Russell Standish <[EMAIL PROTECTED]>:
> Anthropomorphism may be common, but this doesn't mean it is correct,
> nor useful.

It is very useful in making sense of fiction (anthropomorphising words
on paper, pictures on film, etc.), therapeutic in communicating with a
diary or a teddy bear.  It is ecologically beneficial when applied to
trees and animals, as was done by native Americans.  It is
historically beneficial when applied to structures and artifacts.  It
benefits industrial progress when it is applied to machines, as often
in Japan, making them a cherished part of the family rather than a
threatening soulless force.

And I've argued hard that it is an interpretation, as correct as any
other.


>> Western stinginess in attributing minds, on the other
>> hand, is becoming a Luddite-rousing impediment to progress.
>> 
> How so?

About half the press advanced robots get here plays up the
Frankenstein analogy.  I encounter it a lot because of my books.  It's
even worse in Germany.  Asimov noted the reaction, and in his robot
books laws are passed keeping robots out of many occupations, as well
as the famous three laws to keep robots in their place.  It is a
subliminal bias that allows only human beings have real souls, and
fears anything else that acts like a human but is different as a
soulless inhuman menace.

Japan's Buddhist and Shinto traditions routinely assign souls to all
kinds
of objects, animal, vegetable, mineral, geographic, architectural and
mechanical, and granting them to robots was natural.  There is no
Frankenstein complex in Japan, and despite its smaller economy, Japan
uses over half the robots in the world.

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