Are you willing to sacrifice robots to save human lives?


Supposed she looks like, sounds like, your daughter? Your wife?

❝ A team led by Sari Nijssen…and Markus Paulus…have carried out a study to determine the degree to which people show concern for robots and behave towards them in accordance with moral principles.

❝ …The study set out to answer the following question: “Under what circumstances and to what extent would adults be willing to sacrifice robots to save human lives?” The participants were faced with a hypothetical moral dilemma: Would they be prepared to put a single individual at risk in order to save a group of injured persons? In the scenarios presented the intended sacrificial victim was either a human, a humanoid robot with an anthropomorphic physiognomy that had been humanized to various degrees or a robot that was clearly recognizable as a machine.

❝ The study revealed that the more the robot was humanized, the less likely participants were to sacrifice it. Scenarios that included priming stories in which the robot was depicted as a compassionate being or as a creature with its own perceptions, experiences and thoughts, were more likely to deter the study participants from sacrificing it in the interests of anonymous humans. Indeed, on being informed of the emotional qualities allegedly exhibited by the robot, many of the experimental subjects expressed a readiness to sacrifice the injured humans to spare the robot from harm. “The more the robot was depicted as human – and in particular the more feelings were attributed to the machine – the less our experimental subjects were inclined to sacrifice it,” says Paulus.

As robots become more like humans, develop redirective processes in their “brains”, communicate with us on a level comparable to or better than our meat-machine peers…how might you decide to act?

A new way to celebrate Valentine’s Day


El Paso Zoo photo

EL PASO, Texas (KFOX14) — Not only can you name a cockroach after your ex at the El Paso Zoo, but on Valentine’s Day the zoo will be feeding those cockroaches to the meerkats for their “Quit Bugging Me” event at 2:15 p.m. Feb. 14.

You can submit the name of yours or your friend’s ex by sending a direct message to the El Paso Zoo Facebook page by Feb. 10. On Valentine’s Day, zoo staff will decorate the meerkat exhibit with the submitted names and shortly after, in honor of those names, the meerkats will be fed cockroaches.

“This is a fun way to get the community involved in our daily enrichment activities,” said El Paso Zoo Event Coordinator Sarah Borrego. “The meerkats love to get cockroaches as a snack and what better way to celebrate Valentine’s Day than by feeding them a cockroach named after your ex!”

The public is invited to attend the “Quit Bugging Me” event. The zoo will also show the event on Facebook Live and the meerkat webcam available on the zoo’s website www.elpasozoo.org.

Thanks, UrsaRodinia

‘Blockbuster’ snowstorm heads east. Then a polar vortex drops in!

❝ After hammering California with rain and snow, a “blockbuster” winter storm is taking aim at the East, where as much as 40 inches of snow could fall over the weekend. Road travel may become impossible in the heavy snow, and flight delays and cancellations are likely.

After the storm heads offshore Sunday, the intense cold will be the main weather story as air straight from the Arctic will roar in, bringing below-freezing temperatures to 200 million Americans…

❝ Snowfall of 12-24 inches is likely to be more common in the heaviest band from the storm, according to the AccuWeather forecast. Blowing and drifting at the height and conclusion of the storm could cause the snow depth to vary by several feet…

❝ After the storm, the coldest air of the season will roar across nearly the entire eastern half of the country by Monday: About 200 million people will wake up to below-freezing temperatures Monday morning, as far south as Florida, according to weather.us meteorologist Ryan Maue. Maue said about 85 percent of the Lower 48 states will see temperatures at or below freezing.

I admit it. The [rare] accumulation of snow and cold we’ve had here in northern New Mexico recently is a PITA – I do not miss New England winters at all.

New Quantum Paradox Further Counters Sensible Assumptions About Reality

❝ That quantum mechanics is a successful theory is not in dispute. It makes astonishingly accurate predictions about the nature of the world at microscopic scales. What has been in dispute for nearly a century is just what it’s telling us about what exists, what is real. There are myriad interpretations that offer their own take on the question, each requiring us to buy into certain as-yet-unverified claims — hence assumptions — about the nature of reality…

❝ [An] experiment, designed by Daniela Frauchiger and Renato Renner, of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich, involves a set of assumptions that on the face of it seem entirely reasonable. But the experiment leads to contradictions, suggesting that at least one of the assumptions is wrong. The choice of which assumption to give up has implications for our understanding of the quantum world and points to the possibility that quantum mechanics is not a universal theory, and so cannot be applied to complex systems such as humans.

RTFA. Have fun. I haven’t been involved with the microscopic [and smaller] world for almost sixty years and I’m not inclined to resume the particular disciplines required. I’ll occasionally tap on that windowpane and wait and listen for an answer that reaches into the macro world of measurable [and especially] verifiable results.