Bull Session

Genetically Modified Crops

April 12, 2018          

Episode Summary

This week on The Digital Life, we chat about the USDA’s recent announcement, declaring a regulation free approach to the design, cultivation, and sale of certain gene-edited plants.

On March 28, 2018, the USDA made an important announcement that included the following statement: “Under its biotechnology regulations, USDA does not regulate or have any plans to regulate plants that could otherwise have been developed through traditional breeding techniques ….” This includes new methods, like genome editing, that “can introduce new plant traits more quickly and precisely, potentially saving years or even decades in bringing needed new varieties to farmers.”

Genetically modified crops may be better able to resist herbicides, withstand viral and fungal attacks, contain more nutrients and even be more flavorful. However, in the US, because such GM food products will not likely be subject to disclosure, it’s only a matter of time before CRISPR altered foods are available at your grocery store with (or without) your knowledge. Join us as we discuss.

Resources:
Crispr’d Food, Coming Soon to a Supermarket Near You

Bull Session

Digital People

April 5, 2018          

Episode Summary

What happens when we can’t distinguish between the real and the artificial? On The Digital Life this week, we chat about what happens when we’re able to create convincing representations of people, digitally.

At the Game Developer Conference last week, Epic Games showed off Siren, a digital character powered by the real-time motion capture of an actress on the stage. The character detail, shading, and lighting was of especially high quality, including realistic looking facial expressions. While Siren isn’t quite capable of blurring the line between CGI and reality, the technology is definitely a big step in that direction.

The longer term possibilities of technologies like this seem endless: With realistic digital rendering of people in virtual space, it will be possible to digitally capture yourself or your family to potentially interact with future generations. On the other hand, it will also be possible to make it appear as if people said things that they really didn’t, further contributing to the deluge of digital misinformation. Join us as we discuss.

Resources:
Epic Games shows off amazing real-time digital human with Siren demo