Showing posts from 2010

The ethics of WikiLeaks

The Wikileaks phenomenon is intricate, but suppose we reduce its ethical evaluation to two questions: is whistleblowing ethical, even when motivated by resentment and the desire to harm its target? And is Wikileaks’ facilitation of whistleblowing ethical, even if it might put at risk innocent people? A deontologist, convinced that telling the truth and never lying is an absolute must, is likely to appreciate whistleblowing as the right thing to do, independently of the reasons behind it. And a consequentialist may support Wikileaks as a means to maximise the welfare of the largest number of people, especially if risks are minimized by censuring sensitive information. So current answers in the mass media seem to converge: Wikileaks is a good thing. I am not entirely convinced. Confidential communication is a three-player game – sender, receiver and referent – in which sender and receiver trust each other. The receiver, not the referent, trusts and holds responsible the sender f

CFP IEEE Technology and Society, special section on "green computing"

SPECIAL SECTION ON GREEN COMPUTING: Call for Papers IEEE Technology and Society (T&S) is planning a special section on the topic of “green computing”. The magazine has a long history with the theme of “green technology,” going back to at least 1995, when it published the article “Going Green Makes Business Sense” by Jim Lippke (T&S, Vol. 14, No. 3, 24-25). It recently published “Greening IEEE” by Patrick Meyer (T&S, Vol. 28, No. 3, 64-72). The focus of this special section will be on environmentally sustainable computing and IT. Dr. Luciano Floridi (University of Hertfordshire and University of Oxford, UNESCO Chair in Information and Computer Ethics) will coordinate the special section. Submissions should be emailed to T&S’s editor-in-chief, Keith Miller ( ), and should conform to the usual suggestions for authors (please see ). Please indicate in your email that the submission

Universities giving more in bursaries to poor students Sent from my BlackBerry® wireless device


Questions and answers about the philosophy of information.

The construction of personal identities online

I recently met a very bright and lively graduate, who registered with Facebook during the academic year 2003-04, when she was a student at Harvard. Her ID number is 246. Impressive. A bit like being the 246th person to land on a new continent. In the past six years, that continent has become rather crowded, as she has been joined by 500 million active users worldwide. The round number has been reached last July. It is a good reminder of how more and more people spend an increasing amount of time “onlife”, interacting with and within an infosphere that is neither entirely virtual nor only physical. It is also a good reminder of how influential Information and Communication Technologies are becoming in shaping our personal identities. In the philosophy of mind, there is a well-honed distinction between personal identity and self-conception, or more simply between who we are (call it our ontological self), and who we think we are (call it our epistemological self). Like many other han

Snapshot of global internet speeds revealed Sent from my BlackBerry® wireless device

VC Award 2010

Received the Vice Chancellor Award 2010 "Highly commended for research supporting engagement  with business, the profession and partner organisations".

Chinese translation of The Blackwell Guide to the Philosophy of Computing and Information

The Chinese translation (2010) in two volumes of  The Blackwell Guide to the Philosophy of Computing and Information (Oxford - New York: Blackwell, 2004) has been published.

BBC News - Over 5 billion mobile phone connections worldwide Sent from my BlackBerry® wireless device

Ministers turn to Facebook users for cuts suggestions

Unions: if you consult the population about the cuts you must be wrong, if you don't, you cannot be right. Sent from my BlackBerry® wireless device

Three quarters of employers 'require 2:1 degree'

They are happy with philosophy and do not care much about the university. Sent from my BlackBerry® wireless device

iPhone 4 signal fault leaves Apple 'stunned'

Faulty logic for a faulty phone: if you hold it differently the strength of the signal changes, THIS is the problem, and below is not a solution. Sent from my BlackBerry® wireless device

BBC News - Finland makes broadband a 'legal right' Sent from my BlackBerry® wireless device

Apple issues advice to avoid iPhone flaw Sent from my BlackBerry® wireless device

50 philosophical ideas for the future

From the editorial: The 50th issue of The Philosophers’ Magazine is now on its way to readers and bookshops around the world. Regular readers will notice that, in many ways, the special issue is very different from the 49 that preceded it. Celebration and celebrant are somewhat out of sync. What we’ve done is invited 50 philosophers to each outline one of the most important ideas in philosophy of the 21st century so far.

NYT: I.B.M.'s Supercomputer to Challenge 'Jeopardy!' Champions

A long but absolutely MUST read: Sent from my BlackBerry® wireless device

Forth Valley Royal Hospital to use robot 'workers' Sent from my BlackBerry® wireless device

Avatar, Personal Identity, and The 4th Revolution

Avatar, Personal Identity, and The 4th Revolution

US debates its broadband future

Is net neutrality becoming a dogma? Sent from my BlackBerry® wireless device

Bill Gates offers $10m fund for mobile banking in Haiti

An African lesson duly learnt (but not in Europe, where legislation currently makes mobile banking impossible). Sent from my BlackBerry® wireless device

Clones of bomb-sniffing dog delivered to Jeju police

"Researchers led by cloning expert Hwang Woo-suk have delivered five clones of an active police search dog to the Jeju Provincial Police agency, which plans to use the animals for bomb detection and other missions."

Wikileaks site unfazed by arrest of US army 'source'

Information transparency is not always welcome. Sent from my BlackBerry® wireless device

University guide 2011: Philosophy

University guide 2011: Philosophy "The study of how to think about ideas and ask questions about truth, right and wrong - includes ethics, history of philosophy, logic."

Cloud Matters: Ethics and Policy in the Digital Age

Cloud Matters: Ethics and Policy in the Digital Age 6th July 2010, 10.00 – 17.00, The Royal Society, London Jointly hosted by the RCUK Digital Economy Programme and the Royal Society The emergence of cloud computing and the establishment of commercially viable cloud based services offers tremendous potential for a future digital economy. Many companies are already providing utility computing services with on-demand access to storage and computation facilities. The advocates of cloud computing suggest that the move to utility computing represents a paradigm shift in how we might exploit computer systems and the Internet and that it will promote creativity and the new forms of entrepreneurship needed to fuel the growth of a digital economy. They also suggest that this will have a profound impact on us all and will shape an increasingly digital society. Cloud computing requires us to embrace a globally connected infrastructure with data and computation moving away from our persona

Interfacing with our machines

Blogging a blogger who liked the World Science Festival panel on minds and machines.

Smart clothes offer emotional aid

Smart as in smart weapon, not as in elegant Armani. Sent from my BlackBerry® wireless device

Bletchley Park WWII archive to go online Sent from my BlackBerry® wireless device

PhD Grant. Models and simulations in engineering

PhD Grant. Models and simulations in engineering The PhD Grant is part of the project PROCEED: A Program of Research on Opportunities and Challenges in Engineering Education in Denmark. The overall objective of PROCEED is to investigate how engineers and engineering educators are responding to the environmental, socio-economic and scientific-technological challenges facing their profession. It is organized as a strategic alliance among four universities in Denmark (Aalborg, Århus, Roskilde, and the Danish Technical University) with international collaborators in the United States, the Netherlands, Australia and Vietnam. This special PhD project is related to a thematic project which studies the role of models and simulations in engineering. It is well known that today computer simulations and mathematical modeling are an essential part of engineering work. They are important both as tools in engineering research and as tools for solving concrete practical problems in industry and o

Mind And Machine: The Future of Thinking Friday, June 4, 2010, 8:00 PM - 9:30 PM NYU Skirball Center "Creative thought is surely among our most precious and mysterious capabilities. But can powerful computers rival the human brain? As thinking, remembering and innovating become increasingly interwoven with technological advances, what are we capable of? What do we lose? Join Luciano Floridi, John Donoghue, Gary Small and Rosalind Picard for a thought-provoking program about thinking."

PHEADE 2010 - The Engineered Singularity

The 2nd PHEADE International Conference under the theme: THE ENGINEERED SINGULARITY October 26-28 (30) 2010, Suceava & Cernovtsy (Romania & Ukraine) Keynote speakers: Marcelo Dascal (Tel Aviv ) Luciano FLORIDI (Hertfordshire and Oxford) Lorenzo MAGNANI (Pavia) From the website: “The Singularity is the technological creation of smarter-than-human intelligence” (SIAI = the Singularity Institute for Artificial Intelligence). The Engineered Singularity is subject for: metaphysics, philosophy of engineering, philosophy of technology, philosophy of the artificial intelligence, philosophy of computing, philosophy of mind, theology, technoetics, neurobiology (of wisdom), psychology of the artificial intelligence, a.o. They will all claim the right to debate around the near arrival of the Singularity. Some of the most renowned international researchers of these fields will share and debate their ideas on the Engineering of the Singularity du

Police investigate Habbo Hotel virtual furniture theft

It would be nice to have a better ontology of the virtual. Sent from my BlackBerry® wireless device
Philosophy & Technology ISSN: 2210-5433 website: submission: Philosophy & Technology Best Paper Prizes Every year, Philosophy & Technology offers up to two prizes, worth € 500 each (€ 250 in cash and € 250 in books published by Springer), awarded to the authors of unpublished research papers that make an outstanding contribution to the field of philosophy and technology broadly conceived. The winning papers are published in Philosophy & Technology. All shortlisted authors are invited to submit their papers for publication in the journal. The papers are judged in November each year, using the criteria of clarity of presentation, novelty of contents, and potential impact. All nominations received are assessed by the Editorial Board. Nominations must be submitted by email to the editorial assistant, Mrs Penny Driscoll ( ). Each nomination must include the paper (fo

Floridi's Open Problems in Philosophy of Information, Ten Years After

Special Issue "What Is Information?" A special issue of Information (ISSN 2078-2489). Type of Paper: Article Title: Floridi's Open Problems in Philosophy of Information, Ten Years After Authors: Gordana Dodig Crnkovic and Wolfgang Hofkirchner; E-Mails: ; Abstract: In his article Open Problems in the Philosophy of Information (Metaphilosophy 2004, 35:Issue 4), based on the Herbert A. Simon Lecture in Computing and Philosophy given at Carnegie Mellon University in 2001, Luciano Floridi presented a research programme for the Philosophy of Information in form of the following eighteen open problems: P.1: What is information?; P.2: What are the dynamics of information?; P.3: Is a grand unified theory of information possible?; P.4: How can data acquire their meaning?; P.5: How can meaningful data acquire their truth values?; P.6: Can information explain truth?; P.7: Can information explain meaning?; P.8: Can (f

Philosophy & Technology

Philosophy & Technology ISSN: 2210-5433 website: submission: Description Technologies have been changing the world for a long time, at an increasing pace, with ever expanding scope and unprecedented impact. They profoundly affect human life and are radically modifying not only how we interact with, shape, and make sense of our world, but also how we look at ourselves and understand our position and responsibilities in the universe. Technologies have brought enormous benefits and opportunities, but they have also raised new and pressing challenges, whose complexity and global dimensions are rapidly expanding and evolving. Philosophy & Technology addresses such challenges, in order to improve our critical understanding of the conceptual nature and practical consequences of technologies, and hence provide the conceptual foundations for their fruitful and sustainable developments. The journal aims to

Review of Information - A Very Short Introduction

Groundbreaking and visionary, but very short indeed, May 28, 2010 By Irfan A. Alvi This review is from: Information: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions) (Paperback) Leaving aside the possibility of minds, souls, and the like, people used to think that the ultimate "stuff" of the universe is matter. Then thermodynamics matured during the 19th century, culminating with Einstein's theoretical demonstration that matter can be converted to energy, thus rendering energy apparently even more fundamental than matter. Now, as a result of multiple streams of developments during the 20th century, we live in an age when information is increasingly being viewed as the true ultimate stuff. This is at once both immensely stimulating and perplexing: stimulating because the concept of information has far greater interdisciplinary unifying power than any concept which came before, but perplexing because the concept of information is very abstract and thus elusively s

First human 'infected with computer virus'

Some hype, but still interesting.

Web science institute funding halted by new government

Probably a wise decision. Sent from my BlackBerry® wireless device

Mistakes in silicon chips to help boost computer power Sent from my BlackBerry® wireless device

Web 2.0 contre Web sémantique : un point de vue philosophique

Web 2.0 contre Web sémantique : un point de vue philosophique Patrick Pecatte a traduit l'étonnant article du philosophe de l'information italien Luciano Floridi qui explique pourquoi le web sémantique risque d'être un échec alors que le web 2.0 risque de continuer à être un succès car il s'appui sur les seuls moteurs sémantiques disponibles à ce jour : les hommes !

Kindling for the bonfire of book ownership

Word of Mouse Posted By TPM On May 21, 2010 (7:25 am) In Columns , Podcasts Luciano Floridi gathers kindling for the bonfire of book ownership Luciano Floridi On December 26, Amazon released the following statement: “On Christmas Day, for the first time ever, customers purchased more Kindle books than physical books”. As sceptics have noticed, Christmas is hardly the time when you buy a bestseller online, whereas last December 25 was the D-day when armies of Kindles, which had lain camouflaged under the trees for a while, snapped into action and led their happy owners to purchase some of the 390,000 electronic titles available from Amazon. Further doubts on the actual success of the Kindle are raised by Amazon’s secrecy about how many it has actually sold (1.5 million is a recent estimate). And yet, that press release leaves one wondering whether some symbolic threshold between the analogue and the digital might have been overstepped. Recall that the Kindle is not alone: ther

Google launches smart TV service Sent from my BlackBerry® wireless device

Emerging Ethical Issues of Life in Virtual Worlds, edited by Charles Wankel and Shaun Malleck

An attempt at charting some of the pressing ethical issues that affect our lives online. As the title indicates, the focus is on virtual worlds, especially Second Life and games such as World of Warcraft, not on social environments such as Facebook. Chapter 4 contains an essay by Andrew A. Adams on virtual sex with child avatars. The issue discussed is interesting because it provides a concrete case of what I would call "victimless victimization". The assumption is that the children abused are entirely virtual, that is, they are digital artifacts with no relation to any real individual, not even indirect (e.g. avatars based on photographs). The assumption is reasonable. Besides, it would be pointless to argue that the immorality of the the whole experience lies in the risk that real children might be involved. If they are, as victims, perpetrators or even mere viewers, then we are dealing with a different problem. A consequentialist approach can hardly argue for the i

Interview on the philosophy of information

This is a long interview , in Italian, on the philosophy of information, for Il Sole 24 Ore.

The Constitution of Selves, by Marya Schechtman

This is an excellent book, especially the second part, where the author concentrates on the characterization of the self. Clear, well-argued, it supports, convincingly, a narrative interpretation of the self. An important problem that remains unsolved, and which affects all narrative approaches, is what gives to the self its unity. Stories are kept together by some plot and a narrator that unfolds it. It we are narrative work in progress, who is doing the story-telling? Not an easy problem to tackle. Kant thought that such unity had to be presupposed to make sense of the coherence of our perception of the world, but could not be subject to any further clarification.

Second International Workshop on the Philosophy of Information

Second International Workshop on the Philosophy of Information May 20-21, Bilkent University, Ankara, Turkey. The annual workshop on the philosophy of information is organized by the research group on Philosophy of Information (GPI) of the University of Hertfordshire and the Information Ethics Research Group (IEG) of the University of Oxford. The first workshop was held in November 2007 at the University of Oxford. The second one will take place May 20-21 in Ankara, Turkey, hosted by the Philosophy Department of Bilkent University. The third will be held in November 2010 at the Center for Logic and Philosophy Science of Brussels Free University. The annual workshop series aims to provide an informal environment in which scholars working on the Philosophy of Information can share their works in progress without any time constraint. The main topic of the second workshop is the formal and

Process Theories: Crossdisciplinary Studies in Dynamic Categories

Much, if not most, ontology is based on objects, entities, things, that is, static structures as primitives. It seems strange, once you realise the crucial importance of processes and events, that is, dynamic structures. Yet dynamic- or process-friendly philosophy has hardly ever been mainstream. If you are looking for an interesting alternative, you might be interested in reading Process Theories . The book, edited by Johanna Seibt, collects papers from the meeting "Processes: Analysis and Applications of Dynamic Categories, 2002). It contains many intersting essays. I would recommend in particular: The introduction J. Seibt, Free Process Theory: Towards a Typology of Occurrings M. H. Bickhard, Process and Emergence: Normative Function and Representation W. Christensen, Self-directedness: a process Approach to Cognition

NYT: The Future of E-Reading With t;jsessionid=940F707A6DEB88B237CF11692C491CF6.w6?a=594467&f=104 Sent from my BlackBerry® wireless device


Intropy A blog dedicated to the belief that a better understanding of information is needed to understand anything and everything.

BBC News - LHC particle search 'nearing', says physicist Sent from my BlackBerry® wireless device

Review of Information A Very Short Introduction

Information: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions) (Paperback) Review, by Lee J. Whittington Sat in a small office for a seminar on modal logic, my then logic tutor told me that "if you read something once and do not understand, it is your fault. If you read something twice and do not understand, it is the authors fault". This is something to be kept in mind when reading this book. The title should not fool the reader. This is not "Information for Dummies". The book can be technical and difficult requiring occasional reflective breaks. Unlike some of the other VSI series, to understand the book properly will take more than three or four hours. However, this is where Prof. Floridi comes into his own. Using many elegant metaphors, analogies and examples, Floridi provides some of the intuitive first steps required to understand what would be baffling concepts. My favourite metaphor is that used for understanding quantum superposition, whereby we

The Paradox of Inference and the Non-Triviality of Analytic Information

Marie Duží Department of Computer Science FEI, VSB-Technical University Ostrava, Czech Republic Abstract The classical theory of semantic information (ESI), as formulated by Bar-Hillel and Carnap in 1952, does not give a satisfactory account of the problem of what information, if any, analytically and/or logically true sentences have to offer. According to ESI, analytically true sentences lack informational content, and any two analytically equivalent sentences convey the same piece of information. This problem is connected with Cohen and Nagel’s paradox of inference: Since the conclusion of a valid argument is contained in the premises, it fails to provide any novel information. Again, ESI does not give a satisfactory account of the paradox. In this paper I propose a solution based on the distinction between empirical information and analytic information. Declarative sentences are informative due to their meanings. I construe meanings as structured hyperintensions, modelled in Tr

Review of "information - A Very Short Introduction"

Et cetera: Steven Poole's non-fiction choice On information, trade and brands (1) Tweet this (1) Comments (0) Steven Poole The Guardian , Saturday 15 May 2010 Article history Information: A Very Short Introduction, by Luciano Floridi (Oxford, £7.99) We live, or so we are told, in an "information economy", so we had better be sure what we mean when we say "information". Floridi's splendidly pellucid text lays out the meanings of information in the mathematical theory of communication, computing, thermodynamics, biology, and economics, offering thoughtful examples and helpful warnings against loose talk – as when he enumerates a list of commonly used verbs that do not describe what genes do with information (they don't "send", "contain", "describe", "carry", or "encode" it). Having completed his task of scrupulous exegesis, Floridi argues in favour of a global "infor

Luciano Floridi and the philosophy of information

Metaphilosophy, Volume 41 Issue 3 (April 2010) Special Issue: Luciano Floridi and the philosophy of information Guest Editor: Patrick Allo Introduction PUTTING INFORMATION FIRST: LUCIANO FLORIDI AND THE PHILOSOPHY OF INFORMATION (p 247-254) PATRICK ALLO DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-9973.2010.01646.x Knowledge THE VALUE OF KNOWLEDGE AND THE PURSUIT OF SURVIVAL (p 255-278) SHERRILYN ROUSH DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-9973.2010.01635.x KNOWLEDGE TRANSMISSIBILITY AND PLURALISTIC IGNORANCE: A FIRST STAB (p 279-291) VINCENT F. HENDRICKS DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-9973.2010.01640.x Agency MEETING FLORIDI'S CHALLENGE TO ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE FROM THE KNOWLEDGE-GAME TEST FOR SELF-CONSCIOUSNESS (p 292-312) SELMER BRINGSJORD DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-9973.2010.01639.x Semantic Information INFORMATION WITHOUT TRUTH (p 313-330) ANDREA SCARANTINO, GUALTIERO PICCININI DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-9973.2010.01632.x INFORMATION AND KNOWLEDGE À LA FLORIDI (p 331-344) FRED ADAMS DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-997

Postdoctoral Marie Curie Fellowship in philosophy at the University of Hertfordshire, UK

PLEASE FORWARD TO ANY INTERESTED PARTY Dear Colleague, the new deadline for applications to the European postdoctoral Marie Curie Fellowships is approaching. Researchers who have completed their PhD (but NOT in the UK) are fluent in English are keen on spending two years of postdoctoral studies at the University of Hertfordshire in the UK would like to work on a project related to the philosophy, logic, epistemology, metaphysics or ethics of information, broadly conceived would like to join the research group in the philosophy of information at the University of Hertfordshire have not recently spent more than one year in the UK for academic reasons are very welcome to send their CVs and an initial expression of interest (all in English) to Mrs Penny Driscoll, All my best regards, Luciano Floridi
After many years of good service, things have become more cumbersome at Blogger. FTP publishing will no longer be available after 01 May 2010. I need to decide whether to migrate to a better service. Watch this space. cheers Luciano 

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Call for Chapter Abstracts for the Book Luciano Floridi`s Philosophy of Technology: Critical Reflections

Call for Chapter Abstracts for the Book Luciano Floridi`s Philosophy of Technology: Critical Reflections Publisher: Springer (Philosophy of Engineering and Technology Book Series) Book Series Editor in Chief: Vermaas, P. The Volume Editor: Ibo van de Poel Guest Editor for the volume: Hilmi Demir. Chapter submissions until June 15, 2010 to The collected volume focuses on Luciano Floridi`s Philosophy of Technology and will explore both the philosophical and empirical aspects of his theory. Here is a sample of the issues that we intend to cover within the framework of the collected volume. 1. The nature of information 2. Ethics and Information Technology 3. Knowledge and Technology 4. The notion of `being informed` and its formal analysis 5. Floridi`s notion of `Levels of Abstraction` 6. Philosophy of Computing and AI 7. Philosophy of Technology and Education 8. Floridi`s notion of `infospher

Legal Deposit Act

This is a short interview for The Oxford Student on Brittain's Department for Culture, Media and Sport's recent proposal on the implementation of the 2003 Legal Deposit Act as regards websites ( ). Tendai Musakwa: In the proposal, the department suggests deposit libraries such as the Bodleian be legally empowered to archive freely available websites to document Britain's history. 1. What is your view on allowing deposit libraries to archive websites? Luciano Floridi: It is an excellent and timely idea. The online and digital nature of most of our data means that we can easily rewrite, lose or erase vast amounts of irreplaceable information. We need to use our technologies at their best in order to cope with their forgetful memories. Tendai Musakwa: 2. The British Library has expressed dismay at the delay in implementing website deposit regulations since the 2003 act, warning that earlier ver

Barwise Prize

 I have delivered the Barwise Lecture at the APA Meeting on the 29th of December 2009 in NY. This is the prize.