Eric Dishman: Health care should be a team sport
When Eric Dishman was in college, doctors told him he had 2 to 3 years to live. That was a long time ago. Now, Dishman puts his experience and his expertise as a medical tech specialist together to suggest a bold idea for reinventing health care — by putting the patient at the center of a treatment team. (Filmed at TED@Intel)
Eric Dishman does health care research for Intel — studying how new technology can solve big problems in the system for the sick, the aging and, well, all of us. Full bio »
In an article published in the independent Egyptian daily Al-Watan on March 8, 2013, columnist Khalid Muntasir praised the Jews’ achievements in science and technology and their contribution to humanity, including to Muslims. He wrote that Jewish hi-tech magnates, especially the founders of Google and Facebook, have done much more to improve the life of humanity than the leaders of Al-Qaeda and the Taliban, or Muslim scholars, who, he claims, deal with obsolete matters and trivialities.
The following are excerpts from the article:
“Long Live The Descendants Of Apes And Pigs”; Terrorists – To Hell
“When the Jewish internet and social network magnates get together, put aside their competition and unite to declare a $33-million grant for medical research on incurable diseases that prolongs human life – I cannot help but cry out ‘long live the descendants of apes and pigs,’ as they were described by [Egyptian President] Dr. [Muhammad] Mursi and his [Muslim Brotherhood] movement. On the other hand, those who detonate bombs in the midst of the innocent, murder tourists and eviscerate them, assassinate politicians, thinkers and intellectuals, and accuse others of being infidels can go to hell, where they can continue indulging their sick taste for violence and blood.
“The founders of Facebook and Google and the Russian billionaire [Yuri Milner] are the ones who truly love life, change it for the better, and have passion for freedom and creativity. They respect [true] scholars, as opposed to those whom we call scholars merely because they memorized 100 old books and can recite them without interpreting or even understanding them – scholars that could be replaced by a single DVD containing these books, which can be read at the stroke of a key on a keyboard costing less than $1. These emperors of the internet founded an organization that awards the world’s biggest prize without any preconditions of age, faith or gender, and with no limit on the number of times you can win. Any scientist who achieves a major breakthrough in medicine and treatment by means of genetic engineering and brain cells will receive $3 million. This prize will surely influence the advancement of medical research, accelerate change, and push universities and labs to ramp up their efforts to discover new treatments for diseases that still cause death and confound doctors.
“As I read the article on this organization, I also happened to watch a video sent to me by one of my friends, in which an important [Muslim] speaker lectured on the benefits of having a beard in treating impotence, and [explained] how the beard gives the man virility and strength. I closed the article, shut off the computer, sighed and said: It’s no use. Free us [of your discussions] on whether it is permissible to eat the flesh of demons, whether a woman can disrobe in front of a male dog, and on treatments using camel urine, fennel flower, bee stings, etc. The voice of the sheikh in the neighboring mosque rose and echoed as he cursed the Jews, the descendants of apes and pigs, [wishing] that they would scatter in every direction and that their wives become widows and their children orphans, while the worshipers rejoiced in the mighty victory…”
Who Does More Good To Humanity, Those Who Fly The Flag Of Science, Or Extremist Sheikhs?
“[As I said,] the podium at the award [ceremony] happened to feature three Jews. The first was Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, who predicted that in three years, Facebook would be the most populous ‘state’ in the world, overtaking China and India. Zuckerberg is one of the richest and most influential men in the world – a genius who shocked the world at 20 years old with this amazing invention called Facebook. The second was Google cofounder of Sergey Brin, of Russian origin, who owns the internet’s largest and most famous search engine, which has not been surpassed thus far. The third was Russian billionaire Yuri Milner, who abandoned his PhD in physics to become an internet tycoon, but never forgot his love of physics despite his estimated fortune of over $1 billion – so much so that he gave prominent physicist Stephen Hawking a $3 million prize late last year .
“By God! Who is more conscionable, moral, and loves life and his fellow man – is it these three Jews who contribute to science, health, happiness and the improvement of life, or [Al-Qaeda leaders] bin Laden, Al-Zawahiri and Al-Zarqawi, [Taliban leader] Mullah ‘Omar, and those who display their pictures, kiss them, memorize their ideas and adopt them? Who does more good to humanity and the world, and even to Muslims –those who fly the flag of science, or [extremist Egyptian Sheikh] Abu Islam and [the religious television show]Hatoli Ragel, who hold up shoes [in a gesture of contempt for their enemies]?”
 Al-Watan (Egypt), March 8, 2013.
 Image source: elwatannews.com.
 Referring to the Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences, founded by Russian billionaire Yuri Milner, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, and Google cofounder Sergey Brin.
 See MEMRI TV Clip No. 3702 , Morsi in 2010: No to Negotiations with the Blood-Sucking Warmongering “Descendants of Apes and Pigs”; Calls to Boycott U.S. Products, March 20 and September 23, 2010.
 Abu Islam is Egyptian Salafi preacher Sheikh Ahmad Mahmoud ‘Abdallah, owner of Al-Ummah TV, who is known for his extremist fatwas. For example, addressing the phenomenon of sexual attacks on women protesting in Al-Tahrir Square, he blamed the attacks on the women themselves, calling them “demons” and “devils” and claiming that 90% of them are “crusaders” while the rest are widows who have lost their femininity. See MEMRI Inquiry & Analysis No. 942, Sexual Harassment On The Rise In Egypt, February 28, 2013.
 The show will air on the religious Al-Hafez TV channel and will be hosted by Salafi sheikh Mahmoud Sha’ban, who issued a fatwa sanctioning the killing of Egyptian oppositionists. See MEMRI Inquiry & Analysis Series No. 929, Fatwas Sanction Killing Of Egyptian Oppositionists, February 12, 2013.
Photo: Defense Distributed
Cody Wilson believes sharing open-sourced assault rifle code is a step toward anarchy. And that’s a good thing
Before I saw Cody Wilson, the University of Texas law student who wants to give everyone in the world the power to 3-D-print their own AR-15 assault rifles, I had him pegged as no more than a run-of-the-mill Texas gun nut. I’d watched some of the videos he had produced to promote his efforts to 3-D-print high-capacity ammo magazines, and found his provocations mostly juvenile.
But when I saw that he was speaking at SXSW I knew I had to see him. As I’ve written before,open-source 3-D gun printing is where the values of the information-sharing Maker community smack head on into the life-or-death political realities of gun control. When music became software, copying music became effectively impossible to stop. The same principle will hold true when guns become software.
In Austin, where hacker libertarian values flourish under the Texas sun, I figured Wilson’s talk would be a hit that I couldn’t miss. My first surprise: The huge Grand Ballroom on the sixth floor of the Hilton was only about one-third full. This might have had something to do with the inexplicable decision of the SXSW organizers to have Wilson speak at the same time as a panel on “The Future of 3D Printing.” But the real surprise came later.
Cody Wilson is the real deal. He is formidable.
As Wilson described the difficulties he has encountered in his attempt to enact his 3-D gun printing dream — his estrangement from the Maker community, the decision by a printer manufacturer to cancel his license to lease a high-end machine, boatloads of negative press — he occasionally let slip hints demonstrating a deep and wide reading in philosophy. (His online bio describes him as ” a student of Bastiat, Hoppe, and Anthony de Jasay, and in all things works toward realizing a private law society.”)
His libertarianism is bedrock; his distrust of authority and power, fundamental. His goals are not trivial; he’s not printing guns because he likes guns, but because he sees the technology as a practical step toward the enactment of something as close to real anarchy as society can get and still function.
He intends to be fully law-abiding, he said, as he pursues his project, but that doesn’t mean he accepts, on any kind of intellectual or philosophical level, the right of the government to make those laws. The nature of power, he said several times, is to abuse power.
During a brief Q&A period, one questioner, evidently worried that a government crackdown on 3-D gun printing would end up constraining the entire 3-D printing sector, asked Wilson whether there was a point where he would be willing to compromise his goals, to abide by some line agreed to by him and the government that would “protect the 3-D industry.”
Wilson had already made clear that he believed any kind of “social contract” between a government and its citizens to be a complete “fiction.” So it wasn’t a surprise that he rejected the questioner’s premise.
“My reading of Foucault and Kafka,” said Wilson, “is that to accept that kind of relationship with government is to invite the final judgment.”
Wilson’s goal is to make the political issue of gun control moot by sharing the code from which working weapons can be 3-D-printed so widely that erasing the data from our digital infrastructure will be effectively impossible. Judging by the way he expressed his convictions Monday evening, he will pursue that goal unless or until he is stopped, in some final way, by government. He’s not juvenile at all. He’s actually quite fascinating.
An interesting technology for disaster locations (think Haiti) where there is a strong need for house for those displayed by the disaster.
The Robot Will See You Now.
IBM’s Watson—the same machine that beat Ken Jennings at Jeopardy—is now churning through case histories at Memorial Sloan-Kettering, learning to make diagnoses and treatment recommendations. This is one in a series of developments suggesting that technology may be about to disrupt health care in the same way it has disrupted so many other industries. Are doctors necessary? Just how far might the automation of medicine go?
Or, as the Atlanteans would have you believe, they are covering up the fact that they found Atlantis for their own nefarious reasons.
You may remember the news from two years ago, when the newly-launched Google Ocean began to add imaging data on the topography of the ocean floor. You could, if you wanted to, view the mysterious and inaccessible contours of the abyssal plains and mid-ocean ridges. It was all very cool, a real triumph of science and technology.
Until, that is, they posted the following, from off the coast of Africa:
After all the woo-woos stopped having multiple orgasms, and actually stopped to think about it, at least some of them realized that it couldn’t be what it looked like, because the scale was all wrong. If this was the remnants of a sunken city, the streets of the city (presumably the apparent grooves in the photograph) would have had to be over a half a mile across. Google Earth, for their part, immediately recognized what was going on, and said that the “grid lines” didn’t exist, that they were a sensor artifact produced by using overlapping data sets that didn’t quite line up.
So, last week they released a new image, with the problem compensated for, and lo and behold, the “sunken city” disappears:
So you’d think that at that point, all of the Atlanteans would sort of go, “Oh. Okay. I see now. What a bunch of nimrods we were,” and go home.
You’d be wrong.
Sites have started springing up all over that Google Earth is participating in a giant coverup, that they slipped up in letting the original image become public, and now they’re trying to cover their tracks. (For one particularly funny example, watch this short YouTube video from one of the conspiracy-theory wingnuts.) The new image, they say, has deliberately erased evidence of the existence of Atlantis — it was the original image that was correct.
What I find the funniest about all this is that none of them seem to stop to consider what possible motive Google Earth would have for eliminating the evidence of a ruined city on the sea floor. If the thing exists, it would only be of interest to archaeologists — it’s not like there’s anything down there that is worthy of all of the effort. If anything, you’d think that the scientists working on Google Earth would be excited if it were true — scientists tend to get that way when they come across new and unexpected findings, because that’s how you make your name in the scientific world, and (more importantly) that’s how you get grant money.
Not that any of this will convince the conspiracy theorists, because as I’ve commented before, you can’t convince a conspiracy theorist. Mere logic and evidence don’t do it, and in fact usually lead the conspiracy theorist to decide that the wielder of said logic and evidence is just part of the conspiracy. The whole thing is more than a little maddening.
So anyway, I’d like to end with a picture of what’s really down there. You know, what Google Earth et al. are covering up.
Yes, I know that Google Earth didn’t show any statues with spears. That’s because they systematically removed all evidence of them from their maps. But they’re down there, because Plato said so. And when it comes to evidence, who are we going to trust - a Greek philosopher from 2,500 years ago, or a bunch of silly old stick-in-the-mud Ph.D.s in science?
Yeah. I thought so.
Modern Meadow aims to print raw meat using bioprinter. By Katia Moskvitch
When you buy some beef at the butcher’s, you know it comes from cattle that once mooed and chewed.
But imagine if this cut of meat, just perfect for your Sunday dinner, had been made from scratch - without slaughtering any animal.
US start-up Modern Meadow believes it can do just that - by making artificial raw meat using a 3D bioprinter.
Peter Thiel, one of Silicon Valley’s most prominent venture capitalists, Paypal co-founder and early Facebook investor, has just backed the company with $350,000 (£218,000).
Set up by father-son team Gabor and Andras Forgacs, the start-up wants to take 3D printing to a whole new level.
Century-old technology launches us into the future
Some companies, like ET3, are thinking outside the box (or inside the tube, as it were) about ways to use magnetic levitation to increase safety and reduce travel times. ET3 believes, by travelling through airless tubes, train-like capsules can reach speeds up to 6,500 k/hr, with only 1 G of force. Passengers would be able to leave New York City and arrive in Hong Kong for a meeting in just 2 hours.
In addition to travel around the earth, magnets may also be the key to travel into space. In an attempt to reduce the costs of launching a spaceship into orbit, The Startram Project is attempting to utilize a 12-mile vacuum tube and frictionless maglev propulsion to enter orbit. The tube would go 12 miles into the air while the ship would reach 9 km/sec inside the tube. This maglev launch system relies on existing technology. Hopefully it’s only a matter of time, and money, of course.
While waiting for both of these projects to get the funding and global support needed to successfully change travel forever, we can see magnetic technology influence our daily lives. Cadillac, for instance, is utilizing the same magnetic force which elevates maglev trains in the Cadillac XTS’s Magnetic Ride Control, a suspension system that reads the road 1,000 times per second to provide a smooth ride.
In 1912, the first patent for “levitating transmitting apparatus,” allowing for an electromagnetic suspension system, was awarded. One hundred years later, the same technology is making once-impossible travel probable. All without wheels.
Christopher Mims on how guns became gadgets
The US military is a useful ally on climate changeTHE US military brings a whole new dimension to the phrase “gas guzzler”. From the fuel efficiency of its battle tanks - measured in gallons per mile - to a total consumption of oil that exceeds that of most nation states, the Pentagon looks like an environmentalist’s nightmare.
This appetite for energy is at last being seen as a threat, though not to the environment: the top brass understands that relying on dwindling oil supplies from unstable or hostile countries is a bad idea. That is why they are adopting ambitious goals for renewable energy (see “Eco-warriors: US military pushes for green energy”).
The Pentagon’s drive for green energy represents a tremendous opportunity. If the military meets its targets, it could transform the energy landscape to everyone’s benefit. When it comes to creating markets for new technologies, the Pentagon’s procurement machine has no equal. If it decides to pump money into green energy, the economics suddenly look more favourable. They don’t call it the military-industrial complex for nothing.
The opportunities are not just economic. Some psychologists have long argued that military involvement in green issues could help break down scepticism about climate change on the US right. So far, it hasn’t turned out that way. Some Republican members of Congress want to bar the Pentagon from buying green fuels that cost more than conventional ones.
That smacks of special pleading for vested interests, and is likely to be a false economy anyway. It may be worth paying more in the short term to nurture technologies that offer a home-grown, stable alternative to volatile oil markets.
Wider economic returns are also worth considering. US politicians on both sides like to laud Google and other firms that have earned billions from the internet. It’s easy to forget that this was once a fringe technology, nurtured by Pentagon investment. Letting the military lead the way might be the best way to build a new energy economy.
Greens, too, should support the manoeuvre. They may not like the idea of the US military muscling in on “their” crusade. But when you’ve got a war to fight, it helps to have the big boys on your side.
Death: Why we should be grateful for it. By Stephen Cave
Congratulations – as a human, you know you’re going to die. That’s why you’ve learned some impressive cultural and psychological techniques to cope
Read more: ”Death: A special report on the inevitable”
DEATH gets a bad press. Invariably the unwelcome visitor, arriving too soon, he is feared and loathed: “the last enemy” in the words of the Bible.
But a few poets and philosophers throughout history have argued that without death we would be at a loss. It’s the prospect of his coming that gets us out of bed in the morning and drives us to great deeds. Now a growing body of evidence from social psychology suggests that these thinkers are right. People might dream of a deathless civilisation, but without death, there would barely be a civilisation at all.
The story begins with the awareness of our mortality. Like all living things, we struggle to survive. Yet unlike other creatures - as far as we know, anyway - we live with the knowledge that this is a struggle we are bound to lose. Our mighty brains, so good at inferring and deducing, tell us that the worst thing that can possibly happen surely will, one day. We must each live in the shadow of our own apocalypse.
That isn’t easy. Indeed, it is terrifying and potentially paralysing. So we work very hard to stave off death, to defy it for as long as possible or deny it altogether. All this frantic defiance and denial result in some of our greatest achievements.
This is perhaps most obvious when considering humanity’s material progress: agriculture, for example, was invented to give us the food we need to live. Clothes and buildings keep us warm and give us shelter, weapons allow us to hunt and defend ourselves, and medicine heals our sicknesses. The great majority of the material innovations that make up our civilisation are in essence life-extension technologies that we have been driven to invent by the spectre of oblivion.
Of all these achievements, perhaps the greatest is science. This, too, has always been motivated by the fear of death. Francis Bacon, the father of empiricism, described indefinite life extension as “the most noble goal”. He sacrificed his own life to the cause, dying of pneumonia contracted while attempting an experiment in cryopreservation involving a chicken and some snow. Science is the business of self-aware mortals - the gods would have no need of biochemistry.
Despite the best efforts of science and technology and the very real improvements in life expectancy that they have achieved, the terrifying prospect of death still hangs over us. That is why humans invented culture as well as material civilisation. Many thinkers, from Georg Hegel to Martin Heidegger, have suggested that its purpose is to reassure us that even though the body will fail, we will still live on. One scholar in this tradition was the anthropologist Ernest Becker, whose 1973 book The Denial of Death won the Pulitzer prize. It was this work that inspired a group of social psychologists to seek empirical evidence to support the speculations of the philosophers.
These researchers - Jeff Greenberg at the University of Arizona, Sheldon Solomon of Skidmore College in New York state and Tom Pyszczynski at the University of Colorado - came up with what they called terror management theory: the idea that most of what we do and most of what we believe is motivated by the fear of death. They surmised that if our world views exist to help us cope with mortality, then when reminded of our inevitable demise, we should cling all the more fervently to these beliefs.
One of their starting points was religion, a set of belief systems that arguably epitomise our attempts to assuage the fear of finitude. If religions really are offering existential solace, Greenberg, Solomon and Pyszczynski’s thinking went, then when death looms, there should be a measurable increase in religiosity.
Which is just what they found. In one study they asked a group of Christian students to assess the personalities of two people. In all relevant respects the two were very similar - except one was Christian and the other Jewish. The students in the control group judged the two people equally favourably. But those students who were first asked to fill in a personality test that included questions about their attitude to death, and were thus subtly reminded of their mortality, were much more positive about their fellow Christian and more negative about the Jewish person.
This effect is not limited to religion: in over 400 studies, psychologists have shown that almost all aspects of our various world views are motivated by our attempt to come to terms with death. Nationalism, for example, allows us to believe we can live on as part of a greater whole. Sure enough, Greenberg and colleagues found that US students were much more critical of an anti-American writer after being reminded of their mortality. A further study, by Holly McGregor at the University of Arizona, showed that students prompted to think about death were not merely disapproving of those who challenged their world views, but willing to do violence to them in the form of giving them excessively large amounts of hot sauce (Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, vol 74, p 590).
These initial studies supported Becker’s bleak view that the denial of death is the route of all evil. It causes the creation of in-groups and out-groups, fosters prejudice and aggression, and stokes up support for wars and terrorism. For example, people who were exposed to TV images of planes flying into New York skyscrapers were more likely to support the invasion of Iraq. Terror management theorists initially focused on this dark side. But lately they have come to recognise the positives in our struggle with death.
For example, one of the most powerful forces shaping human culture is the desire to leave a legacy. Some of the greatest achievements of civilisation can be attributed to this urge, from the pyramids of Egypt to Paradise Lost. Now terror management theorists have demonstrated that, at least among undergraduates in the US, thoughts of death continue to stoke our drive to be remembered.
Socrates saw this 2000 years ago, arguing that much of what men do can be understood as a desperate attempt to immortalise themselves; women, he thought, could take the more direct route of having children. Several studies suggest he was right to see founding a family as a terror management strategy: one showed that German volunteers expressed a greater desire to have children when reminded of death; another that Chinese participants were more likely to oppose their country’s one child policy when similarly primed.
A recent review paper by Kenneth Vail at the University of Missouri and colleagues catalogues the many ways that contemplating mortality can be good for us. For example, it can induce us to live more healthily by exercising more or smoking less (Personality and Social Psychology Review, doi.org/jfg).
The team also identify an important distinction between conscious and non-conscious death reminders. The latter - subtle or subliminal prompts - tend to cause us to cling unthinkingly to the values of our community. This can be positive if those values are positive, but can also be negative if they induce us to aggressively defend those values against others.
Conscious death reminders, on the other hand, stimulate a more considered response, leading people to re-evaluate what really matters. The more we actively contemplate mortality, the more we reject socially imposed goals such as wealth or fame and focus instead on personal growth or the cultivation of positive relationships.
Which suggests we do not yet think about death enough.
Stephen Cave is a writer based in Berlin and author of Immortality: The quest to live forever and how it drives civilization (Biteback)
Ever wish you could watch your bread while it toasts to make sure you pop it before it surpasses the perfect level of crispiness? The Transparent Toaster uses panes of heating glass technology allowing you to clearly see how toasty your bread is becoming.
This toaster design is still a concept.