Tag: Technology

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According to an article in The Atlantic, researchers have been able to transfer premature fetal lambs from their mother’s bodies into what look like heavy duty Ziploc freezer bags but are, in fact, artificial wombs filled with lab-made amniotic fluid. The lambs continue to develop, kick, dream, grow wool… The hope is that, within a […]

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Richard Epstein responds to the controversy around Google’s decision to fire an employee for a memo criticizing the company’s diversity policy.

Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. How the 21st Century Ruined Music

 

As an aficionado of the Great American Songbook, the slightest snippet of music can flood my brain with lyrics, even if I’ve caught an instrumental version of the song. I’ve already told the wife I can see the day when I can’t remember any of my children but I’ll be in the corner of the old folks home humming show tunes.

Today I saw a brief clip of Fred Astaire dancing with his last professional partner, Barrie Chase, to an Irving Berlin number he and Ginger Rogers introduced in 1938, Change Partners. It wasn’t before long that I was singing to myself:

In this AEI Events Podcast, a panel of experts gather to discuss the role of government in medical innovation. AEI’s Thomas Peter Stossel begins with an overview of the eras of medical innovation. He describes the current environment and discussed how the value gained from medical innovation has changed over the past century.

In the following panel conversation, leading health and science experts discuss the role of National Institutes of Health funding, the future of academic bioscience, the recent crisis in quality of scientific work, and the future of medial innovation. Panelists include Jeffrey Flier (Harvard University), Daniel Sarewitz (Arizona State University), Frances Visco (National Breast Cancer Coalition), and Mary Woolley (Research!America). The discussion is moderated by Thomas Peter Stossel (AEI).

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I write a weekly book review for the Daily News of Galveston County. (It is not the biggest daily newspaper in Texas, but it is the oldest.) Well, they did it again. They moved the book reviews from Sunday to Wednesday, which means the review which should have appeared here today has not yet been published. […]

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Also called “water cremation”, “resomation”, and “biocremation”, this procedure disposes of corpses in much the same way Drano dissolves clogs, namely alkaline hydrolysis. The alkaline hydrolysis of fats is familiar to us as saponification, or soapmaking. But hot lye solution attacks more than just the body’s fats. It attacks all the body’s organic material, dissolving […]

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Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Winning through Ricochet – and Knowing What You’ve Lost

 

Ah, collagen. The most abundant protein in animals. Great for cooking into rich sauces – and glue (hence the name). It gives structure to mammals’ extracellular space. Your skin, tendons, ligaments, blood vessels, mucous membranes, cartilage, bones, and teeth all depend on collagen for strength. When our collagen lets us down, we can expect trouble.

Several diseases, from rheumatoid arthritis to scurvy, are connective-tissue diseases. Several attack our abundant collagen specifically. Sometimes, though, collagen weakens not because it’s under attack, but because it never formed right to begin with. Several genes have been identified as causing Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome (EDS), congenitally weakened cartilage, and several genes remain to be discovered. The worst types of EDS are super-weird, and super-scary. Your silly-putty skin could be so loose and stretchy that it’s obvious from birth you’d be a freak-show star, pulling your neck skin over your face for strangers’ amusement. Or maybe your joints dislocate so easily you’d join the circus as a contortionist, disarticulating yourself for cold, hard cash. Or maybe EDS causes your organs to explode, far less marketable but still super-scary. Many of us, if we’ve heard of EDS at all, have more reason to think “circus freak” than “subtle.”

Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Pencils Are Unsustainable

 

What goes into the making of a single pencil? In 1958, Leonard E. Read asked himself that very question — and wrote an elegant explication:

I, Pencil, simple though I appear to be, have a profound lesson to teach…. And I can teach this lesson better than can an automobile or an airplane or a mechanical dishwasher because — well, because I am seemingly so simple.

Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. A Few Thoughts on Science

 

So the big march “in support of Science!” happened. I skipped it, since it was an obvious and transparent attempt to appropriate “science” for the political left. The whole self-regarding spectacle stank of red herring. The red herring being, of course, that conservatives are a bunch of snake-handling backwoodsmen who hate science. Or something. I have it on first-hand authority that there were many placards along the lines of “Evolution doesn’t care if you believe.” Very true. But it didn’t occur to the placard-carriers that if evolution doesn’t care, then carrying the placard is rather pointless. Unless you are a professional working biologist, loudly proclaiming your belief in evolution is useful for precisely one thing: social status positioning.

I am a big fan of basic science, including science that promises little in the way of practical returns. For example, on a strictly ROI basis, our considerable spending on research in cosmology and astrophysics has been a terrible investment. On this basis there is no way to justify something like the Hubble Space Telescope. Yes, it has increased our knowledge of the universe on the macro scale. But it is difficult to justify this cost as an investment – basically it’s consumption. The same is true of the manned space program. It cost a huge amount of money, and, despite all the promises of great new zero-g drugs and so forth, it has been basically a luxury bauble that we as a nation purchased to adorn ourselves, not an investment in an economic sense. (You could call it the Hubble Bauble.) In fact, the manned space program is much worse from an investment standpoint than the Hubble, because it hasn’t even gotten us very far in terms of basic science, let alone paid for itself economically.

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From PC Gamer: According to SuperData, there’s now a bigger audience for gaming video than the combined audiences of HBO, Netflix, ESPN, and Hulu. For reference, Netflix’s subscriber count is somewhere near 100 million, while Hulu maintains about 12 million. For better or for worse, PewDiePie alone has over 54 million YouTube subscribers. [….] Preview […]

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Years ago, game software publisher and hardware developer Valve found a way — by accident — to physically steer people via vertigo. From a Polygon interview with Jeri Ellsworth: Ellsworth started at Valve during the summer of 2011, and over the next year and a half did a lot of “amazing, crazy stuff,” she said. […]

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There is a former cop still in prison (old link but he’s still there) because he won’t unlock his hard drives, held there without being formally charged with a crime. This seems bad, but the case becomes borderline when the words “Child Porn” come across the screen. The courts believe that there is child porn […]

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A Daily Shot ( @fredcole ) entry (January 23) extolling the wonders of food-delivering robots (and a link in the same issue to a Ricochet post on automation on farms) restarted my recurring thoughts comparing my household life (and the modern American middle class life in general) with the most wealthy people of the 18th and […]

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News is pouring in from this year’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES). What has caught the interest of Ricochet’s tech junkies? All my links below are to YouTube videos. After enjoying many technology conferences over the years, I have developed a rule of thirds to temper my enthusiasm. A third of what is shown might actually […]

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Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Uber Shrugged: Company Flees California for Red State to Test New Tech

 
Gov. Doug Ducey welcomes Uber’s self-driving fleet to Arizona, Dec. 22, 2016. (Photo source.)

Silicon Valley is known as the home of tech innovation, so it’s no surprise Uber chose San Francisco as the test site for their ride-sharing app in 2011. But now that Uber’s successful, the once Golden State wants to tangle their future research in red tape.

Uber began testing a fleet of 16 self-driving Volvo SUVs in San Francisco on December 14. A week later, California’s Department of Motor Vehicles revoked all 16 registrations, insisting that a special permit was required and that Uber must publicly report statistics from their R&D program. Not wanting to invest millions in research to benefit their competitors, the company sought a state that celebrates entrepreneurship.

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Tomorrow, when the titans of tech meet with President-elect Trump in New York City, I hope they will talk about how to transform the US federal government to a new operating model, something I call “government-as-a-service.” In the past 15 years, the most disruptive business innovation out of Silicon Valley (and Seattle) has been the […]

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Ok, so it’s not exactly my book. It’s our book. I’m only one of twenty-three authors and one of two editors. (But I think I did more work than the others, and the book was my idea.) I like this artwork: Lewis overlooking a cityscape drawn with an old-school sci-fi vibe that makes me think […]

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Has anyone out there (mainstream media, pundits, security experts) considered the possibility that terrorists will latch onto this new driverless car technology to carry out their evil deeds? The first thing that comes to my mind is the possibility that a driverless car could be pre-programmed to follow a certain path at a certain time […]

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Most of medicine is about information, not tools. Consider, for example, that getting the diagnosis right is the single most critical element in the vast majority of medical situations, which means that expertise, not toys are the critical piece. And enormous broadband capacity is making it possible to eliminate the gap between patient and expert […]

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Contributor Post Created with Sketch. How about a Great Acceleration?

 

twenty20_bf12a962-26aa-4085-b247-316fd69e34a9_technology_building_digital-e1475610274487The great stagnation. Secular stagnation. The end of growth. The new normal. Perhaps you’ve heard about these gloomy forecasts. But what about an age of abundance and mass prosperity and great human flourishing? Imagine life as a “digital Athens.”

A more optimistic take is presented by researchers Ian Goldin and Chris Kutarna in “Advanced economies’ progress: Dismal and dazzling” where they cite the technological potential of synthetic biology, artificial intelligence, quantum mechanics, nanotechnology, and neuroscience. More importantly, they explain the deep causes for optimism about economic growth and technological progress and human advancement: