What do we owe to each other?
And what do we make of it when half the country fails to live up to expectations? Read on for space drugs, pig organs, and a reckoning with responsibility.
It’s been another difficult week in post-2016 America, where it’s unclear which apocalyptic nightmare we’re living in day-to-day ( 28 Days Later? The Matrix? The World’s End?) but it’s very obvious that many adults have never read George Orwell. Please share this link with anyone you know who habitually yells on Twitter or Facebook.
Here’s the latest.
Drugs in space!
In a new piece for Neo.Life I wrote about the Astropharmacy, an idea from researchers at NASA. We can’t take biopharma with us to Mars, so we’ll need to find clever ways to use synthetic biology to grow therapeutics in space!
Need a kidney? Pass the bacon.
My friend Emily Mullin reports for Future Human that pig organ transplants are on the horizon—finally. In this exclusive, a United Therapeutics exec claims the company will be ready to transplant organs from genetically modified pigs “within the next year or two.”
Microsoft wants to resurrect you as a chatbot. Popular Mechanics
How are we going to deal with vaccination and immunity passports?
Will you have to carry your vaccine status on your phone? What are the privacy concerns? Will there be cooperation between states, federal government, and corporations (like airlines or Ticketmaster) that set up different or conflicting systems to verify if a person has received a vaccine? There are a lot of questions, most of them evidence that passports are a bad idea unless they are informed by public health ethics, a thing we are generally bad at, as a society.
Also, should pregnant women get vaccinated?
UK families can access IVF through a new fertility NGO
The UK is in a tricky dance with assisted reproductive technologies, both pioneering sensible regulation for them and being plagued by traditional neo-liberalism, which serves to undermine sensible regulation. Consider NHS-funded in-vitro fertilization, which is a form of health care and therefore should be free. However, the reality of who gets to access IVF for free and who doesn’t is more often than not a socio-economic gamble called the “postcode lottery.” Basically, if you’re poor, good luck! Also, if you’re over 35, or if you had your eggs frozen more than 10 years ago.
But the Guardian reports some good news:
“The British Pregnancy Advisory Service, which has been helping women terminate pregnancies for more than 50 years, has decided to set up its own fertility network to address the inequalities in IVF provision in England.”
Children of doctors who illegally inseminated their patients want justice
There’s a fabulous Australian TV series about the children of a doctor who used his own sperm to impregnate patients at a popular fertility clinic. Real life is never as charming as TV, though, and Vice reports another story about people who find each other on genetic testing sites and determine that they are the byproducts of horrific medical practices. These kids are demanding recourse.
What Buddhism can do for AI ethics. MIT Technology Review
Let’s just turn off the internet.
Ben Smith’s haunting recollection of a former Buzzfeed staffer-turned-seditionist asks a lot of interesting questions and should make everyone who was involved in cultivating the early culture of the internet to take a hard look at our collective responsibility for the evolution of the right-wing viral activist.
“While we were refining the new practice of social media at BuzzFeed, we were slow to realize that the far right was watching closely and eventually imitating us.”
“His story leaves me wondering what share of blame those of us who pioneered the use of social media to deliver information deserve at this moment. Did we, along with the creators of those platforms, help open Pandora’s box?”
Short answer: Yes.