What Happens When Reproductive Tech Like IVF Goes Awry?

It sounds like the setup to a bad joke: Three couples walk into a fertility clinic. But the punch line—what happened to those families at one Los Angeles medical facility in August 2018—is no laughing matter. The embryos from two couples hoping to conceive were mistakenly implanted into a third patient. That third woman and her husband, both of Korean descent, suspected that something was amiss when their two newborns didn’t look anything like them. DNA testing confirmed that Baby A and Baby B (as court documents called them) weren’t genetically related to either of the birth parents, or to each other—they were related to two other couples who had been seeking fertility treatments at the same clinic. The birth …

A New Approach to Treat Mental Illness: Electrical Engineering

Brain disorders impact more than 25 percent of Americans, and such disorders are projected to cost more than one trillion dollars annually by 2050. In response, the federal government launched the Brain Research Through Advancing Innovative Nanotechnologies (BRAIN) initiative in 2013 to uncover how the human brain works as an electrical machine. This group of researchers has been tasked with answering the following question: What if mental illness could be treated with electrical engineering? While the human brain contains nearly 100 billion cells that create and process electricity, human brain augmentation has largely been limited to drugs that target brain chemicals. By discovering how the brain computes, we hope scientists will be able to develop new treatments and bend the projected …

Choosing the Wrong Lane in the Race to 5G

The chatter about 5G is everywhere. It’s a worldwide race. It’s a security challenge. It’s a geopolitical battle between the United States and China. By some accounts, 5G is already here; by others, true 5G is still years away. There is more than a kernel of truth in this rhetorical excess. That’s because the next generation of essential infrastructure in this country will be built using wireless technology. As a result, the next iteration of wireless service—5G—is truly important for our future civic and commercial life. With as much as 100 times the speed as current generation wireless networks and reduced latency, we can use wireless data to enhance our interactions with the world around us and create new opportunities …

AI Could Predict Death. But What If the Algorithm Is Biased?

Earlier this month the University of Nottingham published a study in PloSOne about a new artificial intelligence model that uses machine learning to predict the risk of premature death, using banked health data (on age and lifestyle factors) from Brits aged 40 to 69. This study comes months after a joint study between UC San Francisco, Stanford, and Google, which reported results of machine-learning-based data mining of electronic health records to assess the likelihood that a patient would die in hospital. One goal of both studies was to assess how this information might help clinicians decide which patients might most benefit from intervention. The FDA is also looking at how AI will be used in health care and posted a …