Do androids dream of electric sheep? Or, more to the point, do they know the difference between right and wrong?
That's the question the U.S. military is hoping to tackle, as it will hand out $7.5 million in grants over the next five years to researchers tasked with defining human morality, and then trying to instill it in autonomous robots.
"We are playing catch-up trying to figure out the ethical and legal implications" of rapidly-evolving autonomous technologies, Paul Bello, from the Office of Naval Research, told Defense One. "We do not want to be caught similarly flat-footed in any kind of military domain where lives are at stake."
In related news, the United Nations is hosting a summit on the possibility of killer robots. I'd like to go on record now as saying I, for one, welcome our new deadly, moral robot overlords. Jon Terbush
At the Voters First Presidential Forum in New Hampshire on Monday, Gov. Chris Christie (R-New Jersey) said that the country needs to "embrace" people who are addicted to alcohol and drugs, and provide rehabilitation instead of jail.
Christie was asked by moderator Jack Heath why more isn't being done for people with drug and alcohol addictions. The governor said that his state was "the first in the country to say for non-violent drug offenders no more prison. They're going to mandatory in-patient drug treatment, because this is a disease. The war on drugs has been a failure — well intentioned, but a failure."
Christie said that "everyone makes mistakes," and society needs to "reach out" and "embrace those people and say, 'If you're not a violent offender, if you're not dealing drugs to our children, we need to get you treatment rather than prison.'" He added that addiction can hit anyone, and "we need the country and president to stand up and say, 'This is a disease and we need to fix it.'" Catherine Garcia
During the five minutes he was allowed to speak at the Voters First Presidential Forum Monday in New Hampshire, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) accused China of cheating when it comes to trade, said he would take on Vladimir Putin, warned that the United States is on its way to "becoming Greece," called President Obama "weak," and said Bill and Hillary Clinton do not tell the truth.
Graham was asked by moderator Jack Heath what he would do to maintain free trade that is fair trade, and also to name a nation that was "cheating" the U.S. "China's cheating," Graham responded. "They're manipulating currency to create a discount for products made in China and we don't do a damn thing about it. They're building islands over resource-rich property owned by others because they can. They cyber attack us, steal our intellectual property, and no one pushes back. If I'm president, we're going to push back against China." He added, "Here’s my foreign policy — a clenched fist and an open hand. You choose."
Graham also said he would be a "different person" for Putin to deal with, calling Obama "weak," and said he would arm Ukrainians "so they can fight for their own freedom" and "take every bit of natural gas we can from America in an environmentally-sound way that we don't use and export it to Europe to undercut Putin's monopoly." He also wants to "rebuild NATO" and the military, and believes "we are on our way to becoming Greece." He quickly switched gears to the Clintons, saying he's been "dealing with that crowd for 20 years" and is "fluent in Clinton speak." "When Bill says, 'I didn't have sex with that woman,' he did," he said. "When she says, 'I'll tell you about building the pipeline when I'm president,' she won’t. I understand this crowd, and I can beat them." Catherine Garcia
On Monday, Senate Democrats blocked a Republican effort to cut federal funding to Planned Parenthood with a mostly party-line vote of 53-46, seven votes shy of the 60 needed to advance.
The measure, sponsored by Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), was in response to videos secretly recorded by anti-abortion activists that show officials from Planned Parenthood talking about providing medical researchers with tissue from aborted fetuses. Conservatives say that the organization is doing this illegally for profit, while Planned Parenthood denies the allegations and says the videos are edited. Conservatives in the House and Senate are already saying that in the fall, they will oppose any 2016 spending bills that include federal funding for Planned Parenthood, The Associated Press reports. Catherine Garcia
A rivalry between two Harvard University student publications hilariously escalated this summer, to the point where one group not only pranked the other in epic fashion, but also Donald Trump.
It all started when staffers from the humor publication Harvard Lampoon stole The Harvard Crimson's treasured president's chair. The group's president asked for it back, but the pranksters had bigger plans underway. Weeks later, they published a parody Crimson editorial endorsing Donald Trump for president, complete with a photo of Trump sitting in the chair, surrounded by Lampoon staffers purporting to work for The Crimson.
— The Harvard Crimson (@thecrimson) August 3, 2015
The editorial, which the Lampoon staff wrote to the Trump campaign about their plans to publish, was a gem, as described by The Crimson:
An article, emblazoned with the headline "Crimson Endorses Trump for President" and signed "The Crimson Staff," cropped up online, claiming to tout the newspaper's support for the billionaire Republican primary candidate's bid for the presidency in 2016. Among other points, it dubbed him "a celebrity above all" and "the most formidable and competitive candidate on the Republican side." It also espoused his job creation record—specifically the supposed good work of The Celebrity Apprentice a reality show Trump has hosted. The editorial reasoned that the show helped "inactive or troubled" celebrities regain their fame and thus created jobs. [The Harvard Crimson]
The Crimson, being a typical college newspaper, has a history of endorsing Democrats. Julie Kliegman
Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (R) announced Monday he is cutting Medicaid funding for the state's two Planned Parenthood clinics. The move comes in the midst of a Republican congressional push to defund the group after a controversial, covert video released by conservative activists last month showed Planned Parenthood discussing fetal tissue donations.
"Planned Parenthood does not represent the values of the people of Louisiana and shows a fundamental disrespect for human life," the presidential hopeful said in a statement.
The two Louisiana clinics don't offer abortions, Talking Points Memo reports. A third clinic being built in New Orleans will, but officials say they will not participate in the donation program.
It's safe to say most kids don't like eating their broccoli unless their dessert privileges are at risk. But some kids are notoriously more picky than others, to the point where mealtimes at home and at daycare are routinely a real struggle. For those young children, selective eating is linked to conditions like depression and social anxiety as they grow up, according to a study published in the journal Pediatrics on Monday.
Researchers followed more than 900 kids aged 2 to 6 for an average of three years. Kids considered moderately or severely picky were more likely to experience symptoms of anxiety and depression. The moderately picky bunch was also associated more often with separation anxiety and ADHD.
The study doesn't suggest that picky eating causes these conditions, though it is important to expose young children to new foods.
"I don't want people to think it's a foregone conclusion that if your child is a picky eater that they're going to be anxious or depressed,” University of Nebraska Medical Center director of innovation Laura Jana, who was not affiliated with the study, told The Wall Street Journal. Julie Kliegman
James Holmes may face the death penalty for the 2012 shooting at an Aurora, Colorado, movie theater. The jury decided Monday to move forward with sentencing, leaving the death penalty as an option, The Associated Press reports. They will hear another round of arguments before making a decision.
In July, Holmes was convicted on 165 charges for killing 12 people and attempting to kill 70 others after he opened fire during midnight screening of The Dark Knight Rises. He had pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity.
If the jury sides against prosecutors pushing for the death penalty, Holmes would receive life in prison without parole. Julie Kliegman