The Daily Dose: Hints of the creeping AI apocalypse, atomic atrocities, and DNA privacy concerns

Code that can code: A team of computer scientists at Rice University used their funding from the U.S. military and Google to develop the first deep learning tool that can generate actual code. In this case, BAYOU can only code Java and it can’t write entire programs. But clearly it’s only a matter of time until AI tools learn every language and can complete the job. In that case, the world will be closer to self-replicating AI, regardless of how many people tell you the contrary. And we all know what that means…

CRISPR‘s day in court: Anyone who pays even the slightest attention to the human aspect of scientific discovery knows there’s a lot of double-dealing, back-stabbing, power-playing shenanigans that take place behind the scene. The emergence of CRISPR-Cas9 technology is no different, only in this case, the parties involved took their grievances to court.

Golden State Killer, DNA databases, and you: By now you’re probably aware of the news that the hunt for California’s notorious serial killer is supposedly resolved. Tracking down Joseph James DeAngelo took a decidedly biotech turn when authorities were able to triangulate his identity with the help of a public DNA database used my a popular genealogy site, GEDMatch to track him down. Now people are beginning to worry about privacy issues, particularly for members of the public who have not uploaded their genetic profiles but have relatives that have. You get the idea that this is yet another instance where people don’t fully comprehend the implications of their actions. Personal data, genomes… What’s next?

Make babies to save a species: Thomas Hildebrandt is a reproduction expert at Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research. This year, he is going to attempt a procedure that has never been done before: an in vitro fertilization of a Northern White Rhino. The species is critically endangered and success could mean a slightly less precarious future for the mammals.

Reminder of an atomic atrocity: Brazilian scientists have used tissue extracted from a Japanese atomic bomb victim’s jawbone to quantify how much radiation was absorbed. According to their work, the victim absorbed 9.46 grays of radiation. For context, 5 grays is fatal. It’s no wonder tens of thousands of people continued to die long after the Bomb was droppe.

IMAGE SOURCE: Creative Commons; Stuart Price

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