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Comment Re:Why are only good animals endangered? (Score 1) 130

A great question indeed. As a biologist, this would be my guess. Non-parasitic organisms are usually quite specific in their needs, i.e. in terms of what they eat, and habitat needs. Like an honest employee or a businessman would need a civilized society and infrastructure to survive and thrive. On the other hand, animal parasites (e.g. mosquitoes and ticks) are like thieves. They are non-specific and get away easily.

Comment Why not seed Venus with extremophiles? (Score 1) 125

I often wonder if we can seed Venus with a large collection of extremophiles from various earth environments? Like various hyperbaric sulfobacteria etc at hydrothermal vents at the bottom of the oceans and volcanoes. Some of them might survive and start the 'terraforming', even if the process takes several millions of years. Not that they can make it human-inhabitable anytime soon, but we can observe what microbes do survive, and figure out a way remove the sulfuric acid etc. And if any of them start thriving, they can be surprisingly fast in colonizing the planet.

Submission + - Alien life could feed on cosmic rays (

sciencehabit writes: A bizarre microbe found deep in a gold mine in South Africa could provide a model for how life might survive in seemingly uninhabitable environments through the cosmos. Known as Desulforudis audaxviator, the rod-shaped bacterium thrives 2.8 kilometers underground in a habitat devoid of the things that power the vast majority of life on Earth—light, oxygen, and carbon. Instead, this “gold mine bug” gets energy from radioactive uranium in the depths of the mine. Now, scientists predict that life elsewhere in the universe might also feed off of radiation, especially radiation raining down from space.

Submission + - LinkedIn Accesses Gmail Contact Information Via 'Auto-Authorization' (

An anonymous reader writes: Curious as to why LinkedIn began suggesting potential new contacts whom he had only ever contacted by Gmail, research scientist Forrest Abouelnasr asked the company to explain. After discounting the possibility of address book imports which never took place, Linked in finally admitted the truth — that if you have Gmail and LinkedIn open in the same browser, a process called 'auto-authorization' will directly access your contacts in order to populate LinkedIn's 'suggested' contacts. A LinkedIn representative told Abouelnasr that the only way to prevent this happening is to access LinkedIn and Gmail in separate browsers, and that there is no setting that can be changed to stop this happening. She added:

‘We are not doing this to invade your privacy, we are doing this to assist you in growing your network. We don’t share this information with anyone else and is particular to your account only.’

Comment Re:The guy is full of himself (Score 1) 147

This. Oh my god this. I'm a Windows/Linux gut for the last fifteen years. And after all the hype I finally bought a Mac to try it out as well as learn swift development. I struggle with everything. I am struggling to follow the Stanford YouTube lessons on iOS development. The coding is the easy part. The UI operations are such a learning curve for me. Every context is non intuitive. I mean I had no trouble switching between so many UIs in my life on Linux. The only great part about the osx is the menu thing on top. So I finally decided you simply use xcode in playground mode.

Comment Stupid premises (Score 1) 236

The article is stupid. Where to begin?

Averaging is not a good way to estimate things here. No one is concerned about a 100 people dying on average every year. Sorry, but it doesn't work like that. This is not akin to killing by (relatively) mundane causes like terrorism or a specific disease or automobile accidents.

It took 4 billion years to develop an intelligent civilization on a planet which is highly suitable to life. Which shows what the probability of intelligent civilizations is.

This is not a minor injury for a civilization. This is death. A few humans may survive, and even then it may take thousands of years to come back to the current state depending on how much of our knowledge survives in the ensuing chaos and starvation. The 1/70,000,000 chance of getting totally wiped out is a big enough for me to care a great deal about it.

Comment Re:I'm sure no one will misconstrue this at all... (Score 1) 101

So you mean to say just by getting their sequence data you will be able to save people? We are so far away from that even now, that I won't even bother arguing with you on that point. For an average person the benefits of getting sequenced and storing their data on the cloud today (and for many more years) are simply not worth the risks mentioned by the GP. Unless you are a cancer patient with your life on the line.

Coming to your first argument. Just because you can take the trouble and find the information on a person doesn't mean that anybody will be able to do so. Perhaps someone who can physically follow the person can do that. But at least the person has to be individually targeted. It's not much different from being followed and watched. It can be done, but generally there is a big enough effort barrier that you won't bother with. And even if the sequencing becomes an awfully simple process one day (which it is not today), you can still target one person at a time and you have to be physically close to the target. Not so with this cloud storage and sharing. Yours is the same flawed argument that I've heard over and over about putting personal data online. Only, in this case losing control of this data is far more dangerous than losing a few 'dick picks' (to quote John Oliver on that last phrase).

Comment Re:I'm sure no one will misconstrue this at all... (Score 1) 101

I don't have mod points. So reposting the parent to give two points and make it more visible.

This. As a genomics researcher, I feel scared at the number of ways this data can be abused and misused.

1) The potential for abuse and discrimination in employment and insurance is immense. Good luck proving that you were discriminated against. It is really hard to prove biases and judgments based on stereotypes. The GINA Act that the Americans seem to think will protect them, is full of loop holes. For example, GINA does not cover life insurance, auto insurance and a few other types. It only covers health insurance. Good luck proving discrimination even in case of the health insurance.

2) I see that most common people (even the otherwise smart ones not trained in genetics) seem to have a lot of trouble understanding the nature of genetic data, the interactions of variations, and its multiple functional interpretations. If a child in school is found out to have a SNP that according to even an unvalidated/dubious study, renders a 'proclivity to aggression', or 'a tendency to depression', or 'lowers learning abilities by x%', he/she will be discriminated against. Doesn't matter if he has ten other redeeming SNPs that nullify the effect, or even makes it better. Doesn't matter that there are complex epigenetic, metabolic and even microbiomic (from our gut microbes) interactions. There are unambiguous genotypes, but those are far and few compared to the vast ocean of genetic variation. And if a child has any supposed 'suicidal' variation, that's even more trouble for him.

As a society we are far away from being mature about genetic variation. Hell, we haven't even accepted our racial differences. Some day we will all grow up collectively to handle our diversity. Just like we have learned to ignore photos on facebook profiles. But with genetic data which is immutable throughout our lives, I don't see that day being anywhere near.

I have seen a couple of pompous types at genomics conferences who were bragging that they put up their data and their kids' data online. It's just stupid. Even apple, with all their supposed stress on security and privacy, I cannot trust. I say this as an iPhone and iPad user.

Comment Re:What it takes AI to become deadly for us (Score 1) 227

The new /. caused some formatting problems in previous post. So reposting with better format.

1) I have seen arguments floating around that AI may be intelligent but it won't have the motivation. It doesn't have the will to survive or to kill you. This argument is short-sighted. All it takes is to create an objective in the code: to survive at all costs. After all we are machines with survival objective.

2) If it has the ability to assemble others like itself. That creates a survival advantage also, though then it becomes a danger only if condition 1 is met. But 1 and 2 can make it comparable to another species. The first life was molecules, and those molecules that reproduced and survived became us.

3) Even with 1 and 2, the traditional computers may not really be able to best us for a while. But the arrival of quantum computing is certain to change that. Our brain is after all, a quantum computer.

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