Gah. Robin Williams, not Robert Williams. I'm a goof. Also, Asimov coined the term "robotics"; the term "robot" was coined by Karel Čapek in 1920 for a play which indirectly dealt with this very topic.
This is not a new question. The debate about the humanity of robots is just about as old as the word "robot" itself. Look up the short story/novella "The Bicentennial Man" by Isaac Asimov (or, if you're lazy, the Robert Williams movie), or his "I, Robot" series of novels.
At a fundamental level, a human being is a very advanced supercomputer powered by carbon-based circuits and fueled by oxygen, as opposed to our current computers with silicon circuits which are fueled by electrons. Science teaches us that a single-celled self-replicating bacterium is alive. Even a virus, which contains little more than instructions to reproduce encoded into chemicals, is considered alive.
By that definition, a modern computer virus could certainly be considered alive. Siri is not that far from passing a Turing test. Combine the two, and you have a dilemma on your hands.
Inevitably, computers will become smarter than people, more capable, more efficient. That includes the ability to feel and to think. A computer AI housed in a humanoid body created by a human (or by another computer) will be no different than a baby's intelligence, housed in a frail human form, born from his mother. Just like a baby, the computer will learn, and grow, and adapt.
It's not unreasonable that in our lifetime, we will have to answer the question asked here as a hypothetical, but under very real circumstances, in a congress or parliament, or in a court of law.
And the actual hominid individuals involved are still subject to the criminal law.
See, I'm not even convinced that this is true. Let me give a couple of examples.
In the US, it's flatly illegal for anyone under 21 to drink alcohol. In parts of Europe, it's legal for minors to drink alcohol as young as 14. So if an American family flies to Europe, and the 14yo kid gets drunk, and a few days later (when they're all sober) the family flies back, then using the logic in this case, the kid and his parents can be arrested and charged.
Here's another example. I don't have a US driver's license, but I do have one from, say, Japan. In Japan, I take my car out for a drive. Then I fly to the US. Since I was driving without a valid US license, this logic means I can be arrested and charged in the US for an act that was perfectly legal in Japan.
The logical conclusion is that if you commit an act that is against US law, even if you're totally outside the jurisdiction of US law, then you can be arrested and tried in the US. This violates every inkling common sense and, I would imagine, quite a few tenets of international law.
Visa and Wikileaks had a valid contract, as far as I know. Visa unilaterally chose to terminate that contract. Usually, that's not allowed -- otherwise there'd be no point to having a contract in the first place.
You can choose whether to do business with a particular company or not, sure. But once you do, once you sign a contract with them, you're bound by the terms of that contract. You can't change your mind and pull out unilaterally without there being some consequences.
So here's a fun question. If the idea of patents is (in part) to ensure the proliferation of the protected knowledge, when was the last time someone needed to read the patent document to know how to replicate the invention? In almost every case I can imagine, the replication would be done by experimenting a bit after hearing the gist of the idea, or by developing the same solution independently, or by developing an alternate solution without ever seeing or even knowing about the patent.
That's an interesting question, though. Is the USTR part of the Congressional bureaucracy, or is it part of the White House/Executive Branch staff? If it's Congressional, just fire the idiot and get on with it. If it's White House, subpoena him, then cite him for Contempt of Congress if he refuses to comply -- essentially the same thing they did with Eric Holder.
So here's a fun question. I'm not a lawyer, so I could be getting this wrong. But I remember somewhere in copyright law, there are requirements on what has to happen before a copyright exists. If memory serves, it has to be in fixed form, and it has to be distributed to at least one other person. (I'm hazy on the last bit, but I remember something about authors' private drafts for a book not getting the same sort of copyright protection as a finished manuscript submitted to a publisher.) If the show never aired, does that mean it was never distributed, and therefore there is no copyright on that clip?
I think he was implying that there is a cost to the risk that the publisher will sue you for copyright infringement or you could get arrested for theft. Doesn't matter if the charges are legit or bogus; there's still a cost to defend yourself against them. If the charges stick, the cost is increased even further, so you have to consider the probability of that too. See: Vimeo, Jammie Thomas, Joel Tennebaum.
Assault and battery with a deadly weapon? I was always told that battery means physical contact happened, assault merely means that you threatened the person. IANAL, though, so take that with a grain of salt.
The deadly weapon part is shakier, but any halfway decent lawyer should be able to make a case that a taser can be used to kill people, even if only by misusing it.
That's a good point. In addition to that, I'd wonder how many of those new registrations will still be registered after the five-day grace period to void a registration. I'd also like to see how this tracks with GoDaddy's previous history (for the two weeks before the boycott day). If there's an unreasonable spike on Dec. 29 for new domains or ones transferred in, that means someone is playing with the numbers.
There were about 10K domains transferred before yesterday, which means about 20K were transferred on the day of the boycott itself. Since NameCheap can't be the only registrar people were transferring their domains to, I have to assume that more went elsewhere. That doesn't jive with GoDaddy's figures of 15K transferred out. Someone is fudging somewhere.
2:30pm EST and it's over $12,000, of which six are mine. =) (Yes, I shifted my six domains over from GoDaddy.)
My guess is it will spike even further towards the evening as those chained to their offices go home and start moving their personal domains.
For what it's worth, the actual process of moving the domains was surprisingly painless. I'd read some horror stories, and I feared I might run into roadblocks or (as a few people suggested) get actively blocked by GoDaddy, but none of that was the case for me. Less than two hours end to end.
So, here's a fun thought. My understanding is that, like most of these copyright cases, Righthaven has settled with an unknown number of defendants for an unknown sum of money. This implies that they had some revenue. However, now they're claiming they can't afford their bills. So would it make sense for one of the lawyers demanding payment of their legal bills to file a motion with the court demanding that Righthaven account for every single penny of revenue they've received in order to "prove" that they can't afford to pay? I think it would be very illuminating to see how much they've earned for undisclosed settlements, and where that money has actually gone now.
"gee, I can't trust this email stuff to communicate with my friends; now I'm going to start sending real letters through the USPS!"
I think you missed the point a bit. These ads aren't aimed at Joe Blow sending a love note to his girlfriend, or at a girl writing her Aunt in Nowhere, Nebraska. They're aimed at middle managers at firms, both big and small, who don't understand email and technology. They're designed to remind them that paper mail is traditional, and therefore better (yeah, right), while at the same time sowing some FUD about email. One person sending an email versus a paper letter to a friend or family member won't make or break the Post Office. One company switching all its billing to email instead of paper mail will make a measurable dent in their revenue, though.