Search for "genomics"

Artificial intelligence and existential risk: From alarm to alignment

1956 was a momentous year: I and AI were born. Ok, I was born and artificial intelligence was defined as a field of research in computer science. A lot has happened since, especially over the last two decades; and now speculation is rife as to whether AI might lead to the extinction of humanity. By …

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Cancer, metaphors and Bond villains

There are metaphors that utterly change how we see the world and there are metaphors that change how we see microscopic bits of it. There are metaphors that are constitutive of theories in philosophy and science and there are more ephemeral ones that provide glimpses of new phenomena. I am just reading a book by …

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Artificial intelligence, dark matter and common sense

In my last post I wrote about a new type of deep learning network, the chatbot ChatGPT, which has stirred up a lot of debate, including between me and my sister. We were skyping and I mentioned the blog post and she said: “Oh, I have just read something in the New York Times that …

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Gene drives and metaphors

I have been writing about developments in the biosciences for twenty years. In that time, I have covered a wide variety of topics, such as cloning, genomics, the human genome project, the microbiome project, faecal microbial transplants, synthetic biology, epigenetics, genome editing and now gene drive. I was lucky enough to get many reflections on …

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Making Science Public 2021: End of year round-up of blog posts

We are coming to the end of a another pandemic year, and time seems to expand endlessness towards an uncertain horizon. That means quite a few of my blog posts this year were still devoted to covid and the pandemic, but I also wrote about genetics, climate change and some other incidental topics. As usual, …

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Post-Brexit gene editing regulation

Some of us are old enough to remember the controversies surrounding genetically modified or engineered foods and crops that raged in Europe (which included the UK) around the turn of the millennium. Some of us are even old enough to remember debates about recombinant DNA in the seventies (for those who don’t, I recommend Matthew …

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Metaphors, metaphors, metaphors

Recently somebody asked me something about metaphor and I thought to myself, what the heck do you know about metaphor? Actually, not an awful lot, given all the stuff I have written about it, or rather the stuff that I have written which involves some sort of reference to metaphor. So, I started to make …

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Making Science Public 2020: End of year round-up of blog posts

The year began quite innocently, with me blogging, for example, about gene drives. What are gene drives? Who cares about them? And so on. This has now turned into: Who cares? 2020 has been steamrolled by one big event: the Covid-19 pandemic. This meant that many of my posts were devoted to it, that is …

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The social and metaphorical life of viruses

Metaphors are an essential part of science, from doing basic science to engaging in popular science communication. They can be used sporadically; they can be used more systematically to conceptualise a topic, for example the structure and function of DNA; or they can be used in a veritable firework sprinkled across one article. I once …

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