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Bill Gates believes that personalized medicine is the future.  To the point where we may all have personalized cancer vaccines.  But in some ways the future of personalized healthcare is already here.  At least when it comes to personalized vitamins.

As Futurism puts it, “A daily vitamin regimen is often used to help bolster health, especially for those with diets that aren’t 100-percent up to a nutritionist’s recommendations (which is pretty much everyone). There are a ton of vitamin supplements and customized regimens out there. But only one is custom-tailored based on not just your lifestyle and diet, but on the results of a DNA test. It’s called Rootine, and for just $2.00 a day, it gives you the daily vitamins you truly need, without any of the empty filler you’re likely to get from other ‘one size fits all’ vitamin products.”

As someone with dietary restrictions and poor eating habits, it’s essential that I take vitamins to make up the difference.  The only problem is that I’m still taking Flintstone vitamins and likely not getting everything that I need into my system.  A highly personalized regimen could change all that and remove all the guess work along the way.  But how exactly would it work?

According to Futurism:

“Here’s what makes Rootine different from other vitamin products: individuality. You start by taking a quick intake quiz about your lifestyle and habits. Next, you take a DNA test (or send your existing DNA data), which will allow Rootine to create a special formulation of vitamins specifically tailored to your own genetic profile. As a result, you get everything you need to keep your body as healthy as possible, without unnecessary, or in some cases detrimental, vitamins you don’t. And once you start the process, you’ll also have the option to send in regular blood work so your vitamin regimen can be further tweaked and adjusted according to how well it’s working.”

That all sounds amazing.  I just have one last question though.  Will these vitamins come in chewable format? Preferably as gummies shaped like dinosaurs?

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Is Rootine the Greatest Idea Ever?

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I just finished reading one of the greatest books of all-time, The Half-Life of Facts, a fascinating look through the lens of mathematics at how knowledge constantly changes and what we can do to try and stay on top of those changes; something that is especially important in today’s day and age of fake news where staying informed in a politically charged climate isn’t a lifestyle choice, it’s a necessity.

Unfortunately, for most of us we tend to stop learning once we’re done receiving our primary education, either after finishing high school or after completing a Bachelors or Master’s degree.  Of course we still “learn” new things throughout life, either through osmosis, our social networks, shows and movies, the occasional book, or nowadays the ever popular podcast method.  But we’re not actively studying random facts outside of our chosen professions just for the hell of it like we did when we were in grade school.  If we do learn something new as adults it’s highly likely that what we’re learning is going to tie in with what we’re already interested in and conform with our already firmly established worldviews.  Taking the time to gather all the relevant facts, to learn both sides of an issue, to stay informed on every issue, just doesn’t happen all that often.

That’s why fake news spreads so easily.  Why there is so much political upheaval. Why there are so many Climate Change deniers.  Why there are Flat Earthers.  We have all become victims of our cognitive biases, refusing to change our worldviews even when presented with compelling new evidence, choosing to believe that which we grew up believing, that which adheres to how we already perceive the world.  Our only hope for a better future, a cleaner future, a future with less hate, is to become more open-minded, to become skilled in the art of learning new facts, to get to the point where it becomes second-nature to always learn new things and accept new facts, even paradigm shifting facts that change the way the world works.

In order for that to happen we need to change how we learn.  No longer can it be acceptable for people to shut down their minds and coast through life once they are done with their formal schooling.  No longer can it be acceptable for people to reside in online filter bubbles that reinforce their personal beliefs.  No longer can life-long learning be considered an optional pursuit, something left to academics, nerds, and bored retirees.  Instead we need to establish a culture based around continuing education.  Based around the constant pursuit of obtaining the latest knowledge, across all walks of life.

As someone who has needed to pass certain licensing exams for their job I’ll be the first to admit that this sounds horrible.  The idea of giving up one’s free time to continuously study for and take exams is not an appealing one.  But at the same time it may be a necessity of life in the 21st century, a necessity of living in a time where facts are constantly changing at breakneck speeds.

And honestly, it may not be all that bad.  I’m not talking about serious, intensive exams on a weekly basis.  Perhaps just a few short online quizzes twice a year to make sure that people know what’s going on.  Something that can be passed in a manner of minutes after watching a brief online tutorial.  Something that would cover the latest Climate news, the latest scientific breakthroughs, a political story or two, the occasional fact changing (Pluto is no longer a planet, dinosaurs had feathers), etc.  Just a mix of information to make sure that people know what’s going on in the world, what’s really going on, not just what the latest memes are.  What’s the latest with Brexit?  What are the current carbon dioxide levels? Is red wine currently good for you or not?  What’s the latest crazy thing that Elon Musk said? What’s the latest diet craze all about?  In short, what do I realistically need to know to be an educated voter, a functioning member of society, or even just a good parent, spouse, friend, or neighbor.

Best of all such a continuous education program would create a never ending source of jobs – for the people creating the content, to those administering it, to those offering extra-help tutoring sessions, to those enforcing it.  In a future where autonomous robots take away all of jobs we’re going to need to think outside the box to create new jobs that only humans can do.  An entire cottage industry springing up around continuous education could be one possible solution.

Such a program could even tie into other aspects of society.  For instance, if China’s experimental social credit program takes off and people receive reputation scores that follow them then maybe the continuing education program could tie in with those scores.  If you have passed the latest tests you’ll have a higher reputation score than someone who hasn’t, indicating that you are more trustworthy since you are more informed.  Or perhaps the testing could be incentivized.  Those who take and pass the exams would receive better car insurance rates or better credit scores.  Or points that they can trade in for airline miles, Amazon.com gift cards, or discounts from their favorite retailers, etc. whatever the case may be.

I’m sure that some people will be opposed to this idea but there is already precedent for it.  Financial Advisors and medical professionals are already required to undergo continuing education training.  Anyone who works in an office and takes annual cybersecurity or ethics training does the same.  When it comes to being a subject matter expert in your chosen profession it’s obviously important to stay on top of the latest news in your field.  People’s lives and their livelihoods literally depend on it.  Shouldn’t that same logic apply when it’s your life and your livelihood that’s on the line?

All in all, it’s become increasingly clear that we need to think long and hard about thinking long and hard.  That we need to be cognizant of the fact that our facts are constantly changing.  If we don’t then our society may very well be on the verge of making the plot of Idiocracy come to fruition.  A horrible fate that would doom us all.  So if we don’t want that to happen we will have to take drastic, society-wide action to ensure that we raise the education level of all citizens, at all times.  A continuing education program, that would be a necessary evil in the war against ignorance, may very well be the way to do just that.

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Is lifelong learning the Greatest Idea Ever?

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After years and years and years of online dating it has become painfully obvious that no one knows how to sell themselves.  Unsure of what to say most people have flat out given up, using some variation of the line, “I hate talking about myself”, “I never know what to put here”, or my personal favorite, “if you want to know something just ask.”

I’m not above criticism either.  I’m 37 and still single so clearly what I’m writing isn’t working either.  And I’m a writer! That’s why I think we should turn our hopes and dreams for finding true love over to an algorithm like we do with everything else.

Such a program would craft the perfect profile for us, customizing a series of standard templates based on our specific interests.  It would even select our best pictures for us using facial recognition software that culls our social media platforms.  No more awkward bathroom selfies or group shots where you can’t tell who it is that you’re supposed to be looking at.  Instead only the best, quirkiest, most fun-loving pictures would get selected.  The pictures that show who you really are, not who you want to portray.

In fact, by removing our ability to sell ourselves we’d be stripping away everything that’s wrong with online dating.  Carefully crafted selfies, humble brags, and hey look at me antics would all be devalued.  Instead of coming across like we’re trying too hard we’d all become genuine versions of ourselves, our true essence boiled down to a series of ones and zeros by an emotionless algorithm that knows us better than we know ourselves.

That may not sound like fun but perhaps it’s the approach that we need.  The one that will help us change our fate.  Because clearly what we’ve been doing so far hasn’t been working.  As they say in the 40 Year Old Virgin perhaps what’s felt right isn’t the right way to go about it.  Perhaps it’s time to try some wrong.

On the other hand, such an approach might raise other, more pressing concerns.  Such as: if everyone has the same cookie cutter profile how would the truly great person stand out?!?  And to be fair they probably wouldn’t.  But that’s where the dating part comes in.  It would be up to us to make that final determination of who is worth spending our time on.  After all, algorithms can’t do everything for us.  Or can they…

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Is an automated dating profile service the Greatest Idea Ever?

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Will Dany follow in her father’s footsteps and turn into the Mad Queen?  Is Tyrion Lannister going to make a power play after finding out that he is really a Targaryen? Who is going to kill Cersei Lannister and take over the Iron Throne?! And what in the hell was Bran doing during the battle for Winterfell?!?!

We may not know the answers to those questions before Sunday but that doesn’t mean that we still can’t have a little bit of fun, Westerosi style in the meantime.  With that in mind I thought it would be a good idea to imagine today’s technological and scientific leaders as Game of Thrones characters:

Rising to power in the North i.e. Winterfell/North America even though he is really from the South i.e. King’s Landing/South Africa.  The only question that remains is if he is The Prince Who Was Promised, our one true savior who is ultimately going to save us all?!  Elon Musk is Jon Snow.

He started with nothing and then gradually built wealth over time, ruthlessly crushing competitors along the way throughout his pursuit of power.  Ambitious as they come he has his gaze set on the ultimate prize, colonizing the Moon and then the rest of the solar system, cementing his status as the richest and most powerful man on Earth.  However, his plans were nearly derailed when he got divorced and lost half his wealth/army because of a fool-hearty decision made in the name of love.  Jeff Bezos is the Mother of Dragons Daenerys Targaryen.

She famously tried to change her appearance i.e. make her voice deeper so that she could survive in a male dominated world.  She is two-faced, disingenuous and can’t be trusted.  Elizabeth Holmes is the Waif.

A talented power broker acting in the best interest of the realm, he only invests in those he deems worthy. Marc Andreessen is his doppelganger Varys.

A master manipulator he wants everyone to “like” him even though he is just using them to consolidate his power for his own selfish means.  Under his tyrannical rule you won’t have any privacy and will never truly be free.  Mark Zuckerberg is Cersei Lannister.

Grew up loyal to the company/family but eventually comes to realize that Facebook/Cersei is an uncontrollable monster that must be stopped.  Chris Hughes is Jamie Lannister.

Didn’t let being confined to a wheelchair didn’t prevent him from peering across space and time to unlock the secrets of the Universe.  Stephen Hawking is Bran.

Steadily guided a powerful company/force that he took over with a deft hand.  So far has been unable to take the next step on his own.  May have greater political ambitions that have yet to be realized.  Tim Cook is Sansa Stark.

A figure of mythical proportions he used magical powers i.e. his reality distortion field to alter events in his favor.  Also wielded the power of prescience to know what others wanted/would become before they would even realize it themselves.  Steve Jobs is the red priestess Melisandre.

A talented talker who has the ear of those in power, he helps raise the profile of those he deems worthy.  Joe Rogan is Tyrion Lannister.

Unlikely hero and fan favorite who goes to the Citadel/Governments to warn of an impending threat i.e. the Night King/Climate Change.  Greta Thurnberg is Samwell Tarly.

Formerly head of a powerful company/house he always wants to do the right thing and help others.  Even though he is no longer in the picture his legacy lives on and probably always will.  Bill Gates is Ned Stark.

A powerful woman who opposes sexism and workplace stereotypes she leans in and faces her challenges head on.  Sherly Sandberg is Brienne of Tarth.

Vast repository of information.  Keeps tabs on everything that is happening.  Google is the Citadel.

Horrific monster hell-bent on destroying mankind any way he can.  Donald Trump is the Night King.

Understands the power of information and uses the spread of it for his own personal gain.  Jack Dorsey is Littlefinger.

No one is Arya Stark.

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Is Game of Thrones the Greatest Show Ever?

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The human genome is made up of a genetic code containing hundreds of thousands of base pairs eventually leading to the creation of a human being with a brain powered by billions of neurons.  On the surface the math would seem to be off.  Human beings shouldn’t exist.  A mathematical impossibility as there simply isn’t enough genetic code to explain the complexity of the end result.  But lucky for us, the blueprint for life isn’t literally an exact 1 for 1 blueprint.  Rather, mother nature takes short cuts wherever possible, duplicating some features, and allowing for spontaneous connections to form in others.

Following this same design logic we may soon have a self-organizing swarm of robots at our disposal, capable of forming their own spontaneous connections, ready to help us with search and rescue missions or construction projects.

As Futurism explains, “This new research from the European Molecular Biology Laboratory in Barcelona is the latest development in an organization called Swarm Organ’s ongoing goal to create robots that act like biological cells and structures.”

Here’s how it would work:

“Just like [how] cells communicate by releasing chemicals and detecting those released by their neighbors, the individual robots give off a short-range, infrared signal that only reaches about 10 centimeters.

Specifically, the robots broadcast a signal that tells other bots how much of a simulated substance called ‘morphogen’ they contain. Morphogen is meant to be the virtual version of a biological signaling molecule — it’s not a physical particle but rather each robot’s code contains a different value for the amount of morphogen assigned to that bot.”

So far, there have been some hiccups.  The bots don’t always form useful structures and sometimes they mess up and don’t form anything at all.  But the research is still promising nonetheless, pointing us towards a future where our robotic helpers follow nature’s best designs, helping us out all on their own.  We hope.

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Are programmable cells the Greatest Idea Ever?

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Nissan’s Brain to Car Interface: Split second decisions could make the difference between whether or not you get into an accident.  That’s why Nissan wants to create a system that makes decisions even faster than is currently humanly possible.  It does this by connecting a driver’s brain directly to the car so that decisions can be executed instantaneously, before the body has even had a chance to process the information.  By literally cutting out the middle man countless lives could be saved.  Including yours.

Samsung’s Brain Controlled TV: Not to be outdone, Samsung is also working on developing technology that could hook up a couch potatoes’ brain to a television set, allowing them to channel surf without having to get up, reach for the remote, or even speak commands.

Artificial Reincarnation: Soon it may be possible to digitally recreate deceased actors with CGI to the point where you wouldn’t be able to tell an artificial actor from a real one.  This could allow movie studios to continue filming a movie even after an actor’s untimely demise or even allow them to shoot flashbacks or prequels without any input from the original actor.

Quantum Radio: In the future it may be possible to send communication signals through building materials, water, and soil with greater efficiency than is currently possible thanks to a new quantum physics based approach that shrinks down the frequency of the signal.  This might mean that we’ll one day be able to use our cellphones in the subway.

Blockchain Smartphone: The Blockchain craze has shown no signs of slowing down and it may eventually make its way to hardware manufacturers who will design smartphones from the bottom up, specifically for the Blockchain.  In theory, this means that you could wind up with an encrypted phone tied to a person’s identity allowing them to control their own data as they use their phone to shop online, post on social media, send texts, etc.

Bandito: Mosquitos are the bane of my existence, ruining every hike I’ve ever gone on. Thankfully there’s now a wearable device on the market capable of serving as the ultimate mosquito repellent through a combination of sounds and smells specifically designed to keep mosquitoes out of your personal space.

Ink to Code: Have an app idea but don’t know how to code? You’re in luck!  Thanks to Microsoft now you can just doodle your idea on a napkin and have it turned into code! Making it this easy to code could lead to an explosion in the number of apps that we have. If that’s even possible.

Virtual Wearables: How can we design a way for users to interact inside of a virtual environment since holding a physical joystick would ruin the illusion that you’re in a virtual world? It’s one of the biggest issues in tech and the solution may lie in mimicking how we already interact with our environments IRL.  For instance, imagine being someone who uses an Apple Watch.  That watch could give you text messages and monitor your health in real life and then a similar virtual watch could be how you’d navigate through your virtual environment.  Since you’re using an Apple Watch in both environments the illusion that the virtual world is real is stronger.

Thin Skin Wearables: Speaking of wearables one of the major drawbacks with them is that they can be bulky and therefore can’t be worn all the time.  Enter thin skin wearables that are thinner than a piece of cardboard and look more like a band-aid than a traditional wearable.  They’re so thin, in fact, that they more closely resemble skin than jewelry.  They’ll be so comfortable that we’ll never have to take them off.

Noveto: This personalized speaker could render headphones obsolete by delivering targeted sound directly to your ears without disturbing anyone else nearby.  Just don’t ask me how it works.

IRL Glasses: Annoyed every time you walk down the street and see an advertisement on an electronic billboard?  Running out to pick up some wings during the Super Bowl and don’t want to see the score anywhere?  The IRL Glasses can help with that by blocking out any screens you may encounter.

OxygeneThis moss covered tire from Goodyear cleans the air, giving car owners the ability to reduce their carbon footprint, even if they are driving around a lot.  It’s a similar concept to the CityTree, the moss covered park bench that gives off the same environmental impact of planting 275 trees.

Apple’s AR/VR headset: Will Virtual Reality rule the future? Or will it be Augmented Reality? If Apple has a say it won’t matter thanks to rumors that they are working on a headset that will let users toggle between both modes.

CRISPR Kit: What’s better than CRISPR? Being able to use it at home!  Which may be possible thanks to an at-home diagnostic kit that could one day detect illnesses, helping you to avoid a trip to the doctor’s office.

Disney’s FORCE Jacket: Disney is said to be working on a jacket for virtual environments that will let a user literally feel everything happening to them.  That may not be a good thing.

Google Lens: This object recognition mobile app can now identify over a billion items, bringing AI powered machine-learning smarts to your phone, making it easier for you to identify what you’re looking at or search for the latest deals.

IBM’s New Computer: IBM has successfully invented the world’s smallest computer, the size of a grain of salt.  Such a computer could revolutionize society, allowing us to put sensors pretty much everywhere.

Amphibio: This 3-D printed wearable gill could allow us to breathe underwater.  Something that may come in handy after the polar ice cap completely melts and sea levels around the world rise exponentially.

Lucid Dreaming: M.I.T. researchers are reportedly working on a way to make it possible for anyone to lucid dream, that is to be able to consciously control their dreams while they sleep.

Hoverglide: Hiking, camping, and transporting supplies as a soldier just got a whole lot easier thanks to this ingenious backpack design that shifts its weight while you walk, “hovering” over you to lighten your load.

Vision Correcting Eye Drops: Wearing glasses and getting Lasix eye surgery may soon be a thing of the past thanks to new eye drops that repair your vision when applied.  Reportedly these drops work for both near and far-sightedness.

Tonal: I don’t go to the gym but if I did I’d want it to look something like Tonal, an intelligent home-workout system capable of spotting you on the fly by changing the resistance you’re encountering if need be.

Comixify: Brands, content creators, and regular people now have another creative avenue at their disposal thanks to Comixify which allows you to turn any video clip into a comic strip.

Brixels: A combination of bricks and pixels, these Lego like modular building blocks could allow us to design previously imaginable structures and interactive displays.

SpotMini: Boston Dynamic’s robotic pet dogs are set to go on sale in 2019, bringing us one step closer to a future where we live side by side with robotic maids and other androids.

Square Off:  This automated chess board lets you play against friends remotely as the gameboard is capable of moving your opponents’ pieces on its own.

Halo Shirt: A new type of fitness wear designed to change shape during physical contact to help prevent you from getting a concussion.

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Is Nissan’s brain to car interface the Greatest Idea Ever?

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The latest installment of Black Mirror is now live on Netflix, an interactive choose your own adventure style offering known as Bandersnatch, that could revolutionize Hollywood as it has five possible endings, 312 minutes of unique content, and more than one trillion story permutations! Forget about binge-watching an entire season.  Soon you’ll have to binge-watch the same movie over and over again, every possible way.

I’m super-excited about this news and want to share it with my friends that I know watched Black Mirror. There’s just one problem.  I don’t know who that is.  I’m pretty sure my friend Danielle watched it and I know that my friends Russell and Jess definitely watched it.  And a few people at work.  But what about Bob in accounting? Or my cousin?  Did they watch it?  And even if they did watch it, did they like it enough to care about the release of Bandersnatch?

Is it just me or does anyone else have a hard time keeping track of their friends?  Surely, I can’t be the only one.  Others must have forgotten who they told what to.  Must have repeated a story to someone because they forgot who they had already told.  Right?  I can’t be the only one, can I?

In any event, I think I’ve come up with a solution: a remembrance app that will help you sort out who knows what.  You could use this app to track which of your friends likes which shows or movies so you know who you can talk to about the latest episode.  Or you can use it just to keep track of the latest gossip and who you already told what to. If you play in a fantasy league you could use it to track your trade negotiations with teams so that you can easily see which of their players you like and which of your players they like and so on, making it much easier to pull the trigger on a deal when it comes time to negotiate.  You could even use it keep track of what you talked about with your dates if you happen to be juggling several relationships.

Since this information would be extremely helpful to everyone, not just to you, we could make it publicly available, linking it to your various social media profiles, so that others can see your interests and find out what you would be interested in talking about with them.  More than just helping us remember, this app could also help us learn new things about one another, making it easier to form new connections.

While you ponder that I’m going to head out and start watching Bandersnatch for the first time.  Wish me luck.  And if you don’t mind, kindly remind me if you watch Black Mirror too.

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Is Bandersnatch the Greatest Idea Ever?

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