Measles Vaccination in Merawi Province, Ethiopia, courtesy of DFID/Flickr
CORVALLIS, OREGON – In developed countries, most people take for granted that when they are sick, they will have access to timely diagnosis and treatment. Indeed, while the diagnostic process – which typically involves sending a sample of blood, urine, or tissue to a laboratory for analysis – may be cumbersome and expensive, health-care providers and sophisticated laboratories remain widely available. As a result, the disease burden in the developed world has declined substantially.
By contrast, in the developing world, millions of people die each year from treatable diseases like malaria, owing to the lack of sophisticated laboratories and alternative diagnostic tests. But there is reason for hope: Advances in the field of microfluidics have the potential to transform health care by allowing “gold standard” laboratory-based testing to be transferred to the point of care (POC). » More
Illustration by Tjebbe van Tijen, courtesy of Tjebbe van Tijen/Flickr
Following the latest deaths near Lampedusa on 3rd October and then again off the coast of Sicily on 11th October, what are we to make of the current and likely future European responses?
There has been, quite rightly, much talk of the tragedy experienced by the migrants, families and survivors. Yet, in the fortnight since the 3 October, the political cycle has offered little comfort in its unedifying spectacle of member states blaming one another for what is above all a European problem. This has led to media talk of policy deadlock and intractability. However, closer inspection reveals that the perceived political problem of the Lampedusa crisis is not tragic deaths at sea, but rather the irregular migration from the African continent to the shores of particular EU member states. In the face of other member states’ intransigence on responsibility-sharing, we can see that policymakers’ logical response is not deadlock, but a further rationalization of the only European ‘solution’ on the table: increased surveillance and militarization of the Mediterranean. » More
A military robot gets prepared to inspect a bomb. Photo: Kevin L. Moses Sr./Wikimedia Commons.
It is ironic and indeed counterintuitive that our own human nature has a huge potential to drive us towards physical and cognitive enhancements that may completely alter the characteristics of our species. As I have outlined in a previous work, human nature is defined by emotional amoral egoism[i]. Humans are genetically and neuro-chemically programmed to `feel good` and are driven by a number of factors, which I call the “Neuro P5″: “power, profit, pleasure, pride and permanency”. Consequently, if a technology appears which enhances any of these strong motivators, our neurochemically-mediated calculations, emotions and survival instincts will intuitively push us in that direction. I therefore believe such technologies bring us on the brink of inevitable transhumanism. This radical human metamorphosis and enhancement (physical and cognitive), through the convergence of various emerging strategic technologies, is not a question of ‘if’ but of ‘when’, ‘how’, and “at what cost”. » More
Before-and-after images posted by Human Rights Watch show buildings destroyed or severely damaged by violence that began on March 20, 2013 in Meiktila, Myanmar.
Within a week after sectarian riots and arson attacks tore through central Myanmar, conflict monitors and human rights advocates could see the damage via satellite images and tally the number of buildings burned and acres destroyed. In the not-so-distant past, similar data collection required weeks or months of field surveying and interviews with victims and observers; in some cases, post-conflict documentation was delayed for years by government prohibitions on investigations, as well as ongoing violence and safety risks. But the use of geospatial technology such as satellite imagery is rapidly changing human rights monitoring and conflict prevention work, making detailed documentation of violence and rights abuses possible almost in real-time. » More