Friday, January 26, 2018

Taming modern Frankensteins

The Jan. 12 issue of Science Magazine has an interesting section of articles on the long shadow cast by Mary Shelley’s 200 year old Frankenstein tale. Shultz offers a toolbox for creating a modern monster, Kupferschmidt describes the writing of Bostrom and others concerned that artificial intelligence may lead to the extinction of Homo Sapiens,and Jon Cohen offers a glossary of Frankenwords that I paste in here:

Supercoated broomheads used in curling, a winter sport played on ice.
J. Craig Venter's attempt to create an artificial cell containing the smallest possible number of essential genes.
Exaggerated concerns about transgenic food (Frankenfood) and other products of genetic engineering.
Engineered trees that grow more quickly, absorbing more carbon dioxide and providing more wood and pulp without the need for toxic chemicals.
The catechol-O-methyltransferase gene. In 2008, researchers linked variants in the gene to the strong, frightful reaction some people have to horror movies.
A male diamondback moth engineered to spread a lethal gene to females, creating nonviable offspring that reduce the moth's toll on crops. Cousins include Frankenflies and Frankenmosquitoes.
A genetically or surgically altered mouse. Variations have included the “oncomouse” that's prone to cancer and the “earmouse” that had a human-shaped ear.
Mothers who freeze eggs for their infertile daughters to use.
Transgenic dogs that would repel fleas; cats that would not cause allergies.
Cellphone towers that resemble pine trees.
A robot, created at the University of Reading in the United Kingdom, that had a “brain” made of rat neurons placed on a multielectrode array.
Platform shoes with wedge heels or sneakers with heels.
University websites that have conflicting material posted by professors and their departments.
Genetically modified potatoes that are resistant to blight. Also known as Frankenfries.
A combination of storms that creates a monster event. Superstorm Sandy famously merged with another storm in 2012 to wallop the U.S. East Coast.

1 comment:

  1. Should have saved this blog entry for Halloween.