Author: Keiran Harris

Elon Musk, Mark Zuckerberg, and the Importance of Taking AI Risks Seriously

A recent public disagreement between Elon Musk and Mark Zuckerberg was picked up widely in the media. It concerned their vastly different views on the topic of artificial intelligence. Musk has been saying for years that AI represents ‘an existential risk for human civilisation’; Zuckerberg believes that such claims are ‘irresponsible’. Some insisting that Elon Musk is wrong about AI focus on the benefits of artificial intelligence (as though the founder of Tesla isn’t aware of the benefits of, say, automated vehicles). It is undoubtedly true that AI has the potential to be the very best technological advancement of human history, and by a very large margin. Yet the obvious upsides do not somehow eliminate the possibility of existential risk. Others decided that Musk is simply trying to promote his personal brand as a tech superhero, and that he isn’t concerned about the future of humanity at all. If true, this would reveal a disappointingly flawed human being – and reveal absolutely nothing regarding the problem of artificial intelligence safety. From my perspective, the most …

Review: Doing Good Better — William MacAskill

A review of  Doing Good Better: How Effective Altruism Can Help You Help Others, Do Work that Matters, and Make Smarter Choices about Giving Back, by William MacAskill. Avery; Reprint edition (August 2, 2016), 272 pages. Imagine you’re walking down the street when you see an out of control stroller speeding past. A mother screams out in horror as her child rockets towards traffic. You burst into action, sprint onto the road, and divert the baby from an oncoming truck. You’ve saved a life. You’re a hero. Now, imagine doing that several times. You rescue one person drowning at the beach, drag another from a burning building, foil an attempted murder… as the saviour of several lives – you’re rapidly approaching superhero status. But, according to William MacAskill’s book Doing Good Better, we can do more than that. ‘Far more than that’. MacAskill seeks to convince that not only are we in the developed world in a position to do a tremendous amount of good, but that our approach to doing good is itself tremendously …

Why Isn’t Sexual Slavery a Feminist Priority?

That Nadia Murad’s #StandforYazidiWomen campaign hasn’t captured the attention of Western feminists is an appalling oversight. Some of the most popular feminist topics on Twitter last year included equality for public nudity, sexism in the tech industry, and racial diversity for Oscar nominations. Yet the topic of global sexual slavery brings a scarcely believable absence of attention. The Yazidis, viewed as devil worshippers by their captors, were overrun by ISIS in north-western Iraq in August 2014 in the beginning of what is now being recognised as a genocide. Most of the men and older women were instantly slaughtered. Thousands of younger women and girls were taken to the Islamic State’s ‘caliphate’, where they were traded among Jihadists as sex slaves. Nadia is a survivor of this mass sexual enslavement, and now a human rights advocate. Regarding her fight, Nadia said “I am continuing to do this, with resiliency, because millions of women and girls have no rights. Their lives were destroyed, and their lives will remain destroyed if we don’t say anything. To bring back …