Special Report: The Genetic Revolution

On DNA Day, we celebrate the achievements that are ushering in the era of personalized genetic medicine

1 min read
Special Report: The Genetic Revolution
Image: Yakobchuk/iStockphoto

Sixty years ago this month, researchers James Watson and Francis Crick described the double helix shape of DNA. This breakthrough allowed geneticists to study how an organism's physical characteristics are encoded in the DNA molecule, and how living creatures pass down traits to their offspring.

Ten years ago this month, researchers completed sequencing the human genome, putting the roughly 3 billion letters that make up a molecule of human DNA in order. The Human Genome Project took more than a decade and cost about US $3 billion. With this comprehensive map, researchers can more easily study how our genes determine our medical fates.

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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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