Archive for the ‘Government’ Category

A while back I wrote about my idea for an AI based elected official that would make decisions for us after analyzing all of the relevant information, whether that was voting records, poll results, census data, or the latest news.  Well, as it turns out, I may finally be getting my wish for a robot, known as Michihito Matsuda, is now running for mayor in Tokyo.

According to the Mirror:

“In a bid to offer ‘fair and balanced opportunities for everyone’, the robot mayor promises to analyze petitions put forward to the council, statistically breaking down the positives and negatives of its effect, as reported by Otaquest.

Michihito Matsuda also claims it can intake the dialogue and wishes of residents, before calculating the best course of action.

Finally, the artificial intelligence candidate claims to rationally compromise when conflicts arise between residents.”

The idea of turning over our policy decisions to a robot may have seemed far-fetched just a few years ago. But now?  Not so much.  When you’ve already turned over your decision making process to a failed reality TV star is it really that much of a stretch to then turn it over to a robot?  In fact, if Donald Trump was to run in 2020 against Michihito Matsuda who would you vote for?  For me, the choice would be easy.

Image result for michihito matsudaIs a robot politician the Greatest Idea Ever?


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Blockchain mania is officially upon us.  You can use it to trade digital cats, collect your favorite celebrities, and now…create your own government.  That’s the premise, at least, behind a new Blockchain application known as BitNation, that aims to give people freedom of choice when it comes to selecting which government services they prefer.

On the surface, BitNation, is more about providing legal services than creating entirely new forms of government.  What they are offering are essentially the same services that nations already provide such as dispute resolution, insurance, creating marriage certificates, issuing land deeds, etc.  Any time of government or legal service that you can think of, using any type of legal code already in existence.  Citizens maintain their sovereignty at all times and are free to join or leave a micro-nation as they wish.

The hope is that BitNation can help us resolve our conflicts in a more humane manner without having to resort to violence or back-handed politics, like we do when we’re back into corners by the archaic systems we currently have in place.

As The Next Web puts it, “In the real world individuals are forced to compete with each other in order to achieve their desired governance outcomes. However, this can often lead to violence, coercion, and conflict. With Bitnation’s Pangea software, a Decentralized Opt-In Jurisdiction, citizens can create nations, join voluntary nations on the Ethereum blockchain, and conduct peer-to-peer negotiations. It is aiming to reduce competition between citizens and increase competition among nations for citizens to improve the quality of governance.”

I’ve always wondered what the world would look like if we weren’t forced to adhere to strict boundaries.  If we were all basically citizens of one nation of Earth.  And while BitNation doesn’t share in that vision of unity it’s still a fresh start on the idea of governance.  An idea that we’ve already seen play out with Asgardia, the world’s first space-nation, and with Estonia’s push to allow anyone in the world to become a digital citizen.

The trend shows no signs of slowing down either.  According to The Next Web, “Bitnation’s technology already has over 200 new nations registered, more than 100 embassies and consulates, as many as 150,000 citizens on all five continents, and a positive open source community of over 2,000 contributors.”

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Is BitNation the Greatest Idea Ever?

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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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#1,225 – Estcoin

As the price of BitCoin, LiteCoin, Ethereum, and other blockchain based digital currencies continue to soar it’s worth investigating what the future of cryptocurrency might look like.  Will one of these currencies actually catch on or will something else come along and steal their thunder?

Luckily, one has to look no further than upstart Estonia for a case study, as the Baltic state is hoping to establish the estcoin as the hallmark of their digital dominion; an online based digital citizenship that they hope will be utilized not just by Estonians, but by people all over the world who want to be a part of their e-Residency program which would allow for anyone to become a digital citizen of their forward thinking country.

But how would the estcoin be used in such a digital society?  As a replacement for cash money?  As a unique identifier? Or as something else entirely?  The picture is beginning to take shape as the first proposed use cases were recently announced by Kaspar Korjus, managing director of the e-residency program.

According to Futurism:

“The first use case for the estcoin would be as a ‘community’ token. “The community estcoin would be structured to support the objective of growing our new digital nation by incentivizing more people around the world to apply for and make greater use of e-Residency,” wrote Korjus. “This includes encouraging investors and entrepreneurs to use e-Residency as their platform for trusted ICO activity.”

The second use case would be an ‘identity estcoin.’ In this case, the cryptocurrency would allow members of the e-Residency society to do such things as digitally sign documents or log into services safely and securely. These tokens could not be sold or traded — they would be inextricably linked to their owners.

The third use case is the most controversial. The ‘euro estcoin’ would have a value linked to that of the euro, the fiat currency used in Estonia. Korjus claims this estcoin wouldn’t be an alternative to the euro, the creation of which is currently prohibited for any nation within the euro zone, but would instead be a token that combines cryptocurrency’s advantages with the stability of fiat currency.”

I can see all of those use cases coming to fruition but what excites me the most is all the use cases than I can’t see coming.  For it’s fairly safe to assume that some kind of digital currency will be a part of our daily existence in the near future.  Trying to predict which one and in what regard is a whole different story.

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Is Estcoin the Greatest Idea Ever?

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Whenever a natural disaster hits my heart goes out to the victims.  And considering recent events, my heart has been going out a lot recently.  To the victims of flooding in Houston, to the victims of hurricane force winds in Florida, Puerto Rico, and the Caribbean, and to the victims of the Earthquakes in Mexico.

During trying times like these I often find myself wishing that I could do more.  But realistically what could I do when I live 3,000 miles away from the affected areas.  Short of donating money or gathering supplies there’s little recourse that I have.  It’s not like I can just pick up a shovel and start clearing debris.  But what if I could?

When a disaster hits I often hear that it could take months or years for the affected area to recover.  Some of these Caribbean islands that were devastated by back to back hits from hurricanes might never recover.  But what are these recovery time estimates based on? How long it would physically take to rebuild even if you had all the manpower and resources you needed?  Or a more realistic estimate based upon depleted resources and limited local manpower?

You may remember that Extreme Home Makeover TV show that was hosted by Ty Pennington.  With hundreds of people working around the clock, they could build an entire home in less than a week.  Wouldn’t it be possible then that if we literally had hundreds of thousands of people working around the clock that we could do an Extreme Home Makeover on an entire island or an entire town?  Couldn’t we get Puerto Rico or Mexico City back up and running in less than a month, instead of the years it will take according to the latest estimates?

Perhaps, but the issue is that manpower of that magnitude doesn’t exist.  The people in the affected area can’t really help that much themselves.  They might be injured, mourning the loss of a loved one, dealing with property damage, or physically depleted by a lack of local resources.  Military personnel, local law enforcement, aid workers, and a few church groups that have been bused in, are often left to do the heavy lifting.  But we can do better than that.  And we ought to.

What I’m envisioning then is a national program that will allow for people to volunteer to join disaster relief efforts.  Interested citizens could sign up for either one week, two week, or one month long deployments, and could rank their desired locations in order of preference.  Similar to Jury Duty, your employer would have to give you paid time off in order to complete your civic duty.  We could even gather students from high schools and colleges around the country, giving these young men and women credits to put towards their degrees in exchange for their volunteerism.

With an army of millions of paid volunteers at our disposal we could ensure that areas affected by natural disasters get back on their feet in no time at all.  Don’t we owe them that much? Or I suppose that we could just keep insulting them via Twitter instead.  That seems to be working out well so far.

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Is treating disaster volunteerism like Jury Duty the Greatest Idea Ever?

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This is next level awesome.

Last week in New York City, Comedy Central, and specifically the Daily Show with Trevor Noah, sponsored a comedic pop-up installation, the Donald J. Trump Presidential Twitter Library.  The installation, modeled after the libraries that every President since FDR has been honored with, mocks Trump in every possible way.

It’s a fitting tribute to a President who deftly used the micro blogging platform to rise to power.  Although, deftly may not be the right word to use since it’s clear that Trump is often flying by the seat of his pants, tweeting out insults at 3 am and using misspelled words like Covfefe that he later claims weren’t misspelled at all. It shouldn’t be surprising though that I can’t find the right word to use.  After all, I’m not Trump.  I don’t use the best words.

The museum, which only lasted for a few days, was located a block away from Trump Tower, and featured the Gone But Not Forgotten memorial that paid homage to infamous deleted tweets.  There was also a fake bank vault housing Trump’s mysterious tax returns and a replica of the Oval Office complete with a golden toilet.

But don’t worry.  If you missed out on all the fun you can still check it out.

According to CNN:

“If you didn’t get a chance this weekend to pop over to the pop-up ‘Donald J. Trump Presidential Twitter Library’ in New York City, Comedy Central has you covered.  The network created a 3D, interactive virtual tour you can take now that the exhibit has closed.”

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Is the Donald J. Trump Presidential Twitter Library the Greatest Idea Ever?

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