Taking us one step closer to cybernetic brains, a research group has been able to create an artificial synapse (the connections between neurons in our brains). This device should be able to mimic the major features of human memory and can be interfaced with natural neurons. This leads to the possibility of cyborg/augmented brains which contains both natural and electronic parts. Alternatively it could eventually be used for the long coveted ideal of brain uploading. Read more at Machines Like Us.
This article contains my personal opinions and musings.
Today is the start of the London 2012 Summer Olympics. This year’s olympics has faced a number of controversies – one of which is somewhat pertinent to biology, the issue of gender and sex. The olympics, like many sporting institutions, has long separated competitors into two main categories – male and female. This would be simple, if sex determination was so discrete. But sex is not discrete, it is a spectrum which at best can be described as two common clusters of phenotypes around what we call ‘male’ and ‘female’. Even chromosomal sex is not as simple as XX vs XY – there are common cases of XXY and XYY and other varieties. Genitals don’t always follow the chromosomal pattern either, and hormone diversity (which drives development) creates an effective continuum between male and female. Individuals significantly between both sexes are often referred to as “intersex” but even then the line between intersex and being one sex or another is a blurred one.
Juan Enriquez is a well respected futurist – who specifically looks at biotechnology and its role in the future. He is the founding director of the Life Sciences Project at Harvard Business School, CEO of Biotechnomy LCC, and the writer of numerous influential articles. Over the past decade he has given four TED talks, covering different visions of the future. After the break you can find each of his talks – including his latest talk from TED (posted yesterday): “Will our kids be a different species?”. These are definitely mandatory viewing for anyone interested in the future.