Mind Matters Natural and Artificial Intelligence News and Analysis

CategoryBusiness and Finance

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Creative digital city background. Smart city, technology and innovation concept. Double exposure.

PayPal Pioneer: The Ways Big Tech Is Strangling Our Freedoms

The conveniences offered come at a price: We can be much more easily surveilled and controlled. And yes, they ARE doing it

In a continuing discussion with Bari Weiss, Paypal pioneer David Sacks warns hearers: BW: You have been making the case better than anyone else that, despite the fact that we live in a liberal democracy with a Bill of Rights and a Constitution and a First Amendment, whether most Americans are aware of it or not we also are living inside a soft version of a social credit system. So for the people who hear that and think: ‘That’s ridiculous. This isn’t China.’ I want you to make the case. DS: Let’s start by defining what a social credit system is. A social credit system is a system that pretends to give you civil liberties and freedom. It doesn’t overtly Read More ›

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surreal image of a transparent mirror; concept of door to freedom

Invisibility Is No Longer Science Fiction (or Magic). It’s Here.

A new technique, the “invisibility shield,” which offers the user near invisibility, is reaching the marketing stage

Have you ever wanted to be invisible just to get some privacy? Maybe when using a bank machine or sunbathing in the backyard? Experimentation over the last few years has come up with an “invisibility shield” that offers near invisibility without blocking the light. A British startup, Invisibility Shield Co., is raising seed money for a commercial venture that offers to ship the ones already manufactured to backers. A scam? It seems not: It wouldn’t likely shield anyone from the police or bill collectors but if all you want is privacy with sunlight, it’s certainly an option: The science behind the invention isn’t perfect. The shield can’t perfectly replicate the scene behind the subject, but rather recreates it as a Read More ›

fake coins
Fake gold and silver coins closeup

In It For the Money: The Trump Coin Sham

Beware deceitful memorabilia hawkers who sell cheap mementos, hoping you'll be the fool that helps make them rich

Americans have a seemingly insatiable demand for memorabilia, no matter how cheaply it is made or how cheesy it looks. Some are preparing for their nostalgic years; some think they are making smart investments in collectibles that become more valuable as time passes. The problem with “investing” in collectibles is that an investment’s intrinsic value depends on how much income it generates. Stocks, bonds, rental properties, and profitable businesses all have intrinsic value. Mementos don’t. They rely on the Greater Fool Theory. If fools don’t appear, memento collectors are stuck with cheap and cheesy trinkets. This sobering reality does little to discourage people intoxicated by dreams of riches. For example, the White House Gift Shop sells a large collection of Read More ›

shopping online at home concept.Cartons in a shopping cart on a laptop keyboard

Government Control of What You Buy Grows More Popular

With governments, that is. You’d be surprised at how far along they are with digital currency and how detailed the control could be

Recently, we looked at a new idea governments are looking at — programmable digital currency. It’s all digital, issued by government, constantly trackable, and can’t be spent on items not approved by government (or only with penalties). The Federal Reserve Board (the United States’ central bank) explains, bureaucratically, Potential benefits of the “digital cash” model using programmable UTXOs are the ability to specify spending constraints on any discrete amount of value and a greater facility to trace the provenance of any particular “virtual banknote.” Alexander Lee, “What is programmable money?” at FEDS Notes (June 23, 2021) In other words, the two benefits of these central bank digital currencies (CBDCs) are that the government can potentially control what the money is Read More ›

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Personal social credit score. Machine Learning analytics identify person technology,Artificial intelligence no privacy security camera technology concept. Software ui analytics and recognition people.

Is an AI-Driven Social Control System Emerging in America?

The gradual merger of Big Tech and Big Government is worthy of close analysis

Readers may assume that a “social credit system” where government monitors a citizen’s every move and assigns a score or takes action, could only happen in China. But increasingly, governments can monitor a citizen’s every move in North America too. Technology policy analyst Kara Fredericks explains: As Canada demonstrated, Western governments and tech companies are mobilizing to cut off mainstream citizens from public life and constrain their private lives. Actions like protesting government overreach, expressing “anti-authority” ideologies, or even sharing “disinformation” on social media may now be classified as terrorism… In the United States, the increasingly oppressive collaboration between public and private entities is not enforced at the barrel of a gun. It arises from an ideological symbiosis between tech Read More ›

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San Francisco aerial view from sea side. Port of San Francisco in the front. City downtown and skyscrapers at sunrise.

When Silicon Valley Turns From Hype Over Vaporware to Fraud…

Jeffrey Funk and Gary Smith discuss the famous Theranos case, which resulted huge losses and in convictions for fraud

In a column published today at MarketWatch, Jeffrey Funk and Gary Smith talk about that unpleasant subject, the shady side of Silicon Valley. They’re not looking at the unicorns naively chasing rainbows but rather the cases of apparently deliberate deception. One of them is vaporware— announcing a product that won’t really exist any time soon (perhaps in the hope of dissuading potential buyers from investing in a competitor’s product). Another is “fake it until you make it,” the topic of today’s column. Investors sign on by throwing money at the company, which the company then spends trying to develop what it said it already has. Either way, the company keeps lying as long as necessary, or until its cover is Read More ›

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young sample plant growing in test tube , biotechnology research concept

What Biotech Innovations Can Help Us Live Longer, Healthier?

Jay Richards interviews venture capitalist Matt McIlwain, whose firm invests in new tech on current promising new directions

At COSM 2021, business prof Jay Richards interviewed venture capitalist Matt McIlwain, CEO of the Madrona Group, which invests in a wide range of promising software applications: McIlwain chaired a panel on innovations in biotech, “Killing Disease and Living Longer” on November 11, 2021: Matt Mcilwain (Moderator) — Managing Director, Madrona Venture GroupStephen C. Meyer — Director, Center for Science and CultureJim Tour — T.t. and W.f. Chao Professor of Chemistry, Rice UniversityMatthew Scholz — CEO, Oisin Biotechnologies Casey Luskin offers an account of McIlwain’s 2021 panel at “Manipulating molecules: Combining info + nano for better medicine”: Yesterday at COSM 2021, philosopher of science Stephen Meyer, synthetic organic chemist James Tour, and biotech entrepreneur Matthew Scholz looked at how nanotechnology Read More ›

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The forest and the trees are in the light. Concepts of environmental conservation and global warming plant growing inside lamp bulb over dry soil in saving earth concept

Business Prof: We Live in an Era of Unprecedented Abundance

If we’re not making good use of it or it’s not fairly distributed, those are different problems

At COSM 2021, business studies prof Jay Richards of the Catholic University of America spoke with Gale Pooley, also a business studies prof at Brigham Young University-Hawaii, on a fact we don’t hear much about in popular media focused on current events: Increasing knowledge and the subsequent dropping over of time prices have ushered in a vast improvement in standards of living. Many will ask, what about rising prices? Well, for example, we must compare rising prices due to various global events today to what things cost in the past: At COSM 2021, Pooley focused on the fact that, in real-world economics, the value of our time is the most critical factor we need to figure in: Brigham Young University Read More ›

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Young man putting goods on counter in supermarket

Government Mulls Money That Can Only Be Spent on Approved Items

Programmable digital currency restricts citizens’ freedoms for “socially beneficial outcomes”

A story from mid-last year reveals a creepy side to digital currency: “The Bank of England has called on ministers to decide whether a central bank digital currency should be ‘programmable’, ultimately giving ‘the issuer control over “how it is spent by the recipient”: Tom Mutton, a director at the Bank of England, said during a conference on Monday that programming could become a key feature of any future central bank digital currency, in which the money would be programmed to be released only when something happened. He said: “You could introduce programmability – what happens if one of the participants in a transaction puts a restriction on [future use of the money]? “There could be some socially beneficial outcomes Read More ›

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Freedom Convoy 2022 sign

No-Buy Lists Are the Next Big Thing After Debanking

When a big online financial service like PayPal works closely with government to monitor citizens, it is violating its founding ideals

Yesterday, Jonathan Bartlett was writing about the way banks were becoming political in terms of who they are choosing to do business with, otherwise known as debanking. Another trend to watch for is no-buy lists, according to former PayPal COO David Sacks: When I helped create PayPal in 1999, it was in furtherance of a revolutionary idea. No longer would ordinary people be dependent on large financial institutions to start a business. Our democratized payment system caught fire and grew exponentially with millions of users who appreciated its ease and simplicity. Traditional banks were too slow and bureaucratic to adapt. Instead, the revolution we spawned two decades ago inspired new startups like Ally, Chime, Square, and Stripe, which have further Read More ›

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Big red semi tractor trailer  room for copy

Trudeau’s Truckers Reveal Problems with Banking Infrastructure

And crypto isn't the solution you might think it is

On February 14th, Justin Trudeau, the Prime Minister of Canada, invoked the Emergencies Act in order to stop the flow of funding to the truckers who were protesting vaccine mandates in Canada. This order allows and encourages banks to freeze the accounts of anyone suspected of involvement with the protest. The Canadian use of the Emergencies Act in this way has been widely criticized for its draconian and expansive overreach of governmental authority. However, that hasn’t stopped the Canadian government from moving forward with the plan, and they have said that they have already begun freezing accounts. Even before this, though, a Canadian judge had halted access to funds donated to the truckers through the GiveSendGo website. Additionally, GoFundMe, of Read More ›

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Art director checking the photos on a monitor

How the Digital Age Is Transforming the Entertainment World

Principally by creating many new opportunities that, as Ari Emanuel puts it, are Not Showing at a Theater Near You

Philosopher of technology George Gilder interviews Ari Emanuel, CEO of entertainment and media agency Endeavor Group Holdings, Inc., about the new decentralized media landscape powered by dramatic advances in technology. Endeavor, which was founded in 1898 and has 6500 employees, represents “talent across entertainment, sports, and fashion, such as actors, directors, writers, athletes, models, musicians, and other artists in various mediums comprising film, television, art, books, and live events.” (Yahoo Finance) A partial transcript of the talk Emanuel gave at COSM 2021 (November 10, 1:00 pm), on navigating the new media landscape, follows: George Gilder: What did you see in the early nineties that led you to leave your comfortable position and then move out and create a new force Read More ›

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Bearish stock financial, bear market chart falling prices down turn from global economic and financial crisis.

Zuckerberg’s New Meta Pummeled by Stock Market

Meta (Facebook reimagined) faces a gauntlet of challenges only months after Zuckerberg announced his new "metaverse" initiative

Last October, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced that Facebook would be undergoing a major facelift to become Meta. The Facebook platform we all know and love would remain as is, but Meta would become Facebook’s parent company with a primary focus of developing the “metaverse,” an immersive online experience that Zuckerberg called “the next frontier” of the internet. But Meta is off to a rough start. Facebook’s parent company shed more than $230 billion in market value Thursday, a one-day loss that is the biggest ever for a U.S. company and increases pressure on a stock market long powered by technology shares…. The Facebook parent company surprised investors with a deeper-than-expected decline in profit and a downbeat outlook. The company Read More ›

Cheerful family in a car on a road trip

Driving Technology Needs Public Scrutiny

It is not good enough for safety-related data to be made available to regulators. They must be made available to the public at large

As more and more automation is added to automobiles, the need for public review and scrutiny becomes ever more clear. Unlike other technologies, cars are used on public roads at high velocities, so everyone has an interest in understanding the safety implications of decisions made by car manufacturers. As such, it is important that all safety-related data be made publicly available and subject to public scrutiny. It is not good enough for these things to be made available to regulators. They must be made available to the public at large. To see why, let’s look at the history of Tesla claims about the safety of its Autopilot system. Note that the Autopilot system, despite the confusing name, is not the same thing Read More ›

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Robot hand making contact with human hand on dark background 3D rendering

Musk Goes All-In on the Tesla Robot

Musk puts all other projects on hold to pursue the dream of eliminating human labor, despite the reality that humans are irreplaceable

In August, during Tesla’s “AI Day” presentations, Musk unveiled the “Tesla Robot.” Or, in reality, a dancing person in a robot costume, along with some made-up specifications about the robot. Many (including the present writer) found this idea for a product line ludicrous, and a mere headline grab. However, in a recent conference call with investors, Elon Musk has doubled down on the Tesla Robot, now named “Optimus,” as being the foundation for the future of the company. In fact, it looks like Tesla has put all of its other development projects on hold in order to work on the robot. The Cybertruck (announced 2019, originally expected in 2021), Semi-truck (announced in 2017, originally expected in 2020), and Roadster 2.0 (announced in 2017, Read More ›

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Close up of top important cryptocurrencies which dollar bank note in background. which including of Bitcoin, Ethereum, Litecoin, Dash, Zcash and Ripple coin. Business and financial as concept.

Why Cryptocurrencies Like Bitcoin Are Not Ready for Prime Time

Bernard Fickser at Expensivity — friendly to cryptos in principle — offers an unsparing look at the current problems

At Expensivity, Bernard Fickser, who has explained how to sell non-fungible tokens (NFTs) now offers “The Truth About Cryptocurrencies: A Clearheaded Guide to the Crypto World.” (January 15, 2022) For your convenience, we are serializing his work, which can be read in whole here. Here’s Part 6 (of 6): 6 Conclusion: Is Crypto a Mature Technology? So far, this article’s approach to crypto has been a balancing act, weighing pros against cons. Thus, we’ve seen much to commend crypto, but also much to raise doubts about it. In this closing section, I’m going negative. My concluding thesis is this: peer-to-peer distributed blockchain-based cryptocurrencies as they exist now represent an immature technology and miss much of what we would like to see Read More ›

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unicorn on gold cube mountain . start up, illustration concept of leader on a market.3d rendering. 3d illustration.

Is Rationality Finally Emerging for Unicorn Share Prices?

Share prices are falling as losses continue to mount

2021 was a great year globally for venture capital and startups. Initial public offerings (IPOs) raised a record $594 billion in 2021 globally while VC funding is on track to hit a record $454 billion invested through the first three quarters of 2021.This is up from $332 billion for the first three quarters of 2020, which was the previous record for three quarters. U.S. startups also did well with big increases in both VC funding and IPOs in 2021. Almost $100 billion of funding was given to startups in the first three quarters while for the full year, there were 416 IPOs, of which 128 were from the tech section. The total amount raised was $156 billion, of which $69 billion was for the tech sector. Read More ›

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sack with the thirty silver coins biblical symbol of the betrayal of judas

Is Cryptocurrency Selling Out to Centralization?

Compared to more conventional forms of money, crypto wealth is radically centralized in the hands of a few

At Expensivity, Bernard Fickser, who has explained how to sell non-fungible tokens (NFTs) now offers “The Truth About Cryptocurrencies: A Clearheaded Guide to the Crypto World.” (January 15, 2022) For your convenience, we are serializing his work, which can be read in whole here. Here’s Part 5 (of 5): 5 The Centralization of Crypto Wealth Decentralization is a watchword of crypto. One of the things said to commend cryptocurrencies is that the blockchain-based peer-to-peer networks that run them are decentralized, residing outside the control of any single authority. This claim that cryptocurrencies are decentralized in their organizational structure is overstated because the peer-to-peer networks that run them can themselves act as central authorities. True, these peer-to-peer networks feel freer and Read More ›

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Bitcoin and cryptomoney

How and Why Cryptocurrencies Are Revolutionizing Money

The trouble is, cryptos are an immature technology at present and that fact may doom many of the current ones

At Expensivity, Bernard Fickser, who has explained how to sell non-fungible tokens (NFTs) now offers “The Truth About Cryptocurrencies: A Clearheaded Guide to the Crypto World.” (January 15, 2022) For your convenience, we are serializing his work, which can be read in whole here. Here’s Part 4: 4 Crypto’s Revolution in Money and Finance Cryptocurrencies seem different from mass delusions of the past. They do novel things in the world of finance that many people want, such as allow for anonymous exchanges of digital currency that feel a lot like exchanges of ordinary cash. They promise to bypass intrusive government control. And they’ve attracted a lot of very smart talent that is deploying some very cool mathematics and computer science. Read More ›

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Big data futuristic visualization abstract illustration

How AI Changed — in a Very Big Way — Around the Year 2000

With the advent of huge amounts of data, AI companies switched from using deductive logic to inductive logic

In “Hyping Artificial Intelligence Hinders Innovation” (podcast episode 163), Andrew McDiarmid interviewed Erik J. Larson, author of The Myth of Artificial Intelligence: Why Computers Can’t Think the Way We Do (2021) (Harvard University Press, 2021) on the way “Machines will RULE!” hype discredits — and distracts attention from — actual progress in AI. Erik Larson has founded two two DARPA-funded artificial intelligence startups. Inthe book he urges us to go back to the drawing board with AI research and development. https://episodes.castos.com/mindmatters/34ce0d74-aa74-4ad9-9599-e9ddf2be56a7-Mind-Matters-News-Episode-163-Erik-Larson-.mp3 This portion begins at 01:59 min. A partial transcript and notes, Show Notes, and Additional Resources follow. Andrew McDiarmid: Can you paint a picture first for us of what the AI landscape looks like today and why it’s not Read More ›