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7 Ways We’re Slowly Becoming Our Phones

7 Ways We’re Slowly Becoming Our Phones

In early 2014, Chief Justice John Roberts, writing on behalf of the Supreme Court in the landmark case of Riley v. California, noted that cell phones had become “such a pervasive and insistent part of daily life that the proverbial visitor from Mars might conclude they were an important feature of human anatomy.” While this is a tickling and imaginative thought, it makes you wonder: do Justice Roberts’ comments actually hold any weight?

Consider this: 91% of the US adult population currently owns a cell phone, of which 61% are smartphones. In fact, while smartphones are only about half as common, cell phones are just as common in Nigeria and South Africa, with about 90% of adults in those countries owning mobile devices. These little devices have become so integral to functioning in civilized societies that it’s hard to imagine existing in them without one. Think about it. If you’ve ever “felt naked” without your phone, you know what I’m talking about. But c’mon–cellphones as an important feature of human anatomy? Well… yes.

According to Marguerite Reardon, writing for CNet, some experts believe that “embeddable ‘phones’ or devices that are implanted in the body that use wireless technology could be commercially available by 2023.” Still need some convincing?

Here are 7 ways we’re slowly becoming one with our phones.

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1. Human Civilization is Already Dependent on the Internet and Phones

A lot of people like to debate whether or our growing societal dependence on the internet is a good thing or not. Whatever your stance on the issue, it’s hard to hide from the facts–if the internet were to shut down globally for even just a measly 48 hours, we’d probably see food shortages, rioting, and massive amounts of chaos. This is because the internet helps to run almost everything, including business inventories, transportation schedules, financial payments, etc. Interestingly, we already have an idea of what an internet outage would look like. In 2007, somebody accidentally cut a fiber optic trunk line in Phoenix, AZ, and ended up knocking out much of the cellular and internet service throughout the state. Reddit user Splorinstuff recounts his experience:

“While in total it was probably less than 12 hours, panic was pretty clear. Banks shut their doors and dropped their bars for protection. Grocery stores told people not to come in unless they showed cash at the door. People were running all over trying to get money and supplies. Extend that 12 to 48 and you’ll have a real problem. Infrastructure begins to shut down and people start feeling actual fear. Financial loss starts to seem relatively insignificant to the other effects.”

Our relationship with the internet isn’t all doom and gloom, though. Think about all of the things that the world wide web has made possible. We have global commerce. We are able to text, call, Tweet, or Skype anybody from almost anywhere on the planet. We can learn anything at a moment’s notice. You’re able to read this article right now. Arguing whether or not societal dependence on the internet is a good or bad thing is about as pointless as arguing whether civilization’s dependence on other technologies like electricity or fossil fuels is good or bad. These things just are! Having all of the world’s information at our fingertips has changed us in incredible ways, and will continue to shape us in the future going forward–so much so that we might just want all of the world’s information in our fingertips…

2. Smartphones Are Already Pushing the Limits of Technology

Another indicator that we are slowly becoming our phones is that we focus on them more than almost any other piece of consumer technology. Every September, for example, the whole world turns its focus on Apple (AAPL) to see what new advancements will be made to the iPhone (No headphone jack?! What?!). But it’s not just Apple anymore that’s driving the smartphone race anymore. Samsung (SSNLF) has been doing extremely well with its Galaxy phones, and Google (GOOG) even has its new Pixel offerings available to the public. The problem is that most of these phones pretty much all do the same thing. Sure one may have different camera specs, screen sizes, or color of brushed aluminum–but innovation in the smartphone field has died considerably in the last couple of years. While Samsung has recently placed patents on really cool smartphone tech, including plans for flexible screens, built-in projectors, and even prototype, Star Wars-esque hologram displays, the fact is that we’ve reached peak smartphone. If history is any indicator, these pieces of tech are going to have to undergo a period of renaissance and innovation before their design and capabilities are exciting to the public again. So maybe it’s time we switch our focus from the question “how can we change the smartphone?” to “how can the smartphone change the world?”

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3. They’re Already Becoming Our Cars

Intel CEO Brain Krzanich has already put a lot of thought into how smartphones can change the world–and he’s convinced that smart cars are how that change will come around. At a tech conference last July, Krzanich made a speech underlining his belief that self-driving vehicles that will use data to drive themselves represent the next frontier of mobile business. He may be right. Mobile is infiltrating our vehicles already, as those who are too busy to put their phones away while driving is turning to Apple CarPlay and Google’s Android Auto apps, which essentially turn vehicles into very large smartphones. Additionally, Cambridge University researchers are attempting to build software that “would turn a smartphone into an even more versatile device, one that would be able to bring self-driving abilities to future cars,” according to BGR. “Humans can drive using vision alone,” says Cambridge researcher Alex Kendell. “We’re hoping to teach a machine to see, to be able to do the same thing.” Check out their video, “Teaching Machines to See,” below.

4. They’re Already Augmenting Reality

There was once a time that we all thought Google Glass would be huge. This flopped for a number of reasons, one of those being that nobody wants to wear a goofy pair of non-glasses on their face all the time–but it didn’t flop because nobody was interested in what Glass provided, namely augmented reality (AR). Pokemon Go is one of the biggest pieces of evidence showing that the world is ready for and wants AR, even if most investors are clueless about AR’s potential. The point is that smartphones are already able to augment reality for us, the only thing we need to do is point the on-device camera at the world–or come up with some kind of wearable pair of glasses or contact lenses that can pair with and stream data from the smartphone itself. With this type of setup, you’d have a sort of HUD at all times that could display your location, your heart rate, stock market information, incoming messages–basically whatever you want to be displayed. Not only that, but landmarks could contain “floating” digital information too. With the way that smartphones are becoming able to recognize the world around us just as well as, if not better than humans are, it’s not that farfetched to think we’d want to form a permanent symbiotic relationship with this type of tech.

5. They’re Becoming More Like People Every Day

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    For awhile now Siri has lived inside of our iPhones, a disembodied voice without much personality and sometimes frustrating to talk to. Yet, we still talk to her, and we’re doing it more and more often. In 2015, up to 20 percent of all searches on the internet were voice searches. Unfortunately, Siri, Cortana, Alexa, and all of the other ethereal personal assistants have a long way to go before we sing their praises or even begin to recognize them as intelligent. Perhaps this is why Google believes AI is the next front in the smartphone wars. It’s not just Google either. Earlier this year, researchers at MIT created a low-power neural-network chip they’ve named Eyeriss that consumes ten times less power than a mobile GPU. This essentially means that smartphone-based AI tasks are much closer than many people realize. In fact, at the end of 2015, CNN ran an article predicting that “artificial intelligence and virtual reality headsets, not your smartphone, could be the way you access entertainment, apps, and services by the end of the decade.” Of course, they never mention that the two are more likely to merge into one device that one replace the other. In fact, they cite the 10 Hot Consumer Trends for 2016 report by Ericsson (ERIC) for their article, which supports the idea that we’ll synthesize AI, phones, and wearables. Some of those statistics:

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    • 85% think wearable electronic assistants will be commonplace
    • 80% think internal sensors will measure our well-being and enhance our vision, hearing, and memory
    • 33% want AI to keep them company

    See? Someday that voice inside your head might actually be a voice inside your head. Creepy.

    6. They’re Already Becoming the Only Computers We’ll Ever Need…

    With advancements like the Eyeriss chip that could bring more computing power to your phone using less energy, it’s safe to say (and Wired already has) that in a very short amount of time, a smartphone could be the only personal computer anybody needs. Of course, not everybody agrees with this sentiment. Technology marketing analyst Chris Jones doesn’t believe that smartphones will necessarily reign supreme. “…For many,” he says, “it won’t replace the larger devices with a physical keyboard for productivity tasks… but, if a smartphone can do all the things PCs, digital cameras, camcorders, GPS navigation devices, MP3 players, and DVD players can, then yes, smartphones could be the primary computing device for many people.” It’s really not that farfetched. Motorola (MSI) tried to swing the market that way in 2011 with the Atrix, way ahead of their time, and Hewlett Packard (HPE) tried to break the same ground in 2016 with the X3 Windows 10-powered smartphone. Green Bot even ran an article positing 10 ways your smartphone has already replaced your laptop. Considering that these tiny devices are capable of running health diagnostics, playing games and movies, and, as mentioned above, augmenting reality, don’t be surprised if more people ditch their standard computers in favor of smartphones.

    7. …And We’re Already Putting Computers Inside Our Bodies

    x-ray_of_patient_with_ccm_device_pa_view
      Implantables are here to stay…

      It’s true. While we’ve all heard of wearables, including Snapchat’s new video-streaming sunglasses, not everybody realizes implantables, including the wireless pacemaker, the artificial pancreas, continuous glucose monitors, and even pain-blocking implants are right around the corner. While the benefits of implantables for those with legitimate medical conditions don’t seem to escape most, some do find more disconcerting the concept of implantables as a pastime or form of recreation. Nevertheless, a group of people called transhumanists believe that the future of human biology is inextricably paired with technology, to the point that upgrades to our natural hardware may allow us to live forever. Now, don’t get it twisted. Transhumanists and promises of immortality are pretty far out there, but the idea of practical implantables such as microchip birth control, RFID chips, and even computer-brain interfaces are actually pretty all pretty feasible. WT Vox ran a story covering the top “implantable wearables soon to be in your body,” and at the top of that list–you guessed it–is the smartphone.

      So there you have it.

      While the day when the human being merges with the smartphone is a possibility, there are a lot of hurdles to getting there. We’ll need to increase storage capacity on our smartphones, for one, and that says nothing of security. Cybercriminals using ransomware, a type of virus that takes control of computing devices and holds it ‘hostage’ until the user pays up, have been hitting hospitals across the U.S. and endangering lives by shutting down medical systems and infrastructures. Cybersec analysts warn that implantables like pacemakers could be the next target unless we drastically beef up wearable and Internet of Things (IoT) security.

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      The good news is that the greatest minds in the world are working on it, and as science and technology march forward in time, the things we never thought possible before will become reality. Exciting, isn’t it? Perhaps, someday in the future, you’ll even be able to search for this article online just by thinking it.

      You might even be able to use the smartphone that’s been embedded inside of you to give me a call, assuming I’m still alive in that future.

      Who knows? With the way technological advancements are going, I just might be.

      More by this author

      Andrew Heikkila

      Owner-Operator of Earthlings Entertainmnet

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      Published on September 25, 2020

      10 Best VPNs to Browse the Internet More Securely

      10 Best VPNs to Browse the Internet More Securely

      When it comes to digital security, public Wi-Fi networks aren’t safe enough, making it much easier for hackers to access your personal data. Whether you are studying in a library or scrolling through Facebook in a coffeehouse, it is vital to have a VPN installed on your device.

      VPNs work wonders when it comes to securing your internet connection. By creating an encrypted tunnel between a remote server run by the VPN service, they protect your personal data from prying eyes. There is a variety of VPNs available on the web, and we have collated a list of the best VPNs that stand out from the rest.

      How to Choose a VPN

      • Free trial period – Free trials allow you to try the product risk-free. The same idea technically applies to those with 30-day full refunds as well.
      • Speed – You want your VPN to be just as fast as the internet speed at home. Good quality VPNs are ones where you see little difference between those speeds.
      • Device connection – Of course, the more devices that can connect to VPNs, the better. It increases the customers’ coverage and the product’s value. You also want to consider compatibility since fewer VPNs may work for Mac or Windows only.
      • Number of servers – The number of servers determines how much capacity a VPN can handle while you are connected. The more servers there are, the more users it can handle without running into potential disconnections or slow speeds.
      • Kill switch feature – Having this feature means that your IP address isn’t exposed if the VPN disconnects for some reason. A lack of this feature is a big deal since the whole reason why you’re paying for a VPN is to hide your IP address, among other things. (Find out how to avoid getting tracked online here: Big Brother Is Watching You Online: How To Avoid Being Tracked)

      Why You Should Trust Us

      Our hand-picked VPNs are incredibly efficient and offer such distinctive features that grant you safe browsing. They outperform many VPNs in terms of both speed and security. Their primary aim is to provide you the utmost security, thus enabling you to surf the web safely and prevent any potential threat from causing harm.

      Among the best VPNs’ many unique features include split tunneling, strict logging policies, high encryption level, and availability of international servers. We have gathered them in this article to enlighten our readers and offer the best pieces of advice before you get one. Therefore, take our word for it, and if you go for a VPN mentioned below, you’d be fully appeased.

      1. NordVPN

      The most popular VPN on the market these days is NordVPN, and it’s easy to see why. It has widespread coverage, offering a selection of over 5,000 servers spanning across 59 countries.[1] Due to the high number of servers, its speed is similar to your Wi-Fi at home.

      Lifehack’s CEO, Leon, has been using NordVPN for many years and wants to recommend it for its remarkable server count in different locations with no-logs policy. The VPN perfectly works with Netflix and Fire TV stick, too.

      NordVPN is also compatible with Mac, Windows, and Linux. You can download the app onto Chrome, Firefox, Android, and Mac OS. Thanks to its massive coverage, it’s easy to connect multiple devices onto these servers.

      In terms of pricing, while NordVPN doesn’t have a free trial period, they argue that their plans are considerably cheaper than those of their competitors. For example, a one-year plan for ExpressVPN costs $8.32 per month, but NordVPN only charges $6.99 monthly.

      NordVPN has a new protocol called NordLynx that is based on WireGuard with speed benefits, though it’s still under development.[2] If you’re looking for general quality and affordability, this is one of the best VPNs around.

      Buy this VPN.

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      2. ExpressVPN

      ExpressVPN is the second-best option out there for keeping your privacy while browsing the internet. Like many other VPNs here, they will encrypt your IP address, offer vast coverage, and can have multiple devices connected to their servers.

      Compared to NordVPN, while the pricing point is higher, ExpressVPN’s biggest selling point is the number of countries that their connection covers. Depending on where you are in the world, this may be the only option you have. They have fewer servers — 160, to be precise — but they make up for the low server count by covering 94 countries.[3]

      Cost-wise, your best bet is to go with the yearly plan where they charge $8.32 a month. They also have one- and six-month plans.

      Buy this VPN.

      3. Surf Shark

      With regards to Surf Shark, you can connect multiple devices to its servers, and it’s compatible with Windows, Linux, and Mac. It is also available on Android, iOS, Chrome, Firefox, and FireTV.

      Furthermore, Surf Shark can whitelist apps and sites, letting them bypass the VPN. This, along with the lines of split-tunneling, is another feature that many VPNs offer. The difference is that Surf Shark allows you to whitelist specific apps or any website, while most VPNs will whitelist all sites or none at all.

      The other consideration for this app is the price. While lower-tier plans are more expensive compared to others, Surf Shark’s 24-month plan is priced at $2.69 a month, so it’s cheaper than even NordVPN’s equivalent plan!

      Buy this VPN.

      4. CyberGhost

      Another top-reviewed VPN is CyberGhost. They’ve been around for 15 years and have fine-tuned their offers and features to stay competitive. They provide the standard package of browsing the web and logging into accounts safely and give you access to regionally blocked content.

      The network also maintains security from hackers, malware, and phishing. Aside from that, you can connect multiple devices, and it’s compatible with all kinds of platforms.

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      What separates CyberGhost from the others is their extensive coverage. They have multiple servers, and the pricing point is still very low. It covers over 88 countries and has roughly 6200 servers for you to choose from, all while charging $2.75 for their 18-month plan.

      Buy this VPN.

      5. IPVanish

      IPVanish’s prime purpose is to give users online freedom by providing fast speeds and private connections. It’s clear that they can meet that promise as they provide many of the features that have been listed previously from their competitors.

      IPVanish is a part of SugarSync now. What is that, you may ask? It’s a cloud-based service that syncs files across devices and computers for sharing, backup, and many more. What this means is that other devices can access various files and videos so long as they are connected to your specific VPN. Furthermore, it can serve as a backup plan if you get hacked or lose your device for some reason.

      Buy this VPN.

      6. Private Internet Access

      Private Internet Access (PIA) is a remarkably generous company in many ways. Aside from the obvious features, they offer great incentives and discounts for people to try out their products. They claim to be the most trustworthy and reliable VPN around, and we believe that.

      One notable thing is that PIA offers a free two-month trial. Compared to other VPNs to this point, none have provided free trials (though all come with a 30-day money-back guarantee). On top of that, small businesses can avail of their VPN at a discounted rate. There is also the fact that their pricing plans go as low as $2.69 a month for two years, and they let you pay with gift cards.

      In terms of specs, PIA has over 2695 servers that cover 47 countries right now.

      These particular aspects make PIA unique and one of the best VPNs to consider.

      Buy this VPN.

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      7. Hotspot Shield

      Hotspot Shield is all about offering protection while you’re browsing the internet or using streaming services like Netflix. The encryption is military-grade, and its speed is ultra-fast. In truth, it is even marketed as one of the fastest VPNs.

      Hotspot Shield offers a plan that only costs  $7.99 a month; however, it’s one of the few in this list to provide its services for free. Like other Freemium apps, the free version comes with limited features. That said, it gives you a much better feel for the VPN.

      Also, take note that the encryption feature is still there, though the limitations in the free plan include connecting to one location in the US and having limited streaming options and speed.

      Buy this VPN.

      8. TunnelBear

      As unusual as a name choice for an online security protection service can be, TunnelBear is nothing short of incredible. It makes our list of the best VPNs for various reasons.

      The biggest one is that the company goes through a yearly security audit. This is notable because many VPNs don’t bother about independent audits to ensure their systems are secure and safe from any issues. This is critical as VPNs have gotten some bad reputation over the years, as TunnelBear has noted in their post about their security audit.[4] The fact that they are doing this annually ensures that nothing is being compromised.

      Furthermore, TunnelBear offers limited services for free, but even their paid plans are pretty cheap. For individuals, you’re merely paying $3.33 per month. The only catch is that you can connect five devices regardless of which paid plan you pick.

      Buy this VPN.

      9. Norton

      Norton has been on the security scene for some time, and it’s actually one of the founders of the internet security industry. It started with virus and malware protection in 1991 and has since branched off to other sectors as the industry has shifted.

      As you might expect from a company that’s been around for a long time, Norton provides excellent services, and a few of their other services have gone into the VPN package. In reality, Norton is the only one thus far to offer a password manager with their VPN services. They provide 50GB of cloud storage as well.

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      Norton has one of the cheapest VPNs, considering you can get their deluxe plan at $49.99 per year. That comes up to roughly $4.17 a month. It might be slightly higher than other equivalent plans, but you get a lot of extra value that makes it worth the price.

      Buy this VPN.

      10. StrongVPN

      The final VPN we want to cover is StrongVPN. Like many others, it’s great at blocking unnecessary web traffic and providing a fast and simple solution to navigating the internet without any hindrance.

      StrongVPN has over 900 servers. It is available in more than 30 countries and compatible with all devices. Beyond that, the only notable selling point it has compared to others is that it also offers Sugarsync services and 250GB of storage, irrespective of your chosen plan.

      As for the pricing, their year-long plan costs $5.83 a month, while their month-long one is $10.

      Buy this VPN.

      Bottom Line

      Getting online protection is important these days, and companies recognize this.

      With more hacks and breaches occurring every single day, the best VPNs can provide an excellent haven for many people who value their security and privacy.

      We hope that by putting together this list, you’ll be able to find the best VPN that you can trust and enjoy using. As you can see, there are several great options with no real wrong one out there. Pick the VPN that’s best for you.

      Featured photo credit: Petter Lagson via unsplash.com

      Reference

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