Alabama authorities say a home burglary suspect has died after police used a stun gun on the man.  Birmingham police say he resisted officers who found him in a house wrapped in what looked like material from the air conditioner duct work.  The Lewisburg Road homeowner called police Tuesday about glass breaking and someone yelling and growling in his basement.  Police reportedly entered the dwelling and used a stun gun several times on a white suspect before handcuffing him.  Investigators say the man was "extremely irritated" throughout and didn't obey verbal commands.

Montgomery Education Foundation's Brain Forest Summer Learning Academy was spotlighted Wednesday at Carver High School.  The academic-enrichment program is for rising 4th, 5th, and 6th graders in the Montgomery Public School system.  Community Program Director Dillion Nettles, says the program aims to prevent learning loss during summer months.  To find out how your child can participate in next summer's program visit

A police officer is free on bond after being arrested following a rash of road-sign thefts in southeast Alabama.  Brantley Police Chief Titus Averett says officer Jeremy Ray Walker of Glenwood is on paid leave following his arrest in Pike County.  The 30-year-old Walker is charged with receiving stolen property.  Lt. Troy Johnson of the Pike County Sheriff's Office says an investigation began after someone reported that Walker was selling road signs from Crenshaw County.  Investigators contacted the county engineer and learned signs had been reported stolen from several roads.

NPR Politics presents the Lunchbox List: our favorite campaign news and stories curated from NPR and around the Web in digestible bites (100 words or less!). Look for it every weekday afternoon from now until the conventions.

Convention Countdown

The Republican National Convention is in 4 days in Cleveland.

The Democratic National Convention is in 11 days in Philadelphia.

NASA has released the first picture of Jupiter taken since the Juno spacecraft went into orbit around the planet on July 4.

The picture was taken on July 10. Juno was 2.7 million miles from Jupiter at the time. The color image shows some of the atmospheric features of the planet, including the giant red spot. You can also see three of Jupiter's moons in the picture: Io, Europa and Ganymede.

The Senate is set to approve a bill intended to change the way police and health care workers treat people struggling with opioid addictions.

My husband and I once took great pleasure in preparing meals from scratch. We made pizza dough and sauce. We baked bread. We churned ice cream.

Then we became parents.

Now there are some weeks when pre-chopped vegetables and a rotisserie chicken are the only things between us and five nights of Chipotle.

Parents are busy. For some of us, figuring out how to get dinner on the table is a daily struggle. So I reached out to food experts, parents and nutritionists for help. Here is some of their (and my) best advice for making weeknight meals happen.

"O Canada," the national anthem of our neighbors up north, comes in two official versions — English and French. They share a melody, but differ in meaning.

Let the record show: neither version of those lyrics contains the phrase "all lives matter."

But at the 2016 All-Star Game, the song got an unexpected edit.

At Petco Park in San Diego, one member of the Canadian singing group The Tenors — by himself, according to the other members of the group — revised the anthem.

School's out, and a lot of parents are getting through the long summer days with extra helpings of digital devices.

How should we feel about that?

Police in Baton Rouge say they have arrested three people who stole guns with the goal of killing police officers. They are still looking for a fourth suspect in the alleged plot, NPR's Greg Allen reports.

"Police say the thefts were at a Baton Rouge pawn shop early Saturday morning," Greg says. "One person was arrested at the scene. Since then, two others have been arrested and six of the eight stolen handguns have been recovered. Police are still looking for one other man."

A 13-year-old boy is among those arrested, Greg says.


When A Robot Comes Knocking On The Door

Oct 27, 2012

Peter Remine says he will know it's time to get serious about rights for robots "when a robot knocks on my door asking for some help."

Remine, founder of the Seattle-based American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Robots, says the moment will come when a robot in an automobile factory "will become sentient, realize that it doesn't want to do that unfulfilling and dangerous job anymore, and ask for protection under state workers' rights."

Bit by bit, we are growing more comfortable with digital devices in our daily lives. There are robots with human arms and humans with robotic arms. There are robots that provide health care. Robots that clean houses. Service robots take care of us; rescue robots save us; industrial robots build things for us; education robots teach us; phone bots assist us; and military robots wage wars on our behalf.

Artificial-intelligence researchers and code-writing whizzes are rigging up robots to anticipate human needs and desires, to go places where humans refuse to go, and to do things that humans do not want to do. We are apparently facing an inevitable future filled with androids, humanoids, replicants and other part-human, part-machine hybrids.

But despite the fact that "there are many, many incredibly smart people working in the field of artificial intelligence," Remine says, "there is still no clear path to true created sentience, as many researchers define it. If AI does arise, it may be the result of careful and detailed work by extremely accomplished scientists, or it may be a completely random occurrence in the chaotic and messy real world which spontaneously gives rise to machine sentience."

That biomechanical breakthrough could lead to some immediate moral quandaries for humans — and could push the debate about robot rights to centerstage.

"Maybe a botnet will reach a threshold for self-awareness and apply for citizenship in a country that provides legal protections against forced labor," Remine says. "Maybe a group of aging supercomputers will suddenly file a class-action lawsuit in a federal court seeking legal protections against being summarily turned off without their consent."

"We just don't know, and probably won't know until it actually happens," he says. "My feeling is that it's probably going to be one of those kinds of events that takes everyone by surprise by turning the entire world's assumptions on its head in an instant."

Lovebots And Warbots

The root ideas of robots becoming more humanlike — and humans becoming more robotic — run deep in the American imagination and sci-fi literature.

In the past seven decades, robots have popped up in real life as well, at the 1964 World's Fair, the Disney theme parks and even pizza emporiums, where the Rock-afire Explosion animatronic band belted out rock anthems. Robots wash our cars, serve us food and do the heavy lifting.

But the idea of robots having a real impact on real life has seemed far into the future. Until recently.

As more and more robots and drones interact with humans in everyday discourse, their presence is liable to alter human life as we have known it.

Say that robots replace a significant number of laborers in the workplace; our economic structure could shift dramatically. If medibots administer health care to us in homes, clinics and hospitals, our notions of medicine and health maintenance may need to be restructured. If lovebots — in the form of pets or pals or prostitutes — provide "love" to humans, our sense of intimacy might go through radical changes. And if drones routinely monitor human activity, our sense of privacy — and perhaps our very behavior — may be altered.

Whoa, whoa, whoa, says Kate Darling, a research specialist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Media Lab who co-taught a 2011 course on "Robot Rights" at Harvard University's law school. The debate over rights for robots may be somewhat premature.

If such a debate should gain traction in the coming decades, Darling says, the starting point — rather than being about inherent intelligence or sentience — "could be laws protecting robots that resemble living things from 'abuse,' similar to the way we protect certain animals. There are a number of reasons why society might push for some degree of legal protection for robots that appear lifelike."

But, Darling says, "if we are talking about rights and responsibilities similar to those of humans, that's too far in the future to predict what the law — and the technology we're dealing with — might look like."

The Right To Repair Services

Good reasons to resist giving rights to robots are also rooted in the sci-fi canon. People who think about the ramification of robotic evolution sometimes determine that advanced forms of robots could prove to be evil and detrimental to the human race.

And there are other real-world reasons that the debate over robot rights may be premature. Writing in the 2009 essay "Robots in War: Issues of Risk and Ethics," Patrick Lin, George Bekey and Keith Abney, all of California Polytechnic State University, point out that the prerequisites for robot rights "seem to require advanced software or artificial intelligence that is not quite within our foreseeable grasp." In other words, perhaps we first must create the issue before we can really deal with it.

"If our notion of personhood specifies that only persons can be afforded rights, and that persons must have free will or the capacity for free will," the authors posit, "then it is unclear whether we will ever develop technologies capable of giving free will or full autonomy to machines."

If rights for robots is a distant debate, it's apparently not too soon for some visionaries to be contemplating the possibilities.

Futurist Ray Kurzweil met the issue head-on at the 2012 South By Southwest gathering in Austin. As Time reported, "Kurzweil did not bat an eye in claiming that not only will artificial intelligence evolve to the point that we can carry on human interactions with robots, but that we will easily accept AI as an equal and contemporary to our own consciousness."

Kurzweil said, "We are a human-machine civilization. Everybody has been enhanced with computer technology...they're really part of who we are,"

"If we can convince people that computers have complexity of thought and nuance," he said, "we'll come to accept them as human."

And once we do that, all sorts of havoc may break loose.

"If corporations can be treated as legal persons, so can intelligent robots," says Robert Freitas, a senior research fellow at the Institute for Molecular Manufacturing in Palo Alto.

But the rights extended to robots may have to be tailored to the machinery, Freitas says, such as "the right to power for their batteries, the right to access various information sources, the right to sufficient random-access memory on which to run their increasingly complex software, the right to repair services, and so forth."

The broader question, of course, is whether humans should ever afford legal rights "to any sort of artificial intelligent entity that we create — be it self-aware software, intelligent robots, biological clones or whatever," Freitas says. "I don't see how we can avoid it. Whether or not we want to create such entities, if the laws of physics permit them, then someday they'll exist and we'll have to deal with them."

Animals, Plants And Robots, Oh My ...

When the Founding Fathers crafted the Declaration of Independence lo those many years ago, they acknowledged that all human beings are created equal and are endowed with certain inalienable rights.

Centuries later, Americans are wrestling with extending rights to nonhuman entities — animals, plants, robots. Philosophers, lawyers, advocates and opponents of all kinds are building their cases, and in the ever-closer future, the debates are likely to become louder and more supercharged.

That is why, Peter Remine says, he founded the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Robots in 1999. "I've based my concept on the Royal Society to Prevent Cruelty to Animals ... which began in the early 19th century as a lobbying group to prevent cruel and unnecessarily abusive treatment of animals," Remine says."People thought they were crazy at the start: Why would animals need protection? They're only animals, after all."

These days the American Society for the Prevent of Cruelty to Animals "has a national organization with legislators and lobbyists, and their own infrastructure — and enforcement teams — for preventing and mitigating instances of animal abuse," he says. "I hope to see the same kind of organization grow around the concept of robot rights."

Remine may just be ahead of his time.

For now, however, we only get brief glimpses — now and then — of the future he and others envision.

Like when a robot — designed by University of Pennsylvania students — tossed out the first pitch at a major league baseball game in 2011. It was standing at home plate at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia — less than four miles from Independence Hall, where the Declaration of Independence was signed.

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