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1
Nov

Bringing healthcare to the masses: Practo app is revolutionary


Overview

Created in India in 2009, Practo is a healthcare app that aims to bring healthcare to the masses. The aim of the app is simple: bring healthcare to every patient in the country. The revolutionary app has grown rapidly in the last few years, bringing together 200000 healthcare practitioners, 200000 doctors, 8000 diagnostic centers, 10000 hospitals, and 4000 wellness centers.

practo-3In a country such as India, it is often difficult for every patient to know which doctor to approach, and they often rely on word-of-mouth as a way to find their doctor. This can be an unreliable method and sometimes patients simply don’t have enough information to make an informed decision.

Using Practo, millions of patients can today find a medical professional that is best suited to them using a range of tools that the app offers. In a country with over a billion people, this is certainly a step in the right direction.

A great feature of the Practo app, which makes it stand out in a large country such as India, is the location feature. By turning on the GPS function on your phone, users can allow the Practo app to link to Google maps on their phone, making it possible to show the user all the healthcare practitioners or wellness centers located near them.

Currently available on the iOS and Android platforms, the Practo app can be used in 100 Indian cities. It is also available in a few countries outside India including Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Philippines and most recently, Brazil. The app hopes to soon be available in more countries in Southeast Asia.

As of 2015, 10 million users in India were using Practo’s search engine to find healthcare providers and two-thirds of the total traffic was coming via smartphone users.

Experience

practo-2The app can be downloaded for free on both the Android and iOS platforms. The idea behind the app is that a user can search for clinics and doctors in their local area and can then book an appointment with the practitioner of their choice.

After logging in, a user within India, for example, will have 100 cities to choose from. Once a user picks a city, they will be shown all the doctors and clinics in that area. The app is very user-friendly and easy to use with three main tabs to choose from on the home screen.

The first tab that the user sees is the Speciality tab. This is a vital feature of the Practo app and since each city has over 200 specialities, the user is spoilt for choice.

Once a speciality has been picked, the user is shown an informative card for every doctor that shows how experienced they are, their consultation fee, the clinic address, and what customer feedback they have received. The feedback feature will help potential patients see how satisfied other patients found a practitioner’s work.

Another field found on every doctor’s card is the ‘like’ button. The ‘like’ button can be seen as a tool that can be used to build a community of patients, similar to the patient feedback section. These are some of the features that show how the Practo app is built to be increasingly centered around the patient.

practo-1The app is helping to bring transparency into the decision-making process, and by looking at the reviews for each doctor or wellness center, a patient is able to make a more informed decision.

When the user clicks on the card of a healthcare practitioner, they will be able to see further details for that doctor. This screen shows each doctor’s appointment timings and free spots that are available for booking. The screen will also inform the user about any other hospitals where the doctor might be practicing.

Personalization

If a user wants to find out more about any clinics or doctors in a particular area, then the second and third tabs allow them to do so. If you have multiple appointments that you need to keep track of, the dashboard can be personalized to do so.

Another great feature of the Practo app is the filter option which gives you truly personalized results. When searching for a healthcare provider or clinic, the user can adjust the search to suit any preferences. For example, if you have a limit on how much you can pay for a consultation, the Practo app even lists doctors who offer free consultations.

For users who have a problem meeting with a doctor during particular days of the week, the search results can be filtered to show specific days of the week when a doctor is available.

The gender of the doctor is also a preference that users can make use of to find a suitable practitioner. Another great filter option is the time of day when a doctor can meet patients. This will be a useful option for users who can only see the doctor early in the day or late in the evening. Some doctors only practice for a few hours a day at their clinic, spending more time at hospitals.

Final Thoughts

Thanks to India now having more Internet users than China or the U.S. and due to the surge in smartphone users in the past few years, apps such as Practo are seeing greater acceptance. The Practo app is an all-encompassing, end-to-end solution provider for patients who are looking to find a suitable healthcare provider and want to find out all the information about a practitioner while also being able to seamlessly book appointments.

Finding a suitable doctor can be a herculean task in countries such as India, and the Practo app is helping to bridge the gap between patient and doctor.

Along with doctors, Practo also helps its users find pharmacies, spas, yoga centers, and gyms. The app has also given a lot of importance to securing patient’s data since it is home to a lot of sensitive medical data. Its data center is hosted on Amazon.com, Inc.’s cloud and complies with the highest global security standards. Investors believe the end-to-end capability of Practo is what will bring it long-term success.

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1
Nov

Omaker 3-in-1 Universal Car Phone Mount review


We’ve got a question for you today. When you get in the car to drive somewhere, where do you put your phone? Please tell us you don’t put it in a cup holder or some sort of cubbyhole. If that thing comes out of your pocket, it needs to go somewhere handy and practical. Your phone deserves a mount of some sort.

We have reviewed a number of car mount accessories over the years, some of which suction to the dash or window. Others that have come across our path can be placed in an air vent. Up for review today is a kit that bundles together three different types of mounts in one package; we looked at Omaker 3-in-1 Universal Car Phone Mount and would like to share our impressions.

omaker_1Packed neatly in a small little box, the Omaker kit includes a number of pieces which can be assembled to your liking. If you’d like to mount your phone on the dashboard, there’s a sticky base that grabs hold tightly and ensures your handset doesn’t go anywhere.

Prefer to put your phone up a little higher or in the windshield itself? Opt for the different mount which offers up a flexible yet strong arm that bends to your exact placement. And, if you’re the type of person who would rather stick their device somewhere a little different, you might like the air vent mount.

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Taken as a whole, there are seemingly endless places you can place your phone with the Omaker 3-in-1 Universal Car Phone Mount kit. And, lest you worry that you’re stuck with any one placement, the universal bracket screws and unscrews with minimal effort. It’s a breeze to go from one mount to another. The only downside we saw was that the dashboard one’s sticky bottom doesn’t seem as if it would be as strong if you got in the habit of moving it around.

The bracket itself has a nice foam padding to it on the rear as well as the side arms and bottom. Once snugged up, the phone is protected on nearly all sides with material that ensures your phone doesn’t get scratched. The bottom leaves the center of your phone clear so you can plug in a charger.

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Because of its design, the Omaker 3-in-1 Universal Car Phone Mount lets you change the orientation of your phone at a moment’s notice. Heading out on a long trip and need to use the GPS or navigation function of your phone? Turn the bracket 90 degrees in whatever direction you want and get going.

When it’s time to take your phone out of the mount, there’s a button on the rear near the bottom. It is intuitively placed and lets you loosen the side arms; they slowly expand while you hold the button down.

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We thoroughly enjoy the Omaker 3-in-1 Universal Car Phone Mount as it’s one of the most user-friendly products of its kind. Moreover, it’s flexible and highly customizable to suit needs. At only $14 on Amazon, it also happens to be an incredible bargain. Note that the price was discounted at the time of publication and is subject to rise without notice. With that said, we feel comfortable recommending this one even at $30-$35.

1
Nov

Google Pixel XL vs. Galaxy S7 edge: Battle for the best!


1
Nov

How to keep your Android, and your data, safe and secure


Unlocked

Do your part when it comes to keeping your private things private.

Security and privacy are always a hot topic in the mobile space. While there are plenty of high-profile headlines that try to convince us all that the sky is falling, there are also serious and valid concerns. Regrettably, the FUD often takes the stage and the real issues are lost in the maelstrom of bickering and tribalism about which company is the best.

Let’s take a moment and talk about what we can do to make our phones — the things that contain most every private detail about our lives — more secure.

We’re going to break down the things all of us can do to maximize security, so we can keep our information out of the hands of anyone who might do unfriendly things with it. Yes, this means you, too. You don’t have to be high-profile to be a target. Banking information, credit card data, and even your Social Security number can be pretty valuable information for a lot of people. Keeping it as safe as you can is a no-brainer.

More: The most secure Android Phone

This previously-published post was updated in November 2016.

Have a secure lock screen

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We say this a lot, and we always hear things like “I never put my phone down” or “I’ll never lose my phone” or “I can remote wipe my phone” as replies. Those are all great options and ideas, and while we also hope you never have a lost or stolen phone, in the real-world stuff happens.

Use a password, PIN or any other means to secure the lock screen on your phone. It’s easy to do, and all the tools you need to do it are already built into your lock screen settings.

The inconvenience of having to unlock your phone when you pull it out of your pocket or pick it up from your desk is minimal, and things like Android’s Smart Lock features can make it something you won’t have to do as often.

Compared to the possible issues you would face if the wrong person was able to get in your phone because they stole it or you lost it, unlocking your phone when you pick it up is a minor inconvenience at the most.

Be safe. Protect your lock screen.

Only install apps you trust

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For many of us, this means stick to the Google Play store exclusively.

Sideloading applications — a feature built into Android since the beginning — is a great option to have. It’s also just about the only way to encounter one of those “Android security scares” you’ll read about on the Internet, so you need to be careful here.

Only install apps from places you absolutely trust.

Google allows anyone willing to register a developer account to upload applications to Google Play, but they also scan each and every application to see if it’s malware. While things can (and have) slipped in and caused trouble during the time they were uploaded and had not yet been scanned, this is extremely rare (and happens in every application store, no matter how high the garden walls are) and chances are you’ll never have to face it.

Amazon, and OEMs like Samsung or LG also have application markets. These are probably just as safe — especially if you don’t have to allow “unknown sources” to download and install apps. There are also other alternative app stores, many of which have a very good reputation.

We’re not saying sideloading is a bad idea. If you know what you’re doing, and more importantly, have absolute trust in the source of the app you want to sideload, it’s a great option. Just don’t do anything you’re not 100 percent sure of.

More: Is it safe to use the Amazon App Store?

Do you need root?

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Do you “need” to root your phone?

I get it, trust me I get it. You paid good money for the small computer in your hands and should be allowed to do anything with it that it is capable of doing. And that means you need root to do a lot of it.

But allowing root access on your phone makes it less secure. Not counting any silly mistakes you may make while fiddling with things (it happens to the best of us), there are also concerns about what third-party apps may want to try to do.

If you sideloaded an application that has hidden code to do bad things, it can’t do most of them if your phone isn’t rooted. It can try, but it won’t have the needed permissions to get to any sensitive data and it will fail.

Apps can root access to circumvent most any security feature.

If you allow root access, it has a chance to do more. You can rely on your best judgment as well as a superuser access prompt of one sort or another, but the folks trying to do bad things to your phone are clever.

If you don’t need root access on your phone, stay away. If you do need root access, you have to be more careful and more critical about anything you install if you want to stay safe.

A safe bootloader is a locked bootloader

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Just like with root above, do you need to unlock your bootloader?

A locked bootloader is an excellent method to protect your phone, especially if someone steals it. If the right person gets your phone in his or her hands, and the bootloader is unlocked, they may be able to root it and bypass any password or other lock screen protection you have in place. This means they have all your stuff.

If your bootloader is locked, it’s far more difficult to get admin access and pull data off the phone because an attacker can’t just boot up with an insecure image and grab your data. To do that, they would need to unlock the bootloader, which erases all of your data.

I’ll admit, my bootloaders are usually unlocked. I know that means that half of the people reading this would be able to get a full copy of everything from my phone with minimal effort if they got my phone in their hands. Why do I risk this, you ask? I dunno. Don’t do the silly things I do unless you have a valid need.

Only click links you trust

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If you get a link — whether it’s in an email, or a text, or an IM, or Facebook or anywhere — from someone you don’t know, do not click it.

I’ll repeat — don’t click any link from someone you don’t know.

Random Internet links from random people are a great way to find rogue apps that want to install themselves on your phone (they can’t unless you say it’s OK, though) or corrupted media files that can freeze things up, or even more serious exploits like the poorly-named “stagefright” hack.

And you might get RickRolled, too. Which is almost as bad.

Don’t click random links from random strangers.

Something nobody wants to talk about — faith in the people who made your phone

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I know this is a touchy subject and is one of those things that is as divisive as it is informative. But it needs to be talked about and considered:

Are the folks who made your phone delivering those promised “monthly security updates” ?

When talking about Android and all the companies making phones that use it, things can get ugly and complicated.

Samsung, LG, HTC and the rest want to keep you as safe as they can. Making you feel safe means you’re more likely to be a return customer, and they also probably want to take care of their customers. The folks working there are also customers of someone, who would want to get all the security updates they need, too.

There isn’t much money to be made updating phones nobody is buying.

But it’s expensive. The code for any fix that goes into Android source code isn;t going to work if it has been changed. That means people have to be on staff that can take the time to make the necessary changes. Those folks aren’t working for free, so any time that’s not profitable it doesn’t happen.

The various Android vendors make good stuff. Nobody can deny that. But they also will never be able to keep current with security patches the way companies with fewer models and a more streamlined distribution method can.

Some of us are willing to trade off features and options and services for slower security patches. Some of us aren’t. Only you know the right answer for you.

There will always be a trade-off of convenience versus privacy and security if you want to use the services and features provided by the folks who made your phone or the software that runs on it. Apple, Google, and Microsoft all need to collect a good bit of anonymous (and that’s a key point — keeping it anonymized) data about how, when and where you’re using the things you use. Besides wanting to maximize profits, this also helps improve the services and features. For the most part, all these companies do a good job harvesting as much data as they can while keeping it anonymous, and not sharing it with anyone you don’t explicitly want it shared with.

While we can’t do much about how this is handled without buying the majority of voting stock in these companies, we can do a few simple things ourselves to stay more secure and safer.

1
Nov

ASUS ZenWatch 3 up for pre-order at $229, without Android Wear 2.0 of course


After a long nap, the ZenWatch 3 is launching … without Android Wear 2.0.

It’s been relative silence from ASUS since it announced the new round ZenWatch 3 back at IFA in Berlin at the end of August. But now we have pre-orders going live at both ASUS and B&H Photo, with pricing set at $229 and shipping windows of mid-November.

The ZenWatch line has always offered great value in terms of giving you a solid-looking and feeling watch for far less than the competition, and the new round design of the ZenWatch 3 builds on that. The metal body isn’t great, but the new Snapdragon Wear 2100 processor offers a nice performance bump and the price helps make this a compelling budget choice.

You’ll have to wait a bit longer for Android Wear 2.0

The only really interesting thing about this launch is that the ZenWatch 3 was originally promoted as the first Android Wear 2.0 watch … but since Google has pushed back the launch of that update, the watch will be shipping with Android Wear 1.4 like all of the other watches right now. It of course has the right specs inside to handle 2.0 come 2017, but this surely threw a bit of a wrench in its launch plans.

Right now the only model made available is the gunmetal grey with gold trim and a deep brown leather strap, so if you’re looking for one of the lighter color selections you’ll have to wait a bit. With pre-orders already kicking off and general availability just a couple weeks away, it shouldn’t be long before we have more options available.

See at ASUSSee at B&H Photo

1
Nov

Daydream View finally available starting November 10


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Pixel owners, get your VR on in just over a week’s time.

Google has dropped launch details on its official blog for Daydream View, the first headset certified for its virtual reality platform. Owners of Daydream-certified phones — of which Google’s Pixels are so far the only ones — can pick up the fabric-clad goggles from November 10.

That’s when orders will ship from the Google Store, and in addition, Daydream View will also be available from a variety of retailers across five countries:

  • United States: Verizon, Best Buy; $79 (USD)
  • Canada: Bell, Rogers, Telus, Best Buy; $99 (CAD)
  • United Kingdom: EE, Carphone Warehouse; £69 (GBP)
  • Germany: Deutsche Telekom; €69 (EUR)
  • Australia: Telstra, JB Hi-Fi; $119 (AUD)

A big retail push should ensure Google’s VR endeavor gets in front of as large an audience as possible in the early days, particularly as Pixel carrier partners like Verizon and EE promote the accessory alongside Google’s new phones.

Here’s what chief VR Head Russell Holly thought when he first tried Daydream a few weeks back:

Google’s first efforts with the Pixel XL created an experience with little of the “screen door effect” that plagues other VR headsets, and head tracking is a dream. Even the setup process is convenient — you place the phone down on the pad in the casing and an NFC tag launches Daydream and pairs you with the controller. When you close your phone against the lenses, alignment happens immediately with no QR codes to scan to make sure you have the best lens form on the display. The big question here is how any of this is different from Cardboard, and the answer to that is in the system itself.

MORE: Hands-on with Google’s Daydream View

See at Google StoreSee at Verizon

Google Pixel + Pixel XL

  • Google Pixel and Pixel XL review
  • Google Pixel XL review: A U.S. perspective
  • Google Pixel FAQ: Should you upgrade?
  • Pixel + Pixel XL specs
  • Understanding Android 7.1 Nougat
  • Join the discussion in the forums!

Google Store
Verizon

1
Nov

Amazon.ca launches Black Friday deals hub because Canadians love buying tech


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Amazon just can’t wait until Black Friday to start offering amazing deals.

Over the next three weeks, Amazon.ca will be featuring thousands of deals as they countdown the days to November 25, aka Black Friday. There will also be some exclusive deals available to customers using the Amazon mobile app, and even more if you’re a Prime member, which you can try for free if you aren’t already a member.

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There are deals across a bunch of different categories, but we know what you’re all here for! You can browse the electronics deals section here. Amazon has teased a number of tech deals to keep an eye out for, including:

  • 25% off select Bluetooth headphones
  • 25% off select Bluetooth Sound Bars
  • 25% off select Android TV boxes
  • 25% off Briefcase Turntable Stereo Systems

Here are some sweet deals we’ve found today to get you started. They might not last past today, so you’ll want to jump on them quick:

  • Save 71% on an Anker 40W/8A 5-Port USB Charger PowerPort 5
  • Save 50% on an Adeon 3-in-1 Bluetooth speaker, 7800 mAh powerbank, 3 LED flashlight

If you’re an Amazon Prime member, you can take advantage of these deals and enjoy unlimited free two-day delivery, or if you’re in Toronto or Vancouver, free same-day delivery on eligible orders — even for orders made on Saturday and Sunday.

Amazon is also making it much easier to deal with returns this holiday season. They’ve extended their return policy, allowing any purchases made between November 1 and December 31 to be returned for a full refund up until January 31, 2017.

If you haven’t started your holiday shopping, there’s no better time than the present!

1
Nov

What the Transhumanist candidate learned from the election


Zoltan Istvan is many things: a journalist, a futurist and entrepreneur. Mostly, though, he’s been a cheerleader for the transhumanist movement, a philosophy focused on merging humans together with technology. The ultimate goal? To live forever as a new post-human species. Istvan kicked off a presidential campaign as head of the Transhumanist Party in 2014, mostly to spread the word about the movement. We sat down to talk with him about his experience running for president, and why voters should care about the transhumanist movement.

Was the process of running this campaign what you expected? Where there any surprises for you?

My campaign has been pretty much to always spread the message around transhumanism. It was never to win, and I said that from the very beginning. What I didn’t expect is that I would very quickly enter into the top 10 candidates for almost the entire two years. Just three years ago, I signed with one of the major websites that puts you together with candidates. To think one of the largest websites would include me in the top 8 was good news.

It’s happened because Hillary and Trump, and the candidate before as well, were so unpopular. It’s made a lot of the third party activities much more visible than you ever would have had. And I think we had a couple big pushes. When Bernie Sanders quit, a huge amount of people said, “Wow, we’re not going to the establishment,” and then they started looking elsewhere. The dismay over the main candidates has certainly made this election season the perfect moment for a small political party like mine to move in and really generate coverage.

Was this a good election season to introduce transhumanism in general?

What’s happening is that in the last two years, everyone has been hit in the face with how fast technology has been changing. And I think the best example right now is Uber. Everyone was so excited Uber was creating millions of new jobs for people — then they announce driverless cars. And everyone realizes, oh wait a sec, this technology comes and goes and then it takes jobs. I think what happened is a lot of people began to realize is, wow, genetic editing, exoskeleton technology for the disabled, blind people seeing through robotic eyes, telepathy via brain wave headsets, everything is starting to shift very quickly.

You’ve admitted you’re mainly doing this to spread the word, it’s not going to be a wining campaign. What do you see the role of the campaign after the election?

We’d like to build out the party. I’d like to run again, there’s no question I will. Whether I would do so for the transhumanist party, is another matter. You know, without the funding, without the backbone, it’s incredibly difficult. I think it’s a great idea, but it really does take 20 years to establish a party… [The Libertarians] honestly have zero chance at winning, and they have a few people in little local offices. And that’s 40 years later. So we’re two years later, you can imagine there are hundreds of political parties in America, and very few actually make a dent unless a billionaire comes in.

Did you try to raise donations?

We did, but we were basically unsuccessful at raising anything substantial. And the reason is very wealthy people, some who support transhumanism, said “We’d like to see you in 2020, let’s see how you do this time.” And they also said, “I would rather spend my dollars and have them go somewhere.” And I understand that, I have friends at Google — I live in the Bay Area — I have friends at Apple and Singularity University… But nobody is really interested in the big splurge yet. And that’s what it takes. It’s going to take at minimum a few million dollars to change the party and change the nature of ballot access.

That’s funny though. We’ve seen Peter Thiel invest millions in Trump. I would think he’s someone who supports the transhumanist ideals too.

You know, we asked and he didn’t get back to us. I don’t know what the agenda is. I’m surprised he did that too. I know he’s into life extension, and that’s the main premise of my campaign, to get the government to put money into that field. However, I just think it’s really a matter of establishing legitimacy. You start off small and it’s like a snowball. We’re excited that two years later it’s gone so far, but it could take ten years to become competitive to even the Green party. And it would take big funders to get onboard.

So is the plan if you were to run again to join a more established party?

I interviewed to be Gary Johnson’s vice president… And I had a great interview with him. He had me over at his house overnight in New Mexico, and I had like a 20 hour interview. I would probably run under the Libertarian party next time. The problem though, is that I actually lean quite far left. When you actually look at who I am, I’m as much o the Democratic side as I am on the Libertarian. I am what they call a left-leaning Libertarian. So most Libertarians would say I’m not Libertarian enough. And a lot of Democrats would say, you’re not like us, you’re not Bernie Sanders enough.

Has your message changed at all since the beginning?

The biggest one I tweaked is that I decided to incorporate a universal basic income into the platform after a lot of discussion. And what’s happened, after just two years, the amount of robots and automation taking jobs has increased dramatically. I took a campaign bus across the country, and one of the things that came out from those four months was spending a lot of time with truck drivers. Lo and behold, Europe had this driverless truck traveling across Europe. There’s no question that within five years, in my mind, assuming Congress allows it, that there will be driverless vehicles on the rode. And I don’t think drivers will survive. So we decided to support a universal basic income and we’re really the first political entity to do that with any visibility.

Have you laid out how you can make that possible? I know you want to lower taxes in general, but you need more taxes to do this.

I think up front, you’d certainly need more. We have three policies at this point, and generally the one percent would have to pick up the tab… Take the idea of truck drivers. Most of them are older males, most are gun carrying, hard men, you can’t take away their jobs and say there’s nothing else you can do. You can’t retrain them — you’re going to retrain them and in another five years the robots are going to take those jobs too. So these are three to four million men out there who are essentially going to cause civil strife if they don’t get something back. And they don’t want to be on welfare, they’re kind of a proud people.

The rich people don’t want that revolt to happen. The best thing for the rich people to have is that society functions smoothly, science and technology grows, the economy grows. That can happen by keeping less civil strife. So there will be higher taxes on the rich. The second policy, definitely the manufacturers at some point must be partially responsible. If Google creates AI, at some point Google has to say, well we’ve replaced 30 million jobs with our machines, what have we done for society. I think at some point that has to be addressed.

But the biggest thing that I would do, and this is quite controversial: the federal government owns a huge amount of resources. Half of the 11 Western states are owned by the federal government. Because I believe as a transhumanist we’ll be upgrading some point into machines, or into cyborgs, using less natural resources, I have suggested we either loan or sell off large chunks of that federal land. I don’t know if in a hundred years America is going to exist. What if we go through the Singularity…

Whatever happens, we have trillions of dollars of untapped wealth, we could buy 15 or 20 years of the universal basic income off of those kinds of things alone. Now I know the environmentalists will just hate that, but at the same time there’s so much untapped wealth there. And it would certainly be a good way to feed people, and to give them housing and education, rather than let that land be there for a species that I believe is going to be fundamentally changed in a hundred years.

It also seems like the main thing you’re promoting is life extension, but that leads to overpopulation. Maybe we will need that space if you want your main goal to come true.

Yes, this is the number one issue I get with life extension… The thing is, as countries become wealthier, there’s definitely less population. People stabilize it too. There’s a good chance, as the world develops, we’ll probably stabilize around 15 billion. The thing is, you have to look at what future technologies are going to bring. There’s a very good chance that genetic editing will bring our ability to grow foods five times quicker, maybe ten times quicker, and regrow rainforests to take care of the environment.

My environmental policy is firm, I believe humans have destroyed the planet. I did a lot of work for National Geographic covering these things. But, I don’t believe that the best way is to lessen our carbon footprint. I think the best way is to spend much more money on aggressive green technologies…

A third of the arable land on Earth is going towards grazing. Well, if we have meatless meat made in a factory we won’t need all that…. With overpopulation, we’ll be able to feed many more people, I think the world can handle 15 billion people, especially as people migrate more to cities. So the question is we probably won’t need as much federal land. And a lot of that land are places where people wouldn’t want to work anyway. We’re talking mineral rights, just sheer mineral rights worth trillions of dollars.

I’m making a long bet that the human being won’t remain human, and that machines would take less resources, and our planet would be able to be pristine again. We won’t be based on what we’re doing now, things like agriculture and expanding and destroying the planet. Hopefully one day we’ll have a lot of technology to make it a better place. Also, there’s the whole Star Trek thing. At some point, maybe it’ll be very interesting to get people off the planet.

You’ve mentioned on your website that you’re proudly an atheist, and that’s unique for a presidential candidate. But the way I’m reading transhumanism right now also seems faith based. You’re taking it on faith that technology will upgrade us and things will change in 100 years. How do you view your faith versus traditional religious faith?

You’re right. Everyone always says, well the Singularity seems no different than a religious experience. I can’t deny that’s true, because the Singularity is this concept that’s beyond human understanding. With my idea of transhumanism I try to stay in the next 10 to 15 years of what might happen. We’ll have robotic arms that are better than human arms, and should we electively get it? If I can give you a robotic eye that can see gasses and germs, or stream media live, those are the things I really advocate for.

When I drove my bus, everyone was saying, “Oh are you some kind of Christian?” And I said no, we’re actually a science and technology-based moment. But the idea is that I think it’s just a matter of getting it out and convincing people. Hearing the word [transhumanism] and associating it with secularism, science and technology, and people say oh that’s just a movement. Sometimes when we say Greenpeace, we automatically think activists who are over the top. And that’s our impression of it.

We’re trying to make it so that doesn’t happen. So the word and the movement is seen as something that’s just a science thing.

But it sounds like personally you believe in 100 years things could radically change. We’ll be uploading consciousness to machines and things like that. That sounds like an afterlife.

That’s where my atheism falls apart. I say I’m an atheist in my campaign, but I’m actually a theocidist. What I believe in, there’s a trillion galaxies out there. There’s almost certainly aliens and artificial intelligences. I did my senior thesis in college in brains in a vat.

I’m a big believer in the idea we live in a holographic universe… I think it’s true, I can’t prove it, but I have good arguments. And it would completely throw out this theist [mentality]. When I say I’m an atheist, what I’m really saying is I’m against fundamentalist conservatism that says Jesus died for me. I was raised Catholic, so I have my little battles to fight.

When you’re bringing up the idea of gene editing, I think there are valid reasons to consider a moratorium. Scientists might need to take a step back when we reach certain milestones and really think about the ethical and moral implications of something. That could be something that’s not tied to religion. Do you think we need to take that step and really think about things? Or should we constantly be moving forward?

You’re one hundred percent right. The problem, though, is when we don’t have something like my campaign or the Transhumanist party there, then the moratorium is so one-sided. It’s like how it’s important for me to run as an atheist, just to make a stand against what I find oppressive. The fact that our virtually our entire government is believing in this fundamentalist idea.

Or they say they do. It’s a convenient narrative like you’re attempting.

I hope so. And if that’s the case we have much less to worry about. But I think it’s important to sometimes set up a wall just to make sure the balance of the universe continues. That way you have a much more democratic picture. And I do a lot of aggressive activism that I really don’t see as completely philosophically valuable, but I see it as necessary.

If I had a choice, I would say, well you’re right, a moratorium is fine, let’s consider it. The problem is some of the people calling for it are so hellbent on keeping their conservatism in the picture, that I’m afraid they’re going to do what George W. Bush did with stem cells, which is shut it down for seven years. I want to say no, wait a sec. If we have someone like Obama who wants to give it some funding, that’s a good way to move forward with science. My worst fear is if someone like Ted Cruz got into office, and all of a sudden this entire gene editing revolution occurred during his term, and he freaks out and says we don’t want to be gods. That would be tragic for science, and in particular American science, because places like China and India are going to take off with it.

It’s important to offer resistance sometimes just for resistance sake.

Would you say you have more faith in technology than people?

I actually have faith more in technology. That said, I really believe technology is neutral. It’s really what people make of it. But for me, technology is the offshoot of the most complex and intellectual side of ourselves. And I think it’s very important to try to understand that technology in the future, especially when we create consciousness, might be the better version of ourselves. We should consider that technology and what we create in artificial intelligences could be better than biology.

I’m very much into merging with that. I would like to be a complete digital consciousness. I think the complexity of that would be much more complex than this three-pound bag of meat that we have right now. But I realize that’s wrought with danger as well. I don’t want an AI that’s smarter than me on Earth as well, unless I’m part of it, or I’m one with it.

But if it’s truly AI, we wouldn’t really have a choice. If it’s smart enough to know your biological flaws are too inefficient, they probably would rather be their own thing.

Technically yes, I’m hoping we’ll have a method to stay directly an integral part of that. I’m not sure how that technology or science will work yet. I’m assuming if we ever turn on the “On” switch for AI, we should have the 100 best people in the world connected to it, so that we have some ability to control it. But that’s impossible to know.

That’s where all the fears come from. If AI were to actually happen, we wouldn’t have any control over it, and it would be omniscient in a way.

That’s why I’d never endorse turning it on. I think I’d rather find the perfect transhumanism world through a mixture of cybernetics, machine parts, these kinds of things and skip the AI. It just might be too dangerous to do, at least until we have better knowledge.

But that’s the thing that’s definitely going to happen. Maybe even more so than uploading our consciousness.

It’s very scary. We still have the 50/50 chance it’ll be beneficial.

A lot of what you’re talking about sounds great for the more affluent folks, but what will transhumanism do to equalize things in society? We still have issues with things like poverty and discrimination, those seem like more legitimate concerns.

I worry about that too. One of the things that changed in my campaign was, when I started I sort of took on a Libertarian perspective, and I started pushing left until I really became hard left, really embracing many of Bernie Sanders’ ideas. I said, you know what, I don’t really want to be the guy that’s responsible for creating a dystopia. And that’s where it can go if we let the one percent get all these technologies and nothing else is affordable. The artificial hear that they have in France now is a good example. It’s $200,000 — they’re still experiment with it. But nobody can afford that, so is it only the one percent doesn’t have to worry about heart disease?

This is where a universal basic income swallows healthcare. We delivered the Transhumanist Bill of Rights. It decreed that aging is a disease, and that everybody has a universal right to overcome aging, overcoming suffering through technology if they want. And that’s the government job to provide that to society. And that’s really when I lost a lot of my Libertarian followers.

I can’t in good faith remain someone who’s trying to bring all this technology knowing a huge amount of people aren’t going to get it. And we must insist insist they’re get it. There must be universal rights set up just like education with the UN that insist all transhumanist technology is distributed freely.

This interview has been edited and condensed.

1
Nov

Nintendo finally gives up the ghost on Wii U, production ceased


With the Nintendo Switch now announced and the Japanese gaming giant looking forward not back, it comes as no surprise that the Wii U is yesterday’s news. However, it is mildly surprising to learn that the company is completely severing ties with its biggest console failure.

Ask a Wii U owner about their machine and you’ll often hear superlatives. In terms of games, it plays host to some of the best titles available. But it is reported by Eurogamer that Nintendo will cease all production of the console at the end of this week. It is, for all intents and purposes, dead.

Sadly, it also means that the Nintendo Wii U goes in the history books as the company’s biggest flop – one of its most expensive misfires for sure.

Nintendo only managed to ship 13.36 million units by the end of September this year. Even the GameCube, considered by many to be a spectacular failure, managed to sell 21 million consoles in its short lifespan.

  • Nintendo Switch: Release date, specs and everything you need to know
  • Nintendo Switch games: The games revealed so far and what we’d like to see
  • Nintendo Switch: Is this the NX console we’d hoped for?

But as much as the death of the Wii U is sad, times are looking up for the brand. Not only has Pokemon Go made a stack of money for Nintendo without the company having to lift a finger, the Nintendo Switch has had great critical response since its unveiling in a teaser video a couple of weeks ago.

1
Nov

Bellabeat’s new Shell app can capture the sound of your womb


Bellabeat, the company that makes health trackers designed to look like jewelry, has developed an app for expecting parents.

The new app, called Shell, works with an add-on. Together, they can record and listen to fetal heartbeats – without any Doppler technology. The Shell wraps around your iPhone much like a phone case and works with the free Shell app, which launched 1 November, to make it easy for you to capture a baby’s heartbeat and share it. The Shell app records the sound of your womb via the iPhone’s built-in microphone.

While the new app can isolate the sound of the heartbeat through an algorithm that “amplifies key tones and filters out background noise”, the Shell add-on has a horn that focuses the sound waves of a fetal heartbeat and improves the sound reproduction of your iPhone’s speaker. It also physically separates the mic and speaker, cancelling all possible sound oscillations.

Shell is basically a non-invasive prenatal monitor that amplifies the sound of your baby’s heartbeat. Belkabeat has experience in making wearables for the fashionably-conscious, so it’s describing the add-on as having a shape and functionality that resembles a seashell. The wave pattern “illustrates the soothing rythmic sound of the heartbeat,” it explained.

It’s not yet clear when the Shell add-on will be available to purchase, but you can already start playing with the free Shell iPhone app. Bellabeat apparently had a million people on the app’s waitlist at launch.

There’s no word yet if an Android app is in the works.

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