Artificial Intelligence Seeks An Ethical Conscience “Leading artificial intelligence researchers gathered this week for the prestigious Neural Information Processing Systems conference have a new topic on their agenda. Alongside the usual cutting-edge research, panel discussions, and socializing: concern about AI’s power.
Plastic Surgeons Weigh In On The Ethics Of Celebrity-Inspired Procedures “And while we’re all for a person’s right to choose whether or not plastic surgery is for them, we couldn’t help but wonder about the ethics behind celebrity-inspired procedures. For instance, what do doctors do if they think a client’s desire for change verges on obsession? Do they refuse procedures or go a different route?”
This past July. an $8.8 million dollar, camp-like nutrition study funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) was shut down, resulting in a vast internal investigation at Purdue University, one of the nation’s top research institutions, and raising several issues about research ethics and the role of institutional review boards (IRBs), according to Undark. What went wrong? A video of an adolescent girl showering in a dormitory was posted on social media.
The study, Camp DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) was designed to evaluate effects of a low sodium diet on 11- to 15-year-old boys and girls with elevated blood pressure. Purdue University were set to host the children in campus housing for seven weeks in the summer.
The University President Mitch Daniels shut down the study two weeks early after the incident was reported to the police and the county prosecutor began looking into additional allegations of crimes among adolescents in the study. Daniels An investigation led by Purdue University’s Vice President for Ethics and Compliance, Alysa Christmas Rollock was launched soon after. Rollock’s investigation, which Purdue University released November 28, shows over “thirty incidents of threats, violence, or sexual abuse among the study participants, many involving calls to campus police. (Two participants were arrested in the first few days of the study.)” Additionally, Rollock reported several “instances of non-compliance on the part of the study’s principal investigator, or PI, Connie Weaver, that may have contributed to unsafe conditions for the minor participants” as well as “various conflicts of interest inherent in the study’s design.”
Dr. Celia Fisher, Professor of Psychology and Ethics at Fordham University and Director of the University’s Center for Ethics Education explained to Undark that “even if the NIH approved the trial design for the Camp DASH study, they would have relied on the university’s IRB to work out the details for the protection of study participants.”
Fisher, who has been working in the field of research ethics involving vulnerable populations for several decades, and who chaired the creation of the current American Psychological Association Ethics Code, said that she would have expected Purdue University’s IRB approval to be contingent on the “gold standard in counselors.” She continued, after discovering the counselors were primarily undergraduate students, “To have a sleepover camp for young teenagers supervised by 18 to 21-year-olds who do not have an adult supervisor there monitoring…I can’t even.”
Because no federal regulations require that members of IRBs be “scientists or know anything about scientific ethics,” Fisher explained, “not all IRBs are created equal…and vary significantly from institution to institution.” IRBs are typically pulled from university faculty and not paid for their work on the board. She added that because there is a “diverse range of expertise” among IRB members that is not well-suited to every study, “They [IRB members] may try very hard to apply ethical standards, but if they have no understanding of the type of research that’s being conducted, then they may not be able to identify all the risks and benefits of the participation.”
The problem, Fisher concluded, with most university IRB members is that the “lack of expertise and the lack of funding that they get” despite being genuinely interested in the protection of human subjects.”
As a result of the investigation, the study’s remaining three summers of the study are cancelled and “all of the collected data will be thrown out.” The biomedical institutional review board (IRB) of the University stated in late November that future study applications submitted by Weaver will not be reviewed until she submits a “comprehensive remediation plan,” including training and oversight by an outside mentor, according to the article.
Weaver, the study’s PI, released a statement last Tuesday that said, “I am deeply saddened by the instances that caused Camp DASH to end early. As the principal investigator, I accept responsibility for events that occurred at Camp DASH. The safety and security of research participants always comes first.”
World AIDS Day, December 1, 2017 National Aids Trust (NAT)
“World AIDS Day takes place on the 1st December each year. It’s an opportunity for people worldwide to unite in the fight against HIV, to show support for people living with HIV, and to commemorate those who have died from an AIDS-related illness. Founded in 1988, World AIDS Day was the first ever global health day.”
The theme of this year’s World AIDS Day, as promoted by NAT, is “Let’s End It.” This year, NAT is asking everyone to join the fight to end the negative impacts of HIV including isolation, stigma and HIV transmission. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), there were 36.7 million people living with HIV at the end of 2016 and 20.9 million people living with HIV were receiving antiretroviral therapy globally. This year, WHO is advocating for access to safe, effective, quality and affordable HIV services, medicines and and diagnostics other health commodities for all those in need with their slogan “Everybody counts.”
Please visit the World AIDS Day website for more information about the history of the day and how to get involved, support and show solidarity with the millions of people living with HIV.
“You always have the poor with you…” (Mark 14:7), prophetic biblical words presented to us by Jesus Christ, exposing humanity’s inability to address those that live outside the reach of protection by state and government conditions. In ATD (All Together in Dignity) Fourth World Movement, extreme poverty is the focus as its base feature in a primary methodology in the developmental policy approach, addressing forms of poverty in collaboration with the United Nations. These forms represent the underlying assumptions associated by the behaviors of those who live in extreme poverty. Persons who live in destitute conditions due in large part of the status of poverty, accumulate behaviors relating to humiliation and exclusion. The NGO ATD Fourth World addresses these behaviors by focusing and introducing the removal of humiliation and exclusion to those of dignity and inclusion.
Understanding that the economic approach is not the only way extreme poverty paralyzes individual and social growth, ATD’s founder Father Joseph Wresinski brought to the public square an awareness on extreme poverty as a violation of a person’s human rights stating that, “Wherever men and women are condemned to live in extreme poverty, human rights are violated. To come together to ensure that these rights are respected is our solemn duty.” The depths of information within the statement preludes the tools and perspectives on achieving a new normality in terms of how poverty affects short and long term on individuals and societies. Of remarkable notice is the dearth of common thought where poverty is highlighted by a monetary achievement. Thirty years ago on October 17th, 1987, Father Wresinski formed a “Call to Action” on the steps of a park outside of Paris, France where 100,000 people stood in solidarity to those victims living in the harshest of conditions per each society. Completely void is a financial solution from the crippling, disabling realities of living in extreme poverty. Five years after that “Call to Action,” the United Nations adopted the “International Day for the Eradication of Poverty.” On October 17th of each year, there is a commemoration to this commitment described in the words of Father Wresinski at the United Nations known as the “International Day for the Eradication of Poverty.”
Dealing with exclusion and humiliation is ATD Fourth World’s mission and overreaching ambition. Its goals begin with both these forms associated with persons living in extreme poverty, and acknowledges that through commitment and consistency a new way of living becomes achievable. Within its name as an organization are its organizational leadership components using artifacts, espoused values and underlying assumptions, all necessary to address the sociological cultural habitat transcendent throughout all who live in extreme poverty, regardless of location, state or government. Continue reading “Fordham University Ethics & Society Master’s Student Working to Eradicate Poverty”
In a recent study, researchers asked children ages 8 – 12 years old to watch 20-minute clips of PG-rated movies that either included or did not include gun violence. The objective of the study was to test whether children exposed to gun violence in movie clips would 1) handle a real gun longer and 2) pull the trigger more times than children not exposed to the same clip edited to not contain gun violence.
The children were then placed into a university laboratory containing toys, games and a real, 0.38 caliber gun which was disabled and modified to have a sensor counting trigger pulls with the door closed. A research assistant sat in an exterior greeting room if the children had questions. The study found that children who watched the clip containing guns were more likely to use the guns themselves than the children who watched the clip that did not contain guns (median trigger pulls were 2.8 compared to 0.01 and median number of seconds holding the gun were 53.1 compared to 11.1, respectively). Roughly 27% of children informed the assistant about the gun or handed it over and a small number aimed the gun at other children.
I first stumbled upon the issue of palliative care during a particularly hard time in my life. I was twenty years old, and for the first time having to confront the realities of watching a loved one die. Up until then, death had been a decently abstract concept to me. My grandmother had passed away when I was a child, but I was too young to be exposed to any part of the process. My uncle had also passed away when I was a teenager, but due to the suddenness of the death and geographical distance, I did not play a role in the event. I had never attended a funeral, let alone seen a corpse. The case of Monica was very different. For the first time, I became intimately involved in the dying process; and through this, became aware of the workings of the hospice and palliative care system that has become incredibly common throughout the country.
Monica was my mother’s best friend, and a pseudo-mother to my sister and I. In 2007, doctors found a malignant tumor in her colon, leading to multiple surgeries and the administration of rounds of chemotherapy. After some years of remission, the cancer returned in 2011, spreading to more of her internal organs. Once again, different treatments were administered, with waves of optimism and pessimism. Ultimately, in the summer of 2015, after attempting a failed experimental treatment, she was told that there was no more the doctors could do, and that she probably only had a couple more weeks to live. Receiving this news, she opted for in-home hospice care, to be able to spend her last days comfortably with family and friends.
Hospice care is becoming an increasingly common end of life plan in the United States. In the past decade, the number of hospice patients has more than doubled. In 2009, 42 percent of all deaths were under the care of a hospice program.1 According to the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization, hospice care “ involves a team-oriented approach to expert medical care, pain management, and emotional and spiritual support” to help allow the patient to succumb to death in best way possible.2 The phrase they use is that they are shifting the focus from curing to caring. Typically, this involves a family member serving as the primary caregiver, with members of the hospice staff making regular visits and providing 24 hour on-call assistance.2 Central to hospice care is the idea of palliative care, which makes sure the patient is able to die in the most pain-free and dignified manner.
For LGBT resources, please visit RELAY (Research and Education for LGBT and Allied Youth). RELAY is a project of Fordham University’s Center for Ethics Education which looks to advance the conversation about health for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and especially trans youth. Please also visit the resource page for creating an LGBTQ-inclusive classroom.