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COVID-19 is changing the world. And in many ways, these changes will be significant and lasting. Many of the changes to daily life we are seeing now are precautionary, reactive, and temporary. Businesses are shutdown and we are all working from home as a measure to slow down the velocity of the spread of the virus. But what are the tools that are being used to either facilitate those changes or aid us in making those changes smoother to adopt? …


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Photo by Claudio Schwarz

Products I stuck with for a decade or more.

Many things last a decade — buildings, cars, companies, watches, people, etc — and there are many things that you may use within a ten year period.

But how many things are there in your life that you can confidently say you’ve used regularly and consistently throughout a full decade?

When looking back at the last ten years, I really thought about what I was using actively in 2010 that I am still using today in 2020. In that time, I’ve moved six times, to three different countries, so that meant I’ve had to let many things go or replaced them. Not even my lifestyle has remained that static over that time period which dictated the purchase of and use of many items. There were many “types” of things that I used that were fairly consistent like iPhones and MacBooks, but they weren’t the same single object for the whole decade. Therefore the platform remained in constant use for ten years but the devices themselves shifted, so those don’t count. Also, I possess items that remain in my possession for that ten year period but were not actively being used, like books and art, so those don’t count either. Utilities and necessities for life like cars, washing machines, chairs and passports shouldn’t count either. Nor I believe should information platforms and social networks like Twitter be included as they can be used in a more passive nature as opposed to a product that requires a more active role. Fashion trends change, headphones die, bags get stolen, TVs and game consoles get upgraded, even my kitchen equipment has gone through at least 3 total overhauls… so I truly struggled at first to build a list that reached ten things. “Thing” is rather loosely defined as you will see, and is not limited to the physical world. In fact, nearly everything on the list is some kind of service or software. Ten years is an especially long time in the digital world, so the entries present really say something about design and function as major ingredients in their staying power. How many services and products that you loved were created and already died within the last ten years? …


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In recent months, there have been more and more stories addressing the emerging technologies and potential benefits of driverless vehicles. The main application, and expectation of the public as of now, is private vehicles and ride hailing services. The target widens to commercial and public transport vehicles as the scope of this future is realized. Yet, we hear next to nothing regarding the future of a very vital role land vehicles play in modern society: the use of emergency response vehicles, and private vehicles, in medical emergencies.

Last year, as part of a paper by students at Cornell University, the ethical ramifications of self-driving cars (which we will refer to AVs, short for “autonomous vehicles,” from this point on) started a conversation. …


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If ancient monoliths exist on every planet, you have “discovered” nothing.

I’ve put about 30+ hours into NMS, which I think is enough time to make a fair judgement about any videogame, and I can unequivocally say that I’m having a great time. But I think I need to explain why.

Now, before I get into I’m not going to take part in the “he said this and promised that” cacophony that’s currently dominating the discussion, nor will I discuss the apparent bugginess of the experience (although I have personally not run into any glitches or issues apart from one crash, and really, what game in recent memory, AAA or indie, has NOT launched with issues?), …


You’re not a spy, why should you worry about the capabilities of the NSA?

Alright, so maybe I became a little paranoid (read: a little more paranoid) after watching the excellent and insightful documentary CitizenFour about the Edward Snowden leaks and the NSA secret programs but it got me thinking about taking tighter control on my own privacy. Now, most people think about this subject and how it relates to them in the wrong way: “Well I’ve got nothing to hide” is an argument you’d often hear from supporters of omnipresent surveillance or agnostics on the subject of privacy in the digital age. The point is that everyone has secrets and/or something to keep from others, but that’s ok! “Secrets” or securing one’s right to privacy doesn’t necessarily mean you are up to something nefarious or criminal. Your passwords to your bank accounts are technically “secrets” that you don’t want made public or left in the hands of others without your permission. Information you share with colleagues in the workplace that may be important to your work’s success is technically “secret” when it needs to be. Intimate interactions between yourself and someone you love are obviously something you wish to only keep between yourselves. …


2014 was a roller coaster year that has hinted at some trends that will continue to emerge into this new year. Here are some of my predictions, related mostly to tech, for this year. And just so you don’t skip the good stuff (or the ugly stuff) I will mix up the list and state at the beginning where I would classify the prediction.

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A World Cyber War

UGLY (Likelihood: 2/5) As of writing we’ve seen some pretty unbelievable hacks in the past 12 months. Talking in particular about the Sony Pictures hack that left the company temporarily crippled, exposed 100s of private memos showing inside tactics and personal views of the movie industry and left executives to make decisions never considered before such as bowing down to cyber-terrorism or standing up against it. Much more recently however we saw, in accordance or response to the Charlie Hebdo attacks, more that 19,000 French websites were hacked and branded with pro-ISIS propaganda and US CENTCOM’s twitter page also being hacked to display ISIS strength online. Up until now most of the hacks we’ve seen online have been to gain access to financial and personal data for financial gain or trolls with axes to grind or too much free time more than pushing acts of terror. But now we are seeing true attacks to cripple targets and push political or ideological agendas of one party against another. This is just the beginning. …


So to accurately recognize what it is that changed our lives it needs to be assessed with an objective lens based on its results. So here is the list of things that have made an impact on my life and its future, and hopefully will inspire you to make meaningful changes in yours in 2015.

Getting Some Headspace

I’ve been dabbling with meditation for a couple years now but never really stuck with it until this past year, thanks mainly to the superb app and program known as Headspace. Its definitely not new, in fact, it first appeared on my phone some years ago but the quality wasn’t to the standard that it is now and that may have detracted from its potential value and subsequently my interest in using it. But once I truly committed myself to getting through the initial program I started to really see what all the meditation fuss was about. Now, I can truly tell the difference between a day where I have meditated versus a day that I haven’t. I feel more at ease, more inspired, more motivated, more energy and more patient with people around me. The longer stretches I go without breaking a meditation streak I feel like I’m reaching the better potential within me. One thing that Headspace does very well is removing the religion and mysticism from meditation that seems to be attached to the practice and instead shows how it is a tool to help just about anyone better tackle daily life and their thoughts while navigating through the modern world. Through a series of helpful animations that better visualize what might be happening in your head and a down to earth, no BS guided program, Headspace truly leads you into life of clearer, better thinking. …


Defining what we expect our technology to be may help set the path for future consumer devices.

I think its safe to say that 2014 is turning into a hallmark year for wearable devices and a true push from major players into the mainstream space. In particular with the heavyweight lifestyle tech contenders, Apple and Google, finally throwing their hats into the ring in the form of “smart” wristwear. They certainly weren’t the first and the market is absolutely set to explode with a total saturation of gadgets to cover your body with. …


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The Internet of Things has a Communication Problem.

Your smart devices are not smart. They are simply connected. And yet, they can’t even really connect to one another.

What most gadget makers are calling “smart devices” these days are simply existing products with radio chips coupled with phone app and an open API. Generally, they come boxed with a hub unit, a way for these products to then gain access to the web and then be controlled by you through your phone, prompts, preset conditions or through triggers ala IFTTT fashion. But this system is inefficient, buggy and segregates devices from interacting more effectively with one another. Since many products connect with different protocols and radio frequencies using a hub and sending information via the internet is the only way for products of different origin to interact with each other. …


The Scary Implications of Creating ‘Alien’ DNA

If you follow tech and science news by now you’ve seen the headline “Alien DNA” referring to the genetic breakthrough of creating life with six DNA letters or nucleotides instead of the natural four. In Biology 101 we learn that building blocks of all living things on Earth consist of the letters C, T, G and A however the seemingly impossible has been achieved by Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, California by creating a life form that also includes the letters X and Y in its genetic structure. Having this extra information opens a door to a whole host of possibilities for creating proteins non-existant in the natural world that could lead to new therapies and disease prevention. At the moment, the processing of creating this new type of DNA is fairly difficult and costly with a number of complications to solve. …

About

Alex Cahiz

Digital Nomad. Futurist. Tech Ethicist. | Thoughts on how how tech disrupts life and finding purpose in this weird world. | http://alexcahiz.com

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