2007. Steve Jobs on stage launched the iPhone, the start of what would make Apple one of the most valued companies on earth and would go on to sell over 1 billion models through the years. However has the iPhone actually benefited society ethically or has it left society worse off.
Deloitte carried out a survey on mobile consumers and their day to day usage; the key findings showed that almost half of the 18-24 years old checked their phones in the middle of the night. Even 34% of smartphone users made no traditional voice calls in a given week, up from 4% in 2012, showing that phone usage has become increasingly more about the internet and applications rather than SMS and cellular calls. Time reported that 18-24 year olds checked their phones on an average of 74 times a day. The results shown are concerning as they indicate the high possibility of the rates of phone addiction increasing as access to mobiles becomes easier. Phones themselves are becoming more integrated and they are becoming more capable to do more things at the same time. Some experts have even gone as far as to claim that the smartphone has become the “crack cocaine of technology”, as it has ushered in a widespread addiction. This leads to multiple arguments into the use of mobile phones and whether they have gone too far into interfering with our day to day lives.
Common instances as catching the bus and analysing your surroundings, you will almost certainly notice the majority of people on their mobile phones, the reduction in human contact and physical interactions is causing isolation in society. This ties in with the fact that people who use their phones heavily and on a regular basis tend to suffer from high levels of anxiety and many suffering from depression. The modern day society of 2017 compared to 2007 are very different, and in the time frame, iPhones and smartphones in general have increased in terms of their functionality, they have become more adopted on a larger scale.
After 10 years of the iPhone’s initial release we are left with one question. Have they changed us for the better or for the good?
It was in the 20th century when two superpowers competed for the title of supremacy in the art of spaceflight. The Soviet Union and the United States embroiled into a cold war, one that lurked dangerously close to a major catastrophe. The aim of the space race was to launch artificial satellites, and it began on August 2nd 1955. On this day the Soviet Union announced their plans to launch a satellite, in response to the statement made by the US of the same intentions, just four days previously. However it was not until October the 4th 1957, when the USSR launched the Sputnik 1,effectively beating the US in the race. The sputnik 1 was a huge development technologically, and it proved extremely useful in space research. The USSR went one step further and sent the first human in space, Yuri Gagarin, on April the 12th 1961. The space race itself did not peak until the US on the 20th of July 1969, sent humans to the moon with the Apollo 11. After this mammoth achievement, the space race eventually declined.
However in the 21st century, Musk’s SpaceX programme seems to be igniting a space race Elon Musk has toyed with the idea of “internet satellite”, using 4,425 satellites in a non-geostationary orbit. The satellite network would deliver data directly to individual devices or smaller base stations. The idea itself is not new, with Motorola having attempted a similar programme, but it ended in misery due to lack of investment. Despite this, there is now more interest in the technology, and there is a lot more potential - an era of 5G technologies could most likely bolstered by a global satellite network. Companies such as OneWeb and Boeing have suggested a plan with a “constellation” of satellites.
The risks of such a project have the same magnitude as the benefits of it. The cost has been estimated a staggering 6 billion dollars at the very least, should the network have a larger scale the cost will inflate further. At the moment funding and regulations are the largest obstacles, the project could very well bankrupt the companies, and FCC regulations could stop it before it can even start. Elon Musk himself has been accused of “cuddling” up to Trump’s administration, but is it such a wrong act to have assistance from the White House in such a large matter? Whilst the space race for satellite internets is near, another larger mission looms. A manned mission to Mars, a subject that was the dreams of our ancestors. One thing is for sure that this space race will change the technologies that we use.
CRISPR-CAS9, contains two crucial molecules that allow it to change DNA. The first is an enzyme called CAS9, and it acts as a pair of molecular scissors, which can cut two strands of DNA at a specific location in the genome, and from that point onwards bits of DNA can be added and removed. The second part is a section of RNA, (gRNA-guide RNA), and it acts as a guide for the CAS9 to cut into the right parts of the genome. The gRNA, is designed to attach to a specific sequence, and forms complementary base pairs, to the target DNA. The gRNA will only bind to the target sequence. This tells the CAS9 where it needs to cut. The process forces an induced mutation which is the target. CRISPR-CAS9 was derived from a bacteria that is found in yoghurt, and has a editing system similar to it. CRISPR-CAS9 is currently the most reliable system for editing genes, and shows a lot of promise, due to its potential it has,credited with the likelihood of treating genetic based diseases, such as cancer or alzheimer's.
However a debate is raging on whether they should part from somatic gene editing (non reproductive cells) and move towards germline (reproductive cells) editing. Germline editing is highly controversial as the effects on the offspring are unknown, but germline editing means whatever change is made in germline cells, will be passed on from generation to generation. This form of gene editing is banned in every country, until recently when UK scientists, were allowed to edit genes, but not allowed for the embryo to become living. US scientists recently backed geen editing but have sent out a stern warning against designer babies, due to the ethical dilemma they present and what impact they can have on society. Top US scientists in this field have said that the technology is not in its prime and is not safe enough to be tested on germline.
In America the US patent office has ruled in a dispute over the invention of CRISPR-CAS9, and kept the controversial patents issued to the Broad Institute of Harvard and MIT(STAT). Despite this, Jennifer Doudna and Emmanuelle of the University of California, published the first paper on CRISPR-CAS9. The scientific community has acclaimed them as the pioneers of the technology. The has allowed both patents to stand, due to STAT claiming they wrote a paper on how CRISPR-CAS9 can be used in eukaryotic cells. The verdict of the patent office, will have an impact on both licensing of the technique for medical use and the recognition of the pioneers of the technology.