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John Basl

Faculty Associate

John's work is primarily in applied or practical ethics, including the ethics of AI, the ethics of emerging technologies, and environmental ethics. Much of my work uses applied contexts as a tool for reflecting on "deeper" or more theoretical problems in philosophy and ethics or draws on those theoretical resources from various areas of philosophy to resolve practical puzzles.

His work attempts to answer questions such as:

  • How do we design effective oversight to address the ethical issues raised by machine learning and AI?
  • How can we move from broad commitments to values to action-guiding principles for research, development and deployment of AI technologies?
  • How do we apply normative principles to applications of machine learning?
  • Is it unethical to attempt to create a conscious artificial intelligence?
  • To which sorts of things do we have moral obligations (humans, animals, plants, robots)?
  • Which sorts of things have a welfare or can be made better or worse off
  • What is the relationship between welfare and moral obligation?
  • Are laws that prohibit practices like factory farming or animal experimentation legitimate?

He is a co-author of "Building Data and AI Ethics Committees" (published with Accenture) and "Getting from Commitment to Content in AI and Data Ethics: Justice and Explainability" (published with the Atlantic Council). His most recent book is The Death of the Ethic of Life (2019, Oxford University Press).