Will Technology Progress or Bring down Humanity?

The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists worries technological advancements are going unchecked. The group asks that regulatory bodies be established to help assess and prevent risks.


The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists decided to keep the hands of the Doomsday Clock at three minutes to midnight. The decision was meant to express disappointment in the world's failure to take dramatic action to curb climate change and the risk of nuclear disaster. Lower down on the list of potential catastrophes is a worry that disruptive technological advancements are going unchecked.

“It is clear that advances in biotechnology; in artificial intelligence, particularly for use in robotic weapons; and in the cyber realm all have the potential to create global-scale risk,” the group wrote.

The Bulletin recognizes advancements in artificial intelligence have the capacity to do great good for humanity, but also great harm. It has been growing at such a rapid pace thanks in part to deep learning, but the board and the world's brightest minds have given cause to worry.

The fear of a corporate-driven Skynet-like catastrophe has been on the minds of many brilliant thinkers. It has been such a concern for Elon Musk that he helped found OpenAI, a nonprofit artificial intelligence research company. It was established on the belief that it's “important to have a leading research institution which can prioritize a good outcome for all over its own self-interest.” This institution would help create a place to develop without the potential for misuse by an unregulated government, scientific, or corporate institution.

"Where the technology is pushing conflict is moving so much faster than our systems ability to adapt and regulate it that it’s going to be a real challenge for us the next 10 to 15 years."

​There are two kinds of failure – but only one is honorable

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Why are so many objects in space shaped like discs?

It's one of the most consistent patterns in the unviverse. What causes it?

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  • Spinning discs are the result of two things: The force of gravity and a phenomenon in physics called the conservation of angular momentum.
  • Gravity brings matter together; the closer the matter gets, the more it accelerates – much like an ice skater who spins faster and faster the closer their arms get to their body. Then, this spinning cloud collapses due to up and down and diagonal collisions that cancel each other out until the only motion they have in common is the spin – and voila: A flat disc.

Scientists study tattooed corpses, find pigment in lymph nodes

It turns out, that tattoo ink can travel throughout your body and settle in lymph nodes.

17th August 1973: An American tattoo artist working on a client's shoulder. (Photo by F. Roy Kemp/BIPs/Getty Images)
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In the slightly macabre experiment to find out where tattoo ink travels to in the body, French and German researchers recently used synchrotron X-ray fluorescence in four "inked" human cadavers — as well as one without. The results of their 2017 study? Some of the tattoo ink apparently settled in lymph nodes.


Image from the study.

As the authors explain in the study — they hail from Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich, the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility, and the German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment — it would have been unethical to test this on live animals since those creatures would not be able to give permission to be tattooed.

Because of the prevalence of tattoos these days, the researchers wanted to find out if the ink could be harmful in some way.

"The increasing prevalence of tattoos provoked safety concerns with respect to particle distribution and effects inside the human body," they write.

It works like this: Since lymph nodes filter lymph, which is the fluid that carries white blood cells throughout the body in an effort to fight infections that are encountered, that is where some of the ink particles collect.

Image by authors of the study.

Titanium dioxide appears to be the thing that travels. It's a white tattoo ink pigment that's mixed with other colors all the time to control shades.

The study's authors will keep working on this in the meantime.

“In future experiments we will also look into the pigment and heavy metal burden of other, more distant internal organs and tissues in order to track any possible bio-distribution of tattoo ink ingredients throughout the body. The outcome of these investigations not only will be helpful in the assessment of the health risks associated with tattooing but also in the judgment of other exposures such as, e.g., the entrance of TiO2 nanoparticles present in cosmetics at the site of damaged skin."

Photo by Alina Grubnyak on Unsplash
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