The news: Eight years ago, a patient lost her power of speech because of ALS, or Lou Gehrig’s disease, which causes progressive paralysis. Now, after volunteering to receive a brain implant, the woman has been able to rapidly communicate phrases at a rate approaching normal speech.
Why it matters: Even in an era of keyboards, thumb-typing, emojis, and internet abbreviations, speech remains the fastest form of human-to-human communication. The scientists from Stanford University say their volunteer smashed previous records by using the brain-reading implant to communicate at a rate of 62 words a minute, three times the previous best.
What’s next: Although the study has not been formally reviewed, experts have hailed the results as a significant breakthrough. The findings could pave the way for experimental brain-reading technology to leave the lab and become a useful product soon. Read the full story.
Resolving to live the Year of the Rabbit to the fullest
By Zeyi Yang, China reporter
This past Sunday was the Lunar New Year, the most important holiday for Chinese and several other Asian cultures. It’s supposed to be an opportunity for us to reset and seize new opportunities.
In that spirit, I’ve recently revisited some of my favorite China-focused MIT Technology Review stories from last year and gone back to the people I interviewed. I asked them whether they’d resolved any troubling challenges, and what they’re hoping for in the Year of the Rabbit.