In today’s Bulldog Update of technology news: Duke FDA nominee’s ties to big pharma questioned; Snowden says aliens may be encrypting messages; Kickstarter reincorporates; Pandora stock volatile.

Duke FDA nominee’s drug-maker ties worry some

The New York Times on Sunday noted that Dr. Robert M. Califf of Duke, who has been nominated to be the new Federal Food and Drug Administration commissioner, has deeper ties to the pharmaceutical industry than any previous FDA commissioner.

While praising the cardiologist for his renowned work as a clinical researcher, it points out that he ran a multimillion-dollar center at Duke that received more than 60 percent of its funding from the pharma industry.

The story adds that Califf has a resume “studded with industry funding for research and consulting.”

On the other hand, the article says Califf’s supporters believe his vast experience in clinical science will be a real asset for him at the FDA. See the full story here:

Alien messages encrypted?

Edward Snowden, who knows a thing or two about encryption, said in a podcast with Neil deGrasse Tyson, that the reason we haven’t detected any signals from space aliens may be that they encrypt all communications.

He points out that if the messages are “properly encrypted,” you can’t tell them apart from random noise. Suggesting that all advanced civilizations find encryption necessary, he said, “So if you have an alien civilization trying to listen for other civilizations, or our civilization trying to listen for aliens, there’s only one small period in the development of their society where all of their communications will be sent via the most primitive and most unprotected means.”

Listen to the podcast here:

Kickstarter reincorporates as a public benefit corporation

This week Kickstarter, the popular crowd-funding site, reincorporated at a public benefit corporation, the New York Time reported. The move legally requires the firm to seek “a positive impact on society.”

The company also officially changed its name to Kickstarter PBC. The move doesn’t prevent the company from an exit such as acquisition or going public, but it does require a high degree of transparency and regular reports on its social impact.

It’s board must also consider public benefits when making decisions.

Pandora stock volatility

The streaming music web site Pandora saw its stock trading halted twice today because it exceeded a five percent gain. The volatility was attributed to speculation over music royalty payment changes that could benefit the company.