News & Information

Hostage Policy, Finnish Education Advantages, Moral Machines

Top of Mind with Julie Rose
  • Jun 30, 2015 9:00 pm
  • 1:42:17

US Hostage Policy (1:06) Guests: Amos Guiora, professor of international law and terrorism at University of Utah S.J. Quinney College of Law. Americans held hostage abroad are Top of Mind today. "These families have already suffered enough," said President Obama last week in announcing that families of people held hostage will no longer face threat of prosecution from the government if they pay ransom to free a loved one. Since 9-11, the White House says more than 80 Americans have been taken hostage by groups engaged in terrorism or piracy. Approximately 30 are currently being held captive. The brutal murders of Americans at the hands of ISIS in the last year prompted the Obama Administration to review – and now revise – its hostage policy. International law and terrorism expert Amos Guiora spoke to us about the significance of the change. Advantages of the Finnish Education System (25:17) Guest: Pasi Sahlberg, Ph. D., Visiting Professor of Practice at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Education School is out, and kids are glad to be done with tests, at least for a couple months. Maybe there is something behind that huge sense of relief kids feel when summer starts—maybe we test them too much. Pasi Sahlberg—a Finnish educator, author and scholar—claims that we do spend too much of our time and resources on testing students, and also that when it comes to evaluating teachers themselves, we could learn a lot from Finland. Moral Machines (51:58) Guest: Colin Allen, Professor of Cognitive Science and the History of the Philosophy of Science at Indiana University at Bloomington There has been a rash of movies recently featuring incredibly intelligent robots as either the hero or villain. The Avengers, Interstellar, Ex Machina, Chappie and even the Oscar-winning Big Hero 6 – in which a large inflatable robot is tasked as a “personal healthcare companion,” for the film’s teenage protagonist. Off the big screen, robots today can vacuum our houses and drive our cars. As we entrust these “artificial intelligences” with more and more decisions, ethics and morality become central to the conversation. Can we build robots to be both intelligent and moral? To navigate those difficult times when we’re faced with two “bad decisions” and have to choose the path of less harm, for example? Micronations (1:16:30) Guest: John Ryan, author of Micronations: The Lonely Planet Guide to Home-Made Nations Do you remember the urge as a kid to establish your own little kingdom – maybe in your bedroom with a “keep out sign” on the door, or under the thicket of trees at the side of the house, where you could spy on the world from your secret hideout? There are dozens of people around the world who’ve taken that urge to an extreme that might surprise – or even delight – you. Just a few weeks ago, a group of Polish tourists on a trip to Slovenia heard about an unclaimed strip of land near Croatia and declared it the Kingdom of Enclava – making their the world’s newest micronation. There are micronations all over the world – maybe even in your own neighborhood. There’s even a Lonely Planet guide to these home-made nations, written by John Ryan, who joined us to talk about the phenomenon.