“Human Nature” explores the promise and perils of CRISPR

“Human Nature” explores the promise and perils of CRISPR

Source:  The Washington Post

Should you be terrified or exhilarated at the prospect of a gene-editing tool fueling a modern-day scientific revolution?

“Human Nature,” a new film on the technology, braids the tool’s promise and potential perils into a riveting double helix.

The Dan Rather-produced doc, which was directed by Adam Bolt, focuses on CRISPR-Cas9, a technique that “programs” an enzyme to seek and find a specific position on DNA, then cut the molecule at the preferred location.  Scientists can then add, delete, or edit the DNA.

One of the film’s strengths is its lack of narrator.  Instead, it relies on scientists, patients, and others to tell a complex story with ease.

Insightful 3-D graphics that borrow from microscopic imagery make the science understandable without dumbing it down.

Read the story at The Washington Post.


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“Coded Bias” explores gender and racial bias by facial recognition programs used by law enforcement and corporations

“Coded Bias” explores gender and racial bias by facial recognition programs used by law enforcement and corporations

Source:  Variety

By its very nature, science is supposed to be an impartial judge.  But is it really?

In her thought-provoking documentary “Coded Bias,” director Shalini Kantayya questions the neutrality of technology, arguing that computers have a built-in bias that reflects the faulty assumptions of the people (usually men) who program them.

Her emphasis is on the impact that such bias has on marginalized communities via law enforcement and corporations.

The film was sparked by the work of Joy Buolamwini, a PhD student at MIT who conducted facial recognition experiments using A.I. and had difficulty getting the technology to accurately process her face.

Investigating further, Buolamwini discovered that these programs struggle to register women more than men.

Delving into the root causes of these problems, the film serves as both a wake-up call (to invasive practices the public doesn’t yet realize are being implemented) and a call to action.

”Coded Bias” premiered last month at the Sundance Film Festival.

Read the story at Variety.


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New Kids on the Blockchain

New Kids on the Blockchain

Source:  VICE

Bitcoin’s emergence as a global digital currency has been as revolutionary as it has been erratic.

But while fledgling investors obsess over every fluctuation in the cryptocurrency market, nation-states are more interested in the underlying blockchain technology, and its ability to revolutionize how business is done on the internet and beyond.

VICE’s Michael Moynihan traveled to Russia with Vitalik Buterin, inventor of the ethereum blockchain, to get a front-row seat to the geopolitical tug of war over Internet 3.0.

Watch “New Kids on the Blockchain” above and read the story at VICE.


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Robert Downey Jr. explores the future of A.I. in new docuseries from YouTube Originals

Robert Downey Jr. explores the future of A.I. in new docuseries from YouTube Originals

Source:  ComicBook.com

Over the past decade, Robert Downey Jr.’s take on Tony Stark/Iron Man has shown audiences a fantastical side of robotics and artificial intelligence.

While Downey’s time as the genius superhero came to an end earlier this year, he’s set to further explore the field in a whole new way with “The Age of A.I.” a documentary series from YouTube Originals.

Across its eight episodes, the series takes a deep dive into the fascinating world of the transformational technology.

Downey brings an irreverent enthusiasm and curiosity to the screen as the series takes an immersive look at artificial intelligence and its potential to change the planet.

In each episode, viewers meet the people on the front lines of A.I. – the scientists, innovators and dreamers who are shaping the future and the real people whose lives might be changed forever as technology races to tackle some of the world’s greatest challenges.

“The Age of A.I.” is available now on YouTube.

Read the story at ComicBook.com.

Amazon Pets

Watch a deepfake of Richard Nixon giving a eulogy for the Apollo 11 astronauts

Watch a deepfake of Richard Nixon giving a eulogy for the Apollo 11 astronauts

Source:  WBUR

Imagine a past in which the crew of Apollo 11 landed on the moon in 1969 — but then ended up stranded there, leading President Nixon to give a speech memorializing the astronauts.

A new MIT film installation uses that premise to shed light on deepfake videos and how they’re used to spread misinformation.  Deepfakes use artificial intelligence technologies to create or alter a video to make them untrue in some way.

MIT’s Center for Advanced Virtuality created a video of Richard Nixon giving a speech that was written for him — but that he didn’t have to deliver.

The video is the centerpiece of “In Event of Moon Disaster,” opening Tuesday, November 26, at the International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam (IDFA).

The film installation is supported by the Mozilla Foundation and the MIT Open Documentary Lab.

Read the story at WBUR.


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This real-life invisibility cloak was designed for military use

This real-life invisibility cloak was designed for military use

Source:  Futurism

Canada’s Hyperstealth Biotechnology already manufactures camouflage military uniforms for countries around the world.

Now the company has patented a new Quantum Stealth material that disguises a military’s soldiers — and even its tanks, aircraft, and ships — by making anything behind it seem invisible.

Earlier this month, Hyperstealth filed a patent for the material, which doesn’t require a power source and is both paper-thin and inexpensive — all traits that could make it appealing for use on the battlefield.

According to the company, the technology works by bending the light around a target to make it seemingly disappear.  This light can be in the visible spectrum, or it can be ultraviolet, infrared, or shortwave infrared light, turning the material into a “broadband invisibility cloak.”

Read the story at Futurism.


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