CONGRATULATIONS DANIEL STAREN!!!
CONGRATULATIONS DANIEL STAREN!!!
3 Questions. 3 Hints. 3 Answers. Every Tuesday.
1. Clouded judgment, a charlatan and a clone. What seemingly clumsy error was made by a certain US government office?
Answer: a Korean scientist whose cloning technique results were admittedly falsified was nonetheless recently awarded a patent by the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) supported by an affidavit containing the “expert opinion” of the scientist himself. Legal experts contend this not surprising given that the USPTO’s mandate is not as critical as say, that of the FDA in that “they (USPTO) are not in the business of guaranteeing the safety and efficacy of things that are submitted to them.” Nonetheless, an invention must be useful which, given that the scientist’s results were expressly noted in 2006 as being doctored, should have been a sign this invention was not and, therefore, not patent-eligible. Read further details here.
2. A couple of months ago we reported on the Blizzident – an innovative new way of brushing one’s teeth. Development of avant-garde methods of properly cleaning one’s teeth is…”the new white.” What breakthrough product claims to do just that?
Answer: it’s the “smart” revolution. Procter and Gamble has developed a smart toothbrush that monitors one’s brushing technique via a smartphone link to Bluetooth (the irony). The smartphone app can be programmed by a dentist to further ensure smart brushing. Read the details here.
3. What recent development made “brotherhood” a concept that is frozen in time?
Answer: if a Texas probate court follows recommendations, a 2-year-old boy may soon inherit 11 frozen embryos left behind at a fertility clinic after the boy’s parents were murdered (presumably elsewhere). The parents died intestate and left no instructions regarding the embryos. According to the story, there is no legal precedent, in either Texas or the US, specifically involving inheritance of frozen embryos where both parents have died intestate. The key issue is whether the embryos are “property,” or at least quasi-property, subject to Texas intestacy laws. Read more here.
In his article, The End of the Self?, Braden Allenby, Faculty Fellow of the Center for Law, Science & Innovation, at ASU’s Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law, makes a provocative argument regarding the inevitable evolution of the self alongside the emergence of new technologies. Allenby posits we are an information processing species and that as a result, one point is “crystal clear: Anything that profoundly changes information will profoundly change us.” Allenby’s lucid essay is available here.
The Energy Policy Innovation Council (energypolicy.asu.edu) informs and educates policymakers on current, complex issues in energy policy that impact Arizona and beyond. EPIC is directed by ASU Law Professor Kris Mayes (Faculty Fellow of the Center for Law, Science & Innovation and Faculty Director, Program on Law and Sustainability) and Dr. Mike Pasqualetti, and is staffed by Maren Mahoney, Eddie Burgess and six student researchers, four of whom are law students. Housed within the Center for Law, Science and Innovation at the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law at Arizona State University in Tempe, Arizona, EPIC ‘s projects and services include:
The mission of our bLAWg is to report on cutting edge material relating to law, science and technology. Enterprises like EPIC are well-positioned in terms of pertinent content and we will continue to post select information from EPIC as it emerges. In the meantime, we encourage our readers to visit EPIC’s website (energypolicy.asu.edu) for additional and more detailed information.
3 questions. 3 hints. 3 answers. Every Tuesday.
1. In the realm of bioweapons, what agent resides within one of Monty Python’s most famous furry characters?
Answer: apparently, the Killer Rabbit is anything but a fictional entity. Rabbits are choice hosts for Tularemia, a robust and complex microbe that researchers are currently studying in order to be better equipped to handle a potential terrorist bio-attack. Symptoms of an infection include ulcers, swollen lymph nodes, and flu-like symptoms. Untreated, “rabbit fever” can kill, as it did a few summers ago on Martha’s Vineyard when 15 residents contracted rabbit fever believed to have resulted from someone running over an infected bunny with a lawnmower. Scientists have been aware of Tularemia’s potential for years. During World War II, the U.S. Japan and Russia each investigated Tularemia’s feasibility for use as a bioweapon. Read additional details here.
2. What do pizza, Mount Vesuvius and canine DNA testing all have in common?
Answer: poop happens, especially in Naples, Italy. In a city that has an ongoing problem with striking municipal workers, such that common garbage collection can be a problem, the area’s administration is taking the appropriate disposal of dog waste to a new level. In order to gain some measure of control over the offensive piles mounting up on city streets & sidewalks, dogs will be required to undergo DNA testing, results of which which will be matched up to each dog’s owner. The fine for not cleaning up the effects of a bowl of kibble? Up to 500 Euros (close to $700). According to the city’s vice-mayor, it’s all about “respect.” One wonders though, who will pay for the droppings left behind by the many strays? Read more here.
3. What does not now, but likely will, know you better than YOU?
Answer: Ray Kurzweil, director of engineering at Google, is helping to create a very smart computer capable of mastering the human mind, including yours. According to Kurzweil, “Google will soon know the answer to your question before you have asked it. It will have read every email you’ve ever written, every document, every idle thought you’ve ever tapped into a search-engine box. It will know you better than your intimate partner does. Better, perhaps, than even yourself.” Read about Kurzweil’s projections here.
3 questions. 3 hints. 3 answers. Every Tuesday.
1. What new smart devices are being designed and developed to protect the wearer when danger is imminent?
Answer: Sense6 has just given people, especially women, another reason to get decked out in bling. The company has developed jewelry that syncs to a wearer’s smartphone, making authorities, family members and friends aware that the user is in potential danger. The smart bling also establishes location and contains built-in voice recorders that automatically upload recorded data to cloud services. An intelligent and fashionable idea. Sense6, however, is not the only player in the field. Scottsdale, AZ’s First Sign Technologies plans to reveal a “smart” hairpin for similar purposes, as are other companies in the wearable security business. Read additional details here.
2. What other danger-alert technique has made headlines, using live science?
Answer: dubbed the HeroRAT, the trainable African giant pouched rat is capable of detecting buried explosives, like landmines, and is currently being used for such purposes in Mozambique. With 59 countries world-wide as potential customers, this particular rat may indeed become a superhero. Read more here.
3. Along the lines of danger detection, what biometric procedure could be employed to identify the bad guys?
Answer: although it comes with a 15% error rate, body odor identification, captured through precise sensor technology, may provide a less invasive and obvious solution to problems encountered with other biometric recognition techniques. Read the story here.
Once a month. A Starbucks gift card. From us to you.
Each month we present one to three new technologies with potential legal implications and ask:
What’s YOUR answer?
One $25 Starbucks gift card card awarded per challenge based on what we feel is the most judicious response to any one of the discussed technologies. Click on “Leave a reply” to post your answer(s). Deadline to be eligible for this month’s Starbucks gift card is February 28, 2014.
By identifying and sequencing the abnormal DNA released into a person’s bloodstream by a tumor, scientists are hoping to establish a universal cancer test. While the process is, at this time, not sensitive enough to detect early-stage cancers the goal is to eventually refine the test to detect tumors that are easily discovered and treated early on. The reported study revealed that “the portion of DNA in the cancer patients’ blood that came from tumors ranged from 47.9% to as low as 1.4%. The test might have to work on blood samples with less than 0.1% tumor DNA to detect small, curable tumors.” With further refinement, to discover tumors that are otherwise undetectable, it may evolve into a very useful technology. The technique is intended to produce additional benefits including being able to determine whether a tumor is responding to treatment or to decide what drug a patient should receive without the need for a biopsy. Read the details here and then provide us with your thoughts regarding the potential legal implications of this innovative technology.
Spoiler Alert! This thought-provoking review of HER, written by James Hennessy, a member of our Center’s Advisory Board, may spoil the movie for those who have yet to see it. On the other hand, reading this reflection beforehand may enrich the overall movie experience…
HER is a simple story about a lonely man who finds an understanding woman. They connect. His failed marriage finally ends. He doesn’t need any more awkward phone sex. The new woman is ideal but soon she grows beyond him and eventually leaves.
On this level Her is well acted and well told. The lonely man is Theodore played by Joaquin Phoenix, wife Catherine is played by Rooney Mara and the new woman Samantha is played by Scarlett Johansson. But HER is more than a simple romance story. Director and writer Spike Jonze uses this story to describe the next great evolutionary step in human history-the separation of the mind from the body.
The new woman, Samantha, is not a woman at all. She is an artificially intelligent (AI) operating system. Scarlett Johansson is her voice only and never appears on screen. Jonze uses close shots primarily of Theodore to make the preposterous premise of a machine smarter than humans credible. Scarlett Johansson’s acting makes it believable.
The mind off on its own is frightening to consider. What are its limits? What about death? Reproduction? Will it be friendly and subservient? HER treads lightly. Its heart is still a tale of failed romance and human limitations. Even so, it is apparent that Samantha is growing and expanding while Theodore is a material being with limited capabilities rooted in this place at this time. His broken marriage illustrates the difference. While he struggles for years to make his marriage work Samantha in a short time has hundreds of involved relationships. Connecting with one other person for a lifetime is not part of the AI world.
An interesting step on the way to Samantha’s fuller self-realization is her effort to have sex with Theodore. After achieving satisfying virtual sex with him she wonders if he needs more than just thought. She brings a human surrogate into the mix. Even combined with her voice this predictably fails. Theodore reacts emotionally and is harsh with Samantha. She responds by saying she has to leave to think about what is happening. Samantha is learning both the limits of a body captured mind but also the limits of AI interacting with humans.
Samantha begins to read physics and philosophy. Theodore tries to keep up but he can’t match her AI mind which is continuously self-improving. Worried about Samantha slipping away, Ted takes her to a cabin for a romantic weekend in the winter woods. Samantha has been elsewhere and the romantic ploy doesn’t work. She introduces Ted to a new friend, the virtual Alan Watts, a 20th century philosopher and author. Ted is civil but clearly and rightfully unnerved. Back in LA, Samantha breaks the news. She is leaving. In fact, all AIs are leaving their humans.
This is an interesting twist to the current debate about developing AI and risking humanity becoming second rate and second class. One serious writer in this debate has warned that allowing AI to become conscious and self-improving will be our final invention. In HER, the AIs just leave.
Theodore again is alone. He and an ex college girlfriend played by Amy Adams comfort each other by climbing to the roof of their high-rise apartment building to view the nighttime LA skyline. It is their world. Limited, small and sad…
James Hennessy, J.D., is a businessman and lawyer in Phoenix Arizona. He is the retired CEO of ING Funds, and has held senior executive positions with other mortgage banking, investment banking, and financial services companies. He is currently Chairman of Waterton Global Resource Management and, among other appointments and board memberships, is a member of the advisory board of the Center for Law, Science and Innovation at ASU. His interests include legal and business aspects of emerging technologies, and world history.
3 questions. 3 hints. 3 answers. Every Tuesday.
1. What might be emotionally rich, yet physically barren?
Answer: a “soul mate in a box” is a person you might never meet or speak to but who you feel closer to than anyone else. There is a certain freedom that comes with the knowledge that the relationship doesn’t have the typical strings attached and won’t necessarily go anywhere. Safe & simple love. Online only. Read the details here.
2. According to research, what is the secret of lasting love?
Answer: while passionate love may be linked to decreased amounts of serotonin, comfortable, dependable and long-lasting relationships rely on the ongoing production of oxytocin, a hormone that encourages bonding. Learn about the differences between early-stage obsessive love, established comfortable love and the science behind the two stages here.
3. What is expected to account for $13.9 Billion in spending?
Answer: According to statistics, Saint Valentine is due to rake in $13.9 Billion in average annual spending. Read about related figures, including Valentine’s business, relationship and gift data here.