Is a robot tax really an innovation penalty?

When Bill Gates recently suggested robots should pay income tax like any other employee, I didnt immediately disagree. I applaud Gates bold thinking to help solve one of societys biggest upcoming challenges: embracing automation in a way that lifts all boats instead of leaving large swaths of society behind.

A robot tax would help offset the reduced revenues flowing into public coffers as machines take some jobs previously held by humans.

However, before we start taxing companies that deploy robotics, lets first agree on what a robot actually is.

When we think of robots, we typically conjure up images of giant arms building cars on an assembly line, or autonomous delivery vehicles ferrying goods around warehouses. But the classic definition of a robot is fairly simple: a combination of technologies that together sense, evaluate, and act to carry out a defined task.

The problem with this definition is that its so broad, it would categorize almost all technology including most modern household appliances, computers, and smartphones as robots. So where do we draw the line? Indeed, why single out robots to be taxed and not other technology that increases automation, productivity, or quality?

Is the technology that translates a surgeons hand movements into more precise movements of tiny instruments considered a robot? How about an ATM, an automated grocery checkout station, or a refrigerator that tells you when you need milk?

We could narrow the definition of a robot to include only those machines that do tasks once done by a human, but then wed have to include Microsofts vast hardware and software offerings, since computers do things like word processing, transcribing, calculating mathematical formulas, and analyzing data all of which used to be human tasks.

When you think of all the once-human tasks now done by machines, it quickly becomes clear how difficult it would be to separate certain automation technologies into the robot category. And if a robot tax was imposed, why wouldnt a company simply classifying their new automation technology as computers, appliances or equipment?

Of course, implementing a robot tax wouldnt just be difficult due to the challenge of defining what is and isnt a robot. It would also be nearly impossible to prove a direct correlation between the implementation of automation technology and the net loss of jobs. In some rare instances, a company might deploy an automation device and then simultaneously lay off a person. But most companies dont operate like this.

They continually deploy new technologies to improve productivity, laying off some workers while hiring others. In fact, if a robot causes one person to lose a job, perhaps three new people will be hired one to run the robot and two others because the robot improves overall productivity, allowing for expansion hiring.

In reality, robots, like most automation, help people be more efficient and productive, rather than replace them. Thats been the case for centuries. A study of census data in England and Wales since 1871 found technology created far more jobs than it destroyed during that 140-year period. Machines will take on more repetitive and laborious tasks, but seem no closer to eliminating the need for human labor than at any time in the last 150 years, says the Deloitte report.

When Gates talks about a robot tax, in essence, hes talking about financially penalizing companies that deploy the latest automation technology a sort of innovation tax which, to me, is a backward tax.

Shouldnt our government support companies that embrace innovation in an effort to improve productivity and boost revenues? Thats what will make the US economy strong and competitive on a global scale.

Perhaps a better way to ensure that automation improves the lives of all citizens instead of becoming a wedge that creates a bigger and bigger divide between the haves and have-nots is to ensure corporations pay tax on their profits.

The more profitable a company becomes due to automation and increased productivity, the more income taxes it should pay into the collective system. Of course, closing loopholes that allow US corporations to dodge taxes will be difficult, but its critical to the long-term health of the global economy.

Getting companies to pay their fair share of taxes wont solve the larger societal challenge that automation will eventually displace low-skilled workers, nor would a robot tax. Instead, governments should focus on using corporate tax revenues to create free or low-cost education programs to prepare people to work alongside automation.

For those unable to find work in tomorrows tech-driven society, governments could provide universal basic income or other safety nets for the least-advantaged.

There are no easy answers to the growing divide between rich and poor, which will only accelerate in an automated age that leaves unskilled workers at a distinct disadvantage. But a robot tax is not the answer to this problem.

Read more:

Women in science share a message: Don’t give up

Washington (CNN)From across the fields of science they came, marching to show that women in science have a lot to say.

Biologists and ecologists, medical researchers and EMTs, doctors and nurses, biomedical engineers and neuroscientists came with stories of why they fell in love with science.
They ranged from little girls to seasoned science veterans, all carrying a message of what they’d like to tell other women.
    “It’s important for women scientists to be here because there are still too few of us,” said neuroscientist Sharri Zamore.
    She drove from Blacksburg, Virginia, to support the cause, but also to “encourage more diversity” in the sciences, she told CNN.
    There were many who stood up and marched for the first time in their lives.
    “This is the first time in my adult life that I have been able to stand up for something that I truly believe in. We both felt very passionately about science and the subject of this march, so we decided to drive to DC from Buffalo, New York,” said 26-year-old EMT Alyssa Militello, who came with her friend, fellow EMT Jessica Robins, 23.
    There were scientists there who paved the way for others, like Cynthia Chatterjee, a psychiatrist and addiction specialist from the Bay Area.
    “Historically women have not been encouraged to study science,” Chatterjee told CNN. “I didn’t go to medical school until I was age 34, but when I was a little girl, I wanted to be a doctor.”
    It wasn’t until much later that she realized she could do it. And now, standing at the science march, she said she hoped other little girls could pursue their dream from the very start.
    One of the most common messages for women and for the next generation was: Don’t give up. Ever.
    “I would tell other female scientists, no matter how hard it may seem, it’s absolutely worth it,” said biomedical engineering student Remy Cooper.
    She said she hopes to help shape science policies someday. Well, after she finishes her Master’s and gets into a Ph.D. program, of course.
    Other women were more forward with what it’s really like to be a woman in a traditionally male-dominated field.
    “Know that there is sexism and don’t be nave that it won’t affect you. When you need to stand up for yourself, do so,” said wetland ecologist Alicia Korol. “Don’t be afraid to raise your voice or to speak up for something.”
    The Ph.D. candidate at George Mason University stressed the importance of finding a fellow female to help chart your career course.
    “Mentorship inspires women to stick with or even pursue science. It makes the field welcoming, fun and encouraging,” Korol said.
    Sometimes, it’s not a bad thing to be the only one like you in a crowd.
    Lynette Stehr is a Department of Homeland Security contractor and a terrorism risk modeler.
    “There’s a whole lot of time I am the only woman in the room and sometimes it’s a little hard to get used to. But, if you can embrace it and recognize your strut, you’re making a pathway for that next woman behind you,” she told CNN.
    Stehr and her husband, Jeff, were carrying matching signs that read “Listen to your nerds.”
    While it may be hard to crack into a male-driven workplace, Stehr’s husband said he’s seeing more of it where he works at NASA, as a contractor.
    “I’m mighty proud of just how many women we have been hiring into my team at NASA HQ. It’s almost as if we just keep walking by an unguarded gold mine and walking away with awesome hires that other companies just keep missing,” he told CNN.
    “Their loss is forever our gain. Amazing what people do when you give ’em a shot.”

    Read more:

    Frozen hash brown recall due to possible ‘extraneous golf ball materials’

    (CNN)You have an early-morning golf match. You make coffee and contemplate the optimal breakfast to help you hit the ball straighter and calm those first-tee jitters.

    For now, skip frozen hash browns sold in nine states under the Harris Teeter and Roundy’s brands. The potatoes may contain pieces of golf balls, according to the hash brown maker.
    McCain Foods USA’s recall notice on the US Food & Drug Administration site says the hash browns could be “contaminated with extraneous golf ball materials” that “may have been inadvertently harvested with potatoes used to make this product.”
      “Consumption of these products may pose a choking hazard or other physical injury to the mouth,” says the notice of the voluntary recall.
      The have been no reported injuries, according to the company.
      McCain Foods is recalling 2-pound bags of Roundy’s Brand Frozen Southern Style Hash Browns from Marianos, Metro Market, and Pick ‘n Save supermarkets in Illinois and Wisconsin.
      It is also recalling 2-pound bags of Harris Teeter Brand Frozen Southern Style Hash Browns sold in North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, the District of Columbia, Delaware, Florida, Georgia and Maryland.
      The production code on the back of the packaging is B170119, the company says.
      The contaminated products should be thrown away or returned to the place of purchase.
      McCain Foods has not responded to a request for further comment.

      Read more:

      Bill Nye: Science made America great

      (CNN)I was proud to join thousands of concerned citizens, scientists and engineers in Saturday’s March for Science. With more than 600 marches taking place around the world, we conveyed that science is political, not partisan, and science should shape our policies.

      Although it is the means by which humankind discovers objective truths in nature, science is and has always been political. Article I, Section 8 of the US Constitution refers to promoting “the progress of science and useful arts” to motivate innovators, stimulate the economy and establish just laws.
      The US has become the most powerful nation on Earth and among the greatest in history, because it has long respected and promoted science. Countless policies, from military deployments to regulations that control the formula of a shampoo, are based on science.
        Scientific research depends on government investment (approximately $65 billion in the US last year), which itself relies on a social compact: that basic research across all fields is beneficial to a nation.
        Currently, science is being actively undermined by ideological forces motivated to maintain the status quo rather than advance the nation’s long-term interest. This is especially true of the extractive fossil fuel industries. When facing tides of deliberate misinformation, scientists, engineers and researchers have taken it upon themselves to organize and raise awareness about their professions and the vital importance of the scientific enterprise.
        By marching, scientists had no choice but to engage more in the political sphere. They face staggering proposed budget cuts in energy, medical and environmental research. The denial of the accepted facts of science, along with the rejection of well-established theories — such as evolution and especially climate change — have cultivated anti-science policies that harm people, economies and our global environment.
        Science is a process that enables continual innovation, extraordinary public works, reliable transportation, and food for the world’s billions. Consider what the US has achieved in space science; the national pride and cosmic perspective of our planetary home are priceless. Science is universal. Countries around the world have followed suit and established space programs to garner similar benefits.

          Protesters to Trump: Science matters

        MUST WATCH

        Without science, the US, any country in fact, cannot compete on the world stage. Yet today, we have a great many lawmakers, not just here but around the world, deliberately ignoring and actively suppressing science. It’s another formula — a formula for disaster. Imagine your world without printed words of any kind — paper, electronic or otherwise.

        Join us on Twitter and Facebook

        How would your life be without electricity, let alone information technology? Consider a city with no sewers. Be thankful for antibiotics and polio vaccines. These technologies derive from our science.
        To suppress scientific discoveries such as evolution, the benefit of vaccines, or global warming apparently based on nothing but intuition will soon prove costly and fruitless — and in some heretofore-productive agricultural regions, very costly and literally fruitless. These examples and countless others are connected to policy issues, which can only be addressed competently by understanding the natural laws in play.
        As a society, we want informed citizens, who can make good judgments in the voting booth. We ignore natural laws at our peril.
        At the 600-plus Marches for Science around the world this Earth Day, we reminded everyone, our lawmakers especially, that science serves our society, and science must shape our public policies. The science marches can prove effective by prompting action. May the facts be with us.

        Read more:

        GOP Rep Tells Mom Her Son On Medicaid Should Just Get A Better Job If He Wants Health Care

        Rep. Warren Davidson (R-Ohio) told the mother of a service industry worker who has benefitted from the Affordable Care Acts Medicaid expansion that her son should get a better job if he wants decent insurance when Obamacare is repealed.

        The woman, a constituent of Davidsons in former House Speaker John Boehners old district, explained to Davidson at a town hall in Enon, Ohio on Tuesday night first covered by ShareBlue that her grown son lacked health insurance for four years, because his job in the service industry did not provide it. He received coverage through Medicaid when Obamacare expanded the program by offering to pick up almost all of the costs for states that lowered their eligibility thresholds.

        She is now worried about President Donald Trumps plan to rollback the landmark laws Medicaid expansion, fearing it will leave her son with the bare-bones catastrophic health insurance, which, she said, is basically no insurance at all.

        Can you explain why my son and millions of others in his situation are not deserving of affordable, decent health care that has essential benefits so that he can stay healthy and continue working? she asked.

        Her sons best route to getting decent insurance without Medicaid is to find work in an industry where employers provide it, according to Davidson.

        OK, I dont know anything about your son, but as you described him, his skills are focused in an industry that doesnt have the kind of options that you want him to have for health care. So, I dont believe that these taxpayers here are entitled to give that to him. I believe hes got the opportunity to go earn those health benefits, he responded, eliciting boos from the crowd.

        You can watch their full exchange at the 37-minute mark in the video above.

        The womans reference to essential benefits alludes to the fact that House Republican leaders at one point tried to win over hardline conservatives by removing federal regulations requiring insurance plans to cover 10 basic benefits, including trips to the emergency room, as well as maternity and newborn care. In lieu of these benefits, low-premium, high-deductible catastrophic plans could cover even fewer procedures than they do now.

        But Davidson implied that finding a better plan was as simple as shopping for a higher-quality consumer product like a cellphone.

        If he doesnt want a catastrophic care plan, dont buy a catastrophic care plan. If you dont want a flip-phone, dont buy a flip-phone, Davidson said, eliciting loud groans from the audience.

        Im sorry, health care is much different than a cell phone and Im tired of people using cell phone analogies with health care, the woman responded, before walking away from the microphone.

        Bill Clark/Getty Images
        Rep. Warren Davidson represents former House Speaker John Boehner’s old district. He had a gruff response to a constituent’s question about Obamacare repeal.

        Davidsons metaphor resembled remarks by Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), who suggested in March that people should not buy iPhones if they wanted the money to pay for health insurance.

        But as Davidsons constituent noted at the town hall and many observers pointed out when Chaffetz said it buying health insurance is completely different than shopping for everyday consumer products.

        Consumers do not have the same power to command lower prices for health care, since it is not a product they can choose to not have. People also often lack the information and resources to choose a health care provider based on its cost value.

        Those are just a couple reasons why health insurance is wildly more expensive than paying for a phone bill and obtaining coverage would remain perilously out of reach for millions of Americans without help from the government.

        Thats a big deal, because unlike phones, Americans lives would be at risk if they did not have health care.

        Although President Trump and House Republicans have already failed to negotiate an Obamacare replacement bill at least twice, the White House is dead-set on trying again as part of negotiations to continue funding the government. The latest idea floated by budget director Mick Mulvaney would involve trading Democrats a dollar in Obamacare funding for every dollar they approve for construction of the wall.

        [H/T ShareBlue]

        Read more:

        William and Harry talk to Kate about the impact of their mum’s death

        The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry have spoken candidly about the impact of Princess Diana’s death on the their mental health in a new film as part of their Heads Together campaign to end mental health stigma.

        In the film above streamed on Facebook Live on the Royal Family’s account the three royals talk about the various pressures they’ve experienced in life, and the importance of speaking openly about mental health.

        Prince Harry says he thinks people who’ve experienced loss at a young age should talk about it sooner, rather than bottling it up.

        “We’ve never really talked about losing a mum at such a young age,” he says to William. “When you speak to other people’s families, you think, wow I don’t want them to have to go through the same thing.”

        William says that over the years he and his brother haven’t talked enough about their mother. WHile Harry adds that thinking in that way can be really damaging. “I always thought to myself, what’s the point in bringing up something that’s only gonna make you sad? It ain’t gonna change it. It ain’t gonna bring her back,” he says.

        Kate says she thinks it’s “incredible” how strong the two princes are, and how they’ve been able to cope. “I put that down to your really early years, childhood experience. But, also the relationship you’ve got. You’re amazingly close,” said Kate.

        “We have been brought closer because of the circumstances as well,” agrees William.

        Read more:

        Using wearable technology to detect conflict in couples before it occurs

        Several teams of researchers at USC have joined forces for a study aimed at detecting vital signs to help stem conflicts in couples before they occur. Couples were brought into the lab, equipped with wearable sensors, given smartphones for recording data and sent out on their way.

        The study largely took place outside of the lab, with participants filling out an hourly survey to offer insight into their feelings toward their significant others. The team opted not to go out of its way to introduce arguments through external means or touch subject matter, and while not every participant reported an issue during the trial, plenty of issues arose. Because, you know, couples and stuff.

        The fact that we are capturing bio-signals from wearables this is a source of information we can get from people that we cannot see with the naked eye, study co-author Theodora Chaspari tells TechCrunch. It was a pretty useful source of information.

        The wearables, which captured body temperature, heart activity and sweat, were coupled with assessments of audio recordings, used to detect the content and intensity of speech. A machine learning developed by the team was apparently able to capture episodes of conflict with an accuracy rate of up to 86-percent.

        We have a longstanding collaboration between the family studies project in psychology and the SAIL project in engineering, says lead author Adela C. Timmons. We were working together a lot to try to process and analyze the large amount of data that we were collecting, and we had this idea of applying machine learning technology to our data set to see if we could detect if conflict was occurring between couples and levels greater than chance.

        The next step in the process is using that machine learning algorithm to help create a model that could help predict conflicts up to five minutes before they occur, using physiological and speech reading. Given the relative level of sophistication in mainstream wearables, the software could potentially be applied to commercial devices to help trackers move beyond fitness to emotional health.

        Its definitely a harder task to do, says Chaspari. Its something that builds up, physiologically or behaviorally that can lead to a potential conflict.

        Read more:

        YouTube says it fixed the problem with Restricted Mode that was filtering LGBTQ+ content

        YouTube today claims to have fixed an issue with its service that was causing it to incorrectly filter content in Restricted Mode andhiding a large selectionof LGBTQ+ videosas a result. The company had come under fire last month when it was discovered that users who turned on Restricted Mode a setting that allows YouTube users to filter out the sites more mature content were no longer able to see a number of innocuous videos referencing same-sex relationships.

        The intention of Restricted Mode is to offer a more family-friendly version of YouTube thathides videos that include adult content including those that focus on subjects like health, politics and sexuality that arent appropriate for children.

        But the feature was not working properly, having gone so far as to hide videos like a wedding ceremony,for example.

        One YouTuber, Rowan Ellis, posted a video about the issue titled YouTube is Anti-LGBT?to bring attention to the problem, and hashtags like #YouTubeRestricted and #YouTubeIsOver erupted across Twitter as more users began reporting their own videos were also hidden, along with others about LGBTQ+ topics.

        YouTube in Marchadmitted and apologized for the error, addressing the community via a blog post that explained how Restricted Mode works. There, it promised to do a full audit of its systems to see whatwas going wrong.

        The company said at the time that the feature isnt working the way it should, and added were sorry and were going to fix it.

        Today, YouTube says it has completed its investigation and fixed an issue on the engineering side that was incorrectly filtering videos.

        As a result, 12 million additional videos are now available in Restricted Mode, including hundreds of thousands featuring LGBTQ+ content.

        It has also addressed another issue with YouTubes flagging system, and is now offering a form that allows creators and viewers to alert YouTube when a video is inappropriately excluded from Restricted Mode via itsautomated systems. That way, if a similar problem occurs again even in other categories of videos users and creators have a formal meansof reaching YouTube.

        The new blog post details how and when videos are filtered in general, explaining that it removes videoscontaining discussions of drug use and abuse, detailed conversations about sex and sexuality, graphic violence or events relatedto terrorism, war, crime and political conflicts that resulted in death or serious injury.

        In the area of sex and sexuality, YouTube says that it will allow some educational, straightforward conversations about sexual education in Restricted Mode, but admits this is a particularly difficult category to filter.

        The problem on this front is broader than YouTube filtering LBGTQ+ content, in some cases, because parents have varying viewpoints (particularly in the U.S.) about how much educational material aboutsex a child should have access to at all just seethe ongoing controversies about sex education in schools as an example.

        The company does not detail what engineering problem was incorrectly flagging videos, but it does lay out a vision statement for how it wants Restricted Mode to operate.

        It says, simply, that YouTube Restricted Modeshould not filter out content belonging to individuals or groups based on certain attributes like gender, gender identity, political viewpoints, race, religion or sexual orientation.

        Read more:

        Form an orderly queue! Google wants your blood (and other bodily fluids). Oh and your medical records

        Alphabets (Googles) life sciencesdivision Verilyhas launched its publicpitch for amassive, multi-year health studyits leading along with Duke University School of Medicine, Stanford Medicine and Google proper.

        Verily is hoping to recruit some10,000 Americans tovolunteer to share their medical records and have blood and other bodily fluids extracted and linked to a Google account in order for the companyand its partners to try to spur the next generation of medical discoveries, as it couches it. In exchange, participants will get some of their own health data shared back with them(though itcautions not to expect to get medical care or advice), plus a small amount of financial compensation for time lost and a little earlyintel on what the ad giantmight be learning from their sensitive health data.

        The Project Baseline study has been a long time in the works itwas previously slatedto launch in 2015,but hasevidently taken rather longer to set up; unsurprisingly so, given the scope and size of the longitudinal study. The four-yearstudy will involve volunteers making annual visits to one of the Baseline study sites for a full one to two days of health tests, including giving blood, saliva and other samples; doing specialized tests such as chestX-rays and echocardiograms; and other tests, such as assessing physical strength and answering health-related questionnaires.

        Some participants will also be asked to visit astudy site quarterly for one to two hours to gather more frequent information about health profiles that we are especially interested in, says Verily, andsome may also be asked in for appointments at other times following a significant life event, so that we can see if and how your health changes.

        All volunteers will be required to wear an investigational wristwatch daily aka the Verilystudy watch announced earlier this month; and sleep witha sensor underneath their mattress (so you can add sex-tracking to this studys scope a woman on the Project Baseline question phone line said shed been asked about the movement-tracking mattress coil a lot!); as well as havea dedicated Wi-Fi hub device installed in their home to suck up and send the tracking data from the devices back to Verilys servers.

        Theres alsotrimonthly, half-hour-long online surveys to take, with questions about diet, exercise and well-being; and a mobile app that will push additional questions at participants, perhaps as frequentlyas daily, such as asking them about their sleep quality oralcohol consumption. Presumably the project researchers want the ability tobe able toreact to specific tracked activity/events with follow-up questions that might shed light on linked factors.

        Participants will be compensated$410 per annual site visit; $30 per visit for the shorter quarterly assessments; and $10 a time for the trimonthly questionnaires so no one exceptVerily and its various academicand commercialpartners standsto get rich from being involved in thislengthy medical research project.

        Lastly, but by no means least, study participants will berequired to share access to their medical records with Verily so anyone signing up for this studyreally will be standing naked in front ofMountain View.

        On the website where the company is pitchingfor volunteers, Verilysmarketing is heavy on tryingto stir up stirring historic parallelsfor thismission to as it puts it better understand health and prevent disease, laying it on thickly thatparticipants will be doing good and helping humanity by contributing their health data to the research effort.

        To the brink, frankly,of emotional blackmail. A glossy marketing video showing a series of people smiling into the camera intones:What if you could impact the health of millions of people, just by sharing your personal health story? with the unspoken implication being: how dare you be so selfish NOT to share your medical records with Google.

        The website israther thinner on detail about what will actually be done with all the sensitive personally identifiable health data that will be obtained from study participants. And theres also very little aboutthe underlying commercial motives driving the effort to gather health data in incredible depth and detail, as Verilys marketing paintsit.

        For example, an FAQ on the website ostensibly answering what the data will actually be used for is decidedly non-specific saying only:

        We will use it to expand the Baseline database and develop advanced tools for collecting, organizing, and analyzing health information. As well, in partnership with qualified researchers and organizations, we will use the data to uncover new medical insights or develop new health products.

        Its also not clear who else the data might be shared with and for what specific purposes. The FAQ notes that members of the Baseline team will have access to directly identifying information (your name, street address, phone number and email), but external researchers and organizations for research will also be given access to the data albeit with the directly identifying info removed. Although, on that front, its worth pointing out that the re-identification of anonymous individuals attached tohealthdata has been demonstrated by researchers to be disturbingly easy. So the possibility that suchgranular medical data might bereattached to study participants identities in the hands of unknown third parties cannot be ruled out.

        On its blog, Verily specifiesthat it will be working with partners from academia, medicine, science, patient-advocacy, engineering and design, adding: In the future, the intent is to make de-identified data from the Project Baseline study available to qualified researchers to spur new ideas across the broad ecosystem.

        The Project Baseline website also notes that study participants will be required to have a Google account so theyre effectively also agreeing to link a (potentially massive) trove of online activity with this highly granular personal health data. And its not clear at what point/s and/or which portions of their data arebeing covered by Googles privacy policy or by the Project Baseline privacy policy(or indeed the consent forms they will go on to sign at study sites). An unreassuring single line in the FAQ notes thatGoogle will not sell your information for advertising but the company is in the business of ad targeting, so does not need to sell users personal information to advertisers it sells ad targeting based on its data holdings.

        And even if you were to create a new Google ID just to use for Project Baseline, its rather harder to change your real-worldidentity (i.e. your real name) and thus de-link all of the online information Google might have (or be able to glean) about youbased on that rather less mutable identifier. (Something it unintentionally flags up given itcantresist linking Baselines aim with other Alphabet divisions prior efforts; a slogan for the project claims: Weve mapped the world. Now lets map human health.)

        Asked whether Google might share information it has on internet users who also are participating inthe study, the woman on the Project Baseline phoneline wasnt sure. I dont believe so, she said, notingthatparticipants selected to be a part of the study can ask any questions that I cant answer at the site visit. Furthermore, You can take your head out of the ring at any time, she added. You can take your application or your enrollment and withdraw it at any time if anything doesnt sound good.

        It goes without saying that Verily, a division of Googles parent company Alphabet, is a for-profit enterprise so is obviouslylooking for ways to profit from the health data that study participants will be handing it. Yet despite this rather lopsided exchange your blood, your moods and your medical records in exchange for a vague notionof some possiblefuture health benefits (for someone) it isnot committing to hand over all the data it gathers duringthe study to individual study participants, saying only that it may return information such as laboratory tests and clinical assessments, and that: We think its important to return as much of your information as possible in an ethical, responsible manner and in a format that is interesting and understandable. So, in other words, volunteers for this four-year questwont be privytoall the data Alphabets divisions will be extracting from theirperson.

        Weve reached out to Verily with various questions and will update this post with any response. In a blog postabout Project Baseline, the company writes that it is focused on creating new tools to collect and organize information in ways previously not possible so that we can make the information useful describing the initiative overall as a unified effort to map human health.

        [T]he Project Baseline study dataset will include clinical, molecular, imaging, self-reported, behavioral, environmental, sensor and other health-related measurements. To organize this information, we are creating an infrastructure that can process multi-dimensional health data much of which have never been combined for an individual. Our vision is that this data platform can serve as a single query source and may be used for more seamless data integration and collaboration, it adds.

        Alphabet/Googlehas faced controversy in the U.K. where its AI division, DeepMind unveileda big health push last year, partnering with a publicly funded National Health Service Trust to get access to patient health data in exchange for building an app. However, at the launch of the first partnership it was not made publichow many medical records were being shared with DeepMind to poweran app for hosting an NHS algorithm designed tospot the early signs of akidney condition. An FOI request subsequently revealedDeepMind had beengiven access to some 1.6 million patients health data without their knowledge or consent. Theinformation-sharing arrangementremains under investigation by U.K. data protection watchdogs.

        But whileAlphabethas been able to quickly suck up vast quantitiesof medical datain the U.K. to power its ambitions for AI-enabled preventative healthcare because acash-strapped NHS isall too eager to accept the offer of free help from a high-profile, high-tech outsider,the U.S. healthcare marketplace evidently requires a different approach to outsidercorporates gaining access to medical records at scale. Lets not forgetGoogles prior attempt at generating mass adoption foran opt-in, centralized electronic medical records and health data platform of its own failed spectacularly. Seen from that angle, Project Baseline has rather more modestambitions to onlyacquire the medical records of ~10,000 US citizens albeit this project isalso couched asonly the start. Eventually we hope to expand internationally to capture health diversity on a global scale, writes Verily.

        Read more:

        The Queen is 91 and to mark it the Royal Family are tweeting lovely old photos

        Image: Max Mumby/Indigo/Getty Images

        Turning 91 years old is certainly something to be celebrated no matter who you are.

        Queen Elizabeth II is 91 today and to mark the occasion, the Royal Family is tweeting black and white photographs of Elizabeth at special moments in her life.

        If you visit the Royal Family’s official Twitter account today you’ll be showered with animated balloons in celebration of her big day.

        One of the photos the Royal Family have shared shows the Queen at the tender age of one month old at her christening, with her parents, King George VI and Queen Elizabeth (The Queen Mother).

        A photo of Princess Elizabeth on her 21st birthday was also shared via the Royal Family’s official Twitter account.

        @ClarenceHouse the official Twitter account for Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall shared a touching photo of the Queen in 1952 with a 4-year-old Prince Charles.

        The Royal Family also shared a photo of the Queen on the phone, pointing out that she was born on the same year as the first ever transatlantic phone call.

        @KensingtonRoyal the official Twitter account for the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry also tweeted a photo of the Queen and Prince Philip in an open top car, with the younger generation of royals in a car behind her.

        Happy birthday Your Majesty!

        WATCH: Lady Gaga FaceTimed with Prince William to discuss a very important issue

        Read more: