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A bionic lens undergoing clinical trials could soon give you superhuman abilities

We're talking Ghost in the Shell type of stuff. 

Maybe you watched Ghost in the Shell and maybe afterwards you and your friend had a conversation about whether or not you would opt in for some bionic upgrades if that was possible - like a liver that could let you drink unlimitedly or an eye that could give you superhuman vision. And maybe you had differing opinions but you concluded that it's irrelevant because the time to make such choices is far in the future. Well, it turns out, it's two years away.


А Canadian company called Ocumetics Technology Corporation is currently doing clinical testing for their Bionic Lens - a medical device that could make glasses and contact lenses obsolete. If everything goes smoothly, the lens could be in your eye-surgeon's hands and in your eyes in two years. And the capabilities it will give you are truly mind-blowing.

A model of the Bionic Lens in the eye / Ocumetics / Superhuman Summit 2016

The Bionic Lens is a dynamic lens that replaces the natural lens inside the eye via one of the most common and successful procedures in medicine - cataract surgery. Once there, the lens restores clear vision at all distances without any visual quality problems. It can auto-regulate within the eye by connecting to the muscles that change the curvature of our natural lenses, which allows it to focus at different ranges - potentially much wider ranges than our natural sight is capable of. In addition, because the Bionic Lens responds with less than 1/100 the amount of energy of the natural lens, you can also focus on something all day without any strain on the eyes.

The Bionic Lens could improve on the 20/20 vision threefold. Imagine that you can see a clock's dial 10 feet away. With the lens you would be able to see the dial in the same detail when it is 30 feet away. What happens when you combine the super sharp focus and the ability to tune the lens to improve sight well beyond the capabilities of the eye, is that you can see really sharp details at very close distances. If you looked at a tiny sliver of your finger, for example, you would be able to see the cellular detail in it.

What is even more exciting is that the lens is developed with components that allow for further easy access to it and the ability for upgrades and modifications. Like, for example, installing projection systems that will give the user capabilities of projecting their phone screen, or integrating NASA technologies to allow for better focusing resolution than anything seen before, or even installing a system that allows for slow drug delivery inside the eye.

Dr. Garth Webb, the sole innovator behind the Bionic Lens and an optometrist with over 40 years of experience says:

“We have developed the Bionic lens to, in its default mode, make our lives function better in their normal realm and in its augmented capacity to allow for us to integrate seamlessly with the entire digital world. […] My humble perception is, that us human beings will be the center of artificial intelligence activity. So, I believe that we are going to filter and chaperon artificial intelligence that will be either around our head, or on our watch, or maybe both. So, it is, if you will, augmenting the human beyond what we normally anticipate."

Commenting on the dark side of this technology, Webb notes that, in fact, its absence is what will eventually become the problem, as it provides “unfair" advantage to those who have it.

The early adopters will have to pay about $3200 per lens, excluding the cost of the surgery. The company has already started compiling a list of clinics and surgeons, via referrals, that it will work with.

The Bionic Lens will not be a panacea for all types of eye conditions. It can't treat color-blindness, cloudy corneas, severe macular degeneration, severe genetic retinal diseases or torn or damaged optic nerves. It does provide, however, an upgraded version of our own biological lens, which inevitably deteriorates with age.

Below you can watch Dr. Garth Webb's full presentation of this exciting new invention at the Superhuman Summit 2016.

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Maps show how CNN lost America to Fox News

Is this proof of a dramatic shift?

Strange Maps
  • Map details dramatic shift from CNN to Fox News over 10-year period
  • Does it show the triumph of "fake news" — or, rather, its defeat?
  • A closer look at the map's legend allows for more complex analyses

Dramatic and misleading

Image: Reddit / SICResearch

The situation today: CNN pushed back to the edges of the country.

Over the course of no more than a decade, America has radically switched favorites when it comes to cable news networks. As this sequence of maps showing TMAs (Television Market Areas) suggests, CNN is out, Fox News is in.

The maps are certainly dramatic, but also a bit misleading. They nevertheless provide some insight into the state of journalism and the public's attitudes toward the press in the US.

Let's zoom in:

  • It's 2008, on the eve of the Obama Era. CNN (blue) dominates the cable news landscape across America. Fox News (red) is an upstart (°1996) with a few regional bastions in the South.
  • By 2010, Fox News has broken out of its southern heartland, colonizing markets in the Midwest and the Northwest — and even northern Maine and southern Alaska.
  • Two years later, Fox News has lost those two outliers, but has filled up in the middle: it now boasts two large, contiguous blocks in the southeast and northwest, almost touching.
  • In 2014, Fox News seems past its prime. The northwestern block has shrunk, the southeastern one has fragmented.
  • Energised by Trump's 2016 presidential campaign, Fox News is back with a vengeance. Not only have Maine and Alaska gone from entirely blue to entirely red, so has most of the rest of the U.S. Fox News has plugged the Nebraska Gap: it's no longer possible to walk from coast to coast across CNN territory.
  • By 2018, the fortunes from a decade earlier have almost reversed. Fox News rules the roost. CNN clings on to the Pacific Coast, New Mexico, Minnesota and parts of the Northeast — plus a smattering of metropolitan areas in the South and Midwest.

"Frightening map"

Image source: Reddit / SICResearch

This sequence of maps, showing America turning from blue to red, elicited strong reactions on the Reddit forum where it was published last week. For some, the takeover by Fox News illustrates the demise of all that's good and fair about news journalism. Among the comments?

  • "The end is near."
  • "The idiocracy grows."
  • "(It's) like a spreading disease."
  • "One of the more frightening maps I've seen."
For others, the maps are less about the rise of Fox News, and more about CNN's self-inflicted downward spiral:
  • "LOL that's what happens when you're fake news!"
  • "CNN went down the toilet on quality."
  • "A Minecraft YouTuber could beat CNN's numbers."
  • "CNN has become more like a high-school production of a news show."

Not a few find fault with both channels, even if not always to the same degree:

  • "That anybody considers either of those networks good news sources is troubling."
  • "Both leave you understanding less rather than more."
  • "This is what happens when you spout bullsh-- for two years straight. People find an alternative — even if it's just different bullsh--."
  • "CNN is sh-- but it's nowhere close to the outright bullsh-- and baseless propaganda Fox News spews."

"Old people learning to Google"

Image: Google Trends

CNN vs. Fox News search terms (200!-2018)

But what do the maps actually show? Created by SICResearch, they do show a huge evolution, but not of both cable news networks' audience size (i.e. Nielsen ratings). The dramatic shift is one in Google search trends. In other words, it shows how often people type in "CNN" or "Fox News" when surfing the web. And that does not necessarily reflect the relative popularity of both networks. As some commenters suggest:

  • "I can't remember the last time that I've searched for a news channel on Google. Is it really that difficult for people to type 'cnn.com'?"
  • "More than anything else, these maps show smart phone proliferation (among older people) more than anything else."
  • "This is a map of how old people and rural areas have learned to use Google in the last decade."
  • "This is basically a map of people who don't understand how the internet works, and it's no surprise that it leans conservative."

A visual image as strong as this map sequence looks designed to elicit a vehement response — and its lack of context offers viewers little new information to challenge their preconceptions. Like the news itself, cartography pretends to be objective, but always has an agenda of its own, even if just by the selection of its topics.

The trick is not to despair of maps (or news) but to get a good sense of the parameters that are in play. And, as is often the case (with both maps and news), what's left out is at least as significant as what's actually shown.

One important point: while Fox News is the sole major purveyor of news and opinion with a conservative/right-wing slant, CNN has more competition in the center/left part of the spectrum, notably from MSNBC.

Another: the average age of cable news viewers — whether they watch CNN or Fox News — is in the mid-60s. As a result of a shift in generational habits, TV viewing is down across the board. Younger people are more comfortable with a "cafeteria" approach to their news menu, selecting alternative and online sources for their information.

It should also be noted, however, that Fox News, according to Harvard's Nieman Lab, dominates Facebook when it comes to engagement among news outlets.

CNN, Fox and MSNBC

Image: Google Trends

CNN vs. Fox (without the 'News'; may include searches for actual foxes). See MSNBC (in yellow) for comparison

For the record, here are the Nielsen ratings for average daily viewer total for the three main cable news networks, for 2018 (compared to 2017):

  • Fox News: 1,425,000 (-5%)
  • MSNBC: 994,000 (+12%)
  • CNN: 706,000 (-9%)

And according to this recent overview, the top 50 of the most popular websites in the U.S. includes cnn.com in 28th place, and foxnews.com in... 27th place.

The top 5, in descending order, consists of google.com, youtube.com, facebook.com, amazon.com and yahoo.com — the latter being the highest-placed website in the News and Media category.
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