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Heart Surgeons Adapting to Robots

Robots that snake through a patient's arteries are gaining popularity among cardiologists

4 min read
Heart Surgeons Adapting to Robots

9 June 2009—Would you put your heart in the hands of a robot? What if you had a severely impaired heart, afflicted with an unpredictable rhythm, which could be treated only by lacing a catheter through the delicate avenues of your vasculature and up into the atria, where it would sear the tissue and leave a curative scar? Would you want a human hand behind this procedure, or motors, microprocessors, and magnets?

At the scientific sessions for the Heart Rhythm Society last month in Boston, most cardiologists seemed resigned to—and even enthusiastic about—transferring their expertise to robots. After a public debate over the safety and efficacy of the two catheter-guidance systems currently available, the audience of doctors was asked to vote. Only two hands went up in opposition to robots, a signal that early clinical successes and recent design enhancements could soon increase the use of catheter-guidance robots.

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Are You Ready for Workplace Brain Scanning?

Extracting and using brain data will make workers happier and more productive, backers say

11 min read
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A photo collage showing a man wearing a eeg headset while looking at a computer screen.
Nadia Radic
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Get ready: Neurotechnology is coming to the workplace. Neural sensors are now reliable and affordable enough to support commercial pilot projects that extract productivity-enhancing data from workers’ brains. These projects aren’t confined to specialized workplaces; they’re also happening in offices, factories, farms, and airports. The companies and people behind these neurotech devices are certain that they will improve our lives. But there are serious questions about whether work should be organized around certain functions of the brain, rather than the person as a whole.

To be clear, the kind of neurotech that’s currently available is nowhere close to reading minds. Sensors detect electrical activity across different areas of the brain, and the patterns in that activity can be broadly correlated with different feelings or physiological responses, such as stress, focus, or a reaction to external stimuli. These data can be exploited to make workers more efficient—and, proponents of the technology say, to make them happier. Two of the most interesting innovators in this field are the Israel-based startup InnerEye, which aims to give workers superhuman abilities, and Emotiv, a Silicon Valley neurotech company that’s bringing a brain-tracking wearable to office workers, including those working remotely.

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