Thursday, August 31, 2017

Friday Thinking 1 Sept. 2017

Hello all – Friday Thinking is a humble curation of my foraging in the digital environment. My purpose is to pick interesting pieces, based on my own curiosity (and the curiosity of the many interesting people I follow), about developments in some key domains (work, organization, social-economy, intelligence, domestication of DNA, energy, etc.)  that suggest we are in the midst of a change in the conditions of change - a phase-transition. That tomorrow will be radically unlike yesterday.

Many thanks to those who enjoy this.
In the 21st Century curiosity will SKILL the cat.
Jobs are dying - work is just beginning.

“Be careful what you ‘insta-google-tweet-face’”
Woody Harrelson - Triple 9



On March 12, 2014, the Russian author Natan Dubovitsky published a short story titled “Without Sky” in the literary journal Russian Pioneer. In the story, which takes place in a dystopian future, a man recalls the events of the fifth World War, decades earlier. He describes these events as the first “non-linear war.” Instead of fighting in a traditional sense, as a battle between two sides, World War V was a more byzantine conflict. Multiple nations all fought one another at once and could switch sides at any time. Simplistic approaches to victory were seen as obsolete, as armed conflict itself was just one phase of a longer, more insidious “process.” Some even joined conflicts to facilitate their own defeat. Around the midpoint of the story, Dubovitsky writes that the complexity of the war was only “realized and analyzed later by historians and economists.”

Natan Dubovitsky, as many Russians know, is the literary pseudonym of Vladislav Surkov, Putin’s longtime political technologist and a chief architect of the Kremlin propaganda machine. Just days after “Without Sky” was published, Russia carried out a masterstroke of the “non-linear war” described in the story—the annexation of Crimea. In the weeks leading up to the March referendums in Crimea, in which Crimea’s parliament and local population voted on whether to join the Russian Federation, Surkov and the Kremlin carefully orchestrated an elaborate political spectacle to create the appearance of strong support for the annexation. This spectacle is known in Russian as dramaturgia, or theater craft.

...In the 2000s, Surkov and other political technologists crafted a simulacrum of free speech and political movements within the country, giving Russians the impression of robust sociopolitical discourse. “Surkov tried to own all the narratives,” says Peter Pomerantsev, the author of Nothing Is True and Everything Is Possible: The Surreal Heart of the New Russia and a former Russian TV producer. “He would create puppet Communist Parties, puppet Liberal Parties, puppet everything, from ultra-liberal to neo-Fascist.”

Surkov fancied himself a kind of political choreographer. He created parties and movements and turbulent story lines to be dispensed by state-run media outlets, only to later reveal himself as the hidden hand behind the theatrics—“rendering them all absurd, because at the end of the day everybody knew he controlled them,” Pomerantsev says. Experts call this “managed democracy”: maintaining the appearance and infrastructure of a democracy while controlling everything from within the administration. It is, in effect, an authoritarian regime in the guise of a democratic state.

... “Nowadays, we don’t actually have a Kremlin message most of the time,” says Mark Galeotti, a senior researcher at the Institute of International Relations, in Prague, and an expert on modern Russia. Instead, he explains, Russian propaganda has become decentralized. The various state-run or -influenced media platforms offer an opportunistic landscape where everyone is looking for a spin to delegitimize the West. “It’s a case of the local initiative of individual journalists and presenters and diplomats and spies and all the other agents of the state coming up with things that they think will please the Kremlin,”

While westerners like to think of Moscow’s propaganda machine as a great white shark, he says, a single ravenous predator unleashed on its political foes, it’s actually more like a shoal of piranhas: “You can deal with one news story, but meanwhile the rest of them are eating the flesh off your back.”


in real life, every single bit of risk you take adds up to reduce your life expectancy. If you climb mountains and ride a motorcycle and hang around the mob and fly your own small plane and drink absinthe, your life expectancy is considerably reduced although not a single action will have a meaningful effect. This idea of repetition makes paranoia about some low probability events perfectly rational. But we do not need to be overly paranoid about ourselves; we need to shift some of our worries about bigger things.

The flaw in psychology papers is to believe that the subject doesn’t take any other tail risks anywhere outside the experiment and will never take tail risks again. The idea of “loss aversion” have not been thought through properly –it is not measurable the way it has been measured (if at all mesasurable). Say you ask a subject how much he would pay to insure a 1% probability of losing $100. You are trying to figure out how much he is “overpaying” for “risk aversion” or something even more stupid, “loss aversion”. But you cannot possibly ignore all the other present and future financial risks he will be taking. You need to figure out other risks in the real world: if he has a car outside that can be scratched, if he has a financial portfolio that can lose money, if he has a bakery that may risk a fine, if he has a child in college who may cost unexpectedly more, if he can be laid off. All these risks add up and the attitude of the subject reflects them all. Ruin is indivisible and invariant to the source of randomness that may cause it.

I believe that risk aversion does not exist: what we observe is, simply a residual of ergodicity.

Nassim Nicholas Taleb  - The Logic of Risk Taking

This is another signal in the emerging new currency paradigm using blockchain and distributed ledger technologies.

Estonia wants to launch its own government-backed cryptocurrency called 'estcoin'

  • Estonia has proposed to launch its own state-backed cryptocurrency, called "estcoin".
  • Ethereum founder Vitalik Buterin apparently gave feedback on the digital currency.
  • It would be launched via the digital coin community's version of crowdfunding - an initial coin offering (ICO).

Another blockchain signal - this is a very short article - but the 5 min video is a series of short statements by many significant people from digital industries highlighting what blockchain technologies are and what their potential can be.

Burger King Now Has Its Own Cryptocurrency—the ‘Whoppercoin’—in Russia

Burger King in Russia is getting in on the cryptocurrency game, and why not—digital currencies like bitcoin are the hot topic of the summer.

According to New York Magazine (via local Russian news reports), the Russian subdivision of Burger King has launched its own cryptocurrency, aptly called “Whoppercoin.”

The Whoppercoin launched in tandem with a new loyalty program. For each Whopper burger customers purchase, they'll receive one Whoppercoin in a special cryptocurrency wallet. While the coins’ wider use is unclear, some reports suggest that the Whoppercoin will be accepted as payment at Burger Kings across Russia.

Gartner is well known for its research - this is a classic piece they do - The graphic and other data provides great signals and is worth the read.
“Organizations will continue to be faced with rapidly accelerating technology innovation that will profoundly impact the way they deal with their workforces, customers and partners,” says Mike J. Walker, research director. “Our 2017 Hype Cycle reveals three distinct technology trends that profoundly create new experiences with unrivaled intelligence, and offer platforms that propel organizations to connect with new business ecosystems in order to become competitive over the next five to 10 years.”

Top Trends in the Gartner Hype Cycle for Emerging Technologies, 2017

Enterprises should explain the business potential of blockchain, artificial intelligence and augmented reality.
Imagine a world where it is possible to implant a magnet that detects electrical current or utilize an exoskeleton to enhance strength. Now consider the potential abuses of requiring employees to have chip implants before they can work. Human augmentation has the potential to use technology to enhance bodies and minds, but also raises ethical and legal questions.

Nevertheless, the technology would offer higher levels of performance from employees and offer businesses an edge. This technology is upwards of 10 years from mainstream adoption, but has the potential to create a multi-billion dollar human augmentation market.

While human augmentation is just at the beginning of the innovation trigger phase of the Hype Cycle,complementary emerging technologies such as machine learning, blockchain, drones (commercial UAVs), software-defined security and brain-computer interfaces have moved significantly along the Hype Cycle since 2016.
This Hype Cycle looks at technologies that show promise in delivering a high degree of competitive advantage.
  • Artificial Intelligence (AI) Everywhere
  • Transparently Immersive Experiences
  • Digital Platforms

The related article is also a worth read.

3 Trends Appear in the Gartner Hype Cycle for Emerging Technologies, 2016

Are blockchain, smart machines, IoT and other emerging technologies on their way up or down the Hype Cycle?
You won’t be surprised to learn that blockchain, still five to ten years from mainstream adoption, nears the peak of the Gartner Hype Cycle for Emerging Technologies, 2016.  With its ability to store multiple bank transactions in one centralized ledger, accessible by all parties and regulated by a decentralized network, blockchain will have a transformational impact on business. While bitcoin steals the show as the only proven blockchain, the term blockchain has grown to encapsulate nearly two dozen distributed-ledger products with more than two dozen offerings in the market, thus the hype.

Right now, blockchain is gaining traction because it holds the promise to transform industry operating models. It is also one example of an enabling technology of the platform revolution trend, one of the three trends along with transparently immersive experiences and perceptual smart machine age highlighted in the Hype Cycle for Emerging Technologies 2016.

Well given were Blockchain (distributed ledger) technologies are in the hype curve (although this tech is moving fast) this is another good signal of both it potential and its ubiquity.
“Blockchain technology enables a new era of end-to-end transparency in the global food system — equivalent to shining a light on food ecosystem participants that will further promote responsible actions and behaviors,” writes Frank Yiannas, Walmart’s VP for food safety, in today’s announcement. “It also allows all participants to share information rapidly and with confidence across a strong trusted network.”

IBM, Kroger, Walmart and others team up to improve food safety with blockchains

IBM today announced that it is working with a consortium that includes Dole, Golden State Foods, Kroger, McCormick and Company, Nestlé, Tyson Foods, Unilever and Walmart to bring the benefit of blockchains to the food supply chain.

IBM, just like most of its competitors in the public cloud computing space, has been working on various blockchain projects in the last few months.

Given the complexity of the food supply chain from producer to consumer, blockchains could actually find a pretty interesting niche here because they would allow for more transparency and traceability (especially when things go wrong). The idea behind this project and the collaboration between these different companies is to figure out where exactly blockchains can benefit the food ecosystem.

Unsurprisingly, IBM’s Blockchain Platform will form the basis for much of this work. It supports the Linux Foundation’s Hyperledger Fabric and Hyperledger Composer technologies for building blockchain-based applications.

This is a very interesting signal - hinting again at an emerging new computing paradigm. This is will be aided by the self-driving car - as also a new form of mobile computing as integral to a mesh-network enabled digital environment.


Fasten your harnesses, because the era of cloud computing’s giant data centers is about to be rear-ended by the age of self-driving cars. Here’s the problem: When a self-driving car has to make snap decisions, it needs answers fast. Even slight delays in updating road and weather conditions could mean longer travel times or dangerous errors. But those smart vehicles of the near-future don’t quite have the huge computing power to process the data necessary to avoid collisions, chat with nearby vehicles about optimizing traffic flow, and find the best routes that avoid gridlocked or washed-out roads. The logical source of that power lies in the massive server farms where hundreds of thousands of processors can churn out solutions. But that won’t work if the vehicles have to wait the 100 milliseconds or so it usually takes for information to travel each way to and from distant data centers. Cars, after all, move fast.

That problem from the frontier of technology is why many tech leaders foresee the need for a new “edge computing” network—one that turns the logic of today’s cloud inside out. Today the $247 billion cloud computing industry funnels everything through massive centralized data centers operated by giants like Amazon, Microsoft, and Google. That’s been a smart model for scaling up web search and social networks, as well as streaming media to billions of users. But it’s not so smart for latency-intolerant applications like autonomous cars or mobile mixed reality.

“It’s a foregone conclusion that giant, centralized server farms that take up 19 city blocks of power are just not going to work everywhere,” says Zachary Smith, a double-bass player and Juilliard School graduate who is the CEO and cofounder of a New York City startup called Packet. Smith is among those who believe that the solution lies in seeding the landscape with smaller server outposts—those edge networks—that would widely distribute processing power in order to speed its results to client devices, like those cars, that can’t tolerate delay.

And here’s a good signal of the near future of the Internet-of-Things and emerging mesh-network digital environment.

New antennas are up to a hundredth the size of today’s devices

Tiny tech relies on magnetism to relay signals
Antennas just got a whole lot smaller.
Tiny chips that communicate via radio waves are a tenth to a hundredth the length of current state-of-the-art compact antennas. At only a couple hundred micrometers across — comparable to the thickness of a piece of paper — these next-gen antennas can relay the same types of signals as those used by TVs, cell phones and radios, researchers report August 22 in Nature Communications. The technological advance could pave the way to create wearable, or even injectable, electronics, says study coauthor Nian Sun, an electrical and computer engineer at Northeastern University in Boston.

Antenna miniaturization has been stalled out for decades, so these minuscule devices are “a huge deal,” says John Domann, who wasn’t involved in the work.

When electromagnetic waves pass over one of these chip antennas, the waves activate atoms in a layer of magnetic material. Similar to the way sport spectators stand and sit to create waves that ripple across a stadium, the atoms switch their magnetic alignments back and forth to create a magnetic current that runs through the chip.

That magnetic current vibrates an underlying layer of piezoelectric material — a kind of material that generates voltage when bent or squeezed (SN Online: 9/1/15). Since the vibrations create much shorter waves than those from incoming airborne electromagnetic signals, an antenna can be much smaller and still work.

This is a very interesting signal - given the two companies involved - and that implications of many other uses arising from successfully developing these proposals.

Wal-Mart Applies for Patent for Blimp-Style Floating Warehouse

Retailer applies for patent for blimp-style aircraft
Amazon was granted patent for similar contraption last year
Wal-Mart Stores Inc. has opened a new front in its battle with Inc.
The world’s largest retailer has applied for a U.S. patent for a floating warehouse that could make deliveries via drones, which would bring products from the aircraft down to shoppers’ homes.

The blimp-style machine would fly at heights between 500 feet and 1,000 feet (as much as 305 meters), contain multiple launching bays, and be operated autonomously or by a remote human pilot. Amazon was granted a patent for a similar vessel in April 2016.

The migration to the skies represents the latest volley in a clash between Wal-Mart and Amazon to grab shoppers’ attention, loyalty and dollars. In the process, the companies are increasingly treading on the other’s turf: Amazon is opening physical stores and agreed to pay $13.7 billion for upscale grocer Whole Foods Market Inc. Wal-Mart, meanwhile, has beefed up its e-commerce business through acquisitions and offers like free two-day shipping.

An unmanned airborne warehouse -- laden with drones -- could help retailers lower the costs of fulfilling online orders, particularly the so-called “last mile” to a customer’s house, which is usually handled by a local or national logistics company. To avoid that expense, Wal-Mart and other retailers often encourage shoppers to pick up those orders at the store, where they might grab a few additional items. Earlier this week, Target Corp. agreed to acquire a software company that coordinates local deliveries.

When change is accelerating (exponential growth) it’s very hard to anticipate a phase transition - the point when ice turns to water. This is a change in conditions of change - on ice one can walk, build a shelter, etc - but when ice turns to water - we can no longer expect the same things. This article is signalling an acceleration of robotics being implemented throughout the world. Robotics are integrally linked with software capabilities and AI.
The graphs in the article are worth the view.
“Increasing use of robots should be bad news for medium-skilled workers, especially those in sectors where routine work means scope for automation,” Orlik and Chen said. “Yet wage growth in China remains rapid, and if anything medium-skilled workers conducting routine work are doing better than average.”

China’s Robot Revolution May Affect the Global Economy

Automation impact on wages isn’t showing in the data – yet
China is installing more robots than any other nation, and that may affect every other nation.

Shipments jumped 27 percent to about 90,000 units last year, a single-country record and almost a third of the global total, and will nearly double to 160,000 in 2019, the International Federation of Robotics estimates.

The blazing pace hasn’t dented Chinese wages – yet – but it might influence the global economy, according to a report this week by Bloomberg Intelligence.

Automation may drive productivity gains and export competitiveness, but the rising use of robots also threatens to exacerbate domestic income inequality, undermining consumption. And that could spill out beyond the country’s borders, economists said.

This is a great signal of acceleration in our knowledge of how the brain works and more. While there is still significant improvements to be made - the speed of AI progress is exponential.

Computer approaches human skill for first time in mapping brain

A potentially faster way to understand brain circuitry
Scientist, for the first time, have developed a computer algorithm that is nearly as accurate as people are at mapping brain neural networks -- a breakthrough that could speed up the image analysis that researchers use to understand brain circuitry.

Like mapping 100 billion homes
For more than a generation, people have been trying to improve understanding of human brain circuitry, but are challenged by its vast complexity. It is similar to having a satellite image of the earth and trying to map out 100 billion homes, all of the connecting streets and everyone's destinations, said Shuiwang Ji, associate professor in the School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science and lead researcher on the project.

Researchers, in fact, took more than a decade to fully map the circuitry of just one animal's brain -- a worm that has only 302 neurons. The human brain, meanwhile, has about 100 billion neurons, and the amount of data needed to fully understand its circuitry would require 1000 exabytes of data, or the equivalent of all the data that is currently available in the world.

While the WSU research team was able to approach human accuracy in the MIT challenge, they still have a lot of work to do in getting the computers to develop complete and accurate neural maps. The computers still make a large number of mistakes, and there is not yet a gold standard for comparing human and computational results, said Ji. Although it may not be realistic to expect that automated methods would completely replace human soon, improvements in computational methods will certainly lead to reduced manual proof-reading, he added.

The best chess players in the world today are not humans nor are they AI - rather they are teams of humans and AI. This article with a number of links to sound files and a short video - is a great signal of the continuing enhancement of human creative capability with technology. It is also a signal of the future of work and gives some inkling of why a universal basic income could be the necessary social platform and safety net that can unleash human aspiration to explore the possibility spaces that are expanding at super-exponential rates.

The World’s First Album Composed and Produced by an AI Has Been Unveiled

A music album called I AM AI, the featured single of which is set to release on August 21st, is the first album that's entirely composed and produced by an artificial intelligence. It works in collaboration with a human artist, who provides inputs that Amper uses as composing parameters.
“Break Free” is the first sone released in a new album by Taryn Southern. The song, indeed, the entire album, features an artist known as Amper—but what looks like a typical collaboration between artists is actually much more than that.

Taryn is no stranger to the music and entertainment industry. She is a singer and digital storyteller who has amassed more than 500 million views on YouTube, and she has over 450 thousand subscribers. On the other hand, Amper is making his debut…except he’s (it’s?) not a person.

Amper is an artificially intelligent music composer, producer, and performer. The AI was developed by a team of professional musicians and technology experts, and it’s the the very first AI to compose and produced an entire music album. The album is called I AM AI, and the featured single is set to release on August 21, 2017.

Here’s a very strong signal in the change in conditions of change - especially in relation to the domestication of DNA. There’s a 15 min video as well.

CRISPR Co-Discoverer: “I’ve Never Seen Science Move at the Pace It’s Moving Now”

CRISPR co-discoverer Jennifer Doudna stressed the importance of using the technology with proper consideration at CrisprCon this week.
The CRISPR gene editing tool has already been used to perform some incredible feats of science, from manipulating the social behavior of ants to making superbugs kill themselves. It’s an incredibly powerful asset, but this week at CrisprCon, there was plenty of discussion about where we should draw a line on its usage.

CRISPR has already been used to edit harmful conditions out of animals and even viable human embryos. From this point, it wouldn’t take a great leap to start using the technology to enhance healthy organisms — which is why now is the time for discussions about the consequences.

“I’ve never seen science move at the pace it’s moving right now,” said CRISP co-discoverer Jennifer Doudna, who has spent recent months touring the world campaigning for a ‘global consensus’ on appropriate implementations of gene-editing technologies. “Which means we can’t put off these conversations.”

This is a very good signal of the inevitable approach of integrating Big Data, new biotechnologies and accelerating knowledge and advances in medical and other sciences. In fact - we can be very confident and any significant advance in one domain will have rapid contributions to advances in other domains.

A Cancer “Atlas” to Predict How Patients Will Fare

Researchers use a big-data approach to find links between different genes and patient survival.
Understanding the genetic changes in tumors that distinguish the most lethal cancers from more benign ones could help doctors better treat patients.
Today, Swedish researchers are launching a new open-access catalog that maps many of those genetic changes. This “atlas” links thousands of specific genes involved in numerous cancers to patient survival and also reveals potential new drug targets.

The new atlas is one of several ongoing efforts to make sense of data that’s been collected by public databases—like the National Cancer Institute’s Cancer Genome Atlas—that act as repositories for tumor samples. The goal is to glean practical information, like markers of disease, that can be used to develop cancer drugs and diagnostics.

The atlas is part of a Swedish program started in 2003 with the aim of mapping all of the human proteins made by the body’s some 20,000 or more genes.

This is a signal on the verge of a number of science fiction movies - a short article and video.

Further Research into Artificial Wombs Brings Us Closer to a Future Where Babies Grow Outside the Body

An Innovation in Artificial Incubation
Around 15 million babies are born preterm or premature every year, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). This number is expected to rise, bringing more infants into the world before completing 37 weeks of gestation. How we are going to care for a growing number of premature infants is a real concern: preterm birth complications were responsible for almost a million deaths in 2015, making it the leading cause of death among children below 5 years of age.

Thankfully, there are a number of interventions that can help, many of which involve developing better incubation chambers — even artificial wombs and placentas — where the premature infants can continue their growth outside the womb. One of these is an artificial womb developed by a combined team of researchers from the Women and Infants Research Foundation, the University of Western Australia, and Tohoku University Hospital, Japan.

“Designing treatment strategies for extremely preterm infants is a challenge,” lead researcher Matt Kemp said in a press release. “At this gestational age the lungs are often too structurally and functionally under-developed for the baby to breathe easily.” Their work, published in The American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology, took a different approach. The key was treating the preterm infants not as babies, but as fetuses.

Another strong signal.
The conditions there are ripe: genetic diseases carry heavy stigma, people with disabilities get very little support and religious and ethical push-back against preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD) is almost non-existent. China has also lifted some restrictions on family size and seen a subsequent rise in fertility treatments among older couples. Genetic screening during pregnancy for chromosomal abnormalities linked to maternal age has taken off throughout the country, and many see this as a precursor to wider adoption of PGD.

China’s embrace of embryo selection raises thorny questions

Fertility centres are making a massive push to increase preimplantation genetic diagnosis in a bid to eradicate certain diseases.
Getting time with Qiao Jie is not easy. At 7:30 a.m., the line coming out of the fertility centre that she runs blocks the doorway and extends some 80 metres down the street. Inside, about 50 physicians on her team are discussing recent findings, but Qiao, a fertility specialist and president of Peking University Third Hospital in Beijing, is still in an early-morning consult.

When she finally emerges, she jumps to the topic at hand: spreading awareness of preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD), a procedure that helps couples undergoing in vitro fertilization (IVF) to avoid passing on genetic mutations that could cause disease or disability in their children. Qiao typically refuses interview requests, but she’s concerned that people aren’t getting the message about PGD fast enough. “Now, more and more diseases can be stopped — if not immediately, in the generation after next,” she says.

Early experiments are beginning to show how genome-editing technologies such as CRISPR might one day fix disease-causing mutations before embryos are implanted. But refining the techniques and getting regulatory approval will take years. PGD has already helped thousands of couples. And whereas the expansion of PGD around the world has generally been slow, in China, it is starting to explode.

This is another signal of new paradigms of medical treatment that are underway.

Tiny robots crawl through mouse’s stomach to heal ulcers

Tiny robotic drug deliveries could soon be treating diseases inside your body. For the first time, micromotors – autonomous vehicles the width of a human hair – have cured bacterial infections in the stomachs of mice, using bubbles to power the transport of antibiotics.

“The movement itself improves the retention of antibiotics on the stomach lining where the bacteria are concentrated,” says Joseph Wang at the University of California San Diego, who led the research with Liangfang Zhang.

In mice with bacterial stomach infections, the team used the micromotors to administer a dose of antibiotics daily for five days. At the end of the treatment, they found their approach was more effective than regular doses of medicine.

The tiny vehicles consist of a spherical magnesium core coated with several different layers that offer protection, treatment, and the ability to stick to stomach walls. After they are swallowed, the magnesium cores react with gastric acid to produce a stream of hydrogen bubbles that propel the motors around. This process briefly reduces acidity in the stomach. The antibiotic layer of the micromotor is sensitive to the surrounding acidity, and when this is lowered, the antibiotics are released.

From nanobots to bacterial cyborgs this is a very interesting signal.

'Cyborg' bacteria deliver green fuel source from sunlight

Scientists have created bacteria covered in tiny semiconductors that generate a potential fuel source from sunlight, carbon dioxide and water.
The so-called "cyborg" bugs produce acetic acid, a chemical that can then be turned into fuel and plastic.

In lab experiments, the bacteria proved much more efficient at harvesting sunlight than plants.

The work was presented at the American Chemical Society meeting in Washington.
After combing through old microbiology literature, researchers realised that some bugs have a natural defence to cadmium, mercury or lead that lets them turn the heavy metal into a sulphide which the bacteria express as a tiny, crystal semiconductor on their surfaces.

"It's shamefully simple, we've harnessed a natural ability of these bacteria that had never been looked at through this lens," said Dr Kelsey Sakimoto from Harvard University in Massachusetts, US.

"We grow them and we introduce a small amount of cadmium, and naturally they produce cadmium sulphide crystals which then agglomerate on the outsides of their bodies."
"It's all very simple, mix-in-a-pot-chemistry."

This is another signal of our understanding of our own health as a consequence of the health of the ecology that constitutes our biological being.

Psychobiotics: How gut bacteria mess with your mind

Gut bugs can change the way our brains work, offering new ways to relieve problems like stress, anxiety and depression, say two leading professors
WE HAVE all experienced the influence of gut bacteria on our emotions. Just think how you felt the last time you had a stomach bug. Now it is becoming clear that certain gut bacteria can positively influence our mood and behaviour. The way they achieve this is gradually being uncovered, raising the possibility of unlocking new ways to treat neurobehavioural disorders such as depression and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).

We acquire our intestinal microbes immediately after birth, and live in an important symbiotic relationship with them. There are far more bacteria in your gut than cells in your body, and their weight roughly equals that of your brain. These bacteria have a vast array of genes, capable of producing hundreds if not thousands of chemicals, many of which influence your brain. In fact, bacteria produce some of the same molecules as those used in brain signalling, such as dopamine, serotonin and gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA). Furthermore, the brain is predominantly made of fats, and many of these fats are also produced by the metabolic activity of bacteria.