Celebrating Women Inventors at UofM (for #AdaLovelaceDay)

Ada Lovelace Day in Second Life

Why Ada Lovelace Day matters, asks the Guardian today. Usually people celebrate by highlighting famous women scientists. I asked myself, what about right here, right now? What are women scientists and inventors doing at the University of Michigan?

I figured the best way to find out was to go through the UM Tech Transfer database of Available Technologies for licensing. I skimmed the most recently deposited 100 inventions, looking for women. I found inventions in education and healthcare (even new cell lines!). I also found women inventing new batteries and biosensors, researchers working in engineering and code and physics, and even, yes, gamma rays! Some were prolific with MANY inventions listed recently. Most had one or two. They are ALL fabulous. And I am proud to say I know some of them personally. Take a look. See what cool smart women are inventing here. And remember: The sky is the limit!

Elizabeth W. Anderson – Responsible Conduct of Research for K Awardees (RCR4K) | Trainer’s Guide for Responsible Conduct of Research for K Awardees (RCR4K)

Valeria Bertacco – Post-Silicon Bug Diagnosis with Inconsistent Executions

Sarah Hawley – iCanDecide Conjoint Analysis Breast Cancer Treatment Decision Aid (ICanDecide)

Jane E. Huggins – Direct Brain-Computer Interface for Cognitive Assessment

Lori L. Isom – beta1/Contactin Cell Line

Helen C. Kales – WeCareAdvisor (based on her DICE method for dementia management)

Naheed Wali Khan – Multimodal Imaging in Retinal Diseases

Michelle Meade – Mobile Game for Spinal Cord Injury Health and Behavioral Rehabilitation

Sandra I. Merkel – Face, Legs, Activity, Cry, Consolability (FLACC) Observational Tool as a Measure of Pain

Janis Miller – Self-Instructional Voiding/Intake Diary and Individualizing Target Bladder Health Goals through Beverage Management

Mahta Moghaddam –
Method of Including Full-Wave Source Model in Acoustic and Electromagnetic Scattering and Inverse Scattering Formulations
Antenna and Propagation Model for Free-space Measurements and Experimental Inverse Scattering
Method for Large-Domain Microwave Breast Imaging

Sara Pozzi – Combined Scintillator-based Neutron and Gamma-ray Dosimeter

Emily Kaplan Mower Provost – Smartphone app for aphasia therapy

Mary C. Ruffolo PhD – Online evidence-based practice training modules

Melanie S. Sanford –
Organic Anolyte Materials for Flow Batteries
Generation of Ag18F and its use in the synthesis of PET radiotracers

Mary Simoni – Block M Records (University of Michigan Recordings) (Catalog)

Nancy Butler Songer – Evidence-based Learning Method for K-12 Students to Evaluate the Ecological Impacts of Climate Change

Laurie Sutch – Teaching and Technology Collaborative Workshop Registration System

Amy J. Teddy – Online concussion education for parents and coaches

Margaret S. Wooldridge – Cylinder Pressure and Heat Release Analysis Tool for Advanced Combustion Engines

Comics, Graphic Medicine, and Creating Stigma Awareness: A Panel

Comics, Graphic Medicine, and Creating Stigma Awareness

Last week I mentioned this year’s Investing in Ability events, and that I’m involved with one. Well, this is it! Friday afternoon you can join us to talk about “Comics, Graphic Medicine, and Creating Stigma Awareness.”

The panel includes:

* Susan Brown of the Ypsilanti District Library, who coordinates their Graphic Medicine collection;
* David Carter of the Duderstadt Library, who coordinates the University of Michigan Libraries’ Comics and Graphic Novels collection;
* Anne Drozd of the Ann Arbor District Library on their comics, webcomics, and related collections and activities; AND
* Lloyd Shelton, of the Office of Services for Students with Disabilities.

Each of the librarians will talk about how stigma, stereotypes, and bullying are portrayed in their collections, with Susan focusing on Graphic Medicine, Dave on mainstream comics, and Anne on indie and manga. Lloyd will respond to they stories they highlight from the point of view of a person with disabilities. This promises to be a phenomenal event, and I hope you can join us:

October 16, Friday
Hatcher Library, Gallery (map)

The event is in an accessible location, and will be audio-recorded.

Stigma Barricades Ability: Investing in Ability at UM

Investing in Ability, UMich

I truly cannot express how delighted and proud I am of the University of Michigan, their Council for Disability Concerns, and especially my dear colleague Anna Schnitzer, for their annual hosting of a rich series of events focused on issues at the intersection of disability and ability. This year, the special topic of focus is: “Stigma, Stereotypes, and Bullying.” I will be hosting one of the events (more on that shortly), but I wanted first to introduce the entire series of events, and highlight resources from past events and one of the early events in this year’s series.

Investing in Ability: Main Page: http://ability.umich.edu/iaw/

A text list of events:

2015 INVESTING IN ABILITY: Stigma, Stereotypes, and Bullying

One of this year’s speakers at a previous event, Michigan Supreme Court Justice Richard Bernstein.

Richard Bernstein, Investing in Ability, University of Michigan Oct 21, 2013 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X8akD5vLLhA

Investing in Ability events explore stigma, stereotypes and bullying for persons with disabilities.

Now that you know how to find the rest of the events, here are the highlights from one earlier this week, a very passionate and information-rich presentation on the role of Stigma in Muslim Mental-Health, and how that has very real impacts on all of America.

Stigma in Muslim-American Mental Health https://storify.com/pfanderson/stigma-in-muslim-american-mental-health

Laboratory Life Online, Part 1 (A HOTW Post)

Second Life: Nanotechnology Island

There has been a lot of science communication (#SciComm) action on Twitter recently centering around what does life look like for real scientists. I have a head start on this because when I was a little tyke, my dad dragged me into the lab with him and told me things like to watch the door of the High Wind Velocity Testing Lab so that the tornado didn’t get out while he was working on his mass spectrometer lithium sample testing. What can I say? I was gullible. So all those fun lifestyle pithy tweets will come in a later post, but for today, here is proof of presence of laboratories on Twitter. For the record, there are a lot more of these in each category, because Twitter’s search limits don’t return complete results for matches to the search criteria. Basically, that means I found a lot of these by browsing, when I should have been able to find them through search. I hope this is a useful resource. Enjoy!


American Laboratory https://twitter.com/AmericanLab
Lab Design News https://twitter.com/labdesignnews
Lab Guru https://twitter.com/Labguru
Lab Life (@LabLife) https://twitter.com/LabLife
Lab Spaces https://twitter.com/LabSpaces
Lab TV https://twitter.com/LabTVCuriosity
Laboratory EQAS https://twitter.com/LaboratoryEQAS
Laboratory Equipment https://twitter.com/LabEquipment
Laboratory News https://twitter.com/laboratorynews
Laboratory Products https://twitter.com/labproductsnews


Cardinale Lab (ecology and biodiversity lab) https://twitter.com/CardinaleLab
Decision Lab https://twitter.com/DecisionLab
Edelstein Lab https://twitter.com/EdelsteinLab
Lauring Lab https://twitter.com/LauringLab
Mahon Lab @CMU_Antarctica https://www.twitter.com/CMU_Antarctica
MiNDLab https://www.twitter.com/MiNDLab_umich
Michigan Tech High Performance Computing (HPC) @MichiganTechHPC https://twitter.com/MichiganTechHPC
MLabs (pathology) https://www.twitter.com/MLabsUM
National Superconducting Cyclotron Laboratory (@NSCL) https://twitter.com/NSCL
NOAA Great Lakes Environmental Research Lab (GLERL) https://twitter.com/NOAA_GLERL
Tronson Lab https://twitter.com/tronsonlab
U.M. Sex Lab https://twitter.com/SexualityLab
U Mich Concept Lab https://twitter.com/UMichConceptLab
University of Michigan Childhood Disparities Research Laboratory (@UMCDRL) https://twitter.com/UMCDRL


Ames Laboratory @Ames_Laboratory https://twitter.com/Ames_Laboratory
Argonne National Lab @argonne https://twitter.com/argonne
Berkeley Lab @BerkeleyLab https://twitter.com/berkeleylab
Berkeley Lab CS @LBNLcs https://twitter.com/LBNLcs
Brookhaven Nat’l Lab @BrookhavenLab https://twitter.com/brookhavenlab
DOE Science https://twitter.com/doescience
Energy Sciences Network (ESnet) @ESnetUpdates
Federal Laboratory Consortium for Technology Transfer (FLC) @federallabs
Fermilab @Fermilab
Idaho National Lab @INL https://twitter.com/INL
ISS U.S. National Laboratory, Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS) (@ISS_CASIS) https://twitter.com/iss_casis
Jefferson Lab P.A. @Jblab
LBNL Media Report @LBNLmediareport
Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) @Livermore_Lab https://twitter.com/Livermore_Lab
Los Alamos National Lab (LANL) @LosAlamosNatLab https://twitter.com/LosAlamosNatLab
Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) – Health (@LANL_Health) https://twitter.com/lanl_health
Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) – Space https://twitter.com/lanl_space
National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center (NERSC) https://twitter.com/NERSC
National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) @NETL_News https://twitter.com/NETL_News
National High Magnetic Field Laboratory @NationalMagLab https://twitter.com/nationalmaglab
National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) https://twitter.com/NNSANews
National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) @NREL
NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) @NASAJPL https://twitter.com/NASAJPL
NOAA Atlantic Oceanographic & Meteorological Laboratory (AOML) https://twitter.com/noaa_aoml
NOAA Great Lakes Environmental Research Lab (GLERL) https://twitter.com/NOAA_GLERL
Oak Ridge National Laboratory @ORNL https://twitter.com/ORNL
Oak Ridge National Lab, Manufacturing Demonstration Facility (ORNL Manufacturing) @ORNLMDF https://twitter.com/ORNLMDF
Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) @PNNLab https://twitter.com/pnnlab
Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL) @PPPLab
Sandia National Labs @SandiaLabs https://twitter.com/SandiaLabs [Sandia National Labs @SandiaLabsUVM https://twitter.com/SandiaLabsUVM%5D
Sanford Lab @SanfordLab https://twitter.com/SanfordLab
Savannah River National Laboratory @SRSNews https://twitter.com/SRSNews
SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory @SLAClab https://twitter.com/SLAClab
U.S. Army Research Labs https://twitter.com/ArmyResearchLab
U.S. Global Development Lab https://twitter.com/GlobalDevLab


Arne Lindqvist Lab (cancer research) @LindqvistLab https://twitter.com/LindqvistLab
Boulby Laboratory (deep underground science) https://twitter.com/BoulbyLab
Cavendish Laboratory (physics) https://twitter.com/DeptofPhysics
Happe Lab (autism research) https://twitter.com/HappeLab
Hewlett Packard Labs https://twitter.com/hplabs
HHS Idea Lab https://twitter.com/HHSIDEALab
MIT Lincoln Laboratory https://twitter.com/MITLL
MIT Media Lab https://twitter.com/medialab
National Archives & Records Administration (NARA) Media Labs https://twitter.com/NARAMediaLabs
Public Laboratory (open source) @PublicLab https://twitter.com/PublicLab
Suicidal Behaviour Research Laboratory @SuicideResearch https://twitter.com/suicideresearch
The Food Lab https://twitter.com/TheFoodLab
U.K. National Nuclear Laboratory @UKNNL https://twitter.com/uknnl
Wired Gadget Lab @GadgetLab https://twitter.com/gadgetlab
Wise Laboratory (toxicology) https://twitter.com/WiseLaboratory

Bugs & Genes, Mice & Poop, Worms & Shrooms: 24 Take-Aways from the Microbiome Symposium

Loving the Microbiome Symposium

This time of year seems to be nonstop conferences, symposiums, presentations, meetings, and chats. I’ve been trying to catch up with the Storify collections for all of the ones I’ve been attending or lurking in recently. The Microbiome Symposium was a HUGE one!

In case you didn’t know, I’m fascinated by the microbiome, and have been for years. I’ve been tracking research about it, playing with personal microbiome testing services, finagled my way into being the liaison librarian to the Host-Microbiome Initiative here on campus, and doing my level best to make myself a useful collaborator with them. This all gained me access to the day-long Microbiome Symposium sponsored by Cayman Chemistry, where a few of us live-tweeted. I want to take just a brief moment to talk about some of the highlights. But in case you don’t have time, here is the number one most important critical thing to remember (the rest are in no particular order):

NUMBER ONE: Eat fiber. Lots of fiber. Many kinds.

2. What we don’t know about the microbiome is how all the species interact.

3. Microbes are sort of little factories that make all sorts of chemicals, drugs and poisons (which aren’t regulated by the FDA).

4. Liver and bile are way more important than we expected. To the gut. Yeah, really.

5. Nutrients from food are not one-size-fits-all. What you get out of your food is tailored by your microbiome.

6. The reverse is also true! What you eat tailors your microbiome!

7. What we don’t know about the microbiome is how it interacts with the rest of what our body does, say, for example, exercise.

8. We might be able to predict different diseases by watching changes to our microbiome, like cancer and diabetes.

9. If we can spot predictive changes early enough, we might be able to head them off by changing diet.

10. Most of the bacteria that show colon cancer seem to come via the mouth. So brush your teeth!

11. Don’t eat fiber? Changes your microbiome. Degrades mucosa. Erodes protection from mucus, first line defense. Triggers inflammation. OOPS!

12. It’s complicated.

13. Complexity is important. Eat the rainbow.

14. Fiber is IMPORTANT. Especially eating a diversity of fiber. Try counting how many different plants are in your meals.

15. A diet poor in what make the bacteria happy (fiber, a.k.a. microbiota-accessible carbohydrates, a.k.a. MACs) has immediate impacts on them, long term impacts on us.

16. Diet is a tool to engineer (program) our bodies to meet our goals. What are your goals? Optimize yourself, your health, and your mood, with food!

17. Break the chain, it stays broken. (Once you kill off the diversity of bacteria in your body through poor diet, they don’t tend to come back.)

18. How do you get a diversity of bugs in your gut again? Fecal transplants.

19. Avoid antibiotics whenever possible. but especially early in life.

20. Bugs I want to remember: FLVR = Faecalibacterium prausnitzii, Lachnospira multipara, Veillonella parvula, Rothia mucilaginosa.

21. High fiber diets help protect against allergies, and allergens, and asthma.

22. High fiber diets help protect against different types of gut pain.

23. About probiotics: Dead bacteria don’t work. They have to be live, the kind you keep in the fridge.

24. This isn’t regulated territory yet, the FDA has little sway. Be cautious about product claims.

Now, those were the official take aways, but there were some deeply intrigued nuggets in the hallways conversations and posters as well. There was a lot of unofficial buzz around fungus, and worms (helminth therapy). Things to watch for in the future. Here’s the Storify, if you want to dig into this more deeply.

And in the meantime, I found ANOTHER Storify from a symposium that focused on microbiomics, so here’s that (from Cell Symposia as #CSMicrobiome) as a bonus.

“Nothing in this world is indifferent to us:” Technology and Ethics through the Words of the Pope

20-09-2015 Incontro Giovani

With the visit of Pope Francis to the United States, I thought it might be interesting and pertinent to explore emerging technologies in the context of the official teachings of the Roman Catholic Church. I self-describe my religion on Facebook as Zen Pagan Catholic (which makes for some interesting conversations from time to time), and primarily practice as a Catholic, but I have a deep fondness for many other faiths as well (Quaker! Judaism! More!) and like to look at ideas and concepts in a broad ethical framework. This is just a small ‘deep dive’ into an area where a global leader in ethics touches on the impacts and ethics surrounding emerging and existing technologies. There are many such, and many ways to explore this.

I thought the image opening this post was a real treasure illustrating how current technologies, services, and memes (selfies? Instagram?) are being adopted by or associated with even institutions as ancient as the Catholic Church. This image, and most of the images used in this post, are from the Flickr stream of the Vatican itself. That says something right there about the adoption and use of social media and new communication technologies by the Vatican and the Papacy.

Earlier this year, Pope Francis released his encyclical Laudato Si’, subtitled “On Care for our Common Home.” It made a lot of buzz, and you’ve probably already heard about it. I immediately started scanning the Italian version, and as soon as I could find the English translation on the Vatican website, I downloaded the PDF. Very quickly I realized that throughout the document there are an enormous number of mentions of technology, its strengths and weaknesses. I was, shall we say, surprised? I wanted to blog about it then, but I think this is actually a better time.

Pope Francis begins Laudato Si’ with establishing the context for it in earlier works of church doctrine, specifically referencing a presentation to the FAO by Pope Paul VI back in 1970 and another from the the Greek Orthodox Patriarch Bartholomew in 2012. Back in 1970, Pope Paul had adopted use of television and the existing technology structure of the times for carrying the message. I was surprised again to learn how many videos are in Youtube of his travels that year: departing from Rome, Hong Kong, Philippines, Syndney (Australia), and more. So, this image from the Vatican of Pope Francis in front of film cameras might be very similar to views that would have existed of Pope Paul VI.

24-09-2015 Visita al Congresso degli Stati Uniti d'America

Pope Francis cites one specific portion of Pope Paul’s words on the risks and importance of technology, but there are some great nuggets in the rest of the speech as well.


“But the carrying out of these technical possibilities at an accelerated pace is not accomplished without dangerous repercussions on the balance of our natural surroundings. The progressive deterioration of that which has generally come to be called the environment, risks provoking a veritable ecological catastrophe. Already we see the pollution of the air we breathe, the water we drink. We see the pollution of rivers, lakes, even oceans – to the point of inspiring fear of a true «biological death» in the near future, if energetic measures are not immediately and courageously taken and rigorously put into practice. It is a formidable prospect which you must diligently explore in order to save from destruction the fruit of millions of years of natural and human selection. In brief, everything is bound up together.”

“Will the prodigious progressive mastery of plant, animal and human life and the discovery of even the secrets of matter lead to anti-matter and to the explosion of death? In this decisive moment of its history, humanity hesitates, uncertain before fear and hope. Who still does not see this? The most extraordinary scientific progress, the most astounding technical feats and the most amazing economic growth, unless accompanied by authentic moral and social progress, will in the long run go against man.”

“We must repeat this today: the Church, on her part, in every domain of human action encourages scientific and technical progress, but always claiming respect for the inviolable rights of the human person whose primary guarantors are the public authorities.”

“One of the best assured invariable principles of your action is that the finest technical achievements and the greatest economic progress cannot effect by themselves the development of a people. However necessary they may be, planning and money are not enough. Their indispensable contribution, like that of the technology which they sponsor, would be sterile were it not made fruitful by men’s confidence and their progressive conviction that they can little by little get away from their miserable condition through work made possible with means at their disposal.”

The words and thoughts are so powerful and so relevant today, that I find it almost hard to believe they were spoken roughly 45 years ago. The really critical part is “unless accompanied by authentic moral and social progress.” I don’t care what religion you are, or aren’t, that much should seem like common sense: that technological discovery unbounded by ethics is a risk to all. Isn’t that the story behind an overwhelming number of science fiction stories and novels? Take a technology, just one, and see how it could go wrong. Then try taking two, or three. And then just imagine everything we are discovering now, all of it. It is frankly astonishing that we persist, and it speaks well of us that we do. That we haven’t destroyed ourselves yet, despite so many close calls, is hopeful. How long can we ride this rollercoaster and keep from flinging ourselves off?

That’s the introduction. Now, what does Pope Francis say to expand on these earlier thoughts from Pope Paul VI? He mentions technology at least 95 times in the encyclical. NINETY-FIVE TIMES in six chapters, with the preponderance of them in Chapter Three: “The Human Roots of the Ecological Crisis”, for which the first section is titled, “Technology: Creativity and Power.” Whoa. Frankly, technology, while a significant presence in the document, is only a small part of it. Here is a visualization of the major themes in Laudato Si’. You can find “technology” at the tip of the far left lobe of the leaf.

Laudato Si 2

When he does mention technology, sometimes it is to point out technologies of concern, or philosophies of concern, and other times it is to point out technologies that are desperately needed, or which need to be more widely available. This document is the opposite of a Luddite point of view, instead carefully and judiciously framing the conversation around technology in the context of where is it helpful for the world and humanity, as compared to when is it simply being developed out of curiosity, laziness, or for its own sake. Obviously, Pope Francis argues clearly and strongly for a sane, humane philosophy of technological development and access, within the overarching vision of stewardship and responsibility. Because the document as a whole focuses on ecology, it is often assumed that this is all that’s in it. Pope Francis takes it farther, talking about technology in the service of equity and social justice, medicine, transportation, artistry, welfare, and others, attempting to show through that diversity how a single challenge connects throughout the entirety of human life and how we touch and connect throughout the entirety of the context in which we exist, the world.

At least, that’s the way I’m reading the document. I’ve selected just a few examples (24), a few snippets, phrases and sentences that seem illustrative to me. There is much that was relevant to the questions and concerns raised, written in beautiful language, that is perhaps not explicitly focused on technology. Much of what he says on other topics echoes strongly the debates in healthcare from the empowered patient movement, the flipped clinic conversations, and other initiatives designed on making healthcare more responsive and patient-centric. Where he talks about economics and lifestyle choices, it echoes the need for patient choice, and placing clinical guidelines and recommendations within the context of the patient’s goals and priorities for their own life. Pope Francis places a strong emphasis on collaborative and shared decisionmaking. I have made a conscious effort to not select the non-technological quotes for this post, but I sincerely hope that these few tidbits below might inspire you to look more deeply into this exceptionally lovely, deeply thoughtful, and eloquent essay.

Festival of families in Philadelphia Festival of families in Philadelphia



“I urgently appeal, then, for a new dialogue about how we are shaping the future of our planet. … Obstructionist attitudes, even on the part of believers, can range from denial of the problem to indifference, nonchalant resignation or blind confidence in technical solutions. We require a new and universal solidarity. … All of us can cooperate as instruments of God for the care of creation, each according to his or her own culture, experience, involvements and talents.”


“Technology, which, linked to business interests, is presented as the only way of solving these problems, in fact proves incapable of seeing the mysterious network of relations between things and so sometimes solves one problem only to create others.”


“[T]heir disappearance will have to be compensated for by yet other techniques which may well prove harmful.”


“We must be grateful for the praiseworthy efforts being made by scientists and engineers dedicated to finding solutions to man-made problems. But a sober look at our world shows that the degree of human intervention, often in the service of business interests and consumerism, is actually making our earth less rich and beautiful, ever more limited and grey, even as technological advances and consumer goods continue to abound limitlessly. We seem to think that we can substitute an irreplaceable and irretrievable beauty with something which we have created ourselves.”


“The social dimensions of global change include the effects of technological innovations on employment, social exclusion, an inequitable distribution and consumption of energy and other services, social breakdown, increased violence and a rise in new forms of social aggression, drug trafficking, growing drug use by young people, and the loss of identity.”


“Furthermore, when media and the digital world become omnipresent, their influence can stop people from learning how to live wisely, to think deeply and to love generously. In this context, the great sages of the past run the risk of going unheard amid the noise and distractions of an information overload. Efforts need to be made to help these media become sources of new cultural progress for humanity and not a threat to our deepest riches.”


“Today’s media do enable us to communicate and to share our knowledge and affections. Yet at times they also shield us from direct contact with the pain, the fears and the joys of others and the complexity of their personal experiences.”


“It is remarkable how weak international political responses have been. The failure of global summits on the environment make it plain that our politics are subject to technology and finance. There are too many special interests, and economic interests easily end up trumping the common good and manipulating information so that their own plans will not be affected. … The alliance between the economy and technology ends up sidelining anything unrelated to its immediate interests.”


“In some countries, there are positive examples of environmental improvement: rivers, polluted for decades, have been cleaned up; native woodlands have been restored; landscapes have been beautified thanks to environmental renewal projects; beautiful buildings have been erected; advances have been made in the production of non-polluting energy and in the improvement of public transportation.”


“Finally, we need to acknowledge that different approaches and lines of thought have emerged regarding this situation and its possible solutions. At one extreme, we find those who doggedly uphold the myth of progress and tell us that ecological problems will solve themselves simply with the application of new technology and without any need for ethical considerations or deep change. At the other extreme are those who view men and women and all their interventions as no more than a threat, jeopardizing the global ecosystem, and consequently the presence of human beings on the planet should be reduced and all forms of intervention prohibited. Viable future scenarios will have to be generated between these extremes, since there is no one path to a solution.”


“The basic problem goes even deeper: it is the way that humanity has taken up technology and its development according to an undifferentiated and one-dimensional paradigm.”


“We have to accept that technological products are not neutral, for they create a framework which ends up conditioning lifestyles and shaping social possibilities along the lines dictated by the interests of certain powerful groups. Decisions which may seem purely instrumental are in reality decisions about the kind of society we want to build.”


“A science which would offer solutions to the great issues would necessarily have to take into account the data generated by other fields of knowledge, including philosophy and social ethics; but this is a difficult habit to acquire today. Nor are there genuine ethical horizons to which one can appeal. Life gradually becomes a surrender to situations conditioned by technology, itself viewed as the principal key to the meaning of existence.”


“Yet we can once more broaden our vision. We have the freedom needed to limit and direct technology; we can put it at the service of another type of progress, one which is healthier, more human, more social, more integral. Liberation from the dominant technocratic paradigm does in fact happen sometimes, for example, when cooperatives of small producers adopt less polluting means of production, and opt for a non-consumerist model of life, recreation and community. Or when technology is directed primarily to resolving people’s concrete problems, truly helping them live with more dignity and less suffering. Or indeed when the desire to create and contemplate beauty manages to overcome reductionism through a kind of salvation which occurs in beauty and in those who behold it. An authentic humanity, calling for a new synthesis, seems to dwell in the midst of our technological culture, almost unnoticed, like a mist seeping gently beneath a closed door. Will the promise last, in spite of everything, with all that is authentic rising up in stubborn resistance?”


“There is also the fact that people no longer seem to believe in a happy future; they no longer have blind trust in a better tomorrow based on the present state of the world and our technical abilities. … This is not to reject the possibilities which technology continues to offer us. But humanity has changed profoundly, and the accumulation of constant novelties exalts a superficiality which pulls us in one direction. It becomes difficult to pause and recover depth in life.”


“We were created with a vocation to work. The goal should not be that technological progress increasingly replace human work, for this would be detrimental to humanity. Work is a necessity, part of the meaning of life on this earth, a path to growth, human development and personal fulfillment.”


“It is difficult to make a general judgement about genetic modification (GM), whether vegetable or animal, medical or agricultural, since these vary greatly among themselves and call for specific considerations. The risks involved are not always due to the techniques used, but rather to their improper or excessive application.”


“Ecology, then, also involves protecting the cultural treasures of humanity in the broadest sense. More specifically, it calls for greater attention to local cultures when studying environmental problems, favouring a dialogue between scientific-technical language and the language of the people. Culture is more than what we have inherited from the past; it is also, and above all, a living, dynamic and participatory present reality, which cannot be excluded as we rethink the relationship between human beings and the environment.”


“Attempts to resolve all problems through uniform regulations or technical interventions can lead to overlooking the complexities of local problems which demand the active participation of all members of the community.”


“Merely technical solutions run the risk of addressing symptoms and not the more serious underlying problems. There is a need to respect the rights of peoples and cultures, and to appreciate that the development of a social group presupposes an historical process which takes place within a cultural context and demands the constant and active involvement of local people from within their proper culture. Nor can the notion of the quality of life be imposed from without, for quality of life must be understood within the world of symbols and customs proper to each human group.”


“Taking advantage of abundant solar energy will require the establishment of mechanisms and subsidies which allow developing countries access to technology transfer, technical assistance and financial resources, but in a way which respects their concrete situations, since ‘the compatibility of [infrastructures] with the context for which they have been designed is not always adequately assessed’.”


“This does not mean being opposed to any technological innovations which can bring about an improvement in the quality of life. But it does mean that profit cannot be the sole criterion to be taken into account, and that, when significant new information comes to light, a reassessment should be made, with the involvement of all interested parties. The outcome may be a decision not to proceed with a given project, to modify it or to consider alternative proposals.”


“Compulsive consumerism is one example of how the techno-economic paradigm affects individuals.”


“By learning to see and appreciate beauty, we learn to reject self-interested pragmatism. If someone has not learned to stop and admire something beautiful, we should not be surprised if he or she treats everything as an object to be used and abused without scruple. If we want to bring about deep change, we need to realize that certain mindsets really do influence our behaviour. Our efforts at education will be inadequate and ineffectual unless we strive to promote a new way of thinking about human beings, life, society and our relationship with nature. Otherwise, the paradigm of consumerism will continue to advance, with the help of the media and the highly effective workings of the market.”

“Most of us will experience a significant diagnostic error in our lifetime”

Today was the webcast for the official release of “Improving Diagnosis in Health Care: Resources to Facilitate Communication Between Patients and Clinicians September 22, 2015.” A distillation of the 8 recommendations includes a focus on improving diagnosis through:

1. Teamwork
2. Education
3. Technology
4. Workflow
5. Culture
6. Reporting
7. Payments
8. Research

There were an incredible number of excellent and insightful statements. I’m hoping later for a full transcript of the remarks! Meanwhile, here is a Storify of reactions to the webcast as it occurred, with what people watching captured as most important.

And the video shown at the end of the webcast.

Improving Diagnosis in Healthcare: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fStBWT6fa3E