Home Forums Silicon Valley Study Tour – August 2019 Bicocca Silicon Valley 2019

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140 replies, 13 voices Last updated by Serena 6 months, 2 weeks ago
  • Marco Pastore
    Keymaster
    @marcopastore
    #3539

    Don’t worry Serena!!

    Have a nice week!

     

    Davide
    Participant
    @davidetoniolo
    #3544

    Hello guys,
    thank you @marcopastore for the new topics!

    Two words on peer review
    Before beginning the discussion, I’d like to point out that if a pice of science hasn’t gone through the peer review process, it has no validity from a scientific point of view. Still, the ethical implications of Jiankui’s work are enormous and real. If you’ve never heard about peer review, let me explain!

    Doing basic research is an incredibly though process and scientists are often dealing with situations which are not at all humanly understandable. Years of expertise are often required to get hold of a topic and all you can get out is approximate and condensed knowledge: it may surprise you, but in real situations exact solutions are almost never found and one has to deal with many interrelated factors. Add in the mist of this instruments that aren’t at all the plug and play, “monkey proof” tools that we use in our everyday work and you may begin to get an idea of how complex basic research is.

    The main problems are two:
    1. you have to deal with situations in which intuition and instincts don’t work. Think for example a physic major working on General Relativity or Quantum Field Theory, which go far beyond our limited experience of reality. In these situation it is easy to make mistakes because you imagined things to work in a simpler way than the one they really follow.
    2. It is surprisingly easy to introduce biases in data or in the subsequent analysis, either willingly or unwillingly. As a consequence, one should follow the most rigorous, objective methods of analysis. A good example is Particle Physics, which throughout the years has developed one of the strictest operating standards.

    Only the experts have the competences required to asses if a study has been held in a correct way, with the correct hypothesis, tools and methods. A person from another field may be able to get a more or less accurate opinion, but it is only that: a personal opinion. Moreover, not only Jiankui’s hasn’t got scientific validity because it hasn’t gone through peer review, but also because from what we know the methods he used are questionable: see this article for an explanation.

    The ethics
    In an ideal situation where there’s certainty of the absence of negative outcomes, I’d be 100% positive on human genoma modification to tackle diseases or malformations. Saving child from being HIV-positive, from a genetic malformation of the eye, back, hearth could improve massively our society’s wellness. The hearth of the matter lies, in my opinion, in the two questions “what if things go wrong?” and “is biohacking socially acceptable?”.

    I am pretty sure that today forecasting what will happen 30 years after a genome modification to the patients and his/her sons/daughters is unrealistic and it will be so for the next decades. I’m not sure that this is possible with any sort of technology, there might be too many entangled variables for us to be able to see at the end of the tunnel. What if the first patient is health, but future generations get increasingly sicker? We might find ourselves with groups of people who are dependent on genome hacking for their well being.

    The greatest risk, to me, is that of social imbalances if biohacking becomes feasible and legal: richer, well connected people will get access on the technology way before the others and might give their offspring an enormous head start. Benanti’s reasoning is sound and he has good points on his side, this biohacking phenomena might bring us to a very unjust society divided in “superhuman” and “common humans”: the topic is present also in the debate around the ethical implications of processors, memories and other computer hardware inside a human. Furthermore, we have to be super careful in what we desire, as a naive genetic wish may have unintended consequences years later.

    I struggle to take biohacking seriously, today, as the characteristics that parents may want to improve in their children are more or less the same (in a healthy, normal baby, that needs a little “extra juice” to become extraordinary): better aging, more good-looking, smarter, stronger, resistant to certain diseases. I am pretty sure anything else than changing hair color requires the alteration of a plethora of genes, which is much more difficult technically, but also might be impossible to do without serious consequences.

    P.S. Even with this strict standards on publications, scientific studies are often in error, one of the main causes is the “publish or die” phenomenon. If using these methods errors are frequent, imagine how low a success rate we would get with more approximate, “intuitive” methods!

    Have a good day, cheers!
    Davide

    Francesca Tomasello
    Participant
    @francescatomasello
    #3552

    Goodmorning guys!

    Thank you @marcopastore for these two crucial topics! I was at Impactschool event last Tuesday, and we talked about genetic editing using these (and other) articles. Besides the interesting discussion on peer review, that is obviously basilar for every study in order to be valid and safe for humanity, and since you @davidetoniolo explained perfectly the point, the main focus to me is the ethical side.

    Assume that this specific study and implementation on a newborn is scientifically correct (we know that it’s not, because there’s a lot to improve and moreover lots of experts admit that is incorrect and should not be applied for the modification of the human genome) but what about ethics?

    At first sight I can assume that the process of eliminate diseases and “imperfections” to become stronger and stronger it’s a right for everyone, but thinking about it more deeply, I agree with Paolo Benanti: “In this case, however, the researcher hopes that the gene on which he has intervened, is really connected only to the possibility of getting sick of this disease and that it has no other effects on the development of the person. We do not have the guarantee that this intervention produces these effects or that it produces only these effects” and “What we must ask ourselves is whether this genetic modification cannot be a new form of slavery and predetermination, because in fact, we are the ones who write in the genetic history of an individual what will be his future. This deprives him of a fundamental characteristic, which is freedom.”

    The second quote is fundamental: do we have the right to write the history of an individual? The line that determines what is wrong and what is right is very thin. I believe that is a sort of hacking of fate. Even in the case that the study is correct, we do not know if this modification could affect on the personality and singularity of that person. See what is happening in Iceland, down syndrome is disappearing because almost 85% of women decide to take the prenatal screening test that determines whether the fetus will have a chromosome abnormality or not. The majority of women decides to have an abortion. I believe that is a very fragile theme, but connected to genetic modification: do we have the right to insert in this process of modification?

    In conclusion I have more questions than answers (and I am in the middle, I try to think about all the pros and the cons of both sides) because this issue is very difficult to determine and to state what is wrong and right. Surely the debat will be developed during these years, but I repeat that it’s not so simple to come to a conclusion.

    About biohacking, there’s the problem of speading contents and so on, online, free to the public. In this article there are several biohackers mentioned, and you can look at lots of videos of them speaking and explaining what they do. But I retain, as written in the article, that they have to be careful about how much of their risky experiments they choose to put online, because some people could be affected by them and could underestimate the risks. “Look out! Don’t do this at home”.

    Give a look at this company, VivoKey, they produce chips to be placed under skin in order to replace keys, badges and so on (their website gives zero information)… A question has come into my mind: how about security? A chip could be hacked as other devices…..

    Have a nice weekend!

    Francesca

    Serena
    Participant
    @serenavineis
    #3553

    Good afternoon everyone! I am finally back and I will try my best to cover all your interisting points and reflect with you.

    @davidetoniolo Nice to see many non-profit companies trying to help our enviroment! I would like to buy a bracelet but the shipping cost is too expensive right now 🙁 Here in Italy there is a start-up who have patented an innovative system to help prevent the arrival of waste in the open sea through floating barriers to be installed in the rivers, able to redirect solid and river debris to a collection basin where they are accumulated, collected and sent to a subsequent recycling phase. I think it is a good start and I hope they can integrate the AI help in the future.

    Another case of usage of AI to help our enviroment is coming from Sweden, the Stena Line wants to keep the human captains and AI is used as a tool to help the captain to make more efficient decisions to reduce use of fuel. Their purpose is to reduce fuel consumption about 2,5% every year.

    @francescatomasello It is very interesting see these beautiful purposes of United Nations, unfortunately I don’t think they could achieve them by 2030 until politicians and so Givernaments won’t change their minds to build a better future for our home Earth; as you said AI is an amazing help but first of all the human being needs to be aware by these problems.

    @jessinthebox96 Wow! Beautiful projects, I didn’t know anything about them. Especially in our days, like @danielafiorellino said, the weather is totally crazy, AI will be very useful to help farmers and not only them to be more flexible and think new strategies to apply.

    @marcopastore What amazing and difficult topics! Thanks for sharing with us and thanks to @davidetoniolo and @francescatomasello for your thoughts.

    To be honest, I don’t know if I am pro or cons about genome editing. I think it could be a really great opportunity to fight some diseases like HIV. Obviously the research needs a lot of time to be completed and to see if it really works and which cons could be developed in the future. Some scientists speak about the high probability to have cancer releated to genome editing and some other diseases that cannot be cured by traditional treatments. (here the article). Well it is quite scary but probably because it is something new,I think it could be cool to improve some people life one day. At the same time I think if we need more research, we need to open our mind on human experiments but if something goes wrong how can we fix it? We have created a person with issues and who can suffer a lot..we’ll be forever our fault.

    As @francescatomasello correctly reported, we’re going to restrict the freedom of the person using genome editing. Genome editing needs to be used in a properly way and only if it is necessary.

    About the biohacking, I am quite scared about the microchip under the skin, it is like losing every piece of our privacy. It could be very easy stalker people in every single way. Apparently in Sweden a lot of people decided to use microchip under their skin.

    During my research on BioHacking info, I found this article and a person decided to insert into his chest the “North Sense”, in this way he can always know where he is. This system is born to replace in humans the ability of animal to understand where they are. How crazy it is?!? I think for our health it is a little bit dangerous. We still don’t know if Wireless waves are ok or they are cancer sources..having them constantly under our skin is not reassuring at all! Plus I don’t think this innovation is essential to survive. What I want to say is that crazy innovations on humans are ok only if they can remove big problems such as diseases for example.

    Hope to hearing your thoughts soon,

    Serena

    Jessica Amianto Barbato
    Participant
    @jessinthebox96
    #3555

    Hi everyone!

    Thanks for introducing this new topic!

    First of all I’d like to back @davidetoniolo ‘s concerns about He Jiankui experiments and the doubts he raises about the methods the scientist has used. I have no solid knowledge of the matter, so I had to make some researches in order to form a valid opinion on the issues related to genetic engineering, that’s when I tripped into this:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jAhjPd4uNFY

    This video provides a brief look into genetic engineering and it also shows that in the early 90’s, to treat infertility, babies were made that carried genetic information from 3 different human beings.

    When I first read the article about He Jiankui I found myself wondering how he could’ve turned his project into reality without being supported by an institution or a research centre; the scientist appears to be the only person accountable for the experiment and the whole situation looks a bit shady. The video above explains that since CRISPR has entered the stage in the gene editing scenario, the costs of engineering have shrunk to the point that virtually anybody with a laboratory (which of course He Jiankui had) can do it. In my opinion, the Chinese scientist is the proof of what might happen if this kind of technology got so popular that almost everybody could have access to it.

    The video also claims that in 2015 a group of scientists managed to cut the HIV virus out of living cells in patients who took part in the experiment and it seems that CRISPR is being taken into account as way of preventing and treating HIV and other immunodeficiency-related diseases. The difference between this kind of intervention and that of the Chinese scientist in @marcopastore ‘s article is that the former, let me say, “dies” with the person who carries it (therefore modified genes won’t be transmitted to the next generation of people) while the latter, which works on reproductive cells or very early embryos, “creates” humans who can pass modified genome on to their children that eventually could spread it over future generations.

    I think you should take the time to watch the video because it brings up some interesting points about what we should expect from genetic engineering in ethical terms; one thing it says, which is peculiar to me, is that “as soon as the first engineered kid is born, a door is opened that can’t be closed anymore”. I guess we have already reached that point in some ways; the idea is that once you have showed the world (not the scientific, academic world but common people who mostly get to know scientific innovations through biased media) that the most terrifying diseases can be not only cured but prevented, there’s no way back! You could never deny a kid with genetic predispositions to hereditary diseases a cure that involves CRISPR if it’s been done before. Genetic engineering could be used to treat human flaws rather than medical emergencies, ending up being considered as one of those commercial trends everybody seems to be attracted to. The video mentions achieving a faster metabolism, a better muscular structure and perfect eyesight so that, in the end, a new conception of perfection is established as a standard to look up to. Now try to imagine a world in which the wealthiest people can afford to defeat aging by undergoing CRISPR treatments …
    As Paolo Benanti said “medicine will no longer be an art that cares for the sick but a sort of marketing relationship between doctor (seller) and patient (client)” and we will create a world in which we will reject non-perfect human beings. I don’t think this is too far from being true even now: as @francescatomasello wrote, many women whose children are diagnosed with genetic diseases decide to end their pregnancy; for example in Europe, about 92% of all pregnancies where trisomy is detected are terminated, and even though I don’t feel like judging this decision, we cannot deny that it is basically a way of eliminating imperfections from our species.

    I think the only way to prevent people from abusing this new technology for futile purposes is to provide proper scientific communication. In popular culture science gets mistreated literally everyday; think of fad diets or the “we only use 10% of our brain” catchphrase, and it takes a decent amount of effort to debunk all these false myths. For what concerns scientific communication, I found this video to be a very well thought example of how hard it is for scientists to make people aware of what’s going on within the scientific community:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sweN8d4_MUg

    The message should customized to each strata of society in order to prevent people from thinking they can turn themselves into superheroes or whatsoever. Pay attention to how moderate the experts’ opinions are and how they always balance the positive achievements with their negative supposed side effects. Telling people the whole story might discourage their superficial interest in thoughtless self-improvement. Still it’s a hot topic to discuss, because we always need to take into account all the economical and political interests that interact with mere science (in the first video the speaker mentions a dystopic future in which North Korean governors use CRISPR to make the population perfect … Eugenics again!), but I think it’s the only field we can actively work on before this innovation becomes too popular to be put aside!

    I am ending this post here, but there’s another one coming; sorry in advance for double posting, but I was writing waaaay too much!

    Hope to hear from you soon!
    Jessica

    Jessica Amianto Barbato
    Participant
    @jessinthebox96
    #3559

    So here I am again, last point on the genetic engineering issue and on to the biohacking matter!

    I also wanted to speak my mind about Anna Cereseto claiming that He Jiankui’s experiment cannot be defined as “prevention” since we can never know whether someone will be exposed to the virus during their life. It is absolutely true that the scientist mostly wanted to play God with those kids’ genome to prove that human beings can defeat the tricks nature plays on them, and it is also undeniable that his move might compromise the results and works of many other researchers all around the world. On the contrary, I found Cereseto’s claim a bit out of focus: even nowadays the most effective preventive health behaviours are practiced before the subject gets ill. It wouldn’t be called “prevention” if it became effective once the disease has been contracted. Avert (which provides data and aims at educating people about HIV and AIDS) reports that 25% of HIV-positive people aren’t even aware of their status and could therefore spread the virus. Also the vast majority of people living with HIV are located in the poorest countries in the world (an estimated 66% living in sub-Saharan Africa). In my opinion, even though treating the virus after it’s been contracted is an amazing solution, all of these people might involuntarily contribute in spreading the disease whilst a solution like that of He Jiankui could prevent men, women, even children, from getting the virus at all. I don’t mean to say that I agree with what he did, because he did not take into account the possible negative outcomes of genetic engineering applied to embryos, but I think that, in some ways, he foresaw the chance to disrupt HIV and keep future epidemic episodes (think of what happened in the early 80’s when the disease wasn’t known yet) from happening. I guess something like that must be in the works for genetic dysfunctions, cancer and hereditary diseases as well but we’ll have to wait and see what the scientific community will unleash in the next few years.

    About Biohacking
    The article about humans turning themselves into cyborgs reminded me of transhumanism, which is a DIY approach to self-improvement achieved by putting tiny magnets and small devices under one’s skin. This woman, Lepht Anonym, biohacked herself experimenting first with RFID sensors under her skin, so that she could do things like lock a computer specifically to her signature, and went on practicing on her body to find the perfect material for those sensors (she even used hot glue). She now owns a blog and is very social-wise active on Twitter, even though she wants to keep her identity hidden; I guess she must be a fun case to follow up to see what if such homemade technologies are truly effective!

    I even read about people merging biohacking and CRISPR technologies with terrible outcomes, mostly because the guy who injected himself a DIY treatment for herpes had no medical knowledge and he even advertised a treatment for lung cancer patients that likeably involved CRISPR. Aaron Traywick has died after practicing on himself, and I guess he must’ve been just as crazy as He Jiankui, but I struggle to imagine how terrible it could’ve been if he had managed to put to test his lung cancer treatment!

    The article mentioned above is very interesting as for the potential benefits of using biohacking to make healthcare available for everyone (they are working on “homebrew medications”, basically open-source insulin available for free to anyone who needs it), which would be amazing, most of all in those countries in which healthcare is highly prohibitive. It also hints at the possibility of the FBI working side by side with biohackers on the development of a biosecurity system, which sounds rather scary to me!

    Thanks to the Harvard University website I found out that there’s a company, The Odin, that is already selling DIY CRISPR kits online and they even organize biohacking classes. Some things are rather harmless (like the glowing bacteria kit) but some other stuff makes me really question about what might happen in the near future. What frightens me the most is that the ethical matter is always brought up as something common people might be interested in discussing when it comes to biohacking, while biohackers themselves act carelessly of the ethical repercussions of their discoveries. They’re like “do as I say, not as I do”. It follows that, again, if you show people that they can easily achieve “perfection” and you keep doing so despite of the risks you’re taking, maybe most of the people will still be scared by the new technologies, but the community of biohackers (and, let me say, unexpert biohackers) will exponentially increase …
    At that point, if the deregulated achievements exceeded the failures, people could be convinced that biohacking is 100% safe and scientifically approved. For as much as I am attracted to this kind of innovations, I think education and proper communication should definitely, in my opinion, avert the trend.

    A funny fact about biohacking: @marcopastore posted about human cyborgs, but I found out that somewhere on a dairy farm in Wellsville, Utah, live three cyborg cows. A chip implanted in their bodies uses low-energy Bluetooth to transfer to a nearby station information about the cow’s chewing frequency, temperature, and general rambling around the farm. They used a device called EmbediVet by LivestockLabs. The startup’s CEO Tim Cannon saw a Lepht Anonym video in which she talked about sensors implanted in her fingertips and decided to try and upgrade himself by inserting a finger magnet into his hand. He then worked for a company that developed an AI-fuelled device that was meant to predict illnesses, but the majority of people wasn’t in having those things implanted in their bodies, most of all if it wasn’t for strictly proven medical reasons. Since then he has switched from human biohacking to cattle biohacking, and his project seems to be fruitful. Maybe agriculture and livestock could see their future shaped by this new attitude!

    I’m done for today, thanks for bearing with me and have a nice day!
    Jessica

    Francesca Tomasello
    Participant
    @francescatomasello
    #3567

    OFF TOPIC:

    12 March 1989 – 12 March 2019 : 30th anniversary of World Wide Web invented by Tim Berners-Lee.

    With his World Wide Web foundation, he wants to make an impact on our society since he sees lots of dysfunctions and negativities on the web. The web foundation works with governments, companies and citizens to build a new contract for the web.

    As he wrote down in his beautiful letter: “And most important of all, citizens must hold companies and governments accountable for the commitments they make, and demand that both respect the web as a global community with citizens at its heart. If we don’t elect politicians who defend a free and open web, if we don’t do our part to foster constructive healthy conversations online, if we continue to click consent without demanding our data rights be respected, we walk away from our responsibility to put these issues on the priority agenda of our governments.”

    All of us, not only companies and governments, need to work together to get the web we want! #fortheweb

     

    Ps: thanks guys for all the articles and everything you shared, I will give it a look and then come back to it. The last two themes are not so easy to face and to “digest”..

    Francesca

    Davide
    Participant
    @davidetoniolo
    #3572

    Hi guys,
    it’s been a busy time for me and I’ve had been able to reply less frequently than I’d like to. I’ve decided to change my major, so the last weeks have been quite hard and stressful.

    Biohacking: so cool!
    Anyway, @jessinthebox96 the videos you shared are really valuable. Both in explaining what CSPR really is and how much of what we’re discussing is actual or far in the future. I’m happy to realize that in the last years the fact that technology evolves extremely fast and unpredictably has become obvious to everyone. This leads to a healthy “let’s see what could go wrong” approach that can foresee issues years in advance, which I believe it’s the correct approach to developing technology.

    Biohacking has a certain je ne sais quoi that attracts me, but at the same time I would never practice it. I fit into that category of people that would never have anything implanted in his/her body that’s not strictly necessary: it feels like violating something sacred, and for vanity or superficial matters. Stil, as a physics graduate, the possibility of feeling or seeing radio, infrared, ultraviolet, X-ray and gamma radiation or static electric and magnetic fields would be amazing, because it would bring a pice of reality that you know exists, but can’t feel, into your sensorial experience. Seeing things through an instrument or on a book is a matter, experiencing them is a different story.

    Or think about the hearing infra- or ultrasounds. To give you an idea of how this isn’t just fancy, but would change the way you live your life, check out this video and this one. A fundamental feature would be the ability to turn off this “new senses”: probably having to process that much information would destroy your daily awareness: screening the information we receive is a fundamental option and skill in this modern word with socials and 24/7 news, imagine if you multiply per 10 the “things” that you see and hear!

    I have gone way into what now is science fiction (in 50 years, who knows?), but that I hope that I managed to explain myself. During his undergrad career, a physics major gets to study a wide variety of phenomena that are far beyond human experience or comprehension, it turns out that it can be a little bit overwhelming.

    Biohacking: no thanks!
    It baffles me that someone may consider “biohacker” as a category in itself and not has a specialization for a medic or a biologist. It seems like for biohackers knowing about their body is a more or less option pice in a broader set of competences, I can’t really understand how naive or stupid one would be to perform himself an implant while not being sure if that thing will last or it will rot, break or leak. I really can’t. But, if they’re doing it to themselves they aren’t exerting their free will without damaging others, so they’re 100% free to do it. The problem arises when they spread the word and advertise what they’ve been doing: in this case they’re crossing an ethical line. A professional implant (which doesn’t still exist because there isn’t demand for it) ad would have to present cautionary lines or words and in case you decide for it there would be a doctor informing you of the risks. For the amateur case there’s nothing of it, potentially it is misinformed and incompetent people “formatting” other misinformed and incompetent people. There you’re breaking the point were you’re exiting from what concerns you’re personal freedom only and entering what concerns the collective.

    Still Lepht Anonym intrigues me. I’m curious to hear you all back, have a good day.
    Davide

    Daniela Fiorellino
    Participant
    @danielafiorellino
    #3587

    Hello!

    Very delicate topic, you are right @marcopastore, this topic involves ethic at the maximum level! So I think there is not a right or wrong answer when we talk about it, it is all relative and a matter of prospective. Basically I agree with all of you and I want to add these thoughts.

    Talking about the first 2 articles you posted, in a certain way I think it is the same thing  as when we talked about driverless car: everybody want an intelligent car that in dangerous situation makes the right decision, but nobody really wanna buy it because everybody care about their own safety. So in this case, I think that everyone want to be healthy and it would be a really good thing to cancel every possible diseases, but nobody likes the idea that there are experiments that have to be done to achieve long term results. I am not saying that I am in favor, I am just saying that we cannot have both (good results and no experiments on every kind of being), so there will always be someone not pleased. I have to be honest, I am not really sure what it is my opinion about it, sure I would love a world without any kind of diseases, but I also value human (and every other kind) beings so I don’t love the idea of someone being tested, risking their life. I also understand that this is not the way progress is made, and maybe we have reached a point where technology can help us building a healthier world.

    I agree with @francescatomasello we can’t decide for someone else, but what if someone volunteered? Is it acceptable in this case?

    Thank you @jessinthebox96 for you videos, the child explanation was very useful to me ahah! Also, listening to the teen explanation I was asking myself this question: what if genetic editing lost its primary purpose and became a way to choose how to be? I was think about this when the biologist was explaining what a genome is, saying that it describes how tall you should be, what color of hair do you have..some people maybe would want more (people always want more if they can have it) than just using genome editing to eliminate diseases.

    I found this interesting article on Wired https://www.wired.it/scienza/biotech/2019/01/26/editing-genetico-embrioni-umani/ . At the beginning it explain the difference between genetic editing (what He Jiankui did) and genetic therapies and the major risks we are facing.

    About biohacking I agree with @serenavineis : I am impressed by how much technology has achieved and it is incredible that you can really put a microchip under your skin, but would I do it to myself? Definitely NOT!

    As everything there are useful and useless thing about biohacking, like @serenavineis said about that guy that insert the North Sense in him. I would like to praise the good things that biohacking has done/is doing like what @marcopastore’s article said: pacemaker and artificial prosthesis.

    @davidetoniolo the video you posted about “the world in UV” is so interesting and it is so wired to me to watch the world in a different way!

    This article talk about some people who used biohacking to help themselves with diseases, like Parkinson or cancer. You know I love a good cause! https://www.linkiesta.it/it/article/2015/07/21/biohacker-quando-anche-in-medicina-bisogna-far-da-se/26764/

    This is the story of Frank Swain who, as it is written so beautifully, “turned his handicap in a super power”: https://www.focus.it/tecnologia/innovazione/luomo-che-puo-sentire-il-wi-fi

    Sorry  guys for the long absence but I was in my city last week, a little holiday after the winter session!

    Have a nice weekend,

    Daniela Fiorellino.

    Valentina
    Participant
    @valentina
    #3628

    Hi everyone,

    here I am after a few days! Sorry, I’ve had stuff to do, even if, to tell the truth, I immediately read the new topic of @marcopastore’s debate and I thought it was a heavy one.

    Starting from the first article:

    first paragraph, the methodological approach is questioned – in this regard “the discourse on the method” of Descartes came to my mind. I believe that the scientific community has a method used by all the associates in preparing hypotheses to reach theses that must be validated.

    Any scientific experiment must be replicable by nature.

    The aspect of the repeatability of an experiment is fundamental, in this case we are not talking about the uniform rectilinear motion or gravity, but the repeatability of an experiment on humans.

    Let’s talk about life and res cogitans.

    Can we communicate such important results with a video on youtube not supported by written material?!? I’d be curious to see this video by He Jiankui …

    Furthermore, reading the second paragraph criticizing the lack of scientific literature, it is stated:

    “as recommended by the National Academy of Sciences, the use of genetic editing in human embryos should be allowed if there is a clear medical need”.

    I wonder why the National Academy of Sciences can only give “recommendations”: in some cases like this in my opinion we should give a clear “no”. And then what would be the “medical need”? HIV resilience? What is the price to pay? What are these twins going to face in their lives?

    I agree with Benanti when he stresses the precautionary principle, how can an experiment involving human life be carried out and then run away?

    Regarding the “equality and freedom” part, I would like to clarify that the art. 3 of our constitutional charter insists very much on this aspect. In the case of genetically modified subjects, how are we going to say “equal”? Already at inception we would begin life disadvantaged even in the most optimistic case that they only have genetically improved aspects.

    Eugenetica was also spoken in the past, in this regard I can think of numerous films like Gattaca – The door to the universe and the experiments during the Second World War signed by Mengele.

    In short – you got to be joking!

    With my considerations I will describe the second and third articles tomorrow so as not to make the reading too heavy.

    Cheers!

    Valentina

    Valentina
    Participant
    @valentina
    #3637

    Hi everyone,

    regarding the second article:

    Genome editing sugli embrioni: scientificamente possibile ma eticamente sconsiderato

    in the second paragraph we talk about a second pregnancy with modified DNA, but, if the genetic experiment was considered illegal by the Beijing government, this second pregnancy was conceived and previously desired.

    From the third paragraph we have Anna Cereseto point of view: biologist, researcher and director of the molecular virology laboratory of the Integrated Biology Center of University of Trento. It makes me think when Dr. Cereseto says that the development of the action of the Crispr protein at the level of embryonic development is unknown. My question is a simple one: “can such important changes be tested on human beings without knowing developments?” Do we need Beijing government to tell us it’s illegal?

    Furthermore in the 6th paragraph Dr. Cereseto clearly explains that this intervention on DNA is not prevention, but it is only, as far as I am concerned, a manifestation of “power” of those who designed the experiment. Friedrich Nietzsche comes to our aid in this regard.

     

    The superman abandons the hypocrisies of the moralists and affirms himself, placing his values before the common moral. He identifies the return to the world of Dionysian thought, driven by passions. Nietzsche is convinced of the existence of a single earthly life, linked to physical corporeality; man is therefore only a body and must let himself be guided by his own drives, thus tearing the “Veil of Maya” introduced by Schopenhauer, or the Will that oppresses the individual.

    The purpose of the superman is not placed in a transcendent, but transcendental universe that points to immanent happiness through creative ability. He is seen as the highest degree of evolution, and exercises the right given to him by strength and superiority over others. However, this right also presents itself as a duty to counter the hypocrisy of the mass and goes against the same traditional ethics of duty. The superman contrasts with “You must!” Kantian the Nietzschean “I want!”

    In the concept of superman the will to power is essential, which must be seen as a motive in the history of man. It occurs in the creation of nature as well as in social structures, and must be continually exceeded. Zarathustra is the one who makes man aware that he is only a bridge to his most complete and “human” affirmation. It is a completely moral model.

    Superomism, that is the attitude of expectation of higher human types, was not however an absolute novelty introduced by Nietzsche. For example, already an author beloved by Nietzsche, Ralph Waldo Emerson, inspired by the cult of the heroes of Thomas Carlyle, spoke of a varied series of idealized human figures such as “great men”, “representative men”, “the Poet”, the “Thinker” the “demigod” but also the man of the power and of the superabundance of life, which Emerson called plus man in the wise power.

    In his work Thus Spoke Zarathustra (Also sprach Zarathustra) Nietzsche explains the three steps that the human being must follow to become superman (man of the overcoming):

    • possess a constructive will capable of questioning established ideals;

    • overcome nihilism, through tragic joy and the recovery of the will to power;

    • perpetually perpetuate and promote the process of creation and regeneration of values by embracing the new and inhuman moral dimension of “amor fati”, which outlines a joyful and healthy love for eternity in every aspect of its terrible, chaotic and problematic.

    As Dr. Cereseto maintains, this thoughtless experiment in ways, and probably also in time, leaves room for adverse reactions, I would add “strongly adverse”.

     

    Cheers.

    Valentina

    Valentina
    Participant
    @valentina
    #3643

    Hi everyone,

    I make a premise regarding the third article, I haven’t the competence to judge for or against CRISPR-Cas9.

    Some scientists say that “its malfunction exposes cells to cancer risk”.

    Not really a risk I would say recently. In this regard, I work to look for publications about it so I can share them with everyone.

    The solutions proposed are Cas X, perhaps Cas 12 etc that act both on DNA and RNA.

    I wonder if the experiments were conducted only on plants and animals for the time being.

    I’m pretty scared that this could already be proposed for humans.

    Thanks @marcopastore for pointing out the two events of iBicocca, I will certainly participate

    iKnow: Future critical thinking, facing the future with the tools of the trade scheduled for March 26th.

    Today in Bicocca for iBooks “work is invented” with Jacopo Perfetti.

    Today I read the comments on @marcopastore’s proposals of all of you, so as to get an idea and look for support material for my ideas in this regard.

    cheers.

    Valentina

    Valentina
    Participant
    @valentina
    #3676

    Hi everyone,

    I’m reading your comments, really interesting.

    @davidetoniolo when you talk about the peer review process is what I mean by scientific method, obviously applied to this situation.

    @davidetoniolo when you ask yourself the question whether biohacking is acceptable I wonder how it should be regulated.

    @davidetoniolo about social imbalances, maybe these will be seen by our children or even by our grandchildren. In the past studying communication I became aware of the symbolic names with which some categories of users are called. The consumers who are the first to launch a new product are the pioneers, but sometimes, by choice, I didn’t want to be part of this circle of people who usually also face problems from the first hour.

    Yesterday in the university I went to the meeting with Jacopo Perfetti. During the discussion he argued that among the professions that are less informed about the crisis there are artists. In this regard, a colleague has explained to him that in reality, even with AI, the machine will be able to replace the human artist. Jacopo Perfetti explained that this is not the case. For example, when a person look at an exhibition he does not see a picture itself but the period breathes his life into his story. The same @davidetoniolo we can understand it with biohacking, when we intend to export this concept to a request of a child with particular physical characteristics.

    I think that we do not accept others or we do not consider them capable because they are perfect, but because they are unique, even with their imperfections.

    @francescatomasello very interesting even when you talk about freedom that I see as linked to uniqueness. As for the situation you describe of Sweden on the “down syndrome”, that has a preventive medical character. The twins born with resistance to HIV and the eugenic or biohacking issue are different. In the case of the down syndrome also in Italy they make amniocentesis and the villocentesis of choice under 35 and mandatory above 35 to put the woman and her family in a conscious condition. We should not forget the psychological and real implications of this type of choice. I understand that the discourse about the down syndrome is also very delicate, especially when it also involves a religious question.

    I ask a question to @francescatomasello and to everyone, is it just me from the 80s to think chip under the skin is stupid? I would like to understand if it is a generational discourse. I would never get a chip! I am a person with a soul and this differentiates me from the res.

    @serenavineis when you talk about wireless waves at the moment, the official science – the World Health Organization – says that there is no evidence of dangerous effects, despite the many studies done. However, as a precaution, given that it cannot yet exclude with certainty the carcinogenicity of electromagnetic radiation, it recommends using for example the mobile phone with earphones or hands-free; so in my opinion it would be strongly advised against having a subcutaneous device that could be as carcinogenic as the CRISPR-Cas9 protein.

    @ jessinthebox96 I hope that what the video says in some places may be wrong, “as soon as the first engineered kid is born, a door is opened that can’t be closed anymore” is not acceptable.

    It cannot be thought that the Pandora’s box cannot be closed or at least half-closed.

    I agree with you when you write: “Genetic engineering could be used to treat human flaws rather than medical emergencies, ending up being considered one of those commercial trends everybody seems to be attracted to.”

    I think we need to be careful when we are talking about “common standards” because we would encounter a frustrated human being, we see it in common life and above all we notice it in adolescence. The teenager feels frustrated when he realizes that he is not reflecting social models he does not have. In general the man could become a non-man.

    Have a nice day,

    Valentina

    Valentina
    Participant
    @valentina
    #3681

    So here I am again, I still want to comment on your pieces 🙂

    @ jessinthebox96 about home-made technologies, I don’t really agree that I’d have fun. Lepht Anonym is not an example of what I look on Twitter.

    As for the do-it-yourself solutions, I don’t think that, having expensive healthcare would make me consider proposing a “do-it-yourself” medical treatment. Maybe it would lead me to change my culture with non-profit activities in a small way private health care.

    @davidetoniolo when you talk about biohackers you’re right, in fact everyone is free to do that he wants, but if he advertises it online it becomes dangerous. The recent cases of Blue Whale come to mind.

    @francescatomasello rightly recalls the purpose of word wide web “constructive healthy conversations online”.

    @danielafiorellino actually, with a bit of reflection, biohacking has already come to us with: pacemaker and artificial prosthesis. It has already helped many people in this sense and maybe, who knows, it will be able to help women who have suffered serious damages to their faces like Lucia Annibali.

    Perhaps we should be more aware in considering that progress can have a negative matrix, but, at fhe same time, it can actually help someone. However, I would like to emphasize that I absolutely do not agree with the methods of a “do it yourself” medicine and the method adopted by He Jiankui.

    Have a nice day.

    Valentina

    Jessica Amianto Barbato
    Participant
    @jessinthebox96
    #3682

    Hi everyone!

    In response to @valentina about how Lepht Anonym could be a fun case to follow on Twitter: I won’t say that all that she does is valuable or trustable, or even worth your attention at all; my statement was meant to point out that she is keeping her followers updated about her biohacked self, and since we can read elsewhere about successful biohacking inventions, I just thought she might prove me wrong and manage to convince me that her creations actually work. That being said, I don’t approve of her DIY philosophy and I consider it quite dangerous, but the geeky side of me can’t help but being interested in what she does. I’m just following her profile the same way as I follow, let’s say, Donald Trump: I don’t want to be one of those people who express an opinion on topics they don’t know anything about; sometimes the POTUS makes me angry, sometimes his silly tweets make me laugh, most of the times I think he’s dumb, but this helps me in strengthening my arguments whenever the Trump topic is being discussed. I am not in favour of DIY biohacking but I want to take Lepht Anonym’s experience into account when forming an opinion on what I am talking about.

    I want to say that I totally share that curious interest in biohacking that @davidetoniolo talked about, even though I am not that sure I would never ever have a small device implanted in my body. At the moment I am both scared and attracted to biohacking, but I don’t have sufficient proofs that those alterations would be a benefit and not a curse for me. I also fear that one day, sooner or later, getting biohacked will be considered as easy as getting tattooed: think about what tattoos meant fifty years ago, how they represented criminal communities and how they were regarded as mutilations of someone’s sacred body in the Western Culture. Now it’s a trend to get inked and the original meaning of tattoos is completely lost.

    Also @davidetoniolo has all my support in claiming that biohackers should be either doctors, researchers or biologists (and, of course, biotechnologists). Among those who have the knowledge (and authorization) to work on, let’s say, biohacks, there’s Anna Stejskalová. The biotechnologist, along with the Almquist Lab in London, is working on DNA powered smart bandages: those innovative bandages are packed with microscopic DNA envelopes to help the cells in the skin perform better through each step of the healing process. To better explain how these devices work, they say:

    If you’re assembling Ikea furniture, you don’t want all the instructions at once. You’re liable to refuse instruction completely if all the steps must be given together. It’s better just to freestyle the construction than be comprehensively confused. Cells work much the same way. They need specific instructions at each step of the process. If one comes too soon, it’s useless.

    In few words, their bandages are able to “communicate” with skin tissues and regulate the process of healing in order to provide the correct instruction at the best moment. The cool part of the project is that they are planning on transposing the technology to the process of bone healing, so I assume they would need to implant some sort of device inside the patient’s body for it to work properly. I don’t know if this fits the definition of “biohacking” but I think it would be an amazing way of introducing this new field of study to the general public: everyone buys bandages, why not buying smart ones?

    Have a nice day!
    Jessica

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