Thinking about Aldo Leopold: Reflections on interdisciplinarity and research questions

SPECIAL GUEST: Dr. Roberta L. Millstein Department of Philosophy University of California, Davis

Wednesday, March 4 1-2 p.m. Engleman Hall A 120

Dr. Millstein will discuss her work-in-progress on the views of Aldo Leopold, a 20th-century forester, wildlife manager, ecologist, conservationist, and professor, best known for his posthumously published book  A Sand County Almanac and  the influential idea he called “THE LAND ETHIC.”

Light refreshments will be served!

Event: Earning Trust through Public Science Writing

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Wednesday, November 13 1-2 p.m. Engleman Hall A 120

Special Guest Dr. Sarah Tinker Perrault (University of California, Davis) describes how science writers can develop readers’ trust by taking on scientist-citizen roles in their writing. She will present three dimensions of trustworthiness — knowledge, integrity, and respect for readers — and demonstrate how each matters if scientists are to serve as trusted advisers on scientific topics in a public sphere characterized by uncertainty, cultural diversity, and heterogeneous and sometimes conflicting sets of values.

Following the talk, Dr. Tinker Perrault will host a science-writing workshop for those interested in learning more about how to better communicate with publics about science-related issues.

Light refreshments will be served!

For further information,  please contact Dr. Sarah Roe  at

Ethics, Information, and Our “It-from-Bit” Universe

Ethics, Information, and Our “It-from-Bit” Universe

Author: Terrell Ward Bynum
Southern Connecticut State University

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The essence of the Computer Revolution is found in the nature of a computer itself. What is revolutionary about computers is logical malleability.
James H. Moor 1985

It from bit . . . every particle, every field of force, even the spacetime continuum itself . . . derives its function, its meaning, its very existence from [bits].
John Archibald Wheeler 1990

Abstract: Using information technology, humans have brought about the “Information Revolution,” which is changing the world faster and more profoundly than ever before, and generating an enormous number of ethical “policy vacuums”. How is this possible? An answer is suggested by ideas from James Moor regarding “logical malleability,” in his classic paper “What is Computer Ethics?” (1985) The present essay combines Moor’s ideas with the hypothesis that all physical entities — including spacetime and the universe as a whole — are dynamic data structures. To show the usefulness of taking such an approach, in both physics and in computer ethics, a suggested “it-from-bit” model of the universe is briefly sketched, and relevant predictions are offered about the future of computer and information ethics.

Event: Rules for Robots: Ethics & Artificial Intelligence

Dr. Katleen Gabriels

Thursday, December 5, 3:15 Engleman A120

Abstract: Google’s search engine, Facebook’s News Feed, Amazon’s Echo: many of our everyday technologies contain Artificial Intelligence (AI). Autonomous robotic vacuum cleaners and robot lawn mowers help us at home, robotic surgical systems perform operations, and therapy chatbots such as Woebot are always ready to ‘listen’. We can even delegate moral decision making to Artificial Moral Agents.   The combination of robots and AI leads to numerous possibilities, which, in turn, also raise compelling ethical questions. Which decisions do we delegate to machines and which preferably not? And how and from ‘whom’ do self-learning AI systems actually learn?

Dr. Katleen Gabriels is a moral philosopher, specialized in computer ethics. She works as an Assistant Professor at Maastricht University, The Netherlands. She researches the relations and co-shapings between morality and contemporary technologies.  In October, her new book on technology ethics was published; the English version will be published early 2020 (Rules for Robots. Ethics & Artificial Intelligence, VUBPRESS).

Contact: Richard Volkman,