The US military has been working on mind-reading devices for years. The goal is to create technologies that allow us to help people with brain or nervous system damage, and allow soldiers to control drones and other devices with just their thoughts, as Paul Tallis reported in 2019.

Several multi-millionaires who have made their fortunes in technology have launched projects to connect human brains to computers, whether to read our minds, communicate or recharge our brains. Antonio Regalado spoke to entrepreneur Brian Johnson in 2017 about his plans to create a neural prosthesis to enhance human intelligence. (Johnson has since embarked on a quest to keep his body as youthful as possible.)

We can deliver electrical shocks to the brain using pads and caps, devices that are generally considered non-invasive. But given that they’re probing our minds and potentially changing the way they work, perhaps we need to reconsider just how invasive they really are, as I wrote in a previous issue of The Checkup.

Elon Musk’s company Neuralink said its ultimate goal is to “create a whole-brain interface capable of more closely connecting biological and artificial intelligence.” Antonio described the progress the company and its competitors have made in a feature published in an issue of Computing magazine.

When a man with an electrode implanted in his brain to treat epilepsy was charged with assaulting a police officer, law enforcement officials asked him to show the brain data collected by the device. The data justified; it turns out that the man had a seizure at that time. But brain data can just as easily be used to incriminate someone else, as I wrote in a recent issue of The Checkup.

From all over the internet

How would you feel about receiving letters from a doctor written by artificial intelligence? A pilot study found that “ChatGPT can be used to produce clinical letters with a high overall score of correctness and humaneness.” (The Lancet Digital Health)

When Meredith Broussard learned that her hospital was using artificial intelligence to diagnose breast cancer, she studied how the technology stacks up against human doctors. Not really, it turned out. (Wired)

A federal judge in Texas is being asked in a lawsuit to order the US Food and Drug Administration to revoke the approval of mifepristone, one of two drugs used in medical abortions. A decision against the FDA could reduce the organization’s credibility and “be disastrous for public health.” (The Washington Post)

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has proposed regulations that would limit the levels of six “forever chemicals” in drinking water. Perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are synthetic chemicals that have been used in food manufacturing since the 1950s. They break down very slowly and have been found in the environment and in the blood of people and animals around the world. We don’t yet know how harmful they are. (EPA)

Would you pay thousands of dollars to have your jaw broken and redone to resemble Batman’s jaw? Surgery represents another disturbing cosmetic trend. (GQ)

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