Maher Lecture Rescheduled For 1 August

Tim Maher’s online lecture has been rescheduled. The new time is Thursday 1 August 2013, at 17:00 GMT (13:00 New York, 18:00 London, 19:00 Amsterdam). The original lecture was cancelled due to a scheduling problem. Please RSVP to me if you would like to attend the new lecture. We apologize to everyone who has been inconvenienced by the rescheduling and we appreciate your patience.

Here is the updated talk info:

Ambient Intelligence: Implications for Global Environmental Change and Totalitarianism Risk
Thursday 1 August 2013, 17:00 GMT (13:00 New York, 18:00 London, 19:00 Amsterdam)
To be held online via Skype or equivalent. RSVP required by email to Seth Baum (seth [at] Space is limited.

The lecture will feature three discussants:
Maurits Kaptein, Assistant Professor of Statistics and Research Methods at the University of Tilburg and founder of PersuasionAPI
Arden Rowell, GCRI Research Associate and Assistant Professor, University of Illinois College of Law
We regret that Peter Howe will no longer be able to attend.

The lecture is based on Maher’s M.S. thesis Ambient Intelligence and Ambient Persuasive Technology: Sustainability and Threats to Autonomy.


One set of emerging information and communication technologies, Ambient Intelligence (AmI) and Ambient Persuasive Technology (AmPT), offers large possible benefits toward encouraging a more sustainable use of resources. Ambient Intelligence can increase economic and energy efficiency by automating the built environment. Ambient Persuasive Technology can help increase the likelihood of behaviors that better the environment. However, these technologies come with great risk. In this presentation, I analyze this risk, focusing on issues of individual and state security, privacy, and totalitarianism, and conclude that the majority of this risk can be distilled down to the threat of paternalism and other threats to autonomy. I then analyze the ethics of AmI and AmPT paternalism and potential threats to autonomy using Kantian deontological and Millian consequentialist frameworks. Assuming this set of ethical views is correct, this ethical investigation concludes that the only moral way to implement these technologies is to give individual users the ability to control their relationship with AmI and AmPT. In effect, users should be their own paternalists. I conclude with discussions and policy recommendations for improving data security, enabling users to be more involved in the design process of AmI and AmPT, and enabling users greater direct control over their own levels of consent for each AmI and AmPT operation.

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Seth Baum is Executive Director of the Global Catastrophic Risk Institute.
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