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Chip Implants: The Next Big Privacy Debate

Some say we will all, eventually, be chipped. Others say — never! Let the privacy, legal, technical, professional, medical, security, political, religious and ‘oh so personal’ battles begin.
Source: Government Technology

Credit: Shutterstock – Shidonna Raven Garden and Cook

Have you been chipped?

That question is set to divide millions of people in the 2020s. And perhaps billions of people in the 2030s and 2040s.

Just as the world begins to understand the many benefits of the Internet of Things (IoT), but also learns about the ‘dark side’ from ‘smart everything,’ including our connected cities, we are now on the cusp of small chips causing major new privacy disagreements.

As individuals try to grapple with the privacy and security implications that come with IoT, big data, public- and private-sector data breaches, social media sharing, GDPR, a new California privacy law, along with data ownership and “right to be forgotten” provisions, along comes a set of technologies that will become much more personal than your smartphone or cloud storage history.

Get ready for people to ask you to place microchips under your skin for a wide variety of reasons.

Why are implanted chips so controversial? What is at stake? How can such a small thing affect so many people? What leads me to proclaim that implanted chips will become the next big privacy debate?

Short answer: Implanting chips in humans has privacy and security implications that go well beyond cameras in public places, facial recognition, tracking of our locations, our driving habits, our spending histories, and even beyond ownership of your data.  

This topic touches upon your hand, your heart, your brain and the rest of your body —literally. This new development is set to give a very different meaning to ‘hacking the body’ or biohacking. While cyber experts continue to worry about protecting critical infrastructure and mitigating security risks that could harm the economy or cause a loss of life, implanted chips also affect health but add in new dimensions that conflict with people’s religious beliefs.  

Let’s explore the good, the bad and the possible ugly implications that come with microchip implants.

Background on Implanting Microchips in Your Body

First, as background, we initially explored this implanted chips topic last year in this piece about employees at Three Square Market, a technology company in Wisconsin, who had a small chip injected in their hands for security convenience. Reactions to this news was all over the map, with headlines ranging from positive stories about the dawning of a great new era to big brother privacy concerns to fears that biblical prophecies are about to come true.

Many more articles have been written on this topic since my first article in July 2017. USA Today came out in August of 2017 with the headline: You will get chipped — eventually. Here’s a quote: “This would go beyond paying with your smartphone. Instead, chipped customers would simply wave their hands in lieu of Apple Pay and other mobile-payment systems.

The benefits don’t stop there. In the future, consumers could zip through airport scanners sans passport or driver’s license; open doors; start cars; and operate home automation systems. All of it, if the technology pans out, with the simple wave of a hand. …”

The Atlantic offered an article in September 2018 describing why you’re probably getting a microchip implant someday. The article focused on how microchip implants are going from tech-geek novelty to genuine health tool — and you might be running out of good reasons to say no.

“Three Square Chip says that its medical RFID implants will be powered by body heat, and McMullan’s plans to develop a single piece of hardware to aid patients with a wider range of conditions could make the chips more affordable than devices with more specialized (and limited) functions. “Many heart patients, right now, the only time they know they’ve got a problem is when they’re in the back of an ambulance,” McMullan says.

The company estimates that it will be selling chips capable of tracking a wearer’s live vital signs in a little more than a year, but a few other developments will come first. McMullan hopes that people will soon consider storing their medical information on encrypted RFID chips, and the group is also working on a way to make GPS-enabled chips available as an option for families to track relatives suffering from severe dementia—another use for the chips that poses both obvious benefits and legitimate concerns. …”

Second, the topic resurfaced last month with several stories, like this NPR article on how thousands of Swedes are inserting microchips under their skin. “More than 4,000 Swedes have adopted the technology, with one company, Biohax International, dominating the market. The chipping firm was started five years ago by Jowan Osterlund, a former professional body piercer.

After spending the past two years working full time on the project, he is currently developing training materials so he can hire Swedish doctors and nurses to help take on some of his heavy workload. …”

Third, the topic became heated — again — after this recent article in the The Guardian (UK) went viral, titled: Alarm over talks to implant UK employees with microchips. The article described how the Trade Union Congress is concerned over tech being used to control and micromanage people.

For a brief time this month, implanting chips into your body became the No. 1 topic of discussion on LinkedIn globally. An article that I posted received more than 30K views and well over a hundred comments — mostly appalled by the practice of implanting chips — at least for convenience. 

Fourth, there have been numerous articles over the past year describing medical advances, potentially even cures for various diseases, which may come by implanting microchips in humans in various ways. Here are three examples:

Implants Offered as an Optional Improvement?

But medical necessities aside, would you pay to receive a chip implant if it offered some other optional medical enhancement for your body? Other research, which started as deep-brain stimulation as a treatment for Parkinson’s disease, now suggests that chip implants can boost your memory

Or, what if a chip implant offered the convenience of embedding a smartphone in your body? This article suggests how.

“Chris Harrison, a professor of computer science at Carnegie Mellon University’s Human-Computer Interaction Institute, has been working on a similar idea since 2009. “People want to do more sophisticated things on mobile phones. And the industrial answer seemed to be: Let’s put bigger and bigger screens on them,” he says. “That only works up to a point. Why don’t we just forget the screen entirely? Why not use the skin? Instead of the three-and-a-half-inch iPhone, why not have the 20-inch arm bone?” So Harrison created OmniTouch (also in collaboration with Microsoft), a device worn on the shoulder that would project your phone interface onto your palm. A depth-sensitive camera picked up when and where you tapped on your skin, so the projection reacted with it. “The invention of smartphones enabled the creation of all these ideas and apps and services. Imagine what that will be like for the body,” Harrison says.

A Few Good Privacy Questions

There are many intriguing stories about the potential dark side of implanting microchips. Wired magazine describes, Mind Games: The Tortured Lives of ‘Targeted Individuals.’ Here’s the final paragraph from that piece: “Once she loved technology, shaping and molding it, playing with data in the backend of a website. When the targeting first began, she even considered the ways the technology could do good: What if, for instance, the chip inside your head could teach you to speak a new language? But she quickly learned that it wasn’t there to teach her—it was there to hurt her. It was permanent, and it would change her forever. …”

In this Forbes article, the author describes how The Privacy Debate Isn’t About Secrets, It’s About Control. Quote: “Even if Internet search yielded an accurate, fair, crowd-vetted record of all human experience — which it doesn’t — those records no longer belong to individuals, but rather to the faceless mechanisms of social discourse and surveillance. Sure, the loss of privacy can be embarrassing or frustrating, but it’s a side effect of this thornier issue of giving up control.”

Most of the same questions that surround cybersecurity and privacy in other disciplines apply to this microchip implant topic, only the stakes can become even higher and more personal.

At first, a microchip implant may be pretty “dumb” on the scale of microchip advancements. Perhaps all the chip can do is open a door or verify your identity at work. But is this only step one down a scary yellow brick road?

Here are a few basic questions to consider about microchip implants:

  • What are the benefits of implanting the chip(s)?
  • Is implanting chips physically and emotionally safe?
  • Who owns the data on the chip?
  • Who has access to the data — and when?
  • Do the chips communicate, somehow, with outside networks?
  • How are chips updated when flaws are found?
  • Can the chips be hacked? Assuming yes, what security is in place to stop unauthorized access to data and manipulation of data.
  • Do religious beliefs forbid the practice?
  • Is implanting the microchip truly voluntary? Will it still be voluntary tomorrow or in 10 or 20 years?
  • Is the practice medically necessary?
  • Are incentives offered to those who participate?
  • Are penalties coming for those who don’t participate?
  • Will being chipped start as an exception and become the rule?
  • Will ethical and moral processes and procedures be breached by hackers? (No way to stop the bad actors once you begin.)
  • What laws are put in place on this implanted chip topic?
  • What company policies are affected?

On a wider scale, since the Internet is an accelerator for good and evil at the same time, what good or evil outcomes will come from this implanted chip trend?

Closing Thoughts

There is no doubt in my mind that we will keep coming back to this implanted chip topic over the next decade. More health advantages are coming, as well as technology breakthroughs that may even bring cures for some diseases by using chip implants as part of the answer.

If you are interested, I recommend reading these other articles listing more benefits and downsides of implanting microchips — and explaining why the trend is set to explode over the next decade.

But the questions will remain about whether these substantial implanted chip benefits are worth the privacy, security and other risks. Expect related chip implant questions (in various forms) to become a top technology, privacy and security concern in the 2020s — and will even become a hotly debated topic in 2019.  

I was amazed at the deep emotional feelings regarding this topic that recently came through online, and this passion has grown in the past 18 months. More than any other privacy or security issue I have seen recently, implanted chips are, and will be, a hot-button privacy topic that is not going away. In fact, I think it may become the No. 1 privacy topic in the next few years.    

Military leaders point out that capabilities take a long time to develop, but intentions can change overnight. In other words, the debate will not only center on current technology solutions, but also on what you believe might happen in the future regarding the use of implanted chips. For example: Will it truly stay voluntary?  

Finally, since perspectives on this topic do not cut across the typical left-right divide, your personal decision on receiving a chip implant may have more to do with your trust in your doctor, your employer, your government, the technology company providing the answers, or even your religious beliefs, than your political party affiliation or what a specific chip can currently do — or not do. 

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Pakistani-Canadian scientist experiments brain-chip implantation for brain ailments

Last Updated On 29 March,2019 10:43 pm
Source: Dunyan News

These chips help understand the interaction between human tissues and electronic devices, said Dr.
Source: Dunyan News
Shidonna Raven Garden and Cook

(Web Desk) – Dr. Naweed Syed who invented neuro/bionic chip is starting experiments on humans this year to cure the brain-related ailments like seziures and epilepsy according to online website.

Pakistani-Canadian scientist of the University of Calgary’s Hotchkiss Brain Institute has been working on these brain chips for quite few years now which gained a lot of attraction all over the world.

These chips help understand the interaction between human tissues and electronic devices.

Dr. Naweed Syed is testing these chips for the incurable brain ailments and function loss by implanting them inside the brain. It might hit the road to bionic robotics for future.

Dr. Naweed, the pioneer of brain cell activity reading chips, will undertake the experiments in the middle of this year. The hybrid, ultra-sensitive bionic chip will first serve as a diagnostic device for epileptic patients through numerous, unprecedented approaches.

The hybrid bionic chip is one of the three unique chips developed by Syed. It aims at detecting seizures in a way that’s never been done before.

Furthermore, after it’s implanted, the chip can not only detect seizures but also convey the signals wirelessly to a wearable pocket device. This can relieve the patients of a 30-foot cable, which is a part of the conventional procedure.

This chip is significant because it will be MR compatible and enable the surgeon to identify the location of the seizures, which is quite hard to achieve normally.

Although it took almost two decades of feverish experiments, deign, redesign, and observations, a two-way brain chip is finally ready for human trials.

Nevertheless, in the next step, the chip will not only detect seizures but also switch to a device that can subdue them. The human trials will begin in mid-2019 at the University of Calgary, Alberta, Canada.

When new technologies, inventions and even medications come on the market there is typically an altruistic look at what it can do. Little thought is given to the consequences and ramifications. Indeed in the midst of a pandemic some of the loudest voices of vaccine hesitation are coming from health care workers themselves. The say the vaccine was politicized, some say it was rushed and consequently the whole world is apart of testing a vaccine that has not undergone the typical 7 years required for a ‘sound’ clinical trail that evaluates the response of the body to the vaccine. What are the ethics involved in implanting humans with chips? Have we properly tested the risk and implications? What could be the consequences of not doing so? COVID 19 has brought clinical trails into warp speed literally in the midst of a history of pharmaceuticals consistently fined for not following clinical trial laws. How has COVID 19 changed the landscape of clinical trails. The United States has already surpassed the number of people who died in WWII in COVID deaths.

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Neuroreality: The New Reality is Coming. And It’s a Brain Computer Interface

In the future, brain chips will govern how we experience reality.

Source: Futurism

The Virtual World

With the release of the Oculus Rift in March 2016, the age of virtual reality (VR) truly began. VR tech had been generating buzz since the 1990s, but the Rift was the first high-end VR system to reach the consumer market, and early reviews confirmed that it delivered the kind of experience users had been hoping for.

Research into VR exploded in this new era, and experts soon started to find innovative ways to make virtual experiences more immersive…more real. To date, VR technologies have moved beyond just sight and sound. We’ve developed technologies that let users touch virtual objects, feel changes in wind and temperature, and even taste food in VR.

However, despite all this progress, no one would mistake a virtual environment for the real world. The technology simply isn’t advanced enough, and as long as we rely solely on traditional headsets and other wearables, it never will be.

Before we can create a world that is truly indistinguishable from the real one, we will need to leave the age of virtual reality behind and enter a new era — the era of neuroreality.

Reality 2.0

Neuroreality refers to a reality that is driven by technologies that interface directly with the human brain. While traditional VR depends on a user physically reacting to external stimuli (for example, swinging a controller to wield a virtual sword on a screen) a neuroreality system interfaces directly with the user’s biology through a brain-computer interface (BCI).

Notably, this technology isn’t some far-flung sci-fi vision. It’s very real.

To rehash the basics: BCIs are a means of connecting our brains to machines, and they can be either invasive (requiring an implant of some sort) or non-invasive (relying on electrodes or other external tech to detect and direct brain signals). Experts have predicted that advances in BCIs will lead to a new era in human evolution, as these devices have the potential to revolutionize how we treat diseaseslearncommunicate…in short, they are set to utterly transform how we see and interact with the world around us.

In fact, some companies are already innovating in the newly emerging field of neuroreality.

Founded by physicist Dan Cook in 2013, EyeMynd’s goal is to create a VR system that allows the user to navigate a virtual world simply by thought—no immersion-breaking controller required.

“When you’re in the virtual world—whether you’re playing a game or something else—you don’t want to have to keep thinking about what you’re doing with your hands,” Cook told Digital Trends in November. “It’s much better to have pure brainwave control. It will be a much more satisfying experience and will allow for a much greater level of immersion. You can forget about your live human body, and just focus on what’s going on in front of you.”

Cook likens the experience to dreaming. “In a dream, you can run around without moving your physical legs. That dreaming and imagining creates brain signals that we can read,” he told The Guardian. “With what we want to do, you won’t need eyeballs to see, or ears to hear, or hands and feet. We can bypass all of that.”

EyeMynd’s system is non-invasive, meaning it wouldn’t require the user to undergo any sort of device implantation. Instead, they would wear a headset that includes EEG sensors to track their brainwaves.


Cook’s isn’t the only company exploring the use of brainwave-detecting external tech to make the VR experience feel more seamless. Boston-based startup Neurable, bioinformatics company EMOTIV, and social networking giant Facebook are all working on non-invasive devices that would allow users to navigate the virtual world through thought alone.

However, as Joy Lyons, chief technology officer of audio tech startup OSSICtold Vice at the 2016 VRLA Summer Expo, the ideal hardware for creating a new reality isn’t an external headset, no matter how advanced. It’s “a chip in the brain.”

A World In Your Mind

Earlier this year, serial entrepreneur Elon Musk founded Neuralink, a company with the goal of developing cutting-edge technology that connects a person’s brain to the digital world through an array of implanted electrodes. Shortly before Musk’s announcement, Braintree founder Bryan Johnson announced a similar venture—that he is investing $100 million to unlock the power of the human brain and make our neural code programmable. Johnson’s company, Kernel, is working to create the world’s first neuroprosthesis

Musk himself has predicted that we’ll eventually be able to create computer simulations that are indistinguishable from reality, and if these brain interfaces come to fruition, they could act as the platform through which we experience those simulations, allowing us to not only see a realistic world but touch it and truly feel it.

In a detailed report announcing the launch of Neuralink, Tim Urban described the potential impact of this proposed tech on our understanding of reality. Instead of relying on external hardware like goggles, gloves, and headphones to trick our senses into believing that what we encounter in the virtual world is real, we could program realities that trigger the same parts of our brains that would be engaged if the experiences actually were real.

“There would be no more need for screens of course — because you could just make a virtual screen appear in your visual cortex. Or jump into a VR movie with all your senses,” asserted Urban. “You’ll be able to actually experience almost anything for free.”

The same part of your brain that is stimulated when you taste pizza could be triggered to engage when you bite into a slice in this new reality, and the same part that lets you smell the ocean air in reality could  be simulated and provide that feeling while standing on the shore of a virtual Atlantic ocean.

The difference between the real world and the virtual one would be undetectable. For all intents and purposes, a difference would not exist.

Figuring out the tech to actually make this happen won’t be easy, and overcoming the non-tech related obstacles will present an additional challenge (such as developing a comprehensive map of the human brain and all our neurons). Elective brain surgery is an extremely controversial subject, and past experiments haven’t yielded such promising results. Neuralink and like-minded companies will need to engage in years of research before their devices will be ready for human implantation, and even then, they’ll have regulatory hurdles to overcome.

Still, BCI research is progressing rapidly, so while a system of electrodes that can effectively project an entirely new world directly into our brains might seem like a sci-fi pipe dream, it really shouldn’t. After all, just two decades ago, the virtual reality experience delivered today by the Rift felt woefully out of reach, and now, anyone with $600 can bring it home with them (and the price is dropping at a remarkable rate).

As Cook told The Guardian, we aren’t as far as we may think from the day when navigating virtual worlds using just our thoughts is the norm: “Ten years from now, this will seem obvious.”

Disclosure: Bryan Johnson is an investor in Futurism; he does not hold a seat on our editorial board or have any editorial review privileges.

MindControl VR by ARworks at MWC, Barcelona 2017

Shidonna Raven Garden and Cook
Source: Futurism
Shidonna Raven Garden and Cook

What are the health implications for a human, Artificial Intelligence and computer integration? What are the privacy implications? What are the implications for humanity? Have there been clinical trails? How long were the clinical trails? Were any of the clinical trials companies fined and why? Are the inventors and those conducting clinical trails willing to lead by example?

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Elon Musk hopes to put a computer chip in your brain. Who wants one?

By Rachel Metz, CNN Business
Updated 11:36 AM EDT, Sun July 21, 2019
Source: CNN

CHICAGO, IL - JUNE 14: Engineer and tech entrepreneur Elon Musk of The Boring Company  listens as Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel talks about constructing a high speed transit tunnel at Block 37 during a news conference on June 14, 2018 in Chicago, Illinois. Musk said he could create a 16-passenger vehicle to operate on a high-speed rail system that could get travelers to and from downtown Chicago and O
Source: CNN
Shidonna Raven Garden and Cook

This week Elon Musk unveiled his most sci-fi project thus far: a computer chip connected to exceptionally slender wires with electrodes on them, all of which is meant to be embedded in a person’s brain by a surgical robot. The implant would connect wirelessly to a small behind-the-ear receiver that could communicate with a computer.

Musk hopes the implant, created by his brain-computer interface startup Neuralink, could one day help quadriplegics control smartphones, and perhaps even endow users with a sort of telepathy. Like existing brain-machine interfaces, it would collect electrical signals sent out by the brain and interpret them as actions.

Elon Musk, shown here in March 2019 before unveiling Tesla

Elon Musk, shown here in March 2019 before unveiling Tesla’s Model Y, is working on a chip he hopes will eventually be implanted in people’s brains. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong, File)PHOTO: Jae C. Hong/AP

Neuralink, which was founded in 2016, has already tested an early, wired version of this implant in rats (and Musk indicated it has enabled a monkey to control a computer with his brain, too); Musk said human trials could start by the end of next year, though the company doesn’t yet have approval from the US Food and Drug Administration for such a study. (And, it should be noted, Musk, who is also CEO of Tesla and SpaceX, has a history of making outlandish technological claims: for instance, the he said in a recent interview that getting humans to Mars in 4 years “sounds doable.”)

Neuralink’s promise of a brain-connected device that looks as nondescript as a hearing aid — the kind of thing you could hide with hair or a hat — is exciting to scientists who have spent years working on this technology.

“The general idea and their motivation, I think, are spot on,” said Andrew Schwartz, a professor of neurobiology at the University of Pittsburgh and pioneer in the brain-machine interface field.

And, in fact, a number of experts told CNN Business that Neuralink could, in the coming years, be a boon for people with conditions such as quadriplegia, enabling increased independence and ushering potentially life-transforming technology out of the lab and into the real world.

But will it be, as Musk envisions, the kind of device that the average person will one day sign up for, too? Probably not, Schwartz and other experts who spoke with CNN Business agreed.

How a brain chip could help

The idea of a brain-machine interface is not new; scientists have been working on them for decades, and they have been implanted and tested in animals such as monkeys as well as in people. There are some FDA-approved deep-brain stimulation devices meant for, among other things, controlling tremors in people with Parkinson’s disease, and several tech companies have worked on their own methods for connecting the brain to computers: Facebook, for instance, has worked on a non-invasive device to let you send text messages by thinking.

Neuralink envisions a brain implant that can connect wirelessly with a small receiver that sits behind the ear.PHOTO: Neuralink

Yet these efforts tend to be confined to labs for a number of reasons: they’re expensive, bulky, require training (of both the user and the computer), and, when it comes to an under-the-skull implant, the person outfitted with it generally must be physically tethered to a computer for it to work.

Virginia de Sa, a professor studying brain-computer interfaces at the University of California San Diego, said several of Neuralink’s ideas sound “very promising,” such as the use of very fine wires to implant electrodes in the brain — the thinner they are, she said, the less damage they’ll do to the brain, and, hopefully, the longer they’ll last.

Schwartz sees the potential in Neuralink’s design, particularly its plans to miniaturize the components of the implant, make it wireless, and improve the electrode technology.

He believes the wireless aspect of it is key, noting that getting FDA approval for such an implant includes a risk assessment, and the riskiest part of today’s brain-computer interfaces involves a connector that comes through the patient’s skin to link the implant to a computer.

“By removing that whole thing, it becomes a much safer technology,” he said, as it reduces the risk of an infection in the patient.

Neuralink president Max Hodak said during the presentation that the company’s plan for its first product includes it being able to control mobile devices and a keyboard or mouse, though he noted that, as of now, “these are aspirations.”

It doesn’t sound outlandish, though. Schwartz has already worked with systems that can let paralyzed patients pick up objects with a robotic hand and even get some sensory feedback (Musk said Tuesday that Neuralink’s device would also be able to both read brain signals and send feedback). He can imagine that, some day in the future, a person with a severe impairment who is outfitted with a device such as the one Neuralink outlined could become much more autonomous.

A paralyzed person, for instance, would still be sitting in a wheelchair, he said, but perhaps they’d be able to drive it by thinking rather than using a joystick, and even control a prosthetic arm connected to the chair as well.

“They could potentially do their own laundry,” he said.

It’s still brain surgery

During his presentation, Musk said Neuralink aims to make the surgery for the company’s implant “equivalent to a LASIK type of thing where you sit down, a machine does its thing, and you can walk away within a few hours,” all without a hospital stay.

He spoke about the wires that would be implanted under a person’s skull as threads; a robot for implanting them would bypass blood vessels and cause “minimal trauma,” he claimed.

A Neuralink robot for placing slender electrodes inside the brain.PHOTO: Neuralink

It sounds simpler than the way people receive implants today. Essentially, as things work now, the skull is cut open, the brain is exposed, chips are installed, connectors are mounted to the skull, and the head is stitched up.

Yet the reality is that implanting a device underneath the skull will remain brain surgery. Neuralink acknowledges it will still need to bore a hole in your skull, for instance.

“It’s still surgery; it’s still risky,” de Sa said. “People can die in even the simplest surgeries.”

Beyond the risks of a medical procedure, there are security concerns, too. Nataliya Kosmina, a postdoctoral associate at the MIT Media Lab, said she “freaked out” when she saw the portion of the presentation in which Neuralink president Max Hodak mentioned that the implant is meant to be controlled with an iPhone app; she pointed out that someone hacking into such an app could be far more dangerous than if they were to, say, hack your bank account.

“As much time and effort as we’re all going to spend to make these kinds of devices and implants accessible and safe and put them out there, we would need to spend the same amount of time and energy on first, ethical issues, and second, privacy and security,” she said.

Who will want one?

For now, Neuralink said it is working on a brain chip to help with serious medical conditions, but Musk eventually wants it to appeal to all kinds of people. Several experts said they can’t envision most people clamoring for Neuralink’s brain chip, however.

“It’s really like a sort of a science-fiction vision that gets some people excited about it, but I don’t see the market for something like that,” said Andrew Hires, an assistant professor of neurobiology at USC. “The technological development would have to go so far beyond what would currently be capable with a device like this.”

Schwartz agreed, saying that while scientists can decode fairly complex brain signals related to, say, how we move our hands and fingers, they are just starting to understand things such as how to apply force to objects or manipulate them in the real world.

When it comes to more futuristic applications of the technology to things like thought transmission, memory enhancement or working with artificial intelligence, he said, “we’re nowhere close to understanding anything like that.”

Some states are already working against employers implanting chip in their employees. Chips are already on the market in some form. What do you know about human chip implants? What they can do? If they can be hacked? And the health and human implications?

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Medical device recalls rise 31% in Q2

Medical Device Shidonna Raven Garden and Cook

Maia Anderson – Thursday, August 27th, 2020 
Source: Beckers Hospital Review
Feature Photo Source: Unsplash, Owen-Beard

The number of medical device recalls has increased 31.2 percent in the second quarter of 2020, according to Stericycle’s Q2 recall index

The total number of recalls in the second quarter was 341, surpassing 300 for the first time in two years. While the average recall size was lower than the first quarter, the number of recalls  puts the medical device industry on track for 1,200 recalls by the end of the year, which would be an annual increase of 35 percent over 2019. 

The number also doesn’t include unofficial recalls of face masks and other personal protective equipment handled at the state level. 

For the first time in 16 consecutive quarters, safety issues accounted for 48 recalls, or 14.1 percent, of all the recalls in the second quarter, overtaking software issues. But cyberattacks targeting health systems, hospitals and healthcare organizations are still on the rise, and connected medical devices are vulnerable, according to the report. 

Sterilization issues affected the most units, accounting for 62.9 percent of recalled units. 

Out of all of the recalls, 83.3 percent affected products that were distributed nationwide, and 48.4 percent affected products distributed internationally. 

Find the full report here

What do you think of the rise of medical devices in the context of robotics, Ai and cyborgs? What do you think of the rise of the medical devices in the context of the pandemic and commercial space travel? What do you think of the rise of the medical device industry in the context of Elon Musk’s goal of building a city in Mars by 2050? Why?

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‘Cyborg’ technology could enable new diagnostics, merger of humans and AI

Amputee Shidonna Raven Garden and Cook

Date: August 17, 2020
Source: American Chemical Society
Feature Photo Source: Unsplash, thisisengineering

Summary: Although true ‘cyborgs’ are science fiction, researchers are moving toward integrating electronics with the body. Such devices could monitor tumors or replace damaged tissues. But connecting electronics directly to human tissues in the body is a huge challenge. Today, a team is reporting new coatings for components that could help them more easily fit into this environment.

Although true “cyborgs” — part human, part robotic beings — are science fiction, researchers are taking steps toward integrating electronics with the body. Such devices could monitor for tumor development or stand in for damaged tissues. But connecting electronics directly to human tissues in the body is a huge challenge. Now, a team is reporting new coatings for components that could help them more easily fit into this environment.

The researchers will present their results today at the American Chemical Society (ACS) Fall 2020 Virtual Meeting & Expo. 

“We got the idea for this project because we were trying to interface rigid, inorganic microelectrodes with the brain, but brains are made out of organic, salty, live materials,” says David Martin, Ph.D., who led the study. “It wasn’t working well, so we thought there must be a better way.”

Traditional microelectronic materials, such as silicon, gold, stainless steel and iridium, cause scarring when implanted. For applications in muscle or brain tissue, electrical signals need to flow for them to operate properly, but scars interrupt this activity. The researchers reasoned that a coating could help.

“We started looking at organic electronic materials like conjugated polymers that were being used in non-biological devices,” says Martin, who is at the University of Delaware. “We found a chemically stable example that was sold commercially as an antistatic coating for electronic displays.” After testing, the researchers found that the polymer had the properties necessary for interfacing hardware and human tissue.

“These conjugated polymers are electrically active, but they are also ionically active,” Martin says. “Counter ions give them the charge they need so when they are in operation, both electrons and ions are moving around.” The polymer, known as poly(3,4-ethylenedioxythiophene) or PEDOT, dramatically improved the performance of medical implants by lowering their impedance two to three orders of magnitude, thus increasing signal quality and battery lifetime in patients.

Martin has since determined how to specialize the polymer, putting different functional groups on PEDOT. Adding a carboxylic acid, aldehyde or maleimide substituent to the ethylenedioxythiophene (EDOT) monomer gives the researchers the versatility to create polymers with a variety of functions.

“The maleimide is particularly powerful because we can do click chemistry substitutions to make functionalized polymers and biopolymers,” Martin says. Mixing unsubstituted monomer with the maleimide-substituted version results in a material with many locations where the team can attach peptides, antibodies or DNA. “Name your favorite biomolecule, and you can in principle make a PEDOT film that has whatever biofunctional group you might be interested in,” he says.

Most recently, Martin’s group created a PEDOT film with an antibody for vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) attached. VEGF stimulates blood vessel growth after injury, and tumors hijack this protein to increase their blood supply. The polymer that the team developed could act as a sensor to detect overexpression of VEGF and thus early stages of disease, among other potential applications.

Other functionalized polymers have neurotransmitters on them, and these films could help sense or treat brain or nervous system disorders. So far, the team has made a polymer with dopamine, which plays a role in addictive behaviors, as well as dopamine-functionalized variants of the EDOT monomer. Martin says these biological-synthetic hybrid materials might someday be useful in merging artificial intelligence with the human brain.

Ultimately, Martin says, his dream is to be able to tailor how these materials deposit on a surface and then to put them in tissue in a living organism. “The ability to do the polymerization in a controlled way inside a living organism would be fascinating.”

What are your thoughts on cyborgs? What are your thoughts on cyborgs within the context of the pandemic? Do you think Elon Musk is correct, we are already cyborgs or do you think scientists can create cyborgs?

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‘If you can’t beat them join them’: Elon Musk says our best hope for competing with AI is becoming better cyborgs

Source: Business Insider
Graham Rapier Aug 29, 2019, 11:08 AM

Tesla Inc CEO Elon Musk and Alibaba Group Holding Ltd Executive Chairman Jack Ma attend the World Artificial Intelligence Conference (WAIC) in Shanghai, China, August 29, 2019. REUTERS/Aly Song
Source: Business Insider
Tesla Inc CEO Musk and Alibaba Group Holding Ltd Executive Chairman Ma attend the World Artificial Intelligence Conference in Shanghai 
Shidonna Raven Garden and Cook
  • Elon Musk talked artificial intelligence with Alibaba chairman Jack Ma in Shanghai on Thursday. 
  • Musk doubled down on his previous warnings that AI will overtake human intelligence
  • The Tesla CEO also took the time to mention his latest bet, Neuralink, and its planned brain-computer interface that could let human compete with AI. 

Elon Musk was in China on Thursday, but not to talk Tesla and its new factory in the country.

Instead, the chief executive talked artificial intelligence on stage next to Alibaba founder Jack Ma, and doubled down on his warnings that the technology could pose grave risks to human society as we know it.

“Generally, people underestimate the capability of AI,” Musk said at the conference in Shanghai. “They sort of think it’s like a smart human, but it’s going to be much more than that. It’ll be much smarter than the smartest human.”

Musk’s proposed solution: “If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em.

Amid the myriad of Musk’s corporate bets, one of the more recent endeavors is “Neuralink.” Unveiled in a white paper in July, the company hopes to begin testing its computer-brain interface in humans as early as next year. Experts say the technology is impressive, but called the timeline “delusional.”

“We are already a cyborg,” Musk said. “People don’t realize — we are already a cyborg because we are so well integrated with our phones and our computers. The phone is almost like an extension of yourself. If you forget your phone, it’s like a missing limb. But the communication bandwidth to the phone is very low, especially input.”

That’s why humans desperately need to catch up.

What do you think of robots and cyborgs? What do you think the impact of robots and cyborgs will be on society? What do you think of robots and cyborgs in the context of the pandemic?

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Robots on the rise as Americans experience record job losses amid pandemic

The pandemic has left millions of Americans unemployed – including many in the hospitality industry, which has seen a rise in the adoption of new tech
Lauren Aratani
Fri 27 Nov 2020 03.00 EST, Last modified on Fri 27 Nov 2020 06.06 EST
Source: The Guardian

Pepper, a robot developed by SoftBank Robotics, welcomes customers in Tokyo, Japan, on 5 November. In the US, 11 million people were unemployed in October.
 Pepper, a robot developed by SoftBank Robotics, welcomes customers in Tokyo, Japan, on 5 November. In the US, 11 million people were unemployed in October. Photograph: Kimimasa Mayama/EPA
Source: The Guardian
Shidonna Raven Garden and Cook

They can check you in and deliver orange juice to your hotel room, answer your questions about a missing package, whip up sushi and pack up thousands of subscription boxes. And, perhaps most importantly, they are completely immune to Covid-19. While people have had a hard time in the coronavirus pandemic, robots are having a moment.

The Covid-19 pandemic has left millions of Americans unemployed – disproportionately those in the service industries where women and people of color make up the largest share of the labor force. In October, 11 million people were unemployed in the US, compared with about 6 million people who were without a job during the same time last year.

The rise of the Covid robots – in pictures

And as humans are experiencing record job losses and economic uncertainty, robots have become a hot commodity. Multiple technology manufacturers have reported increased demand for their bots over the course of the pandemic, from drone-like machines that can roam hallways to make deliveries and AI-powered customer service software to increased use of self-service checkouts at supermarkets.

A recent report from the World Economic Forum predicted that by 2025 the next wave of automation – turbocharged by the pandemic – will disrupt 85m jobs globally. New jobs will be created but “businesses, governments and workers must plan to urgently work together to implement a new vision for the global workforce”.Advertisement

The hospitality industry, which has been one of the hardest-hit by the pandemic, has seen a clear uptick in the adoption of new technology during the pandemic. Hotels are allowing guests to use kiosks to check themselves in, apps to control the television and light switches in their room and a few use delivery bots to send to guests’ room when they want a refreshment.

Ron Swidler, chief information officer of the Gettys Group, a hotel design and development consultancy firm, said more hotels are experimenting with new technology during the pandemic. Swidler leads the Hotel of Tomorrow, a consortium of hospitality leaders that was re-upped in the middle of the pandemic to think of ways to innovate the industry. The group came up with five “big ideas” on how the industry needs to change, and new technology – including robots – are a core part of the equation.

“The cost [of automation] is coming down, the technology is getting better and we are seeing innovation working effectively in other parts of the world that we can transfer here,” Swidler said, citing Alibaba’s FlyZoo hotel that is staffed nearly entirely by technology, from check-in to room service.

While the idea of being serviced by a BB-8 lookalike in a hotel may seem strange, Swidler said permanent job losses in the industry will be a reality as hotels adopt new technologies to try to save on labor costs.

It is unclear whether the increased demand for new technology has directly caused job losses during the pandemic, but a discussion paper published by the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia in September found that “automatable” jobs – occupations that could be replaced by technology that is in development or is already available – lost 4.2 more jobs per every 100 than occupations that are less at risk for automation. Occupations that are considered automatable include hotel desk clerks, shuttle drivers and retail salespeople, according to the paper.

The paper’s authors raise the widely shared concern that the automation undertaken during the pandemic will be a permanent replacement for jobs.

“The longer time it takes to fully control the virus, the higher the probability that the labor-saving technology will become permanent,” said Lei Ding, senior economic advisor at the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia and co-author of the paper. “Job losses will become permanent losses.”

Currently, there are only anecdotal examples of permanent job loss due to an uptick in automation brought on by the pandemic, but the layoffs of hundreds of Pennsylvania toll booth workers provides one clear example of how labor-saving technology can sweep away jobs.

In June, the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission laid off about 500 toll collectors in the state when it switched to all-electronic toll collecting.

For years, the commission had talked about replacing toll booth workers with automated collectors, and they finally gave workers a timeline. Per a union agreement, workers were supposed to be kept on payroll until at least October 2021, with final layoffs happening by January 2022.

The longer time it takes to fully control the virus, the higher the probability that the labor-saving technology will become permanentLei Ding

When the pandemic arrived, collectors were sent home in March and were promised that the commission would still uphold the October 2021 date. But in June, the commission permanently laid off all workers, over a year before the agreed date.

“We understand the safety of employees is the most important thing, but for them to have safety mean the elimination of their jobs … It’s been devastating,” said Jock Rowe, principal officer for Teamsters Local 77, the union representing 300 of the laid-off toll workers.

Rowe cited other toll-collecting agencies that brought back toll workers with enhanced safety measures, including the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.

The impact of a recession on the growth of automation has been well-documented by economists and has shown that automation does not grow steadily, but rather happens in bursts. Businesses are more likely to automate after experiencing economic shocks, when they have strong incentives to save on labor.

For a study published in 2016, researchers from the University of Rochester combed through 87m job postings online from before and after the Great Recession. They found that employers in cities that were hit hardest by the recession were replacing workers with labor-saving technology and more skilled workers. A report published by the Century Foundation found that “robot intensity” increased in 2009, in the immediate wake of the Great Recession, particularly in the manufacturing industry.

While an increase in automation can be good for educated workers and help to stimulate the economy, studies have also shown that new technology tends to leave low-wage workers behind.

“Automation has been a major driver in the increase in inequality,” said Daron Acemoglu, an economist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Acemoglu co-authored a study published in May that showed automation creates a “prosperity gap” that benefits high-skilled workers at the sake of lower-skilled workers.

Low-wage workers are not only more susceptible to job loss and wage depression due to automation, but they also experienced the most job losses due to shutdowns. Higher-wage workers are more likely to be able to work from home during the pandemic, while lower-wage workers – a disproportionate number of whom are Black or Hispanic – were more susceptible to layoffs due to shutdown orders.

Automation has been a major driver in the increase in inequality, Daron Acemoglu

An important caveat many roboticists will point out is that artificial intelligence technology is not quite smart enough to cause mass waves of layoffs due to robots. New AI technology can take a lot of money, time and resources to set up, something that many businesses do not have during the pandemic.

“You should definitely not worry about losing your job to an AI-enabled robot right now. If you’re going to lose your job to automation, it’s going to be … some proven, well-known automation that is more than 10 or 15 years old,” said Matt Beane, an assistant professor at the University of Santa Barbara’s Technology Management Program.

AI has “tremendous potential for making humans more productive” without replacing humans, Acemoglu said, if society takes a human-centric approach to technological advances. But without the political will to make sure those who do lose jobs are taken care of, by training them for new jobs, for example, the impact of automation may be devastating and a pandemic that has already hit those workers hardest could be leave a lasting legacy of unemployment.

“I’m not saying automation is terrible … What I’m saying is it would be terrible if we put all the eggs in the automation basket,” Acemoglu said. “We have to a large extent done so over the last 30 years. [The pandemic] will just exacerbate that.”

How do you think automation and robots have changed the economy? How do you think robots in the context of the pandemic have impacted job loss? Why?

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Department of Computer Science Research

Robots Shidonna Raven Garden and Cook

Advancing Robotics Technology for Societal Impact (ARTSI) Alliance

PI: Dr. Chutima Boonthum
Co-PI: Mr. Solomon Isekeje (Department of Fine and Performing Art)
Source: School of Science, Hampton University
Feature Photo Source: Unsplash, Possessed-Photography

The Department of Computer Science, School of Science, Hampton University received a $125,667 grant (2007-2010) from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to enhance the robotics programs for undergraduate students and to create outreach events for local K-12 students. The award is a part of a $2 million grant awarded to the Advancing Robotics Technology for Societal Impact (ARTSI) Alliance, a collaboration of institutions including eight Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) and seven Carnegie Research I Institutions.

How do you think robots impact our society? How do you think robots impact other societies? Why?

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Interfacing Humans and Technology – Elon Musk

We are already cyborgs | Elon Musk | Code Conference 2016

Shidonna Raven Garden and Cook
Elon Musk – Cyborgs
Shidonna Raven Garden and Cook

Elon Musk is the CEO of Space X and Tesla Motors. Space X has begun commercial space travel transportation and recently returned a group of Astronauts from space splashing them into the Gulf of Mexico. He is by far one of the people on the cutting edge of space and technology not to mention engineering and other talents. Musk also began many successful and well known companies such as PayPal. As one thinks about medical devices and the concept of cyborgs, one can see how the current science and medical trend of interfacing humans and technology. How do we see this in our everyday lives? How do we see this occurring in our doctors offices? How do we see this in our interactions with technology and technological advances? What if you became too slow to compete with robots or Ai (artificial technology) on a job? Would you interface with technology to become more competitive? What are the health implications of doing so? Share your comments with the community by positing your comments below. Share the wealth of health with your friends and family by sharing this article with 3 people today. As always you are the best part of what we do. Keep sharing!

If these articles have been helpful to you and yours, give a donation to Shidonna Raven Garden and Cook Ezine today.