Robot seals work too, apparently…
From a recent New York Times story:
When Linda Spangler asked her mother, in a video chat, what she would like as gift for her 92nd birthday, the response came promptly.
“I’d like a dog,” Charlene Spangler said. “Is Wolfgang dead?” Wolfgang, a family dachshund, had indeed died long ago; so had all his successors. Ms. Spangler, who lives in a dementia care facility in Oakland, Calif., has trouble recalling such history.
So Linda, who is a doctor, got her mother a dog.
Well, Mom thought it was a dog, anyway. It was a robot dog. Sensors allow it to pant, woof, wag its tail, nap and awaken, and users can feel a simulated heartbeat.
Your Ethics Alarms Ethics Quiz of the Day:
Was this ethical?
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“How dare the Senators not take me seriously?”
Actor Seth Rogen, who specializes in playing likable, though often stoned, shlubs in Hollywood comedies (except when he was cast as the Green Hornet, which everyone would rather pretend never happened), came to Capitol Hill to testify about the need for more research into the causes and prevention of Alzheimer’s Disease. His testimony was to the point and heart-felt—his late mother began showing symptoms of the illness in her fifties—and read from prepared text in a flat and formal tone rather than actorly flair. Rogen, however, was apparently seething was anger: after he was introduced, only two Senators on the committee stuck around for the show. Later he tweeted peevishly:
Get the hook: Continue reading →
Be like Lou, Pat...so the next diminished leader can be like you.
Pat Summitt, the legendary University of Tennessee women’s basketball coach who has won more games than any other college coach ever, men’s or women’s, received test results from the Mayo Clinic at the end of May that confirmed early-onset Alzheimer’s type dementia. The irreversible brain disease is now at work destroying the 59-year-old Summitt’s abilities of recall and cognition, and as it is for the other estimated 5 million Americans with the disabling disease, the prognosis is grim.
Everyone in the Tennessee and sports community as well as the media and all of us who have seen loved ones suffer with the disease are rallying behind Summitt, who is one of the toughest, smartest, most determined figures in sports. But Coach Summitt has decided that her symptoms are not yet severe enough to force her into retirement, and she intends to stay at the helm of the Tennessee women’s basketball team at least three more years.
It is the wrong decision. It is a selfish and unethical decision. The question is whether anyone will have the courage to try to convince Summitt that she has a duty to the team, the school, her own legacy and basic principles of ethics to change course and do the right thing. Quit. Continue reading →
Sometimes I think bioethicists spend too much of their time looking for new ethical dilemmas rather than giving thoughtful guidance on the dilemmas we already have. A recent example: the New York Times wrote about a supposed ethical dilemma appearing in the wake of new tests that reveal the likelihood of whether an individual will get Alzheimer’s at some point in the future. As the article put it:
“Since there is no treatment for Alzheimer’s, is it a good thing to tell people, years earlier, that they have this progressive degenerative brain disease or have a good chance of getting it?…It is a quandary that is emblematic of major changes in the practice of medicine, affecting not just Alzheimer’s patients. Modern medicine has produced new diagnostic tools, from scanners to genetic tests, that can find diseases or predict disease risk decades before people would notice any symptoms. At the same time, many of those diseases have no effective treatments. Does it help to know you are likely to get a disease if there is nothing you can do?”
My question is: “What’s the dilemma?” Continue reading →