Peer-Reviewed Journal Publications
Umbrello, Steven; Baum, Seth D
In: Futures, vol. 100, no. June, pp. 63–73, 2018, ISSN: 00163287.
Atomically precise manufacturing (APM) is the assembly of materials with atomic precision. APM does not currently exist, and may not be feasible, but if it is feasible, then the societal impacts could be dramatic. This paper assesses the net societal impacts of APM across the full range of important APM sectors: general material wealth, environmental issues, military affairs, surveillance, artificial intelligence, and space travel. Positive effects were found for material wealth, the environment, military affairs (specifically nuclear disarmament), and space travel. Negative effects were found for military affairs (specifically rogue actor violence and AI. The net effect for surveillance was ambiguous. The effects for the environment, military affairs, and AI appear to be the largest, with the environment perhaps being the largest of these, suggesting that APM would be net beneficial to society. However, these factors are not well quantified and no definitive conclusion can be made. One conclusion that can be reached is that if APM R&D is pursued, it should go hand-in-hand with effective governance strategies to increase the benefits and reduce the harms.
In: Journal of Responsible Innovation, vol. 5, no. 2, pp. 186–200, 2018, ISSN: 2329-9460.
This paper argues that although moral intuitions are insufficient for making judgments on new technological innovations, they maintain great utility for informing responsible innovation. To do this, this paper employs the Value Sensitive Design (VSD) methodology as an illustrative example of how stakeholder values can be better distilled to inform responsible innovation. Further, it is argued that moral intuitions are necessary for determining stakeholder values required for the design of responsible technologies. This argument is supported by the claim that the moral intuitions of stakeholders allow designers to conceptualize stakeholder values and incorporate them into the early phases of design. It is concluded that design-for-values (DFV) frameworks like the VSD methodology can remain potent if developers adopt heuristic tools to diminish the influence of cognitive biases thus strengthening the reliability of moral intuitions.
In: Futures, vol. 98, no. April, pp. 90–91, 2018, ISSN: 00163287.
A new book by Phil Torres, Morality, Foresight, and Human Flourishing: An Introduction to Existential Risks, is reviewed. Morality, Foresight and Human Flourishing is a primer intended to introduce students and interested scholars to the concepts and literature on existential risk. The book's core methodology is to outline the various existential risks currently discussed in different disciplines and provides novel strategies for risk mitigation. The book is stylistically engaging, lucid and academically current, providing both novice readers and seasoned scholars with an easy-to-read introduction to risk studies. The book is by far the most engaging and comprehensive volume on risk studies aimed at captivating new scholars to the field.
Humankind: solidarity with nonhuman people Journal Article
In: Journal of Critical Realism, vol. 17, no. 1, pp. 84–86, 2018, ISSN: 1476-7430.
A new book by Timothy Morton, Humankind: Solidarity with Nonhuman People, is reviewed. Humankind: Solidarity with Nonhuman People is a project into the applied political ethics that emerge between speculative realism and Marxism. This book is intended to build on the object-oriented ontology that Morton has espoused in previous volumes, however with a greater emphasis on normative politics. The book's core methodology is to outline the various neologisms that Morton employs and incorporate those speculative realist terms into a retooling of Marxist. The book dialogue prose is a poetic tour de force that is both academically and philosophically rigorous. Morton provides a novel reworking of Marxist theory that can exist on the cutting edge of continental philosophy.
A Theory of Everything? Journal Article
In: Cultural Studies Review, vol. 24, no. 2, pp. 184–186, 2018.
Harman is generally regarded as the father of object-oriented ontology, one of the few
instantiations of speculative realism, a philosophical position that criticizes the anthropocentric
post-Kantian position that all being is the reduction of the correlation between human
cognition and the object of inquiry.His 1999 doctoral dissertation “Tool-Being: Elements
in a Theory of Objects,” launched the term ‘object-oriented philosophy,' which Levi Bryant
rechristened as an ontology in 2009. Both terms are used synonymously by speculative realists,
although Bryant's formulation has greater typological appeal. With this book, Harman ignites
the philosophical domain by providing the first dedicated account of OOO for a general
A Review of Leonardo Caffo and Azzurra Muzzonigro's Journal Article
In: Journal of Futures Studies, vol. 23, no. 1, pp. 101–103, 2018.
Modernism has provided a strong case for technoprogressivism, innovation and speculation on future possibilities. However, drastic and often devastating consequences have followed modernism such as global warming and mass biodiversity loss. In Leonardo Caffo and Azzurra Muzzonigro's new book 1 , a case for posthumanism as a means for envisioning and rethinking futures studies is argued and practical means by which those futures can be realized are outlined. A critique of modernity and grand narratives of unification, Caffo and Muzzonigro aim to revaluate contemporaneity to imagine more authentic futures and the means by which peoples can realize them. At its core, Costruire Futuri (literally, Constructing Futures) is a prototypical work in posthumanist ethics, but anything but aprototypical in its execution. The authors contend that the hybridization between the disciplines of philosophy, art and architecture are essential engines for change. Similarly, the book itself is constructed as a hybrid project rather than one of simple interdisciplinarity, one that hybridizes the three disciplines as co-constituting one another. The central thesis here is that constructing futures means correcting past errors as if they are causes rather than mere consequences. The past is alive, embodied and continually transforming current and future practices. Similarly, envisioned futures shape the present and affect the hermeneutics of the past.
Umbrello, Steven; Bellis, Angelo F De
In: Yampolskiy, Roman V (Ed.): Artificial Intelligence Safety and Security, pp. 395–410, CRC Press, 2018, ISBN: 9780815369820.
This chapter proposed a novel design methodology called Value-Sensitive Design and its potential application to the field of artificial intelligence research and design. It discusses the imperatives in adopting a design philosophy that embeds values into the design of artificial agents at the early stages of AI development. Because of the high risk stakes in the unmitigated design of artificial agents, this chapter proposes that even though VSD may turn out to be a less-than-optimal design methodology, it currently provides a framework that has the potential to embed stakeholder values and incorporate current design methods. The reader should begin to take away the importance of a proactive design approach to intelligent agents
Designing in Ethics Journal Article
In: Prometheus: Critical Studies in Innovation, vol. 35, no. 2, pp. 160–161, 2017, ISBN: 9780511844317.
Many of our interactions in the twenty-first century - both good and bad - take place by means of institutions, technology, and artefacts. We inhabit a world of implements, instruments, devices, systems, gadgets, and infrastructures. Technology is not only something that we make, but is also something that in many ways makes us. The discipline of ethics must take this constitutive feature of institutions and technology into account; thus, ethics must in turn be embedded in our institutions and technology. The contributors to this book argue that the methodology of 'designing in ethics' - addressing and resolving the issues raised by technology through the use of appropriate technological design - is the way to achieve this integration. They apply their original methodology to a wide range of institutions and technologies, using case studies from the fields of healthcare, media and security. Their volume will be important for philosophical practitioners and theorists alike.
The Rise of Realism Journal Article
In: International Journal of Actor-Network Theory and Technological Innovation, vol. 9, no. 2, pp. 63–66, 2017, ISBN: 9781509519026.
A new book by Manuel DeLanda and Graham Harman, The Rise of Realism, is reviewed. The Rise of Realism is an introductory text that aims to clarify the difficulties that surround the philosophical concepts of realism and materialism (as well as their antitheses). This primer intended to introduce students and interested scholars to the concepts and literature on realism and its place in the continental tradition of philosophy and related social theory. The book’s core methodology is to outline the various appropriations of the terms realism and materialism currently discussed in different sub-disciplines of philosophy as well as provide the reader with the authors’ own unique positions on realism. The book dialogue prose is stylistically engaging, lucid and academically current, providing both novice readers and seasoned scholars with an easy-to-read exploration of current continental thought that also has far-reaching implications for other disciplines such as critical theory, social theory and science and technology studies.