Harry Hamburg – Exponential Investor (United Kingdom) –
Do you remember this line…
“Your scientists were so preoccupied with whether or not they could, they didn’t stop to think if they should.”
I’ll give you a clue. The guy saying it was wearing a black leather jacket, thick-rimmed glasses and was ing into a whole world of trouble.
It’s from Jurassic Park. The “rock star mathematician” played by Jeff Goldblum says it after a short rant on the ethics of resurrecting the dinosaurs.
The reason I bring it up now is because of a big breakthrough in cloning that hit the lines last week.
In case you missed it, Chinese scientists have successfully cloned monkeys using the “Dolly” method.
Why is this so significant? Cloning has been around for decades, but up until now we have only been able to clone monkeys in limited numbers.
This new method should open up a whole new world of disease treatments and research.
As Futurism wrote:
The ability to create sets of genetically identical macaques will likely be extremely valuable for medical research.
Macaques are closer to humans genetically than mice, so insights gleaned from testing on them is far more likely to translate to humans. Using cloned animals instead of ones that are simply related also adds a level of precision to the testing by creating a true “control.”
Entire groups of macaques with genes linked to Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s disease, or cancer could be developed in the lab, and doctors could test different treatments on the animals to get an accurate idea of how they’d respond. They could also make minor tweaks to the genes of one animal to see how it developed differently from the rest of the population.
Okay, so why the Jurassic Park quote?
Well, it beings up an interesting question on human nature.
In most sci-fi, as soon as humanity realises it can do something, it inevitably ends up doing it. This usually leads to dire consequences. Eg, getting eaten by dinosaurs.
Many of these sci-fi writers take it upon themselves to warn of us the dangers of new technology. Think: Terminator, Alien, The Matrix, Jurassic Park, The Fly, etc.
But is that how human nature actually works in the real world?
Peter Andrews, professor of biomedical science at the University of Sheffield, certainly doesn’t think so.
He was interviewed by New Scientist about this cloning development and if he thought it could lead to human cloning.
“It could be a step towards human cloning, but why would you do it?” says Peter Andrews at the University of Sheffield, UK. “In terms of human biology, it’s illegal to clone a human in Britain and many other countries, and I don’t think anyone would rationally want to do it.”
I guess we’ll wait and see whose vision proves more accurate. The sci-fi writers or the scientists.
Either way, I have a feeling human cloning could become a huge area of debate in the coming years.
I wonder if the Sixth Day law will be enacted for real.
Find secret military bases with Strava
If you run or cycle, chances are you’ve heard of Strava.
It’s a GPS tracking app that lets you to upload your runs and rides then compare your routes and times with other people in the area.
It has rankings for every route and it all gets very competitive. I used to run, a lot. And I used Strava religiously. Almost everyone I know that runs uses it, in fact.
Strava has a feature where it lets you see a “heat map” of every route anyone that uses it has taken. It’s a great way to find new running or cycling routes when you’re visiting a new place.
It’s also, it turns out, a great way to find secret military bases and patrol routes, as Nathan Ruser pointed out on Twitter on Saturday:
This story has gained a huge amount of traction since then and almost every major news source has picked up on it.
I imagine a lot of military personnel are being reprimanded as you read this.
Whether anyone has actually used this data to their military advantage, is another matter. Although, it’s a hot topic of debate right now.
Apple to stop slowing down your phone
A couple of weeks ago I wrote about Apple admitting it slows down old iPhones.
Its reasoning behind this was very suspect. Apple said it does it to stop your phone restarting unexpectedly.
Funny that never happens to old Android or Windows phones though. They do just fine.
Since the story came out, Apple has taken a lot of flak (rightly so) and it will soon let you turn off this slowdown “feature”.
As Tech Crunch reported:
Tim Cook mentions the coming change in an interview with ABC News’ Rebecca Jarvis:
“We will tell some we’re slightly reducing, or we’re reducing your performance by some amount in order to not have an unexpected restart. If you don’t want it? You can turn it off. Now, we don’t recommend it, because we think people’s iPhones are really important to them, and you never can tell when something is so urgent…”
Let’s wait and see if Apple also makes it unexpectedly restart your phone from time to time so it can prove its explanation was right.
530,000 people sign up to fee-free crypto trading in 24 hours
Right now Coinbase is the easiest, fastest and most user-friendly way to get into cryptos.
But there’s a catch. Its fees are very, very high. I and many others are willing to pay those fees because there isn’t a better alternative out there, yet.
So that’s why the announcement that Robinhood will launch fee-free crypto trading has been making waves this weekend.
Robinhood is a big, trusted platform for buying stocks in the US. Its main selling point is that it uses technology to cut down on costs. So it can offer its trades fee-free.
Last week it announced it would be offering fee-free crypto trading to compete with Coinbase. Not only that, but it would be offering users a wider range of cryptos to buy than Coinbase does.
In the 24 hours after the announcement over half a million people signed up to get early access.
This is great news for the crypto ecosystem. It adds legitimacy and it means Coinbase will have to cut its fees and offer better rates if it wants to stay on top.
It is also great news for the smaller cryptos Robinhood will list. We can expect to see a lot more interest in these cryptos once Robinhood launches its full service.
When it initially launched crypto trading next month though, it will only offer Ethereum and bitcoin.
It hasn’t given any dates on when these smaller cryptos will be listed, or what they will be. But it currently lets you track 14 other cryptos using its app. So I’d imagine these 16 would be among them.
Bitcoin Cash, Litecoin, Ripple, Ethereum Classic, Zcash, Monero, Dash, Stellar, Qtum, Bitcoin Gold, OmiseGo, NEO, Lisk, and Dogecoin.
Coinbase will surely have to follow suit if it wants to survive.
Unfortunately for us in the UK, for now, Robinhood is only available in the US. It does say on its website it is expanding outside of the US. But the post that news links to is from May 2015.
Hopefully it’ll come to the UK sooner rather than later.
Until next time,
Editor, Exponential Investor