DDI Tech Newsletter, Week of August 13
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DDI Writer Highlights
Each week we bring our readers a couple of hand-picked stories from the DDI community. Want your story featured? Submit your best here.
Head’s up: You’re probably wondering, “Why are half of these about blockchain?” Well, we made an oopsie in the last issue of the newsletter by sharing all the tech-focused articles meant for this issue. Blockchain still counts as technology, so we’ve switched them around this week. No biggie!
Wisdom from You
“The next thing we may see is the rise of privacy marketing in which the corporate image is built on the promise of zones free of recording devices.”
“Technology Disruption will decimate Congress piece by piece.”
“You can live past 100, it’s guaranteed.”
“If you are signing up with a big VC, have an open conversation first on how they will make the decision to lead the next round.”
“because DLT-based trading has an embedded protection against double-spending, settlement on a blockchain is intrinsically cheaper and faster than with traditional markets.”
- Why pay for what you don’t use? Simple enough. But the future that Emile NicLeold proposes with blockchain is: why pay for what you use when it benefits the network? “Blockchain has the potential to revolutionize how companies compete, and stakeholders collaborate.”
- We hear a lot about traceability when it comes to blockchain, and Etherscan makes that a reality. Rather than hiding behind opaque code, Etherscan allows users to enter a transaction identification number and see where their transaction is in real-time. Kevin Gabeci breaks down how this system works and why it might just be the future of digital finance.
- Centralized baddies versus cyberpunk freedom-fighters. That’s the narrative we’ve all come to know and love, isn’t it? Reality is often more complicated than Us vs. Them, and Wall Street has done much to advance the cause of distributed finance, for better or for worse. Cheeky Timmy explains how all that glitters is not gold and how the financial ivory tower of Wall Street may be blockchain’s biggest fangirl yet.
- Keep your friends close and your enemies closer. That adage is doubly true when it comes to the Byzantine’s General Problem, a four-square game of Clue that entails a mathematical whirlwind of potential problematic paths to victory. Vince Tabora outlines how this cynical game of whodunnit can be solved using the innovative technology of blockchain.
- Seriously. The man on the TV said it. Sure, he may have said it when it was $1, $1000, and $10,000 (arguably right about the last one), but don’t do it. Aleksandar Svetski offers a tongue-in-cheek overview of Peter Schiff’s increasingly tired argument: “All that glitters is a scam.” While new, novel, and nuanced, Bitcoin doesn’t seem to be going away anytime soon, love it or hate it.
In the News
Also, Google launched its newest smartphone, the Pixel 4a.
While we’re on the subject of smartphones, Chinese telecom giant Huawei shipped more smartphones worldwide than any of its competitors in Q2 2020. However, US sanctions are putting pressure on the company’s access to processor chips to build smartphones. This tailwind comes after the US eliminated Huawei’s access to US hardware and software in 2019.
To infinity and beyond!
SpaceX successfully put 57 more Starlink satellites in orbit, using the company’s reusable Falcon 9 rocket. The company has managed to add 595 Starlink satellites in its mega-constellation to-date.
Also, SpaceX, along with United Launch Alliance, scored $billions in Pentagon rocket contracts. NASA must be feeling a bit jealous these days.
The Changing Landscape
No wasted space
A notable shopping mall real estate group, Simon Property Group, is in talks with Amazon about filling abandoned malls with Amazon distribution centers. While COVID slashed any hope for reviving dying mall culture, Amazon aims to make lemons into lemonade.
These spaces may even become hubs for Amazon’s grocery delivery services. Not to be bested, Walmart is joining forces with Instacart to provide same-day delivery to challenge Amazon’s market share.
A boost for 5G in the US
The US government plans to redirect the 3.5GHz spectrum from military use toward consumer 5G in 2021. 3.5GHz is ideal for 5G networks, which will be crucial for developing the Internet of Things, smart cities, autonomous vehicles, insanely fast mobile internet speeds, and much more.
The development of 5G will be crucial for advancements in AI, which, according to a recent study by the US Census Bureau, is only utilized by roughly 9% of firms.
Privacy & Free Speech
The Clean Network
The US Department of State has released a five-part plan for safeguarding sensitive information of US citizens and companies. Dubbed the “Clean Network” program, the press statement was shy of putting the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) in the spotlight.
Over 30 countries have already committed to the plan, but implementation is an ongoing process.
In the wake of the TikTok drama, some believe there will be an inevitable splintering of the internet into two (US and China), possibly even three (EU) parts.
Privacy is kind of a big deal. However, there’s serious money to be made for snapshots of that beautiful face of yours. Facial recognition is a massively contentious issue today. Some parts of the US, such as Portland, Oregon, have banned the tech outright.
Clearview AI, a facial recognition startup, hired Floyd Abrams, the nation’s First Amendment expert, to challenge multiple allegations against the company of violating privacy laws.
Clearview AI collects images from the internet, then sells access to the database to law enforcement agencies. The company’s app matches the images for likeness and scours the net for similar photos. People aren’t happy with companies selling their faceprints without their permission. Abrams will defend Clearview AI in court on the grounds of free speech.
Speaking of free speech,
Facebook reports its AI detected 95% of the 22.5 million instances of hate speech removed from the platform in Q2 2020. However, many believe it’s still not enough, stating the company needs to be more proactive in detecting and eliminating hateful and misleading content.
The greatest threat
Boston Dynamics keeping you awake at night? There may be a more imminent threat to fuel your insomnia. A team of experts compared 18 different categories of AI threats and found that deep fakes were the most significant threat humanity will need to contend with quite soon.
TikTok Saga continues
TikTok plans to sue the US government in response to President Trump’s executive order to ban the company from operating in the United States.
Microsoft is in talks with ByteDance to buy its overseas TikTok operations, and Trump will only allow a little over a month to seal the deal.
The WSJ also found TikTok has circumvented a privacy feature of Google’s Android operating system to collect tracking data from millions of mobile devices. Also, users have no way of opting out.
Trump’s decisions have not been good news for China. Annual iPhone shipments from China may drop by 25%-30% if the US orders Apple to remove WeChat from its app stores globally. Such a hit would further accelerate the migration of factories from China to other cost-effective regions globally.
What’s Bitcoin, anyway?
Celebrated as “digital gold” by some and “purely money” by others, Bitcoin means many things to many people. Bitcoin Basics: Getting Started With Bitcoin will help you start your journey with Bitcoin.
This book will help you feel comfortable with the fundamental concepts that make up Bitcoin, whether you seek to be informed or are ready to engage with Bitcoin hands-on. Learn key features of the Bitcoin network, explain how to transfer Bitcoins from one person to another, delve into Bitcoin’s history, and much more.
In Other News
Central banks target magic internet money | The People’s Bank of China is testing its new digital currency in several major Chinese cities. Officials hope to steal some of Alibaba and Tencent’s thunder in the digital payments arena. Their goal is to simplify digital payments and interbank settlements.
Very special effects | What does The Lion King (2019 film) have to do with the future of filmmaking? A lot. Ben Grossmann, Award-winning visual effects mastermind at AR/VR company Magnopus, just blew my mind.
Films are being made with game engines like Unreal and Unity, along with virtual and augmented reality, allowing film directors to walk around a virtual set. This line from Ben sent me down a deep rabbit hole:
“You can pick up a tree and move it. You can grab the Sun and change the light. You can become a character and give a different performance.”
Watch the Show
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