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!

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

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

Author: Terrell Ward Bynum
Southern Connecticut State University

Click here for the full text!

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,

Artificial Intelligence: an astrodynamicits’s perspective

NASA Speaker Comes to Southern

The world of astrodynamics, in the field of Artificial Intelligence: an astrodynamicits’s perspective.

With Dr. Alina Mashiku
NASA Aerospace Engineer

Wednesday, September 19, 2018
1:05 PM – 2:00 PM

Southern Connecticut State University
501 Crescent Street
New Haven, CT 06515
Building: Engleman Hall
Room: C112

Refreshments will be served!

For More Information

contact: Dr. Sarah Roe – (203) 392-6767

Made possible through funds provided by SCSU Faculity Development and our sponsor, the Research Center on Values in Emerging Science and Technology. Also sponsored by the Computer Science Department, the Physics Department, and the Philosophy Department.

Computer Programs and Humans in the movie “Her”

her a spike jones love story

by Gabriel Muniz

Machine-mediated modes of communication like emails, text messages, tweets, Facebook posts, among others, have done much to depersonalize the way we communicate in the 21st century. The ease with which users can share information, post pictures, and update profiles has, with the assistance of ever-advancing smartphones, laid the groundwork for a world where humans can live dual lives—their public person and their online persona. Social networking sites and online gaming are two arenas where this phenomenon is especially clear to see.

Both allow for the careful creation of a unique personality—games allow for avatars, figures representing particular persons in computer games, while social sites allow users to craft a more socially acceptable image. In both instances, the more users remain enchanted with earning upgrades for their avatar, or the most Facebook “likes” among friends, the more the line between the real world and online amusement becomes blurred. Human relationships, said to be enlivened by the constant communication with significant others, instead suffer. Users end up as the title of Sherry Turkle’s book puts it: “Alone Together, expecting more from technology and less from each other.”

The recently-released film “Her” explores such a theme. A science-fiction romantic comedy drama chronicling the life of a man who develops a relationship with an intelligent computer operating system (OS) that has a female voice and personality, the film explores the degree to which technology can bring reassuring comfort, and at the same time, unintentionally cause self-alienation and relational friction. A New York Times review says the following about the movie: “At once a brilliant conceptual gag and a deeply sincere romance, “Her” is the unlikely yet completely plausible love story about a man, who sometimes resembles a machine, and an operating system, who very much suggests a living woman” (Dargis).

In the movie “Her,” the protagonist Theodore Twombly (played by Joaquin Phoenix), while working for a business that composes heartfelt, intimate letters for people who are unwilling or unable to write letters of personal nature, is himself a lonely introverted man. In private, like a recluse in the real world who creates an alter personality with which to use online, Theodore spends most of his time at home playing a 3D video game projected into his living room where he can do what he fails to do in public: explore and interact with others. Theodore is later driven to purchase a newly-released operating system with which to curb his loneliness and heartache (he is in the midst of tragic divorce as well). An irony worth noting is the fact that Theodore cannot do what the OS he falls in love with can do; namely, adapt and evolve. Theodore fails to confront the changing and challenging circumstances in his life, instead finding refuge, and eventually love, in an operating system that names itself Samantha.

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