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April 18, 2014

Cyborg Glasses Save Users the Need to Control Emotions

(BBC) – As Google continues to stoke excitement for its Glass smart-eyewear, a Japanese researcher has developed a radical alternative. Rather than focus on what the owner sees, Prof Hirotaka Osawa’s kit shows computer-generated eye animations in place of the wearer’s real ones. Special lenses let the user see out or take a secret nap if they prefer.

The Rapture of the Nerds

(Time) – Sure, it’s easy to dismiss people who think they can somehow cheat death with a laptop. But Terasem is a potent symbol of a modern way of life where the digital world and the emotional one have become increasingly entwined. It is also a sign, if one from the fringe, of the always evolving relationship between technology and faith. Survey after survey has shown the number of Americans calling themselves “religious” has declined despite the fact that many still identify as “spiritual.” People are searching, and no longer do they look to technology to provide mere order for their lives. They also want meaning. Maybe, it’s time to hack our souls.

April 4, 2014

‘Transhumanists’ Are Planning to Upload Your Mind to a Memory Stick…

(The Telegraph) – The first Cybathlon, an Olympics for robot assisted parathletes, will take place in Switzerland in October 2016. For people with disabilities who are using advanced technologies – robotic limbs or brain-computer interfaces – to compete. The “Transhumanists” are overjoyed. As the name implies, Transhumanists are people who want us to become “beyond human”. It’s an umbrella term for a broad family of ideas united by the vision that technology now, or at least soon will, allow us to greatly enhance human intellectual, physical, and psychological capacities.

April 1, 2014

Scientists Grow Self-Healing Muscles which Could Replace Real Ones

(The Telegraph) – Scientists have created living muscles which can heal themselves in an animal for the first time. They hope that the lab-grown muscle is an important step towards using it to treat injury damage in humans. Engineers measured its strength by stimulating it with electric pulses, which showed that it was more than 10 times stronger than any previous engineered muscles.

Medical Tourism in Dominican Republic for Cosmetic Surgery a Low-Cost, High-Risk Affair

(Fox News) – The U.S. Centers for Disease Control issued an alert March 7 after health authorities in the United States reported that at least 19 women in five states had developed serious mycobacterial wound infections over the previous 12 months following cosmetic procedures in the Dominican Republic such as liposuction, tummy tucks and breast implants.

March 31, 2014

Genetic Screening to Enhance IQ Should Be Embraced

(The Conversation) – There could be a way of predicting – and preventing – which children will go on to have low intelligence, according to the findings of a study researchers at Cardiff University presented on Monday. They discovered that children with two copies of a common gene (Thr92Ala), together with low levels of thyroid hormone are four times more likely to have a low IQ. This combination occurs in about 4% of the UK population.

March 27, 2014

Scientists Warn of Risks from Growth Hormone

(The Wall Street Journal) – Does human growth hormone have antiaging powers? Or does it contribute to heightened cancer risk and earlier death? The complex science in the area suggests the answer is yes to both. Growth hormone, a biochemical that helps stimulate cell growth and division, is given to children and teens with low natural supplies to increase their growth. Increasingly, healthy older individuals also are taking it to improve the appearance of skin, increase muscle tone and for other purported benefits.

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 21, 2014

A New Edition of Journal of Law and the Biosciences is Available

Journal of Law and the Biosciences (Volume 1, No. 1, March 2014) is now available online by subscription only.

Articles include:

  • “Towards an ethics safe harbor for global biomedical research” by Edward S. Dove, et al.
  • “Public preferences and the challenge to genetic research policy” by Rebecca Dresser
  • “The regulation of cognitive enhancement devices: extending the medical model” by Hannah Maslen, et al.
  • “A review of the key issues associated with the commercialization of biobanks” by Timothy Caulfield, et al.

A New Edition of British Medical Bulletin is Available

British Medical Bulletin (Volume 109, No. 1, March 2014) is now available online by subscription only.

Articles include:

  • “Implementing tissue engineering and regenerative medicine solutions in medical implants” by Dongxia Ye and Antonio Peramo
  • “A review and update on the current status of retinal prostheses (bionic eye)” by Yvonne H.-L. Luo and Lyndon da Cruz
  • “Neuroendocrinology of obesity” by Benjamin C. T. Field

March 17, 2014

The Most Terrifying Kids’ Book

(Slate) – A good kids’ book delivers knowledge fundamental to living in the world, such as the (now apparently out of print) classic Everyone Poops. But Death Is Wrong, a new children’s title from transhumanist author Gennady Stolyarov, can only steer children toward confusion about mortality. The book encourages kids to help eradicate death with technology.

March 14, 2014

Unsettling images of patients in hiding after plastic surgery

(Wired) – Western ideals are, for better or worse, infecting the world. From automobiles to iPhones to, well, breasts. In South Korea, plastic surgery is rampant, and the goal is often to look less Asian. While there are plenty of photos of the final results, artist Ji Yeo balances the visual scales by documenting the ugly side of becoming “beautiful.”

March 12, 2014

Lose weight by ballooning up with new pill

(ABC News) – A new diet pill called the Obalon inflates inside your stomach to mimic the results of weight loss surgery. Once you swallow the pill, the device can stay in your stomach up to three months before it is removed. The pill’s maker, Obalon Therapeutics, claims overweight and obese patients can lose up to 20 pounds in three months because it helps you feel full, so you eat less. You can swallow up to three balloons in a 12-week period to speed up weight loss, according to the company.

March 11, 2014

From boomers to seniors, 2 of every 100 Americans now have artificial hips, knees, study finds

(Associated Press) – It’s not just grandma with a new hip and your uncle with a new knee. More than 2 of every 100 Americans now have an artificial joint, doctors are reporting. Among those over 50, it’s even more common: Five percent have replaced a knee and more than 2 percent, a hip. “They are remarkable numbers,” said Dr. Daniel J. Berry, chairman of orthopedic surgery at the Mayo Clinic. Roughly 7 million people in the United States are living with a total hip or knee replacement.

March 6, 2014

Bionic arm gives cyborg drummer superhuman skills

(New Scientist) – JASON BARNES had wanted to be a professional drummer since he was a teenager. But when he lost his arm in a freak accident he thought his dream was over. Now he has a second chance at the big time – thanks to a brand new robotic arm. Barnes lost the lower half of his right arm two years ago, after getting an electric shock while cleaning a vent hood in a restaurant. But he refused to give up on his musical dream, so he built a simple drumming device out of a brace and some springs that attached to his arm.

Thailand offers tourists a chance to win a new face

(CNN) – Fancy a different face but can’t afford to go under the knife? Thailand’s Tourism Authority has launched an Extreme Makeover contest, offering three lucky ladies a chance to win free facial surgery along with a shot at $5,000 and a luxury vacation. To enter, you’ll have to submit photos showing your face from various angles, along with a health profile and written explanation of why you so badly covet a makeover.

March 4, 2014

A powerful new way to edit DNA

(New York Times) – Already the molecular system, known as Crispr, is being used to make genetically engineered laboratory animals more easily than could be done before, with changes in multiple genes. Scientists in China recently made monkeys with changes in two genes. Scientists hope Crispr might also be used for genomic surgery, as it were, to correct errant genes that cause disease. Working in a laboratory — not, as yet, in actual humans — researchers at the Hubrecht Institute in the Netherlands showed they could fix a mutation that causes cystic fibrosis.

March 3, 2014

Should transhumanists have children?

(Huffington Post) – Transhumanists are people who desire to use science and technology to improve the human being. While the international movement of transhumanism is rapidly growing and diversifying, its most important goal remains the same: overcoming human mortality. Many experts believe some sort of indefinite sentience for individual human beings, whether via age reversal or by mind uploading into computers, will be achieved around 2045. Such incredible advances will change the way the species views itself. Procreation, the foundation of human civilization, will be one activity that is dramatically affected.

February 25, 2014

The secret to a bulletproof antidoping test?

(New York Times) – In the lab of Yannis Pitsiladis, a physiologist in Scotland, athletes spend their days injecting synthetic EPO, a popular performance-enhancing drug that tricks bone marrow into churning out more red blood cells, allowing athletes’ bodies to absorb more oxygen. Pitsiladis hasn’t gone rogue. He’s at the forefront of an effort to revolutionize the hunt for dopers in sports by scouring his subjects’ blood cells for a distinctive, long-lasting genetic “fingerprint” left by the drug.

February 24, 2014

Are robots about to rise? Google’s new director of engineering thinks so…

(The Guardian) – Ray Kurzweil popularised the Teminator-like moment he called the ‘singularity’, when artificial intelligence overtakes human thinking. But now the man who hopes to be immortal is involved in the very same quest – on behalf of the tech behemoth.

Students combine arts and science while exploring ‘transhumanism’ [slide show]

(Scientific American) – The so-called “STEM” fields—science, technology, engineering and mathematics—are often grouped together in discussions of education policy or curriculum. But a group of students and faculty at Brown University, the Rhode Island School of Design (R.I.S.D.) and Massachusetts Institute of Technology believe that another letter should be added: “A,” for “arts.”


The Bioethics Poll
Should individuals and/or institutions be allowed to patent human genes?
Yes, with some qualifications

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Which area of research should more money be invested in:
Animal-Human Hybrids
Gene Therapy
Reproductive Technology
Stem Cell Research
"Therapeutic" Cloning
None of the above

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