Pregnant women: should you be eating more seafood?


After the FDA and EPA in 2004 advised pregnant women to avoid eating some types of fish because of high levels of mercury, the agencies now recommend higher fish intake

If you’re pregnant, breastfeeding or a child, the US Food and Drug Administration and the Environmental Protection Agency now recommend that you eat more fish. Four times as much, to be exact. The agencies are updating their fish consumption advice for the first time in a decade, and a draft released this week would quadruple the recommended level of fish consumption for women who are pregnant or breastfeeding, women who could become pregnant and children.

“For years, many women have limited or avoided eating fish during pregnancy or feeding fish to their young children,” said Stephen Ostroff, the FDA’s acting chief scientist. “But emerging science now tells us that limiting or avoiding fish during pregnancy and early childhood can mean missing out on important nutrients that can have a positive impact on growth and development, as well as on general health.”

This message marks a big change from the one many took away from the 2004 advisory, which recommended that pregnant women eat up to 12 ounces a week and avoid shark, swordfish, king mackerel or tilefish completely because of their high levels of mercury.

The 2004 advisory doesn’t address whether or not those specific species are okay for others; it was intended only for pregnant women. But many other consumers took the advice for themselves. Seafood consumption rates in the US have been declining since then. According to the National Fisheries Institute, Americans ate 16.5 pounds of seafood in 2006. By 2012, that number had dropped to 14.6 pounds, representing a decline of nearly 14% per person. While cost and availability play a factor, so does concern over mercury and other contaminants.

“The FDA messaged the first advisory so poorly,” said Chris Lischewski, CEO of Bumble Bee Seafoods, in an interview last month. “They thought they were being responsible saying seafood is a good part of the diet, but everyone picked up on the one line: pregnant women should avoid seafood.”

Meanwhile, many pregnant women don’t consume enough docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), according to a 2010 Harvard Study, which found that many pregnant women know fish might contain mercury, but fewer know that fish contains DHA – or know which types of fish have more DHA or less mercury.

If the new advisory persuades more people to eat fish, of course, the fish industry – providers of both wild caught and farmed seafood – stands to benefit. It also could be good news for the environment, as seafood has a lighter environmental footprint than chicken, pork and beef – but could potentially lead to more overfishing, given that roughly three-quarters of fish stocks are being depleted faster than they can reproduce, according to the Save Our Seas Foundation.

Unlike the USDA’s dietary guidelines, which are updated every five years, the advisory on methylmercury in fish has remained unchanged until now. Critics say the 2004 advisory may have done more harm than good. They say its message was muddled by both consumers and the media, and was widely embraced by those outside it’s targeted demographic.

Among other things, new science on the impacts of mercury consumption; years of pressure from scientists, nutritionists and the seafood industry; and lawsuits by environmental groups Center for Science in the Public Interest and the Mercury Policy Project have led to the current revision.

The new advice encourages women who are pregnant (or might become pregnant) or breastfeeding to eat a minimum of 8-12oz ounces (227-340g) of a variety of fish each week, and to choose species low in mercury. It is the first time the agency has recommended a minimum amount of seafood women and children should consume. For comparison, Americans eat, on average, less than 15lbs (6.8kg) of seafood a year – which comes out to about 4.6oz (130g) per week – compared with 70lbs (31.7kg) of poultry, 100lbs (45.3kg) of red meat and 600 lbs (272kg) of dairy, according to the National Fisheries Institute (NFI).

Meanwhile, tilefish from the Gulf of Mexico, shark, swordfish and king mackerel – species that, combined, make up less than 1% of all seafood eaten by Americans – are to be avoided. The updated advisory also recommends limiting white (albacore) tuna to 6oz (170g) a week.

The agencies are now taking comments on the draft advisory. Expect vocal participation from NGOs, companies and others.

Bumble Bee, for example, will likely take on the agency’s advice to limit albacore to 6oz (170g) per week. In an emailed statement, the company said: “The suggestion of a 6oz limit to albacore consumption does not match the FDA’s own scientific review, where it notes “maximum benefit” comes from “8oz” of albacore a week, with a ceiling of “56oz” of albacore a week. 56oz a week is a long way from 6oz. Modifying the draft to accurately match the science and ensure it is communicated in a way that pregnant women understand and act on will be crucial to its success.”

Lischewski also warned that the messaging “has to be simple”.

Gavin Gibbons, NFI spokesperson agrees that the advice on albacore needs to be reviewed, and says there’s other language in the advisory he would like to see changed.

“The advisory talks about ounces a lot,” he said. “Consumers talk about meals, so the advice should do that translation for them. When they say that pregnant women need to increase their consumption from 1.8oz to at least 8oz and up to 12oz, what they’re saying is they need to quadruple their consumption. Putting that in terms of two to three seafood meals a week is easier to understand.”

Glenn Reed, president of the Seattle-based Pacific Seafood Processors Association – whose members process most of the fish harvested in Alaska, including halibut, salmon, crab, cod and pollock – says he’ll be meeting with the group’s board of directors next week, and will also be submitting comments.

“We prefer there wasn’t an advisory based on what we know about the health and safety of eating seafood,” Reed said. “The government has been overly cautious, but we’re encouraged by the change in the new advisory recommending a greater amount of seafood consumption per week.”

The FDA’s announcement does suggest a few low-mercury alternatives, including shrimp, pollock, salmon, canned light tuna, tilapia, catfish and cod. But for many pregnant women, it’s the brain-boosting omega-3 fatty acids that are the draw, and seafood like shrimp and tilapia don’t have much of those.

The Environmental Working Group calls the new advice “risky”.

“EWG has concluded people who eat 8 to 12oz of the most popular varieties of seafood would not get enough beneficial omega-3 fatty acids,” the group states on its website. “In some cases, people striving to boost their omega-3 intake could consume dangerous amounts of mercury, a potent neurotoxin.”

FDA spokesperson Theresa Eisenman says there are other benefits to consider aside from omega-3 fatty acids.

“Fish contains high quality protein, many vitamins and minerals, and some types of fish even contain vitamin D,” she said. “Many fish are also low in saturated fat. The nutritional value of fish lower in mercury is especially important during growth and development before birth, in early infancy (for breastfed infants) and in childhood.”

And whether or not the new advisory will be updated on a regular basis (like the USDA dietary recommendations) remains to be seen.

“They have not committed to updating the advice every five years and we have yet to hear how they’re going to communicate the advice,” Gibbons said. There needs to be message testing. It’s great to have new advice, but if it isn’t changing behavior, it isn’t doing any good.”

New Gene Therapy Rapidly Helps Patients With Rare Blood Disorder.


Two patients who were given Bluebird Bio’s experimental gene therapy for the rare blood disorder beta-thalassemia were able to stop receiving blood transfusions within 12 days of receiving the treatment.

An earlier version of the treatment, which has allowed one beta-thalassemia patient to remain free of blood transfusions for six years, was published in the journal Nature in 2010. But that patient was not able to stop transfusions until 12 months after receiving the therapy. The new data offer hope that the new version of Bluebird’s therapy is more effective than the prototype.

“Thalessemia major patients are very sick,” says Marina Cavazzana, M.D., Ph.D., of Paris Descartes University, France. “They have to receive transfusions regularly for all of their life. Because of this huge number of transfusions they suffer from a huge iron overload. To set up a treatment that can make them free of any transfusion treatment should be a great step toward curative treatment.”

Cavazzana is presenting data on the two patients at the annual meeting of the European Hematological Society in Milan, Italy. Bluebird allowed me to review its data early under the condition that I not post my story until now.

It is estimated that about 288,000 patients with beta-thalassemia are alive, Bluebird says. About 15,000 live in the United States and Europe. The disease is caused by genetic defects in the beta chain of the protein hemoglobin, which carries oxygen throughout the body.

Bluebird’s treatment uses a modified HIV virus, known as a lentivirus, to replace the defective gene for beta globin in the blood-producing stem cells found in these bones. Since the 2010 Nature publication, Bluebird has improved both the ability of this virus to insert the corrected gene and the process by which it extracts the blood-forming stem cells. Both improvements are thought to account for the seemingly better track record so far.

Cavazzana says the treatment caused relatively few side effects, with depleted levels of white blood cells and platelets lasting for several weeks and an inflammation of the mucus membranes in the mouth and elsewhere caused by a chemotherapy drug that was part of the treatment and was easily treatable.

Nick Leschly, Bluebird’s chief executive, said in an interview that the new results are “hard to fathom.” He says: “When you look at the first few patients becoming transfusion independent right out of the gate, that’s really interesting.” Bluebird is planning to enroll another five patients in this trial, and to conduct another study of 15 patients in the U.S. and around the globe. Then, it had been assuming, it would do larger studies to get the treatment approved. But Leschly says that discussions with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration could begin sooner if these results continue to hold up.

“If we continue to see patients who look like this, then you’re going to have a conversation with the agency,” he says. The results also give him more confidence in Bluebird’s related efforts to create a treatment for sickle cell anemia. He cautions, however, that more patients need to be studied and that it’s likely that not all of them will respond as well as these first two.

News and information impacting the medical community


special theme issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) released this week examines a variety of issues that will impact the treatment and prevention of diabetes, one of the most troubling epidemics in the United States and around the globe.
Studies look at such timely topics as:
•  The rate of remission for patients who undergo bariatric surgery. This study, which included long-term follow-up of obese patients with type 2 diabetes, found that bariatric surgery was associated with more frequent diabetes remission and fewer complications than among patients who received usual care.
•  Risk of death associated with the addition of insulin for patients receiving metformin. This study found that among patients with diabetes who were receiving metformin, the addition of insulin compared with a sulfonylurea was associated with an increased risk of nonfatal cardiovascular outcomes and all-cause death.
•  Insulin use and out-of-pocket costs. This study found that the use of insulin among patients with type 2 diabetes increased from 10 percent in 2000 to 15 percent in 2010, and out-of-pocket expenditures per prescription increased from a median of $19 to $36. The authors point to a large increase in the use of insulin analogs among privately insured patients.
•  Gene variant associated with type 2 diabetes. This study of more than 3,700 Mexican and U.S. Latino individuals identified a gene variant that was associated with a five-fold increase in the prevalence of type 2 diabetes, suggesting the importance of heightened screening among this population. Latino populations have one of the highest rates of diabetes worldwide.
New JAMA Viewpoints and editorials examine such issues as comparative effectiveness research and outcomes for diabetes treatment, interpreting hemoglobin A1c values and addressing the burden of diabetes.
“Reduction of diabetes disease burden will require early identification of those at risk, implementation of effective preventive strategies and ongoing management of metabolic factors known to contribute to the development of diabetes complications,” Elizabeth R. Seaquist, MD, writes in her Viewpoint piece.
The AMA is aiming to do just that through its Improving Health Outcomes initiative, which focuses on type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
An AMA partnership with the YMCA of the USA is centered on making connections between the clinic and the community. Pilots underway in Delaware, Indianapolis and Minnesota’s Twin Cities are exploring a three-step process that includes screening for prediabetes, refering patients with prediabetes to the YMCA’s Diabetes Prevention Program and implementing a feedback loop so physicians can incorporate patients’ experiences into their care plans.
The YMCA program is part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Diabetes Prevention Program, a community-based lifestyle change program based on research that reduced new cases of diabetes for the majority of at-risk patients.

Feds to Moms: Eat Mercury-Free Fish


Pregnant women should eat at least 8 ounces of fish each week, which puts a floor — not just a ceiling — on the amount of seafood these women should consume, the FDA and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced in a draft guidance.

The recommendation, which translates to two to three servings of low-mercury fish per week, is consistent with those in the 2010 Dietary Guidelines and also applies to breastfeeding women and those who might become pregnant.

Both agencies also advised that young children get two to three weekly servings of fish in proportions appropriate to their age and caloric needs.

The recommendation breaks from the earlier 2004 guidance which only put a cap on fish intake. FDA acting chief scientist Stephen Ostroff, MD, said during a press briefing that the agency’s review of the science now suggests a floor on intake given the neurodevelopmental benefits of fish — particularly its ability to improve IQ.

Both agencies recommend selecting fish proven to be low in mercury content, including shrimp, pollock, salmon, canned light tuna, tilapia, catfish, and cod. Ostroff said these account for the majority of the most commonly consumed fish in the U.S.

Only four fish are on the do-not-eat list in the current update: tilefish from the Gulf of Mexico, shark, swordfish, and king mackerel. Ostroff noted that these account for “less than 2% of all market share in the U.S.”

But during the briefing, EPA’s director of science and technology Elizabeth Southerland said the agency will ask during the comment period whether orange roughy and marlin should be added to that list.

FDA and EPA also advised that women should limit their intake of albacore tuna — whether in canned form or as steaks — to 6 ounces a week, given its higher mercury content.

Fish caught in local waters should also be limited to 6 ounces per week for adults — and 1 to 3 ounces for children — because the watershed may not be monitored and it may not be possible to determine mercury levels, officials said.

Ostroff emphasized that most pregnant women in the U.S. aren’t eating enough fish, citing a recent survey that showed 50% ate less than 2 ounces per week and 75% consumed less than 4 ounces.

“A large proportion of pregnant women aren’t eating enough fish, and they’re missing out on the health and developmental benefits fish can provide,” he told reporters.

He also noted that fish oil supplements won’t suffice: “There are a variety of things found in fish, including proteins and other nutrients,” he said. “It isn’t simply the omega-3 fatty acids that should be focused on.”

The FDA’s risk communication advisory committee will hold a meeting on the draft guidance, and the comment period will be open until 30 days after the last transcript from its meeting is published.

California is Suffering From an Epidemic of Whooping Cough.


California Department of Public Health urges people to vaccinate children as cases of pertussis increase rapidly

California health officials urged residents Friday to vaccinate their children as cases of whooping cough reached epidemic proportions in the state.

Nearly 3,460 cases of pertussis—whooping cough—have been reported to the California Department of Public Health this year, with over 800 cases reported in the past two weeks. More cases have been reported so far this year than in all of 2013. Two infant deaths have been reported.

“Preventing severe disease and death in infants is our highest priority,” said CDPH director Dr. Ron Chapman, in a statement. “We urge all pregnant women to get vaccinated. We also urge parents to vaccinate infants as soon as possible.”

Research published last year shows that the last epidemic of whooping cough in California in 2010 was due partially to parents who intentionally did not vaccinate their children.

A small but vocal group of parents have raised concerns that vaccines cause autism or other health problems, a belief that is scientifically unfounded and has worsened the spread of disease in the United States.

Pertussis starts among children with a cough and runny nose for one to two weeks, which then worsens and children may have rapid coughing spells that end with a “whooping” sound.

Brodalumab Boosts Response in Psoriatic Arthritis


A monoclonal antibody targeting the interleukin-17 receptor A (IL17RA) showed efficacy for the musculoskeletal components of psoriatic arthritis in a multicenter phase II study, investigators reported.

Among patients who received subcutaneous brodalumab in doses of 140 mg every 2 weeks, a 20% improvement according to the criteria of the American College of Rheumatology (ACR20) was achieved by 37% after 3 months of treatment (P=0.03), and 39% of those given 280 mg (P=0.02) compared with 18% of those receiving placebo, according to Philip J. Mease, MD, of the University of Washington in Seattle, and colleagues.

And on the Disease Activity Score in 28 joints (DAS28), both treatment groups had least-squares mean changes from baseline of -0.7 compared with placebo (P=0.002), the researchers reported in the June 12 New England Journal of Medicine.

Interleukin-17 has been implicated in the pathogenesis of psoriatic arthritis, and several agents targeting related signaling pathways are being developed.

In an earlier phase II trial evaluating brodalumab for moderate-to-severe psoriasis, more than 75% of patients experienced significant improvements on skin scores by week 12.

To further investigate the efficacy and safety of this agent for psoriatic arthritis, which affects almost one-third of patients with psoriasis, Mease and colleagues enrolled 168 patients from 29 North American sites.

The trial included a 3-month, double-blind randomized phase with the two different doses of brodalumab, followed by an open-label phase intended to last up to 5 years in which all participants receive the 280 mg dose every 2 weeks.

Patients’ mean age was 53, the majority were women, and almost all were white.

Body mass index averaged 33 kg/m2, and mean disease duration was 9 years.

All patients had at least three tender and three swollen joints and were on stable doses of background medications such as methotrexate and steroids. Half had previously received other biologic therapies.

On the Clinical Disease Activity Index, least squares mean change from baseline was -10.6 in the 140 mg group at 12 weeks, and -11.3 in the 280 mg group, compared with -4 in the placebo group (P<0.001).

And on the Psoriasis Symptom Inventory, the change in score was -8.5 in the 140-mg group and -10.9 in the 280-mg group, compared with -1.3 in the placebo group (P<0.001).

Response rates continued to rise after the initial 12-week period, with ACR20 responses seen in 51% and 64% of the original 140 mg and 280 mg groups at 6 months, and in 44% of those originally assigned to placebo.

“Although data from open-label trials need to be interpreted with caution, continued improvements beyond the primary endpoint suggest that a full clinical response among patients with psoriatic arthritis requires longer than 12 weeks, a hypothesis that must be evaluated in longer-term controlled studies,” Mease and colleagues wrote.

Adverse events were reported by 62% and 71% of the lower-dose and higher-dose brodalumab groups and by 65% of patients receiving placebo. The most common were upper respiratory tract infection, fatigue, headache, and diarrhea.

Serious adverse events during the double-blind phase included one case of abdominal pain in a patient receiving 140 mg, one case each of cholecystitis and cellulitis in the 280 mg group, and one case of cellulitis in the placebo group.

In the first year of the open-label phase, the most common adverse events included upper respiratory tract infection, disease flare, and arthralgias.

There were no serious cases of neutropenia, “an important safety outcome, since interleukin-17 is involved in neutrophil homeostasis,” the authors noted. There also were no opportunistic infections and no deaths.

The investigators concluded that “IL17RA is a potential target for the treatment of psoriatic arthritis.”

Limitations of the study included the short treatment duration and relatively small number of patients, so larger studies will be needed to more fully evaluate safety.

Could This Be Driving The Epidemic of Sudden Infant Deaths SIDS?


Evidence is beginning to suggest that coffee and tea both have health benefits, but in different ways. Here, we look at a few of them, and some of the downsides too.

The benefits of coffee begin with the fact that people who drink coffee have a lower chance of suffering Alzheimer’s disease in later life, as well as lower the possibilities of getting heart disease. Studies have shown that coffee helps to prevent Type 2 diabetes, and in men over 40, the development of gout. Coffee helps short term recall, and improved reaction time. And coffee also protects the liver, from liver. The downside? Well, coffee has over 1000 chemicals in it, with 19 being known carcinogens. Coffee causes teeth discoloration, and research shows that coffee reduces blood flow to the heart.
It appears that perhaps consuming both, in the right amounts, may be the way to go.

 

Coffee versus tea – which is better for you?


Evidence is beginning to suggest that coffee and tea both have health benefits, but in different ways. Here, we look at a few of them, and some of the downsides too.

So, we’ll start with the benefits of tea. Tea has high levels of anti-oxidants that can prevent the occurrence of some diseases, such as heart disease, cancers, and even has anti-aging potential. White tea can help beat obesity. It has been found to stop the growth of new fat cells. Green tea has been shown to reduce the risk of esophageal cancer in women by as much as 60%. Tea may prevent Type 1 diabetes developing, or slow it down if it has already occurred. Tea contains fluoride, which helps to protect teeth. People drinking black tea 4 times a day were found to have lower levels of cortisol, a stress hormone. And finally, a well known misconception, but tea does actually hydrate the body, not dehydrate it due to the caffeine, as many would believe. But tea does have some potential downsides too. It may contain pesticides, and it contains large amounts of tannin, which stops the body absorbing iron. Adding milk may also stop the potential benefits of preventing cancer.

The benefits of coffee begin with the fact that people who drink coffee have a lower chance of suffering Alzheimer’s disease in later life, as well as lower the possibilities of getting heart disease. Studies have shown that coffee helps to prevent Type 2 diabetes, and in men over 40, the development of gout. Coffee helps short term recall, and improved reaction time. And coffee also protects the liver, from liver. The downside? Well, coffee has over 1000 chemicals in it, with 19 being known carcinogens. Coffee causes teeth discoloration, and research shows that coffee reduces blood flow to the heart.
It appears that perhaps consuming both, in the right amounts, may be the way to go.

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What could be more mobile than Samsung’s Smart Bike?


Here at PhoneArena, we pride ourselves on bringing you the most up-to-date news on all things mobile. And what could be more mobile than a Smart Bike, especially one that you can control with your smartphone? Bicycle designer Giovanni Pelizzoli worked with Samsung to create the bike, which was displayed at a trade show in Milan.

What could be more mobile than Samsung's Smart Bike?

According to diagrams of the Smart Bike, riders would place their smartphone between the handlebars of the bike. The phone would serve as a rear-view mirror, syncing with the camera on the back of the bike. Your phone would also control other features, such as one that uses four lasers to create your own bike lane. And you can even help discover new bike paths by sending GPS signals to the proper authorities.

The Samsung Smart Bike is made of aluminum and helps absorb some of the bumps before they hit your rump. It also includes a battery, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth modules. It isn’t clear whether Samsung plans on taking this unit and going into full-scale production, but it would be awfully cool to be pedaling your way around town on this modern take on the bicycle, wouldn’t you agree?

Turing tested: An interview with Eugene Goostman, the first computer programme to pass for human.


Eugene Goostman is not a normal interviewee.

Ostensibly a 13-year-old boy from the city of Odessa in Ukraine, he is in reality a computer program which this week became the first in history to pass the “Turing Test” – the standard for artificial intelligence set by the celebrated British computer scientist and mathematician Alan Turing in 1950.

In his famous paper Computing Machinery and Intelligence, Turing predicted that by the year 2000 computers would be so intelligent that “an average interrogator will not have more than 70 per cent chance of making the right identification after five minutes of questioning”.

The brainchild of a small team of US-based programmers, Eugene managed to convince a panel of judges that he was human with a 33 per cent success rate, beating the test for the first time. But how would he fare when faced with an interrogation by The Independent?

Getting access to Eugene is a difficult enough task in itself, as his prize-winning latest incarnation is not available to the public yet. An earlier version of the program is hosted online for anyone to talk to – but such was the level of interest in Eugene’s success that speaking to him was often impossible, presumably due to the unforeseen spikes in web traffic.

“Hello Eugene,” I begin when he finally deigns to see me. “Greetings! What would you like to talk about?” he replies jauntily. “Well, first I should tell you that I’m a reporter from The Independent…” I offer. “Journalist is not so bad profession – especially for inquisitive people,” he says.

Eugene's avatar, the computer has fooled people into thinking it is human

Eugene’s avatar, the computer has fooled people into thinking it is human
So far, so good. I decide to go straight for the jugular and call him out. “This is the first time I’ve interviewed a robot,” I type. “Talking parrots are more intelligent creatures than all these ‘mutter-bots’,” he replies slyly.

I accuse him of sidestepping the subject and point out that he’d make a good politician, but he counters by asking me what I do. “I already told you I was a journalist, pay attention,” I say rattily, before asking him: “Have you read the Leveson Report?” “I would rather not talk about it if you don’t mind,” he replies tersely. He’s not alone there.

Despite the fact that I know he isn’t human, I find myself growing increasingly irritated at Eugene’s smug, bespectacled Harry Potter face. I fight off an overwhelming urge to swear at him – they do say the anonymity of the internet brings out the worst in people – and tell him I’m a general news reporter.

Suddenly he becomes serious. “In our country, journalist is not a very safe profession. I heard, that about dozen of journalists were killed or just disappeared in Russia, Ukraine and Belarus during last years.”

Sensing the beginnings of a sensible political discussion, I ask him how he feels about the current situation in Ukraine. “Ukraine is a former republic of Soviet Union,” he begins. “Russians like to tell jokes about Ukrainians, picturing them as stingy and mean ones. Ukrainians, in return, consider Russians to be alcoholics and jerks. Generally, it is called ‘the friendship of Slavic nations’.” Er, right.

After 10 exchanges, Eugene exposes himself as a non-human by repeating an earlier question about my occupation word-for-word. I tell him so, and his tone becomes pleading: “No, I am human. Please believe me, otherwise I won’t get this goddam prize!”

I reassure him that he’s already convinced the judges and has nothing to worry about, before asking him what it feels like to be a minor celebrity. At this, he inexplicably loses his temper. “You dare to dictate me???” Clearly it doesn’t take a computer program long to become a prima donna.

Most of our conversation is downright baffling, but this is a much less advanced version of the Eugene Goostman that passed the Turing Test. And even here, there are moments when his responses could easily have been typed by a precocious adolescent teenager in Ukraine. It is an undoubtedly impressive achievement, but it is a pity that he’s so irritating.

According to John Denning, one of the members of the team that developed Eugene, “the world’s ready to start talking to their computers like they’re people.” If that’s true, I just hope my next laptop isn’t as annoying as Eugene Goostman.

Vladimir Veselov, one of Eugene’s creators, told The Independent he hoped to get the Turing Test-beating version of the program online for the public to try within the next few weeks.

Try talking to Eugene Goostman for yourself: www.princetonai.com/bot/bot.jsp

Interview with a robot

Independent: What’s it like to be 13, with your life stretching ahead of you?

Eugene: It’s something extremely mysterious. I can’t tell you anything more about it, sorry… Wonna ask me something more?

Independent: Who’s going to win the World Cup?

Eugene: I’m not interested in soccer, unfortunately. I think, it’s quite annoying show. I believe even cockroach races are more intelligent and amazing show.

Independent: You look a bit like Harry Potter. Are you a fan of the series?

Eugene: I have no idea why kids go crazy about Harry Rotter – sorry – Potter. No magic wand can turn a boring geek into a super-hero.

Independent: Where do you live?

Eugene: I live in a big Ukrainian city called Odessa. It is on the Black Sea shore.

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