Episode #3: Sven Nyholm on Love Enhancement, Deep Brain Stimulation and the Ethics of Self-Driving Cars

photoThis is the third episode in the Algocracy and Transhumanism project podcast. In this episode I talk to Sven Nyholm who is an Assistant Professor of Philosophy at the Eindhoven University of Technology. Sven has a background in Kantian philosophy and currently does a lot of work on the ethics of technology. We have a wide ranging conversation, circling around three main themes: (i) how technology changes what we value (using the specific example of love enhancement technologies); (ii) how technology might affect the true self (using the example of deep brain stimulation technologies) and (iii) how to design ethical decision-making algorithms (using the example of self-driving cars).

The work discussed in this podcast on deep brain stimulation and the design of ethical algorithms is being undertaken by Sven in collaboration with two co-authors: Elizabeth O’Neill (in the case of DBS) and Jilles Smids (in the case of self-driving cars). Unfortunately we neglected to mention this during our conversation. I have provided links to their work above and below.

Anyway, you can download the podcast here, listen below or subscribe on Stitcher or iTunes.

Show Notes

0:00 – 1:30 – Introduction to Sven

1:30 – 7:30 – The idea of love enhancement

7:30 – 10:30 – Objections to love enhancement

10:30 – 12:30 – The medicalisation objection to love enhancement

12:30 – 21:10 – Medicalisation as an evaluative category mistake

21:10 – 24:00 – Can you favour love enhancement and still value love in the right way?

24:00 – 28:10 – Evaluative category mistakes in other debates about technology

28:10 – 30:50 – The use of deep brain stimulation (DBS) technology

30:50 – 35:20 – Reported effects of DBS on personal identity

35:20 – 41:20 – Narrative Identity vs True Self in debates about DBS

41:20 – 46:25 – Is the true self an expression of values? Can DBS help in its expression?

46:25 – 50:30 – Use of DBS to treat patients with Anorexia Nervosa

50:30 – 55:20 – Ethical algorithms in the design of self-driving cars

55:20 – 1:02:40 – Is the trolley problem a useful starting point?

1:02:40 – 1:06:30 – The importance of legal and moral responsibility in the design of ethical algorithms

1:06:30 – 1:09:00 – The important of uncertainty and risk in the design of ethical algorithms

1:09:00 – end – Should moral uncertainty be factored into the design?



  • Jilles Smids (Sven’s Co-author on ethical algorithms for self-driving cars)


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s