Mark Your Calendars: Safeguarding Brains Conference

Neuro Conference Ad 2015

The United States is currently facing a “concussion epidemic.” Concussions, also known as mild traumatic brain injuries, have increased in numerous settings, including transportation accidents, military combat, workplace injuries, domestic abuse, falls, and sports. This conference will explore the current scientific advances in diagnosis, prognosis, and treatment of concussion, as well as the enormous legal and ethical implications of those advances on questions of risk and loss distribution in society.

This event provides an extremely valuable and timely educational opportunity for judges, attorneys, scientists, policymakers, physicians, specialists such as neuropsychologists, ophthalmologists and audiologists, educators, social workers, students, coaches, athletic trainers, scholars, journalists, products manufacturers, sports fans, and more.

The conference will feature a balanced, multidisciplinary set of leading experts from across the nation who can provide a range of scientific, legal and ethical perspectives on the latest and predicted developments in neuroscience, genetics, and clinical treatment of concussive brain injury to address how these developments could be used more effectively to respond to the epidemic of concussive injury. The ultimate goal of the conference is to educate the audience on the legal, policy and ethical implications of the research advances as applied to the justice system, education system, and public policy generally.

Visit the event website and register here


Technology Triple Trivia


3 Questions. 3 Hints. 3 Answers.

October 6, 2015

1.What controversial rating and review system has peeple all in a tizzy?


Answer: according to this article, the “Peeple” app will launch in November and will enable people to rank and review other people much in the way products are reviewed on Amazon.  As long as you have a phone number, an iOS device and a Facebook account you will be able to review anyone from the mailman to your ex without their consent or a right to be forgotten.  Are “peeple” justified in being upset? Is it any different than reviewing a doctor or lawyer online?

Fast forward: just this morning, the entire concept has disappeared from the web — the Peeple website, Twitter and Facebook page, all gone.  What’s app with that? Stay tuned and read more here.

2. Looking for a well-researched pet?  Look no further…


Answer: not only can you have the pig-tails, you can have the whole pig!  Genetically engineered “micro pigs” originally engineered for research purposes are now being sold as pets to fund research on gene-editing regulation.  Read the details here.

3. What development might enable future guilt-free fast-food drive-thru experiences?


Answer: Exercise pills that improve health are in the process of being developed.  But don’t toss out your low-fat kale salad and Fitbit just yet.  It is unlikely that these pills will be a complete substitute for and provide the multiple benefits that actual exercise provides.  Nonetheless, they may provide a better-than-nothing option for people who are unable to exercise due to physical limitations. Read the story here.

Starbucks Challenge – October 2015

Each month we feature a technology with potential legal, social and/or ethical  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 the highlighted technology, below. 

Deadline to be eligible for this month’s Starbucks gift card is November 5, 2015.

The Internet of Things will allow us to spend less time thinking about things that need to get done and subsequently doing them.  Let the fridge figure out when it needs more milk and let it communicate with Safeway.  The garage door will sense when you are in the vicinity of the house and open, without human intervention.  Cars will be able to “speak” to each other, so who needs lights at intersections?  But think about this: what about the evildoers, humans or otherwise, who might write, program or code software to do nasty and unwanted things?  It is not difficult to imagine the dark side or fall-out from the Internet of Things, resulting in illegalities, social angst and confusion.  Do you think we should be concerned? If so, why?  If not, why not?  What types of systems might we develop to help ensure we stay ahead of potential abuses that will be difficult enough to discover, much less monitor?  What types should we avoid?  How effective might proactive systems be if we don’t know what the specific threats are – yet? Should we play the wait-and-see game? What’s your answer? Here is an article to help jump-start your response (note the article repeats itself, so it is not as long as it appears).

Worldwide Web Watch


September 30, 2015

On Wednesday September 23, 2015, Gary Marchant, ASU Regents’ Law Professor and Director of the Center for Law, Science & Innovation‘s GET Program, kicked off the Lincoln Center for Applied EthicsEthics @ Noon series with a talk on anti-aging technologies and their ethical implications.  Click here to view the presentation and accompanying discussion.

Technology Triple Trivia


3 Questions. 3 Hints. 3 Answers.

September 29, 2015

1. Can you say “yuck factor”?


(fly eggs…yuck!)

Answer: a new twist on the old saying “you are what you eat” comes the good old FDA in the form “you are what the government says you may eat.”  Given the methods of processing and packaging mass-produced food, the FDA allows a certain quantity of “defects” to be ingested by (mostly) unsuspecting humans.  The list includes, “insects, insect parts, rodent hairs, larvae, rodent poop, mammal poop, bone material, mold, rust, and cigarette butts.”  Read more here, or wisely choose not to — after all, ignorance in this case is bliss!

2. If the U.N. gets its way, there may no longer be a safe harbor for these ships…



Answer: surges in online incidents of violence against women — a very unfortunate example of misuse of technology — prompted the United Nations (U.N.) to recently suggest that online platforms should be “(a) generally responsible for the actions of their users and (b) specifically responsible for making sure those people aren’t harassers.”   Coming down with a heavy hand, the U.N. “proposes both that social networks proactively police every profile and post, and that government agencies only “license” those who agree to do so.”   The U.N.’s stance conflicts with section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, a  law that absolves online go-betweens from this kind of oversight — a law without which such entities would very likely not exist.  Read the details here.

3.  Yet another positive use of science…


Answer:  an Executive Order signed this month by POTUS assumes “the world is filled with actual Humans—creatures who have trouble with complex calculations, opt for the path of least resistance, and are influenced by subtle shifts in how information is relayed and framed.”  For effective results, there is now a push for government programs to use behavioral science in establishing and running human-directed programs, always keeping the average Joe in mind.  Read the story here.