The Rock Ethics Institute

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Job Talk - Eco Camp: Queer(ing) Environmental Ethics in the Anthropocene
by Rob Peeler published Mar 01, 2017 last modified Mar 15, 2017 12:37 PM — filed under:
This presentation explores queer environmentalism in the Anthropocene, a word increasingly used to describe the anthropogenic destruction of ecosystems that marks our current geological era. Taking as my subject the contemporary ecosexuality movement, I think the queer and the ecological together to examine how ecosexuality answers the Anthropocene’s call to responsibility and action. I contend that ecosexuality’s concurrent urgency and playfulness embodied in a theatrical environmental sensibility I deem ­eco-camp exemplifies a carnivalesque ecological flourishing. While ecosexual thought and experience do not necessarily move us beyond the human, they do challenge human exceptionalism through a mode of florid performance, spectacle, and ostentatious sex-positivity that champions new forms of relationality between humans and other earthly inhabitants. Drawing on Mikhail Bakhtin’s carnivalesque (1968) and Chris Cuomo’s feminist ethics of flourishing (1998), I argue that ecosexuality’s campy ecological ethics offer an alternative to the didacticism and moralism that characterize much contemporary environmentalism. In the spirit of carnival, the tragi-comic and, at times, parodic tone of this eco-queer performance art generates an affective dissonance that spurs us to feel the full effects of our discordance with nature. I maintain that this irreverent environmentalism is capable of resonating with crisis-weary viewers so accustomed, if not immune, to the alarms of ecological catastrophe. Ultimately, ecosexuality’s campy eco-erotics simultaneously entertain and bewilder, stirring an unsettling array of responses apropos for these unsettling times.
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Rock Colloquia Series: Developing Robots that Learn How to be Ethical
by Rob Peeler published Feb 20, 2017 last modified Mar 30, 2017 11:31 AM
This talk presents preliminary methods focusing on the goal of creating a robot which learns, adheres, adopts, and enforces social and ethical norms. The developing field of Machine Ethics examines the possibility of creating autonomous robots which act ethically. Two methods have been proposed by the field. Explicitly ethical robots follow predefined ethical rules (such as the laws of war) which govern and delimit their behavior (Arkin, Ulam, Wagner, 2012). Implicitly ethical robots, on the other hand, learn how to act ethically by interacting with the people around them. In addition to providing background related to the RoboEthics and Machine Ethics Fields, the presentation will focus on preliminary ideas related to the creation of implicitly ethical robots, the philosophical ramifications of doing so, and possible practical applications.
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