When the Poacher Is a Scientist 生物剽竊? 當盜獵者是名科學家…

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2019/05/10 第261期 訂閱/退訂看歷史報份

紐時周報精選 When the Poacher Is a Scientist 生物剽竊? 當盜獵者是名科學家…
A Playful Curator Takes On a Tough Gig at the Venice Biennale 要辦好不容易!策展人帶玩心 挑戰威尼斯雙年展
To Purge Some of Social Media’s Ugliness, an Unlikely Lesson From Wall Street 社群網站除弊 不妨學華爾街


When the Poacher Is a Scientist 生物剽竊? 當盜獵者是名科學家…
文/Rachel Nuwer

In February, the Journal of the British Tarantula Society published a paper describing a new species of tarantula, which was discovered in a national park in Sarawak, Malaysia. While the male of the species was an unremarkable brown, the female had eye-catching, electric blue legs.


New spiders are discovered all the time, and the paper likely would have gone largely unnoticed — were it not for an article in Science magazine that appeared soon afterward.


The article claimed that the tarantula researchers had received their specimens secondhand from private collectors in Poland and Britain, who had poached them in Malaysia.


Neither Ray Gabriel nor Danniella Sherwood, the authors of the study, responded to email requests for comment. But Peter Kirk, chairman of the British Tarantula Society and editor of the society’s journal, said the collectors had shown the scientists an import permit from Poland, and they “had no reason to think due process wasn’t followed.”


“The paper absolutely will not be retracted, because it’s a completely legitimate published paper,” he said.


The incident has reignited a decades-old debate among scientists and hobbyists alike about research ethics, specimen collection and “biopiracy” — the use of natural resources without obtaining permission from local communities or sharing any benefits with them.


“The majority of responses I’ve seen are people saying, ‘Yes, we need to stop this,’ but there’s also been a fair amount of people basically trying to justify the poaching and smuggling of these tarantulas,” said Ernest Cooper, a conservation consultant in British Columbia.


“It’s this very strange, slightly colonial attitude of, ‘We know better than developing countries, so their laws don’t matter.’”


Illegal wildlife trade is dominated by headlines about criminal cartels trafficking in ivory, rhino horn and pangolin scales. But scientists can also be complicit in illegal trade by poaching specimens themselves or by working with those who do.


This type of wildlife crime occurs on a much smaller scale, but experts in a variety of fields believe it is a significant issue.


“It’s a problem globally, and it happens a lot,” said Sérgio Henriques, chairman of the spider and scorpion group at the International Union for Conservation of Nature.


For Henriques and others, this sort of collection raises deep ethical concerns. “We’re the scientists, the ones who are supposed to know better and who should be leading by example,” he said. “If we can’t follow the rules, why are we demanding that others do?”



A Playful Curator Takes On a Tough Gig at the Venice Biennale 要辦好不容易!策展人帶玩心 挑戰威尼斯雙年展
文/Farah Nayeri

The main exhibition at the Venice Biennale is arguably the most coveted gig in curating. It’s the centerpiece of the international art world’s highest-profile event, and gives the chosen curator instant prestige. But it’s a tricky one to get right.


The show, held every two years, sprawls across two sites — one a columned pavilion in a public park, the Giardini, the other a set of former shipbuilding workshops in the Arsenale — and pulls together work by a huge number of artists. In 2017, there were 120 of them; in 2015, there were 136.


This year, the number will be down: There will be just 79 artists or artist partnerships, but each will show at both venues, offering radically different works at the two sites. These are some of the changes introduced by the curator Ralph Rugoff in an exhibition titled “May You Live in Interesting Times,” opening May 11 and running through Nov. 24.


For the past 13 years, Rugoff, a 62-year-old New Yorker, has steered the Hayward Gallery, a public institution not far from Tate Modern in London. With a series of thoughtful, but also playful, shows, he has put the Hayward on London’s contemporary-art map.


In Venice, his show will compete for attention with 90 others held in national pavilions, as well as with numerous “collateral events,” and face a pitiless lineup of critics. Yet in an interview at his Hayward office in London — a windowless basement room with flat-pack furniture and a single framed poster resting on a ledge — Rugoff appeared characteristically coolheaded.


The Venice Biennale “has the potential to be the world’s greatest art exhibition. Each iteration is a different story,” Rugoff said. “Sometimes it rises to the occasion, sometimes not.”


“Bigger isn’t always better,” he said. “The exhibition format doesn’t always lend itself to gargantuan scale, in general. Do you want to see movies that are 20 hours long? Compared to a normal exhibition, that’s what a Biennale is like.”


Rugoff said he had also avoided giving the exhibition a theme because there were 300 biennials around the world each year with similar themes; all he wanted was for the artists to represent the times we live in. At a time when governments were distorting facts and the internet gave people only the news they wanted to hear, contemporary art was about “simultaneously juggling different perspectives,” he said: It “opens up your brain.”


The chosen works will be both “experimental” and “classical,” because “art should give us pleasure as well as provide critical insight,” Rugoff said.



To Purge Some of Social Media’s Ugliness, an Unlikely Lesson From Wall Street 社群網站除弊 不妨學華爾街
文/Andrew Ross Sorkin

Exactly a year ago, Facebook’s chief executive, Mark Zuckerberg, testified before Congress and apologized for his company’s role in enabling “fake news, foreign interference in elections and hate speech.”


It was a memorable moment amid a broader reckoning that continues to inspire debate over how closely Facebook and other technology giants should be regulated.


As Silicon Valley grapples with its version of becoming too big to fail, Zuckerberg and his industry peers might take lessons from Wall Street, whose leaders have some experience with government scrutiny. (On Wednesday, bank chief executives were being grilled by Congress.)


Although it won’t address all of Big Tech’s problems, a simple rule that bolsters the banking system could do a lot to clean up some of the uglier aspects of social media that Zuckerberg felt compelled to apologize for.


The concept is “know your customer” — or KYC, as it’s called on Wall Street — and it’s straightforward: Given concerns about privacy, security and fraud when it comes to money, no bank is allowed to take on a new customer without verifying its existence and vetting its background.


The idea of applying such a rule to social media has been floated before, but it has so far failed to take hold. Now may be the right time.


Consider this: Facebook has said it shut down more than 1.5 billion fake accounts from April through September last year (yes, that’s a “B” in billion). That was up from the 1.3 billion such accounts it eliminated in the six previous months. To put those numbers in context, Facebook has a reported user base of 2.3 billion.


What if social media companies had to verify their users the same way banks do? You’d probably feel more confident that you were interacting with real people and were not just a target for malicious bots.


First, let’s acknowledge the practical considerations. Vetting the vast universe of those on social media would be a gargantuan task.


When I broached the idea of applying a “know your customer” principle to their business, several senior executives at social media companies recoiled at the prospect, questioning how they would pull off such a huge feat, especially in emerging markets where many people lack credit cards, and even fixed street addresses can be hard to come by.


Then there are the legitimate complaints about Facebook and its ilk already knowing too much about users. Who would want them to know even more? And what would the companies do to protect personal information better than they have in the past?



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