Mind Matters Natural and Artificial Intelligence News and Analysis

CategoryEconomics

crypto-currency-digital-market-monitor-stockpack-adobe-stock.jpg
Crypto Currency Digital Market Monitor

Will Popularity Spell Doom for Bitcoin?

How is that possible? Well, Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies have a hidden weakness…

Cryptocurrencies, from Ethereum to Bitcoin to Dogecoin, seem to be all the rage these days. Altcoins (i.e., lesser-known cryptocurrencies) have become increasingly mainstream. The increasing fracturing and pluralism in the cryptocurrency space has meant that few people are directly trading with any particular currency. Most users go through trading and wallet platforms where the platform —not their own computers—hosts the cryptocurrency. Additionally, transactions are increasingly processed via third parties as well, not directly on the cryptocurrency platform. This separation between the user and the direct cryptocurrency platform has enabled a new option: a payment gateway for a website that collects payments in a number of different cryptocurrencies using a single set of tools. PayPal, one of the top gateways, recently…

silicon-microchip-on-fingertip-stockpack-adobe-stock.jpg
Silicon microchip on fingertip

Why the Global Shortage in Computer Chips Matters to You

What? A global shortage in chips? Delays? Higher costs? Whatever happened to Moore’s Law?

Read on. Moore’s Law only holds when chip supply isn’t an issue. Just now, the microchips that make every electronic device work are in short supply. The COVID-19 pandemic and unexpectedly cold weather in Texas temporarily closed chip factories. As news of the shortage spread, “panic buying” cleaned out inventory. Several other factors drive a continuing shortage as well: ● The switch to 5G phones is increasing chip demand, leading to delays: Even the mighty Apple, a $2tn company and the world’s biggest buyer of semiconductors spending $58bn annually, was forced to delay the launch of the much-hyped iPhone 12 by two months last year due to the shortage. Mark Sweney, “Global shortage in computer chips ‘reaches crisis point’” at…

denim-jean-production-stockpack-adobe-stock.jpg
denim jean production

In China, Forced Uyghur Labor Produces Many Fashionable Products

Industries such as fashion and solar panels rely heavily on supplies from detention centers and concentration camps in China

China has been called the “world’s factory.” American companies like Apple, may assemble their tech in the U.S., but the parts are made elsewhere, including Xinjiang, China (Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region). Industries such as fashion and solar panels also rely heavily on Xinjiang for their supply lines. Reports from the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI) and the Center for Strategic and International Studies in the U.S., as well as testimonials from Uyghurs, show that many such factories in Xinjiang involve the forced labor of Uyghurs in what are called “vocational training schools.” These vocational training schools are more appropriately described as detention centers. In many cases, they are essentially concentration camps. Many Uyghurs are also sent from Xinjiang to other…

concept-idea-of-fed-federal-reserve-system-is-the-central-banking-system-of-the-united-states-of-america-and-change-interest-rates-percentage-icon-and-arrow-symbol-on-wooden-cube-stockpack-adobe-stock.jpg
Concept idea of FED, federal reserve system is the central banking system of the united states of america and change interest rates. Percentage icon and arrow symbol on wooden cube

Central Banks vs. Cryptocurrencies: Why the Growing Tension?

Modern Monetary Theory (MMT), which is gaining ground, holds that government should just print as much money as it feels it needs and then raise taxes to cover shortfalls

On the way to explaining how a cryptocurrency system might work, financial analyst Bernard Fickser asks readers to think about the crucial difference between money, as held by a private bank — we’ll call it Merchant Navy Bank — and a central bank operated by a government, say the U.S. Federal Reserve System (the Fed). In his short online book, The Creation of Money, Fickser distinguishes between private banks and central government banks. Private banks start with money that already exists. The money that Merchant Navy Bank lends for mortgages, for example, is contributed by depositors who agree to tie up their money for several years in savings certificates. In return, they get a higher than average rate of interest.…

hand-holding-smartphone-with-media-icons-and-symbol-stockpack-adobe-stock.jpg
Hand holding smartphone with media icons and symbol

Arizona Fights Back Against Big Tech App Store Monopoly

North Dakota’s anti-monopoly legislation was defeated but Arizona’s passed

Big tech, flexing political muscles, is starting to get pushback at the state level. Political analyst Matt Stoller tells us a tale of two states: A loser and a winner: Two weeks ago, Apple and Google managed to defeat a major bill in North Dakota to force competition in app stores. This week, the Arizona House of Representatives defied the tech giants and passed the very same bill… Matt Stoller, “Apple Threatens North Dakota, Suffers Crushing Loss in Arizona: “A Lot of It is Just Fear”” at Substack Even sovereign states like Australia have felt the heat from pushing back against the likes of Facebook. Facebook blocked access to the Australian government’s Facebook pages during the forest fire season, due…

brain made of oil.jpg
Brain made of oil

Will Ordinary Human Intelligence Become the New “Oil”?

At one time, the tech craze was for outsourcing jobs. Maybe it’s time to look at “insourcing” instead

Outsourcing is the silver bullet of the IT age. Everything can be made more cheaply and more profitably by sourcing the work from places with a lower cost of living. But do those places always have to be overseas? Not necessarily. The perils of overseas outsourcing are well known, ranging from communication through cultural or time zone incompatibilities. What if there were a way to eliminate those incompatibilities while still retaining the benefits of workers who live in an area with a lower cost of living? This is possible through “insourcing.” There are regions of the United States where the cost of living is quite low, allowing companies to have their cake and eat it too. Work can be done…

closeup-of-witcher-cauldron-with-magical-mixture-for-halloween-stockpack-adobe-stock.jpg
Closeup of witcher cauldron with magical mixture for Halloween

Bubble, Bubble, Toil and Trouble: Here We Go Again

Trouble brews when inexperienced traders try their hand at the stock market

The extraordinary investor and statesman Bernard Baruch once warned that, When beggars and shoeshine boys, barbers and beauticians can tell you how to get rich, it is time to remind yourself that there is no more dangerous illusion than the belief that one can get something for nothing. Over and over and over again, the unwary fall for money-for-nothing illusions — Dutch tulip bulbs, South Sea stocks, Japanese real estate, dot-com stocks, and bitcoin, not to mention baseball cards, beanie babies, and other so-called collectibles. Now we have a torrent of Reddit chatter inspiring the gullible to gobble up shares of GameStop, AMC, and whatever catches the crowd’s collective attention. Many Reddit-pumped buyers claim that they are part of a noble battle to punish…

bulle-und-bar-aus-borsen-zeitungspapier-stockpack-adobe-stock.jpg
Bulle und Bär aus Börsen-Zeitungspapier

Who Is Allowed in the Smoke-Filled Rooms of Investment?

How the stock market is manipulated, using the GameStop episode as an example

Full disclosure: I continue to maintain positions in some of the stocks mentioned in this article. But, as you will see, my goal here is neither to promote stock or dissuade from it, but rather to ask a deeper question about who is allowed to do what about a stock. For those who are unaware, the last two weeks in the stock market have gone crazy. GameStop (GME), a company that continues to lose money, skyrocketed from $18/share to, as of the time I’m writing, just about $450 per share. That’s right the stock soared over 20 times in value over the period of a few weeks. Several other stocks have also skyrocketed, including AMC Entertainment (AMC) and Koss Corporation…

crypto-currency-background-with-various-of-shiny-silver-and-golden-physical-cryptocurrencies-symbol-coins-bitcoin-ethereum-litecoin-zcash-ripple-stockpack-adobe-stock.jpg
Crypto currency background with various of shiny silver and golden physical cryptocurrencies symbol coins, Bitcoin, Ethereum, Litecoin, zcash, ripple

What If Many People Ditched Government Currencies for Bitcoin?

Are cryptocurrencies our best bet for a fair global currency system?

Picture a world racked by economic issues like coronavirus, where people begin ditching government (fiat) currencies for Bitcoin. Small changes are are underway: The chief economist did not mention that a growing number of jurisdictions are already embracing bitcoin for tax payments. For example, the canton of Zug in Switzerland announced that it will start accepting bitcoin for tax payments this year. Several other local governments in Switzerland have made a similar announcement, such as Zermatt. Recently, the mayor of Miami said that he is working on allowing payments for city services in bitcoin. Furthermore, a growing number of stores are accepting bitcoin payments. Payments giant Paypal, for example, is planning to allow people to use cryptocurrency to pay for…

convergence-background-converge-toward-objective-stockpack-adobe-stock.jpg
Convergence Background, Converge Toward Objective

Will Mediocrity Triumph? The Fallacy That Will Not Die

Economist claims: It is a fundamental economic truth that businesses converge to mediocrity. Is he right?

Nearly 100 years ago, a famous economist named Horace Secrist wrote a book with the provocative title, The Triumph of Mediocrity in Business. He had spent ten years collecting and analyzing data on the success of dozens of companies in dozens of industries during the years 1920 to 1930. For each measure of success, he used the 1920 data to divide the companies in each industry into quartiles: the top 25%, second 25%, third 25%, and bottom 25%. He then calculated the average value of the success metric for the 1920 top-quartile companies every year from 1920 to 1930. He did the same for the other three quartiles. In every case, the companies in both the top two quartiles and the bottom two…

golden-bitcoin-coin-in-fire-flame-water-splashes-and-lightning-bitcoin-gold-blockchain-hard-fork-concept-cryptocurrency-symbol-in-storm-illustration-with-peer-to-peer-network-background-stockpack-adobe-stock.jpg
Golden bitcoin coin in fire flame, water splashes and lightning. Bitcoin Gold blockchain hard fork concept. Cryptocurrency symbol in storm illustration with peer to peer network background.

Bitcoin: What’s Good, What’s Bad and What’s the Future?

Bitcoins are currently bouncing in the range of $30,000 to $40,000 each

Bitcoin has been having quite the wild ride over the last several months, and especially the last several weeks. During 2020, the price of a single bitcoin dipped below $5,000, then soared past $20,000 in December. It is currently bouncing in the range of $30,000 to $40,000.So what is the attraction of the digital currency Bitcoin? Why is the value of a bitcoin so high and what are people doing with it? To begin with, keep in mind that a “single bitcoin” is a bit of a misnomer. While a single bitcoin is indeed expensive, coins can be split. The smallest unit in Bitcoin is known as a satoshi, which is 0.00000001 bitcoin. While the quoted price is always given…

seo-symbol-on-the-keyboard-of-a-latop-3d-renderingconceptual-image-online-google-and-search-concepts-stockpack-adobe-stock.jpg
SEO symbol  on the keyboard of a latop, 3d rendering,conceptual image. online  google and search concepts.

Why Are 38 American States Suing Google?

Better question: What search engine results do you NEVER see?

The current lawsuit was announced by Colorado’s Attorney General Phil Weiser but 38 states are signatories. The big issue is alleged suppression of competition. First, a bit of background: This is not the first big time lawsuit. That one would be from the U.S. Department of Justice in October: In October, the U.S. Department of Justice filed a lawsuit against Google, owned by Alphabet, for violating antitrust laws and actively enabling a monopoly in search engines and search advertising. The announcement followed a year’s worth of investigation by prosecutors, who “have spoken with Google’s rivals in technology and media, collecting information and documents that could be used to build a case.” The suit focuses on the tech giant’s illegal actions…

senior-woman-giving-credit-card-details-on-the-phone-stockpack-adobe-stock.jpg
Senior Woman Giving Credit Card Details On The Phone

How Do We Know Financial Transactions Are Honest?

Let’s look at the steps we can take to find out

Recently, we’ve been asking readers to think about Alice and Bob, the famous pair in physics used to demonstrate propositions, for example, as if as if they were running for office. At Expensivity, a blog about that expensive and unpleasant subject, money, Bernard Fickser asks about better ways of preventing financial fraud: We focus on financial Alice (the situation with financial Bob is parallel). Alice wants the record of deposits and disbursements in her ledger to reflect deposits that she has knowingly and willingly received as well as disbursements that she has authorized to go to the intended parties. If this is the case, the record of deposits and disbursements in her ledger as well as the running totals will…

european-union-parliament-election-concept-hand-putting-ballot-in-blue-election-box-stockpack-adobe-stock.jpg
european Union parliament election concept - hand putting ballot in blue election box

How Can We Prevent Financial or Election Fraud?

Both contexts come down to an accounting problem, keeping track of money or votes over time.

Here’s an idea from Expensivity, a blog about money and a lot of other things. Let’s take two people, the famous Alice and Bob, used to demonstrate many propositions in math and science: In an electoral context, we think of Alice and Bob as candidates running against each other for the same office. Alice’s ledger indicates votes that have been added or subtracted over time (with dates and times of the additions and subtractions), as well as her current vote total. Similarly for Bob. The vote total in each ledger starts at zero and can never drop below zero. If only legitimate votes are added to Alice’s ledger, there should be no need for votes ever to be subtracted from…

bottom-view-close-up-of-four-white-surveillance-cameras-stockpack-adobe-stock.jpg
Bottom view close-up of four white surveillance cameras

How Toxic Bias Infiltrates Computer Code

A look at the dark underbelly of modern algorithms

The newly released documentary Coded Bias from Shalini Kantayya takes the viewer on a tour of the way modern algorithms can undermine justice and society and are actively subverting justice at the present moment. Coded Bias highlights many under-discussed issues regarding data and its usage by governments and corporations. While its prescriptions for government usage of data are well considered, the issue of corporate use of data involves many additional issues that the film skirts entirely. As the film points out, we are presented these algorithms as if they were a form of intelligence. But they are actually just math—and this math can be used to, intentionally or unintentionally, encode biases. In fact, as Bradley Center fellows Robert J. Marks…

jellybean-candy-in-a-jar-stockpack-adobe-stock.jpg
Jellybean Candy in a Jar

The Wisdom of Crowds: Are Crowds Really Wiser Than Individuals?

According to the theory, with a large number of guessers, the median number is very likely to be close to the true value

Statistician Sir Francis Galton went to a country fair in 1907 where a prize was to be awarded to the person who made the most accurate guess of the butchered weight of an ox that was on display. Galton collected and analyzed the 787 guesses and, not surprisingly, found that some guesses were far too high and others were much too low. However, the average guess (1,197 pounds) was only 1 pound lower than the actual weight (1,198 pounds). The average was more accurate than the guesses of the vast majority of both the amateurs and the experts. In the 1980s, a finance professor named Jack Treynor (1930–2016) performed a similar, and now legendary, experiment with jelly beans. Professor Treynor…

a-mouse-with-a-tree-green-it-stockpack-adobe-stock.jpg
a mouse with a tree / green it

Could Carbon Computing Make Computers More Environment Friendly?

As a key component of life forms, carbon is abundant and energy efficient

Carbon, a very abundant chemical element, is one of the building blocks of life, partly on account of its stability. It is a minimalist element, compared to the silicon used in computing today: … carbon dioxide is is a small gaseous molecule consisting of two oxygens both forming a double bond with a single carbon while silicon dioxide is a massive behemoth of a molecule made of huge numbers of alternating oxygen and silicon atoms and is more commonly known as sand. S. E. Gould, “Shine on you crazy diamond: why humans are carbon-based lifeforms” at Scientific American (November 11, 2012) But there’s something else about carbon. As George Gilder puts it, carbon-based life forms, like humans, consume very little…

autonomous-vehicles-on-highway-with-self-driving-cars-sensing-environment-by-radar-and-operating-safely-on-speedway-thanks-to-artificial-intelligence-and-control-systems-automated-transport-concept-stockpack-adobe-stock.jpg
Autonomous vehicles on highway with self driving cars sensing environment by radar and operating safely on speedway thanks to artificial intelligence and control systems, automated transport concept

What Real Advantage Do Self-Driving Cars Provide?

It’s time for a hard-headed look at the costs and benefits of the pursuit of fully self-driving cars

More and more people are realizing that autonomous (self-driving) vehicles are not a road to automotive prosperity. To recap, Level 5 self-driving is what most people think of when they hear the term “self-driving.” You type in an address and the car takes you where you want to go while you sleep in the back. That car is not going to hit the road anytime soon. Level 4 self-driving is similar but only works within well-defined areas or situations. In practice, Level 4 essentially relies on either intelligent infrastructure or a territory that is so predictable and well-mapped that it obviates the need for intelligent infrastructure. Huge amounts have been invested in self-driving vehicles. The Information estimated that $16 billion…

communist-party-monument-pyongyang-north-korea-stockpack-adobe-stock.jpg
Communist Party Monument, Pyongyang, North-Korea

Computer Science Explains Why Communism Can’t Work

Successful communism is not only morally and practically flawed, it is mathematically impossible

Communism has been the target of many criticisms. The strongest deal with the mismatch between central planning and individuals’ desires for their lives and with the horrific human rights record of communist nations. Some scholars place the toll in human life due to communism at above 100 million in the 20th century. Those are criticisms of the practicality and ethics of communism. But is it also intrinsically flawed at a fundamental mathematical level? It turns out that the answer is yes. The basic idea behind central planning is this: If the central government makes most decisions that, in a freer society, individuals or small communities would make for themselves, more efficiency will follow—and, as a result, more prosperity. It doesn’t…