Sunday, October 30, 2011

Cyborgs on the Rise

A cyborg is a relatively simple concept that is often misunderstood. defines it as “a person whose physiological functioning is aided by or dependent upon a mechanical or electronic device.”  So we’ve had cyborgs for quite some time.  Anyone with a hip or knee transplant where diseased tissue is replaced by artificial tissue is a cyborg.  Some argue that anyone who uses glasses is also a cyborg, but I’m not too interested in getting bogged down in definitions.

What I am interested in is how quickly this field is advancing.  Progression in this field lightning fast.  People care a lot about their health and are willing to spend good money on it, so achievements once thought impossible are now commonplace.

Check out this video that compares current state of the art technology to that in the video game Deus Ex: Human Revolution.  It follows Rob Spence, who lost an eye in a shotgun accident and had it replaced with an implanted camera.  Rob has given himself the real groaner of a name of Eyeborg. 

In the video, Eyeborg compares current eye, arm, and leg prosthetics to those in the game Deus Ex.  Basically every prosthetic in Deus Ex is bigger, faster, stronger, and once we get to 2027 I bet we’ll be there.  But what I find even more interesting is the philosophical question that lies at the heart of Deus Ex.

David J├Ânsson, a prosthetics engineer interviewed in the video, sums it up when he say, “I mean, who says that a normal human leg is the optimal thing for you? I mean, the species evolved to this leg that we have now, but who says that is the end of the line?"

That is one of the fundamental questions asked in Deus Ex: Human Revolution.  In the game, some people who have normal, functioning bodies have removed biological legs, arms, eyes, etc. to have them replaced with superior augmented technology.  Not surprisingly, the company that supplies the drug that these newly augmented cyborgs need to live jacks up the price on them.  As a consequence, there are riots and other nastiness.

Would I chop off a functional limb to replace it with a superior mechanical device?  Probably not, and I don’t think many people would.  For one, I would worry about companies abusing their power as they do in Deus Ex.  However, if I lost an arm in a car accident or what have you I absolutely would want to replace it with the newest technology.  But I think that’s very different from willingly removing functioning body parts. 

But who knows?  In the future it’s possible that people will be swapping out arms and eyes like they were getting new cell phones.  I’d make an eyePhone joke but Futurama beat me by a few years.

But in the here and now, the real challenge is the brain-computer interface.  A lot of the prosthetics currently are controlled by muscles.  Directly interfacing them with the brain will most likely be the way to go in the future, but it opens a whole can of worms of bioengineering problems.

But past all the science and engineering, what I find so heartening is that this field is dramatically improving people’s quality of life.  It seems like every other week I read about someone who gets a replacement hand who in the past would have had to do with hooks or someone with replacement legs who in the past would have had to make do with a wheelchair.

And the best part about these stories is that it seems like a different company is making each prosthetic.  There is a tremendous demand for these products, and that is reflected by so many companies throwing their hats in the ring.  Good to see. 

This array of cyborg technology is going to have the opportunity to dramatically improve the lives of amputees, the elderly, and the disabled.  There’s a good chance that normal people will start using it to augment their bodies, as well.  The near future is going to be an exciting and scary time, full of ethical dilemmas.  I, for one, am excited to watch it unfold firsthand.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Battlefield 3 Is Coming Out Tuesday!

I have Battlefield 3 fully loaded and ready to play for when it comes out on Tuesday.  I’m pretty pumped and it looks like other people are as well, as the Battlefield 3 Launch Trailer is the #1 most viewed video today on YouTube.

I’ll be posting a full Let’s Play of the entire single player on my YouTube channel, where I already have a few videos of the beta.  I know the main draw of the Battlefield games is the multiplayer (in fact, some of the titles in the series don’t have a single player).  However, I know a lot of people want to see the full single player, so I’ll be putting that up in addition to sprinkling multiplayer videos here and there.

See you Tuesday!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

No Post This Week

Just got back from a company outing and I'm exhausted.  New Grabowski next week!

Sunday, October 9, 2011

September Lending Club Update

Lending Club update time!  Lending Club calculates my returns as:

Similar to last months NAR of 15.55%.  Interesting to see that I have two loans that are in the Late 31 – 120 Days category now.  Let’s take a look at each of these loans.  The details on the first:

The first thing that jumps out at me is the inquiries in the last 6 months category.  This borrower has 3 inquiries in the last 6 months, so I would have excluded this loan based on my new Lending Club filter of just 1 credit inquiry in the last 6 months.  The second late loan:

Hmm…  Nothing jumps out at me as a red flag for this loan.  I will continue to evaluate which loans become late or default and change my investing strategy to minimize my defaults and maximize my returns. 

Defaults suck and it is much more likely that these loans will default now that they are between 31 – 120 day late.  However, my investment goal in Lending Club (and I’m repeating myself here) is to maximize my returns NOT to eliminate defaults entirely.  I’ve seen quite a few investors fund only A loans in the 6% interest range because they are default averse.  If these investors see no defaults whatsoever, they will be getting that 6% interest as a return. 

If I fund loans with an average of 16% interest, I will have to see 10% more defaults to have a lesser return than the cautious investor.  Historically, this difference has been much smaller than 10%.  Granted, Lending Club has been around only since 2006 and past performance is no guarantee of future returns, but investing in higher interest loans is going to be my strategy for the time being.

With all that said, how do I stack up against other investors?

I'm holding steady at 91%.  As I mentioned in last month's update, I have some faults with this investor comparison.  However, it does provide some information, so I’ll continue to include it in my updates.

I’m getting a little bit lazier (or maybe just focusing too much time on my YouTube channel), so I won’t be including my calculations of my NAR in these monthly updates.  I’ll include them every quarter from now on (next one for December).

One final note: I’m cutting back my Lending Club investments from $1,500/month to $750/month.  The difference I’m just going to throw into a savings account for the purpose of helping to pay off my girlfriend’s student loans when she graduates medical school in 2 years.  The Lending Club loans that satisfy my investing criteria are 90% 5 year loans and I would like to have some liquid cash before then.  At $750/month and $75/loan, I will only need to find 10 loans/month to fund.  I’m reasonably happy with that as I seem to be getting busier and busier.

The information available at Michael Grabowski is for your general information only and is not intended to address your particular requirements.  This information is not any form of advice by Michael Grabowski and is not intended to be relied upon by users in making any investment decisions.  Michael Grabowski is not liable for any loss or damage which may arise directly or indirectly from use of or reliance on such information.

Monday, October 3, 2011

My Google Adsense Account Has Been Disabled

Last Thursday I got an email from Google with this in the body:

After reviewing our records, we've determined that your AdSense account poses a risk of generating invalid activity. Because we have a responsibility to protect our AdWords advertisers from inflated costs due to invalid activity, we've found it necessary to disable your AdSense account. Your outstanding balance and Google's share of the revenue will both be fully refunded back to the affected advertisers.

I am disappointed but will continue on with my blog.  I plan on appealing the decision in the near future, but not now as I’ve got a lot on my plate.  I believe that my click-through rates are about standard.  It was just that a handful of my well-intentioned but knuckleheaded friends got on my blog and spammed all my ads.  It’s no surprise that this sent up red flags for Google.  So, I have the following plea:


Because of this, I will be suspending my monthly blog income updates for the time being (because they will all be $0!).  Don’t worry, though, Grabowski fans.  I still plan on continuing my weekly updates.

In other news, the Battlefield 3 Beta marches on.  I look to post another video to my YouTube channel tonight.  Until next time!