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The gambling industry is using AI to keep gamblers hooked. According to one insider, “Every click is scrutinized in order to optimise profit, not to enhance a user’s experience. I’ve often heard people wonder about how they are targeted so accurately and it’s no wonder because its all hidden in the small print.” Even gambling executives publicly concede that some gamblers are more susceptible to gambling addiction when they are bombarded with individually-targeted ads and incentives based on their unique behaviors. Carolyn Harris MP, a British politician in the Labour Party who has campaigned for gambling reform, states: “I never cease to be amazed at how low the gambling industry is prepared to go to exploit those who have indicated an interest in gambling. The industry is geared to get people addicted to something that will cause immense harm, not just to society but to individuals and their families. They are parasitical leeches and I will offer no apology for saying that.”
According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a nonpartisan research and policy institute: “despite uncertainty created by Congress’ repeated attempts to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and the Trump Administration’s efforts to undermine the health insurance marketplaces, 11.8 million people signed up for marketplace coverage for 2018, close to the 12.2 million sign-ups for 2017. A number of factors likely helped keep enrollment steady, but looming challenges — including repeal of the ACA’s individual mandate and additional harmful actions by the Administration.”
Unfortunately, however, a separate survey conducted by the Commonwealth Fund found that 4 million Americans lost their healthcare insurance over the last two years. According to the report, this disastrous (my emphasis) situation is largely attributable to policies and actions taken by President Trump. Disconcertingly, the results also indicate that the trend will continue under Trump’s administration. Ironically, members of the Republican Party (Trump’s party) have seen their uninsured rate increase from 7.9% to 13.9%. In stark contrast, the uninsured rate for self-identified Democrats has remained statistically unchanged at 9.1%. No information was provided for people who self-identifiy as progressives, a group that largely supports U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont. Sanders — an Independent (not a member of either the Republican Party or Democratic Party) — is an advocate of NHS / UK-style universal healthcare, commonly referred to in the U.S. as Medicare for all.
China is using mind-reading hats to mine data from the brains of workers and military personnel. Sensors located in the headgear feed information to an AI system that determines a person’s level of alertness or emotional state, including whether they are anxious, depressed, or angry. The technology has allegedly been able to “boost productivity and profits by tweaking workflows, including employee placement and break lengths.” According to one power company executive, the brain data helps the company’s 40,000 employees work to higher standards. In another example, employees have been sent home as a result of their brainwaves. And a related application of a brain monitoring system triggers an alarm if the driver of a high-speed railway system falls asleep. If any of this sounds familiar, you may recall that Amazon recently patented a wearable-based system to monitor employee movements
LIVING AND SOCIETY
Fibit is working with Google in order to better compete with Apple. As Evan Niu reports in The Motley Fool, “each company’s strengths complements the other’s weaknesses. Fitbit has a strong position in the wearables market, while Alphabet subsidiary Google does not after letting Android Wear languish for years. However, Google knows how to build cloud-based platforms, which is something Fitbit sorely needs right now as it looks to create a digital health platform that it wants to build a subscription-based business off of. Fitbit’s recent acquisition of Twine Health will also come in handy when it comes to conditions like diabetes and hypertension.”
During F8, Facebook’s annual developer conference, CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced the launch of a new dating service. While the app — called Dating — will still exist on the Facebook platform, it will allow users to create a separate, private profile showing only their first name and their existing friends on Facebook won’t be able to see this profile nor will they appear as potential matches for dating. An algorithm will be used to match people based on “dating preferences, things in common, and mutual friends” as well as shared Groups and Events.
Public school elementary kids in New York and New Jersey are being taught how to survive the Internet in free courses designed by professors from Seton Hall University Law School. The program is funded by a grant derived from an award settlement obtained in a consumer-protection class-action lawsuit. Taught by legal fellows, the classes teach students about online privacy, reputation, advertising, and the dangers of overuse.
Instagram has introduced a new anti-bullying feature that will filter out comments intended to harass or bully any of the 800 million users of the social media platform. People who have had a large number of their comments weeded out will have their accounts reviewed by the company and may be banned if it is determined that they have violated community guidelines.
Cambridge Analytica, the company at the center of the Facebook data privacy and sharing scandal, is reportedly shutting down. However, as MSNBC producer Kyle Griffin tweeted: “Big caveat with today’s Cambridge Analytica news: Parent company SLC Group has already set up a mysterious new company called Emerdata, according to The Guardian. Alexander Nix and Rebekah Mercer are reportedly listed as a directors.” And Guardian writer Carole Cadwalladr added in a tweet, this “is not some great triumph. It’s a billionaire using Britain’s insolvency laws to try & evade scrutiny – at the cost of his employees. We need a criminal investigation. And we need evidence secured. The question is how???”
Jillian Epperly, the creator of a Facebook “cabbage juice cult” is being asked questions by Ohio’s Attorney General after complaints were made about her claims of its benefits. As BuzzFeed News reporter Nidhi Subbaraman writes, “Epperly has no medical training or education, but has been preaching the benefits of her homebrew to a growing online audience for more than a year,” and claiming that “fermented cabbage juice can “reverse the aging process,” ward away illness of all kinds, and even reverse homosexual behavior,” and that the resulting “explosive diarrhea expels dangerous parasites.” Yum!
Up to 270 women in the UK may have died due to a computer algorithm error that failed to remind them to get a final breast cancer screening. Between 2009 and early 2018 an estimated 450,000 women failed to get the reminder letter. While saying that “it is unclear whether any delay in diagnosis will have resulted in any avoidable harm or death,” Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt has nonetheless announced an independent inquiry into the matter.
Baltimore-based Under Armour has filed a trademark infringement and dilution lawsuit in a Maryland federal court against Oklahoma City-based Armore Fitness. The suit alleges that Armore Fitness’ owner Steven Cersonsky has: “been offering for sale, selling, and promoting wearable exercisers, measuring tape, and fitness bands under the Armore, Armore Wearable Fitness, and other Armor-formative marks in violation of Under Armour’s trademark rights.”
FUNDING, M&A, EXITS
After just two years of ownership, Nokia is selling the digital health business it formed around Withings back to the original co-founder of the startup, Éric Carreel. While financial terms were undisclosed, it’s likely that Nokia will take a major loss on the sale, as it purcahsed Withings for a whopping $191 million and had previouisly announced a write-down of $164 million on the assets.
Related: In its quarterly earnings report, Apple CEO Tim Cook claimed that the company’s wearables business grew 50% year over year and that it’s now comparible in size to a Fortune 300 company. According to AppleInsider, “Alcoa, the 300th company on the Fortune 500 index in 2017 posted a revenue of $9.3 billion.”
Suki has raised $20M to create a voice assistant for doctors that would remove one of the “most annoying pain points for doctors in any office: writing down notes and documentation.” According to CEO Punit Soni: “We decided we had found a powerful constituency who were burning out because of just documentation They have underlying EMR systems that are much older in design. The solution aligns with the commoditization of voice and machine learning. If you put it all together, if we can build a system for doctors and allow doctors to use it in a relatively easy way, they’ll use it to document all the interactions they do with patients. If you have access to all data right from a horse’s mouth, you can use that to solve all the other problems on the health stack.” Investors in the company include Venrock, First Round, Social+Capital, Nat Turner (Flatiron Health), Marc Benioff (Salesforce CEO), and other individuals from companies like Google.
GP-Write co-leader and CRISPR pioneer George Church plans to use an alternative technology called TALENs in the planned GP-Write project to recode a human genome. As Matthew Herper writes in Forbes, “the news was announced by Cellectis, a biotechnology company that controls the intellectual property around the older technology, called TALENs.” Herper adds that GP-Write “aims to reduce the cost of editing DNA by 1,000-fold.”
The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) hasissued a new proposed food labeling rule named National Bioengineered Food Disclosure Standard that suggests using the term ‘bioengineered’ (BE) instead of ‘genetically modified’ (GMO) as a means of disclosing on food packaging that the food or the ingedients within is or ‘may be’ bioengineered. In a post on the Genetic Literacy Project website, Spencer Chase from Agri-Pulse indicates that the rule includes symbols like the one above right, which can be used to denote the presence of bioengineered products. The public has until July 3rd to comment on the proposal.
Moreover, according to Antonio Regalado at MIT Tech Review, the proposal means that CRISPR gene-edited foods would not require labeling as BE. He adds that: “More than 90% of US corn and soybeans is genetically modified already, mostly to resist herbicide sprays and insects. The labeling rules don’t apply if genetic engineers use CRISPR to alter plant DNA in ways that mimic “conventional breeding” or can be “found in nature.” According to the US government, that doesn’t qualify as bioengineering.”
As for methods of electronic labeling disclosure —like QR codes — the USDA indicates that the following statement should be used: “‘Scan here for more food information’ or equivalent language that reflects technological changes.”
ounded by Jasmine Crowe in early 2017, Atlanta’s Goodrprovides an app-based service thatdelivers leftover food from business to the hungry instead of the trash. To date, the company has been able to divert nearly 1 million pounds of surplus food that would have gone into landfills and instead has redirected it to nonprofits, which turn around and share it with people who are food insecure. According to Crowe: “Hunger is not a scarcity issue. There’s more than enough food. It’s actually a logistics issue.” Goodr uses blockchain to log every transaction in the process, thereby creating an unalterable digital ledger containing information on where the food went and who consumed it.
HEALTH AND FITNESS
The first Canadian gym to use Apple GymKit-enabled Life Fitness equipmenthas launched at Equinox in Toronto. The system uses an Apple Watch to sync biometric and exercise data with compatible fitness equipment and then store the information in the Apple Health app. The demo video above features Life Fitness product manager Mark Hopkins.
Fiit is striving to become the ‘ Netflix of fitness apps’ by providing on-demand interactive fitness classes of all types. The app uses a dongle that hooks up to your TV like a Roku device and includes a wearable heart rate monitoring chest strap to measure biometrics, which integrate with the workout experience. The demo video above features article author Lee Bell and Fiit cofounder Sammi Adhami.
LIVING AND SOCIETY
Ford’s new prototype smart window allows people who are blind to ‘feel’ the view outside an automobile. A camera attached to the car’s window takes photographs of the view outside and the images are then rendered using LED lights that vibrate at different frequencies when touched.
A dog stranded in a deep ditch in New Dehli, India was rescued by a drone. Milind Raj — who builds robots for a living — fabricated an AI-controlled robotic arm and attached it to a drone, which he then used to extricate the puppy. The video below shows the resuce taking place.
After becoming dizzy and then bleeding from an erupted ulcer, William Monzidelis received an alert on his Apple Watch telling him he may need medical attention. At the hospital, doctors told him that “he would not have survived his medical emergency” had it not been for the alert.
David Gilley, who has atrial fibrillation, was relaxing one evening when his Apple Watch alerted him that his heart rate was unusually high. The alert is part of a new optional feature in the Heart Rate app. Upon visitng the hospital it was revealed that his heart was failing.
Lyra Health has secured $45 million in Series B financing to deliver effective, digitally-enabled mental health care to employees. According to the company’s website: “Lyra’s unique matching process makes it easy for each individual, couple, or family to connect to the right care, delivered how they want it — in person, via live video, or through self-guided digital care. And best of all — no co-pays, no claims to file, no cost to you. That’s why 94% of members love Lyra.”
Bluesmart, a maker of smart, GPS-enabled travel bags, has shut down as a result of airline policies that prohibited smart luggage with non-removable batteries being checked in. The reason for the ban is that there is a risk of fire with the batteries. While fliers can take the batteries with them in the cabin, the non-removable battery design of Bluesmart’s product presented a major obstacle.
Abbott has recalled 350,000 implantable defibrillators to protect against potential hacks. The fix involves patients visiting a doctor’s office, where a firmware update is done wirelessly in about 3-minutes time. The software security update also includes a feature for detecting abonormally rapid battery drain with an integrated alert to the patient.
A team at the Wyss Institute has published a review looking at state-of-the-art advances in human intestine organ-on-a-chip technology. Led by microfluidic organ chip technology pioneer Donald Ingber, MD, PhD, the review discusses the potential for using human intestinal organ chip technology for disease modeling, drug development, and personalized medicine, and states that: “To more profoundly understand how specific diseases including inflammatory and infectious diseases, cancer, or inherited disorders affect the gut, and to be able to identify and study new drugs in a close-to-natural context, more faithful and accessible human in vitro systems are urgently needed.”
Enrollment for the NIH’s All of Us Research Program to advance precision medicine commenced on May 6. The national program is described as an effort to gather data from 1 million or more people living in the US to accelerate research and improve health. By taking into account individual differences in lifestyle, environment, and biology, researchers will uncover paths toward delivering precision medicine.
Acccording to Harvard geneticist George Church, criminals could use CRISPR gene editing to alter their DNA with a new version of code and thereby evade justice: ‘We could do that today, easily. A lot of it is done by blood and even if you just get a stem cell transplant you have a new identity. CRISPR actually would be easier than a stem cell transplant because (a transplant) would have to be done sterilely and you would need to irradiate yourself to get rid of the old ones.”
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Copyright © 2018 Paul Sonnier, Story of Digital Health
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