8 mins

Taking on the complex ethics of emerging brain technologies

complex ethics of emerging brain technologies

Imagine infusing thousands of wireless devices into your brain, and using them to both monitor its activity and directly influence its actions. It sounds like the stuff of science fiction, and for the moment it still is – but possibly not for long. Brain research is on a roll at the moment. And as it ...

Making sense of gene drives and gene editing

Gene Drives

Gene editing and gene drives are rapidly emerging as the disruptive technologies du jour.  But what are they, what can they do, and why should you care? Just last week, research was published that took us a step closer to being able to re-engineer whole species by driving specific genes through successive generations   – the species in ...

3 mins

Basic research and personal responsibility

Dan Sarewitz has a rather provocative commentary in Nature this morning, where he suggests that proposals to increase basic research may be good politics, but questionable policy. The headline alone is probably enough to get some science-advocates’ blood boiling, whether they go on to read the piece or not: “Double trouble? To throw cash at ...

8 mins

Deja vu and synthetic biology – will we learn the lessons of nanotech and genetic modification?

A guest blog by Hilary Sutcliffe, Director of MATTER, a UK think tank which explores how new technologies can work for us all. The other day, I wrote a piece on the implications of synthetic biology where I  suggested that we “need to place discussions on a science basis, and not get over-distracted by ethical ...

6 mins

Synthetic biology: Lessons from synthetic chemistry

Looking back to chart a course to the future This coming lunchtime*, former New York Times columnist Denise Caruso will discuss the promise and pit-falls of synthetic biology with Center for American Progress senior fellow and former Washington Post science reporter Rick Weiss.  Given the track record of both participants, I’m anticipating a stimulating and ...

4 mins

Nanotechnology and the God of Small Things

With apologies to Arundhati Roi for “borrowing” the title of her moving book, what—if anything—has nanotechnology got to do with religion? Barnaby Feder of the New York Times takes on this issue in his latest posting to the Bits blog: “There may not be a lot of agreement among the world’s religions on exactly what ...