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As our phones get a little more sophisticated and can start smelling and tasting we will get a slew of applications that start passively monitoring us for signs of all the known killers.
-- 2nd Hand Smoke
-- 3rd Hand Smoke
-- 4th Hand Smoke (I wish I were joking)
I've heard of 3rd hand smoke which is smoke on your clothes after being around a smoker but what on Earth is 4th hand smoke?
Does that mean you've been around someone who's been around someone else smoking?
My interpretation of 4th hand smoke is as follows.
Your friend goes to a bar where by some miracle there is smoking. He is exposed to 2nd hand smoke.
He comes home with that smoke in his clothes exposing his wife to 3rd hand smoke.
He takes off his sweater and hangs it in the closet.
Particles from the sweater migrate from the sweater to other clothes in the closet.
He puts on one of those articles of clothing. He is now exposing people to 4th hand smoke.
Soon we will see professional nannies walking the street sniffing passers by.
"ALARM!!!! This person did not store his clothes in an approved anti 4th hand smoke closet. ARREST HIM!"
I bow to our bending author here.
I see from the "news" (slow news day speculation) that the next generation phones will be made with shape memory materials so that their shape will change in all sorts of ways. OK, maybe it would be nice to have the phones be rather more practically designed to fit the individual hand. These nice thin flat touch screen phones are all the rage but frankly touch screen seems over-rated. They seem to have more preloaded apps than is good for them and the slightest contact with the screen seems to provoke an orgy of apps that are determined to connect to the internet in the most expensive manner.
I personally have one of those hybrids that has keys and a limited touch screen and it still upsets me. I'd like for some of the buttons to be placed and sized with a view to my using them rather than them "looking sleek". So maybe this malleable phone idea has something going for it. An ergonomic adaptability.
However, it seems the R&D types envisage the phone switching between a variety of functional formats.... games console, Nintendo style thingy for playing race car games. More of a transformer approach than anything useful.
No doubt it will also happily configure itself as C02 sensor, Smoke alarm, Geiger counter, breathalyser etc.
This in conjunction with its being a bar code reader, scanner, a device to pay bills, log in to supermarket tills and doubtless also able to track mood, emotions, and location. There have, of course, been examples where they have acted as policeman and documented the owners crimes to help our police who would otherwise have to arrest innocent law abiding citizens to meet their quotas. That they can be tracked is nothing new (just expensive) and their is an app out there (Prey) that lets you track your own devices from PCs to phones. All you do is log it stolen on the internet site and it will sneak a photo of its captor, determine its location and report back.
It seems even the humble phone, not so long ago a large brick like object with an aerial and poor reception (remember those rabbit locations)and an unbelievably short battery life, can now do just about anything.
But tell me, does anyone, like me, want it to be a phone, and just a phone?
On the subject of BPA (one of the substances detected by Brad's phone of the future), John Beddington, the former UK government chief scientific adviser, came up with an interesting attack on EU regulations regarding BPA (Bisphenol A):
"Environmental safety rules have reached "mad" levels because of a failure to understand the difference between risk and hazard, the Government's former chief scientific adviser has said.
Professor Sir John Beddington accused policy makers of adopting the precautionary principle to an "arguably illegitimate" level.
He cited examples of over-zealous regulation, largely generated in Brussels. One was the "completely mad" decision two years ago to ban baby bottles containing the chemical bisphenol A.
Bisphenol A belongs to a family of so-called "endocrine disrupters" that can upset hormone balances in the body. But there was no scientific evidence that the levels found in the plastic used to make baby bottles was harmful to children, said Sir John.
Despite this advice from experts, the ban went ahead. "Being frank, I think the only way you could hurt babies with bisphenol A baby bottles is to baton them with them," said Sir John."
It looks like Beddington was a bigger opponent of junk science than we may have thought from his behaviour during his period of office. My view of the chief scientific adviser job is that it seems to have morphed into another job where a title something like "Government spokesman on scientific matters" might be more appropriate. I came to that conclusion in the mid 00s after noticing David King, the predecessor to Beddington, was talking up nuclear fusion as a solution to climate change in a succession of interviews. I couldn't see any serious scientific adviser doing that - to me he was clearly acting as a government spokesman because only the British political class tend to hold the belief that nuclear fusion is going to work any time soon.