The notion of a panhandling robot may sound like pure fiction, but roboticists in South Korea have worked together with MIT Media Lab to create with DONA, a motion-sensing bot built to solicit street donations. DONA's makers are donating the robot's earnings to fund education in the Ivory Coast, so you won't feel suckered dropping some won in its collection cup.
Tag Archives | Humanity
Jo Tuckman writes in the Guardian:
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The language of Ayapaneco has been spoken in the land now known as Mexico for centuries. It has survived the Spanish conquest, seen off wars, revolutions, famines and floods. But now, like so many other indigenous languages, it’s at risk of extinction.
There are just two people left who can speak it fluently – but they refuse to talk to each other. Manuel Segovia, 75, and Isidro Velazquez, 69, live 500 metres apart in the village of Ayapa in the tropical lowlands of the southern state of Tabasco. It is not clear whether there is a long-buried argument behind their mutual avoidance, but people who know them say they have never really enjoyed each other’s company.
“They don’t have a lot in common,” says Daniel Suslak, a linguistic anthropologist from Indiana University, who is involved with a project to produce a dictionary of Ayapaneco.
Deep in one of the remotest parts of the Brazilian Amazon, in a clearing at the headwaters of the Envira River, an Indian man looks up at an aeroplane. He is surrounded by kapok trees and banana plants, and by the necessities of his life: a thatched hut, its roof made from palm fronds; a plant-fiber basket brimming with ripe pawpaw; a pile of peeled manioc, lying bright-white against the rain forest earth.
The man’s body is painted red from crushed seeds of the annatto shrub, and in his hand...
Guernica discusses how “plasticization” and other advances create new questions regarding how we may make use of corpses. Cadavers are in-demand like never before, for all sorts of purposes, including macabre exhibitions:
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Von Hagens is a tireless promoter of the ethical difference between his exhibits and the others. “All the copycat exhibitions are from China,” he told the New York Times. “And they’re all using unclaimed bodies.”
Both “Bodies…The Exhibition” and “Body Worlds” make use of a new technology von Hagens calls “Plastination,” by which all water is removed from human tissues and replaced with soft silicone polymers. A macabre detail included in the story von Hagens tells of the development of this process hints at the ethical questions that were to come: He first thought of creating perfectly preserved cross-sections of human bodies when he was at a sandwich shop one day watching a butcher run a ham through an electric slicer.
The world's population has had a rapid increase in the last decade, but India takes the cake. With the 2011 census updated, India's population reaches 1.21 billion. BBC reports:
India's population has grown by 181 million people over the past decade to 1.21bn, according to the 2011 census. More people now live in India than in the United States, Indonesia, Brazil, Pakistan and Bangladesh combined. India is on course to overtake China as the world's most populous nation by 2030, but its growth rate is falling, figures show. China has 1.3bn people. The census also reveals a continuing preference for boys - India's sex ratio is at its worst since independence. Female foeticide remains common in India, although sex-selective abortion based on ultraso
Jon Boone writes in the Guardian:
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The face of Jeremy Morlock, a young US soldier, grins at the camera, his hand holding up the head of the dead and bloodied youth he and his colleagues have just killed in an act military prosecutors say was premeditated murder.
Moments before the picture was taken in January last year, the unsuspecting victim had been waved over by a group of US soldiers who had driven to his village in Kandahar province in one of their armoured Stryker tanks.
According to testimony collected by Der Spiegel magazine the boy had, as a matter of routine, lifted up his shirt to reveal that he was not hiding a suicide bomb vest.
That was the moment Morlock, according to a pre-arranged plan, threw a grenade at the boy that exploded while other members of the rogue group who called themselves the “kill team” opened fire.
Writing in SEED Magazine, Mark Changizi expounds on his vision of human advancement in the centuries to come. He argues that the greatest progress will not come through changing our brains and bodies via genetic engineering or cyborg-like enhancement, but by developing technology that better accommodates the magnificently-designed brains and bodies that evolution has already given us:
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Where are we humans going, as a species? If science fiction is any guide, we will genetically evolve like in X-Men, become genetically engineered as in Gattaca, or become cybernetically enhanced like General Grievous in Star Wars. All of these may well be part of the story of our future, but I’m not holding my breath.
There is, however, another avenue for human evolution, one mostly unappreciated in both science and fiction. It is this unheralded mechanism that will usher in the next stage of human, giving future people exquisite powers we do not currently possess, powers worthy of natural selection itself.
Alasdair Wilkins writing at io9.com:
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A burial site recently uncovered in Jordan is the oldest ever discovered in the Middle East, at least 1,500 years older than any other cemetery previously discovered. But it’s not just its great age that makes it special — the cemetery also reveals what animals humans kept as pets long before the domestication of dogs.
The site, which dates back about 16,500 years, was discovered in ‘Uyun al-Hammam in Jordan. The University of Toronto researchers discovered the site back in 2000, but it’s taken eleven years just to come to grips with what the site has to teach us. Indeed, this cemetery stands to be particularly useful, as it has eleven different sets of human remains — more than all other burial sites of this type combined.
But it isn’t just the human corpses that have attracted attention, as they’ve also discovered remains of ancient pets.