Issues Magazine

Articles about ethics

Ethics of the Singularity

By Kevin B. Korb and Ann E. Nicholson

Creating a general artificial intelligence with intellectual capabilities similar to our own may well launch a technological singularity. This possibility is a key issue for the future of the AI community and of human society.

One of the first to consider seriously the idea of the singularity was the philosopher and computer scientist I.J. Good in 1965:

Fur and against: Scrutinizing the efficacy of animal testing and its alternatives

By Dyani Lewis

Toxicologist and pharmacologist Prof Thomas Hartung explains why animal testing is often unnecessary or of questionable efficacy. He discusses the emerging protocols and technologies that enable development of safe products without the need to conduct animal testing.


Animal Ethics Committees: Gatekeepers of Animal Research

 Source: (CC by 2.0)

Macaque monkeys used for research in an animal testing laboratory. Monkeys are socially housed and have play toys for environmental enrichment. Source: (CC by 2.0)

By Lynette Chave and Peter Johnson

Animal ethics committees are a way for the community to participate in decision-making about the care and use of animals in research.

What types of activity come to mind at the mention of animal research? Many people might think of monkeys with skull implants, dogs undergoing surgery or rabbits having substances put in their eyes. In reality, the scope of what constitutes “animal research”, and the laws that govern this in Australia, are much broader, and the typical images much rarer.

Wild animals are starving, and it's our fault, so should we feed them?

By Freya Mathews

As polar bears begin to die of starvation in a warming Arctic, should we be feeding them? What are the ethical implications of feeding wild animals brought to this point by human actions?

A polar bear found starved to death on an Arctic archipelago in August 2013 has prompted renewed calls for food drops and even feeding pens for polar bears.