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Quasi-Refusal and Teens

by Dominic Wilkinson In an interesting legal case earlier this year, the court held an emergency hearing about the medical care of a 16 year old, recently diagnosed with acute leukaemia. The hearing, conducted remotely in the middle of the night, was to decide whether she should have medical treatment imposed against her wishes. Should an “intelligent… Read More »Quasi-Refusal and Teens

Truthful Misinformation

written by Neil Levy and Keith Raymond Harris There’s a lot of debate over the harms of misinformation today: whether it is more prevalent now than in the past, how often it misleads people, whether people act on misleading misinformation, and on whether the costs of content moderation or algorithmic depriorisation mightn’t be higher than… Read More »Truthful Misinformation

Social Media Platforms as Digital Slot Machines

In a recent paper I published with my colleagues Lavinia Marin (TU Delft) and Constantin Vica (University of Bucharest), titled “Digital Slot Machines: Social Media Platforms as Attentional Scaffolds” we take a step back from AI and return to an older problem in digital ethics, that despite its urgency, is often overlooked: the impact of… Read More »Social Media Platforms as Digital Slot Machines

Cross Post: Nudging for Better Beliefs

This is the third in a series of blogposts by the members of the Expanding Autonomy project, funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council.


Written By: Oscar A. Piedrahita & Matthew VermaireCOGITO, University of Glasgow.


Don’t you find that other people’s beliefs are always getting in the way of progress? They seem to be full of bad views about everything from geopolitics to zoning laws to the most bizarre conspiracy theories; and what’s worse is that they seem often perversely immune to rational methods of persuasion, bristling with a panoply of biases. It’s a free country and everyone’s entitled to their opinions. Wouldn’t it be nice, though, if—without having to resort to positively illiberal measures of censorship and forced re-education—we could get those opinions to be a little more tolerable? What if the secret is all in the way in which evidence and potential beliefs are presented to people, so that with more carefully calibrated interventions we could exert a noncoercive but significant influence toward the truth?Read More »Cross Post: Nudging for Better Beliefs

Outsourcing Without Fear?

This is the second in a series of blogposts by the members of the Expanding Autonomy project, funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council.

by Neil Levy

As Adam Carter emphasises in the first post in this series, offloading cognitive capacities comes at a cost: the more we depend on external scaffolding and supports to perform a certain task, the less we develop the internal capacities to perform that task. The phenomenon is familiar: people probably really are much less able to do mental arithmetic today than in the past, thanks to the introduction of the calculator. We tend to think of new technologies when we worry about what we lose as a consequence of scaffolding, but the concern is ancient. In the Phaedrus, Plato has Socrates approvingly recounting the story of an Egyptian king who worried that the invention of writing “will produce forgetfulness in the souls of those who have learned it, through lack of practice at using their memory.”Read More »Outsourcing Without Fear?

Playing the Game of Faces with AI

Written by Edmond Awad


In the popular series “Game of Thrones” (and the corresponding “A Song of Ice and Fire” novels), the “Game of Faces” is a training method used by the Faceless Men, an enigmatic guild of assassins. This method teaches trainees to convincingly adopt the face of others for their covert missions.

The Game of Faces can be seen as a metaphor for the way we interact with others in the real world, as well as the way we present ourselves online. In the Game of Thrones TV series, the Faceless Men are able to change their appearance at will, which allows them to deceive others and get close to their targets. This ability can be seen as a symbol of the power of deception and manipulation.Read More »Playing the Game of Faces with AI

AI As A Writing Tool: Great Benefits, Major Pitfalls.

Written by Neil Levy

Large language models look set to transform every aspect of life over the coming decades. Some of these changes will be dramatic. I’m pretty unconcerned by the apocalyptic scenarios that preoccupy some people, but much more worried about the elimination of jobs (interestingly, the jobs that seem likeliest to be eliminated are those that require the most training: we may see a reversal of status and economic position between baristas and bureaucrats, bricklayers and barristers). Here, though, I’m going to look at much less dramatic, and very much near term, effects that LLMs might have on academic writing. I’m going to focus on the kind of writing I do in philosophy; LLMs will have different impacts on different disciplines.

Read More »AI As A Writing Tool: Great Benefits, Major Pitfalls.

Resisting Nudges

By Gabriel De Marco

Consider the following case:

Classic Food Placement (FP): In order to encourage healthy eating, cafeteria staff place healthy food options at eye-level, whereas unhealthy options are placed lower down. Diners are more likely to pick healthy foods and less likely to pick unhealthy foods than they would have been otherwise.

This intervention is a paradigmatic case of what are often called nudges. Though many will think that it is OK to implement this sort of intervention for these sorts of purposes, there is a large debate about when exactly this is OK.

One common theme is that whether such an influence is easy to resist is going to be relevant to when the intervention is OK. If the intervention is not easy to resist, then, at the very least, this counts as a strike against implementing it. However, though there is often reference to the resistibility of a nudge, there is rarely explicit discussion of what it is for a nudge to be easy to resist, or for it to be easily resistible.

To begin giving an account of what it is for a nudge to be (easily) resistible, we need to figure out what it is an ability to do. So, what is it to resist a nudge?

Read More »Resisting Nudges

‘Naming and Shaming: Responding to Lookism’

On the evening of Friday 9 June, Prof. Heather Widdows presented the inaugural Michael Lockwood Memorial Lecture, as part of a weekend of events to celebrate the twentieth anniversary of the Oxford Uehiro Centre for Practical Ethics and the fifth of the MSt. in Practical Ethics, based in the Centre. The title of Prof. Widdows’ fascinating and suggestive lecture was ‘Naming and Shaming: Responding to Lookism’.Read More »‘Naming and Shaming: Responding to Lookism’