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We Are Not Users: Gaining Control Over New Technologies

By Yoram Reich, Eswaran Subrahmanian

Communications of the ACM, Vol. 64 No. 11, Pages 37-39
10.1145/3486595

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On August 27, 2020, Amazon introduced its Amazon Halo: a technology comprised of AI software and a wristband that monitors body indicators including voice to detect problems, suggests a behavioral change, or other actions to potentially improve our health.a One day later, Elon Musk and his team presented their Neuralink technology—AI software and a skull chip implant that receives and sends signals to our brain to compensate for brain malfunctioning, aiming to solve various brain-related health problems.

These announcements seem like great news amid the health crisis that engulfs many of us, with technology coming to our rescue to confront some of the most critical diseases of humankind. Yet risks remain, and once the genie is out of the bottle, they are often difficult to manage and contain—they range from unintended consequences and side effects to threats to privacy and loss or misdirection of control.

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