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Steven Umbrello
Università di Torino
  1.  36
    Expanding Care-Centered Value Sensitive Design: Designing Care Robots with AI for Social Good Norms.Steven Umbrello, Marianna Capasso, Maurizio Balistreri, Alberto Pirni & Federica Merenda - manuscript
    The increasing automation and ubiquity of robotics deployed within the field of care boasts promising advantages. However, challenging ethical issues arise also as a consequence. This paper takes care robots for the elderly as the subject of analysis, building on previous literature in the domain of the ethics and design of care robots. It takes the value sensitive design (VSD) approach to technology design and extends its application to care robots by not only integrating the values of care, but also (...)
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  2.  78
    The Future of Value Sensitive Design.Batya Friedman, David Hendry, Steven Umbrello, Jeroen Van Den Hoven & Daisy Yoo - 2020 - Paradigm Shifts in ICT Ethics: Proceedings of the 18th International Conference ETHICOMP 2020.
    In this panel, we explore the future of value sensitive design (VSD). The stakes are high. Many in public and private sectors and in civil society are gradually realizing that taking our values seriously implies that we have to ensure that values effectively inform the design of technology which, in turn, shapes people’s lives. Value sensitive design offers a highly developed set of theory, tools, and methods to systematically do so.
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  3. Atomically Precise Manufacturing and Responsible Innovation: A Value Sensitive Design Approach to Explorative Nanophilosophy.Steven Umbrello - 2019 - International Journal of Technoethics 10 (2):1-21.
    Although continued investments in nanotechnology are made, atomically precise manufacturing (APM) to date is still regarded as speculative technology. APM, also known as molecular manufacturing, is a token example of a converging technology, has great potential to impact and be affected by other emerging technologies, such as artificial intelligence, biotechnology, and ICT. The development of APM thus can have drastic global impacts depending on how it is designed and used. This paper argues that the ethical issues that arise from APM (...)
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  4. Imaginative Value Sensitive Design: Using Moral Imagination Theory to Inform Responsible Technology Design.Steven Umbrello - 2020 - Science and Engineering Ethics 26 (2):575-595.
    Safe-by-Design (SBD) frameworks for the development of emerging technologies have become an ever more popular means by which scholars argue that transformative emerging technologies can safely incorporate human values. One such popular SBD methodology is called Value Sensitive Design (VSD). A central tenet of this design methodology is to investigate stakeholder values and design those values into technologies during early stage research and development (R&D). To accomplish this, the VSD framework mandates that designers consult the philosophical and ethical literature to (...)
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  5. A Value-Sensitive Design Approach to Intelligent Agents.Steven Umbrello & Angelo Frank De Bellis - 2018 - In Roman Yampolskiy (ed.), Artificial Intelligence Safety and Security. New York, NY, USA: CRC Press. pp. 395-410.
    This chapter proposed a novel design methodology called Value-Sensitive Design and its potential application to the field of artificial intelligence research and design. It discusses the imperatives in adopting a design philosophy that embeds values into the design of artificial agents at the early stages of AI development. Because of the high risk stakes in the unmitigated design of artificial agents, this chapter proposes that even though VSD may turn out to be a less-than-optimal design methodology, it currently provides a (...)
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  6.  68
    Value-Oriented and Ethical Technology Engineering in Industry 5.0: A Human-Centric Perspective for the Design of the Factory of the Future.Francesco Longo, Antonio Padovano & Steven Umbrello - 2020 - Applied Sciences 10 (12):4182.
    Manufacturing and industry practices are undergoing an unprecedented revolution as a consequence of the convergence of emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence, robotics, cloud computing, virtual and augmented reality, among others. This fourth industrial revolution is similarly changing the practices and capabilities of operators in their industrial environments. This paper introduces and explores the notion of the Operator 4.0 as well as how this novel way of conceptualizing the human operator necessarily implicates human values in the technologies that constitute it. (...)
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  7.  69
    Mapping Value Sensitive Design Onto AI for Social Good Principles.Steven Umbrello & Ibo van de Poel - manuscript
    Value Sensitive Design (VSD) is an established method for integrating values in technical design. It has been applied to different technologies and recently also to artificial intelligence (AI) applications. We argue that AI poses a number of specific challenges to VSD that require a somewhat adapted VSD approach. These challenges mainly derive from the use of machine learning (ML) in AI. ML poses two challenges to VSD. First, it may opaque (to humans) how an AI system has learned certain things, (...)
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  8. The Moral Psychology of Value Sensitive Design: The Methodological Issues of Moral Intuitions for Responsible Innovation.Steven Umbrello - 2018 - Journal of Responsible Innovation 5 (2):186-200.
    This paper argues that although moral intuitions are insufficient for making judgments on new technological innovations, they maintain great utility for informing responsible innovation. To do this, this paper employs the Value Sensitive Design (VSD) methodology as an illustrative example of how stakeholder values can be better distilled to inform responsible innovation. Further, it is argued that moral intuitions are necessary for determining stakeholder values required for the design of responsible technologies. This argument is supported by the claim that the (...)
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  9. A Theory of Everything? [REVIEW]Steven Umbrello - 2018 - Cultural Studies Review 24 (2):184-186.
    Enter Object-Oriented Ontology: A New Theory of Everything.Eschewing the verbose and often obscurantist tendencies of other philosopher-authors, Harman tackles what might otherwise be a complicated, controversial and counter-intuitive philosophical stance with accessible and easy-to-follow prose. OOO has never been so clear nor so convincingly presented as it is here. Covered in seven chapters, the book gives a genealogical account of OOO, chronicling the reason for its emergence, comparing it to both the past and current philosophical traditions and arguing for its (...)
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  10.  45
    Coupling Levels of Abstraction in Understanding Meaningful Human Control of Autonomous Weapons: A Two-Tiered Approach.Steven Umbrello - manuscript
    The international debate on the ethics and legality of autonomous weapon systems (AWS) as well as the call for a ban are primarily focused on the nebulous concept of fully autonomous AWS. More specifically, on AWS that are capable of target selection and engagement without human supervision or control. This paper argues that such a conception of autonomy is divorced both from military planning and decision-making operations as well as the design requirements that govern AWS engineering and subsequently the tracking (...)
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  11. Designing the Smart Operator 4.0 for Human Values: A Value Sensitive Design Approach.Steven Umbrello, Antonio Padovano & Lucia Gazzaneo - 2020 - Procedia Manufacturing 42:219-226.
    Emerging technologies such as cloud computing, augmented and virtual reality, artificial intelligence and robotics, among others, are transforming the field of manufacturing and industry as a whole in unprecedent ways. This fourth industrial revolution is consequentially changing how operators that have been crucial to industry success go about their practices in industrial environments. This short paper briefly introduces the notion of the Operator 4.0 as well as how this novel way of conceptualizing the human operator necessarily implicates human values in (...)
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  12. Beneficial Artificial Intelligence Coordination by Means of a Value Sensitive Design Approach.Steven Umbrello - 2019 - Big Data and Cognitive Computing 3 (1):5.
    This paper argues that the Value Sensitive Design (VSD) methodology provides a principled approach to embedding common values in to AI systems both early and throughout the design process. To do so, it draws on an important case study: the evidence and final report of the UK Select Committee on Artificial Intelligence. This empirical investigation shows that the different and often disparate stakeholder groups that are implicated in AI design and use share some common values that can be used to (...)
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  13. Nonconscious Cognitive Suffering: Considering Suffering Risks of Embodied Artificial Intelligence.Steven Umbrello & Stefan Lorenz Sorgner - 2019 - Philosophies 4 (2):24.
    Strong arguments have been formulated that the computational limits of disembodied artificial intelligence (AI) will, sooner or later, be a problem that needs to be addressed. Similarly, convincing cases for how embodied forms of AI can exceed these limits makes for worthwhile research avenues. This paper discusses how embodied cognition brings with it other forms of information integration and decision-making consequences that typically involve discussions of machine cognition and similarly, machine consciousness. N. Katherine Hayles’s novel conception of nonconscious cognition in (...)
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  14. The Future of War: The Ethical Potential of Leaving War to Lethal Autonomous Weapons.Steven Umbrello, Phil Torres & Angelo F. De Bellis - 2020 - AI and Society 35 (1):273-282.
    Lethal Autonomous Weapons (LAWs) are robotic weapons systems, primarily of value to the military, that could engage in offensive or defensive actions without human intervention. This paper assesses and engages the current arguments for and against the use of LAWs through the lens of achieving more ethical warfare. Specific interest is given particularly to ethical LAWs, which are artificially intelligent weapons systems that make decisions within the bounds of their ethics-based code. To ensure that a wide, but not exhaustive, survey (...)
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  15.  18
    Conceptualizing Policy in Value Sensitive Design: A Machine Ethics Approach.Steven Umbrello - forthcoming - In Steven John Thompson (ed.), Machine Law, Ethics, and Morality in the Age of Artificial Intelligence. Hershey, PA, USA:
    The value sensitive design (VSD) approach to designing transformative technologies for human values is taken as the object of study in this chapter. VSD has traditionally been conceptualized as another type of technology or instrumentally as a tool. The various parts of VSD’s principled approach would then aim to discern the various policy requirements that any given technological artifact under consideration would implicate. Yet, little to no consideration has been given to how laws, regulations, policies and social norms engage within (...)
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  16. Evaluating Future Nanotechnology: The Net Societal Impacts of Atomically Precise Manufacturing.Steven Umbrello & Seth D. Baum - 2018 - Futures 100:63-73.
    Atomically precise manufacturing (APM) is the assembly of materials with atomic precision. APM does not currently exist, and may not be feasible, but if it is feasible, then the societal impacts could be dramatic. This paper assesses the net societal impacts of APM across the full range of important APM sectors: general material wealth, environmental issues, military affairs, surveillance, artificial intelligence, and space travel. Positive effects were found for material wealth, the environment, military affairs (specifically nuclear disarmament), and space travel. (...)
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  17. The Rise of Realism. [REVIEW]Steven Umbrello - 2017 - International Journal of Actor-Network Theory and Technological Innovation 9 (2):63-66.
    A new book by Manuel DeLanda and Graham Harman, The Rise of Realism, is reviewed. The Rise of Realism is an introductory text that aims to clarify the difficulties that surround the philosophical concepts of realism and materialism (as well as their antitheses). This primer intended to introduce students and interested scholars to the concepts and literature on realism and its place in the continental tradition of philosophy and related social theory. The book’s core methodology is to outline the various (...)
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  18.  30
    Meaningful Human Control Over Smart Home Systems: A Value Sensitive Design Approach.Steven Umbrello - 2020 - Humana.Mente Journal of Philosophical Studies 13 (37):40-65.
    The last decade has witnessed the mass distribution and adoption of smart home systems and devices powered by artificial intelligence systems ranging from household appliances like fridges and toasters to more background systems such as air and water quality controllers. The pervasiveness of these sociotechnical systems makes analyzing their ethical implications necessary during the design phases of these devices to ensure not only sociotechnical resilience, but to design them for human values in mind and thus preserve meaningful human control over (...)
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  19. Silence of the Idols: Appropriating the Myth of Sisyphus for Posthumanist Discourses.Steven Umbrello & Jessica Lombard - 2018 - Postmodern Openings 9 (4):98-121.
    Both current and past analyses and critiques of transhumanist and posthumanist theories have had a propensity to cite the Greek myth of Prometheus as a paradigmatic figure. Although stark differences exist amongst the token forms of posthumanist theories and transhumanism, both theoretical domains claim promethean theory as their own. There are numerous definitions of those two concepts: therefore, this article focuses on posthumanism thought. By first analyzing the appropriation of the myth in posthumanism, we show how the myth fails to (...)
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  20. Humankind: Solidarity with Nonhuman People. [REVIEW]Steven Umbrello - 2018 - Journal of Critical Realism 17 (1):84-86.
    A new book by Timothy Morton, Humankind: Solidarity with Nonhuman People, is reviewed. Humankind: Solidarity with Nonhuman People is a project into the applied political ethics that emerge between speculative realism and Marxism. This book is intended to build on the object-oriented ontology that Morton has espoused in previous volumes, however with a greater emphasis on normative politics. The book’s core methodology is to outline the various neologisms that Morton employs and incorporate those speculative realist terms into a retooling of (...)
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  21. Safe-(for Whom?)-By-Design: Adopting a Posthumanist Ethics for Technology Design.Steven Umbrello - 2018 - Dissertation, York University
    This research project aims to accomplish two primary objectives: (1) propose an argument that a posthuman ethics in the design of technologies is sound and thus warranted and, (2) how can existent SBD approaches begin to envision principled and methodological ways of incorporating nonhuman values into design. In order to do this this MRP will provide a rudimentary outline of what constitutes SBD approaches. A particular design approach - Value Sensitive Design (VSD) - is taken up as an illustrative example (...)
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  22. Moving to a Posthuman Technosphere. [REVIEW]Steven Umbrello - 2019 - Techné: Research in Philosophy and Technology 23 (1):104-106.
    A new book by Roberto Marchesini, Tecnosfera, is reviewed. Technosfera serves as an in-depth exploration of the concept of techne and its relation to humanist and posthumanist thought for professionals. The book's core methodology is to explore the geneaological, linguistic and philosophical differences between the humanist and posthumanist concepts of techne and show how the latter is less contentious and favourable. The book is informationally dense, well-argued and academically current, providing seasoned scholars with a novel exploratory approach to posthumanist theory.
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  23. Values, Imagination, and Praxis : Towards a Value Sensitive Future with Technology. [REVIEW]Steven Umbrello - 2020 - Science and Engineering Ethics 26 (1):495-499.
    A new book by Batya Friedman and David G. Hendry, Value Sensitive Design: Shaping Technology with Moral Imagination, is reviewed. Value Sensitive Design is a project into the ethical and design issues that emerge during the engineering programs of new technologies. This book is intended to build on the over two decades of value sensitive design research, however with a greater emphasis on the developments of the theoretical underpinnings of the approach as well as initial steps that designers can employ (...)
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  24.  18
    Combinatory and Complementary Practices of Values and Virtues in Design: A Reply to Reijers and Gordijn.Steven Umbrello - 2020 - Filosofia 2020 (65):103-117.
    The purpose of this paper is to review and critique Wessel Reijers and Bert Gordijn’s paper Moving from value sensitive design to virtuous practice design. In doing so, it draws on recent literature on developing value sensitive design (VSD) to show how the authors’ virtuous practice design (VPD), at minimum, is not mutually exclusive to VSD. This paper argues that virtuous practice is not exclusive to the basic methodological underpinnings of VSD. This can therefore strengthen, rather than exclude the VSD (...)
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  25.  25
    Designing AI for Explainability and Verifiability: A Value Sensitive Design Approach to Avoid Artificial Stupidity in Autonomous Vehicles.Steven Umbrello & Roman Yampolskiy - manuscript
    One of the primary, if not most critical, difficulties in the design and implementation of autonomous systems is the black-boxed nature of the decision-making structures and logical pathways of autonomous systems. For this reason, the values of stakeholders become of particular significance given the risks posed by opaque structures of intelligent agents (IAs). This paper proposes the Value Sensitive Design (VSD) approach as a principled framework for incorporating these values in design. The example of autonomous vehicles is used as a (...)
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  26. Posthumanism: A Fickle Philosophy?Steven Umbrello - 2018 - Con Texte 2 (1):28-32.
    Defining posthumanism as a single, well-oriented philosophy is a difficult if not impossible endeavour. Part of the reason for this difficulty is accounted by posthumanism’s illusive origins and its perpetually changing hermeneutics. This short paper gives a brief account of the ecological trend in contemporary posthumanism and provides a short prescription for the future of posthumanist literature and potential research avenues.
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  27. Lethal Autonomous Weapons: Designing War Machines with Values.Steven Umbrello - 2019 - Delphi: Interdisciplinary Review of Emerging Technologies 1 (2):30-34.
    Lethal Autonomous Weapons (LAWs) have becomes the subject of continuous debate both at national and international levels. Arguments have been proposed both for the development and use of LAWs as well as their prohibition from combat landscapes. Regardless, the development of LAWs continues in numerous nation-states. This paper builds upon previous philosophical arguments for the development and use of LAWs and proposes a design framework that can be used to ethically direct their development. The conclusion is that the philosophical arguments (...)
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  28.  64
    Steps to Designing AI-Empowered Nanotechnology: A Value Sensitive Design Approach.Steven Umbrello - 2019 - Delphi - Interdisciplinary Review of Emerging Technologies 2 (2):79-83.
    Advanced nanotechnology promises to be one of the fundamental transformational emerging technologies alongside others such as artificial intelligence, biotechnology, and other informational and cognitive technologies. Although scholarship on nanotechnology, particularly advanced nanotechnology such as molecular manufacturing has nearly ceased in the last decade, normal nanotechnology that is building the foundations for more advanced versions has permeated many industries and commercial products and has become a billion dollar industry. This paper acknowledges the socialtechnicity of advanced nanotechnology and proposes how its convergence (...)
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  29. Imaginative Value Sensitive Design: How Moral Imagination Exceeds Moral Law Theories in Informing Responsible Innovation.Steven Umbrello - 2018 - Dissertation, University of Edinburgh
    Safe-by-Design (SBD) frameworks for the development of emerging technologies have become an ever more popular means by which scholars argue that transformative emerging technologies can safely incorporate human values. One such popular SBD methodology is called Value Sensitive Design (VSD). A central tenet of this design methodology is to investigate stakeholder values and design those values into technologies during early stage research and development (R&D). To accomplish this, the VSD framework mandates that designers consult the philosophical and ethical literature to (...)
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  30.  59
    Book Review: Timothy Morton’s Being Ecological. [REVIEW]Steven Umbrello - 2019 - Journal of Evolution and Technology 29:19-20.
    A new book by Timothy Morton, Being Ecological, is reviewed. Being Ecological is a project into the ethics and discourse that emerge between speculative realism and ecological politics. This book is intended to build on the object-oriented ontology that Morton has espoused in previous volumes, however with a greater emphasis on the current state and future of ecological discussions. The book's core methodology is to outline the failures of the current modes of discussion environmental and ecological concerns and provide ways (...)
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  31.  90
    Evolution Science and Ethics in the Third Millennium: Challenges and Choices for Humankind. [REVIEW]Steven Umbrello - 2019 - World Futures 75 (5):191-193.
    Evolution Science and Ethics in the Third Millennium is one of the most lucid academic texts on the subject of evolutionary morality to be published in the last decade. While the book does have some problematic aspects, discussed below, it nonetheless provides what is none other than a comprehensive and rational basis to substantiate the notion that evolutionary science can provide a foundation for the understanding of morality. Cliquet and Avramov take a wholly interdisciplinary approach, encroaching within and forming connections (...)
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  32.  85
    Explorative Nanophilosophy as Tecnoscienza: An Italian Perspective on the Role of Speculation in Nanoindustry.Steven Umbrello - 2019 - TECNOSCIENZA: Italian Journal of Science and Technology Studies 10 (1):71-88.
    There are two primary camps in which nanotechnology today can be categorized normal nanotechnology and speculative nanotechnology. The birth of nanotechnology proper was conceived through discourses of speculative nanotechnology. However, current nanotech-nology research has detracted from its speculative promises in favour of more attainable material products. Nonetheless, normal nanotechnology has leveraged the popular support and consequential funding it needs to conduct research and development (R&D) as a result of popular conceptions of speculative nanotechnology and its promises. Similarly, the scholarly literature (...)
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  33.  71
    Designing a Nano-Safe Future.Steven Umbrello - 2018 - Solutions Journal 9 (4):1-3.
    A short position paper on how we can preemptively anticipate and design nanotechnology-safe futures.
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  34.  87
    Presentism and Relativity.Steven Umbrello - 2015 - The Oxford Philosopher.
    In this short paper I will be explicating and evaluating the arguments presented by Keller and Nelson in their paper, Presentists Should Believe in Time-Travel. I will show that their presuppositions, which are essential to their arguments, have the potential to devastate their position. We will see that one of these presuppositions comes into conflict with the General Theory of Relativity, and I will demonstrate that this endangers both their own agenda and presentism as a whole.
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  35.  68
    Designing in Ethics. [REVIEW]Steven Umbrello - 2019 - Prometheus: Critical Studies in Innovation 35 (1):160-161.
    Designing in Ethics provides a compilation of well-curated essays that tackle the ethical issues that surround technological design and argue that ethics must form a constitutive part of the designing process and a foundation in our institutions and practices. The appropriation of a design approach to applied ethics is argued as a means by which ethical issues that implicate technological artifact may be achieved.
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  36.  50
    A Review of Leonardo Caffo and Azzurra Muzzonigro’s “Costruire Futuri: Migrazioni, Città, Immaginazioni”. [REVIEW]Steven Umbrello - 2018 - Journal of Futures Studies 23 (1):101-103.
    Modernism has provided a strong case for technoprogressivism, innovation and speculation on future possibilities. However, drastic and often devastating consequences have followed modernism such as global warming and mass biodiversity loss. In Leonardo Caffo and Azzurra Muzzonigro’s new book, a case for posthumanism as a means for envisioning and rethinking futures studies is argued and practical means by which those futures can be realized are outlined.
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  37.  36
    Fragile Umanità by Leonardo Caffo. [REVIEW]Steven Umbrello - 2019 - Journal of Posthuman Studies 3:105-112.
    A new book by Leonardo Caffo, Fragile Umanità, is reviewed. Fragile Umanità serves as a primer intended to introduce both professionals and non-professionsals to the concepts of contemporary posthumanism and the failures of humanist philosophies. The book's core methodology is to outline the differences between humanist and posthumanist philosophies and show how the latter is less contentious and favourable. The book is stylistically engaging, lucid and academically current, providing both novice readers and seasoned scholars with an easy-to-read introduction to posthumanist (...)
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  38.  52
    Star Trek’s Stoics: The Vulcans.Steven Umbrello - 2015 - Philosophy Now 106:29.
    In 1966 Gene Roddenberry, then a relatively unknown TV writer, created what was to become a cultural sensation. From cell phones and tablets, to MRI machines and medical jet injectors, Star Trek has undoubtedly anticipated much of the technology that we take for granted today. Moreover, the disagreements, fights and jokes between Captain Kirk (William Shatner), Dr Leonard ‘Bones’ McCoy (DeForest Kelley) and Mr Spock (Leonard Nimoy) were expertly crafted for dramatic impact. But I’m not writing this to confess to (...)
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