Pain in the machine? Being human in an age of nearly human machines

What if a robot could feel pain – and not just an automatic response to a potentially harmful stimulus, but an emotional experience of pain? This is one of the questions that I asked Dr Beth Singler, a Research Associate at The Faraday Institute, in today’s podcast. The human pain response is extremely useful but can we, should we, or do we need to give it to robots? (Transcript below)

Can you tell us first what brought you to the Faraday Institute? Continue reading

Guest Post: When is a person?

baby-605588_1920At what point in human development can we recognise the presence of another person like us?  It’s an age-old question which cannot be avoided, and I’ve been interested in the recent discussion about this on this blog.  Each one of us comes to this question from a different perspective, so I would like to offer some reflections from the perspective of a baby doctor. As a neonatologist I have cared for many tiny and fragile babies, some as small as 22 weeks of gestation and weighing less than 500g. Continue reading

Cooperative Slime: A sociable amoeba that sheds light on altruism?

Copyright, M.J. Grimson & R.L. Blanton, Biological Sciences Electron Microscopy Laboratory, Texas Tech University
Copyright, M.J. Grimson & R.L. Blanton, Biological Sciences Electron Microscopy Laboratory, Texas Tech University

The first time I saw a video of a slime mould I was completely captivated. Dictyostelium discoidium is not slimy or a mould, but an amoeba with an amazing ability. When food is plentiful they reproduce simply by Continue reading