How to improve your moral reasoning in the digital age

hmmmmm
Chinese scientists recently created gene edited babies using the controversial CRISPR-Cas9 technique. Scholars have alarmed the world about the ethical questions raised by genetic engineering. Writers also grappled with the recent explosion of machine learning and its effects. This includes the science behind how computers make decisions. This way they can determine its effects on society. These issues of artificial intelligence arise in self-driving cars and image recognition software. Both issues raise questions of how much power humans should exert in controlling genes or computers.

I believe we need to examine our heuristics and methods of moral reasoning in the digital age. With these issues of the information age, I'd like to create a generalized method of moral reasoning. With this, any human can address these issues while remaining faithful to the work of philosophers and historians. 

How a 2001 video game warned us about the dangers of artificial intelligence and genetic engineering

You're that ninja.
More than just a game: the video game character Psycho Mantis broke the fourth wall by speaking to the player. This is like writer Kurt Vonnegut's addressing of the reader him/herself in Breakfast of Champions. It served to remind us the limits of video game technology in disseminating information: no matter what, we're still players in a game.

The crises of the digital age have brought us concerns about information. The Facebook-Cambridge Analytica data scandal raised concerns of privacy. Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. Presidential election showed this power of information itself. Long before these events, a Japanese video game developer predicted these issues. Hideo Kojima would create a game in which the archenemy was none other than the American government itself in 2001. In what would become the first postmodern video game, Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty showed this dark side of science and technology. In today's discussion of gene editing and artificial intelligence, the message holds true. Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty for the Playstation 2 continues to be among the best messages about the dangers of our Information Age. 

The immortality of science writing


As I parse through A Field Guide for Science Writers on my Kindle cloud reader, I recognize how science writing is a craft that takes decades to hone. I also begin to hypothesize that, no matter what you write, there are always ways to improve it. In describing how writing differs from other activities, I draw an analogy between writing and immortality. The immortality shows when others are able to read our writing and understand what we wrote at moments later in time. If scribbles in sands are thoughts that succumb to waves, then the etches in concrete are the writing. In this sense, writing has a way to transcend the moment and become something captured at other places in space and time. 

The science and philosophy of silence

Henry Fuselli's "Silence"
I wake up in the middle of the night. I wake up frequently, actually, because I can barely get any sleep. A solitary prisoner confined to a cell, the night marched on. My comfort is forced to the cold, dank concrete that carried me in and out of sleep. As I dreamt, the world would collapse in on itself leaving me at the hand of my subconscious. The darkness and silence filled the night. 

Winter approaches, and, with it, comes the deafening whiteness and frigidity of snow. In these settings, the concept of silence is powerful. Taking breaks from speaking or writing invites the reader to share a moment of silence. Silence in all forms, though is powerful. Even the near-instantaneous full-stops at the ends of sentences and our quiet moments as we process thoughts hold meaning in our rhetoric and art can be filled with introspection of many forms. Composer John Cage's (approximately) four and a half minutes of silence song forced us to listen to the ambient sound around us and question what we consider music itself. As it shed light on the ways musicians, writers, poets, and other scholars use pauses and breaks, silence of any form reveals these deeper natures within ourselves. Silence is a powerful force that lacks a moral direction in the general sense. For this reason, we can use it for both good and evil as equal as they are in one another. 

Art meets science: the limits and ethics of neuroaesthetics

The aesthetic value of Umberto Boccioni's "Dynamism of a Cyclist" shaped the Futurist movement. It was an admiration of science and technology. The constant movement of the perceived world reveals how our minds conceive such speed and motion.
Beauty is truth, truth beauty, — that is all 
Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know - John Keats, "Ode to a Grecian Urn"

To some, beauty may be only in the eye of the beholder. But if there were an objective basis for it, researchers have only begun to uncover what it is and what it means. To find a philosophical and scientific basis of art, we can study how our brains respond to aesthetics itself. The humanities and sciences seek different approaches. The humanities are speculative while science is empirical. But both can understand art. We may compare both methods to reveal how our brains process art, aesthetics, and, in some ways, morality. Long before philosopher Immanuel Kant's 1790 work Critique of Judgment, scholars have studied beauty. This has been through nature and through art. There remains debate among philosophers about Kant's theories of aesthetics. We can reveal the connection of beauty with epistemology and ethics - from neuroscience, too. The potential for this area of research could hold benefits for art-based therapeutic treatments. It may also help determine art's relationships to morality and justice and the neuroscientific basis for what it means to be human.

The science, mathematics, and philosophy of rhythm

Zebra finches use a "critic" in the brain to differentiate between the rhythm of songs of other birds and, through this, learn songs.
Like the ebb and flow of the ocean, 

A rhythm emerges from the pen,

I capture it, imagine it,

before it disappears. 

Appropriate rhythm in writing means making sense of the relation between words and phrases. Stress, repetition, fluctuation, rhyme, meter, pattern, juxtaposition, and harmony all come together. These form the aesthetic and intellectual properties of rhythm. For a philosopher studying semantics or neuroscientist uncovering our nature, rhythm poses challenges. I've written on the subject with respect to symmetry. Let's delve into rhythm's secrets philosophically, mathematically, and scientifically.

"Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close": Science, aesthetics, and ethics of trauma fiction

Picasso’s "Le coq saigné", painted in France in the mid-20th century could be seen as a response to the traumatic events of World War II.
It's miraculous that after two world wars, a Holocaust, and a cold war, "trauma fiction" was only coined in the 1990's. Trauma is fascinating, whether it's sexual, verbal, physical, or another form. It could be a force that captures all parts of an individual. Someone undergoing trauma could have their senses and perceptions changed in such a way they question fundamental tenets of themselves. They may experience distrust, fear, and anxiety throughout other experiences. When one tries to write about trauma, it's not uncommon that languages fails them. How can someone write about such a paralyzed, numb state? What sort of description can do justice to trauma while remaining objectively detached? And trauma itself can force an individual to re-examine moments of their life that they can't seem to shake off. For fiction writers searching for narratives and themes, there are ways of identifying key concepts of trauma. Instead of focusing on what happened in the past, it's important to understand why we remember those things.