Science of the Future

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Immortal dictators: Is there a downside to life-extending technologies?

Immortal dictators: Is there a downside to life-extending technologies?

Suppose there was a country ruled by an evil dictator. Further, suppose the entire world was plagued by a terrible ...
Mars missions: What would long-term space travel do to the brain?

Mars missions: What would long-term space travel do to the brain?

In a NASA-funded study published on [November 1], Dr. Donna Roberts of the Medical University of South Carolina and her ...
Viewpoint: ‘Gattaca’ reminds us that gene editing has dark possibilities

Viewpoint: ‘Gattaca’ reminds us that gene editing has dark possibilities

[Editor's note: Osagie Obasogie is a professor of bioethics at the University of California-Berkeley.] Set in the not-too-distant future, the ...
IQ debate: How much of intelligence is determined by genetics?

IQ debate: How much of intelligence is determined by genetics?

[Editor's note: Robert Plomin is deputy director of the MRC Social, Genetic and Developmental Psychiatry Center at King’s College London.] ...
Universally shared biodata could create powerful ‘internet of living things’

Universally shared biodata could create powerful ‘internet of living things’

Imagine students in universities becoming the first “sequencing line of defense” by detecting bacteria resistant to antibiotics and educating their ...
Creating a brain cell ‘periodic table’ from live tissue

Creating a brain cell ‘periodic table’ from live tissue

There are 86 billion neurons in the human brain and no two of them are exactly alike. If doctors and ...
‘Designer babies’ are coming soon, but who gets to have them?

‘Designer babies’ are coming soon, but who gets to have them?

Designer babies are coming in 20 to 30 years. Your children will be able to select, to some degree, their ...
Rooting racism and sexism out of artificial intelligence

Rooting racism and sexism out of artificial intelligence

In 2016, Microsoft released a “playful” chatbot named Tay onto Twitter designed to show off the tech giant’s burgeoning artificial ...
Ancient incompatibility: Why human females and Neanderthal males had difficulty conceiving

Ancient incompatibility: Why human females and Neanderthal males had difficulty conceiving

After years of sequencing the genomes of female Neandertals, researchers have finally got their first good look at the Y ...
Keeping aging at bay by killing ‘zombie cells’

Keeping aging at bay by killing ‘zombie cells’

[Jan] van Deursen and his colleagues at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, [had] an idea: could killing off these 'zombie' ...
How our brain perceives time

How our brain perceives time

Internal time perception is complex, involving disperse areas of the brain. But a new field of research called neurorelativity, using ...
Biohackers help 'patient' inject himself with experimental HIV treatment—live on Facebook

Biohackers help ‘patient’ inject himself with experimental HIV treatment—live on Facebook

[Tristan] Roberts is about to inject himself with an experimental gene therapy for HIV, a DIY prototype treatment designed by ...
CRISPR 2.0 'base editing' arrives and it's an even more remarkable disease-fighting tool

CRISPR 2.0 ‘base editing’ arrives and it’s an even more remarkable disease-fighting tool

You’ve probably heard of the molecular scalpel CRISPR-Cas9, which can edit or delete whole genes. Now, scientists have developed a ...
How epigenetics is linked to drug resistance

How epigenetics is linked to drug resistance

Scientists at Vanderbilt University say they have discovered a nongenetic cause of resistance to cetuximab, a therapeutic that is used ...
Protecting against cancer: What can we learn from animals who live for centuries

Protecting against cancer: What can we learn from animals who live for centuries

There are an increasing number of genetic clues from animals that could provide hints to treating aging and age related ...
Google's self-learning AI starts with blank slate and 'creates knowledge itself'

Google’s self-learning AI starts with blank slate and ‘creates knowledge itself’

Google’s artificial intelligence group, DeepMind, has unveiled the latest incarnation of its Go-playing program, AlphaGo – an AI so powerful that ...
Are we on the brink of another smallpox outbreak?

Are we on the brink of another smallpox outbreak?

[Editor's note: Gregory Koblentz is a professor and director of the Biodefense Graduate Program at the Schar School of Policy and ...
Innovative CAR-T cancer treatments offer cures–and sometimes high risks

Innovative CAR-T cancer treatments offer cures–and sometimes high risks

[T]here’s a reason CAR-T is reserved for [cancer] patients that fail to improve under front-line treatments: it comes with horrid side ...
Viewpoint: Is having children immoral?

Viewpoint: Is having children immoral?

[Editor's note: David Benatar is a professor of philosophy and head of the department of philosophy at the University of Cape Town, ...
Cutting calories likely lengthens lifespans—but why?

Cutting calories likely lengthens lifespans—but why?

Nearly a century ago, researchers discovered that cutting calorie intake was actually able to extend lifespan in various animal species ...
Android intimacy: Drawing the line between science and human

Android intimacy: Drawing the line between science and human

Today, the technical ability to produce a robot that truly looks and moves and speaks like a human remains well ...
First alien life forms we encounter could well be robots

First alien life forms we encounter could well be robots

[T]he first aliens we encounter are likely to be machines, and they’ll be almost unimaginably old. Susan Schneider of the ...
Genetically modified skin grafts could monitor glucose, end needle sticks for diabetes

Genetically modified skin grafts could monitor glucose, end needle sticks for diabetes

Painful and inconvenient, needle sticks are part of daily life for many people with diabetes. Wouldn’t it be great if ...
Why we shouldn’t be afraid of human gene editing

Why we shouldn’t be afraid of human gene editing

[Editor's note: Dave Gammon is an associate professor of biology at Elon University.] Many feel a visceral dread that scientists ...
Viewpoint: Overly strict human gene-editing regulations let patients suffer and die

Viewpoint: Overly strict human gene-editing regulations let patients suffer and die

[Editor’s note: Henry Miller is a physician and molecular biologist, and a Fellow in Scientific Philosophy and Public Policy at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution. He ...
We're a long way from Blade Runner-like organic androids

We’re a long way from Blade Runner-like organic androids

[Editor's note: Fumiya Iida is a lecturer in mechatronics at the University of Cambridge.] The new Blade Runner sequel will return ...
Transformative potential—and risks—of artificial intelligence

Transformative potential—and risks—of artificial intelligence

[Editor's note: Max Tegmark is a professor of physics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the author of Life 3.0: ...
Is sexual orientation 'gaydar' detection machine sound or ethical?

Is sexual orientation ‘gaydar’ detection machine sound or ethical?

[Michal Kosinski] decided to show that it was possible to use facial recognition analysis to detect something intimate, something “people ...