The complex ethics of human history

Readers are advised that this article contains images of ancient human remains. At the end of this century’s first decade, no ancient human genome had been sequenced in full. Now, there are over 6,000 complete genomes in the archives, and more are added to the list every week. Since it became clear that DNA could … Continue reading The complex ethics of human history

How to use drones responsibly in Kakadu

Drones have transformed conservation and land management over the past decade, making it easier than ever to collect high-quality data. But like all new technologies, they come with new ethical quandaries – particularly when used on country managed by Indigenous Australians. A group of researchers, Jawoyn Traditional Owners, and Indigenous Rangers, have addressed this with … Continue reading How to use drones responsibly in Kakadu

Let’s talk about genetics and disease

Being told you are genetically predisposed to disease is scary – what does it even mean? Genetics and disease are highly complex and this often means it is hard to navigate whether there is high risk of disease or not. Beyond this, our genetic data can feel personal. So how do we ensure our genetic … Continue reading Let’s talk about genetics and disease

Beware the lure of unethical solar power

Solar energy may be the future. But only if it lets go of the past. International NGO the World Economic Forum has issued a damning report card on the state of the world’s solar panel manufacturing. It may be experiencing rapid growth. It may be one of the cheapest sources of power. But its climate credentials … Continue reading Beware the lure of unethical solar power

WHO issues new ethics recommendations for human genome editing

The World Health Organization (WHO) has released two new companion reports that provide the first global recommendations for using human genome editing as a tool for public health.  Currently, countries can choose their own laws and regulations about human genome-editing, and these reports aim to give guidance to these policies. Human Genome Editing: a framework for … Continue reading WHO issues new ethics recommendations for human genome editing

How to recognise a super-recogniser

Australian psychologists have developed a new test that aims to identify “super-recognisers” – people with an extraordinary knack for remembering faces, even those they’ve only seen once at the supermarket twenty years ago. “Being able to recognise faces of friends and family is a skill that most of us take for granted,” says David White … Continue reading How to recognise a super-recogniser

Police debacle with SafeWA COVID tracking app

By Tama Leaver. QR code contact-tracing apps are a crucial part of our defence against COVID-19. But their value depends on being widely used, which in turn means people using these apps need to be confident their data won’t be misused. That’s why this week’s revelation that Western Australian police accessed data gathered using the … Continue reading Police debacle with SafeWA COVID tracking app

95% of cell lines used in clinical research of European descent

The basis for medical research is the pre-clinical research phase, which almost invariably focuses on cellular work in the laboratory. But 95% of all human cell lines used in clinical research worldwide are of European descent – adding an inherent bias to research. The authors of a collaborative report published today in Cell hope to … Continue reading 95% of cell lines used in clinical research of European descent

Folbigg 2019 inquiry: guilty finding upheld

The Australian Academy of Science late yesterday released a statement about the NSW Court of Appeal’s decision to dismiss Kathleen Folbigg’s appeal to overturn the findings of a 2019 inquiry into her conviction. In the wake of a pardon petition presented earlier this month to the NSW Governor – which 22 of the Academy’s fellows signed – … Continue reading Folbigg 2019 inquiry: guilty finding upheld

Ethics of making human blastocysts in a lab

The findings of two papers released today in the journal Nature by two separate research groups – one mainly Australian – show that when it comes to ethics, science and the law, nothing stands still for long. Both research groups have made significant advances in the field of early human development by generating early human embryo-like … Continue reading Ethics of making human blastocysts in a lab

How much do you value privacy?

Who has access to the plethora of information collected from surveillance devices, such as CCTV cameras and facial recognition technology, and what safeguards are in place to protect people’s privacy?  How did we become so extensively monitored with minimal objection, subject to bipartisan surveillance bills that are introduced with negligible debate? These are questions that … Continue reading How much do you value privacy?

Cosmos Briefing: Science v law

Australia’s legal system should reconsider how seriously it regards scientific evidence, according to today’s Cosmos Briefing. Recent genetic evidence has prompted dozens of eminent Australian scientists to petition for Kathleen Folbigg’s pardon, raising questions about the complicated relationship between science and the law. Gary Edmond, a law professor at the University of NSW; Anna-Maria Arabia, … Continue reading Cosmos Briefing: Science v law