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Why the US Government Needs a User Agreement

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Before the US government gets carried away trying to regulate Facebook and other major tech companies, it should take a very long look inside its own walls.
The U.S. government is the biggest data miner in the country, dwarfing any tech company, including Facebook, in terms of the impact their data collection has on Americans lives. It starts with the Census Bureau—America’s repository of big data—which collects information on Americans’ ethnicity, age, health status, military status and more.
But it doesn’t stop there—the data also show where Americans live, what kind of housing they live in, what they earn, where they live, how they commute, what they spend on food, rent, housing, clothing, whether they have a desktop or a laptop, whether they’re on the Food Stamp program, and how long it takes to get to work to name just a few of the 77 questions in the American Community Survey.
And here’s my favorite: “About how much do you think this house and lot, apartment, or mobile home (and …

Faltered Carbon: Why You Have to Die to Live Forever

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By Jacqueline Leo
Ray Kurzweil must have had a good weekend. Finally, someone has taken his notion of merging man and machine and created a company that claims it will preserve the human brain and “back up its contents,” preserving the contents of your mind eternally. The company, Nectome, which sounds like a hybrid fruit, is derived from the Human Connectome Project and is funded by Y Combinator, the prescient Silicon Valley venture capital company that seeds new startups.

This new process is not as simple as checking the box on your living will that says you’ll donate your organs in the interest of science.  Nope. In order to participate, you have to die. And you have to pay $10,000 for the privilege of being killed in a humane way so that your brain isn’t starved of oxygen on your way out. You can read the gory details at MIT Technology Review in a story by Antonio Regalado.
Doctor-assisted suicide is legal in California under the End of Life Option Act so Nectome thinks it’s in t…