Also: Neuralink has been cleared to start human clinical trials
This is today’s edition of La Descarga, our daily newsletter that provides a daily dose of what’s happening in the world of technology.
A brain implant changed his life. Then it was taken from her against her will.
Sticking an electrode inside a person’s brain can do more than treat a disease. Take the case of Rita Leggett, an Australian woman whose experimental brain implant designed to help people with epilepsy changed her and herself’s sense of agency.
Leggett told investigators that he “became one” with his device. He helped her control the violent and unpredictable seizures he routinely experienced and allowed her to take charge of his own life. So she was devastated when, two years later, she was told that she had to have the implant removed because the company that made it had gone bankrupt.
The removal of this implant, and others like it, could represent a violation of human rights, ethicists say in an article published earlier this month. And the problem will become more pressing as the market for brain implants grows in the coming years and more people receive devices like Leggett’s. Read the full story.
You can read more about what happens to patients when their life-changing brain implants are removed against their wishes in the latest issue of The CheckupJessica’s weekly newsletter that gives you the inside scoop on all things biotech. Register to receive it in your inbox every Thursday.
If you want to read more about brain implants, check out:
+ Brain waves can tell us how much pain a person is in. The research could open the doors to personalized brain therapies to address and treat the worst types of chronic pain. Read the full story.
+ An ALS patient set a communication record through a brain implant. Brain interfaces could allow paralyzed people to speak at near normal speeds. Read the full story.
+ This is how personalized brain stimulation could treat depression. Implants that track and optimize our brain activity are on the way. Read the full story.
The must reads
I’ve scoured the internet to find today’s funniest/important/scary/fascinating stories about technology.
1 Chipmaker Nvidia plunges toward a trillion-dollar valuation
The rise of AI has skyrocketed the value of the company. (WP$)
+ It is gaining ground on companies like Apple and Microsoft. (FT$)
+ But Nvidia still relies on third parties to make its chips. (WSJ$)
+ These simple design rules could turn the chip industry upside down. (MIT Technology Review)
2 Neuralink has FDA approval to study brain implants in humans
But the company is still under investigation for how it conducted the animal tests. (Reuters)
+ The agency refused Neuralink’s permission to begin human trials last year. (WP$)
+ Elon Musk’s Neuralink is theater of neuroscience. (MIT Technology Review)
3 North Korea and South Korea are immersed in a new space race
They want to use spy satellites to gain advantage over each other. (WSJ$)
4 The success of mRNA vaccines could pave the way for cancer vaccines
But experts, understandably, continue to move very cautiously. (Known magazine)
+ What next for mRNA vaccines? (MIT Technology Review)
5 Deep Sea Mining Threatens Newly Discovered Species
It could devastate precious ecosystems before we have a chance to protect them. (Motherboard)
Six US authorities demand that big technology companies hand over migrant data
But we don’t know how often the platforms comply with the subpoenas. (The Guardian)
7 Our organs are aging at different rates
Aging clocks can help us monitor our decline, but they don’t always give a complete picture of health. (Proto.Life)+ A test told me that my brain and liver are older than they should be. (MIT Technology Review)
8 How the Internet Birthed a New Pan-Asian Beauty Ideal
And it erased facial asymmetry along the way. (Wired $)
+ The fight for the “face of Instagram” (MIT Technology Review)
9 Sergey Brin Is Not Giving Up On His Airship Dreams
It’s been a passion project for years, but the costs are mounting. (Bloomberg $)
10 It’s time to break free from push notifications 📱
They are intrusive and annoying, so why not get rid of them? (The Atlantic $)
quote of the day
“There will be a large number of lost lottery tickets.”
—Trevor Greetham, investment strategist at Royal London Investment Management, tells Reuters why investors rushing to make a quick buck from AI-related stocks would do well to remember the lessons of the dotcom crash.
the great story
Yann LeCun has a bold new vision for the future of AI
About a year and a half ago, Yann LeCun realized he was wrong.
LeCun, chief scientist at the Meta AI Lab and a professor at New York University, is one of the most influential AI researchers in the world. He had been trying to give machines a basic understanding of how the world works, a kind of common sense, by training neural networks to predict what would happen next in video clips of everyday events. But guessing future frames of a video pixel by pixel was too complex. He hit a wall.
Now, after months of figuring out what was missing, he has a bold new vision for the next generation of AI, which he believes will one day give machines the common sense they need to navigate the world. But his vision is far from comprehensive; in fact, he may raise more questions than he answers. Read the full story.
—Melissa Heikkila and Will Douglas Heaven
We can still have nice things
A place for comfort, fun and distraction in these strange times. (Do you have any idea? drop me a line either tweet them to me.)
+ These accelerated penguins they’re adorable
+ Wow, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band was released on this day in 1967.
+ Finally, my lifelong dream of playing Tetris on a chicken nugget is about to come true, if I can make it to a McDonalds in China of course.
+ The fight for the right to Taco Tuesday continues.
+ If you’ve been meaning to get into astromapping for a while, consider this a sign.