Writing code with cells and genes

(Image: Gerd Altmann, Pixabay)

When Chinese geneticist He Jiankui announced his genomic editing of embryos in November 2018, he set off a firestorm of ethical and legal arguments against modifying genes to determine a person’s characteristics or even health outcomes. The issue of editing an embryo’s DNA, said a multitude of scientists and ethics experts at the time, had hardly begun to be debated, and it was clear that the science of genome editing was getting well ahead of discussions about its consequences. …


Better to light a candle than curse the algorithm

(Image: Gerd Altmann, Pixabay)

We’re increasingly surrounded by smart devices and systems, with built-in intelligence for anticipating our needs. If you’ve talked with a voice-recognition system when calling a customer-support number, had your face scanned when entering the U.S. from abroad, or asked Alexa or Siri to tell you the weather forecast, you’ve interacted with artificial intelligence, or A.I.

While we enjoy the convenience of smart devices and systems, they also raise concerns by users as A.I. emerges in more and more of our life’s activities, at work, home, school, commerce, and leisure. Even newsrooms are a target for A.I. And they’re filtering down…


Alan Kotok, far right, asks a question at a news conference with university research executives at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., 9 July 2014. (Science Coalition)

First published, 4 January 2016. LinkVehicle.com

Here’s a thought experiment: remember back to the last time you clicked on a click-bait headline (like the kind that end with, “You won’t believe what happened next.”) Yes, you opened the page, but how did you feel about it? And have you returned to that site since?

That headline may attract a few more readers, but imagine what it says about the site that published it, and imagine further that it was your blog. You pour your life into your blog, recounting experiences, offering analysis of the day’s events, or in my case…

Alan Kotok

Alan Kotok is a reporter and writer on science, technology, business, and public policy, and editor and publisher of Science and Enterprise.

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