Life as an Extreme Sport

Asimov would be pleased

South Korea has announced that they are drawing up a code of robot ethics, to prevent humans from abusing robots, and robots from abusing humans. Asimov would be so pleased!

While it’s unclear if the code of ethics will follow Asimov’s laws of robotics (an idea their convened panelists of scientists and sci-fi authors have not ruled out), Park Hye-Young of the Ministry of Information and Communication has indicated that a major concern is that people will be interacting with their robots like spouses, or become addicted to them (as many people appear to be addicted to cyberspace in general). And according to the BBC, “key considerations would include ensuring human control over robots, protecting data acquired by robots and preventing illegal use.”

-Kelly Hills

Originally posted at the American Journal of Bioethics Blog.

further details on how not to procure organs

The LA Times has a follow-up on the organ procurement/transplant case that Ina’s Sporula mentioned a few days back. Some intrepid soul at the paper decided to request the originally referred to report via the Freedom of Information Act, and received a 76-page document from federal investigators that reads like a litany of 101 things to not do when procuring organs for transplant.

As more comes out about this case, it’s likely that the transplant surgeon will be the one made an example of, the over-zealous doctor that pushed too far. It is, after all, a nightmare scenario I hear repeated as the basis for why so many people are not organ donors, even though they would want an organ transplant themselves if it were necessary. But what is so interesting, in a “if you can’t be a good example you’ll be a horrible warning” sort of way, is reading the summary of the full report in the LA Times and realizing how many medical personnel (nurses and doctors) were present in the room, uncomfortable with what was going on, and said nothing until days, days, later. This seems a much more systemic problem than one over-zealous surgeon, to something endemic within the culture of the hospital itself.

-Kelly Hills

Originally published at the American Journal of Bioethics Editors Blog.

Pharmacy Says Happy Valentine’s, Have Some Viagra

Valentine’s Day. Hearts, candy, chocolates, roses; if your car isn’t buried under a snowdrift somewhere in the Northeast, maybe a nice dinner out or a movie. It can get costly. And in Britain, as of the 14th of February, men can add another USD100 to the total Valentine’s price: the cost of a pharmacist provided pack of Viagra.

That’s right, a British pharmacy chain has decided to sell small samples of Viagra over-the-counter. If you’re between 30 and 65, male, and are willing to sit through an hour long consultation with the pharmacist, take a blood pressure, glucose, and cholesterol test, you too can buy four pills of Viagra.

The theory behind all of this, launched on Britain’s National Impotence Day (a shared date with Valentine’s), is that some men are just too shy to talk to their doctor about erectile dysfunction, and so are suffering in silence. This may very well be the case — but is an hour long visit with a pharmacist going to be easier than a doctor’s visit? Is it going to be so easy that it suddenly makes going to the doctor a walk in the park? (If you decide you like the effects of the Viagra, you’ve to see a physician for a ‘script.) For that matter, should pharmacists even be prescribing medications?

And does anyone else marvel at the fact that for USD100, you can have an hour of a pharmacist’s time, several tests on your health done, and a mini-prescription filled? It’s more time than most people ever spend with their physician, for a lot less money!

Woops: Another quick search of the news sites before posting shows that it really was just a big marketing push. The pharmacy isn’t actually offering the OTC pills ’til Monday, and you have to schedule your appointment in advance. Sort of takes the spontaneity out of that one…

-Kelly Hills

Originally posted at the American Journal of Bioethics Editors Blog.