Designing Responsible Artificial Intelligence

Monday 27 May, 7pm.
Location TBC (but will be Lake Hawea).

Main Discussion Topic – Designing Responsible Artificial Intelligence

There will be a short presentation at the start of this meeting by Dave Sherwin (Head of Emerging Technologies for Datacom).

Designing responsible AI -> Help understand the ethical challenges when working with AI and have better control over the possible consequences on people and society.

Logical Fallacy to Discuss – Appeal to Nature.

Making your claim seem more true by drawing a comparison with the “good” natural world.

Should we continue using glyphosate (Roundup)?

Sunday 14 April, 7 pm.
Location: TBC.
Main discussion topic: Should we continue using glyphosate (Roundup)?
Logical fallacy: Confirmation Bias – when did you last fall victim to this fallacy?

For this meeting, I suggest we use our Critical Thinking skills to create an argument in standard form from our Glyphosate discussion:

P1 – Premise One
P2 – Premise Two
P3 – Premise Three
(continue for however many premises are required)
Therefore,
C Conclusion

BRIEF BACKGROUND OF GLYPHOSATE

Glyphosate is a broad-spectrum systemic herbicide and crop desiccant.

It was discovered to be an herbicide by Monsanto chemist John E. Franz in 1970. Monsanto brought it to market for agricultural use in 1974 under the trade name Roundup. Farmers quickly adopted glyphosate for agricultural weed control, especially after Monsanto introduced glyphosate-resistant Roundup Ready crops, enabling farmers to kill weeds without killing their crops. In 2007, glyphosate was the most used herbicide in the United States’ agricultural sector and the second-most used (after 2,4-D) in home and garden.

Glyphosate is absorbed through foliage, and minimally through roots, and transported to growing points. It inhibits a plant enzyme involved in the synthesis of three aromatic amino acids: tyrosine, tryptophan, and phenylalanine. It is therefore effective only on actively growing plants and is not effective as a pre-emergence herbicide.

In March 2015, the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer classified glyphosate as “probably carcinogenic in humans” (category 2A) based on epidemiological studies, animal studies, and in vitro studies.

In contrast, the European Food Safety Authority concluded in November 2015 that “the substance is unlikely to be genotoxic (i.e. damaging to DNA) or to pose a carcinogenic threat to humans”, later clarifying that while carcinogenic glyphosate-containing formulations may exist, studies “that look solely at the active substance glyphosate do not show this effect.”

The WHO and FAO Joint committee on pesticide residues issued a report in 2016 stating the use of glyphosate formulations does not necessarily constitute a health risk, and giving admissible daily maximum intake limits (one milligram/kg of body weight per day) for chronic toxicity.

In June 2018, Dewayne Johnson, a 46-year-old former California school groundskeeper who is dying of non-Hodgkin lymphoma, took Monsanto to trial, alleging that it has spent decades hiding the cancer-causing dangers of its Roundup herbicides. The jury awarded Johnson US$289 million in damages.

INTERESTING READING

IARC Monograph on Glyphosate
NZ Herald – Roundup controversy and NZ
New Zealand Food Safety – Glyphosate
National Pesticide Information Centre (US)
Wikipedia

Wilding Pines – what are the problems and possible benefits of these trees

Sunday 10 February, 7pm.

Lake Hawea Community Centre (Main Hall).

20% of New Zealand will be invaded by wilding conifer forests within 20 years without rapid action. Wilding conifers currently cover more than 1.8 million ha of land, and are spreading at an estimated rate of 5% a year. (Source: DOC website).

Some relevant links and possible discussion points:

DOC Website  Wilding Conifers

“As wilding conifers overwhelm our native landscapes, they kill our native plants, and evict our native animals. They also have a huge impact on our economy. They suck valuable water out of catchments, they add big costs to farming and they impact on tourism and recreational opportunities.”

Biosecurity NZ

“It’s estimated about $11 million is spent each year on wilding conifer control nationwide. In May 2016, the government pledged an extra $16 million over 4 years for the first phase of a national control programme. The new funding will be used to tackle wilding conifers in the highest priority areas.”

Landcare Research

“Wilding conifers are a problem primarily in the Marlborough Sounds, the South Island high country and the central plateau of the North Island, but are also invading natural habitats in Otago.”

NZ Farm Forestry Association

“It is largely a myth that most wildings can fetch good money in timber or fibre sales. ”

“Forests established after 1989 can now be registered with the ETS, after which there is an allocation of carbon credits, acknowledging the amount of CO2 taken out of the atmosphere and stored in the trees. …some wilding forests (not all) can qualify for ETS registration.”

UK Forestry Commission Report

“The carbon sequestered (or stored) by half a hectare of conifer woodland over one rotation can compensate for the carbon dioxide emissions associated with carfuel consumption during one average driver’s lifetime.”

 

 

 

2019 Discussion Program

  • Wilding Pines – what are the problems and possible benefits of these trees (February)
  • 1080 – closed meeting just for established members (March)
  • Glyphosate (Roundup) – Jury vs Science (April)
  • The Ethics around Artificial Intelligence (May)
  • Logical and rhetorical fallacies (June)
  • Sustainable tourism – how many is too many (July)
  • Toxiplasmosis and how it (and other neuro influencing parasites) might be affecting human behavior and even culture (August)
  • Cold/hot reading and other techniques commonly used by psychics and mentalists (September)
  • Resistance in parasites and microbes (October?)
  • GMOs (November)

Meetings are on: Second Sunday of each month, 7pm. Location varies. Please get in touch with us to find out more.

‘Sceptics in the Pub’ monthly meetup

Friday 9 November 2018, 7pm – Lake Hawea Hotel

Come along to our ‘Sceptics in the Pub’ meetup!

This months topics for discussion will be: 1. Water Chlorination. 2. Logical Fallacies.

Water Chlorination Links

QLDC – Disinfection of network drinking water supplies to protect public health

Ministry of Health – Drinking Water Guidance & Information

WHO – Guidelines for Drinking-water Quality – Information on chlorination by-products. Information on alternative treatments. (From page 171.)

QLDC Website – with some interesting links at the bottom.

Scientific American Q&A – How does chlorine added to drinking water kill bacteria and other harmful organisms? Why doesn’t it harm us?

IARC Book – Click PDF button to download. – Evaluates the carcinogenic risk to humans posed by the consumption of chlorinated drinking-water, by two chemicals used in the chlorination of drinking-water, and by a number of halogenated by-products formed when chlorine interacts with organic matter in water.

Bladder Cancer and Exposure to Water Disinfection By-Products through Ingestion, Bathing, Showering, and Swimming in Pools

Reply from NZ Dermatological Society Incorporated when posed with the question ‘Does chlorinated drinking water cause dry skin’.

High doses of chlorine in water is associated with irritable eyes, dry irritable skin and hair. However, the concentration in water supplies is much lower than that used in swimming pools (which in turn seldom cause significant public health issues, and are mitigated by wearing swimming goggles, swimming caps and applying liberal emollient to the skin in sensitive individuals who spend a lot of time in and around swimming pools), so is extremely unlikely to be an issue for people drinking and bathing municipal chlorinated water supplies. Moreover, chlorinated water is safer to drink (lessens risk of Havelock North type of community gastroenteritis E coli outbreaks) and adding chlorine bleach to bath water weekly is an internationally recognised treatment approach for managing patients with eczema who are prone to recurrent skin infections. They are a group of people with very sensitive skin and are helped by chlorinated water.

DR L Reiche, NZDSI

Logical Fallacies Link

Here is a list of Rhetological Fallacies – Errors and manipulation of rhetoric and logical thinking

Hope to see you there!

 

Immunisation Information Session

Saturday 19 May 2018, 10am – 12noon, Lake Hawea Community Centre.

Hawea is known to be a ‘cold-spot’ for immunisation and this has resulted in several outbreaks of vaccine-preventable diseases over the years. Talking among members of the community, there seems to be quite a bit of uncertainty and miss-information on the subject. However, the science is clear on the benefits versus the risks.

 

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