Posts Tagged ‘Anthropomorphism’

Love That Robot

November 25, 2008

Ten years ago, I was deep into a study of consciousness in animals. (To see my conclusions, read the chapter called “Consciousness Explained” in my book The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill.) I was especially curious to know what scientists thought. One thing I found was a near constant frustration with what they saw as “anthropomorphism” in lay people.

One day, during my period of greatest preoccupation with the issue, I was listening to the radio and heard a scientist announce the “death” of the two Mars probes Pathfinder and Sojourner. I think it was someone from JPL. It had been a highly successful mission, and the scientist ended the announcement by saying in a voice that was drenched with exaggerated solemnity, “So, from all of us here at NASA to Pathfinder and Sojourner: Thank you…”

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