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Mobile Technology News, May 7, 2015

As developers for tablets and smartphones we like to keep abreast of the latest mobile technology developments . This is a daily digest of mobile development and related technology news gathered from the BBC, the New York Times, New Scientist and the Globe and Mail to name a few. We scour the web for articles concerning, iPhone, iPad and android development, iOS and android operating systems as well as general articles on advances in mobile technology. We hope you find this useful and that it helps to keep you up to date with the latest technology developments.

  • The Road to Self-Driving Cars Will Be a Long Strange Trip
    2015-02-04-Joni_Blecher_150x150.jpgBy Joni Blecher
    Joni Blecher is a freelance writer who has spent her career covering tech and a myriad of lifestyle topics. When she’s not writing, you can find her exploring the food scene in Portland, Oregon.

    In the spirit of Lewis and Clark, the Wright brothers and Charles Lindbergh, April 2, 2015 marked a significant milestone in history: A self-driving car successfully navigated its way across the United States. Sponsored by auto technology company Delphi, the Audi SQ5 drove 3,400 miles, from San Francisco to New York, in nine days.

    That’s quite a feat, proving that autonomous cars should no longer be relegated to sci-fi movies. The Audi, named “Roadrunner,” completed 99 percent of the drive on its own. Engineers only took the wheel when they encountered a few questionable situations, like lane zigzagging. Otherwise, the car managed to steer its way successfully through traffic jams, heat, mountains and road construction.

    This demonstration and many others like it (for example, an autonomous car recently beat a professional race car driver) show the technological advances that have occurred in a relatively short period of time. It was less than 10 years ago that Lexus unveiled a self-parking car that could perform angle and parallel parking. Today, many new vehicles feature self-parking. If a car can park itself, the next logical step is driving itself.

    Autonomous cars offer plenty of benefits, including improved safety, increased fuel economy, traffic flow optimization, better road utilization and of course, all that time people will have on their hands to do other things. According to studies conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHSTA), driver error was the reason for an estimated 94 percent of all crashes. When you take humans out of the equation and replace them with sensors, multiple cameras and quick response times, it’s easy to see how autonomous cars are safer.

    “Barring any catastrophic system failure of the steering, braking or technology, driverless vehicles will be inarguably safer than what we have today. The real problem is the public perception of such a system failure,” said David Carlisle, Chairman of Carlisle & Company, a firm devoted to the global motorized vehicle sector.

    While autonomous cars may be safer and better drivers than humans, they aren’t the only things on the road. There are pedestrians, bicyclists, motorcycles, commuter buses, 18-wheelers and kids and pets darting unexpectedly into traffic. These factors need to be taken into account when manufacturers design these systems. Google is already trying to address these issues with a recent cow-avoiding patent. It would help driverless cars identify immovable objects such as a cow, a parked car or some other obstacle.

    New bovine patents aside, some proponents of driverless cars believe that the existing technology (sensors, cameras, on-board navigation systems, and computers) is already fully capable of detecting inanimate objects and responding quickly. While perhaps true, the industry will still need to implement a stringent set of rules and guidelines about how to handle such situations. The players will need to look beyond their own set of interests and work together to create standards and practices. We are in a situation where car manufacturers, technology companies, and other related industries cannot operate in silos. These cars not only need to communicate with each other, but also need to co-exist harmoniously with other elements on the road.

    2015-05-07-1430956906-9139195-New_York_City_Gridlock_960x50.jpg
    How will self-driving cars successfully navigate New York City’s gridlocked streets and pedestrians?

    “The more revealing question here is…what does the autonomous car do when it is confronted with something it cannot understand? What’s the default?” says Forest Burnson, Researcher at Software Advice. “Does it just stop right there in the road? If so, it’s presumably programmed to stop relatively quickly, and if you’re running on the highway at 70 MPH at the time of the event, that’s probably not good.”

    In many ways, the autonomous car is a completely new frontier with its own set of opportunities and challenges. Driverless driving is not just about technology. We need to consider how other industries are affected. Recent research by Carlisle has found that autonomous car technology could lead to a 30 percent decrease in auto collisions. While this will ultimately keep drivers safe, it will also have a major impact on the future of insurance companies, as well as employment in the auto industry, which is projected to drop by 20 percent 2022.

    Imagine if today two driverless cars get into an accident. What will determine which vehicle was at fault? Will the autonomous car industry subscribe to its own set of rules? Nevada and California have already begun issuing autonomous drivers’ licenses and creating some regulations. While this is a crucial first step, it’s hard not to wonder what the driving test encompasses. Lawmakers could be racing against time (and driverless cars) to get new laws into the books.

    “By 2017, vehicles from Cadillac and others will offer hands-off self-driving options for highway cruising. What this means is that we are very close to offering cars that operate without driver input for extended periods of time. The sensors are there. The communication protocols are developed. It’s safe to say that within five years, most large manufacturers will offer some sort of driverless operation,” says Tucker Marion Professor of Technological Entrepreneurship at Northeastern University.

    Though we’ll see more advanced functionality in high-end cars in the near future, it’s unlikely that the public sector will initially be the big adopters. “It may be a long time before affordability enters the picture,” says Alex Brisbourne, CEO of telematics company KORE. “For example, the self-driving Prius that Google featured in its 2012 demonstration video costs around $320,000 to build. Adoption would bring incremental cost decreases to be sure, but there’s still a long way to go before the technology could realistically fulfill its vision of giving immobile folks a newfound independence and freedom with mobility.”

    It’s more likely that we’ll first see adoption of autonomous vehicles in the trucking industry: when taking into consideration fuel consumption, commercial driver costs and schedules, that industry is likely to reap the benefits from it faster. Autonomous trucks on highways–that’s what’s most likely in our near future.

    “In the U.S., we have approximately four million miles of highways. About three percent of those lane miles are devoted to interstates/freeways/expressways, but that three percent also accounts for about 30 percent of all vehicle miles travelled. Initially, the most likely future will see driverless vehicles using these high-capacity roadways,” adds Carlisle.

    2015-05-07-1430956968-7312556-MercedesBenzFutureTruck2025_960x500.jpg
    The Mercedes-Benz Future Truck 2025 uses four radar sensors, a 3D camera and communicates with other vehicles on the road via wireless communication.

    Mercedes-Benz has already introduced a self-driving semi-trailer. Dubbed Future Truck 2025, the cabin looks more like a high-end RV rather than a typical trucker’s long-haul lodging. In what looks like luxury Virgin Airlines decor, Future Truck is equipped with LED lighting, monitors, tablets and a seat that rotates 45-degrees. That’s right. No need for the trucker to always keep his eyes on the road. On-board is Daimler’s Highway Pilot System, which uses four radar sensors and a 3D camera to view the area within 200 feet. Along with this system, the truck uses relevant road data and communicates with other vehicles on the road via wireless communication. In recent tests, Future Truck did well going 53 MPH on the open highway. Still, the company sees this as an aid, not an option for replacing long-haul truckers.

    It’s not shocking to consider that self-driving cars will likely make their splash in the commercial sector first. That’s the technology lifecycle. There’s a great idea, but it’s expensive to implement, so large businesses find a use for it that drives down the cost enough for the technology to then become accessible to consumers.

    What will it take for consumers to jump on this ride? There’s definitely a divided sentiment on the topic. Bring it up at a dinner party and you’ll quickly be the center of the liveliest conversation in the room. Perhaps the answer lies in another commercial industry: taxis. Google and Uber are both working on a driverless, taxi-like option. Such services create an affordable way for people to “experience” being shuttled around by an autonomous driver. Similarly, convenience will also play a big factor in adoption.

    “Full self-parking cars sound pedestrian compared to highway automation, but the capability actually has an outsized impact on convenience (your car picks you up and drops you off), garage space utilization (cars park impossibly close to each other, with no need to exit the vehicle) and even short-range autonomy. Imagine being able to rearrange fleets of corporate or campus vehicles overnight so they’re located where they’re needed, not where they were left the night before,” said Brian Cooley, Editor at large, CNET.com and/or Host, CNET On Cars.

    2015-05-07-1430957012-4505960-GoogleVehiclePrototype_960x500.jpg
    Is the future of transportation filled with small electric pods like this Google Car prototype?

    While these are good starting points for garnering public interest, affordability and implementation will be the real keys to success. Consider that automobiles were first created in the early 1800s. However, it wasn’t until nearly a hundred years later, when Henry Ford introduced the Ford Model T, a mass-produced car that the working class could afford, that cars became a mainstream commodity. It wasn’t an easy task. In order to produce and sell these cars, Ford needed to take the Association of Licensed Automobile Manufacturers (ALAM) to court. At the time, the organization held the patent on the “automobile” and could essentially decide who could build cars and who couldn’t.

    In much the same way, there may not be patents that act like a monopoly, but other issues will arise. “Being careful about the quality of the engineering is paramount to overall acceptance. The benefits are inarguable. It’s all about execution,” says Cooley. “The really important part is the new classes of services that will arise around people’s behavior and lifestyles when they no longer have to drive. It changes everything. Who will have the best suite of logistic services to take advantage of self-driving cars?”

    While it’s true that we’re seeing more demonstrations of autonomous cars out-performing humans behind the wheel, adoption isn’t going to happen overnight. Though when it does, human-driven cars may be relegated to museums. Perhaps Elon Musk, the visionary CEO of Tesla Motors, is correct: “It would be like an elevator. They used to have elevator operators, and then we developed some simple circuitry to have elevators just automatically come to the floor that you’re at … the car is going to be just like that.”

    Visit XPRIZE at xprize.org, follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Google+, and get our Newsletter to stay informed.

    — This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

  • What's Inside a Tesla Battery, Sociologically?
    There is more to battery design than energy storage capacity.

    2015-05-06-1430880019-4372139-471769870620x427.jpg

    Last week, Elon Musk entered the stage with a powerful marketing message: to end the world’s dependency on fossil fuels, all we need is two billion Tesla POWERWALL batteries. It is easy to accept this message at face value without understanding its underlying sociology. But there is more to battery design than energy storage capacity.

    Like all markets, battery markets have also been tailored to serve particular ideological energy needs as what sociologist Michel Foucault calls “technologies of power” – devices through which ideological energies can be sustained – and means through which particular types of idealized subjects are created and legitimated. Here are four examples of the role batteries have played sociologically.

    The AFA Battery – Technology of Endurance

    2015-05-06-1430881370-5847994-OpawarkeinNazi.jpg
    Günther and Herbert Quandt discussing AFA batteries with Hitler (1938)

    During the Nazi era, batteries were first and foremost technologies of endurance. Few knew how to expropriate this symbolic linkage more effectively than Nazi industrialist and owner of the AFA battery factories Günther Quandt. In the early years of the Third Reich, Quandt had established profitable ties with the Nazi party that, in turn, saw more in Quandt’s batteries than mere technological advantage. Like an iconic AFA battery that allows German submarines to survive quietly underwater for days, the Nazi propaganda broadcasted, Germans should wait patiently for the final victory.

    This ideological framing came at a high price to human lives and the planet. As early as 1938, Jewish forced laborers were used to produce batteries for German war machinery including the submarines and, towards the end of the war, the V2 rocket under lethal conditions. Thousands of workers died and the soil and ground water in Hagen, the first modern battery production town in Germany, is contaminated with lead and other chemicals to this day.

    The VARTA Battery – Technology of Recovery

    2015-05-06-1430881006-5054168-959816.jpg
    Varta Road Atlas (1951)

    After the war, Quandt discovered that energy was no longer about endurance but about recovery. Whereas the AFA battery’s job had been to remind Germans of their duty during the total war, the job of the VARTA battery — the battery brand to which Quandt shifted his post-war attention — was to make them forget it. VARTA operated in service of creating a forward-looking and hard-working German citizenry that desired economic growth and regeneration.

    Like the VARTA car battery that recharges while driving, Germans should engage in automotive tourism to distract themselves and to look forward to their prosperous future rather than remember their horrible past. The VARTA hotel guide, originally published in 1957 as a marketing tool to convey that message, still exists today.

    The DURACELL Battery – Technology of Performance

    Duracell Commercial (circa 1980)

    DURACELL is my generation’s battery. Once again, battery marketing emerged from but also reinforced a particular type of historically idealized subjectivity. This time, the marketing emphasis shifted from recovery to better energy management and performance improvement. The new focus was not only high-performance energy but also on the high-performance individual, someone who “keeps on running” in service of competitive growth, like a DURACELL bunny.

    The TESLA Battery – Technology of Independence

    2015-05-06-1430882009-8076214-471769870620x427.jpg

    If one follows this analytical tact, in last week’s announcement, Musk’s true innovation may be to have moved battery meanings to a new sociological level: from performance to total autonomy. The intention behind Tesla’s POWERWALL may not only be to escape the fossil fuel era but to also reframe traditional energy governance as a historical fossil that stands in the way of clean energy.

    Looking for support rather than actively generating one’s own energy through one’s own power plant – that’s an illustration of the old grid. Conversely, the “smart grid” of the future emphasizes self-responsibility and reframes any and all energy shortage as one’s personal inability to harvest what’s “naturally available.” In this sense, POWERWALL may not be an icon of technological progress. It may signal a new level of social disintegration and heightened economic inequality.

    — This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

  • Putting Homes In Parking Spaces Could Help Solve San Francisco's Housing Crisis
    There’s just too much space reserved for cars in San Francisco, according to activist Steve Dombek, and it’s not helping everyday residents who want to live in housing they can afford.

    In his reimagined street diagrams seen below, Dombek reduced the amount of space allocated for parking and driving, and used it instead to provide additional homes and businesses for San Franciscans.

    The mock-ups, he argues, would help ease financial burdens in a city that has, in the past year alone, experienced a 15 percent hike in home rental costs — up to $3,129 a month in March — the Associated Press reported.

    “Remember that San Francisco is suffering through an affordability crisis caused in large part by a massive housing deficit,” Dombek, who based the designs off of the street he lives on, noted on his website, Narrow Streets SF. “We need space for a lot more units than we have, and no one wants to build up.”

    narrow streets sf

    narrow streets sf

    Images: Steve Dombek, Narrow Streets SF

    In Dombek’s diagrams, there’s still space for smaller vehicles to travel slowly amongst pedestrians, but parking would only be made available through the private market — not on public streets — Vox reported.

    Dombek brought the “after” design to life in the image below: “Not too bad, is it? The drab concrete sidewalk gets upgraded to brick or stone. Telephone poles and utility boxes are placed underground to clear the space for people and the occasional car.”

    narrow streets sf
    Image: Steve Dombek, Narrow Streets SF

    While Dombek’s designs highlight San Francisco’s housing affordability problem, there are plenty of U.S. cities that could use the help in combating sky-high housing costs — particularly when it comes to renters.

    As CNN Money reported, nationwide rental costs increased by 15 percent between 2009 and 2014, while household income rose by just 11 percent, a report from the National Association of Realtors released in March found. Rents have increased faster than incomes throughout the past five years in all but four of the 70 American cities considered for the study.

    As helpful as Dombek’s designs could be in providing affordable housing to San Franciscans, they’d face an uphill battle in becoming a reality. As Vox pointed out, political roadblocks alone would make implementing Dombek’s designs a difficult feat to pull off.

    To seem more of Dombek’s work, visit Narrow Streets SF.

    To take action on pressing poverty issues, check out the Global Citizen’s widget below.

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  • What Good Is Technological Progress Without Moral Progress?

    Energy-neutral, glow-in-the-dark trees planted on pavements to replace street lights. Water pipes that monitor their own leaks. Bionic arms powered by the mind. A mouth-guard that detects concussions. Self-driving cars.

    These are the kind of technologies of which we’ll see more in the next 10 years. And, no doubt, the pace of innovation will accelerate at a dizzying speed as the world’s best creative minds try to sate the demands of our insatiable appetite for progress and an insta-lifestyle that’s faster, cheaper, easier and better — whatever ‘better’ might mean.

    But as we consider what the next 10 years will bring, let’s ask ourselves this: What good are these technologies if they cannot be shared and enjoyed by all — especially the people or nations who need them most? Or if a lack of security and stability prevent people from accessing them?

    In other words, what good is technological progress without moral progress?

    Answer: It’s nothing more than the illusion of progress.

    Right now in my region, the Middle East, men are beheaded for sorcery while children are forced to watch. Women are enslaved and abused for belonging to ‘another’ religion. Around five million children are out of school — missing out on the a,b,c’s and the 1,2,3’s of their future and the future of our region.

    “To go forward, to write a narrative of real and lasting progress, we must go back.”

    Elsewhere, the ugly scenes in Ferguson and Baltimore remind us that below the surface and, too often, above it, injustice and prejudice simmer across the US. We’ve seen religious intolerance manifest itself in terrifying massacres in Kenya. And already this year, around 1,500 refugees, in search of a better life, have drowned, in part, because of the global community’s indifference to their plight.

    As long as progress is exclusive and not inclusive, shared by some and not all, the more we’ll see incidents like these. And the more we’ll see lone wolf terrorists and groups, such as ISIS, Al Shabaab and Boko Haram feed off people’s sense of injustice and seek perverted fulfillment.

    To go forward, to write a narrative of real and lasting progress, we must go back. Back to basics. We must return to the roots of our common humanity and to the universal values that connect us to each other. And we must be as hungry and restless for them as we would be if they were the next smart phone or Fitbit or video game.

    Imagine the power behind the simple act of getting to know others different from ourselves — of reaching out to someone from a religion or culture different to our own. What waves of understanding and compassion would follow if we stood in one another’s shoes.

    I’m an Arab and a Muslim and a mom of four but I empathized — and applauded — the actions of African American mom, Toya Graham, when she hauled her son out of the riots in Baltimore and ordered him home to keep him safe. And I know I wasn’t alone. A mother’s love is the same in any culture, religion or language.

    “Somewhere in our fast-paced world, crammed full of the latest gadgets, the alleged hallmarks of ‘progress’, too many people have forgotten the values on which our global family is built.”

    Is Toya any different to 40-year-old Ghada — a Syrian mother of five girls and two boys? Her husband killed by a sniper; her in-laws’ home looted and burned; threats of rape and murder against her daughters; and with the security services after them, Ghada took her children and escaped. In the dead of night, terrified that the moonlight would reveal them, they walked the hilly, rocky ground, carrying the youngest children and what possessions they could, until they reached the safety of the Jordanian border. A mother’s love is the same in any culture, religion or language.

    It’s in that moment when we think, “that could be my child,” that we start to identify with each other and relate to each other’s hopes and fears. It’s the impulse that makes us take responsibility for each other’s well-being. It’s the essence of global citizenry and what living in an interdependent world means: being able to depend on each other.

    And, yet, somewhere in our fast-paced world, crammed full of the latest gadgets, the alleged hallmarks of ‘progress’, too many people have forgotten the values on which our global family is built.

    So, how do we remedy this? With an app called “Moralify’ on which we click daily to remind us to be honest, kind and generous? Or a ‘Valuebit’ we wear on our wrists to count integrity, love and forgiveness points?

    How about we pause, put down our devices, look up and listen to our hearts and our consciences? Not so much ‘connectivity’ as just connecting with each other. And if that moral progress could keep pace with technological progress then that would be, well, real progress.

    This post is part of a series commemorating The Huffington Post’s 10 Year Anniversary through expert opinions looking forward to the next decade in their respective fields. To see all of the posts in the series, read here.

    — This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

  • My Predictions for the Next 10 Years
    Though it is hard to believe, 10 years ago…

    • The first video was uploaded to YouTube.

    • Facebook, then 1 year old, dropped the “the” from its old URL “thefacebook.com” after acquiring “facebook.com” for $200K

    • An early prototype of an autonomous car completed the DARPA Grand Challenge for the first time.

    • The term “Drone” meant a military weapon system

    • Bitcoin & Blockchain didn’t exist, and wouldn’t be created for 3 more years.

    • Android was a small startup that Google had just acquired.

    • There were 6.4 billion humans on Earth, only ~1 billion were online, and none of them had heard of Uber or AirBnb.

    Today…

    • YouTube has more than a billion users, who watch hundreds of millions of hours of video every day. 300 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute.

    • Facebook has 1.4 billion users from every country on Earth.

    • Every major car manufacturer is working on an autonomous model, and Google’s autonomous cars have logged over 1 million miles driving themselves.

    • Drones are now used by children, can be purchased at prices ranging from $50 to $1500. The largest consumer drone company DJI (which was started in 2006) is valued at $10b.

    • Bitcoin and Blockchain companies have raised hundreds of millions in venture capital and are poised to be potentially as disruptive as the Internet itself (see below).

    • Google now has over 1 billion active Android users

    • Today, there are close to 7.4 billion humans on Earth, ~3 billion are now on-line.

    • Uber, which was started in 2009, is valued at over $40b, and AirBnb, started in 2007, valued over $20b.

    These are only a few of the fun examples of exponential change from the last decade.

    The question is: What will the world look like 10 years from now?

    The World in 2025

    In 2025, in accordance with Moore’s law, we will see an acceleration in the rate of change as we move closer to a world of true abundance.

    Here are eight areas where we’ll see extraordinary transformation in the next decade:

    1. A $1000 Human Brain: In 2025, $1000 should buy you a computer able to calculate at 10^16 cycles per second (10,000 trillion cycles per second), the equivalent processing speed of the human brain.

    2. A Trillion Sensor Economy: The Internet of Everything describes the networked connections between devices, people, processes and data. By 2025, the IoE will exceed 100 billion connected devices, each with a dozen or more sensors collecting data. This will lead to a trillion sensor economy driving a data revolution beyond our imagination. Cisco’s recent report estimates the IoE will generate $19 trillion of newly created value.

    3. Perfect knowledge: We’re heading towards a world of perfect knowledge. With a trillion sensors gathering data everywhere (autonomous cars, satellite systems, drones, wearables, cameras), you’ll be able to know anything you want, anytime, anywhere, and query that data for answers and insights.

    4. 8 Billion Hyper-connected people: Facebook (Internet.org), SpaceX, Google (Project Loon), Qualcomm & Virgin (OneWeb) are planning to provide global connectivity to every human on Earth at speeds exceeding 1 Megabit per second. We will grow from three to eight billion connected humans, adding five billion new consumers into the global economy. They represent tens of trillions of new dollars flowing into the global economy. And they are not coming online like we did 20 years ago with a 9600 modem on AOL. They’re coming online with a 1 Mbps connection and access to the world’s information on Google, cloud 3D printing, Amazon Web Services, artificial intelligence with Watson, crowdfunding, crowdsourcing, and more.

    5. Disruption of Health care: Existing health care institutions will be crushed as new business models with better and more efficient care emerge. Thousands of startups, as well as today’s data-giants (Google, Apple, Microsoft, SAP, IBM, etc.) will all enter this lucrative $3.8 trillion dollar health care industry with new business models that dematerialize, demonetize and democratize today’s bureaucratic and inefficient system. Biometric sensing (wearables) and AI will make each of us the CEO’s of our own health. Large-scale genomic sequencing and machine learning will allow us to understand the root cause of cancer, heart disease and neurodegenerative disease and what to do about it. Robotic surgeons can carry out an autonomous surgical procedure perfectly (every time) for pennies on the dollar. Each of us will be able to regrow a heart, liver, lung of kidney when we need it, instead of waiting for the donor to die.

    6. Augmented & Virtual Reality: Billions of dollars invested by Facebook (Oculus), Google (Magic Leap), Microsoft (HoloLens), Sony, Qualcomm, HTC and others will lead to a new generation of displays and user interfaces. The screen as we know it… on your phone, your computer and your TV will disappear and be replaced eyewear. Not the geeky Google Glass, but stylish equivalents to what the well-dressed fashionista’s are wearing today. The result will be a massive disruption in a number of industries ranging from consumer retail, to real-estate, education, travel, entertainment, and the fundamental ways we operate as humans.

    7. Early days of JARVIS: Artificial intelligence research will make strides in the next decade. If you think Siri is useful now, the next decade’s generation of Siri will be much more like JARVIS from Ironman, with expanded capabilities, to understand and answer. Companies like IBM-Watson, DeepMind and Vicarious continue to hunker down and develop next generation AI-systems. In a decade, it will be normal for you to give your A.I. access to listen to all of your conversations, read your emails and scan you biometric data because the upside and convenience will be so immense.

    8. Blockchain: If you haven’t heard of the blockchain, I highly recommend you read up on it. You might have heard of bitcoin, which is the decentralized (global), democratized, highly secure cryptocurrency, based on the blockchain. But the real innovation is the blockchain itself, a protocol that allows for secure, direct (without a middle-man), digital transferring of value and assets (think money, contracts, stocks, IP). Investors like Marc Andreessen have poured tens of millions into the development and believe this is as important of an opportunity as the creation of the Internet itself.

    Bottom Line: We live in the most exciting time ever.

    This is the sort of content and conversations we discuss at my 250-person executive mastermind group called Abundance 360. The program is highly selective and has ~90 percent of the spots filled. You can apply here.

    Share this email with your friends, especially if they are interested in any of the areas outlined above.

    We are living toward incredible times where the only constant is change, and the rate of change is increasing.

    Best,

    Peter

    P.S. Every weekend I send out a “Tech Blog” like this one. If you want to sign up, go to PeterDiamandis.com and sign up for this and my Abundance blogs.

    ___________________
    This post is part of a series commemorating The Huffington Post’s 10 Year Anniversary through expert opinions looking forward to the next decade in their respective fields. To see all of the posts int he series, read here.

    — This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

  • The Data Science Revolution
    The Huffington Post launched in 2005, but had it done so 10 years prior, it would have met a very different audience. By 2005, the average reader was digitally savvy — spending lots of time online, communicating mainly through email and mobile phones, and engaging daily with social media. Yet this was before the likes of Siri, Google Now, and Waze came along. Today, we are more connected than ever, and rely on all kinds of smart machines on a daily basis. Computers may have started as linear tools used only by engineers for discrete tasks, but they have grown into versatile devices that support each of us in a distinct and exciting way.

    And what’s ahead is still more exciting. In the next 10 years, we believe that computers will move beyond their current role as our assistants, and become our advisors. With their help, we’ll grapple with and solve some of the toughest issues facing the world today.

    Once upon a time, computers were created with a singular purpose in mind: To churn through large data sets and find answers for specific questions, identifying the proverbial needle in a haystack of information. They still do this today — only at drastically faster speeds and levels of complexity. The twin powers of data science and machine learning have allowed us to hand off a growing number of time-intensive and tedious tasks, freeing us up for more valuable pursuits.

    Consider the Fitbit. We could certainly track our physical activity by hand, but we wouldn’t do it as consistently and precisely as the wearable digital device programmed to do it for us. And consider self-driving cars. Moving the task of driving to a computer will liberate countless hours that we could spend on work, learning, or talking with friends and loved ones. It also brings the added benefit of safety, as computerized drivers don’t get distracted by conversation, fatigue, or alcohol.

    The benefits of digital tools are not limited to the few and privileged. Fishermen off the coast of Africa now use mobile phones to find the market with the best price to sell their catch. Students who once shared one textbook per classroom can now access a world’s worth of information through the Internet.

    Yet we believe that computers will do more. Their capacity for data analysis is ever increasing, and more data is now stored digitally. They will have broad societal impact, and help us to tackle pressing issues like health care and climate change.

    “In the next 10 years, we believe that computers will move beyond their current role as our assistants, and become our advisors.”

    Over the next few decades, an estimated 60 million people per year will move into cities. There will be questions around traffic control, fuel, carbon footprint and city planning. Enter data science. In the next decade, the amount of information we will aggregate will grow exponentially — car ownership, fuel consumption, average wait time at each traffic light. We will not be able to analyze all of this data ourselves, nor will we always know the right questions to ask. But with machine learning, computers will be able to look at the data en-masse, recognizing patterns and bottlenecks we wouldn’t look for based on intuition. Countless relationships and dependencies will be uncovered, and city planning will be more scientific, solving some potential problems before they even arise.

    Today, we are on the verge of having cars drive us automatically to an address we specify. In the next decade, computers will advise us with answers to questions about transportation that we may not know to ask.

    Data science will also transform medicine. Already, IBM’s Watson machine is crunching data from individual patient records to identify best courses of treatment. In the future, the impact of machine learning will expand to combat entire categories of disease. We imagine all biologic matter becoming sequenced eventually, with all resulting data residing in a database for computerized analysis. The insights that could arise from computer-powered pattern recognition in this kind of data are staggering. Our understanding of treatment and prevention may be transformed entirely. Today, we tend to look at data once a person is already ill, and medical studies focus on a specific sample set of patients once treatment is provided. Imagine expanding the scope of our analysis to include anonymous insights across an entire population, integrating data points that go beyond illness and include factors like environmental exposure, childhood nutrition and fitness habits.

    We couldn’t possibly guess, but what if anonymous data collected from fitness trackers led to insights around illness prevention? What if computer-powered pattern recognition solved the relationship between genetics and cancer? Imagine if, just like we donate money to cancer research, we could each choose to donate our anonymous Fitbit data to be mined for life-saving impact.

    We believe that the goal of computers is to empower people by complementing their abilities. The next decade will bring just that. We will learn to build machines that go beyond executing tasks, and that will provide us with the kinds of insights that empower historic decision-making. It’s an exciting time to be alive.

    This post is part of a series commemorating The Huffington Post’s 10-year anniversary through expert opinions looking forward to the next decade in their respective fields. To see all of the posts in the series, read here.

    ___________________
    Eric Schmidt is the Executive Chairman of Google. Jared Cohen is the Director of Google Ideas & Advisor to the Executive Chairman. Together they are co-authors of the New York Times bestseller The New Digital Age: Transforming Nations, Businesses, and Our Lives.

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  • Shaping a New Constitution for the Digital Age
    The next 10 years promises to be the most exciting in the history of technology. Moore’s Law, which just turned 50, has not lost its momentum. Processing power continues to grow exponentially, bandwidth speeds are accelerating and storage costs are plummeting. Everyone and every ‘thing’ is being connected to the global Internet. At the same time, cloud, social and mobile technologies are converging, disrupting the old order. These are ideal conditions to inspire a new wave of innovation that touches everyone on the planet and improves the state of the world.

    As a consequence of this great migration to the cloud, social and mobile, we are in the midst of a data revolution. An estimated 90 percent of the data in the world today has been created in the past two years. By 2020, 50 billion devices will be connected to the Internet, creating data at massive scale. The quantified self, with sensors monitoring bodily functions and advances in DNA mapping and bioinformatics, will make it possible to turn every human into a repository of “big data.” So it’s no surprise that the amount of data created is expected to double in size every two years, and will grow 10-fold between 2013 and 2020, to 44 trillion gigabytes.

    The challenge is making sense of this vast pool of data. Ninety-nine percent of the world’s data today is dark matter — it hasn’t been processed or analyzed in a way that allows the knowledge and insights residing in the data to surface. However, with advances in data science, intelligence will emerge over the next decade, creating new opportunities for companies, industries and scientific fields to reinvent themselves for the 21st century.

    Data science uses machine learning, predictive analytics, deep learning and other techniques to identify patterns in data that would be impossible for humans to do on a large scale. Machine learning algorithms can analyze billions of transactions and variables to determine which customers are mostly likely to purchase a particular product. Self-driving cars, guided by an array of sophisticated computing systems, will result in fewer accidents and optimized routing to reduce traffic congestion. Algorithms sorting through petabytes of data generated by airplane engines can detect a pattern indicating a faulty component and issue an early warning. Applying data science to analyze millions of X-rays, MRIs or cancer cells, will give every doctor access to the most accurate and encyclopedic diagnostic tool, from anywhere in the world in real time.

    But technology alone isn’t enough to improve the state of the world.

    We need public policy that supports basic research, laying the groundwork for entrepreneurs to create the next generation of products and services. Public funding for basic research in the U.S. planted the seeds for the Internet, GPS, barcodes and even Google. Today, however, research and development accounts for less than 4 percent of the federal budget, down from 10 percent in 1968. As result, research areas such as cybersecurity, clean energy and infectious disease aren’t receiving sufficient funding from Congress, creating an “innovation deficit.”

    Together, government, business, academia and advocacy groups need to work through complex technical, political, ethical and privacy issues to shape a new constitution for the digital age.

    “Technology alone isn’t enough to improve the state of the world.”

    CEOs and other business leaders have to stand up for all of their stakeholders — employees, customers, partners, shareholders and local communities — and recognize that they are part of a larger ecosystem. Issues ranging from climate change and global health to food production and education impact every business.

    An environment in peril — oceans rising an average of 3.2 millimeters per year– is not good for business. Millions of people lacking in educational opportunity is not good for business. More than 200 million unemployed people worldwide is not good for business.

    Technology innovation, married with a more compassionate capitalism and civic engagement, has the potential to address these problems in the next decade and make the world a better place for all.

    This post is part of a series commemorating The Huffington Post’s 10-year anniversary through expert opinions looking forward to the next decade in their respective fields. To see all of the posts in the series, read here.

    _____________

    Marc Benioff is chairman and CEO of Salesforce. A pioneer of cloud computing, Benioff founded Salesforce in 1999 and revolutionized the enterprise software world with new models for technology, business, corporate philanthropy and management. Under his visionary leadership, Salesforce has grown from a groundbreaking idea into the fastest growing top ten software company in the world and the #1 CRM platform.

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  • The 10 Most Fishy Texts From The 'Deflategate' Report
    Buried within the 243-page report on the “deflategate” controversy are a number of text messages that an independent law firm used in part to come to the conclusion that it was “more probable than not” that employees within the New England Patriots organization deliberately deflated the team’s footballs during the 2015 NFL playoffs.

    For fun, The Huffington Post decided to round up a significant number of the text messages included in the report, and rank which sound the most fishy to us.

    The relevant parties in the below exchanges:
    — Jim McNally, the official locker room attendant for the Patriots
    — John Jastremski, an equipment assistant for the Patriots
    — Tom Brady, the New England Patriots’ quarterback
    — Unknown, an unknown person

    10. The text exchange Jastremski had with an unknown person regarding Brady being angry about the footballs he was using.

    John Jastremski: Tom is acting crazy about balls
    John Jastremski: Ready to vomit!
    Unknown: K
    Unknown: He saying there not good enough??
    John Jastremski: Tell later

    9. The exchange in which Jastremski told McNally that Brady, unhappy with how the balls were inflated, said McNally “must have a lot of stress trying to get them done.”

    Jastremski: Talked to him last night. He actually brought you up and said you
    must have a lot of stress trying to get them done…
    Jastremski: I told him it was. He was right though…
    Jastremski: I checked some of the balls this morn… The refs fucked us…a few
    of then were at almost 16

    8. The text in which McNally says he’s going to get revenge on Tom by inflating the balls so much that they become “fuckin balloon[s].”

    McNally: Tom sucks…im going make that next ball a fuckin balloon

    7. The text in which McNally says “Fuck tom” and then says “fuckin watermelons coming.”

    McNally: Fuck tom….make sure the pump is attached to the needle…..fuckin watermelons coming

    6. The text exchange in which McNally implies he better be compensated for whatever he’s about to do with a “big needle” for Tom Brady.

    Jastremski: I have a big needle for u this week
    McNally: Better be surrounded by cash and newkicks….or its a rugby sunday
    McNally: Fuck tom
    Jastremski: Maybe u will have some nice size 11s in ur locker
    McNally: Tom must really be working your balls hard this week

    5. The text in which an angry McNally says “The only thing deflating [on Sunday]… is [Tom Brady’s] passing rating.”

    McNally: The only thing deflating sun..is his passing rating

    4. The exchange in which McNally literally refers to himself as “the deflator.”

    McNally: You working
    Jastremski: Yup
    McNally: Nice dude….jimmy needs some kicks….lets make a deal…..come on help the deflator

    3. And then makes a joke about letting the world know about whatever they’re doing.

    McNally: Chill buddy im just fuckin with you ….im not going to espn……..yet

    2. The text exchange between Brady and Jastremski in which Brady tried to calm Jastremski after people started whispering about deflategate.

    Brady: “You good Jonny boy?”

    Brady: “You doing good?”

    Jastremski: “Still nervous; so far so good though”

    1. The text Jastremski sent Brady just hours after he clicked on a NBC Sports Pro Football Talk about the “deflategate” controversy.

    Jastremski: Call me when you get a second

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  • How Becky Bond Is Using A Mobile Company To Empower Progressive Activists

    (Photo: Samantha Lachman/The Huffington Post)

    This article is part of a Huffington Post series, on the occasion of the site’s 10th anniversary, looking at some of the people and issues that will shape the world in the next decade.

    Becky Bond, the political director of the progressive activist organization CREDO Mobile, hopped on a conference call on a sunny April day in San Francisco with a message for Democrats: We’re watching you.

    Bond was reacting to a newly minted deal to give President Barack Obama the authority he will need to fast-track massive new trade deals, like the Trans-Pacific Partnership, through Congress. In a conference room decorated ironically with life-size cardboard cutouts of former Rep. Allen West (R-Fla.) and former Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin, Bond told reporters that CREDO members had made more than 10,000 calls to Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), the top Democrat on the finance committee who participated in negotiations over the bill, and donated nearly $60,000 to Public Citizen, a consumer rights group and one of the leading opponents of the developing trade deal.

    “Congress is throwing Americans under the bus by giving President Obama and future presidents a blank check to bypass Congress and cut an anti-environment, anti-worker, anti-consumer deal with multinational corporations,” Bond said. “Now that the fight is moving to the House, CREDO members will be counting on [House Democratic Leader] Nancy Pelosi to unite House Democrats and stop this disastrous trade deal.”

    The fight over the Trans-Pacific Partnership is likely to be the defining intra-party battle of Obama’s second term, if not his entire presidency. For months CREDO has been right in the thick of things, urging its members to sign petitions, make calls and demand would-be party leaders like Hillary Clinton make it clear where they stand.

    Bond calls this a “structural” fight. If the trade deal goes through, it could weaken progress CREDO has made on other issues, like protections for workers and environmental regulations. “Almost everything we care about is at play. If we lose that one fight we lose on so many issues,” Bond said.

    CREDO has supported the president on other fronts, like the nuclear negotiations with Iran. But Bond hasn’t shied away from criticizing Democrats when she feels they stand on the wrong side of an issue, or aren’t being aggressive enough. She is guided by the theory that change comes from those outside the nation’s capital pushing the boundaries of what seems politically feasible.

    “When you start with a compromise, and there’s an inevitable compromise on the compromise, then you don’t see the change you want to see,” she said.

    What’s also striking about Bond’s message is that it was delivered from the headquarters of a private, for-profit mobile phone company with more than 100,000 customers, housed just steps from the San Francisco waterfront. One might not usually associate corporate interests with progressive causes, but that gets to the core of the company’s unique DNA.

    “CREDO’s a social change organization, which is very different than saying that we’re a mobile company. We’re a social change organization, first and foremost, that runs a very good mobile service in order to fund our activism and our philanthropy,” co-founder Michael Kieschnick told The Huffington Post.

    CREDO began in 1985 as a credit card company called Working Assets Funding Service. It added long-distance phone service in 1991 and mobile service in 2000. Since then, it has directed a portion of its revenues toward a range of fellow progressive groups. To date, it has given away more than $76 million to groups like the climate change-focused Friends of the Earth, the digital civil liberties group Electronic Frontier Foundation and the youth-led immigrant advocacy group United We Dream. CREDO has also been Planned Parenthood’s largest corporate sponsor since 1986.

    Plenty of companies give money to various groups and organizations. CREDO’s model, however, departs from the traditional understanding of corporate social responsibility, in which company executives meet in a boardroom and decide, on behalf of their shareholders, which foundations or nonprofits to fund.

    At CREDO, the monthly donation process begins when members and customers nominate groups to receive funding. CREDO staff members pick three recipient organizations from that nominee pool, and then members vote for their preference to determine how to allocate the money. Groups can receive anywhere from tens of thousands of dollars to more than $100,000 in a month.

    CREDO’s activism also involves engaging with a broader network of 3.6 million members, many of whom aren’t mobile customers. They are asked to make calls to politicians, sign petitions and even volunteer to get arrested. Bond herself has been arrested three times — twice protesting the Keystone XL pipeline and once protesting the Iraq war.

    The company’s corporate and activist spheres are intimately linked, often in unexpected ways. In January, Bond received a call from an unknown number. It was a mobile customer having problems with his account. He had somehow managed to acquire Bond’s personal number, and asked if she was the person who could finally resolve his issue.

    “I said, ‘No, I’m not that person,’ but when he said that he had been an activist and a customer for a really long time and the manager couldn’t solve his problem I just said, ‘OK, what is going on?’” Bond recalled. “This happens all the time, by the way, that I end up doing customer service for people.”

    What would appear to be a relatively unglamorous task — walking down the hall to talk to a customer retention expert about the caller’s account — was, to Bond, an integral part of what differentiates her company from others.

    “If we have a customer who has chosen to be with us to support this work and something goes wrong, then I want to fix that,” Bond said. “You never know who is on the other side of that account — you find out that they were big student leaders in the Vietnam war protests or we find out they’re willing to get arrested to stop the Keystone XL pipeline, so every one of the people is the kind of person who stands up and does something for their beliefs.”

    bond
    Becky Bond (center), with Heidi Hess, CREDO Action’s campaigns manager, and Elijah Zarlin, a senior campaigner.

    Kieschnick told HuffPost Bond has created a political team “like the best of a campaign team, but which keeps going.”

    “In most political campaigns, people are thrown together in very intense circumstances, work excessive hours, drink bad beer and then they go away,” he said. “She’s created an atmosphere where her team operates at a super high level, but over years rather than months.”

    When she isn’t calling out Democrats or criticizing Republicans, Bond fully enjoys the northern California lifestyle by hiking, biking to work and enjoying local farmers’ markets. She grew up in Nashville and in a much different political setting, but social justice was something she embraced from an early age.

    “As someone who grew up in the Christian church, where you were taught to love your neighbor as yourself and to take responsibility for the least among us, I had values instilled in me from a young age about stewardship of the world around us and about our obligations to our brothers and sisters,” Bond said. “I think both of those things, coming out as gay and having come from a really strong values-based background, have made it important to me to have social justice be a part of my life.”

    In 1988, Bond left Nashville for the liberal Williams College, where she excelled in political theory classes and hosted a queer radio show on the student-run station. Her former political science professor, Mark Reinhardt, described Bond as “the kind of person in a seminar who would totally enliven the dynamic of the conversation.”

    “She was creative, imaginative, politically astute and engaged then. She was a fairly rambunctious personality,” Reinhardt said, recounting that when he left his young son with Bond at a faculty-student party, she had taught the child how to spit by the time he returned.

    As graduation approached, Bond convinced a group of friends to move to San Francisco — “Where gays went to be happy,” she said. There, her penchant for making mischief continued as she pursued various conceptual art projects, including dressing up in a giant chicken costume to give away free passes to the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. But by the late 1990s, Bond felt compelled to do more “than just talk about things,” so she became an editor for a CREDO publication and produced a company radio show.

    Then, in 2000, she ran the campaign demanding Florida officials count all the votes in the contested presidential election.

    “It was a really good example of the sort of things Becky does well. We weren’t ready; within a few hours we got ready, she overcame naysayers, developed a clear message, and worked beyond any human reason over the next two weeks to try and prevent the election from being stolen,” Kieschnick said. For the 2004 election cycle, he promised that CREDO would register one million new voters, and with Bond spearheading the efforts, that ambitious goal was comfortably reached.

    For the 2012 elections, CREDO created a super PAC to boot some of the most conservative members of Congress out of office. Some called it ironic that a critic of lax campaign finance laws was joining the race to the bottom, but Bond felt progressives couldn’t “unilaterally disarm.” Instead of spending their resources for television advertisements like other super PACs, however, Bond’s team opened field offices, hired organizers and recruited volunteers with the $2.5 million they raised.

    Under Bond’s political leadership, CREDO has been a consistent ally of groups fighting for reproductive rights, according to NARAL Pro-Choice America President Ilyse Hogue. The groups partnered last year to sink the nomination of controversial Georgia judicial nominee Michael Boggs, a former state lawmaker with a socially conservative legislative record on abortion and other issues.

    “CREDO has, long before I got here, been an unabashed advocate for abortion rights and reproductive freedom more broadly, and I think that sets them apart from other groups,” Hogue said. “Other businesses wrongly perceive these as controversial issues, but that’s sort of part and parcel of who CREDO is.”

    While combatting attacks on reproductive rights mostly requires going on defense, and fighting the Keystone XL pipeline involves maintaining the status quo, Bond also wants to go on offense more frequently.

    “We’re very excited to not be losing on some things, but the next thing is that we need to be winning and changing the game,” she said. She said areas where CREDO members could help make progress included fights over Wall Street accountability, National Security Agency surveillance and state-based ballot initiatives on background checks for gun purchases. “Our whole model depends on people wanting to do things and getting people involved in the process, but it has to be something they want to fight for.”

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  • Adam Schiff Believes Washington Is Finally Ready To Reform America's Spy Programs

    (Photo: Alex Wong via Getty Images)

    This article is part of a Huffington Post series, on the occasion of the site’s 10th anniversary, looking at some of the people and issues that will shape the world in the next decade.

    WASHINGTON — Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), was sworn into office just months before the Sept. 11 attacks. He matured as a legislator as the government’s intelligence machine, charged with safeguarding the nation in the era of terrorism, amassed sweeping power.

    Now, nearly a decade and a half since his arrival in Congress, Schiff has grown accustomed to the spy grind of daily closed-door briefings, hushed overseas trips, and visits to places the American people — and many of his colleagues on Capitol Hill — don’t know exist.

    The coming months, however, stand to be some of the most intense and consequential of Schiff’s career. In January, Schiff was named vice-chair of the House Intelligence Committee, making him one of the most powerful figures in the small circle of lawmakers guiding America’s national security policy. The role will give him ample opportunity to wield his increased influence, as debates over national security come to a head.

    Schiff, 54, a former federal prosecutor, said he wants to “help shape the debate over privacy and security in a way that analyzes not only what we can do and what’s constitutional to do, but what we should be doing and how we should be structuring our intelligence-gathering, so that we get the maximum security benefit along with the maximum privacy.

    “I don’t think we’ve always thought in those terms,” he added.

    First up is the pending expiration of the National Security Agency’s bulk data collection programs, whose existence former defense contractor Edward Snowden revealed in 2013. The Patriot Act provisions that authorize those NSA programs expire at the end of June, and a fight is brewing on Capitol Hill over whether they should be reformed, and how.

    Schiff has been an outspoken critic of collecting Americans’ phone records. He was in the first wave of lawmakers to propose reforms after Snowden’s disclosures, pushing to end the program entirely and to overhaul the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, the secret judicial body that supposedly rules on most Obama administration surveillance programs.

    The court operates behind a thick veil of secrecy, which civil liberties advocates say unfairly tips the scales in the government’s favor. Government lawyers go before a handful of judges to argue on behalf of Washington’s intelligence apparatus for surveillance warrants. The court seldom rejects their requests.

    Critics of the surveillance — and possible targets — aren’t represented before the court, Schiff said. To balance the scales, he said he wants to create a body of civil liberties advocates who can argue against the government’s lawyers, and he wants human rights and privacy groups to be able to write amicus briefs on issues that affect Americans’ freedoms.

    Schiff’s approach doesn’t go far enough, say some privacy advocates, who would prefer that the government quit mass surveillance entirely. But it reflects Schiff’s views on the intelligence world.

    To Schiff, it’s not about choosing privacy over security, or vice-versa. It’s about creating a system that’s balanced, representing both sides. And for the first time since Sept. 11, Schiff said he believes Washington may be ready to listen to him.

    “Post-9/11, there was an intense focus on national security,” Schiff said. “Post-Snowden, there was an intense focus on privacy. And post-Charlie Hebdo and a few other things, I think they’re settling in on an equilibrium, where people in the public recognize the need for good intelligence to protect the country, and people within the intelligence community recognize the need to uphold the privacy expectations of the American people and how you can’t have one without the other. I think we’re getting to a healthy equilibrium.”

    Beyond NSA surveillance, Schiff and his colleagues must face other national security priorities. Islamic extremism is forcing a new reality on Washington. Troop deployments to combat threats overseas are becoming the exception rather than the norm.

    “We don’t want to have put American boots on the ground everywhere,” Schiff said. In this new age, with the U.S. increasingly battling amorphous groups rather than countries, intelligence agencies are playing bigger roles in identifying and combating threats.

    The U.S. is slowly entering the realm of cyber-warfare — another issue for Schiff. Last month, the Pentagon acknowledged publicly for the first time that cyber-warfare is part of the military’s arsenal, but it has some catching up to do. Defense Secretary Ashton Carter recently travelled to San Francisco to recruit hackers to join the military.

    But there’s not much love for the military in Silicon Valley. Quiet battles between Washington, technology companies and privacy advocates have swelled over how information should be encrypted and who should be able to decode the protected information Americans store on their electronic devices.

    The government is fighting to maintain its ability to snoop on private communications. But tech companies, stung by a backlash from customers and privacy advocates, are resisting government demands for access to customer data that also may be exploited by hackers. As companies take steps to block government encroachment, intelligence agencies are panicking.

    “That’s a mammoth issue,” Schiff said of the conflict between tech companies and intelligence agencies.

    Here, too, Schiff said he hopes for balance, pointing to a cyber-security bill recently passed by the House Intelligence Committee. The bill would allow law enforcement agencies to access information from tech companies. But the companies will be allowed to scrub personal information from the data, Schiff said. If any personal information does slip through, the government will be required to erase it.

    That kind of considered position gives Schiff credibility with many of his colleagues and makes him a key cross-aisle player.

    “We worked closely together on the cyber-bill, which passed out of the committee on a unanimous vote, and we’ve been collaborating on the FISA issue as well,” said Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), the House Intelligence Committee chairman. “Although we don’t agree on everything, we try to put partisanship aside in the committee’s operation.”

    Schiff’s friends and former House colleagues trace his views back to his work as a federal prosecutor in Los Angeles.

    “He has a very logical, orderly, methodical approach,” said Howard Berman, a former Democratic congressman from the LA area. “It’s not ultimately motivated by ideology, but by analysis. I think he’s effective in dealing with people who may not share his political philosophy just because he makes a very logical, compelling case for a particular position.”

    Schiff’s knack for working with critics — and his balanced take on national security — creates a unique moment for national security reform. The outcome of the NSA debate will show whether Schiff’s years of quiet work to balance the scales have opened a new era in Intelligence oversight.

    “There’s more of a willingness to talk about reform and think about reform,” said Neema Singh Giuliani, legislative counsel for the ACLU on NSA and surveillance issues. “Congressman Schiff has said that he is interested in NSA reform and is supportive of it. I think that has created a slightly different tenor this time around.”

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  • Tesla loss narrows as orders rise
    Electric car maker Tesla reports better-than-expected first quarter results, sending shares up more than 5% in trading after US markets had closed.
  • Astronomers Discover The Most Distant Galaxy Yet
    An ancient galaxy located more than 13 billion light-years from Earth in the constellation Bootes has set a record as the most distant galaxy ever observed.

    But EGS-zs8-1, as the galaxy is known formally, has astronomers excited for another reason.

    “The amazing thing is not the distance, but that we are looking back through 95 percent of all time and seeing this when it was a young galaxy … and seeing it forming stars at a huge rate just 670 million years after the Big Bang,” Dr. Garth Illingworth, professor of astronomy and astrophysics at the University of California, Santa Cruz and a co-author of a new study about the galaxy, told The Huffington Post in an email.

    (Story continues below images.)
    farthest galaxy
    The galaxy EGS-zs8-1 as shown in a Hubble image of a field of galaxies.

    farthest galaxy
    Close-up of EGS-zs8-1.

    Yale astronomer Pascal Oesch discovered the blue-colored galaxy in images taken by NASA’s Hubble and Spitzer space telescopes, the Associated Press reported. Researchers then used the ground-based 10-meter telescope at the W.M. Keck Observatory in Hawaii to determine its exact distance from Earth.

    The telescopes’ observations are of light that was emitted by EGS-zs8-1 when it was about 100 million years old — very young in astronomical terms. At the time it was forming stars about 80 times faster than the one-star-per-year pace our Milky Way manages today.

    “At this stage galaxies are like infants — small, active, and growing fast,” Illingworth said in the email.

    The researchers hope to continue to study EGS-zs8-1 and other distant galaxies using NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope, which is set to launch in 2018.

    “The result of JWST’s upcoming measurements will provide a much more complete picture of the formation of galaxies at the cosmic dawn,” Illingworth said in a written statement.

    The study was published online on May 5 in the journal Astrophysical Letters.

    Check out the “Talk Nerdy To Me” video below for an explanation about why gazing out into space is the same as looking back in time.

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  • Domestic Violence Awareness Comes To Tinder
    A new series of public service announcements on Tinder hopes to remind women that even a seemingly perfect man can turn violent at the drop of a hat.

    Relationship abuse is alarmingly common in the United States. Every minute, 20 people experience intimate partner violence, and three women are murdered every day by a current or former male partner.

    Women in Distress, a domestic violence center based in Florida, collaborated with the ad agency Bravo/Y&R for the Tinder Beaters campaign, which aims to raise awareness about relationship abuse.

    The agency staff created three fake Tinder personas, AdWeek reports. When women look at one of the fake profiles, they see pictures of a man looking normal at first, then appearing more and more angry in subsequent photos, and finally throwing a punch at the camera. The last image reads “Don’t Let It Get Ugly.”

    The agency told AdWeek that the campaign encourages women to “look for help at the first sign of things turning ugly.” Bravo/Y&R did not respond to a Huffington Post request for comment. Women in Distress also could not be reached for comment.

    Katie Ray-Jones, the CEO of the National Domestic Violence Hotline, said she has seen increased interest in graphic images of domestic violence since a video showing former Baltimore Ravens player Ray Rice hitting his then-fiancée was released last year.

    “People are looking for really provocative imagery to engage people on the topic,” she told HuffPost.

    However, Ray-Jones said the slogan “Don’t Let It Get Ugly” incorrectly implies that domestic violence survivors have control over an abusive situation.

    “I think it’s really important to have messaging that really gives victims and survivors education that they are not to blame for the abuse,” she said.

    “It’s interesting that they are all white men [in the Tinder video],” Ray-Jones said, noting that abusers can come from any background and that diversity has become a top priority in other domestic violence PSAs. It’s possible the advertisers made all their abusers white to reflect the demographics of Tinder in their area, she speculated.

    Ray-Jones also questioned the absence of a trigger warning before violent imagery. “We know that post-traumatic stress is common in victims,” she said, adding that anything that reminds survivors of abuse can be very upsetting.

    It’s not possible to screen out everything reminiscent of abuse, she said, “but as service providers we can prepare the public before we release imagery that can be triggering.”

    Tinder is growing in popularity as a way for companies and other organizations to spread their messages. We’ve already seen it used to raise awareness about sex trafficking and promote a movie about a sexy robot.

    This article has been updated to include comments from Katie Ray-Jones.

    — This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

  • Zynga shares surge on layoff plans
    Shares in online game maker Zynga rise strongly after the firm reports a smaller-than-expected loss and plans to cut costs by laying off 18% of its workforce.
  • These Leaders Prove Big Business Can Make The World A Better Place
    To some business leaders, having a positive impact on society is just as vital as their companies’ bottom lines.

    The Business for Peace Award, presented Wednesday in Oslo, Norway, honored global business innovators who are creating value by both monetary and social measures.

    Per L. Saxegaard, founder and executive chairman of the Business for Peace Foundation, wrote about about why it’s important to recognize achievements by such businesses in a blog posted to The Huffington Post on Monday.

    “Good business practice is dependent upon example,” he wrote on behalf of the nonprofit, which administers the award. “We emulate what we are taught, and the foundation’s mission is to show that a more enlightened approach to doing business can achieve the bottom line goal of profitability, while at the same time add value to society, and in fact contribute to stability and peace.”

    The contest winners — selected by Nobel Prize winners in Peace and in Economics — included Paul Polman, the CEO of Unilever and a sustainability advocate, and Poman Lo, Hong Kong-based group managing director of Regal Hotels International.

    In recent years, Polman has led efforts to lessen Unilever’s environmental impact, even as its corporate size grows: About 48 percent of the consumer goods company’s raw materials were sustainably sourced in 2013, according to the Business for Peace Foundation. Unilever is aiming to make it 100 percent by 2020.

    In China, Lo created Century Innovative Technology Limited (CIT) — an entertainment-meets-education company focused on kids’ education. Lo launched a collection of animated stories and a television show that aim to instill moral development in its young viewers, as well as an interactive website that uses educational games and content to empower children through learning.

    Scroll below to see the full list of recipients of the Business for Peace Award:

    To take action on pressing poverty issues, check out the Global Citizen’s widget below.

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    — This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

  • 3 Ways to Future-Proof Your Email Marketing
    2015-05-06-1430929196-1024142-EmailMarketingtips.jpeg

    Remember the days when you needed to drive a quick increase in signups, sales or downloads and you could simply send an email to your ‘list’? While you still may be able to do this in some respects, all future trends lead to more and more control being snatched from marketers and placed in the hands (literally) of the customer.

    Couple this with the fact that consumers’ attention spans are short, their choices are endless and their expectations are becoming harder and harder to satisfy. The end result is a very noisy and very crowded journey as customers move from awareness to purchase.

    A supporting stat to the noisy customer journey shows that although open rates are up for email marketing messages, click-through rates have been decreasing over the past several years.

    Begin with End In Mind
    For business owners, these realities beg the question: how can I future-proof my email marketing efforts? The quick and easy answer is clear: get started now! Begin with the end in mind by being a more relevant partner/problem solver to your existing customers and expert/source to potentially new ones.

    1. The Answers are in the Questions
    Start being more relevant and authentic by asking your customers these two questions:

    “How did you hear about us?” and “What is the one thing that almost kept you from becoming a customer?”

    Include the first question as part of your on-boarding series of messages to new customers who sign up for your email content. Sure, you have tracking in place to determine how they found you, but this question lets them tell you an anecdote or story that could reveal a unique opportunity that improves your email marketing.

    Pose the second question to customers who have been with you for at least 90 days.
    Knowing what nearly blocked them from becoming a customer will help identify reasons why other visitors to your website may have left. You’ll be able to collect themes then improve your relevancy by updating email messaging and customer segmenting ideas.

    Read every answer. Adjust your website content, email messaging, customer service response times, expectations, etc. accordingly. Acting on the responses shows that you care
    more about building customer relationships and less about being just a brand.

    2. Become Your Customer
    Seems obvious, but are you receiving your own marketing messages? Reading your brand’s email from the ‘sender’ side (even with preview tools) does not paint the entire picture. Do you recognize your own message in your own noisy inbox? Does that subject line you wrote cut through the clutter while you’re looking at your inbox between meetings, traveling…you know, doing what your customer is doing?

    It’s not an exact science, but it will give you more context on the effectiveness of your cadence and messaging. You may end up adjusting subject lines, image vs. text ratios and time of day you choose to send your emails.

    3. Start Building Your Assets
    In 2011, Google’s ZMOT (Zero Moment of Truth) study showed that the average buyer required seven hours of interaction across eleven touch points (e.g. newsletter, social ad, radio ad) in four mediums/locations (e.g. email, website, in person) before completing that purchase. That was almost five years ago. You can imagine that these numbers have only increased given the increased competition for your time.

    How can you compete? Customer testimonials. How-to videos. Team member interviews. A-day-in-the-life video. Audio books (not just those downloadable PDFs). A Periscope or Meerkat live video stream account. Podcasts. These represent just a small sample of the many brand assets that you should have, or plan to have, ready this year. Tomorrow’s attention spans require messaging that can be consumed quickly, but in an authentic and entertaining way. And in a way that helps to build and strengthen customer connections.

    How does email marketing fit in? As the key introducer. Email can be used to directly announce your new video series, exclusive audio book or launch of your new podcast.
    Also, you will use email as the relationship-building hub; leveraging your assets to help continually build your database of subscribers. Most networks can be integrated directly with your desired email list so add a sign-up form at the end of those videos or a vanity URL at the end of that podcast. It’s an all-around win.

    These assets alone are not guaranteed to grow your business overnight, but testing programs that leverage these types of assets will give you a much better sense of what does resonate with your customer of today. Ultimately, this will help you focus your efforts for the customer of tomorrow.

    — This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

  • Diddy Beats Dr. Dre As Hip-Hop's 'Wealthiest' Artist
    Forbes released its annual Hip-Hop’s Wealthiest list this week, and despite Dr. Dre’s much-publicized billion dollar sale of Beats headphones to Apple, the super-producer failed to maintain the magazine’s number one spot as the genre’s most prosperous artist.

    Sean “Diddy” Combs is once again the reigning cash king thanks to a well-rounded business portfolio — including Ciroc vodka, Sean John apparel and Revolt television, which has netted him $735 million. The business mogul also held the no. 1 spot on the Forbes list in 2012, 2013 and 2014.

    “I did the research and did the work to make sure that I was a master in whatever category I went into, too,” Combs said during a 2013 interview with the Huffington Post.

    “If I went into apparel, I wanted to know everything about that. I went into spirits, so I knew everything about that. I’m starting Revolt, and I’m still learning on that one. [Laughs] But it’s about starting a brand, which I’m a specialist at.”

    In addition to landing on top of Forbes’ Wealthiest list, Combs is also busy promoting his latest Sean John unisex fragrance, “3AM,” which was released this week to retailers.

    Check out Forbes’ complete list of Hip-Hop’s Wealthiest list here.

    — This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

  • Review of Google Camera for Android

    Any smartphone you buy today be it Android, iOS or Windows Phone, will come with a camera app for the built-in camera of the device.  Some of these are appallingly bad while others are fantastic.  Fortunately, regardless of the platform you chose, you have a lot of camera apps available in respective app stores to help fit your needs a bit better.  In the case of Android, one of the simplest yet easiest to use camera apps is Google Camera.  Yes it is made by Google and it is a robust camera app alternative.  It doesn’t have the huge number

    The post Review of Google Camera for Android appeared first on Clinton Fitch.

  • Drone use to be expanded in US
    The US aviation regulator has asked three firms to help it explore how drone use could be extended and has also unveiled a drone app for pilots.
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