December 15, 2009

Link dump: 2009.12.15

From the four corners of the web:
  • When robots have feelings their rights will need protection, too | Peter Singer and Agata Sagan
    If, as seems likely, we develop super-intelligent machines, their rights will need protection, too
  • "The Most Important Number in the World" | Ronald Bailey
    "The most important number in the world," Mohamed Nasheed, president of the Maldive Islands, told an audience of hundreds of climate activists in downtown Copenhagen, "is 350." Why 350? That's the threshold for parts per million of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere that will cause dangerous anthropogenic interference with the world's climate.
  • Asteroid Deflection as a Public Good | Marginal Revolution
    In Modern Principles we use asteroid deflection as our example of a public good. Aside from memorability, the example has two virtues as a teaching tool. First, asteroid deflection is a true public good for all of humanity which raises free riding issues on a worldwide scale. Second, asteroid deflection is an example of a public good that is currently provided neither by the market nor by government. Thus the example underlines the fact that public goods are defined by their characteristics--nonexcludability and nonrivalry--and not by whether they are publicly provided, a point of confusion for many students.
  • 21st-Century Babies - Building a Baby, With Few Ground Rules |
    Surrogacy is largely without regulation, creating an emerging commercial market for babies that raises vexing ethical questions.
  • A Cold War Over Warming | Open the Future
    There is, I believe, a non-zero chance that an extended period of climate instability could induce a state that believes itself to be better able to adapt to global warming to slow its efforts to decarbonize in order to gain a lead over its more vulnerable rivals.

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