SU Faculty Finds: What to Read In May

At SU, our Faculty are always discovering great content that sparks fascinating discussions among ourselves and with those of you who attend our programs. Here are a few of the items that were of particular interest to us this month.

How Augmented Reality Will Create A World Of On-Demand Experts

In this article on Singularity Hub, my colleague Aaron Frank delivers yet another piece of insightful investigative journalism—this time around the penetration of AR-based “superpowers.” From everyday life to industry-specific applications, AR closes knowledge gaps as well as intuition gaps, radically shortening the path to expertise (or at least proficiency). Over the past few years, I’ve played with biology- and health-themed VR and AR applications; like Aaron, I have no doubt that these technologies will transform how humans learn to do stuff. In this article, I particularly enjoyed Aaron’s look at NASA’s AR-fueled work on the Orion spacecraft, which will take us to Mars.

Dr. Alexa Will See You Now: Can We Trust Digital Assistants With Our Health Data?

I was bowled over by Thomas Hornigold’s nuanced exploration in Singularity Hub of the impact of “everyday” AI on healthcare. A quick Google search reveals (ironically) the question at the forefront of many minds: how do we balance the pluses of data-rich healthcare (personalized, fast, predictive) with the potential minuses (invasive, discriminatory, unequal)? Most importantly, what decisions do we have to make now in order to enable the futures that are as positive as possible for as many people as possible? At SU, we’re going deep on these issues—stay tuned.

Animal Extinction

A New Report Confirms That Life On Earth Is In Trouble

At SU, we talk a great deal about the accelerating pace of change. This month, the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services revealed a horrifying example of this acceleration. This report isn’t an opinion piece: it brings together data from 455 worldwide experts and 15,000 research papers. The Economist cast a skeptical eye on these data—and confirmed that 9% of terrestrial animals are facing extinction, which adds up to more than 1 million species. Today. Because of humans. On land alone. Not counting microscopic life. My career as a biologist has been spent indulging and sharing my awe of the natural world. Here are the cold, hard numbers proving that life’s complexity, beauty, and wonder is slipping away, in the one place in the universe that we know harbors it. It’s not just human life that matters. What will you do to positively impact a billion lives? Join us.