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Controversial gene therapy tests, and algorithms on trial


Last year, biotech startup Minicircle started recruiting participants for a clinical trial of gene therapy. But several details made it unusual. For one, it instructed would-be guinea pigs to purchase an NFT to take part, before being paid in cryptocurrency. Another is that it would take place in what is essentially an experimental crypto city—Prospera, Honduras.

It’s against this unusual backdrop that Minicircle is trying to lead biohacking’s charge into the mainstream—studying gene therapies that target familiar conditions like muscular disorders, HIV, low testosterone, and obesity.

But medical ethics experts are less enthusiastic—and are concerned about how the trials will move forward, and what they could mean for the burgeoning and sometimes unscrupulous medical tourism industry. Read the full story.

Laurie Clarke

The Supreme Court may overhaul how you live online

Recommendation algorithms sort most of what we see online and determine how posts, news articles, and accounts you follow are prioritized on digital platforms. Now they’re at the center of a landmark legal case that ultimately has the power to completely change how we live online.

Next week, the Supreme Court will hear arguments in González v. Google, which deals with allegations that Google violated the Anti-Terrorism Act when YouTube’s recommendations promoted ISIS content. It’s the first time the court will consider a legal provision called Section 230, and the stakes could not be higher. Read the full story.



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