Big Data

Welcome to the new internet | Muneeb Ali | TEDxNewYork


We use the internet everyday, traveling from one website to the next, but most of us don’t know what happens to our data as we sign in and out of different sites. Blockstack Inc cofounder Muneeb Ali introduces his new web browser, which eliminates the middlemen and puts the power of the web back into our own hands.

Muneeb Ali is a computer scientist building a fairer internet with new ways for users to own their own data. He is the cofounder of the open-source software start-up Blockstack Inc.

January 15, 2017 / by / in , , , , , , , , , ,
One Startup’s Vision to Reinvent the Web for Better Privacy


Blockstack’s system would let you control your own personal data—for example, by revoking a site’s access to it.


Venture capitalist Albert Wenger has done well by investing in Web businesses—he was an early backer of Etsy and Tumblr. But at his urging, Union Square Ventures, where he is a partner, is backing a company founded on the principle that the Web needs a rethink.

“We’re living in a time period where the new incumbents like Amazon, Google, and Facebook have firmly established themselves, and are near monopolists in their markets,” says Wenger. “If we want a long-term, open playing field for innovation, we’re going to need new, decentralized infrastructure.”

Blockstack received $4 million in funding from USV and others this month to try to establish that more open playing field. The startup is working on open-source software that will create a kind of parallel universe to the Web we know—one where users have more control of their data.

Later this year, Blockstack will release software that lets you surf sites and apps created for this new digital domain using your existing Web browser. You will still be able to load sites by clicking links or typing Web addresses, perhaps to find places to chat with friends or go shopping. But instead of needing to create accounts with each site, as people do with Google or Facebook, users of sites built on Blockstack’s system will control their own digital identity (or identities). To use a site that needs your information, you will grant access to a profile under your control alone. If you want to stop using a service, you can revoke its access to your profile and data and take it elsewhere. Sites will run all their code on your computer, in the browser.

“We’re trying to turn the existing model on its head,” says Ryan Shea, CEO and cofounder of Blockstack. “You can try to work with the existing model from within, but sometimes it’s easier to step outside of it and build something new from a clean slate.”

Blockstack’s vision is made possible by an identity system built to be independent of any one company, including the startup itself. It uses the digital ledger, or blockchain, underpinning the digital currency Bitcoin to track usernames and associated encryption keys that allow a person to control his or her data and identity. A collective of thousands of computers around the globe maintains the blockchain, and no one entity controls it.

Blockstack’s system uses the blockchain to record domain names, too, meaning there’s no need for an equivalent to ICANN, the body that oversees Web domains today. Software built on top of the name and ID systems gives people control over the data they let online services use. Microsoft is already collaborating with Blockstack to explore uses for its platform.

Blockstack’s tweaks on how the Web functions may seem abstruse. But Shea argues that low-level features of the Web’s design, like the lack of a built-in, independent identity system, are at the root of problems such as the dominance of large companies and the latitude they have to make use of user data. He says that companies will still be able to seek profits on the new platform, but power will be tilted more in favor of users.

The Web’s creator, Tim Berners-Lee, has lately made similar claims. In recent years he has urged technologists to “re-decentralize” the Web to better serve users and society. Berners-Lee registered the username via Blockstack’s platform last summer, and he is working on his own decentralized Web project, called SOLID, at MIT.

The dream of a new kind of online sphere faces some significant obstacles, though. For example, Bitcoin’s current design has proved to lack the capacity needed for a widely used currency (or online platform)—and it’s not clear how to build similar, fully decentralized systems that do, says Emin Gun Sirer, an associate professor at Cornell University.

Decentralized systems might also struggle to resolve disputes over things like copyright claims on domain names, which are solved relatively easily by a central authority, he says.

Brewster Kahle, founder of the Internet Archive, which hosted the first major conference on decentralizing the Web last summer, is optimistic that such challenges will be worked through.

Questions about privacy and the power of large companies are motivating more and more people to think seriously about alternatives to the status quo, he says. “So many of us now depend on the Web, but it is a 20-year-old technology that is showing its age.” [MIT Technology Review]

January 15, 2017 / by / in , , , , , , , , ,
The Mobile Trends Set to Make An Impact in 2017


Trend prediction isn’t that easy. Everyone does it at the end of a year (along with the slew of look-back and best-of posts), and usually the lists are kept generic enough to mostly be right 12 months later. (Hey, just being honest.)

We’re going to try and do 2017 mobile trends in this post, and there’s a chance we’ll hit on a few of them — but look at 2016. Would anyone in December 2015 have predicted the success of Pokemon Go, or how quickly it would spur mobile marketers to consider augmented reality options? AR headset shipments are now expected to reach 15M by 2020, and that number might be significantly lower if an app game hadn’t exploded the way it did. Most people had probably last thought of Pokemon in the late 1990s, so trendspotting largely missed that one. And now, caveats in place: 2017 mobile trends.


Games, Games, Games

The mobile app market is going to grow to $189 billion by 2020, which is a 270% growth rate. Games will account for 55% of that industry total. (Interestingly, venture capitalists are now encouraging startup founders to think in terms of Legos, so we might be in the middle of a revolution centered around supposedly childish things.) In-app advertising is outpacing app stores, and will continue to do so; it’s supposed to account for 62 percent of all app revenue by 2020. Addictive games with upgrade options will drive most of this revenue stream, and you’ll increasingly see this in-app this year.


The Rise of Omnichannel

This is an interesting space. 78 percent of consumers are willing to allow retailers to use information from in-store purchases for a more customized experience. That’s good news for mobile marketers, right? Right. But: while 83 percent of marketers list data-driven decision-making as crucial, only 10 percent believe their organization is good at it yet. We’ve been discussing “big data” for years now, and one facet of 2017 mobile trends to watch might be this: marketers will increasingly understand that you don’t necessarily need “big” (read: a lot) data, you need the right data. As they organize processes around that idea, their mobile marketing insights will become more effective. 53 percent of consumers want to be recognized as the same person across all shopping channels, so ideally, better insights will lead to better omnichannel campaigns.


More and More Geofencing

You’ve probably heard about geofencing by now. If you haven’t, you will by the end (beginning?) of 2017. (Especially if you continue to read this blog.) Because your phone has your location info (unless you opt out of that feature), businesses can set up geofences and target messages to you when you enter or exit a specific area. This has become very popular at trade shows (while there, you might only see ads for 1 or 2 vendors) and in retail. If you enter a geofenced store, you may receive different in-app offers than you would accessing the app from home or another location. Geofencing has become essential to most mobile and experience-driven marketers over the last few years; that will only continue in 2017.



The San Francisco 49ers used geofencing to drive engagement during games in 2016.


Mobile-Only Social

This has been on the rise for years, but in 2016, the hottest social network was likely Snapchat (mobile-only). Facebook’s biggest product rollout was likely FB Live (mobile-only). Instagram (mobile-only) has become a cash cow for Facebook. There are expected to be over 6.2 billion mobile devices on the planet by 2020; as more and more people come online via mobile, social networks rooted on mobile will continue to grow.


You can argue this was a 2016 trend, and we addressed chatbots often this year. Their use will only continue to grow, however: 80 percent of businesses want chatbots by 2020.


Better App Strategy

There are some head-spinners every year, usually around companies creating an app when they have no real reason to create that app. Ideally, some of the above — better targeting, better data, better insights, more consistent appreciation of who the customer is regardless of device — will drive better strategic thinking for all of us in the mobile marketing world. That’s what we wish everyone in 2017, at least!


January 11, 2017 / by / in , , , , , ,
Vocal Biomarkers: New Opportunities in Prevention


The line has a long tradition in literature and cinematography. Its earliest presence might be in the Tales of One Thousand and One Nights by storyteller Scheherezade. In one of her stories her voice reveals a princess dressed in male cloths to a dervish; and he uses this exact line to tell her, he knows he is in fact female.

It has been commonplace since ancient times to spot liars based on their voices. Secret services such as the FBI currently also uses speech patterns in determining the truth value of statements. In an interview with CNBC, former FBI negotiator, Chris Voss said, “only 7 per cent of a message is based on the words, while 38 per cent comes from the tone of voice and 55 per cent from the speaker’s body language and face”. In the television series Lie to Me! the main character played by Tim Roth solved countless crimes based on body language as well as through recognizing lies from the intonation and cadence of the bad guys.


Your Voice Reveals You - Vocal Biomarkers


According to the latest scientific studies, it is definitely not negative, if your voice betrays you. On the contrary! The characteristics of your voice – or as medicine labels them, vocal biomarkers – reveals a lot about your health; and help in detecting serious diseases and health risks.

The term “biomarker”, the shortened version of “biological marker” refers to medical signs, which indicate the medical state observed from outside the patient. So while patients sense symptoms, medical professionals measure biomarkers. Currently, they take into account all kinds of objective, quantifiable biomarkers ranging from biochemical, radiology markers to various health parameters. And as you could have guessed already, vocal biomarkers are medical signs deducted from the features of your voice.


Sound of Your Voice Helps Detect Diseases - Vocal BiomarkersVocal biomarkers have an amazing potential in reforming diagnostics through their accuracy, speed and cost-effectiveness.


They are able to detect some diseases earlier than an average check-up process; and an earlier diagnosis could essentially be the difference between life and death in relation to certain illnesses. It is an amazing area of medicine, and the field is buzzing. More and more start-ups are eager to join in: Beyond Verbal, Sonde Health or the Berlin-based Audio Profiling. The tech giant, IBM is teaming its Watson AI supercomputer with academic researchers to try to predict from speech patterns whether patients are likely to develop a psychotic disorder. Even the US Army got interested! In May, 2016 it launched a partnership with MIT researchers with the goal of developing an FDA-approved device to detect brain injury. But that’s not all!


Let me show you the potential areas where diagnosticians could use vocal biomarkers successfully!


Voice Analysis - Vocal Biomarkers


An Israeli company, Beyond Verbal deals with emotion analytics and provides voice analysis software. It has announced that its algorithms were successful in helping to detect the presence of coronary artery disease (CAD) in a group of patients.

The research was presented at the American Heart Association Scientific Sessions in New Orleans, Louisiana in December 2016; carried out in cooperation with Mayo Clinic. It involved a double-blind study with 120 patients undergoing both an angiography and a voice analysis; and a group of controls. Beyond Verbal used a smartphone app to measure their voice signal prior to a coronary angiograph. One voice characteristic in particular indicated an almost 20-fold increase in the likelihood of CAD. Yuval Mor, CEO of Beyond Verbal said that these vocal features are not audible by the human ear alone.

Now, imagine all the implications of the research! Imagine how easy it would be if medical professionals could identify patients with CAD over a phone call! There would be no need to go to the doctors’ office, wait for hours for costly examinations and days for the results.


CAD identification over phone call - Vocal Biomarkers


Sonde Health Inc., a Boston-based company develops a voice-based technology platform for monitoring and diagnosing mental and physical medical conditions, with the help of a technology licensed from the MIT Lincoln Laboratory. Researchers designed the technology to enable analysis of brief voice samples to screen and monitor for a range of mental and physical medical concerns based on subtle changes in acoustic characteristics of the speaker’s voice.

“The ability to help recognize early signs of psychiatric illness and monitor treatment responses on devices that people already own is an important step in moving from reactive to preventive care,” said Aimee Danielson, Ph.D., Director, Women’s Mental Health Program at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital. “This would be particularly useful in conditions that are chronically underdiagnosed, like perinatal mood and anxiety disorders, including postpartum depression.”

Another Boston-based company, Cogito, is developing a voice analysis app. The US Department of Veterans Affairs started to use it already to monitor the mood of service members. Its testing also started on patients with bipolar disorder and depression. It is amazing how they are able to detect depression in individuals based on a brief sample of spoken words! I hope the technology will be widely available soon.


Vocal Biomarkers


It is time-consuming, difficult and expensive to carry out standard medical tests for Parkinson’s disease. Scientists found though that the chronic illness affects limb movements as much as voice – and some of them started to develop a technology for easier diagnosing the illness. Through voice.

For proving the efficiency of the new diagnostic tool, a couple of researchers started the Parkinson’s Voice Initiative. It aims to record 10,000 voices across the world – to collect enough recordings to introduce the jaw-dropping technology on a wider scale.

This could enable some radical breakthroughs, because voice-based tests are as accurate as clinical tests, but additionally, medical professionals could administer them remotely, and patients can do the tests themselves. Also, they are high speed (take less than 30 seconds), and are ultra low cost. So, they are massively scalable. Amazing, isn’t it? Would you like to facilitate the great cause? You’ve got the chance to participate in their smartphone data-gathering or PVA Voice test, so do it!


Diagnosing Parkinson's Disease - Vocal Biomarkers


In 2016, Beyond Verbal announced the launch of Beyond mHealth Research Platform. It aims to collaborate with research institutes, hospitals, businesses, and universities to collectively search for unique markers in voice samples.

This is a fantastic idea since more data could lead to more accurate results and better solutions for patients. One of them might be the use of AI algorithms for analyzing billions of voice samples and suggesting a potential diagnosis. Beyond Verbal, which has gathered more than 2.5 million voice samples in 40 languages, wants to build such an algorithm with a virtual assistance. Thus, it encourages other institutions, researchers and others interested in collecting voice data through smart cars, the Internet of Things devices in smart homes or personal assistants like Siri and Alexa. It is a wonderful idea and I hope they will succeed!


Beyond Verbal - Vocal Biomarkers


It’s obvious that we need more research in the field of vocal biomarkers. We also need not to forget the ethical issues concerning the voice recordings. Although algorithms analyzing samples may not be interested in the content of the speech; nevertheless listening to someone talking to someone else over the phone and analyzing the vocal biomarkers in it, could constitute a serious breach of privacy. What should we do about that?

Well, regulators need to keep up with the development of the field of vocal biomarkers, and consider privacy issues before the sea of vocal analytics apps reach the market. [The Medical Futurist]

January 11, 2017 / by / in , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
The 10 Best Health Technology Innovations at CES 2017

For geeks and gadget-lovers the year does not usually start with the 1st January, but a couple of days later, when CES opens in Las Vegas. It is even more exciting this year, since the exhibition celebrates its 50th anniversary – so it is obviously bigger and better than ever before.

It’s almost impossible to collect and analyse every novelty appearing at the fair, and I’m certainly more interested in the coolest health sensors and trackers than the announcement of T-Mobile making customer bills much simpler (although that’s relevant, too), but there are some palpable trends. Here are the two most important.


CES 2017


  • Tech companies and start-ups jumped eagerly on the ‘smart’-train, so your phone’s sensor might actually tell you which strawberry is sweeter or what is hiding in your fridge, but I do not think that creating smart apps, gadgets or technology for the sake of data is enough. I believe that instead of the tech version of l’art pour l’art, companies and start-ups should rather strengthen behavioral change. So smart objects and apps do not only gather information about the users or the environment for the sake of data, but in order to (ultimately) achieve a better life.
  • Looking through the latest technologies presented at CES – I have to emphasize that not every product was introduced at the tech gathering, but they certainly get here the most attention -, I believe real innovation is missing. According to the most trending chart created by CES, one of the most used buzzword (next to spidermanhomecoming) was “upgrade”. It is obvious, isn’t it? Instead of impacting, long-lasting, real innovation, tech companies are mostly upgrading their already existing products. Which is also quite exciting and requires a lot of work, it just indicates more of a gradual than a disruptive process.

However, no matter how the big picture looks like, there are still truly inspiring and forward-looking innovations out there with great potential for medicine and healthcare.


Health Technology at CES 2017


No, apnoea is not an exotic snake type. It is actually a very dangerous health condition. It means that breathing stops periodically during sleeping. Apnoea might generate hypertension, heart disease, brain attacks, diabetes or somnolence. Neogia offers a smart solution for recognizing the problem and normalizing sleep. Its wearable, MOTIO HW detects sleep apnoea and improves sleeping quality via a personalized artificial intelligence that learns about the user.


Neogia - CES 2017


If you have a small child, you know how difficult it is to measure the sweet little baby’s temperature. There are always some movements, plush animals or bodily fluids involved. Now, the struggle is over. TempTraq offers a patch-like smart device, which monitors body temperature 24/7. It continuously senses, records, and sends temperature data to mobile devices so caregivers can keep track without unnecessarily disturbing the child. It is amazing due to its double effect: it will calm the mom down, while letting the baby sleep.


TempTraq - CES 2017


QardioCore promises a discreet as well as easily usable hearth monitor without patches and wires. The FDA-approved, medical-grade wearable uses sensors to record clinically accurate continuous ECG, heart rate, heart rate variability, respiratory rate, skin temperature, and activity data, which can be shared with medical professionals or synced to the free Qardio app or Apple’s Health app on iPhone or iPad. It was first introduced at CES 2015, and the first batch of these smart and tiny chest straps will be shipped to their lucky users as early as April 2017.


QardioCore - CES 2017


What if reaching 10 thousand steps a day is actually great for your annoying co-worker, Nathan, but bad for your health? Every single person has a different body in need of a personalized fitness plan and health solution. And Mio Slice wants to take that into account. At first sight, it looks and acts like a fitness tracker. It measures steps, calories burned, distance, all day heart rate and sleep. However, it adds to it its very own Personal Activity Intelligence (PAI) index. PAI provides you with a personalised target score which reflects your body’s response to physical activity based on heart rate. It can reform the market of fitness trackers!



If you’ve ever been to any of the invisible exhibition series, you already got a limited impression how difficult it is to navigate through the world if you cannot see your surroundings. Aira is eager to help everyone who has problems with vision. Using a pair of smart glasses or a phone camera, the system allows an Aira “agent” to see what the blind person sees in real-time, and then talk them through whatever situation they’re in. It would be a bit easier crossing a busy street, shopping for dinner or finding the light switch. You could even help the company by becoming their agent! Stunning technology!


AIRA Glasses - CES 2017


Expecting a baby comes with a lot of worries and stress. Is the little one healthy? Safe? Am I doing okay? Is my wife or girlfriend doing okay? Bloomlife wants to help every concerned parent-to-be out there. They developed a “pregnancy wearable”, a patch with a small device that sticks to the baby bump and measures contractions by reading the electrical activity of uterine muscle. It sends the information to your smart phone and lets you read and interpret the data. This way, you can make a difference between false alarms such as Braxton Hicks contractions and the real thing. Also, one of the most awesome idea of the start-up is that you do not need to buy the wearable. Since it is useful for you only for a limited time, the company is leasing the product instead of selling it. Great marketing, guys!


Bloomlife - CES 2017


Okay, if you dread to think of panpipe music, this app will not work for you, but in most cases 2breathe’s sleep inducer has a pretty good success rate. It combines a Bluetooth sensor, a smartphone app and some soothing panpipe melodies. The wearable around your waist analyses your breathing patterns, and then your phone gives out guidance in the form of smooth, lilting melodic tones to prolong exhalation and reduce brain activity, thus making you sleepy. It’s pretty easy. And believe me, you do not have to count sheep anymore before falling into a sweet dream.


2breathe - CES 2017


Do you find fitness trackers and wearables too big, too visible, too uncomfortable and never matching your outfit? For a long time, companies and start-ups are experimenting with the idea of stuffing all their features into a tiny ring. Now, I believe Motiv succeeded. Its ring acts like a fitness tracker – with step counter, heart rate monitor or sleep tracker. It also withstands the elements – so you can wear it during swimming as well as on the North Pole. The ring is elegant, stylish and tasteful.


MOTIV fitness ring - CES 2017


Your facial skin is one of the best indicator of your health due to its sensitivity. It responds to your mood, stress level and changes in the environment. Thus, it needs your peculiar attention. S-Skin wants to help you achieving it. It is made up of a microneedle patch and a portable device that can help analyse your skin, give you solutions and even suggest products that you’ll be able to use. Through the LED light, it can measure your skin’s dryness, hydration, redness, or melanin and then save the information on the app so you can track its changes.

Bodytrak is a unique wearable and vital signs meter. It measures biometric information from your ear. It is not well-known that the ear is actually a great spot for measurement, but I believe when the hype around the wrist will calm down, start-ups and tech companies will find the ear irresistible for their innovations. Although by that time, Bodytrak will be way before them. Its device measures body temperature, heart rate, VO2, speed, distance and cadence – continuously – and all in real-time. Moreover, since it fits nicely into your ear, you can listen to music and make telephone calls as well. What a win-win situation!


Bodytrak - CES 2017


So, these were this year’s hits. And what about the flops?…

Don’t be surprised if you see bearded hipsters in bird-shirts with Starbucks pumpkin spice lattes brushing their hair elegantly at the metro station. The smart hairbrush is here eagerly claiming its place in the universe of smart devices. L’Oreal teamed up with Withings to create the dream of bored princesses: the smart hairbrush. It is able to tell you whether you are brushing your hair too hard causing irreparable hair damage. Wow! What an indispensable piece of information! Sounds the Kérastase Hair Coach will rock your world…


Smart Hairbrush - CES 2017


Wait, what? Yes, you read it correctly. ReNu apparently offers a stress management kit with all kinds of stuff in it. At first, you are supposed to use some sort of supplements in the form of a cream or chewable nutrients (???) that the company says are “all-natural amino acids”. Then you need to take on the headset and place a couple of small patches behind your ears. These patches are apparently going to absorb the nutrients then. The stimulation is said to prepare the brain for the company’s proprietary software, which is delivered in the form of binaural audio. Which sends calming vibes to your brain.


ReNU Stress Management - CES 2017


Umm, okay. Well, I’m not sure about you, but having read only the instruction and not even thinking about the scientific implications here makes me already pretty tense, just as assembling an IKEA furniture. Let’s just say diplomatically that I would give it a pass… [The Medical Futurist]


January 11, 2017 / by / in , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
The Technologies We’re Most Fired Up to Watch in 2017


Covering technology is exhilarating.

Each year is filled with unforeseen surprises—advances we thought were years away, unexpected technology applications (like AI used for mental healthcare), and unlikely startups reimagining entire markets.

These breakthroughs keep Singularity Hub’s team of tech-enthusiasts on our toes around the clock. Though we can’t forecast like famous futurist Ray Kurzweil, many of us have a favorite technology or two that we constantly track.

Moving into the new year, these are some of the technologies we’ll be eagerly watching in 2017 and beyond.


Artificial Intelligence

“AI really made headlines this year. AlphaGo was on the tongue, OpenAI got a billion dollars to develop ethical AI, and toddlers talked to Google Home and Amazon Echo. (This generation won’t remember when they couldn’t converse with computers.) The first two developments are fascinating, but the third may be more immediately relevant. The idea of X product + AI will get legs next year—but it’s the surprises I’m most looking forward to.”

–Jason Dorrier, Managing Editor



“Cybersecurity means a lot of things to a lot of people, and often one person’s definition is at total odds with another’s. For me, I long for the type of unbeatable encryption promised by quantum computing, because quantum computing is going to make today’s encryption worthless. It’s something of a sinister race between computing power, encryption, and political motives. Meanwhile, billions of smart gadgets are coming online, and most of us already conduct our daily lives by digital means. With governments demanding access to digital devices and histories, I fear loss of citizen privacy, but still have faith in the democratization of cybersecurity.”

–Matthew Straub, Digital Engagement Manager (the voice behind Singularity Hub’s social media)


Decentralized Peer-to-Peer Networks

“I’m most excited about the future of decentralized peer-to-peer (p2p) networks. As we’ve seen with the sharing economy, it may be all too easy for a small startup to siphon the wealth of a local community sharing resources amongst themselves. We can use technologies like blockchain, cryptocurrencies and BitTorrent to redefine value by integrating blockchain-based democratic decision making, decentralized peer-run organizations, and organizational principles from platform cooperativism. Ultimately, as this trend continues, we’ll have an opportunity to regenerate local economies with the resources already available instead of extracting value where there isn’t much to begin with.”

–Andrew O’Keefe, Media Producer


Technology-Aided Learning

“Over the last few years there have been great cases of technology used to enhance classroom learning, like VR experiences that take students inside the bloodstream or into Darwin’s lab to assemble a skeleton. This year, Zuckerberg Education Ventures invested in Volley, an AI learning assistant for students. The application provides students links to additional resources and highlights critical information when a user points their smartphone’s camera at a homework assignment or textbook page. In 2017, I’ll be watching for a new wave of AI applications focused on improving classroom learning for students with unique learning needs by providing resources like customized learning plans and personalized evaluations. Volley talks about ‘engineering for knowledge,’ and I’m hoping to see a lot more of this in the coming year.”

–Alison E. Berman, Staff Writer


Global High-Speed Internet:

“In November, SpaceX submitted an application to the FCC to launch over 4,000 satellites into space to envelop Earth in high-speed internet, providing connectivity to even the most remote areas of the planet. If approved, SpaceX’s plan will pose serious competition to Google’s Project Loon, which has the same mission. Besides seeing which method has more success, it will be exciting to watch the effects of increased connectivity on the global population, particularly in developing nations that have yet to solve larger challenges related to education, healthcare, and access to natural resources.”

–Vanessa Bates Ramirez, Associate Editor


Personal Synthetic Biology Lab

“I have a fantasy that one day in the future, I will be able to design, create and grow different types of biological products at home — anything from perfumes and medicine to cool materials like mushroom leather. The day when anyone can have an easy-to-use biological manufacturing facility at home is still a ways off, but the first step to that future is having something like the Amino Lab to learn bioengineering and start small, like making bacteria that grows.”

–Sveta McShane, Production Manager


Machine Learning and Autonomous Vehicles

In 2017, we will truly begin to see the coming disruption self-driving vehicles will have on our society and future. Open source machine learning agents, more advanced algorithms, and better hardware technologies are bringing this autonomous reality closer. Tesla has already said vehicles now being produced have the hardware for level 5 autonomy capabilities (no need for steering wheel or brakes). Down the road, when the algorithm is ready, Tesla may make these cars autonomous with a software update.

–Kirk Nankivell, Web Production Editor

Originally published in SingularityHub

January 11, 2017 / by / in , , , , , , , , , , , ,
You Can Now Wear a Nanoscale Archive of 1,000 Languages Around Your Neck


The future depends on how well we’ve preserved the past. Tomorrow’s breakthroughs are built from today’s innovation. To continue the trend, we must keep preserving information properly for future generations. If we leave indecipherable records, important knowledge is trapped in plain sight.

While we’ve made progress, the dream of completely preserving knowledge across generations escapes us still, and digital bits are particularly vulnerable. There’s no guarantee our digital tools will be available forever—even a century from now. And without them, much knowledge and culture will be inaccessible, left rusting away on impenetrable hard drives.

The Long Now Foundation focuses on this vision of long-term cultural preservation, and the preservation of language—a prime tool of culture—is central to their quest.

“Fifty to ninety percent of the world’s languages are predicted to disappear in the next century, many with little or no significant documentation,” according to Long Now. To save these languages, the foundation invented a rather ingenious solution.

rosetta_wearable_and_rosetta_v1_disk-1_300pxEmbedded in a sphere of steel and glass, the “Rosetta Disk” is a physical disk containing over 13,000 pages etched with information on over 1,500 different human languages. The disk itself is made of electroformed nickel, contains useful information down to the nanoscale, was built to withstand multiple generations, and only requires basic technology to read—a microscope.

That is, massive amounts of critical information stored away, no computer required.

According to the Long Now website, the disk “serves as a means to focus attention on the problem of digital obsolescence, and ways we might address that problem through creative archival storage methods.”

Depending on what the future holds, the Rosetta Disk may be the only chance for certain languages to survive beyond living members. But there’s only a few such disks.

So, the Long Now foundation decided to simplify, miniaturize, and distribute.

Now, anybody can own and wear the Rosetta Disk on a necklace. Shrunken down to a wearable size of two centimeters in diameter, the Rosetta Wearable Disk gives anyone the ability to wear the key to human language for future generations.



To make the disk wearable, the language selection was limited to around 1,000 from over 1,500. And the text included was simplified too. Chosen from freely available information to support open access, the final documents placed on the disk include:


rosetta_wearable_spiral_graphic_side_300pxAdhering to the principles of  “Lots of Copies Keep Stuff Safe,” the wearable Rosetta Disk has taken the first step towards preservation at scale for an archive of this magnitude. (And a copy of the full-size disk is currently sitting on a comet, deep in space.)

While the disk itself is a little pricey—a $1,000 lifetime membership donation to the Long Now—the value of the information and efforts behind it is immeasurable. For now, the wearable disk is only available as a limited numbered edition.

Over time, we’ll see how the project unfolds.

But you don’t need to own a disk to access the library. The archive is freely available online, including an interactive graphic for browsing.


January 11, 2017 / by / in , , , , , , , , , , ,
Overview of Data Mining and Predictive Modelling


Data Mining is about explaining the past and predicting the future by means of data analysis. Data mining is a multi-disciplinary field which combines statistics, machine learning, artificial intelligence and database technology. The value of data mining applications is often estimated to be very high. This video below gives an overview of Data Mining.

January 9, 2017 / by / in , , , , , , , , , ,
Visualisation of Deep Neural Networks

In this video Matthew Zeiler, PhD, Founder and CEO of Clarifai Inc talks about large convolutional neural networks. These networks have recently demonstrated impressive object recognition performance making real world applications possible.


Neural Network algorithms are capable to transform computers into artists that can generate breathtaking paintings, music and even poetry. Are you interested in neural networks and its application? Let us know in the comments how you plan to use this technology in your products.

January 9, 2017 / by / in , , , , , , , , ,
A Startup Guide to Developing a Digital Marketing Campaign (Infographic)

Having a strong online presence has become a necessity for businesses of all sizes.

Statistics show that more than half of consumers turn to the internet for information before making purchases:

  • Data reveals 67 percent of consumers are influenced by online reviews (Moz)
  • 54 percent of online buyers read online reviews before purchase. (Marketing Tech Blog)
  • More than half (54 percent) of online purchasers said they had read online reviews prior to hitting the buy button, while 39 percent of consumers who made purchases in-store did so, according to a study from customer ratings and review firm Bazaarvoice Inc. (Internet Retailer)

For startup owners who want to stand out from the rest, they must focus on how to be found online by those who are seeking what they are offering. It is essential for them to develop a digital marketing strategy that successfully promotes their brands and/or services online.

DashBurst member Arpit Singh shares helpful information for building a digital marketing strategy as a startup in his article and infographic, “How To Create A Digital Marketing Strategy.”

A Guide to Digital Marketing for A Startup

Singh Recommends the Following Steps as You Begin Creating your Digital Marketing Strategy:

  1. Use your starting position as a baseline to measure your overall progress against.
  2. Determine your startup’s goals; ensure these goals are specific, measurable and realistic.
  3. Identify your customers.
  4. Study your competitors.

The Next Steps Singh Provides Share How to Attract and Retain Clients through the Internet:

To start, it is important to set up a website for your startup if you haven’t already. Whether you hire someone to design and create your website or choose to build your own is up to you. However, it is often more cost-effective for a startup owner, especially one with a low budget, to build a website.

Fortunately, there are plenty of website builders to choose from. You can find an extensive list of website builders, along with detailed reviews, in a recent article on WebsiteSetup, which is a site for people struggling to set up their first websites.

Robert Mening, a website developer and designer, states that website builders are the perfect solution for individuals, small businesses or startup owners such as the following:

  • Small business owners
  • Writers
  • Musicians
  • Artists
  • Photographers
  • Wedding planners
  • And so on…

Once you have your website set up, you’re ready to take the next steps to develop your digital marketing strategy:

  1. Implement perfect SEO (Search Engine Optimization) by researching keywords and building links.
  2. Create relevant content and use content marketing to attract potential clients as well as satisfy Google for ranking purposes.
  3. Consider email marketing to share the content you have created on your website.
  4. Use social media marketing to boost your startup’s online presence and increase traffic to your website.

And finally:

  1. Analyze your results to determine where you are seeing success — and make changes in the areas where you are not.

The infographic below outlines the steps for developing a successful digital marketing strategy:


[Source: Small Business Trends]

January 5, 2017 / by / in , , , , , , , ,
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