Daily Archives: December 27, 2023

Elon Musk Wants You to Use Neuralink to Lose Weight. That’s a Bad Idea. – The Daily Beast

Posted: December 27, 2023 at 11:04 am

You dont need to drill a hole in your head and implant a microchip in order to lose weight. There are much safer ways of slimming downincluding a new class of very promising drugs that make weight-control brain-computer interfaces (BCIs) seem downright perilous in comparison.

Conspiracy-peddling billionaire Elon Musk raised the prospect of computer-chip-aided weight-loss back in April, while discussing his Neuralink BCI in a TED interview. I think you can solve a very wide range of brain injuries, Musk said, including severe depression, morbid obesity, sleep [disorders and] restoring memory in older people.

Its not an outlandish claim. Neuralink, like other experimental BCIs, rewires the nervous system. People suffering from paralysis have used the implants to regain partial control of their limbs. BCIs can even translate neural impulsesthoughts, basicallyinto radio signals and transmit them to drones, computers, or other devices.

So its not inconceivable that someone suffering from morbid obesity could use a BCI to bypass the parts of their brain that urge them to overeat. But there are problems. For starters, while there are BCIs that people can wear like hats, the most versatile and sensitive oneslike Neuralinksrequire brain surgery. Surgeons literally drill a hole in the patients skull and implant the device.

Its invasive and risky under the best of circumstances. Implanted BCIs pose surgical risks, such as infection and rejection, according to the U.S. Government Accountability Office.

There might be reasons to be especially concerned about Neuralink. Federal authorities opened an investigation into the California-based company last year after employees complained of rushed testing that inflicted unnecessary harm on animal test subjects. Despite this, in September an independent review board gave Neuralink the go-ahead to recruit human test subjects for a lengthy series of trials.

In any event, there are medical interventions for morbid obesity that are likely much safer than any experimental brain device could ever be. Most notably, a new class of drugs called glucagon-like peptide 1 agonists, or GLP-1s. It might be more popularly known by its commercial analog Ozempic.

Originally used for treating diabetes, GLP-1s also helps curb hunger. Scientists arent totally sure how they work, but the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota pointed out that the drugs slow the movement of food from the stomach into the small intestine. As a result, you may feel full faster and longer, so you eat less.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved the first GLP-1 solely for the treatment of obesity, Eli Lillys Zepbound, last month. After large-scale trials, the FDA concluded the injected drug was safe and effectivebut stressed that it worked best when taken in conjunction with a reduced-calorie diet and an increase in physical activity.

The best part? No brain surgery.

When it comes to controlling hunger, both implants and drugs seem to come with an obvious potential for abuse. Imagine someone with an eating disorder gaining, by way of a drug or brain implant, total control of their hunger impulses.

But Tracy Richmond, a doctor who treats eating disorders at Boston Childrens Hospital, downplayed that risk. Clinicians are pretty skilled at identifying eating disorders and withholding any interventionsurgical or otherwisethat might exacerbate the conditions, she told The Daily Beast. Most of the time, people could be screened out if they have an eating disorder.

If anything, a hunger-controlling drug or brain implant risks causing an eating disorder. Richmond cited an historical precedent: the Minnesota Starvation Experiment in 1944 and 1945. In that government-assisted experiment, University of Minnesota researchers restricted the diets of 36 volunteers for six months before adding back caloriesessentially starving them in order to understand the effects of famine and post-famine conditions.

The researchers were shocked to find that many of the test subjects developed anorexia in the aftermath of prolonged starvation, and voluntarily restricted their caloric intake even when food was abundant. When many people are underfed relative to where their body wants to be, their thoughts go to more obsessional thoughts, Richmond said, meaning starving people sometimes become obsessed with starving.

Few medical interventions are totally risk-freebut some are much riskier than others. When it comes to weight-loss, its obvious which interventiona GLP-1 or a brain implantis safer. The molecular approach is an effective way to target the hunger systems fairly specifically and with far less risk than an implant, Samuel Hires, a University of Southern California neurobiologist, told The Daily Beast.

BCIs are a promising technology. But it doesnt change the fact that BCI experiments have mostly involved human subjects with serious conditions for which there are no other treatments such as paralysis, for example.

Before you drill a hole in your head and implant a device for treating some condition, you might want to exhaust all other options first. That might mean trying a drug like GLP-1, or good old fashioned diet, exercise, and discipline.

And besides, given the promise of safe and effective GLP-1 drugs, the FDA might never approve a brain-chip for weight-loss. I dont see a realistic path to market for invasive BCI for obesity now that GLP-1 agonists have rolled out, Hires said.

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Elon Musk Wants You to Use Neuralink to Lose Weight. That's a Bad Idea. - The Daily Beast

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Twitter Violated Contract by Withholding Employee Bonuses, Judge Rules – The Daily Beast

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A federal judge ruled on Friday that Twitter, now known as X, violated a contract with employees when it failed to pay tens of millions of dollars worth of bonuses, denying the social media companys attempt to get the case tossed.

The decision follows the filing of a lawsuit by Mark Schobinger, Twitters senior director of compensation until his departure in May. In the complaint, Schobinger claims that company executives reneged on delivering bonuses they verbally promised their employees last year.

Both before and after Elon Musk bought Twitter last October, Schobinger alleges, Twitters workforce was told they would receive 50 percent of their target bonuses if they remained with the company through the first quarter of 2023. Schobinger said that he and other employees who remained past that date were never paid, despite being covered by the bonus plan.

The suit, which is seeking class action status, was filed on behalf of nearly 2,000 other current and former employees, and asks for damages in excess of $5 million. It claims breach of contract under California law, an argument that the judge ruled was plausible on Friday.

Once Schobinger did what Twitter asked, Twitters offer to pay him a bonus in return became a binding contract under California law, he wrote in a three-page opinion. And by allegedly refusing to pay Schobinger his promised bonus, Twitter violated that contract.

The company has hemorrhaged advertisers and cratered in revenue since Elon Musks takeover and rebrand.

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How Elon Musk Made Himself the Internet’s Main Character in 2023 – Vanity Fair

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Host Brian Stelter breaks down Elon Musks erratic stewardship of Twitter, now X, with Zo Schiffer, managing editor of Platformer and author of the forthcoming book Extremely Hardcore. They discuss Musks rightward shift, his war against the woke mind virus, and stated mission of restoring free speech to the platform. I think weve seen in the year since that his definition of free speech is very different from ours, and it basically means, his speech and speech that he aligns with, says Schiffer.

They also discuss the ramifications of Musk blowing up Twitters verification system, and whether its responsible to still post on X as misinformation and toxicity flow. The more that you continue to post on X, the more that you legitimize this platform that in my mind warrants no legitimacy at this point, says Schiffer.

It was really, really hard for me to give up and it feels like a huge loss, but there have just been so many moments over this past year where Elon Musk has promoted ideas and people who I think are very harmful and very dangerous for this world, she says, adding that doing what amounts to unpaid labor for that platform is really continuing to support his mission and his campaign.

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Elon Musks X Breached Twitter Worker Contracts By Refusing Bonuses, Judge Rules – Forbes

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Elon Musks X Breached Twitter Worker Contracts By Refusing Bonuses, Judge Rules  Forbes

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Elon Musk’s X accused of not paying employee bonuses after promising them verbally, to face court battle – India Today

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Elon Musk's X accused of not paying employee bonuses after promising them verbally, to face court battle  India Today

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How Elon Musk became the world’s most famous poster – Business Insider

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How Elon Musk became the world's most famous poster  Business Insider

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Sam Altmans OpenAI to be second-most valuable U.S. startup behind Elon Musks SpaceX based on early-talks funding round – Fortune

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Sam Altmans OpenAI to be second-most valuable U.S. startup behind Elon Musks SpaceX based on early-talks funding round  Fortune

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Sam Altmans OpenAI to be second-most valuable U.S. startup behind Elon Musks SpaceX based on early-talks funding round - Fortune

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Judge rules that Twitter violated contract when it withheld millions of dollars in bonuses – Courthouse News Service

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Current and former Twitter employees said they never received bonuses they were promised during Elon Musk's buyout of the social media platform.

SAN FRANCISCO (CN) A federal judge ruled late Friday afternoon that Twitter, now known as X, violated a contract when it failed to pay what amounts to tens of millions of dollars in bonuses that the company had orally promised its employees.

Mark Schobinger, the former senior director of compensation for Twitter, filed suit against the social media company on behalf of himself and other current and former Twitter employees in June.

Schobinger, who is based in Texas, claims that employees were not paid a portion of their 2022 bonuses when they were due in the first quarter of 2023, despite repeated promises from senior executives at the company, including Ned Segal, the former chief financial officer of the company. This bonus was to be paid to employees who stayed with the company until the first quarter of 2023.

According to Schobinger, these promises were made both before and after Elon Musk acquired the social media platform in October 2022. Schobinger also said employees took these promises into consideration when deciding whether or not they wanted to leave their jobs with the social media company and that he turned down opportunities from other companies at the time because of the promised bonus.

Twitters lawyers argued that the promise was only an oral promise and was not a contract, and that Texas law should govern under section 1646 of the California Civil Code, which states that a contract is to be interpreted according to the law and usage of the place where it is to be performed.

U.S. District Judge Vincent Chhabria, in a brisk three-page opinion, wrote that California law governs the case because the choice-of-law provision in the California Civil Code applies only to matters of contract interpretation, not to matters of contract validity or enforceability. Because Twitter doesnt even try to argue that Texas law should apply under the governmental interest approach, California law governs by default.

Chhabria said that Schobinger plausibly stated a breach of contract claim under California law, and that Schobinger was covered by the bonus plan and followed all of Twitters directions.

Once Schobinger did what Twitter asked, Twitters offer to pay him a bonus in return became a binding contract under California law. And by allegedly refusing to pay Schobinger his promised bonus, Twitter violated that contract, Chhabria wrote.

Shannon Liss-Riordan, counsel for Schobinger, said in a statement to Courthouse News that We are very pleased with this decision. This is a very important decision, which is relevant to claims we have filed on behalf of nearly two thousand Twitter employees. The court agreed with our argument that later promises even oral promises can be binding, even if the original written agreement is not enforceable. In this case, we alleged that promises were made to ongoing Twitter employees who stayed with the company through Elon Musks tumultuous acquisition that they would receive a bonus for 2022.

Chhabria wrote that Twitters contrary arguments all fail. Twitter argued that the performance bonus plan was not an enforceable contract because it provided only for a discretionary bonus.

But Schobinger is not suing to enforce Twitters discretionary bonus plan. He is suing to enforce Twitters alleged subsequent oral promise that employees would in fact receive a percentage of the annual bonus contemplated by the plan if they stayed with the company, Chhabria wrote.

The social media platform also insisted that the oral statements were not enforceable because they contradict the terms of the performance bonus plan and do not satisfy Californias special rules for oral modification of written contracts.

But those rules come into play only when a valid, enforceable written contract already exists. And as Twitter itself argues, its discretionary bonus plan was never a valid, enforceable contract to begin with, Chhabria wrote.

Schobingers primary estoppel claim, however, was reluctantly dismissed with leave to amend because the plaintiff still needs to take the (seemingly pointless) extra step of pleading that the alleged contract may be invalid or unenforceable, Chhabria wrote.

Schobinger can file an amended complaint within 21 days to address his primary estoppel claim.

Lawyers for Twitter did not immediately respond to request for comments.

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Elon Musk reveals production plans of low-cost Tesla model: The revolution [of] that car will blow peoples minds – Yahoo

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Tesla CEO Elon Musk has teased plans to bring a low-cost Tesla to the electric vehicle market.

Appearing on the Munro Live YouTube channel, Musk said the company has made significant progress on the development of an affordable model.

I review the production plans for that every week, he told host Sandy Munro. The revolution in manufacturing that will be represented by that car will blow peoples minds.

Its a bold statement, but its also a bold project. Musk said in 2020 that he was looking to deliver such a model at around the $25,000 mark, per The New York Times, and it appears hes standing by that desire.

Musk added in the Munro Live interview that the first production line will be in the Texas Gigafactory, but it will be moved to the Mexico Gigafactory when that facility is completed and Tesla recently received a boost on that development after Mexico granted the company a land-use permit.

Teslas energy seems to be on rolling out the Cybertruck at full capacity, with only a handful making their way to customers after the November delivery event, so it may still be some time yet before the expected affordable car hits the road.

But that doesnt mean motorists looking to swap their dirty-fuel powered vehicles for a cleaner, all-electric Tesla have to wait until then to grab a bargain.

As Forbes contributor Brooke Crothers observed, the Tesla Model 3 is perhaps the cheapest it has ever been, and with customers in the United States able to access the $7,500 tax credit for electric vehicles until the end of 2023, in addition to possible state rebates, the savings could be even greater.

Crothers says that a rear-wheel drive Tesla Model 3 could be possible to buy at around $25,000 with these discounts factored in, not to mention the possibility that Tesla may reduce prices further as it looks to clear stock ahead of the upcoming Model 3 Highland variation.

That puts the Model 3 in the region of what Musk had predicted the companys low-cost model will cost, and you wont have to wait.

For those looking to limit the pollution they produce on a daily basis, theres a relatively cheap way to invest in a zero-tailpipe-emission vehicle now rather than hoping the new affordable Tesla emerges sooner rather than later.

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Tesla in 2024 will have ‘moving pieces’ from the Cybertruck to EV pricing – Austin American-Statesman

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