12 – A Nature Conservation Machine, RNA Therapy and Thinking Players

Again, we are celebrating a small premiere. We were able to win over science journalist and RiffReporter co-founder Christian Schwägerl to contribute to this Wunderding Letter with a comment on one of our selected articles.

RiffReporter is a platform by independent journalists which together are trying out a new form of publishing. We from Wunderding are happy to be part of this project and are aiming to make more excursions into the different corners of the Riff in the future.

And here are our articles of the week:

AI (Artificial Intelligence, Robotics, Autonomous Driving etc.)

What if a DeepLearning System takes over nature conservation and the human is no longer in the position to determine, what and how things are protected, as an artificial intelligence is regulating this instead? Three authors have thought this through in an intellectual game with their “wilderness creator”.

Artificial Intelligence: The Park Rangers of the Anthropocene / The Atlantic / Author: ED YONG

But does it make sense to let algorithms protect nature? Whilst reading the article, I immediately thought that I needed to ask my colleague Christian Schwägerl this questions. He is cofounder of the journalistic project RiffReporter and author of the books “Die analoge Revolution” (The analogue revolution) and “The Anthropocene“.

Christian Schwägerl:
“In this article, it is overlooked that high-tech has already been used in nature conservation for quite a while now in the form of  Remote Sensing from space, environmental sensors and tracking devices. But should we link these different approaches, add robots and drones and connect them to an artificial intelligence? That would have to be an AI that would need to have a code that could be determined by the people living in the affected areas. The idea that an AI could take a superordinate or even autonomous role in nature conservation is absurd.  Each system has premises in its coding. Who would decide which premises to use? And what if an AI calculates that a wilderness area is superfluous? I can see a great potential in the increased use of high-tech in nature conservation but only under strict human monitoring, especially by people within the area. If not, the mistakes of the colonial time (and partially from today) which the historian Bernhard Gißibl described in the RiffReporter interview would be repeated. https://www.riff-development.de/riffbuch-fragebogen-gissibl/

Further AI articles:

 

GENE (CRISPR, Genome Editing, Personalised Medicine etc.)

Cameron is a boy who is suffering under spinal muscular atrophy which is caused by the progressive loss of the motor nerve cells. His chances to experience his first birthday were very low with this diagnosis, however, he was able to participate in a clinical study, testing a RNA medication. I won’t tell you, how the story ends here. Patient histories are a readily used and obvious introduction to into a  theme in science and medical journalism and as a father, celebrating my son’s 1st birthday this week, Cameron’s story naturally touched me. The article, however, is my article of the week as I believe that it manages to link the individual fates and the scientific story in an excellent way.
How a Boy’s Lazarus-like Revival Points to a New Generation of Drugs / MIT Technology Review / Author: Karen Weintraub

Further Gene articles:

Why the FDA and the PersonalGenome Firma 23andMe are clashing and why we should carefully think about whether or not we want to disclose our genome.
23andMe Is Terrifying, but Not for the Reasons the FDA Thinks / Scientific American / Autor: Charles Seife, is a Professor for Journalistic at the New York University and author of Virtual Unreality: The New Era of Digital Deception

VR/AR

The start-up Neurable aims to enable the playing of VR games through purely thinking. By tracking the brainwaves of the player with electroencephalogy (EEG) and then analysing them via a software, the wished actions of the player are to be implemented in the game. The detection of certain signals via EEG is no longer a novelty nowadays and is predominantly used within medicine. However, Neurable is working on refining the technology so that the signals are detected faster and in a more precise way – so that the in-game use will one day be possible.
Controlling VR with Your Mind” / MIT Technology Review / Author: Rachel Metz

Further VR/AR articles:

BUSINESS

Do you know what Volumetric Displays, Data Broker PaaS, Smart Dust or Neuromorphic Hardware are? If not, read this article and look them up in the diagrams to see if these technologies could also become relevant for you one day.
30 Emerging Technologies You Need to Know About

And next week we’ll be presenting the films from the CeBIT as promised last week. See you soon on Wunderding.

Sarah and Alexander

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