Ben Shepard
Ben Shepard

Duke News

Keep up with our core and affiliated faculty in the national and international news. Read their op-ed pieces, quotes and interviews, and cutting-edge research findings.

Wed, Jan 18

New Bass Connections Project Explores Privacy, Consumer EEG Devices, and the Brain

Each year Bass Connections brings together faculty, graduate students, and undergraduates to tackle complex societal challenges through a variety of interdisciplinary themes. Science & Society and Duke Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences, is excited to announce the acceptance of their 2017-2018 project proposal to study privacy, consumer EEG devices, and the brain.

Students use a consumer EEG device to conduct research

The new project is aimed at exploring the unique concerns surrounding the collection of data generated though wearable tech – like the EMOTIV Insight. It is already possible to track brain activity as it relates to basic emotional and physical states. As this technology becomes more widespread, we can expect a bloom of neural activity data among the ever-increasing wealth already accumulating in our tech and data-driven society.

The project team will explore three specific questions:

  • Do consumers vary in their expectations of privacy and willingness to share brain information with government, corporations, employers, researchers and others?
  • Are there differences between consumer users and nonusers of consumer EEG devices with regard to their perceptions, behaviors and attitudes about brain privacy and EEG devices?
  • Do differences in perceptions and attitudes about brain privacy help to explain differences in use and behavior of consumer EEG devices?

Team members will collaborate with Science & Society’s SLAP Lab on a weekly basis and will be trained in the methodologies used in the research. The team is seeking two postdocs, three graduate/professional students, and four undergraduates. Applications will open on January 24 and run through February 17 at 5:00 p.m.

Learn more about the Privacy, Consumer EEG Devices, and the Brain Project and additional opportunities for students on the Bass Connections website or during the Bass Connections Fair on Tuesday, January 24 2:30-5:30.

Thu, Jan 12

SciPol Adds Robotics & AI to its Science Policy Coverage

SciPol LogoThe rapid advance of technology is bringing robots and artificial intelligence, or AI, closer to us every day, including in factories, hospitals, highways, schools, our offices, and our homes. But the technology is advancing so quickly that it’s outpacing our ability to fully grasp its impact, and for policymakers to resolve the difficult balance that reduces risk to the public without constraining the development of these potentially beneficial technologies.

2016 alone gave us multiple significant policy developments. In June the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) released amendments to its regulations to address the operation of unmanned aircraft systems and pilot certification to preserve safety in the National Airspace System. In September, the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) released guidance to industry and regulators for safe design, state policy recommendations, and regulatory tools for highly automated vehicles.

In October, the National Science and Technology Council Committee on Technology released a report including recommendations to U.S. Federal agencies and other actors to inform future AI policy. We can expect the U.S. government will implement even more robotics and AI-specific regulations to preserve jobs and to address concerns of security, safety, and privacy within the next few years.

This is an exciting and dynamic area with rapidly evolving developments in policy and science. SciPol provides a single resource covering both, including policy updates and explanations of the relevant science on topics like drones, surgical robots, driverless cars and artificial intelligence.

About Michael

Dr. Michael ClamannMichael Clamann oversees the development and publication of SciPol content related to robotics and AI. He is also a Senior Research Scientist in the Humans and Autonomy Lab (HAL) within Duke Robotics and an Associate Director at the Collaborative Sciences Center for Road Safety.

For his scientific research, he works to better understand the complex interactions between robots and people and how they influence system effectiveness and safety. He presented technical remarks to the Department of Transportation on the current Federal Automated Vehicles Policy, and his research has appeared in major news outlets including NPR and the Atlantic.

He received a PhD and MIE in Industrial and Systems Engineering and a MS in Experimental Psychology from North Carolina State University. He has worked in industry as a Human Factors Engineer since 2002, supporting government and private clients in domains including aerospace, defense and telecommunications. He is also a Certified Human Factors Professional (CHFP).

About HAL

Research in Duke University’s Humans and Autonomy Lab (HAL) focuses on the multifaceted interactions of human and computer decision-making in complex sociotechnical systems with embedded autonomy.

An experiment on how autonomous vehicle may interact with pedestriansGiven the explosion of autonomous technology in aviation, medicine, and even in everyday mundane environments like driving, the need for humans as supervisors of and collaborators in complex autonomous control systems has replaced the need for humans in direct manual control.

Instead of relying on humans for well-rehearsed skill execution and rule following that requires significant practice and memorization (and subject to problems such as fatigue and boredom), autonomous systems need humans for their more abstract levels of knowledge synthesis, judgment, and reasoning. Autonomous systems today, and even more so in the future, require coordination and teamwork for mutual support between humans and machines for both improved system safety and performance.

Visit for news, updates, and opportunities to engage in robotics and AI policy developments.

Wed, Oct 19

Duke hopes HoloLens will assist with tricky brain surgeries

When Microsoft envisioned the medical world embracing HoloLens in the future, it wasn’t kidding around. Duke University is testing the augmented reality headset as an assistive tool for difficult brain surgeries like extraventricular drain placement, which relieves potentially fatal pressure. Instead of relying on CT scans and markers to insert a catheter into the skull during the draining procedure, Duke’s doctors would use HoloLens to overlay a reconstructed CT scan on the patient’s head. The virtual approach should not only be more accurate than conventional markers (the target is frequently too small or shifts around), but faster and simpler.

Read more from Engadget.

Mon, Oct 17

Diarrhea, pneumonia kill children but parents shun life-saving facilities

An ambitious $23-million (Rs 153.5 crore), award-winning five-year-old programme funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to arrest childhood diarrhoea and pneumonia in Bihar–a state with India’s sixth highest mortality rate of children under five–has had little impact on disease prevalence or treatment, according to an evaluation by researchers from Duke and Stanford universities in the USA and the University College of London.

Read more from First Post here. 

Wed, May 11

Duke time capsule shows soil changes

On the second floor of the Levine Science Research Center, in a tall wooden cabinet that could easily be mistaken for an antique dresser, Duke University professor Dan Richter keeps an unusual collection: nearly 600 jars holding hundreds of pounds of Piedmont soil.

Collected over more than 50 years from the site of a former cotton plantation in rural South Carolina, the jars are part of long-term study of how activities such as logging and farming have changed the soils on which we depend for food, feed, fuel and fiber.

Each jar represents a time capsule of soil conditions as acres of former cotton fields have turned back over to forest.

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