Bay Area Skeptics

The San Francisco Bay Area's skeptical organization since 1982

by Meenakshi Prabhune

Hello Schmoozers,

It’s been lazy rainy weather past few days, but I am sure loving the refreshing lush green landscape that Bay area witnesses only occasionally. The before-after images on my phone in the past few months remind me of the 10-year challenge. For those of you who are safely staying away from Facebook- here’s the latest fad. People are posting present day pictures of themselves and those from 10 years ago under the hashtag #10YearChallenge. Some people even used the trend to generate scientific awareness. For example, here’s a video that shows climate change evidence by comparing images from 10 years ago to present day ones:

While most people were participating it in this challenge just for fun, others believe that Facebook cleverly devised this idea to improve its face-recognition algorithm to incorporate ageing effects. Facebook denies their involvement in starting this trend, but whether that’s true or not, they will certainly benefit from the enormous amount of data. Yet another testimony to the growing influence of machine learning and AI in all types of sciences.  

I recently read an article that absolutely hit home: it was about how millennials are constantly burned out. I don’t think the content is necessarily restricted to millennials though. At least in sciences, it has been known that a high number of graduate students suffer from depression or mental health issues. In general, everyone these days has so much “stuff to do” that free-time makes them feel guilty of not being productive. Add to that articles which endorse using up the couple of hours that people do get free more “efficiently”, and we have a world full of hard-working, self-loathing individuals- perhaps watching the Superbowl today with a hint of “I could have better used this time for…” feeling.

Enough about machine learning and social sciences. One final thought before moving on to my event picks of the week. As most of you might know, I run a biotech blog for a company. Until now, our topics have been related to learning the biology or experimental issues behind genome editing tools. Recently, I decided to add another category of opinion-based posts around how biology and technology intersect in biotech and how this would impact our future. Few colleagues mentioned they find this category “irrelevant” to what we do, but I strongly disagree. The term biotech itself is collaborative, so why shouldn’t the conversations around it be the same? Plus, opinion blogs open up dialogue by offering a fresh perspective on usual topics. Here’s a first blog post in this category for you guys to check out; feel free to send in your feedback.

Now, events for the week:
1. CRISPR Biology and Biotechnology: the Future of Genome Editing–   Mon- 03:30 PM  Menlo Park
2. SF Beer Week Nightlife–  Thursday  06:00 PM San Francisco
3. Welcome to Wildlife Nature Camp–  Saturday, 02/09/19, 10:00 AM Oakland

Have a curious week ahead.

Science writer and journalist

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