Mendeley Brainstorm – The End of Driving – We Have a Winner!

Driving can be put beyond the reach of human error; but is that a mistake?

Many thanks to all those who entered the Mendeley Brainstorm related to The End of Driving; picking a winner was difficult, however in the end, we selected Anikó Tóth’s post:

Repeatedly through history, we’ve built machines that do what we do, better. Today, we’ve progressed from labor-saving to IQ-saving devices: machines that think and act so that we don’t have to ourselves. Do I believe that driverless cars would eventually make transportation safer? Absolutely. They will follow the rules, react lightning-fast, and simultaneously integrate input from multiple sensors. We still face challenges, of course. You know when that schmuck in the BMW is about to cut you off…but how to teach such intuition to a machine? Then there’s the cyber battle, crucial for the security of these devices. As we accept driverless cars, we must understand that many will inevitably become helpless without them—and this, not the engineering, is our chief peril. I know people who couldn’t drive a manual to save their lives, or get lost en route to the supermarket without a gps. Where does it end?

We asked Anikó what inspired her, she wrote:

My answer actually had nothing to do with my research (I’m a paleontologist/macroecologist phd student). It stemmed from a personal and family philosophy that is equal parts old-fashioned and progressive. As a scientist who comes from a family of mathematicians, engineers, and scientists I believe deeply in the power of technology to change the world. I also believe it is vitally important to understand and remember the things that made us human (Who do you know that can build a fire? Cook/bake from scratch? Read a map? Wire up a radio? Defend themselves physically? Have a meaningful conversation with a stranger? Sew? Do maths? First aid? Change a flat tire? the list goes on). Of course, making forward progress while keeping in touch with your roots is challenging, but challenges bring out the best in us, do they not?

Those who didn’t win this time are encouraged to respond to the latest Mendeley Brainstorm, regarding The Future of Energy. Thanks again to all our participants.

Mendeley Brainstorm – Send in the Clones – We Have a Winner!

Is cloning going to be part of our future?

Many thanks to all those who entered the Mendeley Brainstorm related to Cloning; picking a winner was problematic, however in the end, we selected Preston Whisenant’s post:

Genetic engineering has been happening, is happening, and will continue to happen regardless of how people feel about it. Science won’t stop, and shouldn’t stop, it’s exploration into genetics and its quest to save humanity from unspeakable, terrible, genetic diseases and complications simply because some people are against it! Even if banned, genetic research would still take place, it would simply take place with less oversight, less well-meaning intentions, and less sophistication (Kurzgesagt, 2016).

Health is the top priority; it is unethical to stop research that could save people from unnecessary complications and lifetimes of suffering! Kant, a philosopher, maintains that it is not only the action, but the intention of the action that determines virtue (Kant, 1785). To therefore deny people freedom from such suffering simply because one’s ‘value system’ makes one uncomfortable when considering it may not be malicious, but it is sheer ignorance and it is cruel!

We asked Preston what inspired him, He wrote:

I was particularly interested in the sociological and ethical implications of the development or lack thereof of this technology and how it should be utilized. I wonder then, if that technology had existed earlier if it could’ve been utilized to spare many from all kinds of problems and inconveniences caused by genetics.

Thank you, Preston!

Those who didn’t win this time are encouraged to respond to the latest Mendeley Brainstorm, regarding The End of Driving. Thanks again to all our participants.

Mendeley Brainstorm – The End of Driving: Getting into Gear?

Are we ready to entrust our transport to autonomous machines?

The driverless vehicle is one of the most significant practical applications of Artificial Intelligence. It will change how we travel from place to place and how our supply chains are managed. But is humanity ready to trust machines with something so vital? Or would we be taking too much a risk? We are looking for the most well thought out answer to this question in up to 150 words: use the comment feature below the blog and please feel free to promote your research! The winner will receive an Amazon gift certificate worth £50 and a bag full of Mendeley items; competition closes May 10, 2017.

Taking the Wheel

Perhaps one of the most significant changes wrought by Artificial Intelligence to our daily lives will be the arrival of driverless vehicles. In addition to Google’s Waymo project, which aims to replace passenger cars, autonomous lorries will transform how goods are shipped.

Are We Ready?

The chief executive of FedEx Freight, Michael Ducker, recently stated his company could soon rely on self-driving vehicles. He told the Financial Times: “It is coming faster than many people think, just because technology is advancing so rapidly…I think technology will lead, and sociological issues will lag, in this particular case.”

Green Light, Yellow Light

In theory, autonomous vehicles should be an improvement; machines are immune to the misjudgements that human beings make out on the road. Furthermore, they don’t tire like human drivers do, and thus the movement of both people and freight should be faster and more efficient. Nevertheless, the car is viewed as a means to achieve personal independence; many people’s livelihoods depend on the transport industry.

Get into Gear?

Is humanity ready to entrust transport to machines? Or are we taking too much a risk? What about the impact to employment? What is your view? Tell us!

About Mendeley Brainstorms

Our Brainstorms are challenges so we can engage with you, our users, on the hottest topics in the world of research.  We look for the most in-depth and well thought through responses; the best response as judged by the Mendeley team will earn a prize.

References

Hook, L. (2017). FedEx Freight calls for US self-driving truck regulations. The Financial Times. [online] Available at: https://www.ft.com/content/b14abc72-1e4b-11e7-b7d3-163f5a7f229c [Accessed 11 Apr. 2017].

Waymo. (2017). Waymo. [online] Available at: https://waymo.com/ [Accessed 11 Apr. 2017].

Mendeley Brainstorm – Science and Politics – We Have a Winner!

When politics and science collide, is it time to go on the march?

Many thanks to all those who entered the Mendeley Brainstorm related to Science and Politics; picking a winner given the well thought out answers was particularly difficult this time, however in the end, we selected Isaac Alcón Rovira’s post:

To me the problem is a bit deeper. I think something that must change in science today is the capacity to reach people who is out of science. By “reaching” I mean being able to transmit what science is. Out of the scientific world, people have no idea what science is, and I believe that if everyone would have a scientific point of view (even not being a scientist at all) that would be very beneficial in their life in many senses. However, scientists, at the moment, have not idea about how to transmit science. In fact, to all conferences that I have been so far (not many, but some) around 80% of talks have been so opaque that I have not got more than a glimpse of what that person tries to achieve with his/her research. As a consequence, I come back home with the feeling I have wasted 80% of my time. Now, if scientists are not able to fully transmit, even to the colleges of their own field, their research, then, let’s forget about transmitting our science to the rest of the world, to people who are not familiar with what an atom, or a molecule, is (now thinking in Chemistry, of course).

In my opinion, the day scientists are capable of transmitting what science is to the rest of the world, we will get the power to reach people, to touch people and, eventually, to move people. That day, probably, we will not really care what politics do or whether they believe in science or not, because 80% of people will do care of science, and that will be far enough.

Isaac is a PhD student at the Universitat de Barcelona, He wrote:

My research is not about communication skills, or politics, I am a chemist and I am designing 2D materials for possible future applications in organic electronics. What inspired me? … I have become quite passionate with Beatles during the last year and, to me, there is a common factor in all most successful songs by Lennon and McCartney: all of them are tremendously good but, at the same time, tremendously simple. I am sure many scientists would tell me that Science cannot be transmitted in such a simple way as Music, because of its more complex nature. Well, I think it is possible, and it is just a matter of caring about it, and putting the effort to make it happen.

Thank you, Isaac!

Those who didn’t win this time are encouraged to respond to the latest Mendeley Brainstorm, regarding Cloning. Thanks again to all our participants.

Mendeley Brainstorm – Send in the Clones?

Twenty years ago, the first sheep was cloned; there have been huge advances since.
Twenty years ago, the first sheep was cloned from an adult cell; there have been huge advances since.

Twenty years ago, Dolly, the first sheep cloned from an adult cell, was revealed to the world. Since then, cloning and genetic manipulation technologies have advanced considerably. Should we welcome a new era of genetic science? Or is our knowledge growing faster than our wisdom? We are looking for the most well thought out answer to this question in up to 150 words: use the comment feature below the blog and please feel free to promote your research! The winner will receive an Amazon gift certificate worth £50 and a bag full of Mendeley items; competition closes April 12, 2017.

Hello, Dolly

On February 22, 1997, the Roslin Institute in Scotland announced the arrival of Dolly, the first mammal cloned from an adult cell. According to the Institute, “in the week following the announcement…(we) received 3,000 phone calls from around the world”. Dolly had captured the public’s imagination about the potential of cloning, which at one point had been thought to be impossible.

Spinoffs

Dr. Shinya Yamanaka, the 2012 winner of the Nobel Prize in Medicine was intellectually stimulated by Dolly’s arrival. He subsequently investigated how the adult DNA which had been used to create Dolly had been revivified. The eventual result was “induced pluripotent stem cells”, which “have become a scientific workhorse, providing limitless supplies of differentiated cells and tissue for use in the lab” (Economist, 2017). They also are “an invaluable tool for modelling human diseases and screening drugs” (Economist, 2017).\

Moral Objections

Cloning technologies have always been controversial. Many ethicists and public figures have questioned whether scientists have the right to “play God” and alter the building blocks of humanity. Some countries, including the United States, have implemented restrictions on this research.

Send in the Clones?

Are these concerns overblown? Or is our knowledge growing faster than our wisdom? What is the future of cloning in your view? Tell us!

Need Funding for Your Research?

Here are some of the latest funding opportunities for biology researchers provided by Mendeley Funding:

Organisation Opportunity
Oak Ridge Associated Universities Molecular biologist research opportunity in plant viruses
University of East Anglia Cloning and expression of topoisomerase genes from Trypanosoma brucei
Developing methods for genetically encoded unnatural amino acids to develop novel proteins
National Institutes of Health Cancer and stem cells epigenetics
Ancillary studies to the NIDDK intestinal stem cell consortium
Spermatogenic stem cell culture systems to preserve and restore reproductive capacity in males
Stem cell-derived blood products for therapeutic use: Technology improvement
John Templeton Foundation Genetics – Large grant
Genetics – Small grant

About Mendeley Brainstorms

Our Brainstorms are challenges so we can engage with you, our users, on the hottest topics in the world of research.  We look for the most in-depth and well thought through responses; the best response as judged by the Mendeley team will earn a prize.

References

Gene editing, clones and the science of making babies. (2017). The Economist. [online] Available at: http://www.economist.com/news/leaders/21717035-ways-reproducing-without-sexual-intercourse-are-multiplying-history-suggests-they-should [Accessed 23 Feb. 2017].

Hello, again, Dolly. (2017). The Economist. [online] Available at: http://www.economist.com/news/briefing/21717028-twenty-years-ago-world-met-first-adult-clone-sheep-called-dolly-her-legacy-lives [Accessed 23 Feb. 2017].

The Life of Dolly | Dolly the Sheep. (2017). [online] Dolly.roslin.ed.ac.uk. Available at: http://dolly.roslin.ed.ac.uk/facts/the-life-of-dolly/ [Accessed 23 Feb. 2017].

Mendeley Brainstorm: Science and Politics – Unhappy Together?

Is it time for researchers to adapt or go on the march?
Is it time for researchers to adapt or go on the march?

The worlds of science and politics appear to be in conflict. Britain voted for Brexit; it’s estimated 90% of British academics voted Remain. Recent policy announcements by the Trump administration have provoked scientists to plan a “March for Science” on Washington DC. Are science and politics destined to clash? We are looking for the most well thought out answer to this question in up to 150 words: use the comment feature below the blog and please feel free to promote your research! The winner will receive an Amazon gift certificate worth £50 and a bag full of Mendeley items; competition closes March 8, 2017.

Post-Factual Versus Evidence Based

The world of politics introduced new terms into the lexicon in 2016, including “post-factual”, “post-truth” and “fake news”; the world of science continues to rely on evidence, data and peer reviews. In 2016, politics erupted with statements that denounced “experts”; science depends on expertise to achieve its advances.

Funding Pressures

The Trump Administration has instructed the Environmental Protection Agency to freeze all grants. This could be a prelude to more cuts for research in environmental and other sciences. Mick Mulvaney, President Trump’s choice to head the White House’s Office of Management and Budget, apparently asked in September 2016 after considering studies done about the Zika virus, “…do we really need government funded research at all”.

What’s Next?

Can science learn to live with the new political environment, or is it time for researchers to march? Will “post factual” politics be compelled to yield to cold, hard data? Will science shift from countries like the United States and Britain to elsewhere? What are your thoughts on what will happen and what will you do? Tell us!

Need to Store & Publish Your Data?

Mendeley Data is a secure cloud-based repository where you can store your data (including open data governmental datasets and websites), ensuring it is easy to share, access and cite, wherever you are. Click here for more information.

About Mendeley Brainstorms

Our Brainstorms are challenges so we can engage with you, our users, on the hottest topics in the world of research.  We look for the most in-depth and well thought through responses; the best response as judged by the Mendeley team will earn a prize.

References

AHUJA, M. (2017). Scientists planning their own march in Washington. CNN. [online] Available at: http://edition.cnn.com/2017/01/25/politics/scientists-march-dc-trnd/index.html?sr=twCNN012617scientists-march-dc-trnd0530AMStoryPhoto&linkId=33790680 [Accessed 26 Jan. 2017].

BELLUZ, J. (2017). Trump’s budget director pick: “Do we really need government-funded research at all”. [Blog] Vox. Available at: http://www.vox.com/science-and-health/2016/12/21/14012552/trump-budget-director-research-science-mulvaney [Accessed 26 Jan. 2017].

KASPRAK, A. (2016). FACT CHECK: Trump’s Budget Director Pick Asked “Do We Really Need Government-Funded Research at All?”. [online] Snopes. Available at: http://www.snopes.com/trumps-budget-director-pick-asked-really-need-government-funded-research/ [Accessed 26 Jan. 2017].

WAPNER, J. (2017). Trump Freezes Grants, Approves Pipelines and Considers Sharp Budget Cuts At the EPA. Newsweek. [online] Available at: http://europe.newsweek.com/trump-freezes-grants-approves-pipelines-and-considers-sharp-budget-cuts-epa-547738?rm=eu [Accessed 26 Jan. 2017].

Mendeley Brainstorm – Open Data – We Have a Winner!

Is the future of data open?
Is the future of data open?

Many thanks to all those who entered the Mendeley Brainstorm related to Open Data; picking a winner given the well thought out answers was not easy, however in the end, we selected Sarah’s post:

When we talk about Open Data, there are really two separate issues: the sharing of raw data and open access to publications.

Sharing of raw data is incredibly valuable for the scientific community. Any group that chooses to publish polished interpretations of their data (such as a paper) must also be responsible for the quality of the raw data and/or analysis that went into it. Because researchers may have unrealized biases in data analysis and interpretation, it is vital that the raw data also be available for examination.

Open access is a thornier issue. While the benefits (greater spread of knowledge, greater inclusion in science, greater connection with the public) are valuable, our current system of publication does not incentivize open access. Treating the scientific publication process as a public good, as academic research is treated, may therefore be a valuable approach to solve this issue of incentives.

Sarah is a graduate student at the University of Wisconsin, She wrote:

I’m….studying retinal development, so my interaction with Open Data is more the general academic experience and thinking about it abstractly. The first part of my response was mostly inspired by my experiences reading papers and the frustration of knowing they’re only the beautified surface of the work that was actually done. The second part of my response was actually inspired by economics podcasts like Planet Money and Freakonomics, which are some of my favorite things to listen to while doing lab work.

She also told us:

Also I just want to take the chance to thank everyone at Mendeley! I really appreciate that you’ve made it more than just a useful application (and it is incredibly useful).

Thank you, Sarah!

Those who didn’t win this time are encouraged to respond to the latest Mendeley Brainstorm, regarding Ageing Societies. Thanks again to all our participants.