Dadbot, Wifebot, Friendbot: The Future of Memorializing Avatars

Dadbot, Wifebot, Friendbot: The Future of Memorializing Avatars

In 2015, about a year before he was diagnosed with terminal lung cancer, John Vlahos posed for a picture with his son, James.

(Courtesy James Vlahos)


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James Vlahos
James Vlahos is the author of TALK TO ME: How Voice Computing Will Transform the Way that We Live, Work, and Think (Houghton Mifflin, March 26, 2019). Covering the business, technological, and cultural ramifications of the voice revolution, the book has been described by readers such as Wired editor-in-chief Nicholas Thompson as "brilliant and essential." Vlahos is also the creator the Dadbot, a conversation-making program that shares the personality and life story of his late father, and of an Alexa skill, The Voice Computing Book. Vlahos contributes to the New York Times Magazine, Wired, Popular Science, The Atlantic, and GQ.
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Podcast: The Friday Five Weekly Roundup in Health Research

In this week's Friday Five, a new face mask can detect Covid and send an alert to your phone. Plus, promising research for a breakthrough drug to treat schizophrenia, an AI tool that can create new proteins, progress on a longevity drug - and more.

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The Friday Five covers five stories in research that you may have missed this week. There are plenty of controversies and troubling ethical issues in science – and we get into many of them in our online magazine – but this news roundup focuses on scientific creativity and progress to give you a therapeutic dose of inspiration headed into the weekend.

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Matt Fuchs

Matt Fuchs is the editor-in-chief of Leaps.org. He is also a contributing reporter to the Washington Post and has written for the New York Times, Time Magazine, WIRED and the Washington Post Magazine, among other outlets. Follow him on Twitter @fuchswriter.

​Life is Emerging: Review of Siddhartha Mukherjee’s Song of the Cell

A new book by Pulitzer-winning physician-scientist Siddhartha Mukherjee will be released from Simon & Schuster on October 25, 2022.

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The DNA double helix is often the image spiraling at the center of 21st century advances in biomedicine and the growing bioeconomy. And yet, DNA is molecularly inert. DNA, the code for genes, is not alive and is not strictly necessary for life. Ought life be at the center of our communication of living systems? Is not the Cell a superior symbol of life and our manipulation of living systems?

A code for life isn’t a code without the life that instantiates it. A code for life must be translated. The cell is the basic unit of that translation. The cell is the minimal viable package of life as we know it. Therefore, cell biology is at the center of biomedicine’s greatest transformations, suggests Pulitzer-winning physician-scientist Siddhartha Mukherjee in his latest book, The Song of the Cell: The Exploration of Medicine and the New Human.

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Lee Cooper
Lee Cooper is a biotech investor and entrepreneur, and teaches bio-innovation on the faculty of Dartmouth's Thayer School of Engineering. He aims to support human-centered innovations built on an understanding of the ways that culture and technology shape one another.