Technology

Scholar ponders a future when artificial intelligence will have rights

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News A philosophical talk that ventured to the fringes of science fiction wound its way to the hot button real world issue of abortion. Matthew Liao, director of the Center for Bioethics at New York University, was at Bowling Green State University recently to discuss The Moral Status and Rights of Artificial Intelligence. It was the first event sponsored by the Institute for Ethics and Public Philosophy. Liao posited conditions in which robots or other artificial intelligent entities could have greater moral status than their creators. But as the question and answer session after the talk wore on, the issue of abortion came up. Liao argued: “The idea here is that if the entity has some sort of physical code … that generates moral agency … then that’s sufficient reason to think that it can be a rights holder.” He was questioned whether that didn’t give moral status to a fetus. Liao responded that the fundamental right of bodily integrity would trump that just as someone wouldn’t be expected to give up a limb in order to save someone. That may be admirable, but not morally required.  Some reasons for having an abortion, he said, may be specious, but having a fundamental right, as he defined the right to bodily integrity, also entails sometimes misusing that right. So how then could robots come to have greater rights than humans? It wouldn’t be, Liao said, because they were more intelligent, rational or empathetic. It would be because they had some as yet unidentified quality. That’s quite a leap from the time when computers were developed that could beat  the greatest Jeopardy champions at their game in 2011 or the masters in the ancient game of Go. And then a new generation of machines arrived that could beat those earlier machines. That new generation of computers learned not from human behavior but by self-reenforced learning. These are not just academic exercises. “Different companies are trying to learn about human emotions to get robots to be more human like,”Liao said. This is important as countries, especially Japan, face shortages of caregivers for the elderly. “Some of the elderly become really attached to these robots,” Liao said. “That’s going to become more an issue as robots become better at what they do.” Some entities have greater moral status than others moving up from rocks to plants to animals to…

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BGSU marks Jerome Library’s 50th year

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Fitting for a library that doubles as a work of art, Jerome Library will unveil a new piece at its celebration of the 50th anniversary. The program will start at 4 p.m. Friday. There’ll be short presentations on the history of the library as well as a presentation by Librarian Amy Fry on the mural. Then a piece by sculptor and book artist Vince Koloski, that draws inspiration from those murals, will be unveiled. The eight-story tall building with six floors of abstract art running up both the west and east faces first opened in 1967. Dean of University Libraries Sara Bushong said she’s been assured by the artist Donald Drumm that the designs have no hidden meaning. Bushong said that at the time, students “either loved it or thought it was the most atrocious thing they’d ever seen.” Now it’s hard to imagine campus without it. While the mural has been a constant landmark on campus over the past 50 years the services within it have evolved. When it was built it was devoted mostly to stacks of books. Now every one of its floors have been repurposed, sometimes several times over, Bushong said. The change is most evident on the first floor. “The goal is to have the first floor to be a very student services focused,” she said. The floor hosts the Learning Commons, Student Athletic Services, and, most recently, the Collab Lab. And, she added, “we’re still circulating books, which is good.” A member of the accreditation team for the architecture program commented that he was “impressed with how many people were coming in the building,” Bushong said. “There’s a lot of reasons to come here.” The library has about 450,000 visitors a year, that’s students, faculty, community member, and tour groups. The library went up in the midst of a university building boom. With its step down entrance and the dramatic murals, it was intended to add contrast to the flat landscape, Bushong said. Like any 50-year-old structure it has shown its age. The battle against leaks has been ongoing since 1967. Recent work on the roof over the first floor has solved problems on the first floor, though areas around the base of the tower, still cause leaks on the second level. And the library was not constructed with the ensuing digital age in mind. Bushong said that…


Daniel Eisinger: Energy Star program should be maintained

As a business owner, I do not use the term “invest” lightly. As anyone with a mind for business knows, a favorable return on investment (ROI) signifies a prudential investment. Some simple math will illustrate the point. Imagine a program that has saved Americans $430 billion since 1992 at a cost of roughly $50 million per year; the programmatic profit (herein meaning America’s saved capital expenses), is $428 billion. By dividing this profit by the total invest of $1.25 billion, we find that the ROI of said program is 343%, or roughly 13.72% per year. But this ROI is very real, since the above example is actually of the Energy Star Program. Energy efficiency is the driver behind Energy Star’s ROI. Individuals and businesses pay lower utility bills because they are using (or losing) less electricity, water, heat, etc., and my business provides the analyses that illustrate where money can be recouped through greater energy efficiency. To discontinue the Energy Star program would be senseless. The program beautifully models the interplay of efficient free-market economics and effective public policy. Washington must act prudently; continue investing in America by investing in Energy Star. Dan Eisinger Toledo


Astronaut Mark Kelly was guided by the women in his life

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News To hear Mark Kelly tell it he’s lucky to be alive, never mind standing before an admiring crowd speaking. In his Ordinary People, Extraordinary Lives talk Tuesday at Bowling Green State University, he spoke glowingly of his wife, former U.S. Rep. Gabby Giffords, and his mother, and spoke with wry self-deprecation of his own failings and how he overcame them. Growing up in New Jersey he lacked motivation, he said. His father was a stereotypical Irish detective who’d come home about once a year cast on his hand. ”Fighting crime,” he would tell his twin sons, Mark and Scott. They would later learn that these were as much the results of bar fights as crime fighting. Kelly’s mother worked as a secretary and waitress before she decided she too wanted to become a police officer. A small woman she would have to scale a seven-foot, two-inch wall in nine seconds to qualify. Unbeknownst to her, her husband made it an inch taller. When it came time for the test, she scaled it in under five seconds, faster than most of the male candidates. She became one of the first female police officers in New Jersey. “That was the first time in my life I saw the power of having a goal and a plan and what it meant to work really hard for something,” Kelly said. “It certainly motivated for me.” He set a goal of becoming a Navy pilot and beyond that a test pilot and beyond that an astronaut. His ultimate goal was to be the first person to walk on Mars. After graduating from the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy in 1986, he headed off for pilot training There were snags along the way. He was not a gifted pilot. After his first go at landing on an aircraft carrier, the instructor pilot asked him: “Are you sure this career is for you?” Still, “I did not give up,” Kelly said. “How good you are at the beginning of something you try is not a good indicator of how good you can become. I’m a prime example of somebody who’s able to overcome a serious lack of aptitude with practice, persistence, and just not giving up. Always remember effort, that counts twice” Later on his first combat mission during the Gulf War, he made an almost fatal decision. In order to avoid…


Diplomat finds plenty to fear in North Korea’s nuclear build up

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News It took a global community to help North Korea become the international, nuclear-armed pariah it is today. Thomas Snitch, an expert in nuclear armaments and diplomat whose career dates back to the early days of the Reagan Administration, returned to his alma mater, Bowling Green State University, Monday to detail how North Korea became the global threat it is today. His talk was the opening event in the “Seeking Peace in the Nuclear Era: A Peace Symposium” which continues through Thursday. Try as Snitch might, he could offer little solace to those like one woman who said she wouldn’t be able to sleep that night after hearing his analysis. And, after delivering the Nakamoto Peace Lecture, Snitch faced criticism from another distinguished guest at the symposium. Setsuko Thurlow, who will speak Wednesday night with a fellow survivor of the Hiroshima bombing, said Snitch spoke too little of the United States’ responsibility for initiating nuclear war, and too little of how the world can work to eliminate nuclear arms. Impassioned statement Thurlow spoke about her experiences with the horrors of nuclear war. There was a double standard she said with the five nuclear powers having their own arsenals but telling others they should not have them. There are 15,000 nuclear weapons in the world, she said, and 95 percent are in the hands of Russia and the United States. That has a positive side, as Snitch noted earlier in his speech. Those countries, which have reduced their arsenals, are among those who have the best safeguards to prevent accidental launches. Just recently NORAD radar in Colorado picked up a strange mass over the western United States. It wasn’t missiles. It wasn’t birds, like those that almost triggered a Soviet Union missile launch in 1983. It turned out to be butterflies, 21 million butterflies. Would North Korea, or Pakistan, be able to exercise such restraint? Snitch started his talk by mentioning that the front page of that morning’s Washington Post had a story on how to survive a nuclear attack on Washington. The North Koreans, have declared that they will not enter talks until they have a missile capable of hitting the Eastern seaboard of the United States. Snitch said when the Soviet Union collapsed, many of its nuclear scientists were now free agents, and though NATO tried to employ as many as possible, others found…


Sheriff Wasylyshyn eyes putting more drones on duty

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   As special deputy Larry Moore walked across the lawn in front of the Wood County Sheriff’s Office, the hovering drone caught his every move. Even as he zig-zagged under a group of trees, the infrared camera showed the glowing image of Moore. “It could be pitch black outside and we could see him,” Sheriff Mark Wasylyshyn said. The new drone purchased by the sheriff’s office is an elite – and expensive – version of the small drones that buzz the skies. This is more of an “industrial drone,” that has an infrared and a regular camera, can withstand high winds, is water resistant, can fly at night, has a range of four miles, is able to fly 40 mph, can fly as high as 400 feet which offers a square mile of coverage, and has a collision avoidance system. The DJI Matrice M210 drone came with a price tag of $23,000. But a donation of $9,000 from Michael McAlear, a special deputy and friend of the sheriff, helped the department purchase the Cadillac of drones. “That made the difference, so we could get an upgrade,” Wasylyshyn said. The sheriff is now considering the possibility of purchasing multiple smaller drones that can be deployed quickly by each shift of the road patrols. “Eventually, drones will be issued with your shotgun,” he predicted. The smaller drones come with smaller price tags – about $1,000 each. They could be used in crises where time is critical, such as a river rescue. The smaller drones, that weigh no more than 1.5 pounds, can be deployed in less than a minute. They can also fly inside buildings, which would allow the sheriff’s office to get an eye on a situation without endangering staff. The small drones can spot someone hiding or someone armed inside a building. By the end of the year, Wasylyshyn hopes to have a couple of the smaller drones on duty. Any of the drones could be used to help in searches for runaways or people with dementia who have wandered from home. The sheriff’s office new drone has already been used to help find a suspect who fled from the Fostoria Police. The drone was able to spot him in a woods. “Another success story,” said Sgt. Greg Panning, who is one of four people on the department trained to operate the drone….


Peace Symposium to address nuclear threat

From BGSU OFFICE OF MARKETING AND COMMUNICATIONS  “Seeking Peace in the Nuclear Era: A Peace Symposium” is the focus of a series of presentations Oct. 16-19 at Bowling Green State University. Four speakers will provide insights on the dangers of nuclear war and threats to peace facing the world today. At the end of the Cold War, the constant threat of nuclear annihilation seemed to be over. Today, though nuclear stockpiles have been reduced, the weapons are still with us. In recent years, new political and military conflicts, especially between western democracies and North Korea and Russia, have revived the specter of nuclear war. Yet the U.S. public, especially young people, are generally unaware of the issues, the nature of nuclear war, the history of Hiroshima, and effective ways to achieve peace. BGSU alumnus Dr. Thomas Snitch ’75, ’15 (Hon.), a scientist and policymaker who spent decades working on nuclear policy for the U.S. State Department, will give the Hiroko Nakamoto Peace Lecture Oct. 16. He will tell the story, based on declassified intelligence, diplomatic history, political intrigue, technology diversions, skullduggery, and his trips to North Korea, about how Pyongyang was able to successfully build, test, and now, possibly deploy a thermonuclear warhead on an intercontinental ballistic missile. His presentation will begin at 7:30 p.m. in the Bowen-Thompson Student Union Theater (Room 206). Gwynne Dyer, a renowned journalist, military historian, author, and filmmaker, will provide an overview and analysis of an array of current threats to peace, with a focus on nuclear issues and North Korea. His Oct. 17 lecture at 7:30 p.m. in 228 Bowen-Thompson Student Union, titled “Don’t Panic: Threats to Peace in this Nuclear Age,” will explain how people and governments can effectively deal with threats from North Korea, ISIS, the rise of populism, and climate change. Two presentations – an on-campus talk and an event in the community – will feature a discussion with two Japanese survivors of the Hiroshima bomb. Ms. Keiko Ogura and Ms. Setsuko Thurlow will speak on campus at 7:30 p.m. Oct. 18 in the Bowen-Thompson Student Union Theater, and at 4 p.m. Oct. 19 in the Wood County District Public Library’s Carter House, 307 N. Church St. They will discuss their individual stories and their perspectives on promoting peace. Ms. Ogura is a founder of Hiroshima Interpreters for Peace and is a lifelong advocate for peace and against nuclear weapons. Ms. Thurlow is also a lifelong opponent of nuclear war. The Nuclear Age Peace Foundation gave her a Distinguished Peace Leadership award in…