Showing posts with label Bioengineering. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Bioengineering. Show all posts

August 22, 2014

Smart Electronic Skin

I liked this concept reported on in BBC Technology about using swarms of sensors to create a type of electronic or "smart skin."

Like nerves in our human skin, multitudes of sensors placed on anything that we want to monitor, could create a sensing/feeling and reporting mechanism for evaluating the health or condition of that thing. 

Rather than wait for something to fail or break, we could actively collect information on changes in "temperature, strain, and movement" and other environmental impacts to analyze and predict any issues and proactively address them with countermeasures, maintenance, or fixes. 

As human beings, we are architected with regular monitoring and self-healing biological systems to protect ourselves from daily dangers around us, we can develop homes, factories, transport, robots, and everything important around us with similar properties to be more durable, last longer and be more productive.  

When we emulate in our own development efforts what G-d has created for the good in the world, we are on the right track. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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October 4, 2013

Hold The Pickles, Hold The Lettuce--BABIES!


Remember, the catchy old Burger King commercial about "Have it your way"(where you can order the burger any way you want, no problem!)?

Now, we are reaching the point with DNA testing, where we can have it your way and order up babies the way you want them.

According to the Wall Street Journal, by getting genetic profiles of egg or sperm donors, you can search for a match with the genetic profile of the would-be parent to have a higher likelihood of desired traits (e.g. blue eyes) or lower likelihood of undesirable ones (e.g. heart disease). 

23andMe, a DNA company (Note: humans have 23 pairs of chromosomes) that sells home testing kits for $99, has patented a process for analyzing DNA and providing information on health and ancestry, and this could be used for system screening of egg or sperm donors through a tool called a "Family Traits Inheritance calculator."

Calculating better babies by choosing desired matches at fertility clinics is only steps away from actually making marriage decisions based on genetic make-up--in that scenario love is only one factor in choosing a mate and maybe not the primary any longer. 

The idea being to screen potential couples before marriage to yield "the best" potential children--smartest, athletic, good-looking, etc. 

There are already genetic banks for screening and capturing genetic information on potential couples to avoid genetic diseases such as Tay-Sachs and others. 

While bioengineering children for better health is one thing, creating a blue-eye and blond-haired race was the Nazi's concept of an Aryan nation as a superior race that would dominate the world. 

The ethical questions of how to screen out illness without creating a situation like in China under a one-child policy, where male offspring are considered superior and so we proverbially tilt the odds in favor of what we think is best even if it may not really be. 

Neither a homogeneous superior race, nor a customized bioengineered baby is the answer--rather, we need to value healthy diversity in children, where each is a miracle and a blessing in their own right. ;-)
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May 25, 2013

Kurzweil, Right and Wrong

Ray Kurzweil the famous futurist is an amazing person, but like everyone he has his good and bad days.

When it comes to the Singularity--Kurzweil had a very good day. 

With the accelerating speed of technology change, the advent of super intelligence and superhuman powers is already here (and continuing to advance) with:

-  Smartphones all-in-one devices give us the power of the old mainframe along with the communication capabilities to inform and share by phone, text, photo, video, and everything social media. 

- Google Glass is bringing us wearable IT and augmented reality right in front of our very eyes.

- Exoskeletons and bioengineering is giving us superhuman strength and ability to lift more, run faster and further, see and hear better, and more. 

- Embedded chips right into our brains are going to give us "access to all the world's information" at the tip of our neural synapses whenever we need it (Wall Street Journal).

In a sense, we are headed toward the melding of man and machine, as opposed to theme of the Terminator movie vision of man versus machine--where man is feared to lose in a big way. 

In man melded with machine--we will have augmentations in body and brain--and will have strength, endurance, and intelligence beyond our wildest dreams.

However, Kurzweil has a bad day is when it comes to his prediction of our immortality. 

Indeed, Kurzweil himself, according to the Journal "takes more than 150 pills and supplements a day" believing that we can "outrun our own deaths."

Kurzweil mistakenly believes that the speed of medical evolution will soon be "adding a year of life expectancy every year," so if only we can live until then, we can "Live long enough to live forever."

But, just as our super intelligence will not make us omniscient, and our superhuman powers will not make us omnipotent or omnipresent, our super advances in medicine will not make us, as we are, immortal. 

Actually, I cannot even imagine why Kurzweil would want to live forever given his fear-inspiring Singularity, where advances in machine and artificial intelligence outpaces man's own evolutionary journey. 

Kurzweil should knock off some of the pills and get back to humankind's learning and growth and stop his false professing that humans will become like G-d, instead of like a better humans. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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