Rathbones Review Winter 2019

Amid the radical innovation that has come to define the fourth industrial revolution, the centuries-old quest to understand how our minds work appears to be entering a new phase. Advances in neuroscience are producing remarkable breakthroughs in the treatment of mental and physical conditions, as illustrated by the recent story of a paralysed man who is learning to walk again with the help of a ‘brain-computer interface’.

So are we really within touching distance of what has been called science’s final frontier? And, if we are, what might await us beyond it? With efforts to map the mind increasingly linked with the rise of artificial intelligence (AI), are we moving inexorably towards the melding of human and machine? Does our only hope of keeping pace with AI lie in somehow making it a part of us? In this edition of Rathbones Review we consider the past, present and likely future of attempts to grasp the workings — and the potential — of the brain.

Having explored the secrets of the nervous system, we also examine the puzzles of the immune system. Allergies were regarded as medical curiosities throughout much of history, but today they represent a significant and growing problem. We look at the likely causes of the modern-day explosion in allergic reactions — and the possible cures.

Other topics in this edition include the sustainability-inspired rebellion against ‘fast fashion’, the tech phenomenon that is blockchain and the changing nature and impact of political correctness. We also discuss the economics of racehorse breeding, the emergence of laboratory-grown diamonds, the financial benefits of marriage and civil partnerships and the drive to protect our bio-heritage. In addition, we introduce some of the young writers benefiting from our sponsorship of the Rathbones Folio Prize.

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