Posted on November 30, 2007 at 2:08 PM
Here are a few updates and extensions to earlier posts on blog.bioethics.net:
And you thought gay marriage was controversial
Back in October we posted an item about one researcher’s speculation that human-robot marriage was at most 50 years away. Of course, this prompts the question that also sounds like a bad realty TV stunt: Who would want to marry a robot? Well, Wired’s Regina Lynn says she might:
I don’t plan to marry again, but if for some reason I must, I might consider tying that knot with a robot.
As Dave Barry says, I am not making this up. Artificial-intelligence expert David Levy’s new book, Love + Sex With Robots: The Evolution of Human-Robot Relationships, makes a compelling case for the development of real human-robot partnerships — by 2050.
I’ll be 80 by then, but who cares? With the help of aphrodisiac pharmaceuticals, I’ll be as randy and functional as ever, with a wealth of experience I absolutely plan to gain between now and then.
Lynn goes on to list 10 reasons why’d she’d consider it. Among them, “If your spouse is a robot, your in-laws also have off switches.”
Swing voters in the scanner
A few weeks ago we linked to Martha Farrah’s skeptical take on a NYT piece detailing the results of fMRI scans of swing voters. In the time since, many other have joined Martha in her skepticism. Of the piece Daniel Engber wrote at Slate, “Don’t believe a word of it. To liken these neurological pundits to snake-oil salesmen would be far too generous.” At the Mind Hacks blog, Vaughn Bell called the piece “essentially PR for FKF Applied Research, a ‘neuromarketing company’ who will carry out bespoke brain scan marketing studies for a price.” And writing for the Columbia Journalism Review, Megan Garber pointed out that the graphics accompanying the NYT piece portrayed the info incorrectly.
Politics and cell reprogramming
The news about induced pluripotent stem cells has prompted everyone’s favorite game of punditry “Yes, it is! No, it’s not!” Among the players this time are Charles Krauthammer and Michael Kinsley. In the Washington Post, Krauthammer writes that iPS cells are a vindication for President Bush. And in Time, Kinsley counters that the praise for Mr. Bush on this issue is just another form of hypocrisy.