Tom Stoneham

I am an academic philosopher interested in many things. Having spent most of my career on philosophy of mind, metaphysics and those topics in the early modern period, I now feel the urgency of good political philosophy and applied ethics. Most of my musings are likely to be about AI ethics, digital rights and the digital divide. I will post links to new entries on Mastodon. (Why 24601? That is a reference to _Les Miserables_, the story of a failed revolution in which the people did not rise, the intellectuals were massacred, and the state-sponsored cruelty, poverty, and exploitation continued. Not this time!)

AI's Ethics Overdraft

Most of what passes for AI is machine learning trained on massive data sets. It is that data which has enabled the dramatic advances we see with generative AI like DALL-E and ChatGPT, but also systems from facial recognition to self-driving vehicles. The data has been collected over the past 15+ years from the internet, which is undoubtedly the largest repository of machine-readable data anyone has ever 'assembled'. In particular, the advent of Web 2.0 and the exponential increase in social med...
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An inspirational quotation

Short quotations are more about words than thoughts. Interesting, complex, nuanced thoughts cannot be expressed in a few words and rarely a single sentence. As the propagandists and dystopians (Huxley, Orwell) of the 1930s and 1940s knew so well, political slogans and soundbites are earworms which aim to prevent critique and debate. Which is a roundabout way of explaining why my current favourite inspirational quotation is so long. "To me, what is so radical and genuinely enjoyable about orga...
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How to Spot a Fascist

It seemed a good idea this weekend to remind myself of Umberto Eco's excellent essay 'Ur-Fascism' in How to Spot a Fascist. After some interesting reflections on his own childhood experiences during WW2 and some remarks distinguishing fascism in general from the systematic ideologies of Nazism and Diamat, he identifies 14 distinguishing marks of Ur-Fascism. Theoretically, he claims that 'Fascism' is a family-resemblance term as identified by Wittgenstein, where there is no common feature share...
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Data-scraping, ethics, and copyright

Public social media posts provide a vast and rich source of data for research and commercial purposes. Posts are date and time stamped, usually geo-located, have an authorial identifier (this could be real name or not, but it is an identity which has data value even in the few cases it cannot be connected to other identities), and usually rich information about readers and their reactions. It is hard for researchers and developers to resist this treasure trove. Who owns the copyright of this ma...
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