Despite my skepticism about roboethics having much to do with ethics about robotics, it’s only fair to let roboethicists have their say. Here’s a YouTube advertisement of a website on the subject.


And they use pretty words to do it.

Take this, for example:

The whole point of the “soundbite used to be to mine one nugget of gold from a longer point, to boil it down to its essence. But we’ve boiled over as a culture, and there’s nothing left in the pot. We’re not just going for the choicest cut anymore. We’ve devolved to a media culture where that nugget is zapped and worked over and processed to the point of irrelevance. There is nothing behind the nugget anymore.

That’s Denis McGrath, mixing metaphors about the lost art of conversation, and getting there by way of an obituary. Brilliant.

Today we find a well written article on research into the conflict between the front and middle brain:

It was only in 2000 that two London scientists selected 70 people, all in the early sizzle of love, and rolled them into the giant cylinder of a functional magnetic resonance imaging scanner, or fMRI. The images they got are thought to be science’s first pictures of the brain in love.

A story mixing science with passion is popular in the press, so here are a few more which track the release of research results over the past 7 years:

All of these news items quote Helen Fisher, an anthropologist at Rutgers University. In addition to  self-archiving her articles, she has given a presentation to TED|Talks. (Co-author Lucy Brown has a presentation at the NY Times.)

Where’s the neurolaw? Well, family lawyers might take an interest in this…

And criminal lawyers might like this…

Of course, it’s not all happening in the brain, which led to this unusual MRI study:

I’d like to direct you to a post by Benoit Hardy-Vallée, a U of Toronto philosopher of science interested in neuroethics and neuroeconomics. It is a nice discussion of the Knobe Effect, supported by a good list of references.

Take a look at some of the other posts as well, and subscribe to his RSS feed. Any blog that has a quote by Imre Lakatos as its motto has to be good, and this blog is of very high caliber indeed…

The editor of Economic Inquiry hits a nerve with his decision to change the process of peer review at his journal. A combination of sloppy authorship and hyper-editorial referees means…

The system is broken. Consequently, Economic Inquiry is starting an experiment. In this experiment, an author can submit under a ‘no revisions’ policy.

Hat tip goes to Frank Cross at Empirical Legal Studies, where you can read the details. See also the discussion at Marginal Revolution, which directs us to take a look at a proposal for ‘as-is journal review’, something I’ve advocated in the past.

[T]he as-is review process re-establishes the basic roles of authors, referees and editors. For authors, the act of submitting a manuscript to a journal is to explore the possibility of getting their ideas published. This act does not imply an obligation to change any ideas against their will. For referees, their role is to advise editors regarding the publishability [sic] of manuscripts. This role does not come with the right to impose their own ideas on authors. For editors, their role is to decide whether to accept or reject a submitted manuscript, based on the recommendations of referees and their own reading. This role entails neither the right nor the obligation to help authors develop the manuscript to their satisfaction and to the satisfaction of referees.

  • Eric W. K. Tsang and Bruno S. Frey. The As-Is Journal Review Process: Let Authors Own Their Idea. Academy of Management Learning and Education (2007) 6:1 128. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=897708.

Simply put, an author’s work should stand on its merits. Advice on how to re-write and improve scholarly papers may be valuable, but re-drafting should be part of the writing process, not part of the publishing process.

Here’s a thought that stuck me a moment ago, as I was conducting some historical research…

The open access mandate which may be given to the National Institutes of Health has a problem: it just governs future grants. But what about all of the government-funded research that has taken place in previous decades? Shouldn’t that legacy also be publicly accessible?

There are so many ways I could spin this bit of news. It’s tempting to go with how wonderful it is the National Library of Australia will host an open access repository. I’ve thought this was the way to go for some time, in part because of the costs to government of keeping the present business model, in part because good things happen when national libraries give legitimacy to open access – things like a reputation for quality and greater ease of repository searches.

But as that seems so self-evident, I’ll instead run with how nifty it is that Open Journal Systems is the software platform being used to run the national library’s venture. OJS is a project of the Public Knowledge Project underway at Simon Frasier University and the University of British Columbia. The software is open source, of course, which goes some way to reducing publishing costs.

Here’s hoping that Library and Archives Canada follow suit.