Is removing monuments the same as removing history?

Confederacy: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (HBO)

“Confederate symbols are still celebrated despite the ugly history they symbolize. John Oliver suggests some representations of southern pride that involve less racism and more Stephen Colbert.”

Advertisements

Why Postmodern Art is Vacant

“Not only are they dull and predictable, but the artistic skill of many of the big names in contemporary art is suspect. Behind the grandiose pieces and the attention grabbing works created purely for shock value lies a very important question: “Where is the skill and ability in all this?” No skill is required to place a rotting cows head in a glass cube with an insect-o-cutor (A Thousand Years by Damien Hirst). No ability is needed to set up a room with a light that switches on and off (Work No. 227: The Lights Going On and Offby Martin Creed, a work that won him the Turner Prize). It is most probably the case that the electrician who installed said lights and the abattoir worker who severed the cow’s head possess more skill and expertise than either Mr. Hirst or Mr. Creed.”

http://quillette.com/2017/09/12/postmodern-art-vacant/

Why ‘killer robots’ are becoming a real threat – and an ethics test

More ethical than humans?

Many ethicists and artificial intelligence developers want to ensure people are kept in the loop when lethal force is applied. At the moment, that’s a given, at least from those nations adhering to the law of war. Robots struggle to differentiate between soldiers and civilians in complex battle settings.

But the day may come, some say, when robots are able to be more ethical than human troops, because their judgment wouldn’t be clouded by emotions such vengefulness or self-preservation, which can shape human judgment.

“Unfortunately, humanity has a rather dismal record in ethical behavior in the battlefield,” Ronald Arkin, director of the Mobile Robot Laboratory at the Georgia Institute of Technology, wrote in a guest blog for the IEEE, a technical professional organization. “Such systems might be capable of reducing civilian casualties and property damage when compared to the performance of human warfighters.”

https://www.csmonitor.com/layout/set/amphtml/USA/Military/2017/0831/Why-killer-robots-are-becoming-a-real-threat-and-an-ethics-test

We Legitimize the ‘So-Called’ Confederacy With Our Vocabulary, and That’s a Problem

Fascinating article that delves into the role of language and its effect on our understanding of history as well as the present. How is our collective memory shaped by the words we use to describe the past?

“Landis goes on to suggest that we call plantations what they really were—slave labor camps; and drop the use of the term, “the Union.” A common usage in the 19th century to be sure, but now one we only use “the Union” in reference to the Civil War and on the day of the State of the Union address. A better way to speak of the nation during the war, he argues, is to use its name, the United States.”

“As Douglass was already concerned that the victors were losing the war of historical memory to the supposedly vanquished, I am not sure that he would have been surprised that not far from where he stood at the national cemetery—often considered the nation’s most hallowed ground—a Confederate memorial would be built in the early 20th century to the insurgents he felt “struck at the nation’s life.”

“Douglass knew, day-by-day, after the shooting stopped, a history war was playing out. It is clearly not over yet. Words, though they do not stand as marble and bronze memorials in parks and in front of buildings or fly on flagpoles, are perhaps even more powerful and pernicious. The monuments we’ve built with language may, in fact, be even more difficult to tear down.”

http://www.smithsonianmag.com/smithsonian-institution/we-legitimize-so-called-confederacy-vocabulary-thats-problem-180964830/#D3DM5FOjKPhcmXuR.01

Should we stop keeping pets? Why more and more ethicists say yes

 

“It is morally problematic, because more people are thinking of pets as people … They consider them part of their family, they think of them as their best friend, they wouldn’t sell them for a million dollars,” says Dr Hal Herzog, a professor of psychology at Western Carolina University and one of the founders of the budding field of anthrozoology, which examines human-animal relations. At the same time, research is revealing that the emotional lives of animals, even relatively “simple” animals such as goldfish, are far more complex and rich than we once thought (“dogs are people, too”, according to a 2013 New York Times comment piece by the neuroscientist Gregory Berns). “The logical consequence is that the more we attribute them with these characteristics, the less right we have to control every single aspect of their lives,” says Herzog.

Does this mean that, in 50 years or 100 years, we won’t have pets? Institutions that exploit animals, such as the circus, are shutting down – animal rights activists claimed a significant victory this year with the closure of Ringling Bros circus – and there are calls to end, or at least rethink, zoos. Meanwhile, the number of Britons who profess to be vegan is on the rise, skyrocketing 350% between 2006 and 2016.

https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2017/aug/01/should-we-stop-keeping-pets-why-more-and-more-ethicists-say-yes