Tag Archives: technology

The Fall and Rise of Bitcoin

It has been quite interesting to watch Bitcoin as it has gone through one bubble, and consistently risen since. Many people thought that Bitcoin was finished after its stratospheric rise in 2011, and it’s subsequent collapse to $3. Can Bitcoin survive such a massive devaluation?

Image courtesy of Bitcoin Charts

Image courtesy Bitcoin Charts

Recently Bitcoin has achieved quite a bit of attention, because of WordPress.com announcing that they will accept payment in Bitcoin. More recently, Reddit has decided to accept Bitcoin. The more interesting (and perhaps) exciting development is that you can now buy pizza with bitcoins.

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Is America Subsidizing Other People’s Socialism?

It’s easy for citizens of Western socialist countries to mock the United States.

They have government health care that’s available to all citizens. And we have a mishmash of government-provided services and private insurance. They also boast other services from the government.

But, according to a new study, innovation in the United States may be subsidizing the generous welfare programs in Scandinavian countries. The paper, by Daron Acemoglu, James Robinson, and Thierry Verdier, points out that countries with more “cut throat” styles of capitalism (like the U.S.) are also the leaders of technological innovation than the socialist countries, or “cuddly capitalists” countries as the trio dubs them.

As an aside, it’s not a coincidence that tech giants, Google, Apple, Microsoft, and Facebook — among others — were founded in the U.S. It can’t be a coincidence, either, that so many of the wealth-generating technological waves started in the United States: personal computing, eCommerce, mobile computing, etc.

Acemoglu, Robinson, and Verdier summarize that the socialist countries tend to rely on U.S. innovation. If the U.S. becomes more cuddly (their words), then global innovation may be impacted. And so would the wealth of the socialist countries.

The U.S., it seems, takes on nearly all of the risk, while countries, like Finland and Sweden come along for the wealth ride.

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When Money Speaks, The Surreal Quantum World Gets Real

 

Most people think that quantum computers are vaporware.

Quantum computers are theoretical devices that manipulate quantum states — called qubits — to conduct operations that are way faster than normal computers.

For years, most folks made sure to bold and add quote marks to that “theoretical” part. For years, those who doubted quantum computers had plenty of room for dismissal–and plenty of company. Quantum computers just seemed to exist on paper.

But quantum computing just got real.

How do I know? Money talks.

The thing is, quantum bits — or qubits — can be easily disturbed. They’re not as hardy as their unexponential classical brethren, the lowly bit.

But when researchers do figure it out, those qubits can be mighty powerful, I used to tell these Doubting Quantumases. If you put one bit and one bit together, you get two bits. But if you but a qubit and a qubit together, you get 2(n). Because of superposition, the qubit can be a 1 and an 0 and pretty much anything in between. At the same time.

But that sounded weird.

So no one really believed this was possible.

And those people, if they’re not careful are going to be like the folks that told Henry Ford to get a horse and invested heavily in buggy whips.

Dwave, makers of what some believe is the first commercially available quantum computer, got some heavy hitting investors recently.

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How 3-D Printing Will Change Investing

3D printer stores are starting to pop up all over the country.

It sort of reminds me of those early days in personal computing when boxy home computers connected to tape recorders and connected to television sets started to appear in retail showrooms and in Sears catalogs.

MakerBot opened a store in New York where you can buy the latest version of their 3D printer — called the Replicator 2. The unit costs about $2,200. Deezmaker, another 3D printer store, opened on Sept. 23 in California. Their version — the Bukobot — costs about $600, which is about the same cost as a personal computer, incidentally.

These 3D printers adds layers and layers of (typically, for now) plastics to create objects. It’s a lot like your office copier machine, except it builds duplicate models, instead of duplicate documents. While it’s key to point out that this current technology isn’t nearly at the molecular replicator level, some believe these 3D printers are a primitive version of the replicator on Star Trek. One day, these replicators will be able to build anything — from toys to starships — from the nano level up, according to futurists.

Critically, these stores represent a community of “makers,” who are busy finding applications for 3D printers and learning how to integrate other materials and electronics into designs. That’s huge.

How will it affect the investing landscape in the future? 3D printing might be a game changer.

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The Clenching Economic Punch The We All Will Soon Feel

Credit Flickr CC Elvert Barnes

While you go about your day and fret about the latest economic downswing, five fingers are folding into an economic punch that will soon spread across the globe.

This economic punch will not be good, or bad.

There is no defense for the punch.

It’s coming.

A.I.

The first part of this punch is artificial intelligence — or AI. For years, people wrote AI off as hype. Now, robots and super-smart computer applications are getting noticed. From Siri to Jeopardy-winning Watson supercomputer, A.I. can no longer be ignored. More and more factories are utilizing robots to improve production.

3-D Printing

Remember when desktop printers were the rage? They actually revolutionized the office and created entire new industries. Now, imagine a device that can sit in your home and produce objects–real, three dimensional objects. Experts say this will change the way we shop, the way we recycle, and the way we make and save money. There are also plans to create printers that can make pharmaceuticals and revolutionize health care.

Personalized Medicine

Speaking of health care… Today’s medicine is like a shot gun. You take a whole bunch of treatments and pills and throw them at patients and see which ones have the best chances to succeed. The truth is, however, that there are physiological differences between individuals. An effective treatment for you, might be ineffective for me. A pill that causes side effects for you, may not have any problems for me. Personalized medicine will treat people as they are — as individuals. It could save lives. And save trillions of dollars.

Crowd Sourcing, Crowd Funding

Karen Klein was a school bus monitor who was mercilessly bullied by a group of middle school students. She won’t need that job now. A crowd-funded project that was attempting to raise $5,000 so she could take a vacation ended up generating more than $700,000 in donations. This is just one story. More will follow, including new plans to allow people to crowd invest in start-ups.

Augmented Reality

New technology will blend cyber-reality with reality. It’s called augmented reality. One way this works is through glasses and contact lenses that display data for the user. Think fighter pilots and their heads-up display.

Good and Bad

There’s always good news and bad news with technological developments. This five-finger economic punch is no different.

On the one hand, robots will make our lives easier. On the other hand, they may also take our jobs.

3-D printing can usher in an age of abundance. But, during a transition, stores may shutter and businesses could be wiped out.

Despite the bad news, the overall, long-term prognosis is good. With every wave of technological change, there’s been struggle, but in each case, people have found a way to absorb the economic punch of new tech and counter with new opportunities and even better technological solutions.

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Weekend Wisdom–The Future Gets Quicker All The Time…

Maybe, because of my readings about research and technology, as well as the Singularity, I’m becoming more sensitive to the pace of technological change. The number of breakthroughs appears to be increasing rapidly.

These new technologies and findings aren’t just coming in one area; they are spread out across a number of disciplines, from biotech to quantum physics. That’s a key insight that’s making it harder to predict just how the future unfolds.

I’ll start out with some links to stories about the latest breakthroughs…

Daily MailNew Solar Paint Could Generate Electricity from Roofs and Walls

ABC (Australia) ScienceQuantum Computer Breakthrough

GizmagA 3-D Printer Under $500

Eureka AlertDuke Researchers Turn Scar Tissue into Heart Muscle Without Using Stem Cells

Dvice.com —  MIT Reinvents Glass That’s Non-fogging, Self-cleaning, and Glare-free

MashableCompany Looks to Mine $20 Trillion Rock

By the way, if you want to keep up on this breathtaking pace of research, I’d subscribe to Futureseek. It’s a great resource.

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Weekend Wisdom–Links to the Future… And Elsewhere

Creative Commons--Flickr

There’s an old saying, “Keep an eye on the past, your heart in the present, and your mind in the future.”

Actually, I just made it up.

But, anyhoo, I decided I would pass along some links today about future science and research. Each week that I think has been a breakthrough week for technology is followed by another week of startling breakthroughs.

And another one.

So. Here goes:

Future

GizmodoFuture Internets Will be Powered by Quantum Particles

ForbesHow to Manage One Million Cars With Big Data

IEETThe Dyson Sphere

Phys OrgWill 3D Printing Launch the Next Industrial Revolution?

Science DailyEngineered Stem Cells Seek Out And Kill HIV in Living Mice and Artificial Photosynthesis Breakthrough

Daily MailUniversal Cancer Vaccine Tested on Humans for the First Time

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Weekly Wisdom: Idea Easter Eggs

Flickr Creative Commons

There are the Easter eggs that you’ll find dyed and hidden.

Then there are idea Easter eggs.

These are colorful ideas that you find unexpectedly. They can range from unconventional breakthroughs to good, old, common sense wisdom that serve as reminders. Easter egg ideas can challenge your conventional wisdom, or reinforce your views.

They can change your life.

Here are idea Easter eggs that I found this week.

Pick the BrainHow to Breathe — Literally

Immortal HumansThe Health Benefits of Red Wine

Dumb Little ManYou Have to Work for Your Happiness

Financial SamuraiShit is Fucked up and Bullshit and The Psychology of Wealth Giveaway

UntemplaterHow Much Severance Pay Would You Need to Leave Your Job?

Money ReasonsAre You Trying to be Financially Independent?

Fast CompanyIBM’s Quantum Computers Could Change the World

BBC NewsPrint Your Own Robot

The Digerati LifeUsing Debt Leverage: Should You Use Debt to Get Ahead

 

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Weekend Wisdom–No Foolin’ Edition

Flickr Creative Commons

Just a quick look at some of the good reads I found around the web this week…

Big Brand System — The 13 Minute 33-Second Website

Financial Samurai — Reducing Credit Card Spending One Month at a Time

Wealth Informatics — Investing to Make the Roth IRA Work Its Magic

Life and My Finances — What Doesn’t Count as Passive Income

The Future

Scientific American — Jetson-Like Gadgets and Smart Homes

Engadget — Amazon Stores 1,700 Human Genomes in the Cloud

Wired — Navy is 4 Years Away from Lasers on Ships

Yahoo News — Smart Homes Will Watch Your and Remember Your Needs

Discovery — Print Me a Spacecraft

New Scientist — Smart Windows Let Light In, Keep Heat Out

 

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Better Logging with Papertrail (on Heroku)

After having problem with Heroku’s logging, I started searching for a better solution. After a few minutes of Googling, I found Papertrail which integrates well with Rails (2 or 3). (By the way, there is a gem “paper_trail”, which is completely separate from the Papertrail log monitoring service.)

New Solutions for Old Logs

After using Papertrail for a short while, I am really happy because it is easy to install and use, and it makes our life easy. I spent all day trying to get the Heroku log tail functionality working, and it didn’t work for me. Finally I started looking for another solution and found something that works great.

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