The principle of science, the definition, almost, is the following: the test of all knowledge is experiment. Experiment is the sole judge of scientific truth.Richard Feynman, The Feynman Lectures on Physics
Most of us probably know someone who’s suffered from cancer, is still suffering or, unfortunately, we have it ourselves. Media daily feed us information on this topic, covering a wide range of news on the newest cancer drugs, treatments or medical discoveries. And yet, you might wonder why, after years and years of research, we still haven’t successfully found a universal cure for cancer. The answer to this is more complex than it seems – so let’s take it step by step.
We rely on computers to make all sorts of decisions these days: computers can decide faster and better than humans, for the most part. Whether you swipe a card in a store, open up Netflix to take a look at its recommendations or search your computer for that one file you just can’t find, a computer takes a look at the data available, runs an algorithm and gives you a result. That data can be your account balance, past viewing activity or an index of your files, but it can be something much more important – and as we grow to trust computers to perform more and more tasks that humans have traditionally been doing, how can we make sure that they make the right decisions? And are they making good decisions right now? Or are they actually amplifying sexism and racism?
You’ve probably heard of terraforming, be it in a game, a movie or Elon Musk’s Twitter feed. Even if not, you’re almost certainly aware of all the buzz around Mars and our plans of colonizing it. The feat of modifying an entire planet to better suit our needs would be as taxing as it sounds, but it has become the topic of serious scientific discussion.
So, could we really do it? And how?
I know you’re all sick of hearing about coronavirus, but hear me out: this is great news. A new update to iOS and Android has introduced coronavirus contact tracing.
It’s a genius way to help solve one of today’s most pressing issues in a privacy-protecting and efficient manner. Contact tracing in iOS and Android works in a way that lets epidemiologists alert people when they might have been exposed to SARS-CoV-2 and tell them to self-isolate, all without anybody knowing who you were with, what you were doing, and where.
If that sounds too good to be true, get ready for some computer science.