Tuesday Triple Trivia for March 24, 2015


3 Questions. 3 Hints. 3 Answers. Every Tuesday.

1. What technology shows that love knows no boundaries when it comes to language?


Answer: with the emergence of more sophisticated translation apps and software programs comes the greater possibility of love developing between two people who don’t speak the same language.   Google Translate came to the rescue of Mac & Nico, she American, he French.  The two met in the Caribbean and developed a relationship culminating in marriage that, despite a couple of clumsy communications, did not become lost in translation.   Read the story “ici” or  “here.”

2. In what field are a group of scientists curbing their enthusiasm for their own invention?


Answer: when it comes to gene editing of the human germline, a group of prominent scientists recently called for a stay on the use of a novel technique (Crispr-Cas9), that would alter heritable DNA, until proper safety evaluations are conducted and emanating ethical issues are fully considered and conveyed.  In particular, the concern applies to countries whose regulatory systems are not as sophisticated as those of the U.S. or Europe.  Read the details here.

3. Forget about psychopaths, these are the contemporary threats you have to worry about…


Answer: according to the book, The Future of Violence: Robots and Germs, Hackers and Drones—Confronting a New Age of Threat, it’s drones, robots, biotechnology and other novelties we need to be fearful of.  The authors’ goal is to alert the reader by introducing “a viable set of public and private tools to decrease the likelihood and diminish the severity of a large-scale catastrophe” resulting from easily-crafted modern day weapons of mass destruction.   When touching on the positives and negatives of innovation, using the concepts of security and privacy as examples, the authors are allegedly careful not to subscribe to the view that the heightening of one concept necessarily decreases another (e.g. security & privacy).  Likewise, they supposedly challenge the position that decreasing one perceived concern inevitably, or generally, results in the increase of another (e.g. security & privacy).  Read more here.

Wednesday Web Watch for March 18, 2015

www3The world is in a state of chaos, writes CLSI Faculty Fellow, Braden Allenby, for Slate.  The speed at which technological innovation is progressing is causing destabilization in many areas (geographic, cultural, social, etc.).  The chaos stems from “the rejection of the modern, technologically sophisticated, complex, multicultural, and multipolar world.”  Fear, ignorance, exclusion, fanaticism and the instinct to survive leads to the retreat to, or sustenance of, medieval or fundamentalist views and beliefs, thereby fueling unacceptance, agitation and retaliation against “[a]ccelerating technological, social, and cultural change.”  We are seeing a relapse of the disease that lead to war just a century ago, for like the dissatisfaction and unrest brewing back then, similarly rooted in “[a] world sunk in adulation of a golden past that never was, and enthralled with the romance of anti-modernity” the fearful, the ousted, the anti-scientific, the zealots and the insecure are mistakenly, once again, discounting “the benefits of the world that actually is.”

Tuesday Triple Trivia for March 17, 2015

TTT93 Questions. 3 Hints. 3 Answers. Every Tuesday.

1. What allegedly “abusive” clause recently got a slap from a French court?


Answer: a Paris court has ruled that it has jurisdiction to hear a “free speech” lawsuit against Facebook, despite Facebook’s terms of use which require legal disputes to be subject to California jurisdiction.   The court ruled that the impugned jurisdiction clause contravenes parts of both the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms and France’s consumer protection laws.  The lawsuit against Facebook was commenced by a French teacher who posted a news link to art with sexual content, currently on display in a museum, on the popular social media site.  Facebook, not “liking” the content, suspended the account.   The case is scheduled to be heard May 21, 2015.  The takeaway: other foreign-based entities with similar dispute resolution provisions, watch out!  Read more here.

2. What happens when you say “no” to a placebo?


Answer: you get what is called a “nocebo” effect, which means that illness and even death can be triggered by your thoughts.  In other words, you are what you think.  Interestingly, “it has become clear just how little is needed to spread the nocebo effect.  Even just passing gossip and hearsay can prime your mind for illness with potent effect” and be contagious to others!  Read the details here.

3. Frozen, the sequel, is already making headlines – where, you ask?


Answer: the practice of freezing female eggs is a lucrative business and one that offers some hope and flexibility to women who are not in a position to start a family but whose biological clock is ticking away.  No longer living with the burden of wearing an “experimental” label, the procedure is gaining momentum. However, the chances of success are still low.  According to the American Society of Reproductive Medicine, “egg freezing is no guarantee of pregnancy. The chance one frozen egg will yield a baby, even in younger women, is between 2 percent and 12 percent.” The peak time to freeze?  Between the ages of 30 and 38, according to one expert.  Given the less than optimal success rate and with service costs between $7,000 and $30,000, plus annual storage fees, it’s a long shot for many women.   Read the story here.

What Could Possibly Go Wrong?

Medical research may be in the process of opening a Pandora’s box with Apple‘s innovative assistance.  While most of the world has been obsessed with that other Apple announcement this week (think: watch), the medical community, patients, ethicists, and other interested parties have been weighing in on Apple’s new ResearchKit designed to let medical researchers create health apps to recruit and follow medical study participants.  What could possibly go wrong when all one must do to participate in a study is download an app, answer a few questions (including “yes” to the over 18 and living in the U.S. question) and pass an informed consent test (without the opportunity to ask questions – yet)?  In theory, it seems to be a great idea: if they have a swank iPhone, people in remote or typically under-represented areas may qualify and enroll, allowing for population diversity (at least in terms of geographic location and ethnicity, if not income), the less onerous process will encourage the number of participants to skyrocket (as has already happened with a Parkinson’s and cardiovascular health app) and we can all rest comfortably knowing that at least Apple won’t see the data collected.   However, as we can already envisage, plenty could possibly go wrong as suggested above and further outlined here.

Wednesday Web Watch for March 11, 2015


The risk, benefit and cost analysis generated by gene therapy is highlighted this week in an article by Meredith Knight, entitled Gene therapy dilemma: Would you tweak your child’s genes if it might prolong life but leave her deaf?  Writing for Genetic Literacy Project, Knight discusses the various issues that come into play with the likely upcoming surge of gene therapy treatments.  As she points out, the players are not just the afflicted individual and his or her family but also governments, drug developers, healthcare providers and insurance companies.