Author Archives: Russell Davidson

The inner history of devices

The inner history of devices (cover)by Sherry Turkle

The Inner History of Devices,describes an approach that reveals how what we make is woven into our ways of seeing ourselves. The author brings together three traditions of listening—that of the memoirist, the clinician, and the ethnographer. Each informs the others to compose an inner history of devices. We read about objects ranging from cell phones and video poker to prosthetic eyes, from Web sites and television to dialysis machines.


Status envy: the politics of Catholic higher education

Status Envyby Anne Hendershott

The debate within Catholic educational circles on whether church sponsored colleges and universities perpetuate mediocrity by giving too great a priority to the moral development of students instead of scholarship and intellectual excellence continues in this book. Part of the reason for the crisis of faith within Catholic colleges is due to status envy–the desire to compete with the top colleges in the country. Catholic universities are generally viewed as having a lower status than secular institutions, which creates resentment. Catholic universities, in turn, become more secular as they become consumed with status concerns.


Moral machines: teaching robots right from wrong

Moral Machines coverby Wendell Wallach and Colin Allen

Computers are already approving financial transactions, controlling electrical supplies, and driving trains. Soon, service robots will be taking care of the elderly in their homes, and military robots will have their own targeting and firing protocols. The authors argue that as robots take on more and more responsibility, they must be programmed with moral decision-making abilities, for our own safety. But the standard ethical theories don’t seem adequate, and more socially engaged and engaging robots will be needed. As the authors show, the quest to build machines that are capable of telling right from wrong has begun.