Alan Kotok is a Washington, DC-area writer and reporter, and editor and publisher of the daily news site Science & Enterprise. Kotok was previously managing editor of the careers section at Science magazine.
A Thinking Person's Artificial Intelligence
Over the past decade, artificial intelligence migrated from computer geeks' workshops to something many people encounter in their everyday lives, but not without fears of its effects. Last year, the Pew Research Center assembled a panel of more than 1,300 experts, polled on the impact of increasing our reliance on algorithms—mathematical models underpinning artificial intelligence that aid in making decisions and completing tasks—and whose responses were boiled down into a set of themes.
Do You Want Your Bacon CRISPR?
In the 1980s, pig farmers started seeing their herds come down with a viral infection causing severe breathing problems, a disorder that became known as porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome, or PRRS. The disease is particularly rough on young pigs, and in sows it can cause early pregnancy terminations or stillbirths of entire litters. PRRS today results in annual losses among pork producers in the U.S. of $650 million and €1.5 billion in Europe.
Health Care, Precisely One Person at a Time
About a year ago, National Institutes of Health launched the All of Us initiative, a large-scale research program that NIH hopes will make possible precision medicine: the design of health care tailored for each individual. Directing this research project is Eric Dishman, whose remarkable story is perhaps eclipsed by the audacity of the All of Us initiative itself.
Let Guinea Pigs be Guinea Pigs
If you work in a biomedical research lab, you better not get emotionally attached to the lab animals. For some lab workers, it isn't easy. Those mice and guinea pigs, and sometimes rats, can look downright cute and cuddly. If, however, you can't jab the animals with compounds that make the critters sick, and even kill them, then you need to find a new line of work.
Look Out Pharma. The Tech Industry is After You
In early March, a clinical trial reported results of an experimental treatment for migraine, which in two hours provides noticeable reductions in pain. And, most importantly, the treatments don't use opioids. In fact, the treatments don't even use drugs. Pain relief is provided by an electronic patch worn on the arm and controlled by a smartphone that sends mild electrical impulses through the nervous system to block pain signals to the brain.