Archive for the ‘ ethics ’ Category

Demystifying Big Data: Skytree Brings Machine Learning to the Masses

by Greg Emmerich, UW Madison M.S. Biotechnology Program. Advanced Biotechnology: Global Perspectives. Thesis Paper. April 16th, 2013.


The Digital Revolution has created a knowledge-based society reliant upon a high-tech global economy.  The pace of innovation has been exponential, leaving some to wonder what possibilities the future may hold.

Big Data is the term given for collections of data sets that are too large and complex for traditional hands-on data management and processing.  The term comes from the realm of information technology, but across an increasing number of fields, scientists are encountering situations that fit the category of Big Data.  Astronomy, genetics, and proteomics are a few of the fields beginning to feel the pressure for managing their data effectively.

There are numerous technical challenges going into setting up a system to process Big Data in reasonable amounts of time.  Machine learning algorithms present great potential in their ability to tease out hidden relationships among data sets and make predictions, but these analyses require distributed computing clusters capable of communicating intermediate results between tasks.

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Probiotics, Political Reform, and Creative Design

Probiotics, Political Reform, and Creative Design: Using Badges to Facilitate Innovation.

by Greg Emmerich  December 17, 2011.  UW Madison MS Biotechnology Program: Regulation and Ethics Final.


Understanding of the biological world has increased dramatically since Robert Koch first formulated his postulates connecting microbes to diseases some 120 years ago. Since then, scientists have uncovered much about the physiology, genetics, and ecological role of many bacteria. Scientists have primarily been focused on disease associated with microorganisms, and are just beginning to explore the estimated plethora of activity microbes play in establishing human health through the Human Microbiome Project (HMP). There is still much to be learned, but already it is clear that some bacterial strains have varying levels of benefit for humans. Numerous health-conscious consumers have been looking towards probiotics to help promote good health and possibly stave off illness, and industry is eager to make bold claims to capture that market. Protecting these consumers’ from unsafe products and from being swindled by false claims is the role of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Currently there is much debate over the regulation of probiotics and prebiotics. Finding an appropriate solution to the problem requires a creative approach. To aid consumers in evaluating health claims on products and to incentivize more research to be conducted, a simple solution of improving the labeling on those products is suggested. Creating a new regulatory category for probiotics and prebiotics may be appropriate if measures of efficacy can be demonstrated more convincingly. Continue reading