News From Around The Blogosphere 5.31.10

June 1, 2010

1. Does Robo Phillip K. Dick dream of electric sheep?

Philip K Dick was brought back to life as a fully autonomous conversational android.

A team of roboticists, computer scientists, designers, and science fiction fans built a “robotic portrait” of the sci-fi author. The project was a collaboration between Hanson Robotics, the University of Memphis, and the Automation and Robotics Research Institute (ARRI) at the University of Texas, Arlington. The android used cameras to track visitors and turn to face them while talking. It used speech recognition and speech synthesis software to listen and respond, and AI routines that drew on Dick’s body of work to hold a natural conversation with visitors.

But for all we know the original Phillip K. Dick was a Replicant too.

2. Muslim apostate in tiny island nation of The Maldives may face death penalty – Going against Islamic law in The Maldives is unconstitutional. Mohamed Nazim did though when he publicly declared himself to be not a Muslim. The penalty for his apostasy is death unless he “repents.” This is not what one should expect from a so-called “religion of peace.”

3. Breast cancer vaccine showing promising results

A vaccine to prevent breast cancer has shown overwhelmingly favorable results in animals, according to a study by researchers at Cleveland Clinic’s Lerner Research Institute.

They found that a single vaccination with the antigen a-lactalbumin prevents breast cancer tumors from forming in mice, while inhibiting the growth of existing tumors.

Human trials could begin within a year.

If successful, it would be the first vaccine to prevent breast cancer, reports CBS Cleveland affiliate WOIO.

4. The vaccine denial movement claims another victim – Andrew Wakefield’s former employer, the Royal Free Hospital in North London, has been ordered to pay £500,000 in damages because they carried out an operation that was ‘not clinically justified’ on a 5-year-old child named Jack Piper.

High Court papers alleged that the colonoscopy procedure performed on Jack in 1998 was ‘not clinically indicated or justified’. They also claimed the ‘principal reason’ for the surgery was to further research into links between autism and bowel conditions rather than Jack’s clinical needs.

The documents also claimed that Jack’s parents were not warned of the risks of the procedure or the ‘controversial and uncertain’ link between autism and bowel conditions. This meant the surgery was performed ‘without lawful consent’ and was an ‘assault’ on Jack.

Oh, the irony. If I had a dollar for every time a vaccine denier insisted that doctors irresponsibly used children as guinea pigs by giving them untested vaccines and that parents were not properly warned of the risks I’d be a rich man. And yet I don’t expect to hear any vaccine deniers to address the Jack Piper incident at all unless to make excuses such as claiming this is just a hoax created by “Big Pharma” to make discredit their movement. It’s funny though how they’re doing fighting for “the children” only when those children are allegedly harmed by vaccines but show no concern whatsoever for any child directly harmed by their position.