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Mobile Technology News, May 9, 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.

  • VIDEO: Apple v Android: Which watch wins?
    Many young people do not wear any kind of watch – but will smartwatches change that? BBC Click’s Dave Lee puts them on trial.
  • Review of Google Messenger – A Solid and Colorful SMS App

    While every Android phone will come with a SMS app, there are plenty of alternative apps available in the Google Play Store.  One of those is from Google themselves, the Google Messenger app.  It is a solid alternative to native text apps, giving you both SMS and MMS capability in a clean, simple UI that is quite colorful at the same time.  I’ve been using the app for a couple of weeks now on my BLU VIVO IV phone and after trying several others, it has become my default texting app.  Here are my thoughts and review of the app

    The post Review of Google Messenger – A Solid and Colorful SMS App appeared first on Clinton Fitch.

  • Let's Not Create Moral Panic Over 'Game of 72' Rumors of Disappearing Kids
    British tabloid speculates about the game’s role in kids disappearing

    The French English-language news site, The Local, is reporting about a supposed game where “teenagers have come up with a new Facebook challenge that dares them disappear without a trace for up to three days without contacting their family.”

    The site reports that a 13-year old girl named Emma from northern France went missing for three days but turned up safe. The site says that the girl reported told authority that she had taken on a dare to play the “Game of 72″ (as in disappearing for 72 hours).

    The site said that French authorities have been unable to find actual Facebook postings about the game.

    While the extent to which the game actually exist remains in doubt, that hasn’t stopped police authorities and media outlets from raising alarms. The Canadian Global News site reports that police in Vancouver, BC are warning parents about the game, which, according to the site, requires that kids not “tell anyone where they are and the more mayhem and panic that is caused, the more points that teen is awarded.” Vancouver police are not aware of any actual cases of the game. British tabloid, The Mirror, speculates that the game might have been responsible for the temporary disappearance of a couple of schoolgirls, but there is only speculation — no real evidence.

    Moral panics

    While such a game — if it actually exists — is indeed troubling, the stories about it strike me as yet another example of the endless series of moral panics over children’s online safety. The past two decades have been full of media stories about children endangered by online threats beginning with concerns over pornography and then what the “predator panic” of about a decade ago when parents were receiving regular warnings about online predators trolling for their children. The TV show To Catch a Predator didn’t calm any fears nor did the many state Attorneys General who issued stern warnings about a problem that, statistically, turned out to be extremely rare. That panic subsided after numerous research reports (and a task force convened by 49 attorneys general, the Internet Safety Technical Task Force that concluded that the threat was far less than had been reported).

    There have been other moral panics involving youth including cyberbullying and sexting which, generally, turn out to be far less of an issue than many fear. That’s not to say that kids aren’t been affected by these things — bullying has had a severe impact on some children and there are genuine cases of sexting gone wrong that’s been quite hurtful — but exaggerating the risk and the consequences doesn’t help anyone.

    Talk with your children

    As always, stories about so-called threats like the Game of 72 represent an opportunity for parents to speak with their children. This is a great time to sit down with your kids to ask if they have ever heard of such a game and let them know what you think about it. Or maybe just speak with your kids about something else — almost anything. It’s not about lecturing or warning but about communicating and staying in close touch. Remember, most kids don’t play dangerous games even though nearly all teens test their limits in ways that are mostly healthy.
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  • A View From The Top: The L.A. Games Conference
    By Noah J. Nelson (@noahjnelson)

    Industry events are strange beast no matter which industry is involved. Industry events in Los Angeles are doubly so. When the industry in question is the video game industry as it stands in L.A. pretty much all bets are off.

    This week I attended Digital Media Wire’s L.A. Games Conference. A gathering of industry insiders, developers, Financiers, and press. There is in the glitz and glamour of E3 — their are no game demos just chats with executives, Analysts and their ilk. While there’s nothing”sexy” about this type of event one can get a real handle I’m what the industries consensus is going to look like for the next six months.

    Spoiler alert: if you consider yourself a core gamer you’re probably not going to like where the endless quest for cash is leading the bulk of the industry.

    As an industry event the L.A. games conference is chiefly concerned with issues of revolving around the monetization and distribution of video games. This is nuts and bolts stuff that would put most consumers right to sleep. But in that sleep what dreams might come, Dreams of a future of games that looks nothing like the industry of old.

    To cut a long metaphor short: the winner of the current console generation isn’t Sony’s Playstation–it’s the global mobile market. The explosive expansion of the Chinese mobile market means that the real money in the next decade in gaming is going to be made there. At least if the western-born executive from China’s Internet powerhouse Tencent is to be believed.

    Dan Brody, the executive in question, was there to remind the gaming industry professionals in the room that China has more Internet users than the United States has people. On top of that China isn’t remotely done getting its citizens wired. China also has the second largest number of millionaires in the world and given how many people are there (1.355 billion) it’s easy to believe that it will one day dwarf the number of millionaires in America.

    Given the hit-driven nature of the entertainment business there’s a good chance that we’ll see more consideration of what works in the Chinese market from the big game publishers. This is something we’ve already seen from the movie studios–just think back to last year’s Transformers sequel, or Iron Man 3’s bonus scenes for the Chinese market.

    Now just because the industry as a whole has yuan signs in their eyes doesn’t mean that suddenly we’re going to see Activision and EA pump out nothing but Match-3 cellphone games until the sky falls. That’s not how the execs and analysts at LAGC 2015 were talking.

    Instead they’ve doubled down on the traditional entertainment industry mindset. AAA game franchises like Call of Duty are thought of as blockbuster films while mobile powerhouses–Candy Crush Saga, for instance–are viewed as television. Big studios have both kinds of properties in their intellectual property stables, and that’s a safe way for financiers to park their money.

    Which begs the question: what’s the Netflix of gaming? I don’t mean a service like Playstation Now–formerly known as Gaikai–that streams content over the net. That still seems to be more of a non-starter than anything else. No, I’m talking about who is going to come along and offer up exciting content on mobile platforms (the TV of gaming) that rivals the buzz of the blockbusters.

    The indie scene is answering some of the demand in the PC market–which is stronger than it has been in years thanks to Steam. I wouldn’t be too shocked if the shrinking price gap between a decent PC and the current consoles doesn’t have something to do with that renaissance too. (High end gaming rigs on the other hand.)

    While there’s room in the market for someone to come along and lure casual gamers into something more substantial–if not as life involving as a League of Legends, a Call of Duty, or a Halo–the hunger for something brand new amongst core gamers is palpable. Which is where virtual reality and augmented reality come into the equation.

    During the opening panel moderator Eric Goldberg, Managing Director of Crossover Technologies, stated that VR wouldn’t be viable for two to five years. This healthy skepticism flies in the face of both the press enthusiasm that has emerged VR and the hardware timelines of Oculus and HTC/Valve’s Vive. The later is scheduled to hit this Fall and on the very day of the LAGC Oculus set a target of the first quarter for 2016 for the Oculus.

    Let’s consider Goldberg’s statement as an assessment of the maturity of the VR platforms. It will likely take a few years before that market shakes out… but with so many players jumping into the VR and AR space right now I’m starting to get that queasy feeling I get when I see someone overplay their hand. Not Goldberg, but the emerging immersive computing industry.

    While VR and AR are fundamentally different plays than 3D TV, it looks like there is going to be a similar barrier to entry for consumers to get into that market. The VR/AR hardware is going to clock in at prices in the hundreds of dollars. Add in the cost of the PC rig or the game console that will be required to generate the images and you’re starting to look at a serious investment.

    The only sane path for the industry at this point is to court the hardcore and mid-core market. This is good news for those early adopters who are always looking for the next great interactive experience. What I wonder is if that will be enough for the big dogs who have entered in to the hardware race-Facebook, HTC, Microsoft, Samsung, Google, Sony–or if the massive profits being made in mobile will just make VR and AR look like hobby businesses with a poor return on investment.

    Don’t get me wrong: this is my nightmare scenario.

    When that hardware starts hitting at the end of this year it will take some seriously compelling software to build the market out beyond the lunatics like me who have been saving their pennies for the past three years. That, and maybe some crazy subsidies by the platform holders to get this gear into the mass market’s hands.

    Public media’s TurnstyleNews.com, covers tech and digital culture from the West Coast.

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  • Elizabeth Gilbert Explains Why She Stopped Being 'Anti-Social Media'
    Elizabeth Gilbert readily admits that just a few years ago, she deliberately avoided using platforms like Twitter and Facebook. Like many others initially do, the Eat, Pray, Love author viewed social media as a vortex she simply didn’t want to get pulled into or caught up in. So, she always resisted it.

    “I was very ‘anti-social media’ because I thought it was just going to be a giant time suck and a big energy waster,” Gilbert explains.

    Fast-forward to the present day, however, and she’s got quite a different perspective. In fact, when Oprah asks the author about the first thing she does when she wakes up in the morning, Gilbert gives an answer than even she wouldn’t have expected two years ago.

    “[I] check my Twitter,” she says, laughing. “Right there in bed.”

    Gilbert’s first foray into social media began when she reluctantly joined Facebook. That’s when she experienced a profound shift. “I’m like, ‘Why did I wait so long to do this?'” she says.

    What Gilbert found when she began using social media is that there is an engaged community of people with whom she can interact, talk to and learn from.

    “The first thing I do every morning is I go to my Facebook page,” she says. “I engage in conversation with the women who showed up there that day. I answer their questions… and I ask questions. I say, ‘What are we going to do today, you guys? What are we going to work on? Here’s what I’m working on.’ Or, I’ll say, ‘I’m stuck. What do you guys do when you’re stuck like this?’ I begin a conversation that then goes on for the next 24 hours.”

    It may not seem like a spiritual act on the surface, but Gilbert explains that the daily ritual of engaging in open conversation truly feeds her soul.

    “There’s so much grace and love and community in that,” she marvels. “It’s communion.”

    As a writer, Gilbert adds that social media gives her another outlet through which she can exercise — and evolve — her craft.

    “I’ve expanded that definition [of my vocation]. It used to just be writing novels, writing books. But now, it’s also about writing things to people on Facebook, using words to try to get closer to the truth and the goodness and the glory,” she says. “That’s what I look forward to every day.”

    More: Find out what other thought leaders and celebrities do to feed their souls.

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  • Big Data ≠ Big Wisdom: Mismanaging 21st Century Problems with 19th Century Thinking
    Today we are witnessing the unparalleled explosion of technology. But the sad fact of the matter is that Big Data and more technology alone have not improved the quality of our thinking and the ways in which the majority of people and organizations make important decisions. By themselves, Big Data and technology do not help people avoid what are known as Type Three Errors: Solving the Wrong Problems Precisely!

    There is no doubt that technology enhances, magnifies, and improves the senses, but it does not necessarily improve our sensibilities. Thus, technology allows to see and to travel farther and faster, etc., but it does not necessarily make us wiser.

    Lest I be accused of being anti-science and anti-technology, let me point out that I have a BS in Engineering Physics, an MS in Structural Engineering, and a Ph.D. in Industrial Engineering, all from UC Berkeley. The thing, however, that changed my thinking forever is the fact that when I was studying for my Ph.D., I deliberately chose to take a 3 ½ year minor in the Philosophy of Science. Furthermore, the particular kind of Philosophy of Science that I studied was deeply interdisciplinary. Accordingly, no single discipline has a monopoly on The Truth or The Way to study Reality. In short, interdisciplinary inquiry is the only guarantor of which we know for minimizing and avoiding Type Three Errors!

    Expert Consensus
    One of the primary ways for acquiring knowledge in Western societies is by means of Expert Consensus. In this system of inquiry, “truth” is that with which a group of experts agrees strongly. Alternately, it is also the average of a set of tightly bunched data, observations, scores, etc.

    Consider global warming. The “body of ‘reputable scientists worldwide'” is now in strong, if not overwhelming, agreement that human activities are mainly responsible for global warming. This fact which is based on enumerable scientific studies is taken as “strong evidence” that the debate whether humans are or are not responsible for global warming is essentially over even if all the mechanisms for the phenomenon are not understood completely.

    The point is that agreement is as important in science as it is in any field of human activity. One could in fact argue that agreement is even more important in science because so much is riding on the outcome of scientific knowledge.

    Big Data
    The latest incarnation of Expert Consensus is Big Data. The hope is that by compiling enough data from different sources, it will reveal, say, the “underlying, true buying habits and preferences” of a selected group of consumers. However, writing in The New York Times, Alex Peysakhovich and Seth Stephens-Davidowitz note that for Big Data to actually work one is dependent on Small Data. That is, one needs old-fashioned interviews and surveys to understand in-depth why people give the numerical responses they do. In other words, by themselves, numbers are never enough.

    The biggest downfall of Expert Agreement is that it assumes that one can gather data, facts, and observations on an issue or phenomenon without having to presuppose any prior theory about the nature of what one is studying. In other words, it assumes that data, facts, and observations are theory and value-free. It’s not just that one can’t interpret anything without a theory of some kind, but even more fundamental, one can’t collect any data in the first place without having presupposed some theory about the that underlies the data, certainly why the data are important to collect and how they should be collected such that they accurately reflect the “true nature of phenomenon.”

    In contrast, the philosophical school known as Rationalism assumes that theories are free or independent of data, facts, and observations. In principle, the formulation of theories is dependent only upon pure thought or logic alone. In reality, theories are dependent upon the background, experience, and life history of the one person or small set of persons formulating the theories.

    In sum, I’m extremely critical of Big Data. It’s not because the concept makes no sense at all, or that I’m fundamentally opposed to collecting data. Instead, as it’s currently conceived, the concept is deeply flawed. If all data are dependent upon some underlying theory or theoretical concepts before the data can even be captured, let alone analyzed, then what does it mean to put all kinds of data indiscriminately into larger and larger pools?

    Unless one knows a lot about the different theories that underlie different sets of data, and how they can be reconciled and integrated, then one is literally squishing together apples and oranges.

    Mush is the inevitable result!

    Ian I. Mitroff is Professor Emeritus from USC. He is a Senior Investigator in The Center for Catastrophic Risk Management at UC Berkeley. He is President of Mitroff Crisis Management. He is currently working on his latest book, The Post Reality Society: Truth in The Age of Disinformation.

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  • Weekend Roundup: A New Cold War Is Brewing in the Pacific
    Is a new Cold War brewing in the Pacific between China and the U.S. with Japan playing a front line role? Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s visit to Washington last week alarmingly pushed developments in that direction. In a blog he adapted from his well-received speech to the U.S. Congress, Abe proposes that the two democratic post-WWII allies join in a “seamless” strategic effort “to spread and nurture our shared values” and “stick to the path” that “won the Cold War” — and, in so many words not spoken, to contain China.

    By excluding China, the world’s second largest economy, from the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership on trade while embracing the revision of Japan’s pacifist constitution to allow military action beyond self-defense without an apology for colonialism and aggression acceptable to its Asian neighbors, the U.S. and Japan are laying the cornerstone of a new bloc system in the Pacific. As Minxin Pei writes, China’s leaders will certainly see it that way and respond in kind.

    Writing from Tokyo, prominent Japan scholar R. Taggart Murphy traces Prime Minister Abe’s nationalist politics to the right wing stance of his grandfather, who was minister of munitions in the Tojo government during the war, and argues that Japan’s strategic choice under Abe is to remain an American “protectorate” in an alliance aimed at thwarting China’s ambitions in the region. Former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan hopes against such realities that world powers in the coming decade will stop seeing their interests in a zero-sum manner.

    Marking the 70th anniversary of the end of WWII in Europe in 1945, Ian Buruma writes that the post-war consensus on a social democratic welfare state in Europe has fatally withered. On the eve of the now concluded British elections, British Prime Minister David Cameron who ended up victorious at the polls — Labour Party challenger Ed Miliband and rebel comedian Russell Brand cast the contest as a battle between privilege and fairness.

    Google’s Eric Schmidt and Jared Cohen write that, in the next decade, computing power will move from becoming our “assistants” to our “advisors” and help solve some of our most intractable problems. XPrize founder Peter Diamandis sees global abundance arriving by 2025 through the convergence of exponential technologies. Jordan’s Queen Rania writes that, without moral progress, this celebrated technological progress is an “illusion.” Urban planner Kate Ascher projects that, a decade from now, skyscraping cities will begin to return to a convivial human scale. Environmentalist Bill McKibben warns that what we do — or don’t do — in the next decade to curb climate change will have an enduring impact for millennia. Former Bogota Mayor Enrique Penalosa looks forward to the inclusive cities of the future.

    As the negotiations on Iranian nuclear weapons move from the Lausanne framework accord toward final agreement, Iranian dissident Akbar Ganji explains that Tehran is so wary of IAEA inspections because it fears an “Iraqization” of the process — inspections that lead to war because nothing has been found and is thus assumed hidden. “Political Animals: How Our Stone Age Brain Gets in the Way of Smart Politics” author Rick Shenkman believes Americans support the accord because of a “‘projection bias’ [that] leads us to believe others think like we do.” World editor Charlotte Alfred examines what’s behind Saudi Arabia’s dramatic palace reshuffle. She also highlights 10 peace deals the world managed to pull off.

    WorldPost Middle East Correspondent Sophia Jones reports from Tel Aviv on the protests of Israeli Jews of Ethiopian descent against discrimination and takes us to a Passover celebration by an ancient Samaritan sect on a West Bank hilltop.

    Writing from Mexico City, former PEN International President Homero Aridjis offers his enthusiastic support for awarding PEN American Center’s Freedom of Expression Courage Award to Charlie Hebdo magazine despite protests of some writers that it is racist and Islamophobic. To understand why Charlie Hebdo deserves the award, French philosopher Bernard-Henri Lévy encourages doubters to read Caroline Fourest’s new book, “In Praise of Blasphemy.”

    This week, “Forgotten Fact” revisits the drug war in Mexico and looks at the latest generation of cartels.

    girl in car

    In a photo essay, WorldPost China Correspondent Matt Sheehan reports this week from Ordos that the famously overbuilt but unpopulated “ghost town” in northern China is coming to life. He also profiles Brother Orange. Fusion this week chronicles the “Communist flair” of Uber in Beijing. Writing from Kathmandu, Amie Ferris-Rotman describes how drones are helping Nepal recover from the recent earthquake.

    Our Singularity University series this week shows how scientists have created the illusion of being ” teleported” into an out-of-body experience. As part of the HuffPost 10 year anniversary, Maddie Crum asks 10 science fiction writers to predict how the world will change in the next decade.

    In an open letter concerning slave-owning ancestors, author Thomas Norman DeWolf tells actor Ben Affleck that “The harm our ancestors caused is not our fault. But repairing the consequences is a responsibility we all share.”

    Finally, our “Other Entrepreneurs” photo essay for the week profiles “indie capitalists” in Brooklyn.


    EDITORS: Nathan Gardels, Senior Advisor to the Berggruen Institute on Governance and the long-time editor of NPQ and the Global Viewpoint Network of the Los Angeles Times Syndicate/Tribune Media, is the Editor-in-Chief of The WorldPost. Farah Mohamed is the Managing Editor of The WorldPost. Kathleen Miles is the Senior Editor of the WorldPost. Alex Gardels and Peter Mellgard are the Associate Editors of The WorldPost. Katie Nelson is the National Editor at the Huffington Post, overseeing The WorldPost and HuffPost’s editorial coverage. Eline Gordts is HuffPost’s Senior World Editor. Charlotte Alfred and Nick Robins-Early are Associate World Editors.

    CORRESPONDENTS: Sophia Jones in Istanbul; Matt Sheehan in Beijing.

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    The Asia Society and its ChinaFile, edited by Orville Schell, is our primary partner on Asia coverage. Eric X. Li and the Chunqiu Institute/Fudan University in Shanghai and Guancha.cn also provide first person voices from China. We also draw on the content of China Digital Times. Seung-yoon Lee is The WorldPost link in South Korea.

    Jared Cohen of Google Ideas provides regular commentary from young thinkers, leaders and activists around the globe. Bruce Mau provides regular columns from MassiveChangeNetwork.com on the “whole mind” way of thinking. Patrick Soon-Shiong is Contributing Editor for Health and Medicine.

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    From the Europe group, these include: Marek Belka, Tony Blair, Jacques Delors, Niall Ferguson, Anthony Giddens, Otmar Issing, Mario Monti, Robert Mundell, Peter Sutherland and Guy Verhofstadt.


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  • (VIDEO) How Bots "Dress Up And Play Golf" To Defraud Advertisers: DoubleVerify CEO
    By now, you might have already heard plenty about “bots” defrauding advertisers. But what are bots and how do they actually work?

    “Bots are not big server farms, they’re individual computers like your own that have been infected by some malware that was wrongfully downloaded -it might be sitting dormant until the botnet operator decides to light your machine up,” according to DoubleVerify CEO Wayne Gattinella, whose company helps advertisers and ad platforms weed out fraudulent ad views.

    Those are the mechanics. From here on in, bots take on positively insidious – and certainly damned annoying characteristics in order to ape real internet users.

    “It will visit many quality sites to dress itself up and create a profile that is very attractive to an advertiser,” says Gattinella.

    “Bots do things that make them look human. In the spring, they golf, they grill, they garden, they visit site s that make them appear like a consumer. They visit travel sites, they go deep in to other sites to make it appear like an auto intender, they fill out forms or shop for fin services.

    “Its lifecycle may only last 48 to 72 hours. By the time they enter the inventory supply chain, they have all the characteristics of a very high-value, potentially responsive consumer.”

    But, if the idea of computers desperate to look like their human operators seems somewhat quaint, consider this: “They’re siphoning media dollars out of the ecosystem,” Gattinella says.

    We interviewed him last week at the BrightRoll Video Summit in Manhattan.

    You can find this post on Beet.TV.

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  • (VIDEO) Adelphic Its Brings Mobile "Cookie Proxy" to Europe
    Advertising on mobile cannot benefit from user-tracking, on-device cookie files like it can on desktop devices. So Adelphic made its own alternative to cookies, to help advertisers target not just mobile users but those same users across devices.

    “The fundamental challenge in the mobile landscape right now is the lack of a standard user identification method,” says Adelphic co-founder Jennifer Lum, who worked on Apple’s iAd in 2010. “We’ve built a patented method of user identification that works across connected devices … a proxy for a cookie… to deliver better scale to advertisers.”

    “Our op opened up bec many of the top platforms weren’t fast enough to extend their technology to mobile. We spent time with product teams at the leading agency trading desks. They helped us understand what they needed for a supply-side platform to be able to run and execute successful mobile campaigns.”

    Now the Boston-based company – which has $23m in funding behind it — is expanding internationally. “We are working very hard on our European launch and we expect to be live there by the end of this quarter,” Lum adds.

    Beet.TV interviewed Lum last week at the BrightRoll Video Summit in Manhattan.

    You can find this post on Beet.TV.

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  • Keeping Europe's Digital Single Market Strategy Single, Innovative
    The European Commission has released its much awaited strategy to create a single market throughout Europe for digital goods and services. In their announcement last Wednesday, European Commissioners stressed the goal to remove unnecessary national rules and grow Europe’s economy.

    For European consumers, it could mean fewer obstacles to buying products online, having them shipped and not facing price discrimination based on which European country they live in. For businesses, the free flow of data around Europe and lowering of e-commerce barriers could mean better access to information and to potential customers.

    Even basic e-commerce provisions currently face obstacles from traditional product distributors in various countries who until now exercised control over the market supply chain. They don’t want European shoppers to be able to log on, find, and pay lower prices with a few clicks. So European Commissioners should be commended for standing up to pressure and taking these steps toward a digital single market.

    But some of the proposed provisions risk undermining other stated goals.
    For example, there is a troubling effort to increase the liability of online companies for a wide range of behavior by their customers and users which in turn would coerce greater monitoring and censoring by companies. This threatens to mirror the SOPA/PIPA battle. Forcing companies to choose between reviewing or censoring all user posts before they go online for issues like copyright infringement threatens free speech online and would hamper the growth of the global Internet economy, especially in Europe.

    Currently companies doing business in Europe operate under a so-called notice and takedown rule. If someone reports a credible problem, whether copyright infringement, or some type of inappropriate material, there are procedures whereby Internet services companies are authorized to quickly remove the material. This policy, similar to that of the US, seeks to balance freedom of speech with other goals to appropriately police the Internet for content violations.

    The Digital Single Market plan also floats the idea of new “duty of care” procedures that would require some online companies to proactively monitor, judge, and remove user or third-party content on networks and hosting platforms — or face legal consequences.

    Yet another troubling measure would regulate large online platforms like eBay, Amazon and Facebook much like public utilities in the US are regulated. This impact of such a sweeping and unprecedented assertion of governmental intrusion into this dynamic online marketplace which has thrived in a lightly regulated environment is hard to calculate, but it would be antithetical to embracing and symbiotically benefiting from the technology opportunities available.

    In spite of areas of strong disagreement, I commend policymakers for attempting to lay out a DSM strategy that would create a plan for Europe to not only boost its own domestic Internet sector, but improve productivity and growth for all European businesses that depend on the Internet.

    But within this strategy lie two competing approaches to economic policy: one that is carefully deregulatory and understanding of the dynamics that foster innovation, and would lead to growth; and one that is essentially fearfully reactive, overly regulatory and will deter new and existing companies from growing to their potential.

    If Europe is to ensure that the vision announced this week will work in practice, it will need to better align the details of the plan with its stated goals — and resist the temptation by a few countries and special interests to hamper Internet growth. Studies have shown that 75 percent of the Internet’s benefits acrue to traditional industries, but for that to happen, it is critical to implement policies that do indeed remove, not create, barriers to the free flow of data, products and information.

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  • The Blurred Lines of Genetic Data: Practicality, Pleasure and Policing
    A new rumor is spreading that Apple may be leveraging its ubiquity to encourage iPhone owners to participate in DNA testing, perhaps to bulk up the medical data-collecting capabilities of its ResearchKit.

    According to Antonio Regalado at MIT Technology Review, Apple will work with academic partners to collect and test the DNA, and may provide add-ons such as the ability to widely share genetic information directly from an iPhone with a single swipe.

    This wouldn’t be the first time genetic researchers have tapped into social networks to recruit participants. University of Michigan’s Genes for Good project is using a Facebook app to encourage 20,000 volunteers to share information about their genes, health, habits, and moods to help the researchers uncover new connections between genetic variants, health, and disease.

    Others are involved, too. There’s Google (with its genomic data cloud storage), 23andMe (with its $99 direct-to-consumer / direct-to-drug companies spit kit), and the United States Government (with its precision medicine initiative).

    On one hand, it is hardly shocking that Apple would join the trend towards so-called open-sourcing DNA, or want to add genetic data-collection to its increasing selection of quasi-medicalized self-quantifying tools.

    On the other hand, it could be smarter for Apple to sit this one out. 23andMe has been struggling to maintain relevancy since the FDA ordered the Silicon Valley-based company to stop providing genetic health information after repeated failures to prove its analytical or clinical validity. Moreover, patent infringement lawsuits are ongoing at various companies. And shocking stories about the endless possibilities for DNA hacking (not to mention the more mundane concerns of workplace discrimination and increasing insurance premiums) are becoming more commonplace.

    While Apple’s ResearchKit has been growing in popularity, it has also encountered serious problems – from user bias to inaccurate reporting – all of which can lead to misleading data and ultimately to wasted research funds and increased medical costs. Adding genetic information to the mix may only compound these problems. Our genomes contain so much data that distinguishing between signal and noise is a huge problem. And then there is the point made succinctly in a recent article about “Big Data” in The New York Times Sunday Review: “The things we can measure are never exactly what we care about.”

    It is also unclear whether people will rush to share this most personal kind of data. It’s one thing to take action on social networks following DNA testing – say, to join a Facebook group to discuss a shared gene variant – but enabling widespread sharing of the genetic data itself may ultimately benefit biotech companies at your or your family’s expense.

    A recent news story published in The New Orleans Advocate, and later covered by the Electronic Frontier Foundation, highlights the potential for genetic data shared for a particular purpose with a private company to later be used for familial genetic surveillance in the name of law enforcement.

    Ancestry.com, which owns a trove of genetic data called the Sorenson Database, allowed Idaho police investigators to search through 100,000 DNA samples in their attempt to shed new light on a 20-year-old murder case.

    The investigators found a DNA sample from a man that matched on 34 out of 35 alleles of DNA from the crime scene, indicating a close familial relationship. They then used the database’s genealogical information to track down all of the man’s family members. Subsequent Google and Facebook searches led them directly to his son, who turned out to be a filmmaker known for his depiction of gruesome murder scenes.

    As it turned out, he wasn’t the murderer, and was able to establish that. But he got lucky. Given the proliferating use of trace DNA in forensics, the acceptable margin of error for genetic “matches” is a problem. If the original crime scene had only provided trace DNA, the evidence stacked against this guy may very well have ended in a conviction.

    If widespread sharing of our genetic data is soon enabled by Apple, it may be smart to swipe left.

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  • The Mysterious Disappearance of Satoshi Nakamoto, Founder & Creator of Bitcoin
    The Mysterious Disappearance of Satoshi Nakamoto Founder & Creator of Bitcoin

    “I’ve moved on to other things…”

    These sound like the words of a man who invested everything in a failed invention, a man who discards a lost cause, a failed gym membership, or the latest juice diet after determining that enough is enough. That’s why hearing these words from Nakamoto in April 2011 seems so mysterious. Just imagine if Bill Gates had disappeared after launching Windows 95 or if Steve Jobs had vanished prior to the release of the first iPhone.

    Nakamoto is hailed as the brilliant mastermind behind an incredibly successful protocol and open-source software called Bitcoin. This begs the question–where is Nakamoto now? And what is he currently working on? What would motivate someone to create such an innovative technology and then seemingly want nothing to do with it?

    Perhaps Nakamoto knows something that we don’t?

    Bitcoin: A Legacy

    While Bitcoin, Nakamoto’s brainchild, is now several years old and seeping into mainstream culture, many people still have no idea how it actually works. Luckily, it’s easier to pin down and understand the inner workings of Bitcoin technology than the mind of the mastermind who is allegedly behind it.

    Bitcoin is described as digital peer-to-peer cryptocurrency. That’s geek-speak for digital money. In similar spirit to a cash transaction between trustworthy friends, Bitcoin allows for a democratic payment exchange, built upon a foundation of trust and immediacy. Essentially, individuals can send digital payments directly to each other without going through a middleman financial institution.


    Bitcoin makes it easy to send money around the world with no transaction fees, since no third party financial institutes are required. It is an easy and effective choice; this is one of its major selling points. Another appealing characteristic is the level of anonymity it can afford, as it’s possible to send and receive bitcoins without providing any personal information that might endanger your identity.

    Like most game-changing e-commerce inventions, Bitcoin is also a favourite among its early adopters within the criminal underworld. Sites such as the Silk Road allow people to exchange illegal contraband without detection, relying on Bitcoin’s anonymity. New innovations such as the Dark Wallet further raise questions over Bitcoin and its appeal among money launderers. Think about it; a currency which offers total anonymity when transactions are configured correctly is a money launderer’s dream! Remember that the internet was also plagued with scandal during its early years and it’s certainly not a gathering place for saints and angels today.

    Allegedly, even the federal agents investigating the Silk Road case have not being able to resist temptation.

    According to this press release provided by the FBI in March 2015″ two former agents were indeed charged with wire fraud and money laundering. Bitcoin has already experienced many scandals due to its association with the dark web, criminal activity, and fluctuations in value.

    As of May 2015, one Bitcoin is worth about $240, down from a high of $1,240 in 2013.

    The Allure of Bitcoin

    The libertarian nature of a decentralised currency is the most disruptive concept since the internet itself. Stop a second and think about how far we’ve come. Imagine if, 15 years ago, someone were to tell you that you could send instant messages in real time, for free, from a mobile device anywhere in the world. You’d probably think that both the person and the notion were pretty crazy. About as farfetched as The Terminator becoming Governor of California

    Regardless of California’s choice of governor, the impact of the internet is nonetheless inarguable. Yet while the internet has transformed how we communicate, the financial system has not kept pace. It can take days to transfer money between accounts; that’s understandable, since it’s layered with so many complex fees, taxes, and regulations.

    Today, Bitcoin has the potential to completely revamp global commerce by reducing the cost of digital transactions for businesses, removing international currency conversion costs, and eliminating costly chargebacks (since bitcoin transactions are irreversible.)

    Just as nobody puts baby in the corner, nobody controls Bitcoin. It exists independently of individuals, countries, banks, and governments. This is both Bitcoin’s greatest strength and greatest weakness. One the one hand, this freedom prevents corrupt governments from tampering with its value; the darker flip side, however, appears when something goes wrong and there is no one to turn to and no one to be held accountable…

    It is this lack of control that terrifies some bankers and governments; Bitcoin’s anonymity meanwhile keeps law enforcement agencies on edge. Bitcoin has the potential to impact international currencies in the same way that mp3s impacted the music industry. Can our traditional banks and financial systems survive a “Napster” of modern currency transactions?

    Blockchain: The Technology Behind Bitcoin

    The Blockchain is a distributed database that manages all Bitcoin transactions and acts as a public ledger of all transactions in the Bitcoin network. You could think of it as a giant public spreadsheet. Blockchain also solved the “double spend problem” that plagued previous digital currencies.

    I’ve stated that Bitcoin offers anonymity, yet it’s probably one of the most transparent financial systems that exists since all transactions are publicly logged in the Blockchain, yet the information used can’t identify anyone if set up correctly. Given that most people struggle setting up their digital recorders, it’s likely that the people who will avail of Bitcoin’s anonymity are not the people you’d like to get help from setting up your digital recorder.

    A “bitcoin” is generated when computers running specialised software solve complex mathematical equations. This is called bitcoin mining. It was possible to mine for bitcoins on your home computer; today, you’d be competing with large-scale bitcoin mining farms in China that spend over $80K on electricity alone each month.

    What’s interesting is the possibility of using the Blockchain for purposes beyond that of Bitcoin. Entrepreneurs are now turning their attention to outdated, back-office financial systems, and Blockchain-eqsue technology has the potential to revolutionise the payments industry–along with many other industries–given its secure, powerful, and decentralised architecture.

    While no one can positively predict what the future holds for Bitcoin, two things are certain: the financial system is ripe for disruption, and digital currencies are here to stay. They might even transport old-school banks and malfunctioning governments into the 21st century.

    Back To Nakamoto

    Nakamoto published his original Bitcoin paper in 2008.

    Bitcoin Paper

    The following year, he launched Bitcoin software and released the first 50 bitcoins. The first known transaction was for a pizza that in 2013 was estimated to be worth well over $7 million. I hope that pizza was worth it.

    By late 2010, however, Nakamoto began to fade from the scene. While he always worked with other individuals, he was careful not to reveal any personal details with the people he collaborated with online in the Cryptography Mailing List at metzdowd.com. This ensured that he retained his cloak of invisibility.

    Since then, several attempts have been made at trying to identify Nakamoto. Most people assume that he is Japanese, if only due to the name; this is more than likely a cover given his use of language and perfect English, and the fact that the original bitcoin.org domain was registered by a Finnish company based in Helsinki. Maybe these were all subtle tricks to throw us off his trail.

    Is he even a “he”? Is this identity even based on a single person, or is there an entire organization lurking behind this, masking their identity with a logo and a name? Could it possibly even be some sort of cyber-criminal mastermind who walked out of a modern James Bond film and invented the perfect underworld currency?

    Three Possible Candidates:

    Jed McCaleb

    Jed McCaleb | image source: e-money.com

    • A researcher by the name of Skye Grey believes the real Nakamoto is Nick Szabo. For one, Szabo developed a system called “bit gold”, which is a direct precursor to the Bitcoin architecture. People have also taken into consideration an analysis of Szabo’s writing style and his cool reaction to Bitcoin given that he’d spent nearly ten years working on cryptocurrencies. Szabo denied being Nakamoto. The evidence linking this “origin story” to Bitcoin’s creation is interesting but hardly convincing.
    • Joshua Davis, a reporter at The New Yorker, published a fascinating investigative article backing his belief that Michael Clear–a cryptography graduate from Trinity College in Ireland–is the original Nakamoto.

      According to this Business Insider article Michael was:

    • Hired by Allied Irish Banks to improve its currency-trading software, and [who] co-authored an academic paper on peer-to-peer technology. The [first-ever Bitcoin academic] paper employed British spelling. Clear was well versed in economics, cryptography and peer-to-peer networks.” Like Szabo, Michael Clear has denied this claim publicly.

    • A third potential suspect is Japanese resident Jed McCaleb, creator of the troubled Tokyo based bitcoin exchange Mt. Gox (an acronym for Magic: The Gathering Online Exchange). McCaleb has since moved on and co-founded the decentralised payment exchange Ripple. Could his time in Tokyo have influenced him to create a Japanese pseudonym and could he have just gotten tired of the Bitcoin protocol and moved on to Ripple? Again, I think the evidence here is pretty loose; still, Jed McCaleb is an interesting candidate.

    While many more theories about this mysterious figure do exist, the fact remains that no one has been successful in conclusively finding or unveiling the “real” Nakamoto. The truth is, I’m actually not overly concerned with who the real Nakamoto is, and I rather hope his identity remains a mystery. Everyone has the right to privacy, including cyber geniuses.

    I’m more interested in Nakamoto’s motivation.

    The Art of Anonymity

    Just as a true artist lives by his or her art–creating and being remembered through a legacy of masterpieces–Nakamoto’s anonymity perfectly mirrors the anonymity of his Bitcoin masterpiece.

    The mystery surrounding Nakamoto’s identity and disappearance might be far more mundane than we think. Perhaps he really is just someone who became worried or disappointed after witnessing how Bitcoin was being abused by the criminal underworld. Maybe he didn’t want to attract the attention of U.S. authorities due to cases they’ve filed against companies and individuals involved in creating new currencies, which is illegal (or at least resides in a “grey area”) in the States.

    From what I’ve read, Nakamoto’s motivations seem politically inspired due to the libertarian nature of Bitcoin. However, it’s claimed that he owns 1 million bitcoins, which does seem capitalistic. I suppose inventing a global currency is one way to get rich.

    In today’s fame-craving, media-obsessed, I-want-it-now culture, it’s refreshing to think that modern Bruce Wayne characters exist, quietly going about their business, selflessly focused on delivering value for the greater good. Which then begs the question–is Nakamoto the real Batman (or Daredevil) of the cryptocurrency?

    Whoever Nakamoto is or isn’t, no one can deny his mysterious brilliance and the influential legacy he has left behind.

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  • But Who IS Brother Orange? Meet The Chinese Man Who Ended Up With A Buzzfeed Editor's Phone
    WUHUA COUNTY, China — Li Hongjun is an unlikely hero for U.S.-China relations. Before a stolen iPhone, a chance selfie and a viral Buzzfeed story turned him into “Brother Orange” — overnight celebrity and perma-smiling avatar of international goodwill — he’d never made friends with anyone who wasn’t Chinese. Today, he’s fending off advertisers and screenwriters on both sides of the Pacific who want to put his face on screens and bottles of skin lotion.

    If you have no idea what the above paragraph is about, check out the entire mind-bending saga by Matt Stopera, deputy editorial director at Buzzfeed. If you’re in a rush, here’s the condensed version:

    • In early 2014, Stopera’s iPhone was stolen in New York. About a year later, he was freaked out to find his photo stream filling up with strange pictures he hadn’t taken. Among them was a series of selfies taken by a stoic-looking Asian man in front of a tangerine tree.
    • Stopera learned that his stolen iPhone had ended up in China, as is often the case. He wrote an account of the stolen iPhone and strange pictures for Buzzfeed.
    • Stopera’s story was translated into Chinese, went insanely viral on China’s equivalent of Twitter and inspired an online hunt for the man in the photos, whom Chinese netizens gave the name “Brother Orange.”
    • In a matter of days, Brother Orange (aka Li Hongjun) was discovered. He and Stopera became instant mega-celebrities in China, and Stopera visited Brother Orange in his hometown while a full-fledged media circus followed them 24/7.
    • A month later, Brother Orange made a trip to the U.S., appeared on “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” and lived it up all over Las Vegas and New York with Stopera.

    Throughout that whirlwind, we saw Brother Orange bro-ing out with Stopera, planting trees for U.S.-China friendship and eating string cheese for the first time. He seemed friendly, goofy and down to earth.

    But who is Brother Orange?

    He’s a serial entrepreneur, a middle school dropout and a self-conscious celebrity. He’s proud of his hometown culture, terrified of flying and unsure about what to do with the pile of fame that’s been dumped in his lap.

    The past three months have in many ways turned his life upside down, but he’s stayed grounded by surrounding himself with family and friends — many of whom have known him since he was just a boy growing up in one of the poorest counties in southern China.

    motorcylce mao
    A motorbike below a portrait of Chairman Mao in Li’s living quarters.

    Li Hongjun was born in 1976, just around the time China was transitioning away from intense reverence for Chairman Mao Zedong and toward frantic economic growth and consumerism. He grew up in the lush countryside of Guangdong province, where his father supported the family by selling cigarettes, tea leaves and alcohol in his own small shop.

    After dropping out of middle school, Li left home at the age of 15 to look for work in the coastal boom town of Shenzhen. Back in 1991, that 200-mile bus ride over dilapidated country roads took 12 hours, but Li wasn’t bored for a minute.

    “Back then I was so young and everything was just so mysterious to me,” he told The WorldPost. “It was the first time I’d ever been that far from home, and I was so curious that I didn’t want to go to sleep.”

    Over the next 20 years, he moved between coastal cities, selling plastic sunglasses, household goods and cheap clothing. It was in those cities that he and his wife had three of their four children, most of whom are now in elementary school. He eventually poured the family savings into starting a small metalworking factory, but he couldn’t get it to turn a real profit. In 2011, the family moved back home to be closer to Li’s ailing parents.

    bro o with kid
    Li with his youngest son at his restaurant.

    When Li and his family arrived back in Wuhua County, the local per capita GDP of $1,249 made it the poorest county in Guangdong. Over the next two years, both of Li’s parents passed away, and his new business — a restaurant boat floating on a local river — was shut down by the government over safety concerns. He and his fellow boat owners petitioned the provincial government for fair compensation, but he says he only got back a fraction of the money he’d invested.

    Picking up the pieces, Li crane-lifted his boat into a nearby marsh about a kilometer from where he grew up. There, he spent six months filling in the adjacent land and setting up a new restaurant. He named it Jade Tea.

    It was just as this restaurant opened for business that his nephew gave him the iPhone that would change his life. As Li began playing with his new device, a stream of pictures of a white guy unknown to him kept showing up on the phone.

    “All the pictures were him eating, drinking and having fun,” Li told The WorldPost. “I thought, ‘How can this guy always be having such a good time?’”

    man in puddle
    The view from the back porch of Li’s restaurant.

    Li didn’t think much of the photos until the day his nephew came and told him that he was the hottest topic on the Chinese Internet, and that thousands of microbloggers were looking for the man they called “Brother Orange.”

    His first reaction was fear — not unreasonably. The Chinese Internet is infamous for what’s been called the “human flesh search engine” — the eerie way that users can mobilize to identify people glimpsed in photos and videos, and then make their identities public. It’s a tactic often used to name and shame corrupt officials, as well as adulterers, animal abusers and other offenders who aren’t public figures. Li hadn’t done anything wrong, but there had been many well-publicized cases in China of Internet attention pulling ordinary people’s lives inside out.

    Eventually convinced no harm would come his way, Li stepped forward and identified himself as Brother Orange. He opened a microblog account that quickly gained more than 100,000 followers. The three months since have been a blur.

    going down the dock

    After Stopera’s visit to China, Li left the country for the first time on a grand tour of the U.S. He and Stopera appeared on “The Ellen DeGeneres Show,” met Britney Spears in Las Vegas and partied at the Buzzfeed offices in New York. American cuisine got mixed ratings: Eating Chipotle was “torture,” but margaritas (“that Mexican drink”) got a big thumbs-up.

    The unlikely pair bonded over life in the eye of a media hurricane, but Li sometimes finds himself squirming under the spotlight. He speaks Mandarin with a thick accent that betrays his rural roots, a fact that one TV host enjoyed needling him about. That struck a nerve, and a week after the taping, he said he was afraid he’d “made a fool of himself” on the show.

    “When people are watching you on TV, you want to be lively, fun, relaxed,” Li told The WorldPost. “But what does the audience know about your real life? About all the difficulties you’ve been through?”

    He describes himself as fundamentally introverted, and he’s been awed by the way Stopera will just cut loose with Taylor Swift dance moves and Britney Spears solos.

    “Matt is always so open, and I really admire him,” said Li. “Whenever he’s out in public, it’s just the same as when he’s at home. He’s never nervous or thinking about how he should act.”

    standing with tree
    Li standing by the China-U.S. friendship tree that he planted with Stopera.

    Viral international bromance makes for marketing gold, and in the last few months Li has been bombarded with phone calls asking him to endorse everything from oranges to skin cream to alcohol. But after getting burned on his last couple of business ventures, he says that he’d rather just focus on fixing up his restaurant for now.

    The restaurant sells a local specialty: raw fish eaten with peanuts, peppers and garlic. In recent months, Li’s newfound fame and a light-up “Brother Orange” sign have boosted business a bit. Hesitant to work with strangers, he’s recruited a childhood friend to help him fix up the place, starting with improving the electrical connection.

    “There’s never enough electricity here,” Li said. “At night, when we turn on the air conditioner, the big lights start flickering on and off.”

    He’d like to pave the parking lot, but city planners are mapping out a new highway just a few dozen meters away, and he’s afraid the project will spell curtains for his restaurant.

    Those are real concerns, and they’ll have to be confronted at some point. But for now, Li is still enjoying his new international lifestyle and the Brother Orange brand.

    “I really like the name — I think it sounds great,” said Li. “Now when I think of my original name, I feel like it can’t even compare.”

    Cecilia Miao contributed reporting from Wuhua County.

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  • Ericsson continues lawsuit rampage against Apple, expands to Europe
    In addition to a

  • Ericsson continues lawsuit rampage against Apple, expands to Europe
    In addition to a barrage of lawsuits in the US and complaints to the International Trade Commission, technology company Ericsson has now filed separate but related lawsuits in the UK, Germany, and The Netherlands alleging that Apple is using mostly standards-essential Ericsson patents without a license, following a collapse of negotiations over a fair rate that allowed Apple’s license with Ericsson to expire.

  • Four Young African Innovators You Should Know
    While getting younger with time may sound like a paradox — or for many of us, even a fantasy — the African continent is doing just that. Not only does Africa already have the largest youth population in the world, but the continent is expected to host a whopping 1 billion children and adolescents by 2050.

    As a biomedical engineer and native of Sierra Leone, I understand how important it is for Africa’s growing number of young people to think big and outside of the box. That mandate has inspired my Clinton Global Initiative commitment to engage children from my home country in Innovation Labs, which I’m embarking on through an organization I co-founded and help lead, Global Minimum Inc.

    Africa has the youthful energy and talent to invent a future that past generations never dreamed possible. But don’t take my word for it. Below are just a few of the young Africans whose imaginations are changing lives, communities, and a continent.

    Paul-Miki Akpablie, 22: Making Energy More Affordable in Ghana
    paulmiki akpablie clinton global initiative

    Paul-Miki Akpablie, an international student at Colorado College, doesn’t mince words when it comes to the reliability of energy in his home country.

    “When American friends of mine say they’re interested in visiting rural sub-Saharan Africa, I tell them to consider Ghana, one of the most amazing nations in the world,” writes the math major in an op-ed for Fusion. “I also tell them to think twice about bringing a phone charger with them — there aren’t any power sockets in the walls. Of the approximately 600 million people living in the region, only about 14 percent have access to electricity, according to the World Bank.”

    Paul-Miki has made it his mission to help increase the West African nation’s energy independence through his startup Kadi Energy. He was still a teenager when he started developing the fledgling company’s signature product: a long-lasting, portable energy storage battery that can be charged with solar power. In March, he announced a CGI University commitment to distribute his product to families in Ghana so they can affordably charge their mobile devices and other small appliances. If Paul-Miki has his way, power outages and expensive vendors will no longer leave mobile users in the dark.

    Yasmin Belo-Osagie, 26: Lifting Women Entrepreneurs to the Next Level
    yasmin beloosagie clinton global foundation

    Yasmin Belo-Osagie of Lagos has dreamed of leading her venture since childhood. “Both my parents are entrepreneurs and I always thought there was something amazing about the way in which entrepreneurs create solutions that solve real problems for consumers,” she says.

    However, she learned that the bigger her dreams got, the harder it became to find a muse. “I wanted to identify other African female entrepreneurs who I could look up to on my entrepreneurial journey,” she says. “Women who would show me that my dreams of building a large, pan-African corporation were perfectly attainable.”

    It wasn’t that women weren’t business owners — data collected by the Clinton Foundation’s No Ceilings Initiative finds that in her native Nigeria, women comprise more than 40 percent of entrepreneurs. Instead, her frustration arose from the lack of women who move beyond small and medium enterprises. “A cursory glance at something like the Forbes list of the wealthiest Africans (a very crude proxy for successful entrepreneurs) showed only two women — one of whom is the daughter of the President of Angola,” she says. “It didn’t make any sense to me!”

    Determined to fill a void, Yasmin took a job at McKinsey & Co. before co-founding She Leads Africa. Her mission is to identify and groom women business leaders who have the potential to create sustainable businesses that will create thousands of jobs.

    At the CGI Middle East & Africa Meeting, Yasmin discussed strategies for developing future leaders, an area that has become her forte. “The most exciting thing about what I do now is that I get to meet awesome, innovative and smart African women all the time — in fact, it’s my job to go out and find them!” she says. “There’s nothing better than that.”

    Asma Mansour, 29: Creating Tunisia’s Social Entrepreneurship Scene from Scratch
    asma mansour clinton global foundation

    Tunisia is considered one of the first nations to set off the Arab Spring. For a country that had been plagued by a lack of jobs, freedom, and government accountability, the Jasmine Revolution in 2011 was a milestone. But Asma Mansour maintains that it wasn’t a silver bullet.

    Many of the social and economic challenges have remained, and as a result, Tunisia is facing a brain drain as many unemployed youth look to leave the country, according to Mansour. While social innovation has been shown to make a difference around the world, Asma noticed that Tunisia doesn’t have a culture for it. So four years ago, she embarked on creating it herself, launching the Tunisian Center for Social Enterprise.

    “Just as the effects of the January 2011 revolution reverberated throughout the Arab world, the effects of efforts made to reduce unemployment and social economic disparity — key factors in the revolution — will also have consequences beyond the borders of Tunisia,” says Asma, who this week discussed ways to harness social entrepreneurship for job creation at the CGI Middle East & Africa Meeting that convened regional and international problem-solvers in Marrakech this week.

    “Through the support of young social entrepreneurs and the spread of the concept of social enterprise, Tunisia will have a better chance at a more economically and politically stable future.”

    Takunda Chingonzo, 22: Breaking Barriers to Internet Access in Zimbabwe
    takunda chingonzo clinton global foundation

    Takunda Chingonzo believes that for Zimbabwe to thrive it must be open for business. To that end, he has dedicated himself to achieving a major hurdle: “liberating the Internet.”

    “The internet is one tool that lowers the cost of doing any form of business,” says Takunda, an undergraduate pursuing studies in quantity surveying. “It provides access to information that people and communities can use to improve and magnify the work that they are already doing. An informed community engages more, innovates more, and, from a business perspective, makes more and spends more.”

    To advance his his vision for Zimbabwe’s economy, Takunda has co-founded several startups, including Saisai Wireless, which aims to end the country’s digital divide and bring free internet access to the public.

    At CGI’s meeting in Marrakech, he joined Asma in a discussion of youth entrepreneurship — a passion intimately entwined in his DNA. “I like the fact that entrepreneurship in itself is a way of life,” he says. “The concepts and methodologies we apply in business equally apply to one’s personal and professional life. This means that to be an entrepreneur, innovation must become an extension of ourselves.”

    This post is part of a series produced by the Clinton Global Initiative in conjunction with the CGI Middle East & Africa Meeting (May 5-7 in Marrakech). This week, regional and global leaders from business, government, and civil society are coming together to examine and amplify the progress underway in two of the most dynamic regions of the world. For more information on CGI Middle East & Africa, read here. To see all of the posts by authors in the series, read here.

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  • Bill Nye Talks Extraterrestrial Life: 'It's Gotta Exist'
    When it comes to extraterrestrial life, Bill Nye is a true believer.

    In an interview with HuffPost Live on Thursday, Nye said that with so many galaxies in the universe, chances are that alien life exists somewhere.

    “It’s gotta exist outside the solar system,” he told host Josh Zepps. “I mean there’s 200 billion stars in this galaxy alone. Then you start talking about the hundreds of billions of galaxies. Hundreds of billions of galaxies, which in turn have hundreds of billions of stars, which in turn have tens of hundreds of billions — trillions — of planets. Come on!”

    Watch the full HuffPost Live interview with Bill Nye here.

    Sign up here for Live Today, HuffPost Live’s new morning email that will let you know the newsmakers, celebrities and politicians joining us that day and give you the best clips from the day before!

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  • Thomas Whitby's Ascent As a Connected Educator
    Digital media and its impact on education was still in an embryonic phase in the early ’90s when author and edtech pioneer Thomas Whitby received his Masters of Science degree in educational technology.

    “There’s not one piece of hardware or software from back then that exists today,” he explained.

    While information technology has had a profound impact on virtually every industry in the years between, many teachers continue to resist its presence in their classrooms. Whitby, through his Connected Educator blog, book The Relevant Educator (which he co-authored with Stephen W. Anderson), and active presence on Twitter (he is a co-founder of #EdChat) constantly challenges teachers to embrace the new (even when it is confusing and uncomfortable.)


    It’s no longer enough, believes Whitby, for an educator to be a specialist in a given subject, topic or content area. This is because social media is enabling teachers to share ideas, resources and lesson plans with anyone else interested in tapping into them. Like it or not, teachers today must be comfortable with incorporating all of these inputs and points of view into their instruction. It’s more about teaching students how to learn than what to learn.

    “If any teacher could take the content in their head and put that into the heads of their students, their students would still be limited,” Whitby said. “What’s required is a different mindset.”

    Practicing what you preach
    It’s a regrettable irony, notes Whitby, that schools try to instill a love in lifelong learning in their students but don’t really set the same bar for their teachers.

    “Using the term ‘technology’ scares the hell out of them,” he said. “Information in the 19th and 20th century didn’t move that quickly. As a result, (the practice) of education became quite conservative. Technology requires teachers to get out of their comfort zones.”

    The growing number of teachers who have made it to the other side — or started their careers with blended learning tools already in place — actively seek each other out on Twitter and other social networks.

    When Whitby founded #EdChat with Anderson and Shelly Sanchez Terrell six years ago, they discovered there were already thousands of connected educators waiting to join the conversation. For the uninitiated, #edchat is a weekly facilitated Twitter conversation that takes place on Tuesdays at noon and 7p.m. EST. The noon start time was added to benefit those in Europe who Whitby said “were staying up late” to chime in and read what what their peers were saying.

    Whitby and others moderate conversations based on topics voted on by the community. The topics typically revolve around trends in education, technology integration, and new models for instructional delivery. The hour-long sessions attract comments and input from hundreds of educators.

    Learning from other educators
    When Whitby isn’t writing, Tweeting and podcasting on Edchat Radio, he is reading, video chatting and learning from other teachers.

    Those of us at appoLearning share his point of view that the best way to learn about innovations in education is from other educators using new digital tools in their own instruction. This is why we built a search engine for educational apps (iOS and Android), videos and websites that are all vetted and evaluated by other teachers. So if teachers are looking for free iPad apps that teach reading, videos that inspire high school students to learn physics, or the best resources to teach a particular Common Core State Standard, they can find them by typing in keywords or browsing our directory. Equally as important is that can see and learn more about the educator who is evaluating them.

    Identifying teacher-vetted digital learning tools, and sharing ideas with peers via Twitter, Facebook, Google Hangouts and other channels is the best way for connected educators to understand the promise of new technology while also advancing their careers.

    “It’s all about establishing a professional learning network,” Whitby said. “Everybody’s professional learning network looks different.”

    While no two professional learning networks are like, there is one common thread in all of them.

    “Ultimately it’s about figuring out what the teacher is trying to teach, and then seeing if you can use that technology to enhance a particular lesson.”

    — 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.

  • Robotic Driving: OK With You?

    May 8, 2025 — Jury deliberations continued for a third day today in the trial of a college student accused of negligent homicide in an eight-car crash that took three lives. On the witness stand, the student acknowledged taking her eyes off the road for a period of “several minutes” while using the car’s built-in touch screen to reorganize her music library. Her defense blamed the crash on a software defect in the vehicle’s autopilot system to which she had turned over control of all driving tasks.

    Auto executives, called as witnesses, denied rushing the autonomous-driving system to market without sufficient testing, and blamed the driver for not rapidly taking back control of the vehicle when a problem arose. The defendant’s lead attorney grilled the executives on the company’s marketing slogan, “Leave the driving to us!”

    The auto industry, along with insurers, regulators, and legislators, are closely following the case, which comes at a time when public opinion about who’s responsible for traffic crashes has been gradually shifting from the driver of the car to the developers, manufacturers, and sellers of autonomous-driving systems.

    Ten years from now, the world will be smack in the middle of a historic transition in the relationship between car and driver, as robotic operating systems increasingly take charge of monitoring the roadway, executing lane changes, controlling steering and braking, sharing data with nearby vehicles and surrounding infrastructure, and — above all — avoiding crashes.

    When General Motors’ semi-autonomous driving package, called Super Cruise, debuts in the 2017 Cadillac CT6 sedan, it will enable the car to hold its lane in highway driving, apply the brakes as needed, and control the speed — all without driver involvement. Unlike Mercedes-Benz’s and Toyota’s comparable systems, GM’s will not require motorists to keep their hands on the wheel in case an emergency arises.

    Over the long-term, as autonomous driving systems are perfected and gain widespread acceptance, robotic driving promises tremendous societal benefits — preventing injuries and fatalities, providing mobility for the aged and disabled, improving gas efficiency, and enabling “drivers” to make more productive use of their time behind the wheel. But, as always, it’s the transitions in life that are the toughest to navigate.

    The transition to fully autonomous driving will confront numerous technical and policy challenges, as cars increasingly rely on radar- and laser-based sensors and computer software to monitor a vehicle’s surroundings and adjust its speed and direction, while transmitting the gathered data to nearby cars and highway infrastructure to facilitate coordinated responses.

    Robotic driving on the open highway is likely to win broad public acceptance over the next decade (although the most aggressive drivers on the road will balk at using “nanny-tech” self-driving systems).

    However, the policy outlook is extremely uncertain for use of these systems in complex urban and suburban environments where cross traffic, pedestrians, and bicyclists will create huge challenges for the algorithms that the systems rely on.

    Today, thousands of engineers have been mobilized by industry in a fiercely competitive race to bring self-driving systems to market. Meanwhile, however, regulators and policy makers are lagging far behind in examining and confronting what to do about this historic and deeply consequential set of technological innovations. Although the U.S. National Traffic Safety Administration has begun to address the problem, it needs to be upgraded to a top agency priority, with an independent task force convened to closely examine all the surrounding issues. State legislatures and city councils will need to decide how far to go to permitting the use of these systems in their jurisdictions. As The New York Times reported on Sunday, there currently are no laws on the books that directly address the use of robotic driving systems.

    And then there are these questions: How many years of safety data will regulators require before granting approvals? In what locales will this data be collected, and by what standards will it be evaluated? Will public acceptance be set back by decades if a small number of horrific crashes are blamed on self-driving systems? And, last but not least, how will hackers be prevented from causing massive traffic jams — or worse — by hijacking the systems that govern communication among vehicles?

    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.

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