The Fourth Wave: Digital Health Newsletter — Nov 30, 2018 — No. 114
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He Jiankui, a scientist at the Southern University of Science and Technology, in Shenzhen, China has caused international controversy by creating two designer babies using the CRISPR gene editing tool. Antonio Regalado at MIT Tech Review was the first to break the news that the work was underway, followed by other media outlets adding to the story that the human gene editing had already taken place. Ostensibly, the effort was intended to prevent HIV in people, but it was really more about testing CRISPR in humans for the first time. While most in the field are condemning the ethics and legality of He’s work, geneticist George Church has expressed a more balanced view, saying, in regard to the potential for unintended genetic consequences: “I’m not saying they’ll never be an off-target problem. But let’s be quantitative before we start being accusatory. It might be detectable but not clinical. There’s no evidence of off-target causing problems in animals or cells. We have pigs that have dozens of CRISPR mutations and a mouse strain that has 40 CRISPR sites going off constantly and there are off-target effects in these animals, but we have no evidence of negative consequences.”
In other news out of China, the country’s plan to rate and judge each of its 1.3 billion citizens based on their social behavior is moving closer to reality. Slated to commence in 2021, the program will assign ratings based on actions and reputations. People with better social credit will get “green channel” benefits, while those with bad ratings (e.g. people who violate laws), would find life more difficult. In response to this news, the comedy Twitter handle “Internet of Shit” sent out the following humorous yet ominous tweets.
HEALTHCARE & PRIVACY
Apple is reportedly in talks with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to provide veterans access to electronic medical records on their iPhones.
Amazon is offering a new software that can mine medical records for information to be used by healthcare professionals in considering treatments.
Millions of sleep apnea patients who rely on CPAP breathing machines to get a good night’s rest are being surveilled by health insurance providers.
LIVING & SOCIETY
Writing in the The Intercept, Ava Kofman, states that: “AC Global Risk, a startup founded in 2016, claims to be able to determine your level of “risk” as an employee or an asylum-seeker based not on what you say, but how you say it.”
The city of New York is considering a ban on shops that exclusively use cashless payment systems. Critics point out that these systems can discriminate against the poor.
Journalist Maria Ressa recently stated that social media has been the “fertilizer” of democratic collapse in the Philippines and should be a “cautionary tale for the United States.”
Microsoft has added an app-usage tracking feature with Cortana support to its Android launcher.
Following pressure from Internet-safety activists, beginning next year, Starbucks will introduce a tool to stop people from viewing explicit material on its Wi-Fi networks.
HEALTH & FITNESS
BGR’s Maren Estrada reviewed the Bose Noise-Masking Sleepbuds and indicated that users report that the product works well for them.
Three paralyzed people using an electrode array system called BrainGate2 were able to use unmodified computer tablets to text friends, browse the Internet, and stream music.
M&A AND FUNDING
Munich-based startup eGym has closed $45 million in Series C funding. The company offers cloud-connected gym equipment and supporting cloud software and app for the fitness training floor.
Medtronic will acquire nutrition-related data services provider Nutrino Health.
Robotic exoskeleton company Roam has secured a $12 million series A. The company is carving out a niche in the sport of skiing.
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Copyright © 2018 Paul Sonnier, Story of Digital Health
Advisor ⋅ Author ⋅ Speaker ⋅ Technologist ⋅ Social Entrepreneur
Book: The Fourth Wave: Digital Health
Founder, Digital Health group on LinkedIn
Creator, Story of Digital Health
San Diego, CA, USA