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Today's Smart Brevity count: 987 words, <4-minute read.
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Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios
In an increasingly lucrative market, dozens of companies and startups are selling futuristic-looking headgear that promise to connect to your brain to relieve stress, enhance memory, improve sleep or increase focus, Kaveh reports.
But experts say these products make mostly unsubstantiated claims and in some cases can harm unwary buyers.
"There's a bit of pulling the wool over people's eyes, trying to talk up these products in a way that isn't sincere and transparent," says Karola Kreitmair, a medical ethics expert at the University of Wisconsin.
What's happening: There are two broad categories of wearable brain devices — those that record the user’s brain activity and others that stimulate the brain with electrical currents. These technologies are mainstays in research labs and hospitals — but now they're on Amazon and Kickstarter, too.
None of the three — a small subset of the growing market — offers research showing that their specific devices do what they claim. None responded to requests for comment.
The big picture: Many companies are imbuing products with an air of medical legitimacy without pointing to serious research. A common pattern: Companies say their products are based on technology that has been shown to be beneficial in some way — but provide no research on their products.
Customers who buy an ineffective device could be in for more than a disappointing waste of money.
The government has done little to police companies selling these devices straight to consumers. "This is a case where industry has run away with something because people are willing to pay money for it — but regulation and validation completely lags behind," Kreitmair, the University of Wisconsin professor, tells Axios.
An FDA spokesperson said the agency doesn't discuss potential investigations, but that the agency has in the past increased scrutiny of certain devices "when necessary to protect patients."
Amid the worst measles outbreak in a century, a sharp and surprising divide has opened between poorer countries that accept the effectiveness of vaccines and high-income nations that are more doubtful about them, according to a new survey.
As Axios wrote yesterday, 1,044 cases of measles have been reported in 28 states this year (see chart above), the most since 1992, when there were 2,126, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Photo: Serhii Hudak/Barcroft/Getty
The human population will grow to somewhere between 9 billion and 11 billion by the end of the century, depending whom you talk to. And so will the number of farm animals, according to UN figures.
By 2050, the number of cattle around the world is poised to skyrocket to 2.6 billion, an 85% jump from 1.4 billion in 2010.
The dangerous job of content moderation (Casey Newton - Verge)
Buybacks to date exceed 2018 R&D (Dion Rabouin - Axios)
Blackstone CEO seeds new AI center at Oxford (University of Oxford)
The race to create Libra (Tim Bradshaw, Martin Coulter, Hannah Murphy - FT subscription)
Demographics and geopolitics (Nicholas Eberstadt - Foreign Affairs)
A real-time map of cyberattacks. Photo: Sina Schuldt/picture alliance/Getty
Spy agencies, militaries and digital mercenaries are constantly lobbing cyberattacks across national borders, targeting everything from banks, dams and the electrical grid to journalists and activists, Kaveh writes.
The vast majority of attacks go unreported. But a chart from GZERO Media shows a snapshot of the incursions that caused at least $1 million in economic damage and have been made public.
Go deeper: The U.S. goes on the cyber offensive