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

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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.

[clickToTweet tweet=”You can only access the most recent 10 years on a free plan. Upgrade to restore Lifetime access” quote=”‘We’re sorry, you can only access the most recent 10 years of memories on a free plan, please upgrade to restore Lifetime memories.'”]

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. 10second.tech 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 SexTechGuide.com.

You’re welcome to contact me via [email protected] if you have news or anything else to pass along, on twitter at @10sectech or @TheNextWoods

Tech startup founders that need media advice or PRs and brands that need content strategy advice should visit benwoodsish.com.

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Kodak’s new Ektra smartphone doesn’t blow the competition away on paper, but that’s OK

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Kodak launched its first smartphone of 2016 today, and unsurprisingly it’s pitched directly at photographers. Sort of.

As much as the leatherette handset combined with a huge, protruding shutter cover leaves little doubt who the phone is aimed at, the camera tech itself is doesn’t blow established smartphone rivals out of the water. For £450 (it’s not available to pre-order yet, but you can register interest) you get a 21MP fast focus camera sensor with F2.0, phase-detection auto-focus (PDAF), optical image stabilisation (OIS) and dual LED flash. On the front, there’s a 13MP F2.2 PDAF selfie camera. Those certainly aren’t specs to sniff at, but they don’t blow the competition out of the water either.

Other hardware highlights include a 2.3GHz Decacore processor, 5-inch full HD display, 3GB RAM and 32GB of onboard storage. There’s also microSD expansion, as you’d expect on a phone made by a camera brand.

While the hardware is no slouch, it’s going to be the combination of novelty, price-point, camera specs and other value added through photographic tweaks – like an advanced manual mode, scene selection and a Super 8 Video Recorder.

With a sea of me-too smartphones, all performing comparably, Kodak’s Ektra might not win on paper, but it probably has enough appeal to attract buyers

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This was supposed to be a BlackBerry DTEK 50 phone review

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Here, right in this space, there was supposed to be a phone review of the BlackBerry DTEK50, but with whatever remaining respect is possible for the company, I’ve decided it’s just not worth the time. And, y’know, it’s my site, so…

Before all three remaining BlackBerry fans, and John Chen, lose their shit, I will state this: it’s not a bad phone. That’s pretty much irrelevant at this point though, because no-one is going to buy it. And even if they do, there won’t be any more from BlackBerry itself.

So how, in good conscience, could I recommend you buy a phone from a company that’s no longer making phones? Exactly. BlackBerry is going to focus on software instead – and let’s hope that’s not a plan based entirely on licensing BlackBerry 10, because if BlackBerry can’t make it work, not many other manufacturers are going to bother trying.

So, on the off-chance you are still considering buying the DTEK 50 – and I’d have to question why exactly – I’ll just tell you this again: it’s not a bad phone. It won’t blow you away, but it’s light, capable(ish) and comes with the few BlackBerry tweaks that do actually make some sense, like its integrated Hub for all your messaging.

The camera isn’t anything special by any means, but the display is a crisp, bright 5.2-inch 1080p panel. It really is one of the highlights of an otherwise pretty middling handset. Unfortunately, with such dazzling feature (singular) to praise, the less-than-desirable battery life and frequent ‘wtf is taking so long’ moments probably won’t fill you with joy overall.

It’s certainly not expensive, at around £270, but honestly, why bother? There are plenty of alternatives you could go for from big name brands, and higher spec alternatives from companies like OnePlus at similar price points.

It’s sad to say it, but if there didn’t seem to be a lot of point reviewing the phone, there probably isn’t a lot of point buying it either.  One last time though: it’s not a bad phone.

RIP, BlackBerry.

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If you drill a hole in your new iPhone 7 looking for a headphone jack then you’re a moron

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Look, sometimes you just have to call something how it is, and in this instance, drilling a hole in the bottom of your iPhone 7 because you saw a YouTube video telling you it would reveal a secret headphone jack makes you at least ‘pretty silly indeed’ if not a full-blown ‘moron’.

Sure, there could be loads of reasons someone believed the video – on a channel dedicated to DESTROYING TECHNOLOGY. Or perhaps all the people claiming to have tried it themselves after watching the videos are false.

You never really know on the Web, and that’s a lesson that anyone who has genuinely drilled a hole in their iPhone 7 just learned the hard way. But, you should know with something like this.

You really should.

Or maybe, just maybe, if the headphone socket was that important to you, buying an iPhone 7 was a dumb move.

Either way, there’s no sympathy here.

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