Make sex/gender determination tests compulsory

Photos by – Irina Murza and at Unsplash

The PC-PNDT Act is a 1994 act of parliament that outlaws the gender determination of the foetus before birth.

The intent of the PC-PNDT Act is to prevent female foeticide and to correct the poor gender/sex ratio in India. 

Assuming near parity in the number of girls and boys, the current national sex ratio suggests that 7% of all girls are missing. I.e 3.5% of the national population of 1.2 billion, which is about 50 million missing girls/women.

The PC-PNDT Act has been a total failure. The improvements in child sex ratio are marginal and it’s likely a result of a more educated/literate population and not a result of the PC-PNDT Act.

Now, the Act is causing more damage than good. Sonography is a fast growing, emerging area of diagnostics and hand held devices with intelligent software on the cloud are changing the face of diagnostics that work using sound wave sensors.

Given the failure of the Act and the democratisation of the technology, it makes far more sense to make gender/sex determination compulsory for all pregnant women in India. This is easy to do and enforce by simply linking it to claiming of future benefits and rights.

By making sex determination compulsory, we will be able to track every girl child and make parents and caregivers responsible to give reasons for death or poor nutritional status of the child.  Unusual cases can be investigated (without harassment) and people responsible for foeticide can be brought to justice.

The PC-PNDT Act must go.

The world’s first humans with augmented intelligence?

Will DeepMind create the world’s first neural interfaces?

Humans wired to DeepMind will have superhuman capabilities. They will be able to solve practical problems by accessing the AI working on some of the largest data sets in the world. Across business, finance, investing, technology, sciences, medicine, arts and much more.

This article by Michael Spencer seems to believe that this will be the case and that this will create a dangerous monopoly. Decimating Google’s existing business but replacing it with something much more powerful. –

How do we avert the pandemic risk from human engineered viruses

The ability to genetically engineer viruses and bacteria is rapidly becoming commonplace and it’s already within the reach of a bio technologist in any garage laboratory.

This is no longer something only companies or labs with massive resources and infrastructure can do.

However, as Rob Reid mentions in his Ted talk, within a couple of decades, it’s going to be possible for anyone to create a human engineered virus or bacteria. It will no longer require someone with a biotech background and will not even need a lab.

Here is the link to Rob’s talk –

Rob also mentions some approaches that we must adopt and explore right away, to avert catastrophe.

The return of the phage! GMO phage.

Antibiotic resistance is racing through the world and a growing number of pathogens are becoming resistant to antibiotics.

Even worse, extreme drug resistance is growing where the pathogen is resistant to all known antibiotics. An increasing number of such cases end in death. 

It is not just about diseases like drug resistant tuberculosis. A simple finger cut infected by antibiotic resistant bacteria can result in amputation of the arm or death. Such pathogens have started spreading within hospitals and the victims are usually patients who have undergone surgery.

Since 1919, even before antibiotics were discovered, phages have been used to treat diseases. Phages are viruses that kill the bacteria. For every known bacterium, there is some type of phage out there which feeds on the bacteria and kills it.

The amazing effectiveness of antibiotics ensured that the use of phages stopped and disappeared. No further research happened on phages.

Now, it appears that not only can we fight drug resistant bacteria with naturally occurring phages, we can also genetically engineer phages to target any specific kind of bacteria. As this article suggests –

Now this is GMO research even the environmentalists should welcome!

I now hope that phages research progresses rapidly and phage based solutions become widely available before antibiotic resistant diseases ravage our planet and hundreds of millions of people die. This scary scenario is now inevitable unless we figure out new ways of curing antibiotic resistant disease.

A brain dead person may not be dead after all!

Reference article –

Reviving dead pig brains means only one thing from an ethics standpoint and that concerns the definition of human death.

If a person’s breathing stops, is he dead? We now know he is not and that he can be put on a ventilator.

If a person’s heart stops, is she dead? We know that it is not true because hearts can be revived and hearts can be transplanted as well.

Pig brains have thrown up a conundrum for us.