A new home for Risk Innovation

April 29, 2015

Five years ago, I joined the University of Michigan School of Public Health as Director of the U-M Risk Science Center. It’s been a good five years. However, last year, the good folks at Arizona State University made me an offer I couldn’t refuse – the opportunity to ...

The Poetry of Innovating Responsibly

April 24, 2015

What have technology innovation, haiku, and this summer’s blockbuster-in-waiting Jurassic World got in common? The answer: a short book of haiku on responsible technological innovation that a group of colleagues helped put together last summer. Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens ...

No New York Times, wearable computers couldn’t be as harmful as cigarettes!

March 18, 2015

I was taken aback- to say the least – by an article from the New York Times that crossed my Twitter feed today that suggested wearable electronics like the new Apple Watch could be has harmful as smoking. I have to wonder whether the author actually read the International ...

Solving public health challenges through innovation

March 16, 2015

Last Thursday, the second annual University of Michigan Innovation In Action competition concluded, with six stunning student pitches for startups that could make a significant dent on the health and well-being of communities. It was a great example of what can be achieved at the intersection of public health, ...

Dunkin’ Donuts ditches titanium dioxide – but is it actually harmful?

March 12, 2015

In response to pressure from the advocacy group As You Sow, Dunkin’ Brands has announced that it will be removing allegedly “nano” titanium dioxide from Dunkin’ Donuts’ powdered sugar donuts. As You Sow claims there are safety concerns around the use of the material, while Dunkin’ Brands cites concerns over ...

Toxicologists are Freakin’ Awesome!

March 10, 2015

Risk Bites is going to be at the San Diego Festival of Science & Engineering Expo this year (Saturday March 21st – be there!). I’ll be there as part of the Society of Toxicology (SOT) annual meeting, sharing the SOT stand. Given the toxicology theme, we have a ...

Responsible Innovation, and the (nano) entrepreneur’s dilemma

March 5, 2015

Responsible innovation is a great concept – it embodies ideas around ensuring our inventiveness works for the long term good of society, without inadvertently throwing up more problems than it solves. But to entrepreneurs and others trying to make ends meet while launching a new product or idea, it ...

Responsible development of new technologies critical in complex, connected world

March 4, 2015

The World Economic Forum’s 2015 top 10 emerging technologies reflect the tremendous potential of technology innovation. Yet to build a resilient tech-based future, we need new ideas, new research and new tools that will enable us to realize the benefits of technology innovation, while keeping us a safe distance ...

Have you ever wondered …?

February 27, 2015

Have you ever wondered if green potato chips are safe to eat?  Or whether peeing in the swimming pool is a good idea?  Or what makes something toxic? Risk Bites has a snazzy new poster aimed at raising awareness of the video channel to K-12 students (and their teachers). Please do download the PDF (just click the ...

The science of “anti-vaccination” – a great primer from SciShow

February 20, 2015

Yesterday, Hank Green and the YouTube channel SciShow posted a particularly good video on the anti-vaccination movement. Unlike many commentators from within the science community, instead of vilifying parents who don’t get their kids vaccinated – or are hesitant about doing so – Green takes a science-grounded look ...

Measles mortality rates – 2008-2011 outbreak, France

February 4, 2015

Yesterday, I posted a piece examining the oft-quoted mortality rate for measles of one to two deaths per thousand cases of infection.  Today, I want to look at what can be learned from more recent and more comprehensive dataset – this one from the 2008-2011 measles outbreak in France. In the early ...

What is the risk of dying if you catch measles?

February 3, 2015

If you catch measles, what are your chances of dying? When I was a kid, measles was one of those things you were expected to catch.  I had it when I was five, and must confess, I don’t remember much about the experience.  I do remember being confined to bed.  And ...

Is novelty in nanomaterials overrated when it comes to risk?

February 2, 2015

Novelty and nanotechnology are deeply intertwined. The search for nanostructure-enabled materials has driven research funding in nanotechnology for well over a decade now; the exploitation of novel properties has underpinned the commercialization of nanomaterials; and concerns over potential risks has stimulated widespread studies into what makes these materials harmful. Yet ...

Emerging technologies must be developed responsibly

January 22, 2015

From smart phones to cancer cures, we depend on technology innovation more now than at any point in human history. Yet in a cruel twist of irony, emerging technologies that could help improve lives and protect the environment may ultimately end up doing more harm than good. That is, unless ...

World Economic Forum highlights risks of emerging technologies

January 15, 2015

The challenges of governing emerging technologies are highlighted by the World Economic Forum in the 2015 edition of its Global Risks Report. Focusing in particular on synthetic biology, gene drives and artificial intelligence, the report warns that these and other emerging technologies present hard-to-foresee risks, and that oversight mechanisms need to more ...

Are quantum dot TVs actually better for the environment?

January 7, 2015

Earlier this week, The Conversation reported that, “The future is bright, the future is … quantum dot televisions.” And judging by the buzz coming from this week’s annual Consumer Electronics Show (CES) that’s right – the technology is providing manufacturers with a cheap and efficient way of producing the next ...

Bad luck and cancer – did the media get it wrong?

January 2, 2015

The chances are that, if you follow news articles about cancer, you’ll have come across headlines like “Most Cancers Caused By Bad Luck” (The Daily Beast) or “Two-thirds of cancers are due to “bad luck,” study finds” (CBS News).  The story – based on research out of Johns Hopkins University ...

What’s your favorite risk of the week…?

December 27, 2014

Forget Dr. Oz and The Food Babe – the Risk Bites Holiday Video has enough risks du jour for everyone, and then some. With a tongue in cheek tip of the hat to Tom Lehrer’s Elements Song, we’ve crammed 108 risks into a mere 80 seconds – everything from arsenic and ...

Responsible Innovation – Seventeen Haiku

December 23, 2014

How do you creatively explore the challenges and opportunities of developing new technologies responsibly?  This past summer, the University of Michigan Risk Science Center partnered with the V2_ Institute for Unstable Media in Rotterdam to just this.  And the result? A book of seventeen haiku! Exploring Responsible Innovation The book was the result of ...

Five things worth knowing about concussion and contact sports – video

December 15, 2014

The health impacts of concussions suffered while playing sports have been receiving increased attention in recent years.  According to the National Athletic Trainers’ Association,  An estimated 3.8 million concussions occur each year as a result of sport and physical activity in the U.S., with sport-related concussions account for 58% of ...