Artificial Intelligence

Internet scams, and the ethics of brain implants


Both of the women can communicate without an implant. The first, Pat Bennett, who has ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, uses a computer to type. The second, Ann Johnson, who lost her voice as the result of a brain-stem stroke that left her paralyzed, uses an eye-tracking device to select letters on a computer screen. 

That ability to communicate is what gave them the power to consent to participate in these trials. But how does consent work when communication is more difficult? Read the full story.

—Cassandra Willyard

This story first appeared in The Checkup, MIT Technology Review’s weekly biotech newsletter. Sign up to receive it in your inbox every Thursday.

Why salt marshes could help save Venice

Venice, Italy, is suffering from a combination of subsidence—the city’s foundations slowly sinking into the mud on which they are built—and rising sea levels. In the worst-case scenario, it could disappear underwater by the year 2100.

Scientists increasingly see the sinking city as a laboratory for environmental solutions. They’re investigating whether artificial mudflats in the Venetian lagoon can be turned back into the marshes that once thrived in this area and become a functioning part of the lagoon ecosystem again, which in turn, would help to safeguard the future of the city itself. Read the full story.