tv Panel Discussion on Science and Technology CSPAN May 15, 2016 5:30am-6:31am EDT
>> good afternoon. before starting, would you please silence all cell phones during the session. a reminder that personal recording of sessions is not allowed. there will be a book signing following the session, and this panel will be meeting in signing area number one which you will find noted on your festival map. and you can also ask one of the volunteers in the room to direct you. welcome. i'm lynn fieldman, a freelance science writer and editor of science writers' magazine published by the national association of science writers. and i will serve as moderator of this session on science, technology and the human condition.
it is my honor to introduce our panelists. at your far right beth shapiro, an associate professor of ecology and evolutionary biology at the university of california-santa cruz. her research is centered on the analysis of ancient dna. her work has appeared in numerous publications including nature and science, and she is a 2009 recipient of a mac arthur award. she lives in santa cruz. her book, "how to clone a ma'amth: the science of de extinction," looks at the real and compelling science and addresses how -- [inaudible] this book is a finalist in the l.a. times book prize competition. next is david morris. he's a former marine infantry officer.
he worked as a reporter in iraq from 2004 to 2007. his writing has appeared in the new yorker, slate, the virginia quarterly review and the best american non-required reading. his book, "the evil hours: a biography of post-traumatic stress disorder," is far more than a biography of the psychological condition or a memoir. it is also a cogent analysis of an ever-increasing phenomenon that has changed the landscape of our culture. and it, too, is a finalist in this year's competition. john markoff has been a technology and science reporter at "the new york times" since 1988. he was part of a team of times reporters that won the 2013 pulitzer prize for explanatory reporting for its, quote, penetrating look into the business practices by apple and other technology companies that
illustrates the darker side of a changing global economy for workers and consumers. he lives in san francisco. his book, "machines of loving grace: the quest for common ground between humans and robots," addresses one of the most important questions of our age: will machines help us or will they replace us? this book, too s a finalist. -- is a finalist. and we have -- [inaudible] mike hill sick, pulitzer prize-winning author who has covered public policy for the los angeles times for more than 20 years. he currently serves as the times' business columnist. he is with us today to discuss his latest book, "big science: earnest lawrence and the invention that launched the military industrial complex." it is an untold story of how one invention changed the world and the man principally responsible
for it and how that effort led to the dependence on government and industry for the big science that we have today. the format for the hour in which we are together is that i will pose some initial questions to each of our panelists followed by some broader topics for constitution as a whole. audience members, you will have an opportunity to ask your own questions towards the end of the session. and when we do, we have floor microphones, and we ask you to direct your questions there, and i will let you know when you can line up for that. so let's begin. beth shapiro, could extinct species like mammoths and passenger pigeons, could they really be brought back to life? >> it depends what you're willing to accept as a mammoth or a passenger pigeon. [laughter] i realize that's a little bit of a complicated answer.
when an organism dies, the dna begins to decay immediately, and that dna which exists in all of us as long strands of letters that make up the code that make us look and act the way we do, that dna starts getting chopped up into smaller fragments really quickly. what means is that a mammoth that's been dead for 5,000 years, 10,000 years, if we go out and collect a bone from that mammoth, it'll have dna, but it'll be broken growth fragments. and we can't use that dna in the same way as we can use a cell from dolly the sheep. that's not tail possible with ma'am -- actually possible, with mammoths. we can take those flag bements, and we can start to understand how the mammoth, for example, differs from an asian elephant. they share about 99% of the dna, these two species. so if we could just identify that last 1%, then we could take
an elephant and do a little bit of a cut and paste job, as it will, and turn that elephant's cell and turn that boo an elephant that is a little bit mammoth-like. so if you're willing to accept that as a mammoth, then, sure. [laughter] >> so i'll follow up on this. beth, but if our ability to do that, is that going to come at a cost? of the current efforts that we have to protect the endangered species? >> no, i don't think so. so most of the technology, the research that's going into developing these kind of science fiction at the moment, but fantastical approaches to doing this, these are not competing for resources with existing conservation efforts. in fact, those of us who are interested in this, and my interest in this is not to bring species that are extinct and gone forever back to life are, but instead to use this as a
technology to help species that are alive today but perhaps in danger of going extinct because they can't adapt quickly enough sufficiently to be able to keep up with the changes that are happening to their habitat. can we use this same technology to genetically assist that adaptation? and all of these developments that might be a new approach to conservation are being funded by research that wants to use these same technologies to do things like gene therapy in humans. so there are -- and we're interested in that. what if we could identify the genes that are responsible for a particular genetic disease and then go in there with these tools of science and actually cut and paste our own genomes, thereby curing diseases? that's where the funding from this technology is coming from. those of us interested in that conservation are taking advantage of that and using it in this other purpose potentially as a new tool for conservation. >> thank you. i'm going to turn, david morris.
you have a very personal story about post-traumatic stress disorder. how did you come about deciding to write it but then expanding it to much larger topics? >> sort of a big jump. i feel sort of like the redheaded stepchild in the room going from wooly mammoth to ptsd. [laughter] like science fiction to, i don't know, dr. freud's office. [laughter] all right. the question was how did i get interested in ptsd? >> no, how did you decide to tell your story? you're also telling a wider story. >> yeah. >> it's not just your story. >> yeah, i don't know. i got interested, i had been in the marine corps before 9/11, and then i was a war correspondent, and so i had seen war from a number of different angles and then came back and felt really at odds with the country politically, socially, emotionally, and i just felt like a martian which is
something that a lot of veterans say, they come back, and they just feel like they're a different species of human, and they just feel out of place. and i felt sort of generally out of place in a way that i couldn't put my finger on. and then i read -- i came across this article, and i believe it was in the "usa today." they were talking about expanding the definition of ptsd to include some sense of veterans who felt that the war had in some way positive softened their -- poisoned their life. it wasn't just that they couldn't sleep and they had flashbacks and hallucinations, it was sort of this larger emotional disconnect from society. and that was really how i felt. i had served in the marine corps, and i came from a very conservative family. i had voted for george w. bush the first time, and then i went to iraq. and, you know, understandably my view of the world changed, and i think as importantly my relationship with my country changed radically in 2004 when i went to iraq for the first time. and i thought i was, i felt really kind of alone, and i
didn't know a lot of people that felt the same way. most people, most veterans didn't seem to think about it the way i id do. and -- i did. and when you talked about ptsd, you didn't talk about this poisoning or this emotional or political or larger cultural echo that i felt kind of as strongly as any other symptom, for lack of a better word. so i went to the library and started digging around, and i found rather than me being the only one who felt that way, i actually discovered that the origins of the ptsd concept, the genesis, if you will, of the diagnosis came from the vietnam war, and it came from this very activist group could the vietnam vets against the war who felt very similarly to how i did. they felt that the vietnam war had been this very evil, destructive, poisoning force in their life. and that's why we have ptsd. the diagnosis didn't come out of thin air, it's not immortal. it's a product of 1970s america. and a lot of the activists and a
lot of the people that fought to have ptsd recognized -- which today many of us think of ptsd as this elemental force. it's like, you know, this central part of the post war narrative. nobody -- if you came back from world war ii, there was nothing for you. you came back and people basically said put your uniform in the closet, go get a job, and there was nothing for veterans up until vietnam. so that was sort of my discovery, was i thought i was alone. and i went to the library and discovered that i was not. that sort of, that was, for me, the genesis of my interest and why for me -- i didn't want to write a book just about me. i didn't want to write a sob story about how bad my life was, you know? i thought i didn't have that bad of a life, and i was just really interested in, okay, how does this fit into the whole pantheon of ideas. so the book became about that. >> and a follow up to that. what does modern neuroscience have to tell us about ptsd?
>> well, i have kind of a semi-controversial view of this, because i don't think modern neuroscience has a whole hell of a lot to say just yet about ptsd. there are some specific -- and i think that's related to really the larger saga of science and that we are, if you think about science as sort of an age of discovery or to use a bad analogy like if science and truth were some sort of continent and we were going out to discover it, if you think of ptsd and the neuroscience behind it as this continent to be discovered, the ships are just now leaving the harbor to go discover what we might know about the brain. and so i think it's really important to keep that this mind. and there are -- in mind. and there are a lot of professors on this campus that will tell you we have a cure for ptsd. i don't -- i believe those people are misleading you. i don't believe there to be a simple cure for ptsd. it's a very complex condition and touches on the whole part of a human being. and so there has been as far as
to more specifically answer your question, there are some specific areas and some specific researchers who i like a lot who have discovered things that in science that have been replicated that is not just a one-off. specifically, rachel yahuda at the v.a. bronx has discovered that there are stress hormones that are secreted in the human body under stress. and she discovered that the court sol profile of someone who has been exposed to extreme stress like war or genocide, through the maternal offspring, their offspring will have a different cortisol profile. so -- and she studied the survivors, holocaust survivors and the maternal line of people who survived the holocaust. and she found that through the
maternal line that there is a different, that descendants of holocaust survivors, the maternal line will have a different stress hormone profile than an average person. so it does actually change the person's chemistry. it does change how they, how the chemical make-up of their body functions. and there's always been really good research done by tim cahill on this drug which is a beta-blocker. it's a very common heart drug that if you give it, what it does is suppress the adrenal human response of fight, flight or freeze. and if you give that to someone after, say, a car accident in the e.r., you can reduce the incidence of subsequent ptsd by 50%. so that, in my mind, is sort of the one data point in my reading of the research was that there is not really a miracle drug or a miracle cure on the horizon with possible exception of
propanyrol. scientists are just now beginning to use it to reduce the incidence of ptsd down the line. and that started at u.s. irvine just down -- uc irvine just down the road. >> okay. john markoff, machines of loving grace. how close are we to a robot-run society? [laughter] >> another big leap. well, i guess, and also i guess it sort of depends on what you mean by robot. because, you know, if you're willing to take a broad definition of the term, and i do, then i would think of things like siri and cortana and google now to be virtual robots, and we're already very much at least interacting with them. if you mean robot in the sense of sort of displacing us, that's another question. you know, two years ago they had
a wonderful my interesting contest -- wonderfully interesting contest here in the los angeles care called the darpa rescue challenge, and they gave some of the best robottists in the world to design machines to do eight simple tasks, to walk, to drive, the open doors, to use power tools. and three of them were able to actually perform the tasks that they set out for them. they took about 45 minutes to an hour instead of the five minutes that humans would, and most of them couldn't even do simple tasks like opening the door which led the son of the guy who ran the contest, a man by the name of gil pratt, to say if you're worried about the terminator, just keep your door closed. [laughter] and i think that's kind of, that was ground truth. you know, we're going to have robots in space, in cyberspace
and underwater, but the ground, the ground is really hard. and that's the last place that robots will move around freely. and, of course, that brings us to self-driving cars. and, you know, i think we all now sort of as a society because of google and other things that have happened think that self-driving cars are almost here. and i've taken to saying -- i live in san francisco, and i've taken to saying if uber robot shows up in 2025 to drive me, the problem is that many of these technologies are going to make the ability for cars to drive themselves really commercial. it's happening right now. but taking the human completely out of the loop is going to be a very big challenge because of the edge cases, the random things that humans step in and take over. you know, google's shifted their self-driving car program a couple of years ago, and they
didn't really get enough attention. they went from trying to build regular cars and get them to drive autonomous a human supervisor to these little cars now that are limited to 25 miles an hour and have no steering wheel, brake or accelerator. and they did that because at a certain point in their project, they took professional drivers out of the car, and they replaced them with google employees and let them commute, and the instrument of the cars, and they watched to see what happened. and what they found was a lot of distracted behavior up to and including falling asleep. and this is what's called the handoff problem. what do you do when the car says, hey, i can't deal with this situation, you take control. well, if you're asleep or if you're playing world of war craft, you're not going to come back into what's called situational awareness to take over, and that that's a really hard problem that any of the technologies on the horizon right now are not going to solve. so, you know, the completely robot society, it's a ways off in the future. >> great.
mike, let's talk about ernest lawrence. you know, how did he almost single-handedly develop the big science model of research that we have today? >> well, as often happens with these big leaps in achievement, there was a combination of luck, necessity and intuition. 1930 fortuitously at a moment when physics had sort of reached a dead end or a brick wall. the old generation, the small scientists who had been the great, the great researchers in physics up to that point, people like ernest rutherford and marie curie, had gotten about as far as they could get with the tools
nature had given them, and they had achieved a tremendous amount. they had discovered the structure of the atom and x-rays. but they understood that to delve deeper into the mysteries of the atom, they were going to need energies that were beyond what nature could provide. they needed something called human inyes knewty. inyes knewty. rutterford was the one who stood up and set forth the challenge for his colleagues. he said what i would like to see is an apparatus that can produce a thousand electron volts and fit into a comfortably-sized room, and physicists all over the world took him up on the challenge. and what they tried to do was apply a thousand electron volts to an apparatus, and if the apparatus was glass, they ended up with a laboratory filled with pieces of glass. [laughter] it was lawrence whose intuition was if you wanted a thousand electron volts, what you had to do was build it up on the
particle that you were using as a projectile, not on the apparatus. and he realized that you could deliver a series of jolts to a proton. you could build it up to a thousand electron volts. and the way to do that was to have the electron move in a spiral which you can do if you put it through a magnetic field. in fact, his first iteration of what became the cyclotron was something he called the proton merry go round. now, once you started with this sort of apparatus, lawrence's first cyclotron fit in the palm of his hand, but it owned -- each generation opened questions, raised questions that needed to be solved only by more powerful machines, more energetic and more powerful machines and more expensive machines. and, but before the decade was out, he was going to the
rockefeller foundation and saying i need a million dollars. which would have been the largest single sum that the rockefeller foundation had ever given to a single scientist in its history. and they said, well, yes, okay. we will do that. and that really set the stage for this series of continued generations of cyclotrons. they got bigger and bigger, they got more powerful. the latest iteration we see today is the he drone collider where lawrence's first, as i said, fit in his hand and cost $100. this one occupies a tunnel 17 miles in circumference, it's buried under the landscape on the border of france and switzerland, and it cost $9 billion to build, and it's not quite done yet. there's going to be, you know, more generations. and, of course, more questions
about whether all this money really needs to be spent and whether there's competition for it and other things to spend it on. >> are there other lawrences out there today? where are today's lawrences, and do we really want or need them? >> well, i think we need people like ernest lawrence and the scientists of his generation who spoke up for the idea that delving into the laws of nature, the natural world we live in was something very, very important. and i think that there's a lot of skepticism today about this sort of endeavor that we didn't have in the days of lawrence in part because he was such an effective spokesman for the principles. the biggest big science project that this country has tried at least in physics was the superconducting super-collider
which was on the drawing board in the 1990s. it was going to cost something in the neighborhood of $5 billion. it would actually have been more powerful than the large hay drone collider. but it raised a lot of questions in congress, in a congress that was at that point skeptical about government spending. steven weinberg, who's a physicist at the university of texas who was a great supporter of this program, tells the story of going on the radio show, it was the larry king radio show in 1991 or 1992 when congress was debating whether to continue this project after it had already spent $2 billion. and he was on the show with a texas congressman who was opposing it. and the congressman said, well, i'm not in favor of spending, you know, government money or taxpayers' money on anything that isn't going to have practical uses. and weinberg said that he responded, well, this collider
is going to open the door to new knowledge of our natural world. isn't that practical enough? and he wrote later that he remembered every word of the congressman's reply, and that reply was, no. [laughter] and in 1992 congress killed the superconducting super-collider in part because they didn't have people like lawrence. they'd all passed on at that point. >> i'll ask this sort of general question for the panel. any surprises along the way as you were writing your book? in other words, you came to a topic. did your finished book differ quite markedly from what you started out to accomplish? and i see john nodding his head. >> yeah.
you know, my book began -- turns out that about every two decades our nation passes through this period of anxiety about automation. it happens with great regularity. and, you know, i was even as a reporter at the new york times kind of instrumental in starting the current wave of anxiety because -- [laughter] in 2010-2011 i began to see a.i.-based technologies actually working. and not just displacing blue collar, manual workers, but it looked like they were displacing white collar, skilled professions like lawyers and doctors. and i basically had my hair on fire and felt that we were going to see this dramatic discontinuity where these technologies would actually dramatically transform the work force. and i've actually come full circle. i, you know, keynes, the economist, wrote in the 1930s that technology destroys jobs.
it doesn't destroy work. and the economy has continued to grow despite three or four decades of computerization quite nicely around the world. so i had my hair on fire, and i was talking to an economist, danny -- [inaudible] and sort of making the argument that as these robotics technologies came to china, that it was going to lead to social disruption because they were going to displace workers. he said, you don't get it. if we're lucky, in china the robots will come just in time. and i said, excuse me? he basically got me to take a close look at what's going on with the demography of china. china is a dramatically aging society. and as i began to understand what that meant, that the actual working age population in china is shrinking, it shrunk by seven million people last year and china's aging, the number of people will go up by sevenfold by the end of the century. ..
but that is only one of their tasks. the impact of discovery is a single digit kind of displacement. i reframed how i look at this wave of technology. it is having an impact, but we have to deal with right now is, there are more people in the us working today than i've ever worked in the face of this past automation period that we have had. really came out on the other side. >> what i learned that i did not expect to learn was the role of the scientists in society and how it evolves from generation to generation and how easily it can be politicized. i think that is something we see particularly these days in the biggest science project
and we have before us, which is the quest to solve the dilemma of climate change. we are in an era today when public funding, which became so important to science, especially basic science during world war ii and in the postwar years, when government is withdrawn from patronage of basic science which requires government funding to move ahead, no other industry would do it. we get less of it and at the same time has really become vulnerable because it is a threat discovering what causes climate change, figuring out ways to combat it which requires extensive earth science that requires satellites to help us
understand what is happening on the surface of the earth and in the atmosphere. finding solutions to that is an economic strategy. because we don't have enough scientists of stature and authority to speak up for the science really is under attack. >> yes. surprises. basically almost every preconception i had was completely overturned. ii understood it from a very particular pop-culture frame of reference, and i sort of expected that there would be this long, clear lineage reaching back into antiquity
this really shocked me. this idea which is pretty obvious, the symptoms of ptsd are very culturally determined and evolved over time. and to give you one quick example, the flashback which is considered a cardinal symptoms of ptsd, that was something went was basically a product of the age of film considered such an important symptom because there was a researcher from uc san francisco on the panel that created the diagnosis. british researchers went back and looked and tried to examine the reports of soldiers prior to the age of film and found that world war veterans of british empire in american civil war
veterans were far more likely to report that they were being visited by ghosts, spirits, demons, phantoms, and the ghosts of dead relatives. it speaks to one of the three lines in this panel, how technology changes us and one of the things that really shocked the hell out of me, the central kind of thing the memory can do to us. this intrusive thing that happens to us. this is basically because how much film and tv and cinema and video have infiltrated our brain and infiltrates the way we think and conceive of ourselves and the way we organize our consciousness. thatconsciousness. that is one interesting thing in talking about robots and technology, ptsd, i said earlieri said earlier it was a product of the 1970s and as we define it today is a product of the
age of film. that sucks because ptsd is not real. my symptoms are real or that somehow i am being conned into this thing because of film, and that is not what i'm arguing. the symptoms of ptsd, even though they have evolved, are very real and it is one of the difficult conversations before having them are really all mental health conditions, there is a strong push to locate symptoms in the hard biology of it, and biology and the neuroscience of it is just one piece. if you want to understand what someone is going through have to understand the context and their family, their life story, if they are veteran cop particularly if they come from a veteran family, the
kind of relationship they had with her father, the reason they enlisted. these things inform the ecosystem. biology is a very important part of it. there is a push, and it is related. ptsd is often talked among veterans as being a sign of weakness. if you messed up your going to go see the shrink, the head shrinker or the wizard. and if you can locate and say, it's a chemical imbalance in my brain, it takes a lot of the stigma off. andoff. and not saying that they shouldn't do that, but there is this interesting, one of the fortunate things, there is this science that makes the practical.
scientific conversations. the narrative and the concerns of how person assembles a narrative and how we tell aa story all the way through ancient myths to the modern fragmented novel, slaughterhouse five, the things they carry in the way we look at film in the way narrative structure has evolved, that can tell us a lot about consciousness. that is one of the things i advocate in the book, thinking about practical ways. in the stories we tell ourselves in a story the culture tells ourselves about who veterans are, how survivors should be interpreted, all of the different ways by our culture which is a form of
storytelling. however veteran or trauma survivor, their recovery or reintegration period happens. almost everything i thought was completely overturned. i've been trying to think, the degree to which journalism and popular conceptions of stuff both reveals things and inadvertently can create a narrative that hides other things. it took me a while to get because the ptsd, trauma narrativeptsd, trauma narrative journalism is so repetitive. they tend to focus on the same three things and there is not often enough -- ripping the band-aid off to use a bad metaphor, and try to look a little deeper. >> any surprises?
>> yes. i think not the one that most people would expect. i went into writing this book drawing from what the media and movies have told me about the kind of work i do, bringing dinosaurs back to life. and so when i went into writing this, look at the genetics of animals that used to be alive,alive, things like mammoths and mastodons. see what we can learn from their dna about how they responded to past periods of climate change that we could then applied to problems we'rewe are facing in the present day. journalists would call the only thing that they would want to know was whether this meant we could clone or not. and i was so frustrated by this question and really just wanted to explain why it was impossible.
but as i wrote the book and go through thinking about the technology and how far we have, scientists and how absolutely far we would have to go to do this it dawned on me gradually that there were parts of this that were incredibly relevant and potentially useful for modern-day conservation problems. one of the projects based out of san francisco, they are focusing on the population, black hooded ferrets, annoying things. we tried to kill them and succeeded in doing that and then somebody discovered there was a population of them left. they want to keep them around.around.
and there's a problem though, there are very many. genetically there is almost no diversity among them. the moment that they are released they get sick and die and they don't have any sort of genetic diversity. however, there are black hooded ferrets that are in different collections, what is called the frozen zoo where you guys been collecting bits and pieces of all sorts of species are still alive, many of which are now no longer still live, but there are frozen tissue samples and you can use that dna. we can sequence the genomes i used to be alive that have more diversity and isolate the parts that provide a fighting chance against different diseases and copy and paste that to the black
hooded ferrets we still have thereby providing them an actual way to survive. this survive. this is crazy science-fiction technology that we are close to being able to do. and i can see now how this could be a new and important tool and what should be a growinga growing toolbox, something we can use to fight contemporary extinction. >> we are going to leave -- if you have questions for the authors, i ask you now to lineup. we have two microphones here. while we are doing a transition our final question i would like to ask the panel in general. about the role of science journalism in the future as well as scientists authors and telling the story. isis that changing as well as the science? >> it is certainly becoming more important. especially science journalists to understand
better the topics they are writing about in making sure that the facts are clear, the implication of science is clear and we really are talking about genuine science rather than pseudoscience. we have seen fairly recently writing about the anti- vaccine movement, the notion that the mmr vaccine is linked to autism. very difficult topic for journalists to deal with because the mandate that we be protective really comes apart when you're dealing with the theory that is essentially a hoax, how do you do that in make that clear that sometimes there are not two sides to a scientific story.
and that to promote the other side is actually to create a danger to public health. so i think as scientific journalists we all have a greater task than we used to >> so, mainstream media has slowly begun to vanish off the landscape. this new kind of media has begun to emerge. there is plenty of science writing out there. what i think is changing, there is a tremendous amount of technology and popular science writing, but it is done in this framework. the standards no longer pertain. and much of it is click paste. it is done through the prism
of popularization, which popularization, which can be good or bad. what i am afraid of is their people around here and do the kind of stuff that michael is donehas done historically. i don't know how to bring them back. i'm not at all worried about journalism, but i'm worried about journalistic standards. >> the scientist another journalist,journalist, increasingly important to have journalists who are trained in science and able to interpret the various things coming out of different labs. scientists are not particularly good at being able to express clearly what they have done so in this layer of educated and well versed science journalists is absolutely critical to doing what has been pointed
out, communicating with the people who make funding decisions. when he people who are able to effectively translate science into what basic science can provide in the present day or has application so the politicians and stakeholders can be as impressed as they should be. >> take the 1st question. >> a question for john. why is technology not taken us to a shorter workday? >> it is a wonderful question. so, what we do, it is not
just technology. i think it is more by culture than technology. for all kinds of nontechnological reasons like income inequality and other kinds of structural issues, we have not gotten there. an incredible tendency to persist. in silicon valley we are seeing the emergence of this thing called the giga economy. people are either working multiple jobs are moving from job to job. and there been innovations. that is one of the tools corporations use. i can tell you how many lift
jobs is very like the fact that they can go to their other job. you can't see it in isolation. >> wearing my head now, the eight hour day is an artifact of politics. it hour day was instilled in society by franklin roosevelt's new deal, which also put an end to child labor and started basically the idea of the weekend. so i think if employers had their way workers would work 24 hours a day day, and in some places they do.
, fear of intake of traumatized large populations. >> that is a tricky question. it is very -- to collect the samples, it is usually done in isolation and after a particular stimulus is shown to the patient. subjects and then collect a sample and measure. so i think it would be -- this is one of the areas where is difficult to know. we know a little bit about
how cortisol is regulated, but the ability for the government to comprehensively sample populations of people and get some sense of their level, i'm not sure if there going to reach that anytime soon. you are taking a serum sample for random refugee. the buzz to how you interpret the data. beginning aa level but you don't know what the person's baseline level is. very difficult to take a sample like that. some of the drug can radically reduce.
what happens? is there some sort of memory wipe technology that we are 50 years from that will make endless wars possible? there has been a substantial body of research from the humanities and the legal community looking in to the possible legal ramifications of a murder using propanolol to diminish the strength of the traumatic memories of killing a person. the science-fiction question. i can't think of a single thing i would go wrong with that.that. and, you know, jurassic park, you will see. from my standpoint your question is a good one. i don't think i'm qualified to answer satisfactorily, but that work that was done, some of the very best and suggested research being done, that was all done just
after september 11 and we are just now getting a greater sense of what that might mean. cortisol is a common stress hormone that changes depending on your stress level. so it is difficult to know exactly where the research will lead. i think it is interesting. her research was most successful because she asked an interesting question, the descendents of holocaust survivors respond differently to dramatic images? and she found that they did. having some different response, no one had thought about that. >> on the topic, wondering at one point to just or become more than a story, something that might even
longer magazine points, at what.did it become a book, something he wanted to delve into deep? >> in my case it started as a book. to a certain extent the roots of it when my clients bedlam. i was writing about -- writing a lot about science as a business. you know, we have big science institutions all around us including on this campus and all around california. i was writing about that. when you write about capital intensive scientific efforts you don't go very far before you start seeing the name of ernest lawrence, because his work really was the foundation of it all. but i think, you know, you know, for me the role of journalism in my book is that i applied the
techniques i learned as a journalist to tell the story, looking for incidents and episodes and characters who i could bring the life and use to tell the story essentially to their own eyes. it is aa very important technique in journalism, something that i just brought over. >> i am actually a technology writer.a technology writer. i write about computer science and artificial intelligence and robotics. i actually came to my subject because i was pushed away from another subject. a been a computer security writer for many years writing about computer security for a long time and got more and more depressed, worse and worse. and after i decided if i have tried about another boy
with an end to those going to have an aneurysm. robotics is actually a lot of fun. something fresh. personal. >> i guessi guess my thing, the started as a war correspondent. came from a military family. that is one of the tricky things. nonfiction writing in the past, there is this very strong drive to put the 1st person in the story command that is often done at the peril of the story is you see this and appropriately and not very skillfully incorporated. i think timmy i've seen it done really well. the books that have influenced our culture greatly, it's done really
interestingly, but sometimes it is funny. the real journalists can remark on that. there is this increased desire to make it a first-person thing so that there is more of an emotional connection and that the leaders can do a more emotional view of it. in terms of the way that genre has evolved there is a push, at least in my experience to include first-person experience. a reporter is being asked to report on themselves. which is interesting. it is like an interesting narrative problem that has its own risks and potential. >> question. >> david. posttraumatic stress disorder, moral injury has kind of been popular inlast year or two. i'm wondering if you address
any of that or how you feel about it. one of the articles i read recently was talking about drone operators who are not actually in battle but have severe moral injury which incapacitates them. >> yes. moral injury. two minutes. i am a big proponent. it incorporates a incorporates a lot of what i mentioned where there has been an over hard science position of ptsd. moral injury speaks to the softer philosophical parts of it. in the original ptsd diagnosis creation it included what by any reasonable definition was a moral injury component which was more or less systematically excised by the va and scientists who found it inconvenient and messy and squishy and difficult to quantify. more or less shoved aside,
and the strong push from 1980 until five or six years ago was toward a more behavioral science with a better term focus. what we're seeing now is the people are talking about it more. i am very supportive of that >> thank. >> thank you. >> that concludes the time that we have for the session. apologize we could not get all of your questions. [applause] i wish to thank the la times festival of books for organizing this panel. thank you, the audience for your patients. thank you to our speakers. enjoy the rest of the festival.