“There are no objective values.”

J.L Mackie, 1977, p. 15

Humanity has no moral canon which a common set of ethics can stem from. There is conflict all around us. Most, if not all conflicts arise out of differences in opinions, which in turn occur because people have their own set of unique morals.

The issue of difference in moral opinions has brought to the table many heated debates. One that has always been seen in the spotlight is policy and law making on various issues, for example: someone is happy with a healthy baby and yet another person is deeming it their right to resort to feticide. Someone who has watched a dear one suffer from a debilitating condition over an extended period of time has a different opinion on euthanasia versus someone who hasn’t. Law enforcement officers in violent neighborhoods who have witnessed fellow officers being shot have a different perspective of whether to fire when in doubt, versus human rights activists who haven’t.

Parleys between parties who have different sets of moral values are indisputably endless, and therefore, I will dwell no more on those than necessary. The aspect of this debate that I intend to focus on in this article is the labyrinthine world of machine ethics. Machine ethics, also known as computational ethics is a part of the ethics of artificial intelligence concerned with adding moral behaviors to machines which use artificial intelligence, otherwise known as artificial intelligent agents. As the sphere of technology is constantly being updated, we are now seeing more autonomous machines than ever. This has presented programmers with a large scale problem, unprecedented and intricate.

Let’s take the example of self driving cars, an innovation that is taking off big time. You are in a self driving car that is running on the road, “boxed in” by vehicles all around. On your right side is a motorcycle, to the left is a regular SUV, in front and to the back of you are two large trucks. The safety of each party is considered by the smart car before it comes to its decision. To elaborate, the smart car knows the following: swerving right immediately results in high damage to the motorcyclist, heading back or front means you will be compromising on your safety. Swerving left to the SUV may be slightly less damaging in terms of net harm done. What should the smart car do?

 Another scenario: say you’ve been found in the same situation, but with motorcyclists on both sides. However, the one to your left is wearing a helmet, and the one to your right is not. What will your robot car crash into? Forward, endangering your own life?  Left: to the safer, helmet-armed passenger? or to the right: the exposed, law breaking motorcyclist? “If you say the biker because she’s more likely to survive, then aren’t you penalizing the motorist? If instead, you swerve towards the biker without the helmet because he’s acting irresponsibly, then you’ve gone way beyond the initial design principle about minimizing harm, and the robot car is now meting out street justice” These are the scenarios displayed in a TED-Ed video:

If a human was driving the same car, whatever they do can be written off as human impulse, and they may not be punished. However, the action of the smart car is pre-meditated, and may pose legal confusions. How can this be resolved?

Coming back to our smart car, what will it do? Well, obviously what it’s been programmed to do. What will the programmer do then? Now, that is a tricky question, which can cause an outcry in any way it is answered. As discussed before there are no objective values and therefore, no one can say there is a correct answer. Trying to program the smart car to act in a certain way in various situations will always bring up questions like: is the life of a younger person more valuable than an older one? Would you kill one person if it means saving five even though your inaction means the one person is safe? Dilemmas like this present themselves all the time in machine ethics, and it is unclear if there can ever be a unambiguous answer.

How can researchers equip a robot to react when it is “making the decision between two bad choices”.Computer scientists working on rigorously programmed machine ethics today favour code that uses logical statements, such as ‘If a statement is true, move forward; if it is false, do not move.’ Logic is the ideal choice for encoding machine ethics, argues Luís Moniz Pereira, a computer scientist at the Nova Laboratory for Computer Science and Informatics in Lisbon. “Logic is how we reason and come up with our ethical choices,” he says. But how can this be done when they all have different morals? Isn’t this somewhat like placing justice on these programmers’ plates?

McDonald and Pak (1996), while researching cognitive frameworks used by people to make decisions, identified eight frameworks that influence ethical decisions:

  • Self-interest: selfishly gaining the greatest degree of personal satisfaction
  • Utilitarianism: the decision to produce the greatest ratio of good over bad for everyone
  • Categorical Imperative: regardless of the consequences, the decision is either morally right or wrong
  • Duty: the decision may be inherently right because of the duty one has
  • Justice: concerned the fairness of the decision
  • Neutralization: the decision to reduce the possible impact of norm-violating behaviors upon self-concept and social relationships
  • The light of the day: the decision to consider the question what if this information went public?

Since it is obvious that the degree to which each of these frameworks applies to each of us, how is the problem of machine ethics solved? Is it right to program robots to the customer’s own personal moral values? Is it even feasible? Should a government regulated set of rules be applied to this, similar to normal law making?

These are a few questions that I think us, as a society should discuss and reflect upon. The pace of development is such that these difficulties will soon affect health-care robots, military drones and other autonomous devices capable of making decisions that could help or harm humans.

Note: the words ‘morals’ and ‘values’ have been used interchangeably. So have the words ‘computer scientists’ and programmers’. This article is more discussion-al than anything and is intended to be opened up for further  meaningful dialogue.

 Credits: medium.com, wikipedia.com, springer link 

This article was written by Bharati Challa a new contributor and soon to be writer

Most of us have now been in quarantine for a few weeks and are starting to lose a bearing on time. Some of us have seized the opportunity and are doing various detoxes. Whilst some of us are drinking regularly to take the edge of the crisis and because frankly, we don’t have much else to do.

In fact, drinking has become such a popular past time that #quarantini has become a trending hashtag. Wine and alcohol companies such as winc have seen up to a 600% increase in new member sign-ups and deliveries. 

 We at Quarksnews wanted to know more and better advise ourselves and our readers about healthy drinking habits

What are the benefits of drinking?

Aside from taking the edge of a little, alcohol does have noted beneficial outcomes when it’s consumed. Some studies indicate that alcohol can reduce the risk of developing heart disease and cognitive disorders that are affiliated with age. Alcohol can also reduce the risk of diabetes. Nevertheless, a lot of alcoholic beverages contain large quantities of sugar and therefore the risk of diabetes could increase, depending on what is drunk. And although alcohol is classed as a depressant light and moderate use can lead to lower rates of depression.

Furthermore, certain alcoholic beverages can have their own beneficial effects. Such as:

 

 Guinness

  • High in antioxidants.
  • High in Iron.
  • High in phytoestrogen which improves bone strength. 
  • Due to its health benefits, it is often added to Irish dishes where the alcohol is boiled off and the healthy parts remain.

Red wine

  • Contains antioxidants. (Although red wine can in no way substitute for antioxidants you would otherwise consume).
  • Can reduce cancer.
  • Reduces insulin resistance.

Alcohol Dehydrogenase

There is one effect of regular drinking which many can see as a benefit or a consequence. This effect is the build-up of the enzyme alcohol dehydrogenase. This enzyme is responsible for the process that breaks down ethanol into non-toxic products. This process works by converting ethanol into acetaldehyde, then to acetic acid and finally, it converts the acetic acid into carbon dioxide and water. This is the process which allows you to regain sobriety or to not get drunk. The more you consume alcohol the more alcohol dehydrogenase will be produced and the harder it will be for you to get drunk. If you drink less the opposite will happen.

An image of the enzyme alcohol dehydrogenase

This is a benefit and a consequence depending if you want to have a higher tolerance and be able to drink more or have a lower tolerance and be able to get drunk cheaper. However, it is important to note that alcohol dehydrogenase is not the only factor that affects your tolerance and many other factors such as body mass and gender have a significant part to play as well.

 What are the dangers of drinking?

Needless to say, there are countless risks to drinking. The buzzed feel and loss of inhibition, which is chased by alcohol consumers, is dangerous by itself. These effects can cause serious damage due to falls, motor vehicle accidents and the increased number of fights. Drunkenness can even cause suicide as suicidal thoughts can be acted out without the brain stopping them. As alcohol is a drug withdrawal from it can cause withdrawal symptoms along with depression. However, these dangers mainly come along with heavy and binge drinking which is not the purpose of the article.

“When consumed in excess, alcohol can cause damage to immune cells in the lungs, upper respiratory system, and the gut. This, in turn, poses a higher risk for the chance of developing diseases like pneumonia or tuberculosis, making you more susceptible to COVID-19,”

Dr Niket Sonpal; Internist and Gastroenterologist.

Moderate drinking can play a role in the following issues:

  • Certain types of cancer.
  • Strokes.
  • High blood pressure.
  • Heart muscle damage.
  • Liver disease.
  • Brain damage to unborn children.
  • A disrupted sleep pattern.

Aside from these long term issues there clearly remains the issue of the high-calorie intake whilst drinking. Alcohol is often mixed with a sweet drink to offset the bitter dry taste. This means that although it may be easier to consume three rum and cokes than three cokes. You will still be having all the sugar, caffeine and additives from whatever the alcohol was mixed with.

What should we be doing?

As any health professional will tell you if you are going to drink, drink in moderation. To drink moderately, according to the CDC, is to drink up to one unit a day for women and two units a day for men.

 It is important to note that a unit is roughly equal to a 33cl beer so drinking a pint is more than the maximum daily intake CDC recommends for a woman. 

If you do want to drink in moderation, then:

  • Try and not to drink every day to avoid dependency. Up to three times a week is fine.
  • Try to drink healthier drinks. Stick to red wine or Guinness and avoid sugary drinks.
  • Be prepared for a potential change in your tolerance.
  • And although this is less of a concern during quarantine. Avoid being at risk to yourself or others and do not operate heavy machinery.

We hope you found this article interesting. If you have any further questions or remarks please leave a comment. If you want to write your own article and publish it here; you can become a writer by filling out the form in the about us page!

Deploying of The CubeSats

NASA has begun a new mission to create a weather forecast for space. The SunRISE experiment ( Sun Radio Interferometer Space Experiment) is an experiment designed to track and better understand giant space weather storms caused by solar flares from our suns corona. In a statement released by NASA, the project will release six CubeSat satellites that are “about the size of a toaster oven” into a super-geosynchronous orbit around our earth.

The launch will happen no earlier than the 1st of July, 2023 and will cost NASA a whopping 62.6 million US dollars. However, NASA is using an ingenious money and fuel-saving method to bring the satellites up into their orbit called NASA Missions of opportunity. Where the six toaster sized satellites will join another launch in the process known as a hosted rideshare. The launch they are scheduled to join is on a commercial satellite provided by Maxar of Westminster.

“We are so pleased to add a new mission to our fleet of spacecraft that help us better understand the Sun, as well as how our star influences the space environment between planets, the more we know about how the Sun erupts with space weather events, the more we can mitigate their effects on spacecraft and astronauts.” 

Nicky Fox, director of NASA’s Heliophysics division

How does the array work?

The SunRISE array will capture radio images of low-frequency emissions from the suns corona and will send the data back to Earth via NASA’s Deep Space Network. These images will aid NASA to form a three-dimensional map of particle emissions and the pattern of magnetic field lines reaching from the Sun. This will help determine what initiates and accelerates these giant jets of radiation and how they evolve as they expand outward into space. By tracing the radiation back to its origin, NASA hopes to develop a better understanding of these giant particle jets, and what accelerates them to such high velocities.

“Knowing which part of a coronal mass ejection is responsible for producing the particle radiation will help us understand how the acceleration happens.

Justin Kasper. Professor of Climate and Space Sciences at the University of Michigan

Although NASA can already detect solar flares, the earth’s ionosphere blocks out radiation which is vital to take these readings. At the moment with earth-based detectors, NASA doesn’t know if the solar flares they detect will be of a high enough energy to impact earth or space equipment and space travel. Therefore the SunRISE array will orbit about 35’000 kilometres above the earth’s ionosphere. In order to aid the quality of the data recorded each CubeSat would fly within 6 miles of one another and combine their data, acting as one larger device. This process called interferometry and is the same process which allowed the first-ever image of a black hole to be recorded with the event horizon telescope.

How will the array benefit us?

After the Mars curiosity rover completed its journey to the red planet, scientists were greeted with unwelcome news. The rover carried a particle detector on its journey and detected high levels of radiation, dangerous to any life making the same journey. This increased radiation from the solar flares can alter and permanently damage DNA. It can cause cancer, damage motor functions and behaviours, cause neurological disorders and could even result in death.

Luckily here on earth, we are protected by our ionosphere; a densely packed layer of ions and electrons which can deflect unwanted radiation from entering our planet. Although we are protected from the direct health issues from these flares on earth, our technology is not. Large flares can result in the shutdown of power grids and circuits. This can have widespread issues if certain circuitry is fried, such as rocket launches, missiles etc. Which could potentially result in large scale death and loss of assets.

By creating a ‘weather forecast’ for these particle bursts NASA can give warning allowing for dangerous and non-essential circuitry to be turned off as well as create safer precautions and flight plans for astronauts in orbit or even for the first colonizers going to Mars.

“It could also result in a unique warning system for whether an event will both produce radiation and release that radiation towards Earth or spacefaring astronauts.”

Justin Kasper, Professor of Climate and Space Sciences at the University of Michigan.

In addition to these health and safety benefits, the array will help us get a better understanding of our star as well as local gas giants.

We at Quarksnews have recently held an interview with a consultant and representative of VOXX discussing the new release of a shoe sole that gives you enhanced abilities. This technology can be felt instantly by nearly all people who experience this, and our consultant believes it can be spread most by public demos. Us here at Quarksnews have personally tried and tested this technology, doing comparative tests to other foot soles and even testing for placebo effects, concluding that this technology is somewhat effective. Our consultant claims that he has received better sleep, felt more relaxed, can lift his DJ equipment easily and faster and others have even noticed his increase in focus.

How does it work?

This device contains a three-dimensional code resembling a QR code or a fingerprint. Once the foot comes into contact with the code Neuropoints are activated in the foot. This sends signals up to the brain and creates an enhanced state of homeostasis, or equilibrium, in the midbrain. The area of the brain that is responsible for automatic functions such as balance, flexibility, power, range of motion, stability as well as increasing strength, shortening reaction times and reducing pain.

“Its basically for anyone with a brain”

“Ahead of its time”

The VOXX technology can increase the motor homeostasis in the body for two reasons: One, the feet are one of the most receptive parts of the human body and are therefore most receptive to this sort of stimulation. Two, the VOXX HTP doesn’t create the effects but rather unlocks the effects that were locked away long ago when humans stopped relying on their sense of balance and strength to find their next meal.

At the moment the technology is available in the form of socks, insoles and a patch.

Love the fit and feel of the athletic line socks, I have tried 3 out of 4 of the line and just ordered the mini crew for myself …so far I absolutely love all 3! They feel like a hug for my foot! However, the best thing of all is what the HPT is doing for my neurological system

Sheryn Willis

How it’s going to impact the world?

The VOXX technology was originally developed by a man who wished to help with his mothers’ multiple sclerosis (MS). After spending years of research into innovative solutions for this he came upon this technology. Ever since his breakthrough, he has furthered his work and research on the product, introducing the first models recently primarily as a sporting aid, due to its effects on strength and balance. And according to one of the top practitioners in the world to be 100 years ahead of modern technology

2000 medical practitioners advise it 

 As quoted from the VOXX website

“In the case of professional and amateur athletes, the spectre of Performance Enhancing Drugs has seemingly invaded every sport at every level. Athletes want and need safe, natural and legal alternatives to achieve maximum performance. Athletes are also consuming supplements, vitamins, protein powders, compression apparel, and high-performance shoes all with the aim of improving their performance. People are investing in training and coaching to reach their peak.”