Around the World in Six Ideas

By Dickey, Christopher | Newsweek, February 22, 2013 | Go to article overview

Around the World in Six Ideas

Dickey, Christopher, Newsweek

Byline: Christopher Dickey

Rights for Robots?

Many sci-fi films have raised the question of whether robots, in some distant future, will have rights. But Kate Darling at MIT thinks the question is current already. She argues that robots like Pleo the Dinosaur become companions much like pets, and that when people relate to them, they want to protect them. In one recent "robot ethics" workshop she conducted, none of four groups could kill their Pleo. Of course, it's really more about us than them. "If we can see the emotions that we know in ourselves in the other object--or being--that is when we start to feel protective," Darling says. Even when it comes to a living animal's rights, she notes, "the cuter it is, the more it stimulates emotions." The quintessential example so far is Paro, a white, furry $5,000 robot baby seal used for hospital therapy. (Yes, it looks just like the ones that hunters in Canada bludgeon to death, to the horror of animal-rights groups.) Dementia patients find Paro's purring as soothing as a live animal's. No one would want to see it mistreated. "Over the next decade, we're going to see a lot more toys like that," says Darling.

The Economics of Love

Valentine's Day came and went without a major impact on economic policy. But it got Betsey Stevenson and Justin Wolfers thinking. After examining the data in a Gallup survey of 136 countries, which asked respondents, "Did you experience love for a lot of the day yesterday?" they posted a brief essay on a Brookings Institution blog. (Wolfers is a senior fellow there.) "Love is valuable, even if it is absent from both our national accounts and our political discourse," they wrote. "In the language of economics, love is a form of insurance." It provides both a psychological sense of security and real material security. "This is why the household remains one of the most powerful institutions for organizing not just families but also our economic lives." (The authors were not arguing for gay marriage, but you can see how the logic would apply.) "When you expand the boundaries of trust and reciprocity," say Stevenson and Wolfers, "you expand the boundaries of what is possible." In case you were wondering, the people of the Philippines and Rwanda (interestingly) are at the top of the much-loved list; the United States ranks 26; France is 57; Israel is 88; and at the very bottom, Armenia.

America to the Rescue

Two scholars writing for the Council on Foreign Relations argue that the United States should have specialized combat units ready to stop genocide and other atrocities. One example, according to authors Stewart Patrick and Micah Zenko: "The Army's 82nd Airborne-Ready Brigade can deploy as many as 3,600 troops anywhere in the world within eighteen hours notice." But as the paper notes, "military officials demonstrate little enthusiasm" for this idea. After the shock of genocides in Bosnia and Rwanda in the 1990s, many politicians vowed never again. But given the sad saga in Iraq, the problematic outcome in Libya, the Syrian charnel house, and the uncertainties that lie ahead in Mali, it's hard to get soldiers excited about the right to protect (R2P in NGO jargon). So an estimated 250,000 people continue to die in armed conflicts every year, and the World Bank puts the economic costs at "upwards of $100 billion." Much more needs to be done at the international level, say Patrick and Zenko, but they also want the Obama administration "to provide specific guidance to the military in its National Security Strategy to plan and train its rapidly deployable forces for genocide- and mass-atrocity-prevention missions."

Printing with Stem Cells

When a group of researchers in Scotland published a paper recently showing how they used a special two-nozzle computer printer filled with "bio-ink" to make 3-D objects out of human-embryo stem cells, speculation ran wild that they may soon be printing whole human organs. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Cite this article

Cited article

Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25,

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

Around the World in Six Ideas


Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25,

    New feature

    It is estimated that 1 in 10 people have dyslexia, and in an effort to make Questia easier to use for those people, we have added a new choice of font to the Reader. That font is called OpenDyslexic, and has been designed to help with some of the symptoms of dyslexia. For more information on this font, please visit

    To use OpenDyslexic, choose it from the Typeface list in Font settings.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Author Advanced search


    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.