“It is just not possible to effectively monitor every communicable disease in real time with human eyes alone,” Sharon Greene said. “To be able to quickly and effectively and precisely detect an outbreak, to kick off an outbreak investigation process — the earlier that you can begin this it helps to limit sickness, it helps to limit death, and it makes it more likely that you will successfully solve the outbreak

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The common, and recurring, view of the latest breakthroughs in artificial intelligence research is that sentient and intelligent machines are just on the horizon. Machines understand verbal commands, distinguish pictures, drive cars and play games better than we do. How much longer can it be before they walk among us?

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Last week, Microsoft inadvertently revealed the difficulty of creating moral robots. Chatbot Tay, designed to speak like a teenage girl, sounded like a Nazi-loving racist after less than 24 hours on Twitter. Of course, Tay wasn’t designed to be explicitly moral. But plenty of other machines are involved in work that has clear ethical implications

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Ransomware that locks up patient data in hospitals is disrupting medical care, and the problem is set to get worse

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The U.S. military is spending millions on an advanced implant that would allow a human brain to communicate directly with computers

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A runaway trolley is approaching a fork in the tracks. If the trolley is allowed to run on its current track, a work crew of five will be killed. If the driver steers the train down the other branch, a lone worker will be killed. If you were driving this trolley what would you do? What would a computer or robot driving this trolley do? Autonomous systems are coming whether people like it or not. Will they be ethical?

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It’s been a weird day for weird science. Not long after researchers claimed victory in performing a head transplant on a monkey, the US military’s blue-sky R&D agency announced a completely insane plan to build a chip that would enable the human brain to communicate directly with computers. What is this weird, surreal future?

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Once the three-billion-letter-long human genome was sequenced, we rushed into a new “omics” era of biological research. Scientists are now racing to sequence the genomes (all the genes) or proteomes (all the proteins) of various organisms – and in the process are compiling massive amounts of data

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