Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Around The Horn

  • In death he became a punchline on Leno. In life, he was a devoted husband taking care of his mentally deteriorating wife. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch has the sad and touching story of the real flesh-and-blood human being who was shot by his wife after giving her a warm beer a few weeks ago.
  • You've probably already seen this, but a UK government report says today that within 50 years, robots and other "intelligent" machines may be given human rights:
    The Horizon Scan report argues that if ‘correctly managed’, this new world of robots’ rights could lead to increased labour output and greater prosperity.

    “If granted full rights, states will be obligated to provide full social benefits to them including income support, housing and possibly robo-healthcare to fix the machines over time,” it says.
    Incredibly, I don't think they're joking.

    While the idea may seem silly, Gene Edward Veith accurately surveys the worldview in which such a proposal could receive a serious hearing :
    On one level, this is just more scientific ignorance coupled with scientific mystification. "Artificial intelligence" is not the same as human intelligence. But the commission's recommendation is revealing of our current worldview confusions. The assumption is that "life worthy of life"--and thus worthy of rights--consists of intelligence or consciousness. This implies that those who are lacking one or the other have no rights, including the right to life. But we knew that already.
  • Where does the time go? I've just realized that this is the time when we offer our annual reminder that Kwanzaa is a made-up sham "holiday," invented in the 70's by convicted woman-torturer Ron Karenga. For more, check out last year's post or LaShawn Barber's annual favorite.

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