Ethics in the News: Trickle-Down Ethics at the Trump White House, The Future of Gene Editing, Technical Challenges in Machine Ethics, & More – February 17, 2017

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Trump Ethics Monitor: Has The President Kept His Promises?
To track Trump’s ethics-related promises, NPR checked debate transcripts, campaign speeches and press conferences

Trump’s South Florida estate raises ethics questions
Ethics questions and possible conflicts surrounding President Donald Trump’s frequent trips to his sprawling Mar-a-Lago property, especially in regards to the invitation of Japanese Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe, over the weekend; a trip Trump pledged to pay for.

Should Jeff Sessions Recuse Himself From the Russia Inquiries?
Bruce Green, director of the Louis Stein Center for Law and Ethics at Fordham University, comments on whether Attorney General, Jeff Sessions should recuse himself from investigations involving former National Security Adviser, Michael Flynn and Russian hacking.

Trickle-Down Ethics at the Trump White House
Federal ethics guidelines forbid White House officials from using public position and power for their own private gain or to promote the private business interests of others. Trump Administration actions to be reviewed by the White House counsel and by the Office of Government Ethics.

Government Watchdog Presses Jason Chaffetz To Investigate Kellyanne Conway Himself
Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), Chairman of the House Oversight Committee, requested that The Office of Government Ethics (OGE) investigate Kellyanne Conway’s possible breach of federal ethics rules, indicating that the Chairman may be trying to take pressure off his own committee, which has the most authority to investigate the matter.

Ethics Watchdog Denounces Conway’s Endorsement of Ivanka Trump Products
Federal government’s chief ethics watchdog calls for White House adviser, Kellyanne Conway, to be disciplined after publically endorsing Ivanka Trump’s product line.

Bioethics/Medical Ethics

Scientists ponder future of gene editing to fight disease
Ethical issues surrounding breakthroughs gene editing to fight genetic diseases such as cystic fibrosis, muscular dystrophy, and cancer.

When doctors kill: Stent scam and decline of Pakistan’s bioethics
Latest scandal amongst Pakistan’s medical community, who receive no ethics training in medical school, involving faulty cardiac stents.

Cancer drugs price rise ‘costing NHS millions’
Possible reasons for why prices for cancer drugs have risen sharply, and notes the steps European countries are taking to make sure costs decrease.

Avoiding the slippery slope of unethical behavior
Sporting an orange prison jumpsuit and handcuffs, Chuck Gallagher declared, “Every choice has a consequence.” He later ditched the get-up as he gave his speech on ethics, but the former convicted felon—now a business ethics speaker—intended to drive home a point. His message boiled down to this: People cheat when they have a chance, but when issues of honesty versus rationalization are openly discussed, people dramatically reduce or stop cheating.


Market Milking and Research Troubles
“People mostly think that Wall Street banks are evil, and so this conflict of interest is often described as something nefarious that the banks do: They inflate their ratings, giving Buys to companies that are really Sells, in order to win investment banking business. This, I think, is mostly not true, though it used to be, and though there are other considerations that do lead banks to give lots of companies Buy ratings. But the conflict obviously exists.”

A New Robo-Adviser Lets You Build Portfolios That Shun Guns and Oil Shares
Startup OpenInvest aims to build portfolios tailored to its customers’ values.
“Users click through a series of menus to create an “issue profile,” checking boxes to select investment themes—such as gender equality or reduced carbon emissions—as well as groups of companies to exclude. …Former hedge funders are bringing social responsibility to online investment advising, with some added cost and complexity.”


Ethics can make winners, Sheikh Saif bin Zayed says
At the World Government Summit, February 12-14, Sheikh Saif bin Zayed “praised the countries that prioritize ethics and integrate it into their everyday lives, adding that Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, sent a team to countries such as Japan and Canada which teach ethics as part of their education system.”


The moral dilemmas of the Fourth Industrial Revolution
Call for a global code of ethics in order to cope with the technological era we now live in, which is being called the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

Technical Challenges in Machine Ethics
Machine ethics offers an alternative solution for artificial intelligence (AI) safety governance. In order to mitigate risks in human-robot interactions, robots will have to comply with humanity’s ethical and legal norms, once they’ve merged into our daily life with highly autonomous capability. In terms of technical challenges, there are still many open questions in machine ethics.

Environmental Ethics

Physicians’ Duty to Be Aware of and Report Environmental Toxins
Commentary by Gina M. Solomon, MD, MPH, and Steven R. Kirkhorn, MD, MPH in American Medical Association (AMA) Journal of Ethics

Ireland votes to divest public money from fossil fuels
At the end of January Ireland voted to divest public monies from fossil fuels, and this article cites ethics as the driving force behind the decision.

Animal Ethics

The secret trade in baby chimps
After a lengthy investigation, BBC exposes an elaborate chimpanzee smuggling operation.  Chimpanzees are an endangered species, and the sting operation tackles many ethical quandaries including treatment of animals and violating international law.

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