The Government Wants To Share Your Health Data. That’s Not A Terrible Idea.

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The Centers of Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) want to give you more access to your healthcare data. And they want to help third party companies get at it, too, according to an announcement earlier this month and a recent article from Stat News.

That might sound scary, especially since you’ve been hearing a lot about your data lately, in part thanks to Facebook’s Cambridge Analytica scandal. Especially because it’s your medical data, and what could be more personal than that?

But it’s actually not that bad an idea.

First, a little background. In your lifetime you’ve created a tremendously detailed cache of healthcare data. Checkups, dental procedures, medications, that one ER visit in college… all of this information is about your body and could be used to create a picture of your overall health.

There’s a catch: that data is stored in four different systems. And they don’t automatically share data with one another — your dentist’s office won’t send your records to your doctor’s office unless you ask. Lacking access to complete records increases the risk of unnecessary treatments and medical error.

In CMS’s vision, all that data would be available in a central location patients can access anywhere, anytime. The program, called MyHealthEData, would give care providers all that information so they could offer patients the best possible treatment, especially in emergencies.

The program goes one step further  it wants to hand this history over to third party companies as well. That could include medical researchers, health app creators, and pharmaceutical manufacturers. Sharing it could further medical research by providing scientists with data that is otherwise hard to access, leading to treatments that are more effective and better tailored to individual patients.

There are risks, of course. So much valuable data in one place is basically a bull’s eye for hackers. Government infrastructure has been the target of such attacks before, and they are likely to increase in the future.

One thing you at least don’t need to worry about? CMS intentionally sharing your data without your knowledge. Thanks, HIPAA (the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPPA) established a national standard of health data protection and security measures which ensure your records can’t be shared without your consent)!

The ultimate result may be a healthcare ecosystem in which medical professionals, your devices, and patients themselves are better connected. A physician who can see data from a patient’s smartwatch, for example, might be better able to see the signs of a heart attack before it happens.

That kind of system is still a ways off. But to get there, we’ll need to pay close attention to who has access to all our medical records, and especially how those records can be protected. If we do it right, our lives will be the better for it. And if we don’t, well, hackers will auction off our medical data to the highest bidder. The stakes are pretty high.

The post The Government Wants To Share Your Health Data. That’s Not A Terrible Idea. appeared first on Futurism.


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Guess What, Rich People: Meteor Showers on Demand Are a Terrible Idea

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To glimpse a meteor shower, sometimes you’ve got to wake up in the middle of the night, bundle up against frigid cold, and wait many minutes or hours. All to see a streak of light, a piece of space that crosses briefly into our world.

Soon, though, all you may need is enough cash.

A Japanese “space entertainment firm” called Astro Live Experiences (ALE) says it will launch its first satellite in 2019 to create artificial meteor showers on demand, for large events or at the whim of the wealthiest among us. Though ALE hasn’t named a specific price per event, BuzzFeed News suggests each ALE meteor shower will likely cost several million dollars.

According to CNN, ALE “meteors” will be small metallic pellets made of a proprietary composition that glows orange, blue, or green as they burn up in the atmosphere. Yet unlike ordinary meteors, which are usually around the size of a sand grain, ALE’s fake shooting stars will be substantially bigger — around two centimeters in diameter (smaller than a ping-pong ball, but slightly larger than a marble) — and released in a cloud.

Experts have raised concerns that this could threaten low-orbiting spacecraft.

“I salute them for cleverness and for their technical expertise, but from an orbital debris standpoint, it’s not a great idea,” University of Michigan astronomer Patrick Seitzer told BuzzFeed.

Moving at high speeds brought on by Earth’s gravity, a 2 centimeter-wide object is more than enough to shoot right through a metal spacecraft — and leave devastation in its wake.

ALE seems to be taking steps to ensure this would be an unlikely event. ALE’s satellite would likely orbit just below the International Space Station to avoid collisions; any pellet that ALE’s satellite releases will go from an altitude of 220 miles (354 km) to about 37 miles (59.5 km) above the surface before burning up. Rodenbaugh told BuzzFeed that only 40 other satellites orbit below 220 miles, and that the company would call off any event that would put their artificial meteors close to a tracked satellite.

Yet fake meteor showers could still impact spy satellites, which are not tracked and can dip as low as 158 miles; and low-earth orbit is slated to become a lot busier in the coming years, Seitzer mentioned to Buzzfeed,.

There are plans to ensure that, yes, low-earth orbit (that is, anything under 2,000 km (1,200 miles) from the Earth’s surface) will be a lot more crowded. SpaceX and other companies plan to send up a number of satellites to establish satellite-based internet services; SpaceX alone plans to put over 4,000 of them between 700 and 900 miles (1,100 and 1,400 kilometers). There are also the high-speed rockets and space planes that companies plan to fill with tourists, and low-altitude spacecraft that the military wants to use to deliver yet more satellites. Add thousands of falling metal pellets to the 500,000 pieces of man-made debris we already know circle our planet, and the risk for any of these spacecraft becomes significantly higher.

Call us purists, but artificially creating shooting stars overlooks what makes meteor showers so incredible in the first place: that you never know exactly when you’re going to see them. Paying for a manufactured one doesn’t exactly have the same thrill. (May we humbly suggest you instead use your considerable wealth to address the problem of light pollution so that more people could see natural shooting stars.) Creating a space hazard simply to provide a cheap imitation of a natural wonder seems to be missing the point.

The post Guess What, Rich People: Meteor Showers on Demand Are a Terrible Idea appeared first on Futurism.


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Counterclockwise: people liked the idea of tablets, actual tablets not so much

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Two days ago, the CEO of Epic Games, maker of the “most successful video game engine”, said that AR glasses will eventually replace smartphones. Now, he could be right (if ever society gets over “glasshole”), but we were reminded of claims that tablets would replace PCs. Whatever happened to tablets, anyway? First off, what is a tablet? There are no clear-cut definitions, but in our minds they are a continuation of PDAs. The communication capabilities of a PDA were focused on the Internet – email, web sites, corporate intranets, etc. – instead of calling and texting like a phone. The… – Latest articles

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​​Vodafone India, Idea announce new leadership team ahead of merger

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In March last year Vodafone India and Idea Cellular announced merger of both the companies, which was expected to close last year. Earlier this week the companies said that the management team of the combined business would be confirmed prior to closing, which is now expected to complete in the first half of the current calendar year. Today they have announced the leadership team of the combined business, which will come into effect after the merger has been completed. The existing leadership teams of Idea Cellular and Vodafone India will continue to manage their separate businesses and be accountable for each company’s operational performance until the merger becomes effective. It is only upon completion of the merger that the two businesses will cease to operate as distinct and competing entities. As announced last year, Kumar Mangalam Birla will be Non-Executive Chairman of the merged company. CEO will be Balesh Sharma (currently Chief Operating Officer of Vodafone India) who will be responsible for the combined business’s strategy and its execution as well as driving integration. The following positions will report to the CEO: CFO – Akshaya Moondra, currently Chief Financial Officer at Idea. COO – Ambrish Jain, currently Deputy Managing Director at Idea, will be responsible …
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Infinity War’s Thanos proves CGI supervillains are a terrible idea

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The final Infinity War trailer presents a terrifying, monumental threat to earth. Armies clash. Dead bodies are strewn about the screen. Music blares. Impressive percussion stirs up emotions. Lightning cracks. And at the center of it all is… Thanos! The terrifying universe-destroyer! Who, unfortunately, looks like a bald purple plastic mannequin with weird grooves in his chin to make up for the fact that he can’t grow a beard.

There’s no kind way to put it: Thanos isn’t impressive; he’s ridiculous. A villain named after death should look frightening, maybe with some sort of visual reference to death. Instead, Thanos comes across as an over-inflated cousin of Grimace from McDonald’s marketing. Except Grimace is actually kind of scary.


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Qarnot QC1: A radiator that mines for crypto. Hot idea, or hot air?

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The cryptocurrency market is heating up so much that you can now warm your house while mining for coins, thanks to a French startup called Qarnot.

The company has produced the QC1, which may be the first dedicated computer/heater designed for the domestic market, which means the Internet of Things is not only crunching data, but also heating your living room.

Qarnot describes the device as “the first heater actually generating crypto money”. So what’s behind this simple, but clever, idea?

The hot air problem

As anyone who owns a smartphone, tablet, laptop, or desktop machine knows, computers generate a lot of heat. The harder and faster they work, the more heat they give off, which is why data centres need lots of expensive cooling.

Cryptocurrency mining rigs – often assembled from high-end GPUs manufactured by companies like NVIDIA and AMD – give off a lot of heat too. This is why anecdotes have been circulating about students huddled for warmth around repurposed gaming hardware in their rooms, mining for Litecoin or Monero. (A vision that recalls miners of a different kind huddled around their braziers during the 1984 pits strike in the UK.)

Qarnot has designed a device that is intended to be both a heater and a computer, optimised for mining the cryptocurrency Ether. The QC1 is a stylish radiator that would complement any loft apartment, but instead of a traditional heating element, it contains two AMD GPUs – but no fans or moving parts.

Simply plug in the heater, add your Ethereum wallet to the mobile app, and as the heater warms your room you’ll gradually receive Ethers, says Qarnot. The QC1 is a Linux server, and so can be instructed to mine for Monero, Litecoin, or any other currency.

Banking on heat

According to TechCrunch, Qarnot has form in both the edge computing and heating spaces, which is where the idea gets smarter. The company has previously sold computer-heaters to construction companies. As sales grew, it effectively created an expanding, distributed data centre, which it rented out to the French financial sector, among other clients.

This meant that banking transactions were literally warming up building sites: proof that banks do sometimes give something back to the workers after all.

And because Qarnot still runs those businesses, it means it can farm out crypto processing to its decentralised data centres in the hot summer months, so QC1 owners aren’t melting in their homes.

On the face of it, therefore, the QC1 solves several problems: it mines for currency – taking the task away from other computers – it heats your home, and money just turns up in your virtual wallet.

But is it really that simple?

Internet of Business says

Make no mistake, this is a brilliant idea in many ways. Why waste all the heat that computers generate when it can be turned to good use? And why fill up your house with ugly mining rigs when you can leave a stylish device running in the corner of the room?

As the IoT spreads, both cryptocurrencies and edge computing devices may be critically important, especially when more and more services – from supply chains to banking services – are run on blockchain technology.

But as our in-depth, 2,800-word analysis of the challenges facing cryptocurrencies explains – along with our separate report on hardware giant NVIDIA – there is always a cost in the physical world. One is in heat emissions, processing time, and energy consumption, which Qarnot has been clever enough to turn to its advantage.

After all, this is the same reason that hackers are creating crypto-mining botnets: to offload the cost onto other people.

But another cost is more troublesome: money – the old-fashioned kind. As more and more people want to mine cryptocurrency and invest in the hardware to do it, the real-world cost of buying GPUs is going through the roof – along with all that heat – depriving other markets of critical stock.

Lots of complex, high-end processing tasks demand GPUs; entire industries and data centres run on them.

It’s the real reason that NVIDIA’s share price has tracked the growth curve of bitcoin market capitalisation over the past four years, as our earlier story revealed.

At present, the retail cost of one QC1 appliance is $ 3,600, which is a lot of real money for a heater, and a lot for a computer too – but of course, the company will accept payment in bitcoins. At the current real-world value of Ether, the company says that owners can expect to mine the equivalent of $ 120 a month using the device.

The maths reveal the awkward problem lurking beneath the cryptocurrency market: that’s not $ 120 of profit a month; it’s 30 months of heat before the device even pays for itself – not including any other costs it may incur. Or the cost to the environment of manufacturing and shipping the heater in the first place.

Internet of Business put this point to an accountant, who said: “Rounded up, my own electricity is 15p (21c) per kW and so the cost of the actual electricity would be £54 ($ 75) for a 30-day month. If we depreciate the ‘heater’ over three years, that’s £99 ($ 137) per month, plus £54.

“So with Ether at current rates, we’d be losing about £33 ($ 45) per month by my calculations. No wonder this is all being done through hacking or stolen electricity!”

But of course, the Ether market could go through the roof – hopefully even higher than the price of high-end GPUs.

But because of all this, Qarnot may have provided yet another useful service: by revealing some of the critical workings necessary to determine a fair value for any cryptocurrency.

As ever, the core questions are: what’s the cost per watt of mining? And what is any cryptocurrency backed by, other than depreciating computer hardware that needs to be manufactured where labour is cheap and shipped across the globe by fuel-guzzling freighters and aeroplanes?

In a blockchain powered world, the long-term answer may be almost utopian in its simplicity: cryptocurrencies may be backed by our data gold, and our consent.

But the fact that this is such a fuzzy, utopian answer suggests that the reality will be messier and more complex than that. Until then, maybe a better answer will turn up in your Ethereum wallet.

But at least you won’t have to put 50p in the meter to keep the heating on; it’ll cost you a lot more than that.

With thanks to Derek GC White.

The post Qarnot QC1: A radiator that mines for crypto. Hot idea, or hot air? appeared first on Internet of Business.

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Most Companies Have No Idea Where They Are Going

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Dell recently collaborated with the Institute for the Future — an interesting think tank largely driven by futurists, which focuses on helping firms ride future waves rather than being killed by them — on a survey that creates a frightening view of 2030. It could be far closer to Terminator than the utopia we once hoped for. I think more companies should go through a process like this. The reason is that it could help overcome what has become an overwhelming trend to ignore the future and instead focus excessively on quarterly results.
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AppleInsider Podcast talks about Consumer Reports, Verizon’s idea of security, and Apple’s handling of iCloud data in China

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This week on the AppleInsider podcast, Victor and Mike talk about Consumer Reports scoring cameras, the carriers in the US and the FCC, the end of Best Buy Mobile, Apple’s handling of iCloud user data in China, and iPods.
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Idea starts rolling out VoLTE services, available for its employees initially

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Idea Cellular has announced that it has started rolling out VoLTE services in some of its circles – Maharashtra & Goa, Kerala, Gujarat, and Andhra Pradesh & Telangana initially for its employees in the first phase. Commercial roll out will begin soon circle-by-circle. The company had promised to roll out VoLTE services by the end of 2017. It will initially cover 30 cities across 4 circles including Ahmedabad, Calicut, Hyderabad, Kochi, Nagpur, Nashik, Pune, Rajkot, Surat, and Thiruvananthapuram. VoLTE services on its 4G network will enable users to simultaneously have un-interrupted internet experience while using voice services. This will also allow users to automatically be routed to 3G or 2G network when they move out of 4G coverage, thus ensuring continuous call connectivity. Idea will be partnering with several handset manufacturers to push an update to enable VoLTE support to handsets prior to the commercial launch. It is already available for Honor 6X via OTA update and OnePlus and Xiaomi are expected to enable it soon. We will know the list of compatible devices only after the commercial roll out. Idea plans to roll out VoLTE services across all its 20 4G circles by April end.
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Facebook has decided that separating publishers into their own News Feed is a bad idea

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Facebook has ended a test that put publishers in one feed and friends in another.

Facebook has decided it’s a bad idea to separate brands’ and publishers’ posts from those that your friends and family share.

The social giant confirmed Thursday that it has ended a test of that concept it was running in six countries dating back to last fall.

The test removed content from publishers and businesses from the News Feed and put it inside a separate “Explore” feed, creating a digital divide between your friends and brands. Publishers in those countries that rely on Facebook for traffic freaked out when users no longer saw publisher posts interspersed with stuff from their friends.

“People don’t want two separate feeds,” wrote Adam Mosseri, the exec in charge of Facebook’s News Feed, in a blog post Thursday. “In surveys, people told us they were less satisfied with the posts they were seeing, and having two separate feeds didn’t actually help them connect more with friends and family.”

When Mosseri spoke at Recode’s Code Media conference in February, he said the test was “costly,” and that Facebook wanted to run it once before deciding “definitively once and for all” whether it worked or not.

It didn’t. So Facebook is ending the test. It is also shutting down its “Explore” tab, a section of the app where users could find public content from brands or publishers they didn’t follow.

The test wasn’t necessarily a waste — Facebook learned people don’t want two feeds! — but the company has also admitted that it wasn’t handled very well.

“We should have been more transparent and up front about [the test] ahead of it,” said Campbell Brown, Facebook’s head of news partnerships, onstage with Mosseri at Code Media. “[Publishers] totally freaked out, rightly so, because they didn’t understand what we were doing or trying to get at.”

The sentiment was echoed in Thursday’s blog post from Mosseri. “We also received feedback that we made it harder for people in the test countries to access important information, and that we didn’t communicate the test clearly,” he wrote. “We’re acting on this feedback by updating the way we evaluate where to test new products, and how we communicate about them.”

Facebook routinely makes changes to its News Feed to show users more (or less) of specific types of content, like live video. Its most recent News Feed update had a similar purpose to the now-defunct test: The change was made to show people more stuff from their friends and family, and less from brands and publishers.

That is still the priority, but separating the two groups completely isn’t the way to accomplish that.

Ironically, that total separation of friend stuff from publisher stuff is the premise of Snapchat’s redesign, the same redesign that people are freaking out about. Facebook found that strategy doesn’t work. It’ll be worth watching to see if Snapchat decides the same.

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