Science and Society

‘Smart robots’ and the law - Guest Work

Guest Work Jan 22, 2017

By Associate Professor Colin Gavaghan, Director of the New Zealand Law Foundation Centre for Law and Policy in Emerging Technologies, University of Otago The European Parliament’s Draft Report on Robotics has certainly captured the public imagination, and it’s easy to see why. Proposals about ‘smart robots,’ ‘robot killswitches’ and ‘electronic persons’ perfectly capture the zeitgeist, where talk of … Read More

Water fluoridation – what to expect in the near future - Open Parachute

Ken Perrott Jan 21, 2017

Community water fluoridation (CWF) will persist in science news for the foreseeable future – not for any valid scientific reason but because of reaction to political pressures against it. This is particularly so in New Zealand where our parliament will be discussing legislative changes to fluoridation decision-making this year. This is not to say that all the relevant news will be … Read More

Book review: The Conversation Yearbook 2016 - Scibooks

Sarah-Jane O'Connor Jan 20, 2017

Toward the end of the year there can be a glut of ‘best of’ publications, but The Conversation Yearbook 2016 stands out as an enjoyable, wide-ranging collection of essays. The Conversation has been running in Australia since 2011, collating news and views from the academic and research community on hot topics of the day or longer-burning issues. My main … Read More

Premature births a factor in cognitive deficits observed in areas of endemic fluorosis? - Open Parachute

Ken Perrott Jan 20, 2017

Anti-fluoridation activists are soon likely to be promoting a new paper reporting a study which found a relationship between maternal (in utero) exposure to fluoride and cognitive development delay in infants. Could the increased incidence of premature births explain cognitive deficits observed in areas of endemic fluorosis? Image credit: New Kids-Center. Of course, they will be unlikely … Read More

Thinking about machines that “Think” - Ariadne

Robert Hickson Jan 19, 2017

The biggest futurist thing for me this last year has been the progress and hype around artificial intelligence. Three quotes encapsulate the current state of artificial intelligence, and aspects of its future over the short term. Stephen Hawking made a Dickensian AI gambit with his quote:  Artificial Intelligence is “either the … Read More

The “Great Acceleration” is cause for great concern. - Guest Work

Guest Work Jan 18, 2017

By Prof Ralph E H Sims, Massey University, Palmerston North The future for secure and peaceful human life on our planet is under threat. A wide range of socio-economic indicators that illustrate global growth parameters from 1750 to 2010 confirm the rapid acceleration that has become particularly evident over the past six decades as world population … Read More

More nails in the anti-fluoridation myths around IQ and hypothyroidism - Open Parachute

Ken Perrott Jan 16, 2017

A new Canadian study shows no relationship of cognitive deficits or diagnosis of hypothyroidism with fluoride in drinking water. This work is important because it counters the claims made by anti-fluoride campaigners. While the campaigners cite scientific studies to support their claims, those studies are usually very weak, or irrelevant because they involve areas of endemic fluorosis where drinking … Read More

Life’s a beach: NZ scientists on their favourite beaches - Guest Work

Guest Work Jan 16, 2017

Many Kiwis have a favourite seaside spot they escape to in the summer and scientists are no exception. In this NIWA Summer Series article, six scientists reveal their summer getaway beaches and reflect on how these holiday hotspots are changing. Dr Ken Grange, Regional Manager, Nelson. Dr Ken Grange. Credit: NIWA. Beach: Rarawa Beach, east coast Far North How long have you been … Read More