Monday, June 18, 2012

Mobile is the platform

At this moment, video-sharing is the number one growing application on the mobile platform.

Leading mobile analytics provider Flurry reports that Facebook (down approximately 25% since its recent IPO amidst lawsuits) is enjoying on average 22 minutes per day per user on the mobile platform.

This is perhaps a large number, but it hasn’t been growing as much over time as non-Facebook social networking (on average 25 minutes per day per user), photo & video sharing, music, and productivity apps on the mobile platform.

Surprisingly, only 53% of mobile apps are using analytics to measure usage. Of those, 75% use Flurry, which is currently resulting in 100,000 database calls per second and 8 petabytes of data.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Techniques for generating human dopaminergic neurons: reprogramming and differentiation

Perhaps more than any other medical field, stem cell research could have a significant and wide-reaching near-term public health impact. Cell-replacement therapies and other treatments are in currently in development for over 50 diseases.

Recent advances have been achieved in techniques for generating human neurons that could help – both through reprogramming somatic cells directly to neurons, and in differentiating pluripotent cells to neurons.

  • Reprogramming is converting cells from one type to another by introducing additional genes (e.g.; transcription factors) to transform them. Recent research makes use of both canonical and novel transcription factors, and the application of growth factors, microRNAs, and small molecules. This technique is particularly vaunted as it may be possible to reprogram human adult cells such as skin cells, which are easily attainable, into any other type of needed cell, such as heart cells and neurons.
  • Differentiation is the other main technique for generating neurons. In this case, human pluripotent stem cells are differentiated to neural cells with the introduction of growth factors and detailed cell-culturing processes.
Neurons and neural stem cells are of particular translational interest due to the lack of effective clinical therapies for neurodegenerative disease. While these emerging techniques are promising, some of the processes are relatively new, and the fidelity and functionality of generated neurons and neural stem cells in clinical application is yet to be confirmed.

Sunday, June 03, 2012

Towards a fourth person perspective

Are the currently known perspectives, first, second, and third person, the only possible perspectives? With modern technology, it might be possible to construct a fourth person perspective, or even a fifth and sixth, that offers a new view on ourselves and different interaction possibilities with the world. One obvious means of this could be the concept of Siri 2.0, a mental performance optimization platform that reduces bias, serves as a personal virtual coach, and buffers communication.

Grounds for, and a potential understanding of a fourth person perspective may be found in philosophy. Philosophers such as Charles Pierce, Habermas, Levinas, Roarty, George Mead, and Stephen Darwall have helped to characterize salient aspects of the first, second, and third person perspectives, and this work could be examined, and extended to a fourth person perspective. Some of the most helpful elements that a fourth person perspective could afford are a different means of introspection and performative action-taking.