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April 8, 2014

New Documentary Opens Conversation about Death

(The Globe and Mail) – “My name is Cindy Cowan. I have late-stage ovarian cancer and I would like to have the choice in how I end my life.” Those words are spoken early in The Trouble with Dying (Vision TV, 10 p.m.), a terrific, thought-provoking new documentary about assisted suicide. Vision calls it “hard-hitting.” It is also fair and moving and guaranteed to make you think and rethink your impressions about the issue.

March 26, 2014

The Machine: Director Interview

(The Telegraph) – Caity Lotz is an artificial intelligence in the process of coming alive. There are guns and disasters throughout her turn in new release The Machine, yet she’s optimistic about a future where the robots live among us. “I think artificial intelligence is not just possible, but inevitable. I don’t think there will be robots like my character straight away, but rather humans will slowly start to merge with computers and technology cyborg style,” she says.

March 10, 2014

Angel of mercy, angel of death

(New York Times) – Figures observed through frosted glass as they engage in semi-audible conversation: That mysterious tableau, which begins Valeria Golino’s film “Honey,” defines the detached sensibility of the title character. “Honey” (“miele” in Italian) is the code name for Irene, a fiercely free-spirited woman in the shadowy business of assisted suicide. Portrayed by Jasmine Trinca, an athletic gamin with adorably crooked teeth, Irene is connected to a loose network of contacts who direct her to terminally ill clients.

January 16, 2014

Sundance film follows woman’s worst fear: Does she have Huntington’s disease?

Marianna Palka, who left Scotland to pursue a career in filmmaking in the United States, knew she had a “50-50″ chance of getting Huntington’s disease – a rare, but devastating genetic disease that has been described as Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and ALS, all rolled into one. It began to destroy her father his late 30s, so Palka, now 32 and symptom-free, decides to find out if she, too, has the genetic mutation that will rob eventually her of her mobility and her mind. (ABC News)

Trailer: Transcendence

In ‘Transcendence’, Johnny Depp plays a brilliant scientist whose mind is allowed to live on and evolve through artificial intelligence, after his body is attacked. (U.S.A. Today)

December 26, 2013

Transhumanism will change everything

This is spooky stuff, but it’s real and it’s already happening. Humans are augmenting themselves with computers and technology that will expand their abilities, and it’s going to get more advanced and morally complex as time passes. Imagine transplanting your entire consciousness into a computer. That’s a new type of immortality. Imagine having a robotic exoskeleton that’s not just part of your body — it is your body. That’s a new type of existence entirely. An excellent documentary called “Bionics, Transhumanism, And The End Of Evolution” takes a look at the endless wonder and potential of what happens when blood-and-meat humanity meets steel-and-silicon technology. (San Francisco Gate)

November 6, 2013

How much is your life worth?

How much is your life worth? If you suffer a heart attack, get bypass surgery, and stay in the hospital for several weeks, you’re looking at about $100,000. If you need insulin to keep from lapsing into a diabetic coma, it costs several hundred a year. We pay for the treatments that save our lives — and, in a sense, that it what our lives are worth (to someone with an invoice). This practice is as old as medicine itself. (Huffington Post)

September 27, 2013

A genetic matchmaking movie isn’t so far-fetched

The story centers around a genome-analysis company, The Perfect 46, that has developed an algorithm to determine the likelihood of prospective parents having a child with genetic disease. The promise is that future generations could be free of single-gene disorders like cystic fibrosis or even complex diseases like diabetes, if only everyone would work together to prevent these conditions in their children. (MIT Technology Review)

September 23, 2013

Heroes or killers? Can we try to discuss?

“After Tiller,” a new documentary by Martha Shane and Lana Wilson, is a partisan document in the culture wars. It could hardly be otherwise, since the film’s subject, abortion, is one where common ground is elusive, if not philosophically untenable. The four doctors interviewed and observed on screen, who the film says are the only ones in the United States openly performing third-trimester abortions, are heroic figures in the filmmakers’ eyes, but are condemned as murderers by those on the other side. (New York Times)

August 5, 2013

New book channels Aquinas and Embryogenesis

Aquinas on the Beginning and Ending of Human Life is a close look at how St. Thomas Aquinas, one of the foremost theologians and philosophers of the Middle Ages, grappled with the issue of when human life begins. (Forbes)

June 24, 2013

‘World War Z,’ new zombie movie, drew on real life horrors

Written by Max Brooks and published in 2006 under the same title, the novel begins in China, where the initial patient to be infected with the zombie virus is said to be a young boy from a remote Chinese village. The virus then spreads to other parts of the world through the black market organ trade, where infected organs extracted from executed political prisoners are sold to people in need of organ transplants. Those with the transplanted organs then die and come back alive as zombies. (The Epoch Times)

May 6, 2013

Review: ‘Errors of the Human Body’

Genetic engineering provides the backdrop for the sci-fi thriller “Errors of the Human Body” (opening May 3 at Reading Gaslamp Stadium Theaters for late night screenings only on Friday and Saturday). (KPBS)

April 22, 2013

Tales from Organ Trade

Tales from the Organ Trade is a fascinating film which takes a chilling look at the characters in the international black market in organs. (BioEdge)

January 21, 2013

Sundance 2013: ‘After Tiller’ puts a face on abortion doctors

Premiering today at the Sundance Film Festival as part of the U.S. documentary competition, “After Tiller” is an intimate and heartfelt look at the four doctors performing third-trimester abortions in the United States, doing so even after the 2009 assassination of such a physician, Dr. George Tiller. (L.A. Times)

January 9, 2013

Pondering our cyborg future in a documentary about the singularity

Doug Wolens’s recent documentary takes on the complex, abstract concept of the singularity, which predicts a moment when technology will give rise to intelligence beyond the scope of human imagination. It sounds like sci-fi but, Wolens and others argue, there’s no denying the sweeping impact of technology on human existence and the implications are worth thinking about. (The Atlantic)

October 29, 2012

Could the human clones of ‘Cloud Atlas’ be in our future?

A dystopian society supported by genetically modified clone workers stands out among the six stories that make up the sprawling film “Cloud Atlas.” The idea may seem far-fetched because of political opposition to human cloning and genetic modification in today’s world, but the science is closer than many people may think. (Live Science)

September 6, 2012

Venice film relives euthanasia case that split Italy

A 2009 right-to-die case that deeply split public opinion in Catholic Italy is at the center of a new film exploring the themes of euthanasia, suicide and religious faith that is vying for top prize at the Venice festival. (Reuters)

March 25, 2011

3-Month Pregnancies for Hire: A Pure Fantasy?

Silver Sling, an 11-minute film by director Tze Chun, is another cinematic gem from the Future States series that Biopolitical Times blogged on last week. The film presents a future scenario in which affluent couples hire young women, some of them immigrants, to undergo “accelerated pregnancies” lasting only three months. Surrogates can undergo three such pregnancies before becoming sterile. (CGS)

March 18, 2011

Bradley Cooper as a Burned-Out Writer in “Limitless”

More recently, drugs like Adderall have enjoyed a half-shadowy vogue among writers. The dream of a pharmaceutical solution to literary paralysis provides a wisp of a real-world premise for “Limitless,” an energetic, enjoyably preposterous compound — it’s a paranoid thriller blended with pseudo-neuro-science fiction and catalyzed by a jolting dose of satire — directed by Neil Burger. (New York Times)

January 21, 2011

New Issue of The New England Journal of Medicine is Now Available

The New England Journal of Medicine (Volume 363, Issue 25, December 16, 2010) is now available on-line and by subscription only.

Articles include:

“Health Care Reform — What Went Wrong on the Way to the Courthouse” Mark A. Hall, J.D., available on-line.

September 17, 2010

Best novel about cloning now a movie

Is it a plot spoiler to reveal that the new film “Never Let Me Go” is about cloning? Sorry. But the beautiful novel has become a reasonably good film, according to the critics. (BioEdge)

 

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