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New Michigan law makes it illegal for companies to force workers to be implanted with microchips

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A new bill passed by the Michigan House of Representatives would make it illegal for companies to force workers to be implanted with microchips.

The legislation, called the Microchip Protection Act, or House Bill 5672, would still allow employees to volunteer for microchip implants but making implants mandatory would be against the law. 

The practice is still incredibly rare in the US, but some companies in other states have begun using small RFID microchips implants as a replacement for key cards, a way to unlock work stations, and a payment method in company cafes.

The Michigan House of Representatives has passed a new law that would ban the forced implantation of RFID microchips in employees

The Michigan House of Representatives has passed a new law that would ban the forced implantation of RFID microchips in employees

The Michigan House of Representatives has passed a new law that would ban the forced implantation of RFID microchips in employees

The Michigan bill was introduced by Representative Bronna Kahle, who worried implants could be used to violate workers’ privacy.

‘With the way technology has increased over the years and as it continues to grow, it’s important Michigan job providers balance the interests of the company with their employees’ expectations of privacy,’ Kahle said in a statement to ABC News.

‘Microchipping has been brought up in many conversations as companies across the country are exploring cost-effective ways to increase workplace efficiency.’

‘While these miniature devices are on the rise, so are the calls of workers to have their privacy protected.’

The bill will still need to be passed by the state Senate for debate and then signed into law by Governor Gretchen Whitmer before being enacted.

The practice of using microchip implants on employees is still a rare phenomenon in the US, and began only in 2017, when the Wisconsin company 32M made the option available to its workers on a voluntary basis.

Around 50 employees, or half the company’s workforce, opted to be implanted with $300 RFID chips the size of a grain of rice.

The practice is rare but in 2017, a Wisconsin company offered its employees the option to use a $300 RFID implant the size of a grain of rice to access restricted areas and pay for snacks in the office break room

The practice is rare but in 2017, a Wisconsin company offered its employees the option to use a $300 RFID implant the size of a grain of rice to access restricted areas and pay for snacks in the office break room

The practice is rare but in 2017, a Wisconsin company offered its employees the option to use a $300 RFID implant the size of a grain of rice to access restricted areas and pay for snacks in the office break room

The implants were embedded under the skin in their hands and used for relatively simple functions like paying for snacks from vending machines in the company break room.

According to 32M’s CEO Todd Westby, early feedback from the program was largely positive.

‘We foresee the use of RFID technology to drive everything from making purchases in our office break room market, opening doors, use of copy machines, logging into our office computers, unlocking phones, sharing business cards, storing medical/health information, and used as payment at other RFID terminals,’ Westby said in 2017.

‘Eventually, this technology will become standardized allowing you to use this as your passport, public transit, all purchasing opportunities, etc.’

Michigan Representative Bronna Kahle first introduced the bill out of fears for worker privacy. 'While these miniature devices are on the rise, so are the calls of workers to have their privacy protected,' Kahle said

Michigan Representative Bronna Kahle first introduced the bill out of fears for worker privacy. 'While these miniature devices are on the rise, so are the calls of workers to have their privacy protected,' Kahle said

Michigan Representative Bronna Kahle first introduced the bill out of fears for worker privacy. ‘While these miniature devices are on the rise, so are the calls of workers to have their privacy protected,’ Kahle said

While the practice is still rare in the US, ten other states have banned forced worker implantation, including, California, Nevada, Arkansas, and New Hampshire

While the practice is still rare in the US, ten other states have banned forced worker implantation, including, California, Nevada, Arkansas, and New Hampshire

 While the practice is still rare in the US, ten other states have banned forced worker implantation, including, California, Nevada, Arkansas, and New Hampshire

Few other companies have followed 32M’s lead and ten states have already passed laws banning implants if they’re forced on employees, including Arkansas, California, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Utah, and Wisconsin.

Kahle admitted there were no companies in Michigan that currently used microchip implants for employees, but it would still be important to establish legal boundaries for the future. 

‘Despite this type of technology not quite making its way into our state yet, I wouldn’t be surprised if it becomes a standard business practice statewide within the next few years,’ Kahle said.

‘We should absolutely take every step possible to get ahead of these devices.’

WHY DID A SWEDISH FIRM INJECT ITS EMPLOYEES WITH MICROCHIPS?

Swedish firm Epicenter hit the headlines in April for offering RFID implants to its employees.

The Startup offers workers microchips the size of grains of rice that function as swipe cards, to open doors, operate printers, or buy smoothies with a wave of the hand.  

The injections have become so popular that workers at Epicenter hold parties for those willing to get implanted.  

But, experts say the ethical dilemmas will become bigger the more sophisticated the microchips become. 

Self-described 'body hacker' Jowan Osterlund from Biohax Sweden, holds a small microchip implant, similar to those implanted into workers at the Epicenter digital innovation business centre during a party at the co-working space in central Stockholm

Self-described 'body hacker' Jowan Osterlund from Biohax Sweden, holds a small microchip implant, similar to those implanted into workers at the Epicenter digital innovation business centre during a party at the co-working space in central Stockholm

Self-described ‘body hacker’ Jowan Osterlund from Biohax Sweden, holds a small microchip implant, similar to those implanted into workers at the Epicenter digital innovation business centre during a party at the co-working space in central Stockholm

The technology in itself is not new. Such chips are used as virtual collar plates for pets.

Companies use them to track deliveries, but it’s never been used to tag employees on a broad scale before.

Epicenter and a handful of other companies are the first to make chip implants broadly available.

And as with most new technologies, it raises security and privacy issues.

While biologically safe, the data generated by the chips can show how often an employee comes to work or what they buy.

Unlike company swipe cards or smartphones, which can generate the same data, a person cannot easily separate themselves from the chip.

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Robot is being adapted to conduct up to 700 socially distanced experiments a week

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A robot that is usually used in car factories has been reprogrammed to test samples and carry out experiments in a lab during coronavirus lockdown, scientists reveal.

University of Liverpool researchers have been making the most of the £100,000 automated assistant to run experiments for them while they are working from home.

The robot is significantly more efficient, able to perform up to 700 experiments in a week – the same number a student might complete over the course of a PhD. 

It is able to work autonomously by learning from its results and refining the experiments as it goes, making scientific discovery ‘a thousand times faster’.

While the robot is currently looking ways to speed up the reaction inside solar cells, the Liverpool team say it could be put to work in the fight against coronavirus.  

University of Liverpool researchers have been making the most of the £100,000 automated assistant to run experiments for them while they are working from home

University of Liverpool researchers have been making the most of the £100,000 automated assistant to run experiments for them while they are working from home

University of Liverpool researchers have been making the most of the £100,000 automated assistant to run experiments for them while they are working from home

In fact the team have already been approached by researchers doing covid and even climate change studies about using a version of the self-learning robot. 

Benjamin Burger, one of the developers of the robot, said he could see a future where a central AI brain controls a robot in every lab around the world.

The robotic scientists moves around the lab conducting a range of experiments that involves collecting samples and placing them in different types of equipment.

It is similar to the robotic arms used in car factories but this has more ‘artificial intelligence’ that lets it decide what to do next without input from humans. 

‘So our vision is we might have robots like this all across the world connected by a centralised brain which can be anywhere. We haven’t done that yet – this is the first example – but that’s absolutely what we’d like to do,’ he told the BBC.

Using robotics, artificial intelligence and supercomputers in the pursuit of scientific discovery was the subject of a new report by the Royal Society of Chemistry.

They say new solutions should be ‘urgently embraced’ in order to keep science moving forward even if researchers are forced to socially distance due to COVID-19. 

Burger said the robot ‘doesn’t get bored, doesn’t get tired’ and works around the clock without needed to take a holiday.

He said this frees up researchers to focus on innovation and new solutions as the robot can ‘go through thousands of samples’ without complaint.

In future these sorts of robots could also be used to undertake risky experiments that might currently be too dangerous to attempt for humans.

This is already starting to happen in space, with NASA developing technology that would allow robots to make repairs to the outside of the International Space Station.

Researchers have also developed a robot that can take nasal and throat swabs from suspected coronavirus patients to limit exposure for healthcare workers.

In future these sorts of robots could also be used to undertake risky experiments that might currently be too dangerous to attempt for humans

In future these sorts of robots could also be used to undertake risky experiments that might currently be too dangerous to attempt for humans

In future these sorts of robots could also be used to undertake risky experiments that might currently be too dangerous to attempt for humans

‘This is about human beings harnessing all of these digital technologies, so that they can go faster,’ Deidre Black from the Royal Society of Chemistry told the BBC.

They can then ‘discover and innovate faster and explore bigger and more complex problems, like decarbonisation, preventing and treating disease, and making our air cleaner,” she said.

Robotics and automation technology in the lab can work nearly 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, according to Andy Cooper from the University of Liverpool. 

He said they can carry out very large numbers of experiments, perhaps 700 in a week, whereas maybe a PhD student might carry out 700 experiments over the course of their entire PhD – which could take years.

‘I see these systems being used as tools by scientists,’ he explained. 

‘The biggest opportunities are to find reactions, materials and technologies that we simply wouldn’t find without using these methods.’

WILL YOUR JOB BE TAKEN BY A ROBOT? PHYSICAL JOBS ARE AT THE GREATEST RISK

Physical jobs in predictable environments, including machine-operators and fast-food workers, are the most likely to be replaced by robots.

Management consultancy firm McKinsey, based in New York, focused on the amount of jobs that would be lost to automation, and what professions were most at risk.

The report said collecting and processing data are two other categories of activities that increasingly can be done better and faster with machines. 

This could displace large amounts of labour – for instance, in mortgages, paralegal work, accounting, and back-office transaction processing.

Conversely, jobs in unpredictable environments are least are risk.

The report added: ‘Occupations such as gardeners, plumbers, or providers of child- and eldercare – will also generally see less automation by 2030, because they are technically difficult to automate and often command relatively lower wages, which makes automation a less attractive business proposition.’

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Simple hair test ‘could tell women how many eggs they have left’

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A simple test of a woman’s hair ‘could tell women how many eggs they have left’ by judging levels of a key fertility hormone, scientists say.

US and Spanish researchers found ‘biologically relevant’ levels of anti-Müllerian hormone (AMH) – an indicator of ovarian reserves – in women’s hair samples.

AMH is a hormone produced by the cells within a woman’s ovaries and gives an indication of her egg reserves and subsequent fertility.

The hormone is incorporated into the matrix of hair before it reaches the surface of the skin.  

Levels of AMH from the hair correlated with levels from blood samples, which is currently the most common method of measuring the hormone.

But taking AHM readings from the hair would be less invasive than a blood sample and a ‘more appropriate representation of hormone levels’, according to scientists. 

US and Spanish researchers found ‘biologically relevant’ levels of anti-Müllerian hormone (AMH) – an indicator of ovarian reserves – in women’s hair samples.

US and Spanish researchers found ‘biologically relevant’ levels of anti-Müllerian hormone (AMH) – an indicator of ovarian reserves – in women’s hair samples.

US and Spanish researchers found ‘biologically relevant’ levels of anti-Müllerian hormone (AMH) – an indicator of ovarian reserves – in women’s hair samples.

AMH LEVELS HELP ASSESS FERTILITY 

Anti-müllerian hormone is a protein hormone produced by cells within the ovary.

AMH correlate with ovarian reserves and as ovarian reserve declines with age, so do AMH levels. 

An AMH test is often used to check a woman’s ability to produce eggs that can be fertilized for pregnancy.

A woman’s ovaries can make thousands of eggs during her childbearing years.

The number declines as a woman gets older.

AMH levels help show how many potential egg cells a woman has left – known as the ovarian reserve.

If a woman’s ovarian reserve is high, she may have a better chance of getting pregnant.

She may also be able to wait months or years before trying to get pregnant.

If the ovarian reserve is low, it may mean a woman will have trouble getting pregnant, and should not delay very long before trying to have a baby.

 

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Testing can be done without visiting a clinic, such as by sending a hair sample through the post, which makes this type of test cheaper and available to a broader range of women.

The role of AMH as a measure of ovarian reserve in predicting response to ovarian stimulation for IVF now seems ‘beyond question’, researchers add. 

‘Hair is a medium that can accumulate biomarkers over several weeks, while serum is an acute matrix representing only current levels,’ said Sarthak Sawarkar at US health tech firm MedAnswers, who presented his research online at the 36th Annual Meeting of the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology.

‘While hormone levels in blood can fluctuate rapidly in response to stimuli, hormone levels measured in hair would represent an accumulation over several weeks.

‘A measurement using a hair sample is more likely to reflect the average hormone levels in an individual.’ 

AMH has become a key marker in the assessment of how women may respond to fertility treatment.

The hormone is produced by small cells surrounding each egg as it develops in the ovary.

Studies have not correlated AMH levels to a reliable chance of live birth, nor to forecasting the time of menopause.

However, AMH measurement has become an intrinsic marker in assessing how a patient will respond to ovarian stimulation for IVF – as a normal responder, poor responder (with few eggs), or over-responder (with many eggs and a risk of ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome).

Currently, AMH is presently measured in serum taken from a blood sample drawn intravenously, but readings taken this way represent just a snapshot of a moment in time and are relatively invasive to complete.

To learn more about the potential of AMH readings taken from the hair, researchers collected hair and blood samples 152 women from whom hair were during hospital visits.

While hormone levels in blood can fluctuate rapidly in response to stimuli, hormone levels measured in hair would represent an accumulation over several weeks and therefore could provide a more accurate AMH reading

While hormone levels in blood can fluctuate rapidly in response to stimuli, hormone levels measured in hair would represent an accumulation over several weeks and therefore could provide a more accurate AMH reading

While hormone levels in blood can fluctuate rapidly in response to stimuli, hormone levels measured in hair would represent an accumulation over several weeks and therefore could provide a more accurate AMH reading

AMH was also measured in blood samples from the same subjects, as well as an ultrasound count of developing follicles in the ovary – a method known as antral follicle count (AFC).

Biologically relevant AMH levels were successfully detected in the hair samples, which declined with patient age, as expected by the team.

AMH levels from hair strongly correlated with levels as determined by both serum in the blood and AFC.

The hair test was also able to detect a wide range of AMH levels within individuals from a similar age cohort, suggesting a greater accuracy than from a single blood sample.

Hormones accumulate in hair shafts over a period of months, while hormone levels in serum can change over the course of hours, they found, meaning the hair test may be a more reliable measurement.

Hormone levels are also assessed non-invasively, which reduces testing stress and offers a less expensive assay.

‘This study is very interesting as it suggests AMH can be reliably measured from hair samples as opposed to the standard approach of a blood test,’ Tim Child, medical director at Oxford Fertility, told the Times.

AMH from human hair is a less invasive and a 'more appropriate representation of hormone levels' than from an 'acute' source like blood serum

AMH from human hair is a less invasive and a 'more appropriate representation of hormone levels' than from an 'acute' source like blood serum

AMH from human hair is a less invasive and a ‘more appropriate representation of hormone levels’ than from an ‘acute’ source like blood serum

‘The AMH level in hair is more likely to be ‘averaged-out’ over a time period rather than the more instant level in a blood sample.

‘The question is whether the hair AMH levels correlate to the ovarian response and therefore numbers of eggs collected during an IVF cycle – this is not examined in this study.

‘If the correlation is poor then hair samples will be of no benefit.

‘If the correlation is as good as, or perhaps even better than with blood AMH, then this technique promises to further simplify the fertility treatment process for women and will be an exciting development.’

The results have been presented by PhD student Sarthak Sawarkar, working in the laboratory of Professor Manel Lopez-Bejar in Barcelona, with collaborators from MedAnswers.  

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Get 56 per cent off the Echo Dot in the Amazon Summer Sale

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July usually sees Amazon’s incredibly popular Prime Day sales event. While it may be postponed to later on in the year, you can still grab some incredible seasonal discounts in the Amazon Summer Sale. 

The flash sale, which ends on Sunday 12 July, is a great time to pick up huge bargains across Amazon’s departments, including big savings on popular tech items. 

Today marks the first day of the Amazon Summer Sale and to kick things off the mega-site is slashing the price of the iconic Echo Dot with clock. Knocking a whopping 50 per cent off the full price, it means you can now get the Alexa speaker for only £29.99. But you’ll have to be quick as the offer expires at midnight.

The Echo Dot (3rd generation) Smart speaker with clock and Alexa is now reduced to only £29.99 in the Amazon Summer Sale

The Echo Dot (3rd generation) Smart speaker with clock and Alexa is now reduced to only £29.99 in the Amazon Summer Sale

The Echo Dot (3rd generation) Smart speaker with clock and Alexa is now reduced to only £29.99 in the Amazon Summer Sale

The 3rd Generation Echo Dot is Amazon’s most popular smart speaker. The voice-controlled smart speaker with Alexa can be added to any room in your home. Simply plug in the device, connect to your wifi with the Alexa App on your smartphone, and ask away for music, news, information and more.

Keep by your bedside table to set your morning alarm or to listen to audiobooks from Audible, fill your kitchen with music and set timers when cooking AND connect to third-party services too. The smart speaker can also track fitness, answer questions, and even allow you to voice control your home.

With a staggering 169,825 reviews on Amazon, the Echo Dot is an insanely popular buy. Now reduced to a hugely tempting £29.99, there really has never been a better time to invest and see what the fuss is about. 

Amazon’s 3rd Gen Echo Dot is now even better thanks to the LED display that can show the time, outdoor temperature or timers.

Use as your bedside clock and ask Alexa to set alarms and snooze by tapping the top of the device. The display’s brightness automatically adjusts via its light sensor.

Just like a regular Echo Dot, you can access Audible and play music from a number of streaming services, like Amazon Music, Apple Music, Spotify and more.

Use your voice to play songs, ask for the weather, set reminders and manage compatible smart home devices using your voice. Switch on the lamp before getting out of bed, turn on the coffee machine on your way to the kitchen

Use your voice to play songs, ask for the weather, set reminders and manage compatible smart home devices using your voice. Switch on the lamp before getting out of bed, turn on the coffee machine on your way to the kitchen

Use your voice to play songs, ask for the weather, set reminders and manage compatible smart home devices using your voice. Switch on the lamp before getting out of bed, turn on the coffee machine on your way to the kitchen

A whopping 84 per cent of the reviews on Amazon have given the Echo Dot with clock a flawless five-star rating. Customers have raved about the ‘neat and responsive’ smart device with one customer writing ‘this is a fantastic little device, good sound, excellent voice pickup’.    

One Amazon shopper raved: ‘Overall, the latest Echo Dot is the easiest, cheapest, and best way to bring Alexa into the home. It works well on its own or can be nicely integrated into a myriad of other smart home and audio/visual products, allowing the masses to bring voice control and smart features just a command away.’

Another added: ‘This is my 2nd Dot and it’s great. So easy to use. Alarms, reminders, timers, apps and of course Prime Music and it’s so easy that everyone can use it with no problems. Love it.’

A third wrote: ‘I have to admit that for the price, you get an awful lot of playtime with this, especially for the kids, but the more you use it, the more useful it becomes. Great audio quality for the size so being able to listen to BBC radio or Spotify whilst in the kitchen was great.’  

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