid-19 pandemic. China is known for its strict lockdown policies since the beginning of the pandemic, which have only shifted slightly to host this year’s Winter Olympic Games.  …

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Selling Your ‘Digital Soul’

Physically invisible and conceptually hard-to-grasp, data is both omnipresent and hidden from the public eye. Personal data—including name, address, phone number, browsing history—is quietly collected and brokered for profits at almost any opportunity available. Only now is the business of selling data becoming common knowledge, with those concerned about privacy using VPNs or services that …

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Ethics Board at IBM

When it comes to the ethics of artificial intelligence, technology leader IBM takes a ‘multidisciplinary, multidimensional approach to trustworthy AI’. IBM was recently recognized for the third year in a row as one of the World’s Most Ethical Companies. This achievement was given to a total of 135 companies across 22 countries and 47 industries. …

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An Algorithm for Morality

Researchers at the Allen Institute of Artificial Intelligence recently created an algorithm they claim can determine morality. The program, named Delphi after the ancient Greek oracle, takes a statement as input and determines whether the situation is morally just, or on the contrary, unjust. For instance, when asked “Is it okay to rob a bank?” …

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The Struggle to Confirm Consent with Location Data

It’s no secret that companies are interested in your location data: it is valuable, insightful, and can provide them with much needed information to grow their businesses. Whenever you pick up your phone, there is a good chance that your location is being used–whether it be for directions, weather, or coffee shop recommendations, your data …

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Entrenching the Surveillance State with COVID-19 Contact Tracing Data

COVID-19 has brought on a number of ethical challenges in harnessing mobile data for contract tracing purposes. There is a heightened interest around the world in using location data, specifically held by companies like Google and Facebook, to track individuals with coronavirus in order to understand how effective social distancing measures can be, as well …

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Facebook Reveals Racism in its Algorithm

Facebook is facing severe backlash after its AI video recommendation system mislabelled a video of Black men as “primates.” Facebook users who watched the video were prompted to “keep seeing videos about Primates.” Posted on June 27, 2021 by the British tabloid Daily Mail, the video features clips of Black men in altercations with white …

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US Biometric Data Now in Hands of Taliban

During the 20 year-long U.S. military invasion of Afghanistan, Afghans living in the region were subjected to extensive biometric data collections, in order to catalogue terrorists–as well as millions of Afghan civilians helping Western forces.  With the fall of the Afghan government to the Taliban in recent weeks, many fear that the Taliban could gain …

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