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If you thought CryptoKitties was bad you ain’t seen nothing yet. Welcome to the latest cryptocurrency craze, CryptoCelebrities.

Here’s how it works. Using Ethereum people can buy virtual trading cards of famous celebrities whether that’s Elon Musk or Emma Watson. The value of each card starts out cheap at like 2 cents a pop and then doubles every time somebody else wants to buy it. So, if someone else thinks that owning the Emma Watson card is worth 4 cents, you’ll have no choice but to hand it over to them. This goes on and on until you reach a point where someone is left holding a card that nobody else wants. Great for all the people who are doubling their money along the way. Not so great for the person who is left holding the card. It’s like a high stakes game of hot potato.

Is this really what we’re going to be using the transformative potential of the blockchain for? To trade virtual cats and celebrities? Fortunately, there may be another new blockchain based app that will actually do some good. It’s known as Climatecoin and its aim is to become the world’s first carbon neutral cryptocurrency. It works by attaching itself to the long standing idea of carbon credits in which nations that produce more than their allotment of carbon emissions can purchase credits from nations that have extra.

Futurism explains how the carbon credit system works:

“The idea behind the system is that everyone has a limit to the emissions they can produce. If a nation wants to exceed its limit, it must purchase a carbon credit. Each of these carbon credits serves as a permit to produce a certain amount of emissions; for example, one credit might equal one ton of carbon dioxide emissions.

If an entity ends up with extra carbon credits, it can trade them to others on markets such as the European Union’s Emissions Trading System (ETS).

From this system emerged voluntary carbon offsets. These give companies and consumers the ability to pay a certain amount to offset their own emissions. For example, an airline might ask passengers if they want to pay an extra $20 when purchasing a ticket to offset the emissions caused by their flight.

The money used to purchase carbon credits and offsets is given to projects attempting to help the environment, such as by developing renewable energy systems or protecting forests.

These credits give purchasers a way to effectively cancel out the amount of emissions they produce. They’re doing something bad to the environment, so they give money to someone attempting to do something good for it.”

Climatecoin piggybacks on that idea allowing for investors concerned with the negative environmental impact of cryptocurrency mining (due to the amount of electricity consumed during the process) to essentially purchase carbon credits. The money raised from this sale is then used to contribute to environmentally friendly projects.

All in all, Climatecoin is, as they say on their website, a way for people to invest in the planet. For example, through this technology you can arrange, in a transparent way, for peer to peer transactions that would raise money to fix the environment or you could use it to set up a peer to peer system of trading assets representing a certain amount of energy production. Either way you’d be doing something to try and fix the climate without harming it any further in the process. Surely, a much better use of ones time than collecting coins representing the cast of Friends.

 

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Is CryptoCelebrity the Greatest Idea Ever? Is Climatecoin?

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Between Black Mirror and Philip K. Dick’s Electric Dreams there is plenty of science fiction fodder on TV right now.  But what I want to focus on is an idea that was spotlighted a few months ago on an episode of The Orville.  In this episode the crew encountered a society on another planet that was built around the concept of a social credit score.  To the point where if you score was too low, the local coffee shop wouldn’t even serve you.

That idea of a social credit score isn’t just reserved for science fiction anymore.  It’s a real thing right here on Earth, happening right now in China.  It all started a few years ago with the proliferation of mobile payments and social apps such as AliPay and WeChat.  As people got use to using their phones to pay for things they began to use them more and more.  To pay for groceries.  To hail an Uber.  To even pay parking tickets or order food for delivery.

At this point the Network Effect began to take effect.  The more people used these services the more they became comfortable with the idea of giving up control of their data and the more willing they were to sign up for even more services.  And the more people that used these services, the more that other people also wanted to use them.

These tech companies could now know a lot about their users.  The purchases they made, the trouble they got into with the court system, their credit score, who they were friends with, where they were traveling to.  With all of that information at their disposal there was only one logical step to take.  Combining it all in a useful way.

Useful could be a dirty word though.  In the hands of the Chinese government useful data could be a bad thing as they would invariably want to keep tabs on their citizens and root out dissident.  But useful could also be a good thing in the hands of a tech company that wants to reward people for good behavior.

And that’s exactly how things have played out so far.  Citizens in China are receiving a social credit score, three digits, just like a real credit score.  Depending on what actions a person takes this score could go up or down.  If you get good grades in school, volunteer your time, shop for items that improve your health, etc. your score will go up.  Fail to pay a parking ticket, however, and your score could plummet.  So much so, that you might lose access to basic services.  In fact, you might even be denied a visa to travel to another country or lose out on certain job opportunities.

Is this a world that you’d want to live in? That depends on how much of a law abiding citizen you are.  If you sometimes forget to pay a bill on time this society is not for you.  If you do everything you’re supposed to you’d probably love living in a society like this, especially when you hear about all the perks and rewards you’d get for good behavior.  Such as being able to skip security lines at airports, receiving discounts on hotels, getting streamlined access to government services or receiving preferential profile placement on dating apps.

Now here’s where things get tricky.  Your social credit score isn’t just about you.  It also takes into account who your friends with and what their scores are.  In some regards, this makes sense.  You’d want to reward someone who travels in well respected circles, who uses good judgment when picking who to associate with.  But then again it’s also a little bit extreme.  People with low scores could essentially be ostracized from society because no one would want to be friends with someone who has a low score that could drag them down by association.

Could you imagine walking away from a life long friend just because they have a low score?  Would you be willing to do that to someone you care about?  Think long and hard about your answer.  You may have to decide that for real in just a few years.  The age of social credit is almost fully upon us.

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Is Social Credit the Greatest Idea Ever?

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3-D printing has yet to live up to its promise and like most nascent technologies the reason why has a lot to do with the lack of a killer app.  The kind of thing, that once introduced, makes it hard for people to live without.

So, what’s the paradigm shifting use-case for 3-D printing going to be?  Something for the household?  A food product?  A toy? Nah, the one everyday item that makes the most sense for driving the future success of 3-D printing is clothing.  Specifically, custom fit clothing.  The one problem that mass market production has never been able to solve.

All that may be about to change though thanks to Adidas and their Futurecraft 4D sneaker.

According to The Verge, “Adidas has been playing around with 3D printing as a manufacturing method for a while now, but its latest sneaker — the Futurecraft 4D — might be its most ambitious creation yet. The mid-sole of the shoe is created using a process known as Continuous Liquid Interface Production, in which the design is essentially pulled out of a vat of liquid polymer resin, and fixed into its desired shape using ultraviolet light.

The Silicon Valley company that created the method, Carbon, say it’s faster and more adaptable than traditional additive printing, and can make mass-production 3D printing a reality. Carbon is financed by funds set up by Google and General Electric, and say its methods allow for companies to go from design to product faster than ever. They also claim the final materials are more robust and flexible than traditional injection moulded plastics.”

What this means is that in 2018 we may finally be at the point where we can quickly and easily print custom sneakers.  This is welcome news, at least for me, for whom near pairs of sneakers never seem to fit.

Four minute mile here I come!

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Is Futurecast 4D the Greatest Idea Ever?

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The volatile Bitcoin is on the upswing again.  It’s now 4X as valuable as gold and according to some projections its value over the next few years could reach as high as $40,000.  But it’s not the only peer to peer digital network that’s making waves.  Ethereum is also fast on the rise with Microsoft announcing plans to create an Ethereum based blockchain framework that will allow large corporations to easily do business on these new decentralized networks in the future.

And make no mistake about it, the future is definitely heading towards decentralized networks.  Thanks to the Internet and various open-source movements it’s now easier than ever to share information and work together.  And people, just like atoms, inherently want to work together.  Charlottesville would seem to be evidence to the contrary but that’s the exception not the rule.  Overwhelmingly, people want to work together, want to be together.  It’s why we start families and live in cities.  And the same holds true for everything in the Universe.  It’s why atoms bond together.  Why multi-cellular organisms form.  Why galaxies cluster.

On a planet with billions of people and billions of computers it’s likely that a system will eventually emerge that would combine all of the resources at its disposal.  A global brain is an inevitability at this point, not a theory.  The proof is in the pudding.  Collaboration has literally happened every other time there’s been a similar opportunity so why wouldn’t it happen again?  Every solar system is proof of that.  Cosmic structures working together, the Moon governing tides on Earth, Jupiter acting as an asteroid barrier, the Sun creating the necessary conditions for life.  The Great Barrier Reef is also proof of that.  Millions of organisms working together to create a vibrant ecosystem.  The waste of one organism becoming the food for another as the largest organic structure on the planet forms over thousands of years.

Information wants to be free and it wants to be distributed as efficiently as possible, using the lowest possible energy.  This is the way that the real world works so why should the digital world be any different?  That’s why Ethereum is so exciting.  Central authorities like banks, governments, and corporations, the very entities that the 99 % is weary of, aren’t going to be needed anymore.  Anything we could possibly ever want to do, every type of transaction, every type of validation and verification, we can now do ourselves.  Easily.  Efficiently.  Securely.  Together. The future has arrived and we have the blockchain to thank.

Here’s a quick look at some of the first settlers of this brave new digital world, courtesy of Wired.  These are just some of the many entities laying the groundwork of the future, thanks to Ethereum:

  • “The Golem Project describes itself as ‘AirBnB for computers.’ Users can sell their machine’s unused computing power or buy it from others. Early adopters have already used it to render CGI images on strangers’ computers that would have otherwise been sitting idle. Those adopters did not need to trust that Golem would pay them for their computing time or that the code would run as promised; the transactions were guaranteed by the openness of the network. In the future, Golem could be an alternative or even a challenger to the current cloud computing hegemony.”

 

  • “Gnosis is another market DApp with a lot of buzz. It’s a prediction market, meaning users can bet on the outcome of events (i.e. ‘Will Roger Federer win the Australian Open?’) and question askers can leverage the ‘wisdom of the crowd’ to better predict an event’s outcome. Prediction markets have existed before, but they have always been heavily regulated and dependent on trust in a central source to determine the correct answer and dole out the money. ‘With Gnosis, we are not only using Ethereum to do payments. We are using it to build the core of the prediction market,’ says Gnosis co-founder Martin Köppelmann. ‘Previously, people had to send money to our company, our company would hold the money, and later we sent it back. Now the big difference is that it’s really peer to peer. We don’t touch users’ money.’”

Coindesk details several other Ethereum based apps poised to make a big impact including the Vevue Project, which aims to bring Google street view to life with embedded 30 second long user generated videos, KYC-Chain which verifies users identities, Eth-Tweet, a microblogging platform, and WeiFund, a crowdfunding app.

As you can see, the future is rife with opportunity.  Ethereum is the latest digital Wild West, the latest wide-open real estate in search of settlers.  If you missed out on the web movement and watched on the sidelines as Amazon ate the World now is your chance to get in on the ground floor.  If you missed out on making “a killer app” now is your chance to get in on the action.  If you’re a developer or an entrepreneur creating a new platform on Ethereum is where it’s at.  Aside from creating augmented or virtual reality based businesses there’s no better starting point.  We could very well be looking at a Web 2.0 scenario where every company, every business, every website suddenly becomes obsolete, replaced by an Ethereum based alternative.  What’s the Amazon of Ethereum going to look like?  Who is going to become the Google of Ethereum?  Will you be watching it all happen or will you be one of the ones making it happen?  The future has arrived.  Time to get onboard.

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Is Ethereum the Greatest Idea Ever?

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What do you do when you’re on one side of a debate and everyone else is on the other side?  When you know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that you’re right and they’re wrong?  Certainly, we’ve all been there before.  Empowered by the courage of our convictions, driven by the knowledge that we’re on the right side of history, we dig in our heels, casting aside our doubts, doubling down on our beliefs.  Which is exactly what a splinter group of Bitcoin proponents just did when they spun off Bitcoin Cash, an offshoot of the popular digital currency designed to process transactions at a much quicker rate than Bitcoin can currently handle.

Bitcoin was supposed to make physical money obsolete by decentralizing authority on a network of servers known as a Blockchain, but it’s widespread adaptation has been slow to develop.  It’s been nearly a decade since it was first developed by the mysterious Satoshi Nakamoto, who is either a real person or a group of people depending on who you ask, and despite all the hype and fanfare it’s still subject to wild price fluctuations and is not widely used.  In fact, it may be on the verge of getting displaced all together by another digital currency known as Ethereum.

The main problem with Bitcoin is a simple design flaw: it can only process seven transactions per second.  Seven!  Credit card companies can process thousands of transactions per second.  To be fair, it may be misleading to categorize this fact as a design flaw.  After all, it was designed in such a limited way on purpose, so that all computers could handle the cognitive load associated with mining coins.  Increase the processing power demands and you’d need better hardware to complete the transactions.  And if you need better hardware, you’re basically centralizing power in the hands of those few machines that have it, essentially defeating the entire purposes of starting the decentralized Bitcoin in the first place.

The problem is that if you don’t make a change and scale up from a system that can support seven transactions per second to a system that can support thousands you risk alienating your users.  After all, one of the main selling points of Bitcoin is that it was supposed to be able to route transactions faster than a normal bank could.  If that’s not going to be the case then you’re losing one of the main selling points of Bitcoin.  Damned if you do, damned if you don’t.

So what do you do if you’re one of the people who finds themselves fighting an uphill battle?  What do you do if you’re one of the people who realizes that expansion is necessary but isn’t happening fast enough for your liking?  What recourse do you have?  Well, what you do is take matters into your own hands and start Bitcoin Cash, breaking away from mainline Bitcoin.  In the short run, this may be a bad look.  It’s potentially confusing to investors and regulators alike and will just further slow Bitcoin’s push towards mainstream adaption.  But, in the end, it may prove to be necessary.  Vital even.

As Wired reports, “[Amaury] Séchet [a former Facebook engineer who has worked on Bitcoin] argues he’s fighting for the soul of bitcoin, and Bitcoin Cash will force the cryptocurrency community to take scalability more seriously, even if the project fails. ‘Either bitcoin does not scale and Bitcoin Cash will overtake it over time, or it will scale because of the pressure created by Bitcoin Cash,’ Séchet says. ‘Either is a win for Bitcoin users.’”

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Is Bitcoin Cash the Greatest Idea Ever?

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#1,069 – Ethereum

For years we’ve been hearing about how BitCoin is going to change the world by creating a secure digital currency that wouldn’t be susceptible to fraud or counterfeiting techniques.  While the hype machine was in overdrive smart people began to realize that the idea of BitCoin wasn’t really all that transformative after all.  The real genius lie in the mechanism behind BitCoin: the Blockchain.  Ever since this was realized entrepreneurs and corporations have been racing around the clock to create new Blockchain based businesses that would take advantage of this knowledge and capitalize on BitCoin’s momentum.  Now, just a few short years later, we may have an early winner in this race: Ethereum.

So what exactly is this new crypto currency?  Well, for starters it’s more than just a digital currency.  It’s really a platform for secure transactions and contracts of any kind.  According to their official website:

“Ethereum is a  decentralized platform that runs smart contracts: applications that run exactly as programmed without any possibility of downtime, censorship, fraud or third party interference.  These apps run on a custom built blockchain, an enormously powerful shared global infrastructure that can move value around and represent the ownership of property. This enables developers to create markets, store registries of debts or promises, move funds in accordance with instructions given long in the past (like a will or a futures contract) and many other things that have not been invented yet, all without a middle man or counterparty risk.”

Inc. does an even better job of summing up this new technology:

“If you aren’t familiar, what Bitcoin does for payments, Ethereum does for anything involving programming and computing. While it utilizes its own version of a blockchain, it is functionally different from Bitcoin. For example, on the Ethereum platform you could host a crowdfunding campaign or any type of ‘smart contract.’  Ethereum’s goal is to make a decentralized internet. And it has a very good shot at becoming ‘the new internet,’ literally. It could one day replace a lot of technology and ways that we host and execute code online.”

A new internet?!?! Sounds to me like the plot of this season’s Silicon Valley! But more than that, it also sounds like something that is inevitable.  So if you’re looking for a smart investment to make forget about BitCoin.  Ethereum is now where it’s at!

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Is Ethereum the Greatest Idea Ever?

 

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#896 -TradeHero

The idea of a fantasy stock market game isn’t new.  But TradeHero finally gets it right.  Because with this app you’re not just buying and selling fake stocks to build a phony portfolio in order to beat your friends.  That is part of it.  With real prizes on the line too.  But, the real heart and soul of the game is the educational aspect.  By following the success of other “heroes” you can actually learn useful advice to help you master the real stock market.  And best of all those “heroes” are able to profit from their success.

As Tech In Asia explains:

“On TradeHero, users who are less familiar with how stock markets work can learn how to trade. On top of that, more experienced users can earn money by monetizing their reputation as a talented and well-informed stock trader. This means that one user can subscribe to another user’s feed to know whenever they make a trade or post a comment. This information is valuable because it can then be applied to the real stock market.”

This is the fantasy football equivalent of having access to hundreds of Matthew Berrys.  Unofficial experts who you can use to help make valuable decisions once they’ve established themselves with a long track record of success.  Which is more than we can say for Berry.

Having access to this much crowd sourced unbiased information is a real game changer for middle class investors who may not be able to afford a financial advisor and who may not have sufficient knowledge about how the stock market works on their own.  Instead of blindly playing their hunches they now at least have a fighting chance of getting it right.  At least as much of a chance as one can have when it comes to the stock market.

Is TradeHero the Greatest Idea Ever?

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