The Diffuse Intelligent Other: An Ontology of Nonlocalizable Robots as Moral and Legal Actors

In Social Robots: Boundaries, Potential, Challenges, edited by Marco Nørskov, pp. 177-98 • Farnham: Ashgate, 2016

ABSTRACT: Much thought has been given to the question of who bears moral and legal responsibility for actions performed by robots. Some argue that responsibility could be attributed to a robot if it possessed human-like autonomy and metavolitionality, and that while such capacities can potentially be possessed by a robot with a single spatially compact body, they cannot be possessed by a spatially disjunct, decentralized collective such as a robotic swarm or network. However, advances in ubiquitous robotics and distributed computing open the door to a new form of robotic entity that possesses a unitary intelligence, despite the fact that its cognitive processes are not confined within a single spatially compact, persistent, identifiable body. Such a “nonlocalizable” robot may possess a body whose myriad components interact with one another at a distance and which is continuously transforming as components join and leave the body. Here we develop an ontology for classifying such robots on the basis of their autonomy, volitionality, and localizability. Using this ontology, we explore the extent to which nonlocalizable robots—including those possessing cognitive abilities that match or exceed those of human beings—can be considered moral and legal actors that are responsible for their own actions.

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Managing the Ethical Dimensions of Brain-Computer Interfaces in eHealth: An SDLC-based Approach

In 9th Annual EMAB Conference: Innovation, Entrepreneurship and Digital Ecosystems (EUROMED 2016) Book of Proceedings, edited by Demetris Vrontis, Yaakov Weber, and Evangelos Tsoukatos, pp. 876-90 • Engomi: EuroMed Press, 2016

ABSTRACT: A growing range of brain-computer interface (BCI) technologies is being employed for purposes of therapy and human augmentation. While much thought has been given to the ethical implications of such technologies at the ‘macro’ level of social policy and ‘micro’ level of individual users, little attention has been given to the unique ethical issues that arise during the process of incorporating BCIs into eHealth ecosystems. In this text a conceptual framework is developed that enables the operators of eHealth ecosystems to manage the ethical components of such processes in a more comprehensive and systematic way than has previously been possible. The framework’s first axis defines five ethical dimensions that must be successfully addressed by eHealth ecosystems: 1) beneficence; 2) consent; 3) privacy; 4) equity; and 5) liability. The second axis describes five stages of the systems development life cycle (SDLC) process whereby new technology is incorporated into an eHealth ecosystem: 1) analysis and planning; 2) design, development, and acquisition; 3) integration and activation; 4) operation and maintenance; and 5) disposal. Known ethical issues relating to the deployment of BCIs are mapped onto this matrix in order to demonstrate how it can be employed by the managers of eHealth ecosystems as a tool for fulfilling ethical requirements established by regulatory standards or stakeholders’ expectations. Beyond its immediate application in the case of BCIs, we suggest that this framework may also be utilized beneficially when incorporating other innovative forms of information and communications technology (ICT) into eHealth ecosystems.

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Information Security Concerns as a Catalyst for the Development of Implantable Cognitive Neuroprostheses

In 9th Annual EMAB Conference: Innovation, Entrepreneurship and Digital Ecosystems (EUROMED 2016) Book of Proceedings, edited by Demetris Vrontis, Yaakov Weber, and Evangelos Tsoukatos, pp. 891-904 • Engomi: EuroMed Press, 2016

ABSTRACT: Standards like the ISO 27000 series, IEC/TR 80001, NIST SP 1800, and FDA guidance on medical device cybersecurity define the responsibilities that manufacturers and operators bear for ensuring the information security of implantable medical devices. In the case of implantable cognitive neuroprostheses (ICNs) that are integrated with the neural circuitry of their human hosts, there is a widespread presumption that InfoSec concerns serve only as limiting factors that can complicate, impede, or preclude the development and deployment of such devices. However, we argue that when appropriately conceptualized, InfoSec concerns may also serve as drivers that can spur the creation and adoption of such technologies. A framework is formulated that describes seven types of actors whose participation is required in order for ICNs to be adopted; namely, their 1) producers, 2) regulators, 3) funders, 4) installers, 5) human hosts, 6) operators, and 7) maintainers. By mapping onto this framework InfoSec issues raised in industry standards and other literature, it is shown that for each actor in the process, concerns about information security can either disincentivize or incentivize the actor to advance the development and deployment of ICNs for purposes of therapy or human enhancement. For example, it is shown that ICNs can strengthen the integrity, availability, and utility of information stored in the memories of persons suffering from certain neurological conditions and may enhance information security for society as a whole by providing new tools for military, law enforcement, medical, or corporate personnel who provide critical InfoSec services.

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Posthuman Management: Creating Effective Organizations in an Age of Social Robotics, Ubiquitous AI, Human Augmentation, and Virtual Worlds

ISBN 978-1-944373-05-4 • Second edition • Defragmenter Media, 2016 • 442 pages

What are the best practices for leading a workforce in which human employees have merged cognitively and physically with electronic information systems and work alongside social robots, artificial life-forms, and self-aware networks that are ‘colleagues’ rather than simply ‘tools’? How does one manage organizational structures and activities that span both actual and virtual worlds? How are the forces of technological posthumanization transforming the theory and practice of management?

This volume explores the reality that an organization’s workers, managers, customers, and other stakeholders increasingly comprise a complex network of human agents, artificial agents, and hybrid human-synthetic entities. The first part of the book develops the theoretical foundations of an emerging ‘organizational posthumanism’ and presents conceptual frameworks for understanding and managing the evolving workplace relationship between human and synthetic beings. Subsequent chapters investigate concrete management topics such as the likelihood that social robots might utilize charismatic authority to inspire and lead human workers; potential roles of AIs as managers of cross-cultural virtual teams; the ethics and legality of entrusting organizational decision-making to spatially diffuse robots that have no discernible identity or physical form; quantitative approaches to comparing the managerial capabilities of human and artificial agents; the creation of artificial life-forms that function as autonomous enterprises which evolve by competing against human businesses; neural implants as gateways that allow their human users to participate in new forms of organizational life; and the implications of advanced neuroprosthetics for information security and business model design.

As the first comprehensive application of posthumanist methodologies to the field of management, this volume will be of use to scholars and students of contemporary management and to management practitioners who must increasingly understand and guide the forces of technologization that are rapidly reshaping organizations’ form, dynamics, and societal roles.

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Neural Implants as Gateways to Digital-Physical Ecosystems and Posthuman Socioeconomic Interaction

In Digital Ecosystems: Society in the Digital Age, edited by Łukasz Jonak, Natalia Juchniewicz, and Renata Włoch, pp. 85-98 • Warsaw: Digital Economy Lab, University of Warsaw, 2016

ABSTRACT: For many employees, ‘work’ is no longer something performed while sitting at a computer in an office. Employees in a growing number of industries are expected to carry mobile devices and be available for work-related interactions even when beyond the workplace and outside of normal business hours. In this article it is argued that a future step will increasingly be to move work-related information and communication technology (ICT) inside the human body through the use of neuroprosthetics, to create employees who are always ‘online’ and connected to their workplace’s digital ecosystems. At present, neural implants are used primarily to restore abilities lost through injury or illness, however their use for augmentative purposes is expected to grow, resulting in populations of human beings who possess technologically altered capacities for perception, memory, imagination, and the manipulation of physical environments and virtual cyberspace. Such workers may exchange thoughts and share knowledge within posthuman cybernetic networks that are inaccessible to unaugmented human beings. Scholars note that despite their potential benefits, such neuroprosthetic devices may create numerous problems for their users, including a sense of alienation, the threat of computer viruses and hacking, financial burdens, and legal questions surrounding ownership of intellectual property produced while using such implants. Moreover, different populations of human beings may eventually come to occupy irreconcilable digital ecosystems as some persons embrace neuroprosthetic technology, others feel coerced into augmenting their brains to compete within the economy, others might reject such technology, and still others will simply be unable to afford it.

In this text we propose a model for analyzing how particular neuroprosthetic devices will either facilitate human beings’ participation in new forms of socioeconomic interaction and digital workplace ecosystems – or undermine their mental and physical health, privacy, autonomy, and authenticity. We then show how such a model can be used to create device ontologies and typologies that help us classify and understand different kinds of advanced neuroprosthetic devices according to the impact that they will have on individual human beings.

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Onboarding Pracowników: Witamy w Metaphorescence HDI

Fronda Lux 78 (2016), pp. 10-21

SUMMARY: This text envisions two different “employee onboarding documents” provided to new workers joining a global conglomerate in the year 2050. One neuroprosthetically augmented and genetically enhanced worker – who joins the company as a Reality Designer – is granted a drastically different welcome from the other worker, an unmodified human being, who joins the company as a Biological Service Drone. A variety of scholars have formulated two radically divergent conceptions of the future of human work: one vision imagines that the development of advanced artificial intelligence, nanorobotics, and other technologies will create a utopian society in which human beings are freed from the drudgery menial labor to focus on art, leisure, and self-fulfillment; the other vision imagines that such technologies will result in the wholesale oppression, instrumentalization, and disintegration of human beings. This text highlights the fact that these two extreme visions of the future are not necessarily incompatible – and might even be reflected within the activities of a single company.

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From Stand Alone Complexes to Memetic Warfare: Cultural Cybernetics and the Engineering of Posthuman Popular Culture

50 Shades of Popular Culture International Conference • Facta Ficta Research Centre, Kraków • February 19, 2016

ABSTRACT: Here we argue that five emerging social and technological trends are creating new possibilities for the instrumentalization (or even “weaponization”) of popular culture for commercial, ideological, political, or military ends and for the development of a posthuman popular culture that is no longer solely produced by or for “humanity” as presently understood. These five trends are the: 1) decentralization of the sources of popular culture, as reflected in the ability of ordinary users to create and upload content that “goes viral” within popular culture, as well as the use of “astroturfing” and paid “troll armies” by corporate or state actors to create the appearance of broad-based grassroots support for particular products, services, actions, or ideologies; 2) centralization of the mechanisms for accessing popular culture, as seen in the role of instruments like Google’s search engine, YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, and Wikipedia in concentrating the distribution channels for cultural products, as well as efforts by state actors to censor social media content perceived as threatening or disruptive; 3) personalization of popular culture, as manifested in the growth of cultural products like computer games that dynamically reconfigure themselves in response to a player’s behavior, thereby creating a different product for each individual that is adapted to a user’s unique experiences, desires, and psychological characteristics; 4) automatization of the creation of products of popular culture, as seen in the automated high-speed generation of webpages, artwork, music, memes, and computer game content by AI systems that could potentially allow venues of popular culture (such as the Internet) to be flooded with content designed to influence a social group in particular ways; and 5) virtualization of the technological systems and mechanisms for creating, transmitting, and experiencing the products of popular culture, as witnessed in the development of all-purpose nodes (such as smartphones) that are capable of handling a full range of cultural products in the form of still images, video, audio, text, and interactive experiences, and the growing digitalization of cultural products that allows them to be more easily manipulated and injected into the popular culture of other states or social groups, bypassing physical and political barriers.

While these trends are expected to yield a broad range of positive and negative impacts, we focus on a particular subset of these impacts. Namely, we argue that the convergence of these five trends opens the door for the creation of popular culture that: 1) does not exist in any permanent, tangible physical artifacts but only as a collection of continuously transforming digital data that that is stored on the servers of a few powerful corporate or state actors and is subject to manipulation or degradation as a result of computer viruses, hacking, power outages, or other factors; 2) can be purposefully and effectively engineered using techniques commonly employed within IT management, electronics engineering, marketing, and other disciplines; 3) can become a new kind of weapon and battleground in struggles for military, political, ideological, and commercial superiority on the part of corporate, state, and other actors.

In order to stimulate thinking about ways in which these trends might develop, we conclude by considering two fictional near-future worlds – those depicted in Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex and Transhuman Space: Toxic Memes – in which the further evolution of these five trends is shown as leading to the neurocybernetically facilitated manipulation of popular culture, “memetic warfare,” and related phenomena. We suggest that these fictional works represent examples of self-reflexive futurology: i.e., elements of contemporary popular culture that attempt to anticipate and explore the ways in which future popular culture could be purposefully engineered, instrumentalized, and even weaponized in the service of a diverse array of ends.

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