A Blog Is Born: The Human OS

Spectrum's new biomedical engineering blog will chronicle bold attempts to understand and debug the human body

1 min read
A Blog Is Born: The Human OS
Photo: Dan Saelinger

It’s high time for a blog about all the ways engineers are taking on the messy, fleshy human body. Why? Because they have the technology! Bionics aren’t reserved for the Six Million Dollar Man anymore. Now everyone can be better, stronger, faster.  

Biomedical engineers have designed sensors that can be worn on your wrist, plastered to your skin, or implanted in your body to collect reams of biometric information. They’ve invented machines that can decode your entire genome for about $1000 and in just a few hours. They’re building big data platforms to figure out what it all means. And they’re manufacturing miniaturized electronic devices that doctors can affix to organs or nerves to control—and improve—their function. 

The Human OS, the newest blog from IEEE Spectrum, builds on our coverage of the tech that’s enabling a more precise and personalized type of medicine. Last June we published a special report, “Hacking the Human OS,” which declared that medicine has always sought to understand the human body’s operating system—and that now we’re learning how to fix the bugs. Going forward, we’ll be chronicling new, bold attempts to both understand and debug. 

We promise to give you technical details, critical analysis, and enough human interest to keep things, well, interesting. Stick around. 

And follow your Human OS bloggers! 

Megan Scudellari: @Scudellari

Eliza Strickland: @newsbeagle

Emily Waltz: @EmWaltz

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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
A photo collage showing a man wearing a eeg headset while looking at a computer screen.
Nadia Radic

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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