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Can AI Rescue Modern Medicine From Itself?

Can AI Rescue Modern Medicine From Itself?

Labor unions have been around since the mid-19th century, and they’ve helped many a teacher, government employee, electrical worker, and others gain fairer pay or better working conditions. Unions give workers a chance to dictate their own terms and present a united front, ideally leaving everyone better off (though parents whose kids can’t go to school for days at a time due to teacher’s strikes might disagree).

But one profession that unionization has eluded is medicine. Dr. Eric Topol is the co-host of popular podcast Medicine and the Machine, editor in chief of medical news and education website Medscape, and founder of the Scripps Research Translational Institute. In his opinion, the lack of a functioning union for doctors has detracted both from the satisfaction physicians get from their jobs, and the quality of care their patients receive.

“There frankly hasn’t been a voice for physicians, because the largest organization, the American Medical Association, barely has over 200,000 of the million-doctor workforce in the US,” Topol said. Associations for sub-specialties, he added, are “balkanized,” and are focused on the business aspects of medicine rather than on patient care.

AI modern medicine Verghese Topol
Eric Topol and Abraham Verghese at Exponential Medicine

But there’s hope. In a conversation with author, physician, and Stanford medicine professor Abraham Verghese at Singularity University’s Exponential Medicine conference last week, Topol discussed how technology could change modern medicine for the better, including the potential of artificial intelligence to help doctors get back to what they should really be doing: caring for patients.

The Doctor Will See You Now, Real Quick

Think back to your last doctor’s visit. You most likely sat in a waiting room for a while, then when your name was finally called, a nurse or administrative employee took you into the exam room and ran through several questions with you, maybe taking your blood pressure or weight. Then he or she left, and you sat in the exam room by yourself for a while, staring at the faded anatomy posters tacked on the walls and thinking, ‘no way, is that really what the inside of my [insert body part] looks like?’

Just when you’re starting to think that maybe they forgot about you and you should go find someone, the doctor breezes in. He or she greets you, asks you a few compulsory questions, then does a hurried exam, all in all spending less than ten minutes in the room with you. You have more questions, but can sense that the doctor doesn’t have time to sit down and answer them thoroughly and thoughtfully, so you figure you’ll just google them when you get home.

Meanwhile, the doctor retreats back to a corner office to update your file in the electronic medical records system—which takes as much time as he or she spent with you or more—then hurry off to speed through the next patient’s exam before the schedule starts getting backed up.

A Growing Disconnect

“Doctors are spending an hour on the computer for every hour we spend with patients,” Verghese said. “Electronic medical records have been the source of more distress than any other invention that’s happened in modern medicine. It’s like physicians have been demoted to data clerks.”

Both patients and physicians dislike not being present with each other. “If the connection isn’t ideal then everything can fall apart, from compliance to even hearing what’s being said,” Verghese added. “The effects are huge.”

If doctors aren’t happy, why aren’t they doing something about it? This goes back to the lack of a union, and to the fact that medicine has become a profit-driven business.

“Part of the problem is a loss of autonomy,” Verghese said. “We haven’t been able to dictate our work style, rather it’s been dictated for us.”

Machines to the Rescue?

So how can technology help? It’s easy to fall into the ‘robots will take away our jobs’ trap here, especially with new papers coming out almost every week about AI systems that can diagnose illnesses and speed through image interpretation at a faster rate than any human doctor ever could.

But this is exactly where tech’s value lies. “We don’t believe that medicine and AI are at all competitive,” Topol said. “That’s why it’s medicine and the machine. We need all the aspects of humanism in medicine, but we’d also like to get help.”

That help is fast approaching. Software will ideally be able to not only take over repetitive tasks, but carry them out with far greater speed and accuracy. Deep learning is already being used to interpret radiology and pathology slides, electrocardiograms, and ultrasounds, as well as identify skin lesions and analyze colonoscopies; one recent paper details a deep learning system that uses machine vision to detect whether or not someone’s colon has cancerous regions in real time, with 93 to 99 percent accuracy.

“We are facing the greatest opportunity in healthcare and medicine in many generations, which is the gift of time, afforded by being able to rely much more on machines to process data,” Topol said. But if physicians don’t band together to support the changes they want, the extra time they get from implementing tech solutions will end up being used by healthcare administrators to increase throughput and make doctors’ day-to-day jobs even more stressful and less human-centered.

Topol’s words—and the article he published in the New Yorker in August—are already leading to action. Osler’s Alliance is a new non-profit coalition for doctors that aims to protect the doctor-patient relationship, focusing on the impact doctors can make in the present and uniting them to steer their profession in the right direction for the future. The organization hopes to garner a far higher membership rate among physicians than any existing association.

“The greatest gift that AI can give us is to go back to the future, to get us to the humanity in medicine, which is presence,” Topol said. “Which is a physical exam. Listening. Building trust. Communication with deep empathy. If we don’t seize this opportunity, if we just focus on what AI can do with respect to technical aspects, we’re missing out.”

Image Credit: Image by rawpixel from Pixabay

Source: Singularity Hub:  https://singularityhub.com/2019/11/11/can-ai-rescue-modern-medicine-from-itself/

The mysterious ‘Tully Monster’ fossil just got more mysterious

The mysterious ‘Tully Monster’ fossil just got more mysterious

Artist's impression of _Tullimonstrum_. PaleoEquii/Wikipedia, CC BY-SA

Every now and again, scientists discover fossils that are so bizarre they defy classification, their body plans unlike any other living animals or plants. Tullimonstrum (also known as the Tully Monster), a 300m-year-old fossil discovered in the Mazon Creek fossil beds in Illinois, US, is one such creature.

At first glance, Tully looks superficially slug-like. But where you would expect its mouth to be, the creature has a long thin appendage ending in what looks like a pair of grasping claws. Then there are its eyes, which protrude outward from its body on stalks.

Tully is so strange that scientists have even been unable to agree on whether it is a vertebrate (with a backbone, like mammals, birds, reptiles and fish) or an invertebrate (without a backbone, like insects, crustaceans, octopuses and all other animals). In 2016, a group of scientists claimed to have solved the mystery of Tully, providing the strongest evidence yet that it was a vertebrate. But my colleagues and I have conducted a new study that calls this conclusion into question, meaning this monster is as mysterious as ever.

The Tully Monster was originally discovered in the 1950s by a fossil collector named Francis Tully. Ever since its discovery scientists have puzzled over which group of modern animals Tully belongs to. The enigma of Tully’s true evolutionary relationships has added to its popularity, ultimately leading it to become the state fossil of Illinois.

The Tullimonstrum fossil. Ghedoghedo/Wikimedia, CC BY-SA

There have been many attempts to classify the Tully Monster. The majority of these studies have focused on the appearance of some of its more prominent features. These include a linear feature in the fossil interpreted as evidence of a gut, the light and dark banding of the fossil and the peculiar grasping claws of its mouth. The body plan of the Tully Monster is so unusual in it’s entirety that it will greatly expand the diversity of of whatever group it ultimately belongs to, changing the way we think about that group of animals.

The 2016 research argued the animal should be grouped with vertebrates because its eyes contain pigment granules called melanosomes, which are arranged by shape and size in the same way as those in vertebrate eyes. But our research shows that the eyes of some invertebrates such as octopus and squid also contain melanosomes partitioned by shape and size in a similar way to Tully’s eyes, and that these an also be preserved in fossils.

Particle accelerator research

To do this, we used a type of particle accelerator called a synchrotron radiation lightsource located at Stanford University in California. This allowed us to explore the chemical makeup of samples from fossils and from animals living today. The synchrotron bombards specimens with intense bursts of radiation to “excite” the elements within them. When excited, each element releases X-rays with a specific signature. By detecting the emitted X-ray signatures, we can tell what elements were excited and ultimately what the specimen we’re interested in is made of.

First we found that melanosomes from the eyes of modern vertebrates have a higher ratio of zinc to copper than the modern invertebrates we studied. To our surprise, we then found the same pattern could be seen in fossilised vertebrates and invertebrates found at Mazon Creek.

We then analysed the chemistry of Tully’s eyes and the ratio of zinc to copper was more similar to that of invertebrates than vertebrates. This suggests the animal may not have been a vertebrate, contradicting previous efforts to classify it.

Another possible look for the Tully Monster. Nobu Tamura/Wikimedia, CC BY-SA

We also found that Tully’s eyes contain different type of copper to that found in vertebrate eyes. But the copper also wasn’t identical to that in the invertebrates we studied. So while our work adds weight to the idea that Tully is not a vertebrate, it doesn’t clearly identify it as an invertebrate either.

Where do we go from here? A broader analysis of the chemistry of melanosomes and other pigments in the eyes of a wider range of invertebrates would be a good next step. This may help to further narrow down the group of animals to which Tully belongs.

Ultimately the riddle of what kind of creature the Tully Monster is continues. But our research demonstrates how studying fossils at the chemical and molecular levels can play an important part in figuring out the identity of this and other enigmatic creature.

The Conversation

Chris Rogers does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.

Source: The Conversation: Technology http://theconversation.com/the-mysterious-tully-monster-fossil-just-got-more-mysterious-126531

Drug experts on the new guidance for medicinal cannabis

Drug experts on the new guidance for medicinal cannabis

shutterstock/Canna Obscura

It’s now one year since the government announced they would allow access to cannabis-based products for medicinal use, and guidelines advising doctors how to prescribe have now been published.

Opening up access to medicinal cannabis was welcomed by many as a bold policy move, but this hasn’t been matched by the reality for those trying to obtain these products. Only a few patients have been able to access medicinal cannabis on the NHS. Others have secured access though expensive private prescriptions – albeit still in small numbers.

Rescheduling cannabis-based products for medicinal use was a legal move which meant that doctors could prescribe, but not necessarily that they would prescribe. Indeed, doctors and their professional bodies have been cautious – waiting for The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) to publish its clinical guidance on the topic. As with other guidance, it serves as advice rather than instruction, but doctors working in the NHS very rarely contradict NICE recommendations.

What the guidelines say

In short, NICE has concluded that more research is needed before it can recommend the use of cannabis-based products for medicinal use.

To reach this conclusion, NICE examined thousands of studies and found the majority of evidence on cannabis-based products for medicinal use was poor – and much weaker than is often popularly discussed. So despite high profile stories of individual patients benefiting from cannabis, NICE hasn’t recommended that such treatments should be provided on the NHS.

Not for the first time concerns about the misuse of these products were also raised. Some doctors are worried about mental health effects – with fears that patients could become dependent on the cannabis products prescribed, or that prescribed cannabis products will be sold on the black market. But given the ease with which cannabis can be obtained illicitly, it would be illogical for anyone to opt for the onerous route of obtaining a legal prescription for cannabis.

Research from the US suggests there is only a weak relationship between the introduction of medicinal cannabis products at state level and changes in adolescent use more generally. Illicit sales and distribution of prescribed cannabis in adults is usually a result of weak clinical and regulatory oversight and poor patient monitoring – something which would be of much less concern in the UK’s strongly regulated medicines system.

In the guidelines, NICE also highlights the importance of professional education, as current understanding of cannabis-based medicines in prescribers is low. The commercial sector is very active in promoting cannabis and is now beginning to provide professional education as well. But it’s important that education and training is developed and delivered by independent providers who are not influenced by commercial pressures – and that training is accredited and overseen by a certifying body so the potential benefits of cannabis are not overstated.

What this mean for patients and doctors

The hope was that patients and doctors would now have a list of recommended cannabis products and dosing regimes, matched with the conditions they can treat – as seen in some other countries. But this has not materialised. In some ways though, it may have been an unrealistic outcome. Naturally, excitement and interest in cannabis led to raised patient expectations and demand. But when cannabis was promoted as a medicine it also became subject to the same system of checks and balances as other medicines, and the same questions of evidence and affordability.

So while the new guidelines describe how the process of accessing and prescribing such products should be managed, it’s unlikely many NHS patients or their doctors will be navigating this system – at least for the time being. This will no doubt disappoint many patients and some doctors.

NICE will review these guidelines as new evidence emerges. But it’s worth keeping in mind that the original decision to change the law on cannabis was led more by political than clinical considerations. So it would be naive to think any change in the new guidance would be instigated purely by newly emerging evidence. Commercial and political interests will also play a part.

Some patients may receive cannabis medicines as part of these new clinical trials. But a lack of prescriptions may leave many other people with a difficult decision – should they break the law in the pursuit of something they think will improve their health? Only time will tell whether the police and courts will begin to take into account people’s claims they are buying and growing cannabis to self-treat a medical condition.

The Conversation

Harry Sumnall receives and has received funding from public grant awarding bodies for alcohol and other drugs research. He was an unpaid member of the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD) when the recommendation to reschedule cannabis was made and is currently an unpaid co-optee of the ACMD Working Group that is developing further recommendations on cannabis-based medicinal products and evaluating the impact of rescheduling. Please note that the contents and framing of this article are deliberately not based on any privileged information emerging from that work. Harry received travel expenses to contribute to a public health discussion panel at the 2018 Cannabis Europa conference in London. He has sat on previous NICE guideline development groups unrelated to medical cannabis. This article represents his personal views only.

Ian Hamilton does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.


Why Designing Our Own Biology Will Be the Next Big Thing in Medicine

Why Designing Our Own Biology Will Be the Next Big Thing in Medicine

It’s hard to watch a loved one get sick. Their eyes go glassy. Their breathing is punctuated by body-wracking coughs. Feverish and aching, they struggle to get out of bed.

Hard as these symptoms are to witness, they’re so familiar you don’t need a medical degree to know it’s probably a bad cold and maybe the flu. Get some rest, hydrate, pop some ibuprofen, see a doctor if the symptoms significantly worsen—and wash your hands, for heaven’s sake.

For most of history, however, even the finest physicians only slowly advanced beyond the basics of biology and medicine we take for granted. There have long been forms of diagnosis, treatment, and prevention, but these were rudimentary at best and superstitious at worst.

“The history of innovation is not that exciting—until you get to the 20th century,” Jane Metcalfe, cofounder of Wired and founder of Neo.Life, told the audience at Singularity University’s Exponential Medicine in San Diego this week.

exponential medicine san diego jane metcalfe speaking
Jane Metcalfe at Exponential Medicine.

Since then, biology and medicine have been on a tear, Metcalfe said. Early last century, doctors mastered blood transfusions and complex surgeries. They began controlling and eradicating infectious disease with sterilization, antibiotics, and vaccines and found drugs to manage pain.

Then, around the middle of the century, scientists began amassing a deep body of biological knowledge—knowledge we’re now using to manipulate the fundamental processes of living things.

It’s a familiar story, but one that suggests something radical. Just as physics and chemistry have given humans power over the world of the inanimate, biology is giving us the ability to engineer living systems, from viruses and bacteria to animals and people.

Which is why Metcalfe thinks design could be the next big thing in medicine.

We’ll combat disease and improve human health by designing biological systems from the ground up. “We can design embryos. We can edit genes in humans. We have synthetic biology. And so we really are looking at designing future humans,” Metcalfe said. 

Tools to Design Our Own Biology

The best known bio-design tool to date is undoubtedly CRISPR genome editing. With CRISPR, scientists are closer than ever to manipulating genes down to the letter.

There are now a number of increasingly refined CRISPR-based systems, the latest of which, CRISPR prime editing, has been described as a word processor for gene editing. Meanwhile, the first approved gene therapies are making their way (at times painfully) into cancer treatment.

Just last year, Metcalfe said, the world was shocked to learn a scientist in China, Dr. He Jiankui, had used CRISPR to edit human embryos and confer immunity to HIV (and potentially other unintended traits in the process). He went even further by implanting the embryos, and the first genetically modified babies were born in China in 2018. He’s work was universally condemned by the scientific community as sloppy and unethical. Yet, another scientist, this time in Russia, has since made public his intentions to use CRISPR to edit human embryos too.

The ethics quite clearly haven’t caught up to the science, and the tools themselves are still being sharpened, but it’s likely only a matter of time before scientists, researchers, and doctors begin more responsibly snipping out disease-causing genes and, perhaps, even splicing in beneficial ones.

George Church is anticipating that day.

“George is probably the most prolific bioengineer of our time,” Metcalfe said. “[There] are fifty different alleles that he’s tracking that are beneficial to humans.” These variants include genes that help protect against cardiovascular disease and Alzheimer’s disease. Others may improve memory and learning and extend your telomeres.

But our design abilities won’t be limited to existing genes, Metcalfe said. Scientists are assembling entirely new synthetic biological systems from scratch too.

Beyond Evolutionary Design

“We’re writing DNA code—and we’ve been doing this for a while—but we’re starting to get good at it,” said Andrew Hessel, Humane Genomics CEO and nanotechnology/biotechnology faculty at Singularity University, in a talk following Metcalfe’s.

Hessel pointed to Twist Bioscience a synthetic biology company that went public in late 2018. Twist manufactures short custom sequences of DNA (oligos) at scale. Customers can design and order sequences and have them delivered by Fedex. With tools like this, synthetic biologists have begun creating synthetic enzymes and proteins, some of which have even proven themselves functional—like their natural siblings—in bacteria.

Scientists are thinking bigger too.

exponential medicine san diego andrew hessel speaking
Andrew Hessel at Exponential Medicine.

Craig Venter, already famed for his work sequencing the first human genome, announced the first reproducing synthetic bacteria back in 2010. He followed up with a streamlined “minimal” synthetic cell in 2016. Boasting the smallest known genome, it has no natural counterpart. Then this year, another group announced they’d made synthetic E. coli bacteria with a four million base-pair genome—four times longer than Venter’s 2010 achievement—and using just 61 codons instead of 64. Currently, scientists are working with yeast to make the first synthetic eukaryotic cells.

The ultimate goal is writing whole human genomes from scratch, and Hessel cofounded Genome Project-write (GP-write) to convene the world’s top synthetic biologists to do just that.

There are obviously big hurdles that still need clearing—including software that can make design more accurate and efficient and DNA synthesis tools that assemble longer base-pair sequences—and Hessel’s group recently published a paper outlining the challenges. Nonetheless, Hessel said the group doesn’t think any of these will take more than a decade to solve.

“Literally in 10 years we’ve gone from making proteins synthetically to making a eukaryote,” he said. “As soon as we can start making whole chromosomes, well, we’ve only got 23 of them. It’s not going to take very long until you end up bumping up against the human genome.”

Now’s the Time to Start the Conversation

The pace of change in biology and medicine has been swift, Metcalfe said.

Researchers discovered DNA’s structure in 1953, the first IVF baby was born in 1978, and we met Dolly the sheep, the first cloned animal, in 1996.

In just the last two decades, scientists went from sequencing the human genome at great cost and effort to sequencing it for under $1,000 in a day. Now there are an estimated million-plus complete human genomes on the books.

We’ve graduated from complex and costly gene editing tools to tools that can be sold in a kit for a few hundred bucks. Scientists are building genomes from scratch and booting them up.

The question is no longer whether we’ll be able to design our own biology—the tools are already here—the question is can we handle the responsibility?

“This technology is going to touch every business, every sector, every government, every person,” Hessel said. “This isn’t a presentation for now, it’s the start of a conversation with all of you for the future.”

Image Credit: gustavo centurionUnsplash

Source: Singularity Hub:  https://singularityhub.com/2019/11/10/why-designing-our-own-biology-will-be-the-next-big-thing-in-medicine/

Act Now: Our House is Flooding

Extinction Rebellion activists staged an action on the river Thames in London. A classic suburban house was seen floating down the river sinking into the water in yet another attempt to send an SOS to the government on climate inaction and draw attention to the threat humans face from climate change and rising sea levels.

The post Act Now: Our House is Flooding appeared first on Extinction Rebellion.

Source: https://rebellion.earth/2019/11/10/act-now-our-house-is-flooding-2/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=act-now-our-house-is-flooding-2

Act Now – Our house is flooding

Credit: Guy Reece

Credit: Guy Reece

Email: press@risingup.org.uk

Phone: +44(0)7969 083 371 / +44 7979 971209

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#EverybodyNow  #WhereIsYourPlan

Act Now – Our house is flooding

In the early hours of Sunday 10thNovember, Extinction Rebellion activists staged an action on the river Thames in London. A classic suburban house was seen floating down the river, sinking into the water in yet another attempt to send an SOS to the government on climate inaction and draw attention to the threat humans face from climate change and rising sea levels. 

Representing the disastrous realities of projected sea level rises, perhaps the stunt was unnecessary. As the ongoing flood disaster in Derbyshire and Yorkshire has so starkly illustrated, our homes, businesses and families are at very real risk. We are watching, in real-time, as people’s lives are destroyed around the world and in the UK. Unless action is taken to halt biodiversity loss and reduce greenhouse gas emissions to net zero these tragedies are set to worsen. 

Stephan Harrison, Head of the Climate Expert Committee (which advises the UK government on climate risks) commented: “We may be close to passing a tipping point for at least some of the large outlet glaciers draining the West Antarctic Ice Sheet, and this would commit us to significant sea level rise whatever we decide in terms of reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions.”

Scientific predictions of rising sea levels by 2100 range from less than 1 metre to as high as 5. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) suggest a rise of less than 2 metres, but past assessments have almost always underestimated the pace of climate change. The rate of melting Greenland ice sheets recorded this summer was not predicted until 2070. At its peak, this ice was melting at a rate of 140,000 tonnes per second – a total figure equivalent to 200 river Thames.

When asked for his own opinion, Professor Harrison added: “My prediction is that IPCC has probably underestimated the ice sheet response and the likely rate of future sea level rise”.

Katey Burak and Rob Higgs, who built ‘The Sinking House’ commented: “Sadly, climate-change is something that affects every one of us. We want to respectfully raise awareness of the severity of the impending human-made disaster. We need urgent action to address the Climate Emergency and devastation of our beautiful and precious natural world, which is being decimated at an unprecedented and tragic rate. We implore the government to act responsibly and we will continue to make our voices heard until they act.”

“When I hear the facts about climate change my brain can scarcely comprehend them, they are vast and scary. We wanted to make something that people can visually connect to, whilst leaning on the government and the experts to make the changes that need to be made. Until they make the big legal and financial changes, it’s very hard for people like me or you to make significant changes to protect ourselves and the world around us.”

Flooding is a political issue, disproportionately impacting our poorest and most vulnerable communities and Extinction Rebellion is calling on the government and those standing in the General Election to commit to acting now on the ecological and climate emergency. 

Under new sea level rise projections, Stratford, Barking and Dagenham and large swathes of South and West London, East Anglia, Essex and Kent will be underwater by 2050.1 Despite our government’s denial, this is a national disaster eeking ever closer to the capital.

The Prime Minister does not consider widespread flooding across the UK to be a national emergency.3 Extinction Rebellion disagrees. Many people in the UK have had life-changing experiences this week, and there will be many more in low-lying and coastal areas affected by flooding over the coming winter. We stand in solidarity with all of those who have lost their homes and livelihoods and will continue to demand action until the severity of this national and global emergency is realised. 

With thanks to Hermitage Wharf Community Moorings for their help with this action.

Notes to Editors:

Global warming contributes to sea level rise in two ways. Initially, sea levels rose because of thermal expansion. We are now experiencing sea level increases caused by melting ice. Floating sea ice does not cause significant sea level rises in the same way that melting ice in a drink does not increase the level of liquid in the glass. Melting ice on land, however, does lead to increases in sea levels. If all of the ice on Greenland, currently melting at an alarming rate, were to melt into the sea it would increase average sea levels by 7 metres. Melting Antarctic ice from collapsing ice cliffs is fuelling sea level rises and there is sufficient water stored in such ice to eventually increase sea levels by between 20 and 60 metres. Sea levels are currently rising by around 3.3mm per year.

* IPCC says in a leaked draft report that if the planet warms beyond 1.5 degrees Celsius it would create ocean conditions “poised to unleash misery” (AFP)

* At 1.5 degrees Celsius, sea levels will rise high enough to displace around 280 million people – four times the current number of worldwide refugees (AFP)

* By 2100, “annual flood damages are expected to increase between 100 and 1,000-fold (AFP)

* Fish stocks could decline substantially from already depleted numbers as a third of all fisheries are being exploited at an unsustainable rate. Fish and marine life declined by 50 percent between 1972 and 2012 (IPCC)

* A study by scientists at Exeter and other universities suggests that communities in Cornwall are particularly vulnerable to the effects of climate change and sea level rises and poorly equipped to mitigate the impacts. A combination of decentralised decision-making and budget cuts impede local adaptations to climate change.





Larissa A. Naylor et al, A multiscale analysis of social-ecological system robustness and vulnerability in Cornwall, UK Regional Environmental Change (https://doi.org/10.1007/s10113-019-01530-7)

Peter U. Clark et al, Consequences of Twenty-First-Century Policy for Multi-Millennial Climate and Sea-Level Change, Nature Climate Change, February 2016

Professor Stephan Harrison – Personal communication

About Extinction Rebellion:

Time has almost entirely run out to address the ecological crisis which is upon us, including the 6th mass species extinction, global pollution, and abrupt, runaway climate change. Societal collapse and mass death are seen as inevitable by scientists and other credible voices, with human extinction also a possibility, if rapid action is not taken.

Extinction Rebellion believes it is a citizen’s duty to rebel, using peaceful civil disobedience, when faced with criminal inactivity by their Government.

Extinction Rebellion’s key demands are:

  1. Government must tell the truth by declaring a climate and ecological emergency, working with other institutions to communicate the urgency for change.
  2. Government must act now to halt biodiversity loss and reduce greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2025.
  3. Government must create and be led by the decisions of a Citizens’ Assembly on climate and ecological justice.

What Emergency?| Extinction Rebellion in Numbers|This Is Not A Drill: An Extinction Rebellion Handbook| What is a citizens’ assembly?

Get involved:

●     In the UK, come to one of our events, join the Rebellion Networkand let us know how you can help out.

●     Start a group where you are: in the UKor around the world.

●     Find your local group.

●     Check out the International XR website, with links to the French, German, Italian and UK websites.

●     And while your time and energy are of most importance, if you are financially able to donate money, see our crowdfunder.

About Rising Up!

Extinction Rebellion emerged from the Rising Up! network, which promotes a fundamental change of our political and economic system to one which maximises well-being and minimises harm. Change needs to be nurtured in a culture of reverence, gratitude and inclusion while the tools of civil disobedience and direct action are used to express our collective power.

The post Act Now – Our house is flooding appeared first on Extinction Rebellion.

Source: https://rebellion.earth/2019/11/10/act-now-our-house-is-flooding/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=act-now-our-house-is-flooding

This Week’s Awesome Tech Stories From Around the Web (Through November 9)

This Week’s Awesome Tech Stories From Around the Web (Through November 9)


It’s That Time of Year Again—Fall Is Here and Packs of Robot Dogs Are Frolicking in the Leaves
James Vincent | The Verge
“There’s nothing I like more on bright and cold autumnal days than heading down to the park and watching the robot dogs playing in piles of leaves. To hear the scuttle of their little metal legs! To imagine the joy in their tiny silicon brains! Ah, what bliss.”


The World’s First Gataca Baby Tests Are Finally Here
Antonio Regalado | MIT Technology Review
Anxious couples are approaching fertility doctors in the US with requests for a hotly debated new genetic test being called ’23andMe, but on embryos.’ …Handed report cards on a batch of frozen embryos, parents can use the test results to try to choose the healthiest ones.


Elon Musk Says Building the First Sustainable City on Mars Will Take 1,000 Starships and 20 Years
Darrell Etherington | Tech Crunch
“Addressing a question about comments he made earlier this week at the US Air Force startup pitch day event in California, Musk said that his stated launch cost of only around $2 million per Starship flight are essentially required, should the final goal be to set up a ‘self-sustaining city on Mars.’i


World’s First Robotic Brain Surgery Could Be Game-Changer for Patients
Luke Dormehl | Digital Trends
i‘The goal is that one day physicians will be able to use robotics to remotely treat patients suffering from a stroke, who currently don’t have access to treatment. Access to care for emergent procedures such as stroke is one of, if not the biggest, unmet needs in healthcare today,’ [said] Mark Toland, CEO of Corindus, a Siemens Healthineers Company which developed the robot used for the procedure.i


OpenAI Has Published the Text-Generating AI It Said Was Too Dangerous to Share
James Vincent | The Verge
“Apart from the raw capabilities of GPT-2, the model’s release is notable as part of an ongoing debate about the responsibility of AI researchers to mitigate harm caused by their work. …OpenAI limited the release of its model because of this concern.”


Should This Tree Have the Same Rights as You?
Robert McFarlane | The Guardian
“…the [Erie Bill of Rights] forms part of a broader set of comparable recent legal moves in jurisdictions around the world—all seeking to recognize interdependence and animacy in the living world, and often advanced by indigenous groups—which have together come to be known as the ‘natural rights’ or ‘rights of nature’ movement.”


How to Make a Black Hole in a Science Lab
Ryan F. Mandelbaum | Gizmodo
“Scientists since the 1980s have designed, and more recently constructed, a slew of black hole analogs that attempt to recreate the weirdness of spacetime predicted by scientists like Albert Einstein and Stephen Hawking. …But the comparison between the analog and the real universe can only go so far.”

Image Credit: Jon TysonUnsplash

Source: Singularity Hub:  https://singularityhub.com/2019/11/09/this-weeks-awesome-tech-stories-from-around-the-web-through-november-9/

Every Single Being on the Planet

Fifty people, aged 7 to 70, converged on a beach in North West England to create a 110m diameter representation, of the ‘Extinction Rebellion Symbol’ to highlight the need for urgent action on climate change and biodiversity loss.

The post Every Single Being on the Planet appeared first on Extinction Rebellion.

Source: https://rebellion.earth/2019/11/09/every-single-being-on-the-planet/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=every-single-being-on-the-planet

Saul Williams ‘I have kids… we have to find a way to shift the paradigm’

The post Saul Williams ‘I have kids… we have to find a way to shift the paradigm’ appeared first on Extinction Rebellion.

Source: https://rebellion.earth/2019/11/08/saul-williams-i-have-kids-we-have-to-find-a-way-to-shift-the-paradigm/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=saul-williams-i-have-kids-we-have-to-find-a-way-to-shift-the-paradigm