Collaborating Authors

How do we protect planets from biological cross-contamination?

Stanford Engineering

In Michael Crichton's 1969 novel The Andromeda Strain, a deadly alien microbe hitches a ride to Earth aboard a downed military satellite and scientists must race to contain it. While fictional, the plot explores a very real and longstanding concern shared by NASA and world governments: that spacefaring humans, or our robotic emissaries, may unwittingly contaminate Earth with extraterrestrial life or else biologically pollute other planets we visit. It's an old fear that's taken on a new relevance in the era of COVID-19, said Scott Hubbard, an adjunct professor of aeronautics and astronautics at Stanford University. "I have heard from some colleagues in the human spaceflight area that they can see how, in the current environment, the general public could become more concerned about bringing back some alien microbe, virus or contamination," said Hubbard, who is also the former director of NASA Ames and the first Mars program director. Hubbard is a co-author of a new report published last month by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine that reviews recent findings and recommendations related to "planetary protection" or "planetary quarantine" -- the safeguarding of Earth and other worlds from biological cross-contamination.

A New Class of AI Ethics

CMU School of Computer Science

There is a growing consensus that artificial intelligence ethics instruction is critical, and must extend beyond computer sciences courses. Ethics and technology have always been tightly interwoven, but as artificial intelligence (AI) marches forward and impacts society in new and novel ways, the stakes--and repercussions--are growing. "There is potential for (AI) to be used in ways that society disapproves of," observes David S. Touretzky, a research professor in the computer science department at Carnegie Mellon University. One idea that's gaining momentum is AI ethics instruction in schools. Groups such as AI4K12 and the MIT Media Lab have begun to study the issue and develop AI learning frameworks for K-12 students.

em The Vast of Night /em Is Like a UFO Movie Directed by a Very Talented Alien


Orson Welles, who knew a thing or two about making movies, reportedly remarked after touring the RKO lot that it was "the biggest electric train set any boy ever had." And yet it is rare to see a feature film that communicates any of that delight, any of the sheer fun of playing around with the possibilities the medium offers. The Vast of Night, the debut feature from director Andrew Patterson and screenwriters James Montague and Craig W. Sanger, arriving on Amazon Prime on May 29, is one of the exceptions: Every scene has been staged and shot with intelligence, intent, inventiveness, and a sense of play. To watch it is to get excited about the billions of different ways you can combine sound and moving images to tell a story. That is not to say that you'll necessarily be astounded by the story The Vast of Night is telling.

Coronavirus: Isolation and Aspiration


Why has Japan been less affected by the global pandemic than the United States? One theory suggests that the Japanese language has weakly aspirated consonants compared with English. Which might mean that Japanese people are less likely to "spray" while speaking and therefore less likely to transmit the virus. John looks at the linguistic evidence.

France's New Online Hate Speech Law Is Fundamentally Flawed


The solution to online hate speech seems so simple: Delete harmful content, rinse, repeat. But David Kaye, a law professor at the University of California, Irvine, and the U.N. special rapporteur on freedom of expression, says that while laws to regulate hate speech might seem promising, they often aren't that effective--and, perhaps worse, they can set dangerous precedents. This is why France's new social media law, which follows in Germany's footsteps, is controversial across the political spectrum there and abroad. On May 13, France passed "Lutte contre la haine sur internet" ("Fighting hate on the internet"), a law that requires social media platforms to rapidly take down hateful content. Comments that are discriminatory--based on race, gender, disability, sexual orientation, and religion--or sexually abusive have to be removed within 24 hours of being flagged by users.

From Mario Kart 8 Deluxe to Minecraft, 11 multiplayer video games to play co-op

Daily Mail - Science & tech

If you've played every board game and completed every jigsaw puzzle in your house, multiplayer video games might be another great option for some family fun. From Nintendo titles such as Mario Kart to Playstation 4 fan favourites like FIFA and Minecraft, we've rounded up 11 of the best family-friendly games to play local multiplayer with your kids. Some you can also play online co-op with your friends if you have the required online pass. The original game is back with more than 80 brand new mini-games to get the party started, including the all-new Joy-Con controller enabled mini-games. Test your skills as you take turns with up to four other players to race across the board to win the most Stars.

North Atlantic right whales are being weakened by commercial fishing nets, according to new study

Daily Mail - Science & tech

A comprehensive new study of North Atlantic right whales has found the species is significantly smaller and less healthy than southern right whales and could be wiped out in the next 20 years without intervention. The study, the largest of its kind, was organized by Dr. Fredrik Christiansen or Aarhus University in Denmark and involved 12 research institutions across five countries. The team used a fleet of drones to capture images of right whales in the North Atlantic and three major regions in the southern hemisphere. A team of researchers organized by Dr. Fredrik Christiansen or Aarhus University in Denmark used drones to photograph right whales around the world and found North Atlantic right whales are far smaller and less healthy than their southern hemisphere counterparts Using a technique called'aerial photogrammetry,' the team correlated basic information about whale width and length to make determinations about the general health of the whales. In an interview with National Geographic, Christiansen said the team was shocked to find the North Atlantic right whales'looked like a runway…you could basically set up a tent on their backs.'

The Difference Between Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning and Deep Learning


After all, it's been a popular focus in movies such as The Terminator, The Matrix, and Ex Machina (a personal favorite of mine). But you may have recently been hearing about other terms like "Machine Learning" and "Deep Learning," sometimes used interchangeably with artificial intelligence. As a result, the difference between artificial intelligence, machine learning, and deep learning can be very unclear. AI means getting a computer to mimic human behavior in some way. Those descriptions are correct, but they are a little concise.

3 AI Stocks Making the World a Better Place


Artificial intelligence is bound to change the future of the world. By fiscal year 2025, the artificial intelligence market size is expected to be $390.9 However, this number does not tell the whole story. By FY2030, the projected growth of global GDP as a result of artificial intelligence is expected to be $15.7 trillion. This projection bodes well for AI stocks.