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Introducing Murena, The Privacy-First Android Smartphone

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If you value privacy yet use a smartphone, you are at risk. It’s because Apple and Google constantly collect data on you. Research from Vanderbilt University found that Android sends data to Google even if your phone is on idle mode. It’s possible with Chrome actively running in the background 340 times daily. 

Murena and Mandrake Linux creator Gael Duval was bothered by these findings in 2017. He wanted his data to be private and an open-source software alternative. Five years later, Duval and his colleagues created the Murena One X2. It’s the first high-end Android phone to use the open-source /e/OS Android and will soon arrive on the market.

Murena One is running on /e/OS Version 1. There have been many attempts to produce an alternative to Google-based Android and Apple’s iOS. There are Ubuntu One, FirefoxOS, and Windows Mobile, but they all failed. Duval’s goal isn’t to reinvent the mobile operating system wheel but to prohibit Android from its squeaky Google privacy-invading functionalities and replace them with privacy-respecting ones.

To achieve this, Duval started with LineageOS, an Android-based operating system. It descended from the failed CyanogenMod Android fork. 

What are the Features of Murena One?

LineageOS blends features from the Android Open Source Project (AOSP) source-code trees.

  • In the /e/OS, most Google services have been taken down and changed with the so-called MicroG services. It replaces Google’s libraries with purely open-source implementations without links to Google’s services. This comprises libraries and apps which provide Google Play, Messaging services, Maps, and Geolocation.
  • The /e/OS does its best to free you from higher-level Google services. For example, Google’s default search engine has replaced Murena’s meta-search engine. 
  • The Google-free applications include a web browser, an email client, a messaging app, a calendar, a contact manager, and a maps app that depends on Mozilla Location Service and OpenStreetMap. While it’s not available, Murena is also working on its take on Google Assistant, Elivia-AI.
  • With this open-source Android OS, you can also run several Android apps. These apps are included in the operating system’s App Lounge.
  • Murena also replaced Google Cloud’s services with its Murena Cloud. Murena Cloud is powered by 1 GB of free storage. It also provides inexpensive storage plans starting at 20 Euros per year for 20 GBs of storage. 
  • Hardware-wise, Murena One is a nice but not exceptional 4G LTE smartphone. It has an eight-core MediaTek processor backed with 4GBs of RAM and 128 GBs of storage, expandable by adding an external SD card. The phone comes with a 6.5 inches display. 
  • The cameras are good. On the front, you get a 25-megapixel camera, while on the back are three cameras with 5, 8, and 48-megapixel resolutions.
  • It also includes a dual SIM slot to enjoy two phone lines with a single phone. Murena One is compatible with European and most US and Canadian carriers. 

There’s still one big problem, though. The App Lounge of Murena One still depends on logging in with your Google account. In short, the App Lounge is mainly a gateway to Google Store apps. Murena assures you that the Lounge anonymizes your data — except if you use apps that require payment. Still, this isn’t very enjoyable for people who want to become independent from Google.

The primary concern is that Murena does all it can to separate its OS and applications from Google. But it can’t replace Google’s e-commerce and software store system as of this moment.

The Murena One will be available in June in the US, Canada, Europe, UK, and Switzerland at $369.

And for other tech news, read more here at Owner’s Mag!

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Will Artificial Intelligence Take Over? We Get Clues from DeepMind’s Gato

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Artificial intelligence, or AI, has been creeping into the tech industry for some time now. In fact, with innovations like Siri and Alexa becoming commonplace, AI is almost unavoidable. That leads us to the question: will artificial intelligence take over?

Before we ponder the idea, we must note that not all AI is created equal. For one, some systems have a more negative connotation than others. On the other hand, some advanced systems are perceived to take over the world and automate many of what humans do. 

So you might be asking yourself, is AI as scary as many say it is? Will it replace humans across various fields? The answer to that question depends on who you ask and what company you’re talking about. Keep reading to learn more about the pros and cons of DeepMind’s Gato AI and other popular AIs out there today.

DeepMind’s Gato System

AI systems like DeepMind’s Gato have become increasingly common in recent years.

Gato is an AI model that can play Atari games, caption images, and chat. In addition, it can build towers with a real robot arm, among hundreds of other things – 604 tasks, to be exact. However, some researchers have become too enthusiastic about Gato in the week since its release. 

Amid its many uses, what’s important to note is how often it makes mistakes and how they are handled. In this case, Gato’s errors are pretty egregious, suggesting that it’s not nearly as intelligent as some believe. 

What Is Machine Learning?

Machine learning is the process of training a computer to perform a task using large amounts of data. So, when asked the question, will artificial intelligence take over? The answer may lie in the quality of the machine learning capabilities of systems.

More often than not, machine learning involves feeding the system with images or sound clips. Through this process, it can learn the processes and how to do them. For instance, if you want your AI to identify objects in a photo, you need to feed it thousands of photos with captions describing what they show. This is a highly efficient way to train an AI, but it also has some serious limitations that you need to be aware of.

What Is Artificial General Intelligence?

Artificial general intelligence, or AGI, refers to a computer that is as smart (or smarter) than a human. We’re not even remotely close to having a computer as smart as a human across the board. That said, the term AGI can be a bit misleading.

The truth is, none of the AI systems being used today are general or intelligent, let alone AGI. Most AI systems are very limited in their capacities and are only programmed to do particular tasks.

Many people who write about AI are quick to jump from AGI to ASI, or artificial super intelligence. This is the supposed next level of AI beyond AGI when computers become super-intelligent and achieve god-like abilities.

There are so many reasons why this is unlikely ever to happen. But the main reason is that even if we did create AGI, it would take many years before we get anywhere close to ASI.

Conclusion

So, will artificial intelligence take over? Here’s the good news – humans don’t need to panic. Machines are not gaining sentience and won’t be enslaving the human race any time soon.

However, that doesn’t mean that AI isn’t a helpful tool that we can use to make our lives easier and more efficient. There are many different types of AI, and it’s all up to us how we can make the most out of the systems to enrich our lives.

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Can You Shop in the Metaverse? Here’s What to Expect in the Virtual World

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Online shopping has increased thanks to the pandemic. Most shoppers now rely on delivery apps and eCommerce stores for their needs. However, it appears that online shopping can be taken to a whole new level– in the metaverse. The question remains, can you shop in the metaverse?

Current Landscape and Metaverse Potential

Retailers have a physical, online, and social media presence. These are platforms where consumers can buy their products. However, with the introduction of the metaverse, retailers can leave their mark; then, users can purchase these products using only their VR headsets, allowing people to shop in the metaverse. Plus, consumers will have more opportunities to try out new products even without leaving the comfort of their homes through 3D.

Retailers in the Metaverse & Gaming or Virtual Platforms

Fashion

PacSun and Forever 21 have made an impact in the metaverse. Forever 21 started its journey to the metaverse (so to speak) via Roblox, an online gaming platform. Like Forever 21, PacSun also collaborated with the online gaming platform to sell virtual clothing. Gamers can use exclusive PacSun items for their worlds or characters in-game.

But these aren’t the only retailers that have stepped foot in digital spaces beyond their online stores. Gucci, Louis Vuitton, and Dior Beauty are the few businesses that have offered a virtual shopping experience.

It seems Roblox is a popular choice for retailers to collaborate with since Gucci also partnered with them. They sold a Dionysius bag on the platform, costing more than $4,000. Meanwhile, Louis Vuitton released a video game in 2021 wherein gamers can earn 30 NFTs and ten from Beeple, an artist. Finally, Dior partnered with Harrods to create a virtual version of the department store where users can browse gifts.

Balenciaga and Fortnite also had their collaboration. You can dress up your avatar in Balenciaga. The two brands partnered to create a collection released in September 2021.

Food & Drinks & Restaurants

One of the biggest brands that made a leap to the metaverse is Coca-Cola. They created the Zero Sugar Byte, giving consumers a taste of pixels. The beverage company says that it’s the ideal companion for every game, and when drunk, it will taste like a game powering up.

Wendy’s has also left a footprint in the metaverse, which they call the Wendyverse. The fast-food restaurant used Meta’s Horizon platform to create the Wendyverse. Here, consumers can interact with one another. Users could walk around the virtual community using their Oculus Rift.  Plus, during the launch, visitors got food for $1.

McDonald’s will also venture into the metaverse. Business Insider reported they registered for a trademark for a virtual restaurant. The trademarks were for NFTs, a virtual restaurant, food and beverages, and concerts. Josh Gerben, a lawyer, tweeted what people could expect with McDonald’s in the Metaverse.

How Can Businesses Leverage Metaverse with Data

Bloomberg reveals that the market in the metaverse could reach a whopping $800 billion by 2024. With brands making waves on virtual or digital platforms, many businesses may consider using the metaverse to connect with a younger audience. Plus, Bloomberg says that live events and ads could drive the numbers higher.

Telling A Story Virtually

The metaverse offers an opportunity for brands to tell their story without having to set up physical spaces and other location or construction costs. With the metaverse available for retailers, users can access their products anytime, anywhere. 

Retailers can partner with SaaS companies to help them design their virtual stores and update them with new products. Plus, they can even integrate their ecommerce stores into the metaverse for seamless browsing or checkouts, and it would be easier to shop in the metaverse.

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Is Lab-Grown Meat Good for Your Health and the Planet?

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A CNN report shows the possibility of eating meat without farming, slaughter and the risk of high cholesterol levels. But here’s a question – is lab grown meat good for you? 

Uma Valeti, the founder-CEO of Upside Foods, said that cultivated meat is real meat grown directly from animal cells. These products are not vegan, vegetarian, or plant-based. They are authentic meat made without the animal.

“Cultivating meat is similar to brewing beer. Rather that growing microbes or yeast, we grow animal cells,” Valeti said. 

Scientists conducted the study by taking a small cell sample from livestock animals such as a cow or chicken, then identifying cells that can multiply. Then, they put these cells in a clean and controlled environment. After which, they nourish them with essential nutrients they need to replicate naturally. With that, the scientist can mimic the conditions inside an animal’s body. 

“It is getting meat minus the slaughter,” Christiana Musk, founder of Flourish*ink, said at the Life Itself conference. Flourish*ink is a platform for curating and catalyzing conversations on the future of food.

Mosa Meat, a Netherlands-based food technology company, revealed that some companies are moving away from “lab-grown meat.” These companies call this cultivated meat, cultured meat, cell-based or cell-grown meat, or non-slaughter meat.

Aside from mitigating animal slaughter, cultivated meat could also help slow climate change. 

Related Article: Lab-grown chicken to be sold for the first time ever

How It Works

burger

Source: CNN

Making cultivated meat is based on the field of tissue engineering or growing human tissues in a lab for medical repairs and regeneration. 

Here are the steps of cultivating meat, as Josh Tetrick, CEO of Eat Just, Inc, discussed.

  1. Scientists get animal cell samples by getting a small amount of tissue through biopsy. Then isolates cells from eggs or traditionally grown meat or obtains cells from cell banks. 
  2. Next is identifying nutrients for the cells to consume vitamins, minerals, and amino acids. It’s fed like a traditionally grown chicken with cells that gets nutrients from soy and corn. Isolated cells can absorb the nutrients provided in a lab or facility.
  3. The cells are processed in their nutrient bath in a bioreactor, a large stainless steel vessel “that has an internal process by which it agitates cells under a particular pressure to create an environment that allows cells to grow efficiently and safely. This process is making raw meat. 
  4. The cell sample takes more or less two weeks to grow into the desired size, which is “about half the amount that a chicken would take.
  1. The final step is converting the meat into the finished product, whether that’s a chicken breast or nugget, or beef burger or steak.

Is Lab-Grown Meat Good for You?

salad and chicken

Source: CNN

“Whether it’s animal welfare, climate, biodiversity or food safety, there are many important reasons to change how we eat meat,” Tetrick said.

For instance, few to no animals would have to be farmed and used for cultivated meat, and a vast area of land wouldn’t be needed to grow feed for them. Also, a single cell could make hundreds of billions of pounds of meat, Tetrick added. There’s no limit. 

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s 2022 assessment report said that cultivated meat is an emerging food technology that could help substantially reduce global emissions from food production because of its “lower land, water, and nutrient footprints.”

Whether cultivated meat will require less water is debatable and remains to be seen, Kaplan said, “because you still need a lot of water for cellular agriculture.”

And cellular agriculture may or may not result in a substantial reduction in energy use, according to the IPCC.

Nutritional quality and impacts on human health are areas where “cultivated meat can shine, because the process is much more controlled than traditional agriculture,” David Kaplan, a professor of biomedical engineering, said. 

Conclusion 

Is lab grown meat good for you? The topic of meat is quite challenging because it is culturally connected. It has all the tradeoffs between access, health, sustainability, animal welfare, and taste. It’s a topic of significant debate. However, if lab-grown meat ends up ticking off all the essential elements, it could be considered a great success. Upside Foods’ Uma Valeti said it is when people can eat the meat they want with slaughter. 

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