Gene-editing, a collection of beating hearts, egg freezing, the Californian Ideology, landline death

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1. If you're not following the scientific-ethical debate about CRISPR gene-editing technology, it's time to start.

"A group of leading biologists on Thursday called for a worldwide moratorium on use of a new genome-editing technique that would alter human DNA in a way that can be inherited… The technique holds the power to repair or enhance any human gene. 'It raises the most fundamental of issues about how we are going to view our humanity in the future and whether we are going to take the dramatic step of modifying our own germline and in a sense take control of our genetic destiny, which raises enormous peril for humanity,' said George Q. Daley, a stem cell expert at Boston Children’s Hospital and a member of the group."

2. A collection of beating hearts.

"Let’s give Apple some credit for giving one of the lovers a gender neutral name, (there are another pair of watches owned by a 'Dana' and 'Luke') but this invites a scenario that is ridiculous easy to parody. Will Eliza sext her calorie intake for the month next? When Jamie sends her location map over, is that a sign she’s ready to take this relationship to the next level? At what level of intimacy is the invitation to share heart rates no longer a creepy interaction? Is there a limit for how many heart rates you can carry at a time? Can you archive and collect them? (I am now imagining a tent pulsating with the beats of dozens of heart animations that an artist might create with a nod to Tracey Emin.) This is no way to foster real intimacy through technology."


+ My suspicion is that there will be moments when this technology is deeply satisfying (Setting: alone in a hotel room, traveling, sad. What's this? A heartbeat from afar! S/he drifts to sleep happily), but that most of the time it will feel silly.

3. What you might not know about egg freezing.

"Just 2,000 babies have been born from cryogenically frozen eggs in the world—and only 20, for instance, in all of Great Britain.7 Early data suggests that egg freezing is a woman’s best bet for having her own genetic children in her forties, but framing egg freezing as reliable fertility insurance encourages women to rely too heavily on a technology that is still being refined in many of the clinics where it is being sold."

4. A good summary of the Californian Ideology, John Perry Barlow, and the effect of both on Silicon Valley.

"Part of this belief system’s appeal was its ability to combine a host of sometimes incompatible ideas: radical individualism and digital community; neoliberal, free-market capitalism and an Internet industry pioneered by government grants; spiritual truth-seeking and corporate conformity. For hackers turned systems engineers or graffiti artists turned graphic designers, it held great appeal. It promised that they had value and might make the world a better place. Joining Microsoft or AOL didn’t mean selling out; it just meant recalibrating one’s sense of how utopia might be achieved."


5. Some places will never know the landline telephone.

"Almost no one in Nigeria, Ghana, Bangladesh and Uganda owns a landline telephone. Many people worldwide are skipping the fixed telephone line that many Americans grew up with, and this fact is most apparent in many emerging and developing nations. Only 1% of the population in Nigeria, Ghana, Bangladesh and Uganda say they own a working landline telephone in their household, while 89% in Nigeria, 83% in Ghana, 76% in Bangladesh and 65% in Uganda own cell phones. This compares with 60% landline penetration in the U.S."


On FusionWhat memorizing a TED talk did to my brain.

Today's 1957 American English Usage Tip:

diurnal should not now be used in the sense of daily, i.e. recurring every day, though that was formerly one of its possible meanings. In modern use, (1) when opposed to nocturnal it means by day (diurnal birds), (2) when opposed to annual &c., it means occupying a day (a planet's diurnal rotation).


The Credits

1. | @phillydesign 2. 3. | @mattocko 4. 5.


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