Is Artificial Intelligence a Threat to Mankind?

Artificial intelligenceTechnology: We all use it, and some of us couldn’t go an entire day without it. In many ways, digital technology has improved our lives by increasing productivity and communication. Computer technology is everywhere: our homes, offices, phones and even cars. Technology has integrating into our lives so completely that most of us no longer stop to marvel at even the [seemingly] simplest capabilities such as the predictive software that our smart phones use to predict which word we are typing after we type in only the first few letters, especially if the software gets it wrong much of the time. However, digital technology has its dangers and inconveniences: cybercrime, hackers, stolen data, and computer crashes and failed Wi-Fi connections at the most inopportune times. In a recent BBC interview, one of modern science’s most brilliant minds highlighted another potential danger: artificial intelligence. Does artificial intelligence pose a threat to mankind?

Continue reading “Is Artificial Intelligence a Threat to Mankind?”

What Things Are You Thankful for in Science?

What are you thankful for in science?
What are you thankful for in science?
As the social media lead for Promega, I keep my eye on trends in new media. I have personal accounts that I keep mostly to see what other people are doing. I try hangouts, social networking and other things so that I have an idea of developing practices outside of the biotechnology industry. One activity that has been popular over the last couple of years during the month of November in the United States is the Facebook post of “30 days of thanksgiving”.

I wondered what “thanksgiving” looks like to the research scientist. So I asked:

What are the things you are thankful for in science?

The answers have been as varied as the people I talked to ranging from little things like water bath floats to really big things, like the renewal of your research funding or achieving tenure.

Here are some of the answers from my informal inquiries:

“Tube floaties for water baths.”

—E.V., genomics product manager

“I was always thankful for Geiger counters.”

—K. G., science writer

“Thermal cyclers and Taq Polymerase. As an undergrad I watched someone sit with a timer and move their tubes between water baths at 3 different temperatures, opening tubes and adding polymerase at the end of each cycle. Modern PCR is SOOO much easier.”

—M.M., research scientist

“I am thankful for competent cells. I remember preparing the CaCl2 and doing slow centrifugation. Also thankful for serum-compatible transfection, rapid ligations and online journal access (no longer have to traipse over to the university library to get papers photocopied- uuurrrgggghhh).”

—R.D., technical services scientist

“How about T-vectors for cloning? I was no molecular biologist, but could make a T-vector work.”

—K.K., science writer

“I am thankful for open-access journals and the ability to read the full article without an institutional subscription.”

—S.K., science writer

“I am ever so thankful for ONLINE ORDERING! So awesome. Throw in online technical manuals, on-line support tools, on-line calculators – all are awesome!!”

—A.P., director, scientific courses

“I am thankful for automated sequencing- manual sequencing was laborious and hazardous!!!”

—R.G., technical services scientist

Do any of these resonate with you? What are you thankful for as a scientist? Let us know in the comments.

Analog is the new digital?

Photo credit: Niklas Roy https://picasaweb.google.com/116020019668259353077/CardboardComputerWorkshopAtHfGOffenbach#5847047713177417682
Playing “Speedway PRO 1000 at the Cardboard Computer Workshop” Photo credit: Niklas Roy
There are few areas of human endeavor as rife with error and retrospective hilarity as futurology, the dark art of predicting technological trends. So instead of trying my hand at proclaiming a new direction in human computer interactions, I thought I’d simply report on a couple of projects at the intersection of art and computing that caught my attention at the Eyeo Festival in Minneapolis, a visualization conference held there this past June. Perhaps there’s something more here than separate data points, but I’ll leave that inference up to the reader. Continue reading “Analog is the new digital?”

Acknowledging Black Scientists and Inventors: Past and Present

363px-BannekerAlmanacFebruary is Black History Month and, although in a perfect world all history would be equally acknowledged, this is a perfect opportunity to talk about Black scientists and inventors.  I told you about entrepreneurs Madame C.J. Walker and Annie Malone and their work in the hair care business a few months ago.  (Note: I will link to several other websites in this post, so when you see green letters with a dotted underline, click to learn more!) Continue reading “Acknowledging Black Scientists and Inventors: Past and Present”

Promega Connections: The Year in Review

Your Promega Connections bloggers had a great time bringing you cool science stories, technical tips and assorted other reading material this year, and we want to say a big “Thank you!”  to all of our readers for your time, your comments, and your reblogs.

Here are some of the highlights from 2012.

I can doodle people!
I can doodle people!
In January Kelly blogged about The Making of a Science App, describing the work to create the Cell Signaling iPad app that we released last year. An update is forthcoming early in 2013 (GPCRs!), and we continue to improve our iPad, iPhone and Android apps as well as our web tools for scientists. If you haven’t played with them, check them out. They are all free. Cats, dogs and their humans have found Kari’s blog post about catnip intriguing as well. Continue reading “Promega Connections: The Year in Review”

What Do Lions Have In Common With Teenagers? OMG, You’ll Srsly LOL!

Ah, the life of a lion roaming the African savanna: sleep, chase a wildebeest, play with your cubs, fight a little with that one uppity lioness, yawn, catch a gazelle, eat the gazelle, drink at the watering hole, sleep some more and…send a text message? Yep, it’s happening in Kenya, where conservationists are now getting automated SMS messages from GPS-enabled collars on the increasingly threatened animals. Unlike traditional texting from your garden-variety teenager, though, these messages aren’t filled with LOLs, gossip and the teen angst du jour, but up-to-the-minute location information to allow researchers to track the lions’ movements in greater detail than ever possible before. Continue reading “What Do Lions Have In Common With Teenagers? OMG, You’ll Srsly LOL!”

Introducing the new Promega.com

Saturday, April 2nd, 2011. Today there is palpable excitement in the air.  It’s 6:20am and other than the web team, the Promega campus is quietly slumbering.  It’s a sunny, crisp spring day; a day for blossoms and new beginnings.

Donuts
Fuel for the day.

My friends and colleagues are slowly rolling into work, bringing enough food to feed a small army.   The table in the middle of our floor is filled with donuts, egg casseroles, potato dishes, fruit salad, coffee cake, and 6 lbs of bacon.  This is not a day to diet.

Today, we are rolling out the brand new Promega.com.  It is the end of an 18-month project and the beginning of a new digital platform for our company.  This project, for me personally, has been an epic journey.   There are many metaphors that have passed through my head to describe the process:  having a baby, finishing graduate school (although at times high school was a more appropriate analogy), planning a wedding and getting married….whatever the comparison, it is a major milestone. Continue reading “Introducing the new Promega.com”