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Sleep Drug Modafinil Affirmed by Scientists as a Safe and Effective Brain Booster

Off-license users of modafinil—a drug developed to treat various sleep disorders—have known for some time that it doubles as a surprisingly effective cognitive enhancer, and with very few side effects. A new systematic review shows it’s true, raising some important ethical questions about the use of smart drugs.
» 8/20/15 3:00pm 8/20/15 3:00pm

If You Could Take a Pill to Improve Your Creativity, Would You?

Sure, who wouldn’t want to be more creative? But what about a pill to improve your self-control, or sociability? What if you enjoy being impulsive, or revel in your alone time? If a pharmacological enhancement changed a defining aspect of your personality, how would it change your perception of that enhancement? » 8/18/15 3:20pm 8/18/15 3:20pm

We Should Not Dismiss the Dangers of "Killer Robots" So Quickly

Earlier this summer, more than a thousand prominent thinkers and specialists signed an open letter calling for a ban on autonomous killing machines. Since then, a number of critics have condemned the motion, citing it as both dangerous and useless. Optimization researcher Toby Walsh explains why we shouldn’t be so… » 8/14/15 12:40pm 8/14/15 12:40pm

The Animal-Lover's Dilemma: I Don't Eat Meat, but My Pet Does

When moral philosopher Gary Steiner first adopted his cat Pindar, the vet advised him to put the cat to sleep. A rescue animal, Pindar had tested positive for FIV (feline AIDS) and feline leukemia, and has since developed other chronic health issues, including kidney disease. Steiner decided to keep Pindar, triggering… » 7/31/15 12:31pm 7/31/15 12:31pm

Why the Argument Against a Ban on Autonomous Killer Robots Falls Flat

This week, an open letter was presented at an AI conference in Buenos Aires, Argentina calling for a ban on autonomous weapons. The letter has been signed by nearly 14,000 prominent thinkers and leading robotics researchers, but not everyone agrees with its premise. Here’s the case against a ban on killer robots, and… » 7/29/15 12:20pm 7/29/15 12:20pm

Can We Ensure That Our First Encounter With Alien Life Is Ethical?

In April, NASA Chief scientist Ellen Stofan predicted we would “have strong indications of life beyond Earth within a decade,” and “definitive evidence within 20 to 30 years.” Assuming this timeline is correct, how do we ensure the life we encounter—which astrobiologists predict will be non-sentient—will be respected? » 6/18/15 1:40pm 6/18/15 1:40pm

Your Doctor Probably Has A DNR. Here's Why You Should Consider One, Too.

Most patients receiving end-of-life care want to avoid aggressive attempts to prolong their life, but medical culture and practices often contradict these wishes. Part of the problem is due to confusion surrounding do-not-resuscitate orders. Here’s what patients really need to know about the “no code.”
» 5/06/15 12:05pm 5/06/15 12:05pm

Scientists Make History By Genetically Modifying Human Embryos

After weeks of speculation, it can finally be confirmed that geneticists in China have modified the DNA of human embryos. It’s a watershed moment in biotech history, but the experiment may ultimately serve as a major setback in the effort to responsibly develop beneficial interventions involving the human germline.
» 4/23/15 7:30am 4/23/15 7:30am