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Author Archive: Amanda Zink

by Amanda Zink, J.D., M.A. and Jill P. Buyon, M.D.

As national funding decreased in recent decades, medical research suffered. Progress toward uncovering beneficial preventative and therapeutic treatments slowed for thousands of devastating conditions, affecting the health, happiness, and life expectancy of millions of Americans. Young scientists trying to enter the biomedical research arena last year faced the worst funding climate in half a century, with NIH spending down 22% since 2003. December of 2015 brought a glimmer of hope, however, when Congress passed a federal spending bill that included the biggest increase in NIH funding in 12 years, an additional $2 billion that NIH Director Francis Collins says came at “just the right time to take advantage of remarkable opportunities to improve human health, powered by dramatic advances in scientific knowledge and technological innovation.”…

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by Amanda Zink, J.D.

Last week, Facebook and Instagram banned gun sales on their platforms. Despite the outcry after each mass shooting, believe it or not, America’s gun problem is only getting worse. Since the year 2000, 500,000 Americans have lost their lives to bullets, and over a million more were injured by guns. Mass shootings now occur within our borders DAILY and a child or teen is shot to death about every 3 hours. Eighty percent of the mass shootings in the world between 2000-2014 were in America. The rest of the world thinks we’ve gone mad.…

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by Amanda Zink, J.D., M.A.

Hello Barbie, a doll with artificial intelligence (AI) that enables it to “talk” with children, is slated for release this November, just in time for the holiday season.

When a child activates a microphone inside Hello Barbie’s necklace, her words will be recorded and transmitted to computer servers. Speech recognition software will convert the audio message to analyzable text, enabling the “correct” response to be chosen out of thousands of pre-scripted lines.

Given recent articles on this toy in the popular press, I pose the question: Has Mattel taken enough time to think through the problems that could ensue from giving thousands of children a talking friend and uploading their conversations to the Cloud – for the manufacturers, the children’s parents, and maybe even the NSA to hear?…

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