Inspired or Copied? The Ethics of Art

Unapproved use of licensed material, traced artwork, copied costume patterns, digital manipulation–there are so many ways for artists to cross the line into unethical behavior when using another artist’s work as source material. How do we distinguish between inspiration, homage, and borderline theft? If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, how should artists feel… Continue reading Inspired or Copied? The Ethics of Art

When Does Evil Become Irredeemable?

Any interesting, complex character will have positive and negative qualities. Is there a point when a character steps so far over the line into evil that they can never again be viewed sympathetically? If it exists, where do we draw the line? Does it move depending on how much we like a particular character?

Looking for the Fountain of Youth

Speculative fiction stories often feature societies in which a healthy lifespan stretches over multiple centuries. What is the scientific plausibility of such lifespans or life-extending technologies? How is access to longevity likely to be distributed? What impact would artificially-extended lifespans have on culture and the environment?

Nobody Looks Like Themselves Anymore

What are the cultural and social boons and banes that might come from a growing technological ability to change your physical appearance? What are the implications for identity? For fashion? How might governments, science fictional or otherwise, react to developments in body alterations and/or consciousness if less tied to a single physical form?  Will we… Continue reading Nobody Looks Like Themselves Anymore

Holding Superheroes Accountable

For superheroes to feel heroic, we want them to fight evil while remaining above the moral fray. But in many comics and comic book films, superheroes cross moral lines. How do we ethically evaluate heroes who act immorally, like Batman torturing villains, Wanda holding an entire town hostage, or Wonder Woman sexually assaulting a mind-controlled… Continue reading Holding Superheroes Accountable

Logistics of Off-World Disasters

Complex logistics are required to respond to mundane natural disasters. How could we handle a natural disaster occurring on another planet or in space? What additional political and diplomatic complications arise when working on an interplanetary scale?

AI in Fiction and Reality

This panel will discuss the differences between fictional artificial intelligence and the real thing. How are the real dangers of AI different from the ones envisioned in fiction and popular media?

Changing Genes: Can We, Should We?

CRISPR, the gene-editing tool, has made much greater precision potentially possible in editing the genes of bacteria, viruses, crops, animals, and humans. How far can an organism’s genome be changed? What are the possibilities, ethics, and outcomes of tinkering with genomes, including our own?

Future Meat

What does the future hold for carnivorous foodways as factory farming becomes less and less sustainable and more socially unpopular? Is the future cloned meat, vat steaks, cricket burgers, or fungus-based “chicken?” Are we growing past the need to refer to products as meat substitutes? Can we trust the companies which produce them? What are… Continue reading Future Meat

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