Human OS: If biohacking is the future, isn't supporting proprietary platforms crazy?
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Human OS: If biohacking is the future, isn’t supporting proprietary platforms crazy?



Technology is already being put to good use in healthcare, and with new developments come new opportunities. Beyond ‘regular’ medical applications though, technology has always promised that one day, it’ll make our feeble (amazing) human bodies even better. Stronger, faster, more-er.

It’s hardly a new idea – we’ve been hacking genes pretty successfully since the mid-90s and science fiction has often presented (usually terrifying) visions of humans merging with technology.

It’s not just science fiction though. In 2012, bioengineers at Harvard created what was essentially the first cyborg tissue – flesh interwoven with nanowires and transistors. Before that, in 2009, researchers at the University of Pennsylvania successfully designed a flexible electronics circuit that could be implanted into a body and ultimately dissolve.

All of that is to say, technology being integrated into humans isn’t going away, and biohacking will become more commonplace as technology continues to get smaller, cheaper and more advanced – unless there’s the political or ethical kickback to stop it.

But then, the ethics of ‘cyborgs’ was being discussed before the technology had developed enough to make it really relevant, and isn’t something we’re about to tackle here.

What’s my problem?

Essentially, I’m worried about your phone, and your laptop, and your watch – and every other connected device you’ve got in your house. I’m worried about mine too. More than those devices though, I’m worried about our persistent choices to go for the closed-off, locked-down proprietary answers.

I’m worried because as users we consistently reject the notion of open source for the biggest items in our life. And perhaps that makes sense. If something is a premium item, you want it to work perfectly, you want that experience and convenience you’re paying for. You don’t want something perceived as ‘homebrew’.

And perhaps having hugely profitable companies build all our hardware and software, and provide all our services, does make sense, but the downside of it is that we’re now all far more reliant on three or four or five huge businesses every day of our lives. And when those services or devices don’t work, we’re utterly lost and unable to function in a professional if not metaphorical sense.

Transpose that reliance and the ‘digital feudalism’ approach of so many technologies to biohacking and our potential cyborg future and the situation will arise that you no longer have access or ability to do something with your own body because a subscription has lapsed.

Ok, I hear you, that may be taking it a bit far given our current progress but synthetic tissues, self-driving cars (and tractors) and AI sex robots were all just futuristic flights of fancy once, and now all of those things exist in one form or another.

Perhaps worrying about how we’re going to approach the ‘human OS’ is something that should be considered now, rather than later.

I'm a tech journalist and editor with lots of opinions. is a place for me to put those. All views expressed are personal, and not those of any titles for which I write in other capacities. As well as running this site, I also write for WIRED, Engadget, Trusted Reviews, and a number of other leading technology titles. I also run're welcome to contact me via [email protected] if you have news or anything else to pass along, on twitter at @10sectech or @TheNextWoodsTech startup founders that need media advice or PRs and brands that need content strategy advice should visit


How to restore the old @ Twitter replies on Windows and Mac



Twitter always come under a lot of pressure from users for changes to its UI. This week, the humble @ reply was changed to streamline conversations and encourage more replies.

The changes, however, aren’t welcomed by many Twitter users:

And it’s not just working out what’s a reply and what’s not, it’s also damaging to brands.

How to get back the old Twitter UI

Thankfully, changing back to the old way of viewing tweets isn’t difficult, you just need to download Tweeten for Mac or Windows. If you’d rather not install the desktop software, you can use the Chrome or Microsoft Edge browser plugins instead.

To enable the old style @ replies, or put back the ‘favorite’ rather than ‘like’ button, you need to right-click anywhere within the app. On the Windows version tested, navigating to the ‘Settings’ in the lower-left corner of the app doesn’t bring up the correct options, which is a little confusing. However, right clicking and hitting Settings will bring up the correct panel.

You can see the difference between the new and old style replies shown within Tweeten below.

The candid update note delivered to existing Tweeten users was also appreciated.

 – Tweeten

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A really handy free tool for your tech-confused relatives (or maybe even you?)



Do you know your JigaPNGs from your TetraLols? Is a RibbiBit something I just made up? Did I make all of them up?

Of course I did, but you might not know that if tech is your foe, rather than your friend, and that’s where the ‘Sideways Dictionary‘ comes in. If you don’t know your ransomware from a trojan, or are baffled by bitcoin, the potential tech holds is more confusing than empowering and the headlines you read make less and less sense.

Now, when you find yourself discombobulated all you need to do is go to Sideways, and see what the term that’s confusing you really means – unlike a normal Wikipedia-style definition or dictionary entry, however, the site uses analogies rather than descriptions to get the point across. So, adblocking, for example, is ‘like auto-skipping the ads on recorded TV. The ads fund the programs, but if people can find a way to avoid watching them, they usually do,” in one ‘definition’.

There are multiple analogies per term, and you can submit your own if you register and login. Likewise, you can vote on your favorite analogies to see them rise up the page. And if you don’t want to keep visiting the site directly, you can install a Sideways Dictionary Chrome plugin that will indicate any terms that can be defined as you browse around the Web.

While it sounds simple, the tool is actually the work of Alphabet-incubated JigSaw and the Washington Post – whether or not user submissions will be vetted closely enough to keep all the analogies of a good enough quality to be useful remains to be seen.

For now, it’s a useful place to get a simple explanation to send to your perennially-confused family and friends.

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Monzo outage is perfect example of why you should choose services based on how they deal with problems



Monzo is a bit of a darling of the fintech scene at the moment, but it’s by no means alone in trying to ‘redefine’ banking for a digital, mobile-first experience.

What that means is that there are many different companies all offering similar and comparable services, that are all suitable for slightly different users, depending on the features you need. However, an outage at the weekend served as a useful reminder that choosing a company or services based on how well it communicates and deals with its problems should come near the top of your list of considerations.

Due to a failure in an upstream provider, a handful of UK fintech upstarts left customers stranded without the ability to make payments in shops. Or, most users would have been stranded if Monzo, Revolut, Loot and other affected services hadn’t been quick to inform users of the problems as they occurred.

Monzo particularly, however, did a great job of keeping its users up to date via in-app notifications, its Twitter feed and a dedicated status page on its site. Multiple updates kept users informed of the problem and an estimated fix time, while of course reminding people to carry another card with them while the problem was ongoing.

Of course, there were always going to be a few unlucky people caught out by the problem – if you were at the till trying to pay as it occurred, there wouldn’t have been an explanation in place, for example – but transparency and reliable communication is highly-valued by users, particularly when it comes to any sort of financial services.

So while I don’t have a Monzo (or any other fintech challenger) account, when the need arises, I know where I’ll be looking first, and it almost certainly won’t be one found on a high-street.


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