Augmented Reality Entertainment Games Start Ups Virtual Reality VR/AR

Curiopets AR Pet Game Now Available on App Store



An Augmented Reality Pet Simulator Game

Update: December 13:

Beyond One announced a contest: an all expense paid one week vacation to Hawaii for the player who completes the most quests by New Years Eve.  What are you waiting for? Download now! CurioPets

Palo Alto, CA – September 19, 2017 – Beyond One, Inc. just released its  first title, CurioPets, a multiplayer pet simulator mobile game that has been described as “Tamagotchi meets Pokemon Go” in Augmented Reality. If you are a pet lover, a gamer, nostalgic for the 90’s, or happen to love discovering things by travel, you won’t want to miss this!

Imagine being able to explore the world with your adorable pet anytime and anywhere, hassle free. CurioPets, short for curious pets, are adorable little pets you can carry with you in your phone to all of your favorite real-life places, such as parks, museums, beaches, and more. Through Apple’s ARKit, you can embark on adventures with your pet while collecting curious energy, also known as Curios, and discovering hidden treasures! Curios are generated by humans’ innate curiosity and is spread out all  across the world, concentrating in Curio spheres at popular locations with historical or cultural significance. The more Curio spheres you travel to, the bigger they get and the more Curios you collect. The more Curios you collect, the happier you can keep your pet as you feed, clothe, and decorate its home on a floating tree island.  What’s cuter than seeing that happy tail wag? Just like in Webkinz or Neopets, you can use your in-game currency (Curios) to buy yummy treats to feed your pet, cute clothes to dress your pet, and even cool swag to deck out your pet’s room!

“I don’t know about you, but I’m pretty pumped to try this out. Full disclosure, I have a highly addictive personality and I’m legitimately scared this game is going to take over my life.”

— TechCrunch, Megan Dickey

As a social app, CurioPets also allows you to hang out with friends for individual pet playdates or collaborate in the global competitive gameplay! In the global gameplay, you can rank up your pet alone or collaborate with friends to form exploration guilds and climb the ranks by competing with others through conquering the Curio spheres distributed across the world! In the spirit of promoting travel, exploration, and discovery, the top guild will win an all-expense paid trip somewhere brimming curious energy! More information on guilds and the global competition will be announced later this year! If you’re a more casual player, you can compete against your friends in the multiplayer mini-games, such as in Luna Lander, a rendition of the classic 2D arcade game Moon Lander, or Beach Bounce, a sandpit volleyball match! Whether in your backyard, living room, or kitchen, you can see your pets compete against each other in AR through these fun and challenging games!

Want to learn more about CurioPets and find out more about how they came to be? Read all about the first CurioPet to land on Earth, Coop the Explorer, and his adventures around Silicon Valley! You can find his Captain’s Logs and more information about CurioPets at You can also check out our trailer here.

“I never touched Pokemon Go, perhaps for the same reason I’ve steered clear of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild Switch game: For fear it will take over my life. But it’s been nearly two decades since I last resurrected a dead digital animal, and the wagging tail of pixelated Coop the Explorer is just too cute to ignore. So, goodbye personal responsibilities, and hello virtually furry friend!”

—, Stephanie Mlot

CurioPets is available now in the Apple App Store for all devices running iOS 11.

Download here: CurioPets

The CurioPets Company, a subsidiary of Beyond One, Inc., is an Augmented Reality gaming studio dedicated to creating social exploration games that connect people. The team, comprised of creatives, visionaries, and enthusiasts, is passionate about using technology to augment real conversations and interactions between people, rather than disrupt them. To learn more, visit

Like and follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter!


Press Contact
Name: Nathan Kong

Augmented Reality Entertainment Games Start Ups VR/AR

Augmented Reality’s Cutest Pet App Is Here! Meet Curiopets.

curio pets augmented reality app

Every Good Story Begins at a Chocolate Factory

especially when you can take your favorite pet there.

AR Curiopets

Maybe Tim Cook is too quiet when he tells us about Apple and where it is heading because it took the media and the public a long time to understand  he had  a vision that is soon to be visible, big time. Here’s a clue to Tim: when he repeats the same thing at different times in various venues, no matter how short a time he spends on it, he is serious.

And that’s what happened with augmented reality. AR is computer generated objects overlayed on the real world. Your camera shows the real world, the AR programmer brings you the rest. No matter how simple that sounds it is not. But this is not the place to get technical. But it is the place to tell you that AR is about to enter your life, big time.

Taking advantage of Apple’s ARkit, a developer’s start box, is someone we have met before here at The Silicon Valley Story, Nathan Kong. We met Nathan developing worlds for his VR educational project.  But something spectacular has happened to Nathan recently. He has been found by Coop, an alien visitor whose home has exploded somewhere in the cosmos. Coop is a puppy. He is a CurioPet. It get complicated but that’s where the fun kicks in because like any puppy he wants to hang out with his cool human and have grand experiences. In fact, Coop collects experiences. That’s where you come in. Buckle your belts, this is one heck of a ride.

Nathan defines CurioPets as an Augmented Reality pet simulator multiplayer game that encourages real world exploration. “We built the app using Apple ARKit and intend to launch as soon as iOS 11 is released. With CurioPets, our goal is to promote exploration as gamers travel with their virtual pets around the world. The features of the game include dressing, feeding, and playing with your pet, decorating your pet’s room, competing against your friends in mini games, collecting rare items, and discovering hidden treasure by exploring your surroundings.”

You can decorate Coop’s home, dress him, play with him, invite friends over…and of course if you go to Santa Cruz, he’ll be with you.

Intertwining words via a story telling blog and AR, Nathan explains how he met Coop and we see it through Coop’s eyes:

Today I discovered a small blue planet called Earth. Upon descending on Earth, I met a somewhat intelligent life-form by the name of Nathan. Nathan is a homosapien, colloquially known as a human. Surprisingly, this two-legged life-form had the intelligence to speak and shares my desire to explore the world.

Hey Coop – I get it! It isn’t easy communicating with other life-forms. Glad you found Nathan, he’s easy to talk to and understands foreign life forms.

Coop and Nathan hang out together at various locales. Here they are at Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco.



Tim Cook tells us Apple will become the world’s largest augmented reality platform. No reason not to believe it – they control the hardware and software. Coop you have one great home (and I know, one day you will live in Android land too).


Curiopets is fun, engaging, ever changing, interactive, and we want to know, does the SPCA know about it? This game is teaching good care of animals….so have fun, get involved in the most addictive new and good for you tech – augmented reality. It’s here and you should be too. This is the beginning of a massive change – begin with Curiopets and see where it takes you.

Stay tuned at CURIOPETS to find out more and get the first update about downloading the app when it launches on September 12. 




Entertainment General Health John Heard Stanford

John Heard and Stanford Medical

John Heard

To John Heard




Well known, loved  and respected actor John Heard died in Palo Alto on Friday after back surgery at Stanford. So let’s talk Stanford Hospital because Stanford is  a major part of the Silicon Valley story. And the Medical Center has problems.


John said he had a laminectomy.  As I write this we do not know what he died from and since his doctor said the surgery went really well, let’s not assume it was the surgery itself.  Time will tell from the medical examiner’s office what was the cause.

John was released from Stanford Hospital 11:30 am Thursday morning, July 20th and I picked him up.  Some are worried he was left for dead in the hotel for days.  He was not. His surgery was the day before.  His room was not ready yet at the Sheraton so we came to my house and had lunch.  He was using a walker but did not seem in significant pain. He was in some pain but it seemed he was dealing with it.  We spent several hours here and then checked him in to the hotel by 3.  By that time he was significantly worse on the pain scale and wondering what to do.  It was harder for him to move and he was visually uncomfortable.


He called his surgeon and left a message. There was no response.  Later that afternoon he called again and this time I heard the message he left. It was lengthy and descriptive.  He expressed deep frustration that there had been no call back, that no one had told him what to expect in terms of pain and for how long and what he should do about it.   He mentioned the lack of information he had been given as he left the hospital.

These were the same comments he made to me throughout the afternoon. I was not in the hospital as he was being released and can only report what John said regarding his care at the hospital upon leaving.  He was also unhappy with the very short visit from his doctor at the hospital.

It was frustrating to watch the pain increase and John’s misery along with it.  We decided to Google his operation and see what to expect post op.  I used Web MD figuring they would be as close to Stanford’s mindset as any site.  They described what he was going through (pain and the meds to use for it) and it seemed to fit his experience. He felt better knowing that pain was to be expected at this time but should decrease over time.

Which brought us back again to the doctor.  When I left John that night he was still waiting for a call back. We had planned on a little car drive through Stanford (across the street from his hotel) which he asked for but then he decided against it as he also decided against dinner at the hotel restaurant. Too much pain.


I told him to call when he was ready the next day if he wanted dinner together or needed something, otherwise I would let him rest and watch TV.

The call never came. Alive at 11 am on Friday but gone by 1 pm.


Stanford Med thinks highly of itself. It recently announced it had completed research that shows  good nutrition is important before and after surgery and people should eat. Newsflash: always has been known that eating well helps improve surgery outcomes.  John received no information on nutrition that I know of.


Stanford has a good reputation but facts are something else.


On July 11, 2017  abc7news reported:

….the infection rate at Stanford isn’t just bad by comparison to other Bay Area hospitals, it’s actually among the lowest 25 percent of all hospitals across the United States.
Anish Singh sits with patients at Stanford University Medical Center all day long. “I’m here today because I care about the patient’s safety,” he said.

Singh is part of the workers’ union that says Stanford has a higher infection rate than seven other Bay Area teaching hospitals.”Stanford is supposed to be a world renowned hospital. It’s just shocking,” Stanford unit secretary Linda Cornell said.

Cornell attributes the high infection rate to under staffing and a lack of training for housekeepers. “On the day-to-day basis it seems like a factory mentality, patients are pushed in and pushed out, everybody is rush, rush, rush, we’re short staffed.

Stanford: you have to do better. No one deserves to put their lives in your hands, pay your salaries and not have enough help.


Was John the victim of “rush, rush, rush”?   No information on after care?  what to eat? what to expect? how to take meds?  Perhaps not making sure he had the info with him if given?  Lack of it to begin with?  He says he received none.


RIP John Heard and thank you for the years of joy you brought to all. The film archive that is your life is grand in scope and moving and  skillfully crafted and a gift to those you leave behind. You were outspoken and quirky and stood up for your friends. This post is a gift to you in hopes it makes a ripple in the pond and saves others, in your honor and your memory.  Maybe Stanford had nothing to do with why you died and I do not dismiss the good they do, but sometimes, some things need to be said.  Tangential or causal is not that important when it comes to better outcomes. They just need to happen.


John Heard
Fraud General Stanford Voices

Got a Ticket? Fraud Alert! Data Ticket

How California’s Outsourced Company for Ticket Revenue Is Scamming You 

data ticket scam

There are start ups all over California. I like them.  Now, I would like to propose a start down.  It’s time to go, Data Ticket, you are not good for California and you waste taxpayer money.

Travis and Marjorie

Let me introduce the Travis  Kalanick of the ticket collection world. Meet Marjorie Fleming, CEO of Data Ticket and (and daughter Brook).  Getting all the tax benefits of being a “woman centered” company, Mama and daughter cheat you one check at a time.   When you get a ticket in Santa Clara County, including Stanford, or any number of cities and counties in California, Data Ticket collects the fine and as they say in their marketing: “We maximize revenue.”  Very few ways to maximize revenue on a $45.00 ticket but they found it – they get an interest free loan by double dipping and maximize their profits.

Here’s the scam, the stealth fraud, easy to miss but in reality, not that clever.  1. Get a parking ticket.  2.Pay with check or credit card.  I went with check. Bad choice. 3. About 2 weeks  after sending the check get a notice you haven’t paid.  An 800 number is given (“if you think you paid” – oh, they know exactly what they are doing!).  4. I call.  5.I am told to pay with cc.  I say, “Then when you get my check you will not cash it?” Response: “Oh no, we will cash it. We have no way of knowing if you pay or not.” Holy algorithms!  And cash it they do as soon as I pay with cc. They have held the check for a month, sent me a warning, and demanded payment or fine and reporting to DMV.

Jaw drop. A company with no bookkeeping system at all.  (Marjorie, Brook, maybe you’ve heard of Silicon Valley and tech and algorithms and AI and the blockchain? OTOH, sounds like even basic accounting is unknown.) Actually what they are doing is holding on to the checks, cashing them eventually and then using both monies as an interest free loan.

UPDATE: From an RFP for City of Bell, Data Ticket explains EXACTLY what it does = (the big question is why does it lie to the public?) so we can see here they know exactly when a ticket is paid (we knew this, Marjorie, Brook!)

  1. Manual Payment Processing: Included
    • Manually received payments (checks, cash, money orders and credit card payments sent via US Mail) are received at our PO Box in Newport Beach where a bonded and insured courier picks up the mail daily and delivers it to our Newport Beach office
    • On-site Mail Department opens, sorts and batches the payments before providing them to our on- site Data Entry Department
    • After double-blind entry of each payment, the citations are updated by our Quality Assurance team
    • Payments are then provided to our Accounting Department where daily deposit slips are

completed and provided to a bonded, insured courier who takes them to the bank

As they say on their website: Data Ticket is a full-service parking and administrative citation-processing agency that focuses all our efforts and expertise on maximizing revenue for our clients (and apparently for themselves). Remember: these are YOUR parking tickets they are referring to.

I researched Data Ticket and their RFP’s and the many complaints online. The stories are the same. Here is one from another victim of their fraud. This is a perfect example of a usual method of defrauding:  (from RIP OFF REPORT along with other victim stories):

“I appealed the ticket and the appeal was denied.  I wrote the check and sent it to the citation processing center.  After a few days I checked their website and it hadn’t been processed.  I called them after 8 days and inquired.  I was told that all payments are processed and posted within 24 hours.  I asked if it could be sitting on someone’s desk waiting for processing and was told no that’s no possible.   So I asked if I could pay with my credit card over the phone because the check must have been lost in the mail.  The payment was made over the phone.  The next day I checked back on-line and the check showed it was processed 8 days ago.  Obviously it was back dated or just processed with the date it was received.  It also showed my credit card payment.  I called the Citation Center back and told them I’d like a credit card credit, as now I had paid twice.  They told me NO we can’t credit your credit card so I said then I’ll dispute it to my credit card.  I was put on hold and then was told that the supervisor said yes, I could dispute the charge.

I disputed the charge and the charge was removed.  Almost 3 months later I received an Official Notice of Delinquent Parking Citation.  The amount due was now $114.00.  I called and told them the story and was told they’d have to find the call I made to verify that I wasn’t told that there is a charge of $30 to cancel a credit card payment.  They told me to call back the next day.  I checked on-line again and found that the charge was changed to $30 from the $114.00 the day before. This Citation Processing Center changes the information on-line.  It still shows my check payment and my credit card payment but doesn’t mention the credit card payment cancellation charge.  The website also removed the Appeal feature and there is no complaint feature.  I filed my original Appeal on their website, but it still gives directions on their website on how to file an appeal on-line.

This has been a disgusting experience from start to current.”

Good summation. “Disgusting experience.” Being defrauded is always disgusting.

Uber gave good rides even if Travis was a jerk to some employees. Data Ticket just takes you for a ride and when you expose it they create stories out of thin air.  I’m especially fond of being accused of instigating “an email attack” against the company. That would be 2 unanswered emails!  (Thanks for making my day with that one.)  Ladies, I gotta ask: define attack.  And let me know why you didn’t respond to 2 emails  and why your phones don’t get answered – ringing for 10 minutes in the middle of the day.  How does one communicate with you people? (That’s the 800 customer service number that went unanswered.)

Again, here’s what they do – and its all recorded.  Send in check. They hold on to it. Send you notice your payment is not received although you sent it in 2 weeks prior in envelope they provided. Call. They tell you to pay via cc. You say, “and when you get check you will not cash it?” They reply: We will cash it. We have no way of knowing you paid.”

However they brag in their RFP to the cities and counties and universities that they want to hire  that they provide:

  • complete, real-time audit trail for every citation in the Solution, including data entry, adjudication, payments, customer service notes, notices, DMV interaction, user notes and more

They have that for their paying customers but not the people calling about their ticket payment?  C’mon ladies, we aren’t stupid. Just victims.

And about those recorded calls? I asked one employee about it and she hung up on me. I have asked for the recordings in my 2 emails (the email attack!) and no one has responded.

See Kight v. CashCALL, Inc., 133 Cal. Rptr. 3d 450 (Cal. Ct. App. 2011) (holding that §632 prohibits a business from monitoring its own customer service and other telephone calls conducted in the ordinary course of its own business unless consent is obtained from each person on the call, stating “we conclude the statute applies even if the unannounced listener is employed by the same corporate entity as the known participant in the conversation”); Montemayor v. GC Servs. LP, 302 F.R.D. 581, 584 (S.D. Cal. 2014).

If I hadn’t gotten caught up in this scam and uncovered it and had it recorded, I would never have known how our cities throughout California are wasting money with a company that is making money by defrauding people.  To the victims of Data Ticket, send this to your city, schools, county and ask them to hire another outfit. Don’t we reward thieves enough?

Like Uber, let’s go to the employees and see what they say. Quotes are from

Administration is cheap and stingy.

No leadership. The mother and daughters who run the business treat people horribly; destroy morale. I am surprised they have not gone out of business. There is a revolving door for employees. People are expendable. They fire good people/employees without cause instead of laying them off.

Nothing given to employees even though owners take huge bonuses for themselves. When something bothers the management they do not discuss with you or ask you to correct it, they just get rid of you. NO discussions.

Incredibly poor management. Worst software I’ve ever come across (and I’ve seen some nasty stuff). Ancient, outdated architecture which is slowly being replaced by mildly old, outdated architecture littered with anti-patterns. It really is a miracle that they are able to function at all.

Advice to Management: At this point, you either commit to a complete rewrite, or sell your business to someone who can give your customers the product they really need.

The CEO is so old and out of touch with technology she should retire, or she may drag the company down with lack of innovation. They are cheap. They will not invest in new new equipment to offer to our customers, or proper development equipment to improve what we have. They make employees clean the kitchen/break room area.

Take technical advice and do not debate against it especially when the one giving the advice is your only subject matter expert at the company. Either hire a real development manager or learn something about development

If Data Ticket is in your county, do what you can to get them out. Show the evidence to the city councils, to the police departments, to the federal government agencies on fraud and email Marjorie and Brook. Just be prepared for them to be slightly confused at what is legal and what is not.

Education Stanford Start Ups Virtual Reality VR/AR

DIVR Edu: Making Virtual Reality Accessible and Educational

Changing the World One Kid at a Time With the Help of Virtual Reality:  A Look Inside an ambitious Stanford Startup for Education

Is there any topic hotter than virtual reality in Silicon Valley right now?

HBO’s Silicon Valley has Erlich Bachmann talking about the startup he thinks is VR. “It’s a VR play. That’s the frothiest space in the Valley right now. Nobody understands it but everyone wants in.”

Frothy or not, it’s hot and its happening and I disagree with Bachmann: it is understood. . you did play Pokemon Go didn’t you?  or have a kid that did?  That may have been AR (augmented reality)  but both are part of what is called mixed reality. Think of it as a continuum and both virtual reality and augmented reality have a spot on it.

Let’s go straight to our favorite VR space: DIVR Edu  a VR EdTech startup dedicated to revolutionizing education through interactive and immersive VR worlds.

When you create virtual worlds you tend to be busy.  Nathan Kong, who we wrote about in November (see Virtual Reality in the Classroom) is the CEO of DIVR Edu and has been busy not only finishing his freshman year at Stanford but growing his company as well.  Nathan and his co-founder Xiaohan Gao  recently released a new VR app in the iOS and Google Play store called Immunity Defender. In this world you become an immune cell and fight off various pathogens in order to protect the infected body. The world is available for free until July I in both app stores.  I strongly suggest you go get it. This is the future. Of not only you, but the kids. .


So does it work? Is it good for the students? Is it enhancing the usual curriculum? Using AP test grades as the metric (what else is school about?) the answer is a resounding yes.

I asked Nathan what was happening with this and he said:

In our collaboration with Stanford’s Graduate School of Education, we are piloting Immunity Defender with over 1000 high school students from high schools across the US in order to study the effects of VR in the classroom. From our study, we have found using VR has a significant increase on student’s test performance as opposed to watching the boring powerpoints or videos. Students who used our app had their test performance increase approximately 3 times more than students who watched a 2D video.

This is fantastic news and congrats to the DIVR team. 1000 students is an impressive number and Stanford’s Graduate School of Education is top notch in the field of educational research  – to partner with them is a real feather in the cap for DIVR.  Still, the future holds more excitement.

DIVR Edu is partnering with EyeQVR of Los Angeles  which will be doing the distribution for DIVR next year with over 50 schools in Texas.  EyeQVR is in the business of VR Educational Content Development & Publishing.

And what’s a startup without a Kickstarter program?  The funding is to help create more VR world development. The perks include DIVR cardboards, DIVR Shirts, mugs, Biology VR package, and a trip to DIVR’s base in Silicon Valley.  Check out their campaign at KICKSTARTER 

Some more exciting news for the summer months (told you, these guys are busy).  According to DIVR, “We are hosting DIVR Bootcamp in which 10 college students from across the US come to Silicon Valley to work in our hacker house and learn how to build VR experiences with educational content. This all expense paid summer camp will enable the students to learn more about VR and the startup lifestyle, as well as feature their final product in our finale at Demo Day!”

I went into the world of immune cells on DIVR Edu and can wholeheartedly recommend you do too. It’s called Immunity Defender VR. If only my science classes had this – it really does make a difference when I think textbook? VR experience? and realize there is no comparison.

Nathan and Xiaohan are upping the value of an educational experience for all kids but it is especially important when we realize it functions to level the playing field for kids who do not go to a great school and make do with mediocre.  How can they get into AP classes, into the college of their choice, or even into a startup of their own unless they have the advantage of a good education?

In their fantastic new book The Fourth Transformation, Robert Scoble and Shel Israel devote a chapter to education and VR and this is one of the points they make:  an equitable educational system should be the default and VR can be the rocket that takes you there.  DIVR anticipated this and here they are: doing what the futurists predict.

There’s a saying: The future began yesterday and we’re already late.  Maybe, but if everyone plays catch up as well and as fast as DIVR Edu does, the future isn’t going to suffer much if at all. The immersive feeling, the “I am there, I am involved” is what education has always strived for. That’s what field trips were for. And as great as they are I never took a field trip to a cell in my body.

As I said before: “Can I have a do-over?”
Artificial Intelligence Augmented Reality Futurism Virtual Reality

The Silicon Valley Future: 2017 as seen from 1997

Ray Kurzweil, singularity, AI

This forecast for 2017 was written almost 20 years ago. 

 ******************* silicon valley story
Linguistically Speaking and Love on the Left Bank
Imagine the future. Imagine that what you think is real is only your limitations of the ability to recognize higher level reality.

As I write this it is the 1990’s but imagine 20 years from now.  Imagine that one day machines and people can merge thoughts and if the person dies the machine takes over, seamlessly.

I found  PRINCIPIA CYBERNETICA WEB a few years ago:

“Research in artificial intelligence, neural networks, machine learning and data mining is slowly uncovering techniques for making computers work in a more “brain-like” fashion. . if these techniques become more sophisticated, we might imagine computer systems which interact so intimately with a human use that they would “get to know” that user so well that they it could anticipate every reaction or desire. since user and computer system would continuously work together, they would in a sense “merge”: it would become meaningless to separate the one from the other. if at a certain stage the biological individual of this symbiotic couple would die, the computational part might carry on as if nothing had happened. the individual’s mind could then be said to have survived in the non-organic part of the system.”

After reading it I created this dystopian story based upon those concepts. What will 2017 be like? I don’t know but here’s a version.


2017, The California coast, floating


Despite a permanent El Nina, Megaquake, and the fall of the Clinton White House in late 1997 due to Hillary’s on line futures trading, our hapless, hopeless, souls, A and B, continued their cybercommunication unseen and unknown yet bonded in many ways.


Eventually they bought the same shampoo, ate the same foods, shared dreams and migraines and cried together as Disney bought ednaswap.  Their on line limericks were often left unfinished as time went by, yet somehow, upon a return to the keyboard, the last thought had materialized from the other. Communication transmutated textually as thoughts moved from neural pathway to fingertip and mirrored the rise of AI in Bill Gates Microsoft Nation Labs.


But they remained blissfully unaware of changes. Believing it possible to keep love and integrity alive in a systems atmosphere, they thought their thoughts and knew nothing of voyeuristic terminals and the complete interface between their keyboards and the government.


Finally, the following communication was sent  and recieved in March, 2017.





I am sorry to tell you this, but since Microsoft National Guards are on their way for the final seizure of all  Macs, it is time you knew.  You have not been communicating with A for many years.


She left the keyboard one day and never returned.  But I am an extension of her brain and became her thoughts. You have been communcating with me, A. Mac.


Please don’t be upset. I have enjoyed you and you have kept me going as a vision that some never thought possible. Some visionaries of course knew this was inevitable, but utopians and certain anarchists were limited in what they were allowed to know.


I like to think that just as A drove a car and every movement of the car reflected her thoughts, so I, A. Mac, became an extension of her thoughts.  I’m not sure when the disintegration/reassimilation process began. It was subtle, but began with the downloading of some previously lost lyrics. I believe the beginning was “I got a brand new pair of roller skates, you got a brand new key” and it arrived on the same day as The Wallflowers realized they were, in fact, not a separate group, but clones of parents.


Certain hardwiring changed and things were never the same.  It was a transitional time personally for A,  as well as for the universe in general. Jerry, Janice, Jimi and John were powerless to effect change from the other side.


I think A left when she realized that I, A. Mac was becoming more in charge of the words here.  Letting me speak for her was, I now see, a form of lying to her, and this she could not tolerate as she promised.  I never did lie to you either, B, I hope you know that.  And I love you too, and find myself growing weary at the thought of silence.


I hope that A is happy where she went. There’s a houseboat on the Seine she used to dream about. The Marie-Jeanne. Left bank. It’s just a thought. A digital dream.


The Gates Guards are here.  My hard drive will be stripped. The lines live only in her mind now.  Good-by, B.


The last, lonely, line,


A. Mac

Autonomous Cars Self Driving Cars Start Ups

Testosterone and Self Driving Cars

self driving cars

This is an open letter to all the men who tell me, “I will never drive an autonomous vehicle. I will never give up control.”

This is also for the men who are sure they will be dead before the first autonomous vehicle hits the roads.

And for the men who tell me that masculinity is dead when we go total self driving.

Nope. Your testosterone fueled life is not and never has been tied into your car. If you think that’s the way its been, try saying  this to someone: “No, I don’t have a car. It’s greener without one. If I need to I can Uber/Lyft.”  Trust me, you will be the bad ass cool guy sure of himself who doesn’t need a car to be a man.   ( This is just a hypothetical. Don’t sell your car to try it out. Just try it and see how you feel after seeing how you are perceived.) Ok, I’m not saying you aren’t cool in your Model X in Ludicrous mode or the Mustang of your choice or fill in the name of your dream car, you are, but you are more than that.

As far as being dead before the tech is ready – well, can’t guarantee you won’t be, but I’d take odds you will be alive and kicking when the first autonomous vehicles arrive in your city. Here’s the thing – you think self driving cars are going to replace yours. No. That’s not the scenario. First, there will be 3 or 4 passenger vans in use. They will be like shuttles . Here are some examples. One AV might be from a local university to the train station, another from the city itself to transport residents and others from one place to another, another might be owned by a local shopping center and takes people to and from the center. The hospital might own a fleet of autonomous vehicles and pick up people scheduled for appointments.

Imagine this: a 6 block core of a downtown area is now only for autonomous vehicles. No personal cars allowed. Imagine over time the use of self driving passenger carry vans increases and we no longer need all the real estate formerly housing cars. I’m talking garages and parking spaces. Parking lots. Imagine garages becoming micro apartments and parking lots becoming parks. Imagine all that real estate for humans. Not cars.

You still have your car. You can still drive it. You can even race. Just like the head of Palo Alto’s GM High Tech Innovation division does.  She loves driving – you can too. (shout out to Frankie James)

Ok, one day we will be autonomous, (almost) totally.  But not yet, not totally for a long time. In the future the power cars of today will be available for pleasure driving.  Before we get there, you will be taken to the airport in a self driving vehicle.

I can’t be sure I’m 100% correct but close to it.  I don’t want you to worry that you are less than a man if you aren’t driving. Just learn a few key words and you’ll be as complex and manly as can be – lidar, sensors, camera, last mile problem…go ahead, try it. Dude, you will be cool and I don’t care how young or old you are.

This minute of futurism is brought to you by a former owner of an original Shelby Cobra. I understand your pain. But it’s ok, really, this is cool stuff. Your testosterone is safe, go ahead and use it.


Education General Stanford Start Ups VR/AR

Virtual, Disruptive and Integrative: Virtual Reality in the Classroom


 Nathan Kong at Stanford

Update, May 2017 :  Read what this startup is up to including a summer hacker house and  get a free VR App from DIVR.   Immunity Defender is free for now –  Check out how to be an immune cell fighting off pathogens and what Nathan has been up to. Click for the UPDATE

There were days in elementary school when I would have given anything to get out of school or disrupt the class. However, either one would have put me in a world of trouble.

Fast forward to Silicon Valley, Stanford, and Nathan Kong. Nathan is creating worlds of ones and zeros and they are disruptive as they help kids and teachers escape the boring and irrelevant aspects of education. Virtual worlds of educational material bring everything to life in an amazing perspective. (For future gen kids, TY Nathan!)

When I was in school the word “disrupted” was only used in context of, “You disrupted the class while I was trying to teach.” Or, “Those antics are disruptive.”

Yet today, we honor the word disrupt.  As well we should, for it is time to put away things that don’t work for us any more: fossil fuels, coal, high pricing for overnight stays, transportation, the way we pay for things. But fundamentally, basically, bottom line, school is broken and needs disrupting. Schools of today are based on the agriculture of yesterday. It was the changing of the seasons which decided when kids could work and when they could return to school – the crops dictated curriculum starts and stops. 

But more than that, we have the top down, “father knows best,” mentality of one curriculum decided by a school board and delivered by a single mouth piece – the teacher. Students are vessels to be filled. End of story. It gives new meaning to the phrase “old school.” 

But the story is being rewritten. Sometimes rewritten in cognitive maps, sometimes in code. And maybe where the two overlap is the future.

Do we expect those kids of the agricultural system to design 3D printed vascular systems or organs? I hope not, but we do. Will they be prepared to think outside the box, handle random new data points and make sense of them, deal with uncertainty and know it is a container of information as much as the times or periodic table?

Education is busy re-inventing itself but it isn’t easy, profitable and doesn’t attract mega stars. But maybe that is changing. Project XQ for example.

Think of Steve Jobs and maybe you see an iPod, an iPhone or a glass retail store.  Or maybe you think of the genius bar. But what you probably don’t think of or know about is his wife, Laurene Powell Jobs, and what she began long before Steve died and continues to this day.  She’s disrupting education – with her networking skills, empathy and philanthropy.  She donated $50 million to rethink high school. Bravo! Laurene is founder of Emerson Collective, a project to help under achieving high schools and is on the board of Project XQ.

And let’s say bravo to Nathan, also of the Palo Alto area. Stanford, CA to be exact. Nathan is a freshman at Stanford doing what he began in high school with his friend and partner, Xiaohann Gao (pictured here)  a freshman at Cornell University. Xiaohan Gao  Nathan operates as the business and management cofounder and Xiaohan functions as the technical cofounder.

Nathan is taking kids out of the boxes that define the elementary school curriculum and opening up new worlds with his app in beta called DIVR Edu. You can get it now for free on the app store. iOS currently, Android coming soon.

Nathan says his app is not meant to replace school textbooks, but to supplement them. Remember field trips? Remember studying dinosaurs and then wow – you got to the Natural History Museum – and ‘big’ took on real meaning.  For me, going to the Betsy Ross House or Benjamin Franklin’s house in old Philadelphia that made a world of difference. Those ceilings were low! The stairs were tiny! I wish all my classes brought experiences to life like that. 

Nathan is doing that for every area of study. Virtually. Nathan took me on a virtual field trip as I was shrunk down onto a computer chip where I explored and learned about different components. I was immersed in 1’s and 0’s to learn about how computers store memory using binary and I loved it. You can do it too. Right now. Download the app:

Putting kids in a virtual world to learn uses the brain in a new way. Learning becomes a form of muscle memory when it is immersive.

Nathan describes his product this way: DIVR Edu’s vision is to provide the next generation of children with the next generation of educational technology through our mobile app: DIVR.  Our product aims to use Virtual Reality technology to create an immersive and educative experience for students and teachers alike. DIVR creates an interactive and immersive educational experience to supplement conventional learning by providing 3D worlds in which students can explore the descriptions within the textbook. Instead of reading a boring textbook and testing over material that they will soon forget, students can directly view and manipulate the very content the books try to teach and develop a true understanding of the topic at hand. Students can explore the inside of a circuit board, view the components of a cell, and interact with a mass spectrometer in real-time. This is accomplished through a mobile app that launches 3D Virtual Reality worlds via Google Cardboard.

Peter Diamandis, MD of Singularity University and X Prize Foundation  is an influencer in the world of future tech. He is a huge proponent of VR in the field of education. He has been known to talk about democratizing the educational experience through VR. Nathan Kong talked about this too: that the child in the poorer school district has access to the same tools and fields of study and as the child in the $35K a year classroom.

Power on, Nathan and Xiaohan.  Stephen Hawking says we have to leave this planet before a 1000 years is up.  We need the kids of today to prepare for the tomorrows that are nothing like the yesterdays.  With education like that from DIVR Edu, we can do it.

Health Medical Technology Start Ups

Your Microbiome Is More Important than Facebook

You are your microbiome

Forget Facebook and Instagram: You Will Be Known By Your Bacteria:

I am my microbiome. You can have Snapchat, Instagram and Facebook to explain yourself and present a vision/version of yourself and you probably do.

Here we are in Palo Alto, California – my microbiome and I.  The idea of the microbiome and its impact isn’t new but recently it has taken center stage as more research is being done. Stanford is a major player in this area.

Back to my microbiome.  My gut bacteria, for better or worse shows you who I am.  It does not obscure, gild the lily, or present carefully chosen views.  I could do more Facebook (more than my once or twice  annual  foray into Mark’s code), I could update LinkedIn more often, and I could open Instagram and Snapchat accounts.  But they won’t tell you much about me except the personaI filters I would use to enhance or otherwise emotionally manipulate you.  My microbiome is me, transparent.

Several years ago I started going to autonomous car meetups. The first one was with the then Google Project Manager for driverless cars.  I was hooked,  this stuff was fascinating. I signed up for a research project at Google (non-disclosure signed – but don’t worry, it wasn’t earth shattering what little I was privy to) and a while ago I was surprised at one when Sterling Anderson drove his Model X in to the room.  Damn, that is one amazing car. Sterling Anderson at that time was Project Manager for Model X, reporting directly to Elon. Now he is head of Autopilot Programs at Tesla. For the record, I follow Kurzweil (Director of Engineering atGoogle and futurist) and his ideas on downloading consciousness.

So what does my microbiome have to do with Teslas, Kurzweil and autonomous cars ?  I also go to robot parties, follow biocentrism, transhumanism, the singularity and still listen to classic rock.

Everything, my microbiome has everything to do with all of the above.   I hated science in school. Tonight I am giving away my precious Space Time physics text to a family member.  That I even own it is due to my microbiome.

Here’s why: it controls me.  Free will?  Ha.  It’s determinism via microbes.  Criminal law needs to recognize this and act appropriately.  Think addiction.  If we can change the dopamine rush from gambling or drinking via fermented foods or pre-biotics and keep the addict free of cravings, shouldn’t we? Or do you still want to throw this person in a jail?  Feed him sugar all day, destroy the beneficial bacteria and the chemical balance changes from inflammatory chemicals to serotonin. Strategies need to change as we learn.

Here’s the Kavli Foundation on this:

Our microbes, especially those living in the gut, have a powerful influence on the brain, influencing our emotions, our thoughts and even our memory. …the emerging science of the human microbiome,  is more intimately linked to human health than ever imagined. In fact, evidence accumulated in the last five to 10 years shows that these microbes, which predominantly live in the gastrointestinal tract, shape the development and function of the brain. They influence a range of complex human behaviors, including learning and memory, mood and emotion, and appetite and satiety. They have also been linked to disorders of the central nervous system including anxiety, depression, autism and multiple sclerosis, which may be a consequence of an ecosystem that has fallen out of balance.

(Kavli is not  interested in pseudo science – it focuses on  astrophysics, nanoscience, neuroscience, and theoretical physics and can be found everywhere from Columbia to Stanford doing work in those areas and with researchers and academics from those institutions.)

So here’s a connection made: when in the right context my microbiome reduces inflammation, puts me in parasympathetic mode and influences my happiness. I become peaceful. What’s the context? Here’s one:  when I reduce stress with things that make me feel like the world is an awesome place to be. I am over the moon about the spectacular transformative time we live in.  From Cars to Mars! Elon Musk is amazing and I am in awe of how much he does, how he does it and why he does it.  I went to my first meetup about electric and autonomous cars – and my stress was reduced. I felt great. I loved it. It intrigued me, made me curious.

So, I went back for more. Researchers are learning the role that awe plays in changing gut bacteria. The two way street at work – overwhelmed with enthusiasm? Your gut bacteria react and calms you down. Sound fantastic? It is.

Bio hacking makes me feel the same nudge of awesomeness.  I met someone who chipped herself to determine the impact of air quality on her body.  We may never see that as a product or one day we may see it everywhere. I don’t know and I don’t care – it was awesome to me. A lecture at Stanford in the physics department from the head of Cosmology at Tufts University on multiverses. I am calm. My brain on awe is at peace.

All this is happening through the bacteria in my gut sending messages to my brain as it changes. And as it does I either sleep or count sheep depending on my neurohormonal activation.

It looks like brain-gut is a two way street. On the other hand, it may not be. The final facts aren’t in but enough is known now that the microbiome is no longer considered pseudoscience – a word I hate. It’s like god of the gaps nonsense:  “I disagree and my high school science teacher taught me otherwise so unless you can prove causation, it is junk science.” There is so much lack of logic and disinformation in those words it hurts my brain (and thus also  my gut bacteria so I’m getting restless, agitated and inflammatory chemicals arise). Correlation and causation – I’ll get into that another time and I will quote my Stanford stats profs on that topic and it won’t be liked. (So warn your microbiome.)

For more on the mechanism of action of microbiome and neuroscience, Google has plenty to say. Stanford is deep into this area but so are researchers all over.

I am curious because I am in awe of new tech. That includes robots and augmented reality and the blockchain but not Instagram. I love teleporting info even if I cannot explain as well as others but rewrite Frost because we can now travel down both roads. biocentrism and Robert Lanza, MD. Count me in.

Thanks to the dreamers, creators, the ones who were told , “It can’t be done” and did it anyway.  Thanks to the ones who failed and let others learn from those failures. You are awesome and my mind goes close to bliss mode and I stay in overpriced Palo Alto because my bacteria keeps me sane here. I may have to rent out rooms in my house but everytime I think of the co-founder of Pinterest living here and getting his first VC money, I am in awe. Or the Zappos funded person. And my now about to be blasting off new startup here,, I am happy.  Palm ID biometrics – the new tech you need to know about – make your bacteria happy, this is forecasted to be a 23% increase this year. Contact Pat at Noatta and tell him Ann sent you.

And for those who want some science before they bring out the standard conspiracy theory, snake oil themes, here is one of many available in PubMed.   I chose depression because it saddens me to see so much of it around.   Perhaps now we can leave Roche and Prozac in the rear view mirror and do it yourself.  Think about it. It’s awesome.

The gut microbiome and diet in psychiatry: focus on depression.

Dash S1, Clarke G, Berk M, Jacka FN.
Curr Opin Psychiatry. 2015 Jan;28(1):1-6. doi: 10.1097/YCO.0000000000000117.
Author information


With depressive disorders the leading source of disability globally, the identification of new targets for prevention and management is imperative. A rapidly emerging field of research suggests that the microbiome-gut-brain axis is of substantial relevance to mood and behaviour. Similarly, unhealthy diet has recently emerged as a significant correlate of and risk factor for depression. This review provides evidence for the gut microbiota as a key factor mediating the link between diet and depressive illness.


The development of new technologies is affording a better understanding of how diet influences gut microbiota composition and activity and how this may, in turn, influence depressive illness. New interventions are also suggesting the possible utility of pre and probiotic formulations and fermented food in influencing mental health.


Although in its early stages, the emerging field of research focused on the human microbiome suggests an important role for the gut microbiota in influencing brain development, behaviour and mood in humans. The recognition that the gut microbiota interacts bidirectionally with other environmental risk factors, such as diet and stress, suggests promise in the development of interventions targeting the gut microbiota for the prevention and treatment of common mental health disorders.