Mind Matters Natural and Artificial Intelligence News and Analysis

CategoryBusiness and Finance

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Silhouette of business people work together in office. Concept of teamwork and partnership. double exposure with light effects

CFO Extraordinaire Hope Cochran to Speak at COSM 2021

CFO, mother of three, and...opera singer? Yes, surviving backstage chaos was good training for technology ventures.

Brilliant minds in technology and business will be converging in Seattle to take part in Discovery Institute’s COSM 2021 this November. Among those minds will be Hope Cochran, mother of three, CFO extraordinaire, the first female managing director of Seattle’s Madrona Venture Group, and former opera singer. Opera singer? Yes. In fact, Cochran is a classically trained vocalist. She earned a dual degree at Stanford in economics and music. At the start of her career, she would do “audit by day and opera by night” (as she told Armoire in 2019).  “…I could not imagine, not taking music lessons,” Cochran explained in a podcast released earlier this year. “And if you joined on as a major, you got to take them for free. So,…

Kai-Fu Lee

Kai-Fu Lee, Inventor of Speech Recognition, to Speak at COSM 2021

Lee is one of many technological geniuses appearing in Seattle this November

This November in Seattle, some of the most brilliant minds in technology will gather for COSM, an exclusive national summit on how technology is remaking the world as we know it. Among its many speakers will be Kai-Fu Lee, a computer scientist, businessman, and the inventor of speech recognition. Lee’s credentials are many and impressive. After his Ph.D. work at Carnegie Mellon (which produced continuous speech recognition), he has journeyed through the offices of Apple, SGI, Microsoft, and Google. In 2009, he launched Sinovation Ventures in an effort to financially support up-and-coming Chinese high-tech companies. In 2018, Lee gave a TED talk on how human beings can thrive in an era of AI. The video (posted below) is worth the…

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グローバルネットワーク デジタルコンテンツ

Peter Thiel Speaking in Person at COSM, Seattle, November 10

As a world class venture capitalist, he is known for bluntness about what works and what doesn’t

COSM 2021 is the place to be, November 10–12, to get the inside track on the converging technologies remaking the world as we know it. This year, iconic Valley venture capitalist Peter Thiel will be speaking in person, addressing the question “Is Technology Soaring or Slumping?” At the first COSM in October 2019, Peter Thiel spoke by interactive video. Not one to mince words, he told the attendees bluntly that Silicon Valley is losing its touch and compared universities today to the Catholic Church at its worst. He has a remarkable history in both areas. He has been a prime mover in PayPal, Facebook, Palantir, Airbnb, Lyft, and Elon Musk’s SpaceX. And he had intended to found a university. But,…

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Business woman using tablet with cryptocurrency bitcoin link network concept

Will Going Mainstream Spoil the Fun for Crypto?

Crypto exchange FTX.US is, for a tidy sum, naming a Berkeley sports field, with philanthropy thrown in

At least one cryptocurrency exchange seem to be settling into the accustomed round of corporate donorship that creates name recognition with the public. FTX.US, affiliated with global crypto exchange FTX, has given Cal Athletics (University of California, Berkeley) $17.3 million for the right to call the field at field at California Memorial Stadium “FTX Field” for ten years. FTX has been creating recognition with other strategic donations as well: FTX has been on a sports and e-sports sponsorship spending spree this year. In March, the exchange secured the naming rights to the home arena of NBA team Miami Heat for a reported $135 million, while in June, the exchange paid $210 million to acquire the naming rights for e-sports organization…

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Robotic handyman pliers handwrench. Fixing maintenance concept. Creative design toy with metal funnel hopper, cogs wheels gears silver metallic body. Green wall, blue floor background. Copy space

Nobody is Taking Tesla AI Seriously Anymore

Tesla's "AI Day" presented reasonable discussion until the "robot" showed up

Recently, Tesla held its “AI Day.” Tesla often creates an event which highlights some aspect of their business that they want to promote to investors, customers, or to potential employees. Tesla has had “battery day” and “autonomy day” to promote Tesla efforts on those fronts. It is an attempt to keep excitement and exposure to a maximum during seasons when there are no big product reveals. While Elon Musk is typically guilty of leading people on with extravagant (and unwarranted) claims about Tesla technology, these events have recently shown a more reserved side to Tesla’s front man. In “battery day,” he was expected to launch a million-mile battery, but instead talked mostly about getting access to the minerals needed for…

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email marketing concept, send e-mail or newsletter

Why So Many Mainstream Media Figures Really Hate Substack

The subscription newsletter service allows good writers to reach their audiences without a horde of censors and gatekeepers, as is usually the case in mainstream media today

Substack — a newsletter site where popular writers can make money via private newsletters — has thoroughly rattled many traditional legacy mainstream media. Founded in 2017 and headquartered in San Francisco, it essentially ensures that the writer, not the medium, is the primary financial beneficiary of the writer’s talent. It also doesn’t need to censor writers on account of, say, money from China. One result is that many well-known writers from, for example, the New York Times, Vox, and BuzzFeed quit their jobs and started writing for newsletter subscribers who pay for premium content, print or podcast, typically $5 a month or $50 a year. Only a few thousand subscribers are needed to generate a nice income for a talented…

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Lightning over field

Are Your Electronics Protected Against Sudden Surges?

Electrical engineer Sarah Seguin discusses with Robert J. Marks an under-recognized risk for sensitive electronic devices

In a recent podcast, “Sarah Seguin on EMPs and How to Protect Your Data” (August 5, 2021), Sarah Seguin, talks with Walter Bradley Center director Robert J. Marks. Protecting data became a much bigger issue for typical employees during the COVID-19 lockdowns when many were working from home on a computer usually used to surf entertainment vids or shopping sites. Hackers have found the displaced workers a tempting target. In any event, hacks of governments, health care facilities, and big firms are on the increase. Seguin offers some thoughts about a quite different but very relevant data protection issue: Protecting data from degradation from electromagnetic pulses (EMPs): https://episodes.castos.com/mindmatters/Mind-Matters-146-Sarah-Seguin.mp3 This portion begins at 02:12 min. A partial transcript, Show Notes, and…

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Majestic Unicorn posing in an enchanted forest

The Unicorn Might Be Very Profitable — If It Existed

The statistical reality is that most new businesses flop

Jeffrey Funk and Gary Smith, well known to many of our readers, have just published an article at MarketWatch, warning against heedless optimism about “unicorn” stocks. As they put it, “The stock market unleashes its ‘animal spirits’ on an animal that doesn’t exist.” They begin by pointing out that most new businesses flop. The president of one venture capital company estimated the chance of success at one in 1,000. An SEC study of 500 randomly selected new issues found that 43% were confirmed bankrupt, 25% were losing money but still afloat, and 12% had disappeared without a trace. Of the remaining 20%, just 12 companies seemed solid successes — a scant 2% of the companies surveyed. Jeffrey Funk and Gary…

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Concept cryptographic NFT. Blockchain network, cryptographic non-fungible tokens. NFT with a network and a growing schedule, search. New technologies, financial schedule, future concept, banknotes

How Can Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs) Be Made To Work Better?

Bernard Fickser offers twelve steps to handling NFTs in a way that dispenses with cryptocurrency-based blockchains and works in ordinary online marketplaces like eBay

Introduction: At Expensivity, Bernard Fickser explains that a non-fungible token (NFT) is a unique token in cryptography that represents, say, real estate or art rather than money. Because the tokens have unique identities (non-fungible), they can be bought or sold while reducing the risk of fraud. So how do they work?: The series is called How Non-Fungible Tokens Work: NFTs Explained, Debunked, and Legitimized (July 30, 2021). In Part 7, we look at 12 steps to make NFTs economically viable without Ethereum. 7 A Protocol for Handling NFTs on eBay The best way to challenge an existing idea is to replace it with a better one. In this last section, I’m going to lay out a protocol for handling NFTs…

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NFT Non-Fungible Tokens or NFTs are unique assets that cannot be replicated underpinned by blockchain technology

What Makes NFTs Valuable? What Does It Mean To Own One?

In the case of non-fungible tokens (NFTs) on the Ethereum blockchain, actual ownership with legal standing is never in fact transferred for the underlying digital file

Introduction: At Expensivity.com, Bernard Fickser explains that a non-fungible token (NFT) is a unique token in cryptography that represents, say, real estate or art rather than money. Because the tokens have unique identities (non-fungible), they can be bought or sold while reducing the risk of fraud. So how do they work?: The series is called How Non-Fungible Tokens Work: NFTs Explained, Debunked, and Legitimized (July 30, 2021). In Part 5, we looked at how scarcity, central to the economic value of works of art, can be created in the digital world, where copying is generally quite easy. Now, we look at what makes NFTs valuable and what it means to own them: 6 Value and Ownership of NFTs In this…

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China from space on realistic model of planet Earth with network. Concept of digital technology, connectivity and travel.

What’s Behind China’s Crackdown on Big Tech?

Both China and the U.S. are treating big tech with a heavy hand, but under different motivations

In a previous article I looked at Chinese regulators’ crackdown on Didi Global, China’s ride-hailing service. Didi is one of several Chinese tech giants that have been tamed in the past nine months. Prior to Didi, Ant Group, Tencent, Meituan, and Pinduoduo were all quelled by regulators. After Didi, regulators targeted Full Truck Alliance and Kanzhun. They recently shut down online for-profit tutoring and have banned mining cryptocurrencies in China.  Thus far, the Chinese government’s actions have resulted in almost $1 trillion net losses for the Chinese tech sector.  The two big questions are, Why now? and, relatedly, Who’s next? SupChina has a well-organized explainer on China’s Big Tech Crackdown here. Another helpful resource is this video from DW, “How China is tightening control of its tech companies”: According to SupChina, China’s…

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Cold fresh lemonade with slices of ripe lemons.

Insurance Company Gives Sour AI Promises

Data collection and discriminatory algorithms are turning Lemonade sour

An insurance company with the quirky name Lemonade was founded in 2015 and went public in 2020. In addition to raising hundreds of millions of dollars from eager investors, Lemonade quickly attracted more than a million customers with the premise that artificial intelligence (AI) algorithms can estimate risks accurately and that buying insurance and filing claims can be fun: Lemonade is built on a digital substrata — we use bots and machine learning to make insurance instant, seamless, and delightful. Adding to the delight are the friendly names of their bots, like AI Maya, AI Jim, and AI Cooper. The company doesn’t explain how its AI works, but there is this head-scratching boast: A typical homeowners policy form has 20-40…

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Cryptographic NFT non fungible token marketplace, cryptoart and blockchain logo on the screen of modern mobile phone, black wallet and dollar money on the office table, banner top view photo

In the Digital World, What Does “Scarcity” Mean?

For a digital artwork like Beeple’s Everydays, which sold for over $69 million, a number of methods are used to prevent copying, thus ensuring uniqueness

Introduction: At Expensivity, Bernard Fickser explains that a non-fungible token (NFT) is a unique token in cryptography that represents, say, real estate or art rather than money. Because the tokens have unique identities (non-fungible), they can be bought or sold while reducing the risk of fraud. So how do they work?: The series is called How Non-Fungible Tokens Work: NFTs Explained, Debunked, and Legitimized (July 30, 2021). In Part 5, we look at how scarcity, central to the economic value of works of art, can be created in the digital world, where copying is generally quite easy: 5 Digital Scarcity When jumping into the world of NFTs, one finds a certain breathless awe in the face of blockchain technology. One…

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Crypto Art Non-fungible token (NFT). Digital art

4 NFTs: You Bought One. But Do You Really Own It? Could You Ever?

Right now, the non-fungible tokens markets leave a lot to be desired as a business proposition, Bernard Fickser explains why

Introduction: At Expensivity, Bernard Fickser explains that a non-fungible token (NFT) is a unique token in cryptography that represents, say, real estate or art rather than money. Because the tokens have unique identities (non-fungible), they can be bought or sold while reducing the risk of fraud. So how do they work?: The series is called How Non-Fungible Tokens Work: NFTs Explained, Debunked, and Legitimized (July 30, 2021). In Part 4, he looks at the question of what benefits NFTs, in their current state, really confer on you (or don’t): 4 What Just Happened? The creation and purchase of an NFT as described in the last section raises a lot of interesting — and troubling — questions. It’s easy enough to…

China stock market exchange / Shanghai stock market analysis forex indicator of changes graph

China’s Crackdown on Big Tech: Didi Global Inc.

In an authoritarian government, data is power

The Chinese Communist Party is on a campaign to reign in the private sector and some analysts say it is just the beginning. According to Wall Street Journal: Investors, analysts and company executives believe the government is just getting started in its push to realign the relationship between private business and the state, with a goal of ensuring companies do more to serve the Communist Party’s economic, social and national-security concerns. Jing Yang, Keith Zhai, and Quentin Webb, “China’s Corporate Crackdown Is Just Getting Started. Signs Point to More Tumult Ahead” at Wall Street Journal. Last November, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) reined in Ant Group, Ltd. which was poised to open on the Shanghai and Hong Kong index with…

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Non-fungible token hologram on virtual digital screen, nft with network circuit and globe. Dark background. Concept of cryptoart and technology

How To Create Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs), Simplified

While still deeply skeptical of what ownership of an NFT really means at present, Fickser decided to experiment with creating, buying, and selling NFTs

Introduction: At Expensivity, Bernard Fickser explains that a non-fungible token (NFT) is a unique token in cryptography that represents, say, real estate or art rather than money. Because the tokens have unique identities (non-fungible), they can be bought or sold while reducing the risk of fraud. So how do they work?: The series is called How Non-Fungible Tokens Work: NFTs Explained, Debunked, and Legitimized (July 30, 2021). In Part 3, Fickser demonstrates the do-it-yourself minting of NFTs. 3 The Do-It-Yourself Minting of NFTs The process of creating NFTs, along with buying and selling them, is simple and straightforward. All that’s required is setting up a crypto wallet that handles Ethereum cryptocurrency (ETH), loading it with some of that currency, visiting…

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Man at work signing legal contract by using digital signature

Can Digital Signatures Protect NFTs in Digital Marketplaces?

The concept of owning an NFT on a blockchain is specific to the blockchain, with no legal force in society at large

Introduction: At Expensivity, Bernard Fickser explains that a non-fungible token (NFT) is a unique token in cryptography that represents, say, real estate or art rather than money. Because the tokens have unique identities (non-fungible), they can be bought or sold while reducing the risk of fraud. So how do they work?: The series is called How Non-Fungible Tokens Work: NFTs Explained, Debunked, and Legitimized (July 30, 2021). In Part 2, we look at digital signatures 2 Digital signatures in digital marketplaces Of course, there’s more to the story. As already suggested, when someone buys a non-fungible token, they’re not simply buying a digital file of some collectible that can be readily copied. So what exactly are they buying? To understand…

abstract circuit networking blockchain concept background

Blockchains Have NFTs Unnecessarily Tied Down

New ideas propose severing the accidental relationship between NFTs and blockchains

Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs), for those who haven’t been paying attention, are digital collectibles that have been gaining popularity. Essentially, they allow someone to “mark” their “ownership” of a piece of cyberspace.  Since their original inception in 2012, NFTs have invariably been tied to blockchain technology. However, a recent review of the technology by Bernard Fickser has shown that there is nothing inherently tying NFTs to blockchain. In fact, blockchains may be holding NFTs back considerably. (For those needing a refresher, a short guide to how the blockchain works can be found here.) In his article, Fickser notes several interesting discrepancies between NFTs and cryptocurrencies. First of all, there is a lot of technology built into cryptocurrencies to keep them anonymous, while the entire point of…

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matching keys made of circuits & led lights, encryption & crypto

Cryptography: Are Non-Fungible Tokens a Scam? Or Can They Work?

By Warren Buffett’s logic, if cryptocurrencies are rat poison squared, non-fungible tokens are rat poison to an infinite power. But is that all there is to be said about them?

Introduction: At Expensivity, Bernard Fickser explains that a non-fungible token (NFT) is a unique token in cryptography that represents, say, real estate or art rather than money. Because the tokens have unique identities (non-fungible), they can be bought or sold while reducing the risk of fraud. So how do they work?: The series is called How Non-Fungible Tokens Work: NFTs Explained, Debunked, and Legitimized (July 30, 2021). In Part 1, he looks at the problems with making NFTs work. 1 Non-Fungible Tokens: Rat Poison Raised to an Infinite Power? “Poised to radically reconfigure the crypto-asset market, non-fungible tokens, or NFTs, are revolutionizing our conception of money and value, creating not just entirely new markets but even new economies that are…

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Crowd of people walking street wearing masks

Why did the New York Times Discredit the Lab Leak Theory?

The Times led the way in zealously discrediting the quite reasonable COVID-19 lab leak theory. But what underlay its zeal?

Ashley Rindsberg, author of The Gray Lady Winked (2021), offers an eye-opening look at the close links between the New York Times and Chinese propaganda media. It may have been these relationships that caused the Times to go to considerable trouble to discredit the “lab leak” theory on the origin of COVID-19. It remains a viable theory despite powerful attempts by the Chinese Communist Party to discredit it. (For background, see “Lab leak theory vindicated: What that means for fighting COVID-19.”) Sound like tinfoil to you? Then consider this: In the opening months of the pandemic, the lab leak hypothesis was actively discredited by the media and scientific establishment, with anyone associated with it smeared as “racist”. The question we…