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Continue reading Links for the week of February 26th, 2010
I love watching talks and seminars online. It is in so many ways superior to watching them in person. You can pause the talk to discuss it with your friends out loud, or to look something up online. You can skip the boring introduction. You can stop watching the talk if it’s lame, and try another one, and keep trying until you find a good one. Maybe best of all, there are vastly more talks available online than even at a large and diverse institution. The one plausible weakness is the lack of interactivity – you can’t ask questions. But it turns out that the Q&A part of most public talks (and even departmental colloquia) kind of suck. You can mitigate this weakness by watching the talk with other people who are thoughtful and intelligent, and talking to them about it during and after.
Rene, Michelle and I sat down last night and watched this excellent debate between Drew Endy from Stanford/MIT and Jim Thomas, put on by The Long Now Foundation. The formal presentation/debate portion is an hour long, and is followed by another hour of discussion. Endy is in favor of an open source type model for synthetic biology, with the technology being available to basically anyone. Thomas thinks it should be controlled, and kept out of the hands of potentially dangerous actors: the military, the corporate oligarchy, etc. Their positions are of course more subtle and well thought out than that, but you can only fit so much into a nutshell.
Continue reading How inevitable is synthetic biology?