1 Bitcoin = $308
Bitcoin’s continued operation is proof that rules can be enforced without authority. – Jameson Lopp
No Closing Bell for These Free-Marketites
Bitcoin runs 24/7, never sleeps, or takes a (banking) holiday. Almost 2500 days and counting. That’s resiliency. – Anthony Di Iorio
The Bitcoin Central Bank’s Perfect Monetary Policy
Bitcoin’s core service is its impeccable monetary policy. Everything else is epiphenomena. – Pierre Rochard
What Will Africa Look Like in 10 Years if Bitcoin Succeeds?
It will become much richer as millions of people can suddenly interact directly and get paid by employers in the developed world or receive remittances from their families at zero cost and without their local governments easily confiscating them.
Anyone with technical and language skills in Africa who can get online will suddenly be able to compete with US and European workers for jobs and wages. In 2025 people living in extreme poverty will be less than 5% of the world population. – flix
The Zambian Kwacha
God save the kwacha.
That’s what Zambian President Edgar Lungu wants his people to pray for on a national day of devotion and fasting on Sunday to reverse a decline in the world’s worst currency and fix a litany of problems from plunging copper prices to electricity shortages.
All bars, nightclubs and entertainment venues have been instructed by the government to shut on the day, while the Football Association of Zambia has canceled domestic games.
“These days are like the last days,” Gordon Chanda, a driver for a law firm, said as he sipped a Mosi beer at Sylvia’s Comfort bar, taking cover from a heat wave that hit the capital, Lusaka, this week. “We need more prayers.”
Lungu, 58, is seeking divine intervention to help an economy in crisis as government efforts fail to halt the kwacha’s 45 percent slump against the dollar this year, the most of 155 currencies tracked by Bloomberg.
“Anxiety and distress prevail throughout the land,” Lungu said last month when he proclaimed the day of prayer and fasting. “Indeed, hope seems to have deserted the minds of the people. It is almost as if the wise counsel of the learned among us are not a match to the crisis before us.”
Zambia has been beset by policy uncertainty and a weakening in spending controls that’s led to ballooning debt. – Matthew Hill
Emerging Economies: First Capital Outflow in 27 Years
A “triple fall” — in currencies, stocks and bonds — is taking place.
According to the Institute of International Finance, capital inflows to 30 major emerging countries in 2015 will decrease by 50% from 2014. Capital outflows from emerging countries will also decline but still exceed inflows by $540 billion.
This means direct investments — for participating in management and building factories, in the form of loans by financial institutions and money intended for securities investment — are dwindling.
By country, China will see a record net outflow of $477.5 billion because of an 80% decrease in investments and loans from overseas and because of wealthy Chinese sending their money overseas.
Russia, which is under economic sanctions from the U.S. and Europe, will face a net outflow of $57.5 billion, and politically unstable Malaysia will suffer an excess outflow of $33.4 billion. – Nikkei Asian Review
Hedge Fund Borrows $10 Million in Stock via the Bitcoin Blockchain
Through a new operation it calls TØ.com, online retailer Overstock.com and its freethinking CEO, Patrick Byrne, have built a system for issuing, buying, selling, and even borrowing stocks and bonds on the blockchain.
Clique Fund, a hedge fund based in New York City, used this system to borrow shares in the 30 stocks that make up the Dow Jones Industrial Average.
Previously, TØ.com, an Overstock subsidiary, had used the system to issue a private bond to Byrne himself. Later, it issued a mostly symbolic bond to an outside company called FNY Capital. But the Clique Fund transaction is more than just a symbol. “This is a real trade,” says John Tabacco, who founded TØ together with Byrne.
According to Tabacco, TØ has been facilitating stock loans for the past two weeks, with five different customers borrowing stock, including Clique Fund. Tuesday’s transaction is the largest to date. “We’re starting to get critical mass—institutional-sized trades,” he says.
Overstock and TØ believe this system could particularly benefit the stock loan market, which is controlled by a select group of middlemen, including prime brokers such as Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley, as well as “agent lenders” such as BNY Mellon and State Street. To a certain extent, TØ’s system can cut out these middlemen and reduce the cost of stock borrowing.
Basically, organizations that want to make some extra money loaning out stock—such as pension funds—can offer up this stock through the TØ system. The system uses the blockchain to attach digital tokens to each share, and then, hedge funds and other traders can bid for these “pre-borrow asset tokens,” which provide the right to borrow the share. Using these tokens, stock holders can closely track each transaction involving their loaned stock.
That’s no small thing. Stock loans are an enormous part of the worldwide financial system. In borrowing stock, traders can short sell (sell the borrowed stock and reap the profit when the price goes down) or they can hedge other trades. The global stock market spans about $101 trillion in financial securities, and according to research from DataLend, about $1.7 trillion is out on loan at any given moment. That figure tops $954 billion in the U.S. alone.
At the same time, Overstock and TØ are also aiming to remake the public stock market as a whole. Their system provides a way for companies to issue stock, and it’s seeking SEC approval to do so publicly. As it waits for an SEC greenlight, TØ has shown that the system can be used to issue private bonds—similar to what Nasdaq is trying to do with its Nasdaq Private Market system. – Cade Metz
COMPANIES / PROJECTS / PRODUCTS
The conditions for starting a business anywhere in the world today are better than they were in Silicon Valley 20 years ago. – Dave McClure
How to Find Something You Would Die for, and Live for It
Too many people spend their whole life on a treadmill striving for financial success and/or fame.
People often take a job or start a company because they think it’s a quick way to get rich or get noticed, i.e. to be successful.
On the flip side, when I start a company to solve a problem truly important to me, one that excites me, even if the solution takes 10 years, every one of those 10 years are well spent — educational and fulfilling.
Here’s an exercise:
Write down the top three items you are most excited about, or most piss you off (that you want to solve).
For each of the problems you’re considering, score them as follows:
ASSESSMENT QUESTION Score (1-10)
- If at the end of your life, you had made a significant dent in this area, how proud would you feel?
- Given the resources you have today, what level of impact could you imagine making in the next 3 years?
- Given the resources you expect to have in 10 years, what level of impact could you imagine making in a 3-year period?
- How well do I understand the problem?
- How emotionally charged (excited or pissed off) am I about this?
- Will this problem get solved with or without you involved? (10 means you would make a big difference; 1 means a small difference.)
Now, add up your scores and identify the idea with the highest score.
This is your winner, for now. Does this one intuitively feel right to you?
Ultimately, it’s about creating a life worth living – what wakes you up in the morning and gets you excited.
Tesla Autopilot 7.0 Unleashes Self-Driving Capabilities on Model S
Tesla’s use of an over-the-air update to create self-driving cars is one of the most important things ever to happen in technology.
Think of the foresight required. Hardware sensors had to be built years in advance to accommodate the future software. Think of the boldness. Establish facts on the ground – everywhere. Ship the future so fast they can’t ban it. The Network outruns the State.
There will be rearguard actions. Some states may try to ban it. Cross a border, car turns dumb. The future: now a geographical patchwork.
But on balance, Tesla has set a new precedent for permissionless innovation. And it can be applied to many other verticals outside cars. – Balaji S. Srinivasan
Regulators will not allow full autonomy for one to two years – maybe one to three years – after that. It depends on the particular market; in some markets the regulators will be more forward leaning than others. But in terms of when [full autonomy] will be technologically possible, I think three years.” – Elon Musk
I never thought I’d see autonomous automobiles driving on the freeways.
It wasn’t many years ago [they] put out a request to see who could build a car that could go across the Mojave Desert to Las Vegas from a place in Southern California, and several engineering teams across the country set out to do this. Nobody got more than about 300 yards before there was a problem.
Two years later, they made the full 25-mile trip across this desert track, which I thought was a huge achievement, and from that it was just a blink before they were driving on the freeways.” – Gordon Moore
Self-Driving Cars Forecast to Reduce Accidents by 90 percent
May become greatest health achievement of the century
There are 2.5 million rear end collisions per year in the USA, accounting for 40% of all accidents. The only accidents the google self driving cars have been in are when they have been rear ended by a human driver.
The self driving cars will aways remain a safe distance behind the car in front because they don’t have an ego telling them they literally own the road. – Maria Meadowcroft
As The Atlantic reports, automated cars could save up to 300,000 lives per decade in the United States. Their reporting is based on this research paper by consulting firm McKinsey & Co., which is filled with fascinating ways that self-driving cars will help us accident-prone humans by midcentury.
From the McKinsey report:
Today, car crashes have an enormous impact on the US economy. For every person killed in a motor-vehicle accident, 8 are hospitalized, and 100 are treated and released from emergency rooms. The overall annual cost of roadway crashes to the US economy was $212 billion in 2012. Taking that year as an example, advanced Advanced Driver Assisted Vehicles (ADVS) and Automated Vehicles (AVs) reducing accidents by up to 90 percent would have potentially saved about $190 billion.
AVs could free as much as 50 minutes a day for users, who will be able to spend traveling time working, relaxing, or accessing entertainment. The time saved by commuters every day might add up globally to a mind-blowing one billion hours.
McKinsey also points out that parking will become much easier, “reducing the need for parking space in the United States by more than 5.7 billion square meters,” and that the entire insurance model — based on human error — will shift to a one “focusing mainly on insuring car manufacturers from liabilities from technical failure of their AVs,” much like that for cruise lines or shipping companies. That might just lower your monthly insurance payment, too. – Molly Brown
The Health Nucleus
The Health Nucleus is Human Longevity’s first health center
$25,000 gets you “a physical on steroids.”
This October Human Longevity Inc will open a “health nucleus” at its La Jolla headquarters, with expanded genetic and health services aimed at self-insured executives and athletes.
The center, the first of several Craig Venter hopes to open, will carry out a full analysis of patients’ genomes, sequence their gut bacteria or microbiome, analyze more than two thousand other body chemicals, and put them through a full-body MRI scan.
The Health Nucleus platform uses whole genome sequence analysis, advanced clinical imaging and innovative machine learning – combined with a comprehensive curation of personal health history – to deliver the most complete picture of individual health.
The Health Nucleus provides a novel approach devoted to exploring, quantifying and beginning to understand as much as possible about individual health and disease risk. – Human Longevity Inc
Skype Update Offers Real-Time Voice Language Translation
Microsoft first released Skype Translator almost a year ago as a standalone app designed for Windows 8.
Early adopters have been providing regular feedback to Microsoft, and the company clearly feels it’s time to open up its Skype Translator to everyone using the Windows desktop app.
The software giant is integrating its impressive translation feature directly into the desktop version of Skype, opening it up to Windows 7, Windows 8, and Windows 10 users.
Six voice languages will be supported at launch, including English, French, German, Italian, Madarin, and Spanish. Skype will now let you hold a conversation in any of them, without ever needing to learn a language.
Microsoft will roll out an update to the Skype for Windows desktop app over the next few weeks, and a new translator button will show up within conversations. You can enable translation for audio and video calls, but if you just want to translate instant messages then 50 languages in total will be supported. – Tom Warren
LEARNING / EDUCATION
Augmented Reality Education
The future of learning, if this new Magic Leap video is any indication, is mighty interesting. – Subrahmanyam KVJ
Government Controlled Compulsory Education is a Terrible Idea
Any society that lets the government take over education of children is a society that deserves what comes to it. – J S
One of last bastions of full-blown socialist policies around the world is in the area of education. Control of education is the crown jewel of government control.
Government has you for the first 18 years of your life (at least). Then the government’s media picks up where the schools leave off, and take over from there.
No matter how much failure the government’s school “system” produces, and no matter how many resources are flushed down the drain, it will fight tooth and nail (to the very end) to maintain control of education.
Despite the fact that this so-called education has become so horrendous (as parents who are currently dealing with “Common Core” can attest to), the cries are always for “fixes”. Of course, demands for more money to toss into the black hole are a given. But as Ludwig as Von Mises proved long ago, socialism cannot be fixed. It is doomed to failure no matter what. Without market exchanges, and without market prices, the comrades and czars are helpless.
A complete free market in education is the only solution, with consumers freely choosing what their children will be taught. There must be no government involvement whatsoever. No force.
Parents, as the consumers, would provide the funding. As a result it would be the parents that would be in control of what is being taught. If they do not approve, they remove their funding and look to a competitor that will better satisfy their child’s needs. As with everything else, where free markets exist, competitors will tailor their products and services to the demands of consumers. Not to do so would mean immediate bankruptcy.
Naturally, the government will never voluntarily remove itself from education. It is much too important to their hold on power. They will continue to shuffle the deck chairs for as long as possible.
Fortunately, like the U.S. Postal Service, the government’s “schools” will eventually become obsolete. The advance of technology, the Internet, and communications, will ultimately bury them. In practice, they are already obsolete. It just takes time for new ideas, methods and habits to spread far and wide. – Chris Rossini
A ‘Major Breakthrough’ to Extend Moore’s Law via Carbon Nanotubes
In transistors, size matters — a lot. You can’t squeeze more silicon transistors (think billions of them) into a processor unless you can make them smaller, but the smaller these transistors get, the higher the resistance between contacts, which means the current can’t flow freely through them and, in essence, the transistors and chips built based on them, can no longer do their jobs.
Ultra-tiny carbon nanotube transistors, though are poised to solve the size issue.
In a paper published on Thursday in the journal Science, IBM scientists announced they had found a way to reduce the contact length of carbon nanotube transistors — a key component of the tech and the one that most impacts resistance — down to 9 nanometers without increasing resistance at all. To put this in perspective, contact length on traditional, silicon-based 14nm node technology (something akin to Intel’s 14nm technology) currently sits at about 25 nanometers.
These results put the world one step closer to carbon nanotube-based integrated circuits. Such chips could conceivably run at the same speed as current transistors, but use significantly less power.
At maximum power these carbon nanotube chips could run at significantly faster speeds. Not only does this promise a future of ever faster computers, but it could lead to considerably better battery life for your most trusted companion — the smartphone. – Lance Ulanoff
Back to the Future: Truth is Stranger than Sci-fi
In many ways, the 2015 of reality is even more radically altered from what filmmakers Robert Zemeckis and Bob Gale could have imagined, say futurists who study and project trends.
What we can do with smartphones now was almost inconceivable then.
“Their capabilities today, including access to all information on the planet, would have absolutely astounded even most futurists of 30 years ago… who didn’t imagine a phone would be for anything other than speaking and texting,” Sydney-based futurist Ross Dawson told AFP.
“Back when the movie was made, people looking at the reality of today would find it quite mind-boggling.”
Technology we would now struggle without — such as Google and Wikipedia, social networking sites Facebook and Twitter, smartphone GPS, and online shopping, would have been hard to envisage when the movie came out.
In the film, Marty, played by a young Michael J. Fox, receives a dismissal notice at home by fax — a now-clunky technology that seemed cutting-edge in the 1980s. The Internet revolution was lurking just around the corner, and the world had yet to receive email.
In 1985, only about a quarter of US households had a microwave oven, and videocassette recorders (VCRs) were the must-have viewing technology.
Today you can buy a home 3-D printer on the Internet for a few hundred dollars, which can produce anything from a gun that squirts water to one that shoots bullets.
We can “download” songs and “stream” films — terms that did not even exist in 1985.
We can edit the human genome to fix disease-causing DNA, we have grown hamburger “meat” from cow muscle cells, and we have placed a robot probe on a comet hundreds of millions of kilometres from Earth.
“Humans very quickly get used to innovations and take them for granted,” said Dawson, founder of the Future Exploration Network, which offers scenario planning services. – Astro Awani
A Few Amazing Things We Have Today, That Back to the Future Missed
- Rapid, cheap whole genome sequencing and editing: We now have the ability to sequence a full human genome for under $1,000. The technology is developing at 3x the rate of Moore’s Law. We now have the ability to cheaply and precisely edit the genome with CRISPR/CAS 9. This will open up a new frontier of health and longevity that will have enormous implications on the future.
- 3D Printing: You can 3D print just about anything these days from 300 different materials — plastics, metals, concrete, chocolates, human cells. Complexity is free and scalability is inherent.
- Emergence of AI: We are in the early days of artificial intelligence. Tens of billions in capital are being poured into an AI “arms race” over the last decade. One fun recent example is Tesla’s “autopilot” software upgrade that just came out — their AI can drive you autonomously on the highway.
- On-Demand Economy: Amazon is working on same-day delivery mechanisms (possibly using drones). Uber has become ubiquitous as the simplest, most reliable way to get around.
- GPS: We really take for granted how good the GPS units in our phones really are. They receive up-to-the-second traffic data, route us to the shortest path, and even give us “street view” or satellite imagery to investigate what a place looks like before we get there.
- Private Spaceflight and Hyperloop: While Back to the Future flaunted flying DeLoreans, I’m proud of where we are with private spaceflight and the start of Hyperloop.
In Defense of Technology
The children don’t believe me when I tell them life used to be hard.
My daughter rolls her eyes whenever I begin my stories of woe. “Here he goes,” she says. “Tell the one about how you used to walk to school alone. And the other one, about how you had to remember people’s phone numbers!
“You know, darling. It wasn’t so long ago. And it wasn’t such a hardship either. There was actually something quite pleasant about, say, getting lost as you walked in a city, without immediately resorting to Google Maps.”
The infant experience of the easy life can only ridicule the idea that patience and effort used to be fine. But I’ve been trying to examine the problem from a new angle, and I keep coming back to the same truth: Life is better.
To believe in progress is not only to believe in the future: It is also to usher in the possibility that the past wasn’t all that. I now feel — and this is a revelation — that my past was an interesting and quite fallow period spent waiting for the Internet.
At home, I’ll continue to cause a festival of eye-rolling with my notion that some values were preserved by the low-tech environment, but, more generally speaking, life has just gotten better and better. The question is: How far would you go with that?
My daughter’s mother goes all the way. “I can sit in my holiday house in the country,” she says, “and order furniture, clothes, anything really, to come from London and Paris. It’s killed provincialism. It’s also killed human loneliness.”
“That’s shocking,” I say. “Luxury can’t kill loneliness.”
“You want to bet?”
So, I’ve been on the back foot. I didn’t know it when I was young, but maybe we were just waiting for more stuff and ways to save time. Is that right? Were we just waiting for Twitter to come along and show us there were sexy and clever people out there and funny stuff happening all the time in places we’d barely even heard of?
Then I got over it — and some. I’ve come fully round to time-saving apps. I’ve become addicted to the luxury of clicking through for just about everything I need. Yesterday morning, for example, I realized I needed to know something about a distant relative for a book I’m writing. I’m old enough to remember when one had to pack a bag and take a train; when one had to stand in queues at libraries, complete an application form, then scroll for hours through hard-to-read microfiche and take notes and repeat. I’m not 104, but I wrote a whole book that way, my first, and it took forever and it didn’t add much to most of the paragraphs. Yesterday, I had the information from an archive website in about 20 minutes. Then I made a list of winter clothes to purchase from Mr. Porter. Then I ordered a car from Uber to take me to King’s College London to teach a class, and I emailed my notes to my office computer from the car and I dealt with a dozen emails and I read a review of a restaurant I was going to that evening and watched part of a video of a ballet I was due to see before dinner.
What has been lost? Nothing. Has something gone out of my experience of life by ordering all the shopping on Ocado rather than by pushing a cart around the aisles of a supermarket for an hour and a half? Yes: A pain in my backside has been relieved. It is all now done by a series of small, familiar flutterings over the keyboard, which I can do at my leisure, any time of day or night, without looking for the car keys or straining my sense of sociability by running into hundreds of people who are being similarly tortured by their own basic needs. I’ve always liked music, the sheer luxury of having a particular recording there when you want to hear it, but nothing in my long years of hunting for and buying records can beat Spotify. I’ve heard many a nostalgist say there was something more, well, effortful, and therefore poetic, in the old system of walking for miles to a record shop only to discover they’d just sold out. People become addicted to the weights and measures of their own experience: We value our own story and what it entails. But we can’t become hostages to the romantic notion that the past is always a better country.
Getting better is getting better. Improvement is improving. There will, of course, always be people who feel alienated by a new thing and there might be a compelling argument to suggest all this availability is merely a high-speed way of filling a spiritual gap in our lives. Yet I can assure you there was no lack of spiritual gap in the lives of people living in small towns in 1982. It was just a lot harder to bridge that gap. We used to wait for years for a particular film to come on television, thinking we might never see it. One had practically to join a cult in order to share a passionate interest.
Technology is not doing what the sci-fi writers warned it might — it is not turning us into digits or blank consumers, into people who hate community.
My daughter was right to laugh. Because what she was hearing was a hint of vanity and a note of pride in my stories of the unimproved life. In point of fact, we sat in the past and burned with the desire to get out, to meet people, to find our voices, to discover the true meaning of luxury in our confrontation with a panoply of genuine choices. Our wish wasn’t to plant a flag on the ground of what we knew and defend it until death, but to sail out, not quite knowing what was past the horizon but hoping we might like it when we got there. – Andrew O’ Hagan
The Most Important Thing, and It’s Almost a Secret
Hats off to the media trolls that are able to get people outraged in literally the greatest time to be alive in the history of the universe. – Michael Goldstein
One survey found that two-thirds of Americans believed that the proportion of the world population living in extreme poverty has almost doubled over the last 20 years. Another 29 percent believed that the proportion had remained roughly the same.
That’s 95 percent of Americans — who are utterly wrong. In fact, the proportion of the world’s population living in extreme poverty hasn’t doubled or remained the same. It has fallen by more than half, from 35 percent in 1993 to 14 percent in 2011 (the most recent year for which figures are available from the World Bank).
When 95 percent of Americans are completely unaware of a transformation of this magnitude, that reflects a flaw in how we journalists cover the world — and I count myself among the guilty. Consider:
• In 1990, more than 12 million children died before the age of 5; this toll has since dropped by more than half.
• More kids than ever are becoming educated, especially girls. In the 1980s, only half of girls in developing countries completed elementary school; now, 80 percent do.
Granted, some 16,000 children still die unnecessarily each day. It’s maddening in my travels to watch children dying simply because they were born in the wrong place at the wrong time.
But one reason for our current complacency is a feeling that poverty is inevitable — and that’s unwarranted.
The world’s best-kept secret is that we live at a historic inflection point when extreme poverty is retreating.
“We live at a time of the greatest development progress among the global poor in the history of the world,” notes Steven Radelet, a development economist and Georgetown University professor, in a terrific book coming in November, “The Great Surge: The Ascent of the Developing World.”
“The next two decades can be even better and can become the greatest era of progress for the world’s poor in human history,” Radelet writes.
So let’s get down to work and, on our watch, defeat extreme poverty worldwide. We know that the challenges are surmountable — because we’ve already turned the tide of history. – Nicholas Kristof
No Limits to Growth
Humans are not only mouths to feed, but also hands to work and brains to think up new solutions.
Prior to the emergence of humanity, Julian Simon and others had long pointed out, the Earth was replete with fertile soils and hydrocarbon and mineral deposits, but there were no resources. It was human action that turned otherwise useless physical stuff into valuable things, a process that could go on forever as it was ultimately powered by the always renewable and expanding human intellect.
Creative and entrepreneurial populations could thus grow almost indefinitely as, building on past advances to which they added new ideas, they would find ever better ways to feed themselves and improve overall standards of living. Any notion of natural limits or “carrying capacity” was therefore nonsensical.
Proponents of what is sometimes labeled “resourceship” observed that a population that engages in trade will deliver greater material abundance per capita than more self-sufficient individuals and communities. (In other words, one hundred people who specialize in what they do best and trade with each other will produce and consume far more than one hundred times more what one individual would on his own.) The more human brains, the greater the likelihood of new beneficial advances. So while the cream of mineral deposits would always be skimmed first, advancing technologies insured that profitable resources would be created out of previously valueless, perhaps even inaccessible deposits.
Other things being equal, a smaller population would never achieve the standards of living delivered by a greater number of brains and producers. And in a functioning market economy, a rise in the price of a commodity will always spontaneously motivate economic actors to look for more of it, use it more efficiently and develop substitutes. – Pierre Desrochers & Vincent Geloso
There are Plenty of Ideas—Really Big, Great Ones—Left to be Imagined
It’s irrational, frankly illiterate, to not be optimistic.
We’re going to see a blossoming across essentially every front, unprecedented in human technological history. This is not something that’s hoped for. This is baked in the cake. – Lowell Wood
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