An introduction to Facebook’s Libra cryptocurrency

I cannot think of a technology that has gone through more tumult and re-identification than cryptocurrency. From being pegged as the bad-influence technology that enables illicit transactions on the web, to becoming the get-rich-quick scheme on CNBC, to then becoming another instance of overhyped technology, seriously, crypto has been through it all.

Along this wild ride, the true fans have never lost sight of why blockchain was created and how cryptocurrencies fit on top of this technology. Among those true fans is Facebook, who unveiled their plans to enter the market.

How Apps Can Incriminate You

Nobody likes a snitch. They are seen in movies and in public as the lowest of the lows. Should we view technological snitches in the same way? Well, what’s a technological snitch, you might ask?

Spain’s top soccer league, La Liga, was fined €250,000 ($280,000) by the country’s data protection agency for monitoring its Android app users’ microphones and locations without proper approval.

My 5 Plays for the Future

Being Boy Future, I often get asked by people of all types, “What do I need to know to stay ahead of the future?” Of course, it’s much more of a rolling answer than it is a one-time rebuttal.

But, when the African American Chamber of Commerce of Wisconsin asked me to give the keynote presentation at their annual Breakfast of Champions at the historic Harley-Davidson Museum – on the topic of the very question I opened this email with – I knew I had to come up with something both timely and timeless.

Are E-Scooters the answer to all of our transportation prayers?

If you don’t live in a major US city or haven’t visited one in the past year, then there’s a good chance you’ve never heard of the e-scooter sharing economy. It’s just like Uber and Lyft except the vehicles are electric scooters. Flashy or not, their rise has been meteoric.

The two frontrunners – Lime and Bird – are each valued at over $2 Billion and they’ve been operating for less than 3 years. Bird was the quickest company to reach unicorn status ($1B valuation) – achieving it in just 10 months. Even Uber, Lyft, and Google are all staking their claim in this market.

You’ll soon be ordering food from an AR menu

We’ve all had the unfortunate restaurant experience of aimlessly poring over the menu for 15 minutes and nothing stands out. We go so far as reading the ingredients, praying that our taste buds will speak up. It’s a painful feeling. Conversely, we’ve all been to a restaurant where the menu speaks to us and within mere seconds our eyes land on exactly what we’re in the mood for. This is no coincidence.

Menu designers will tell you a menu is equally as important as what shows up on your plate. But what if the menu described (and showed) the food you would be served?

Why you should pay close attention to this thing called the Metaverse

The Internet has evolved to the point where we can share and communicate almost anything we want across space and time. We find love through apps. We trust our digital neighbors to give us the best suggestions for food and housing. We place our most precious photographic memories in the hands of digital giants to protect for eternity.

The Internet has become this expansive virtual, shared space for almost anything you can think of. But surely this isn’t the best version of the Internet. Like any form of existence, it must continue to grow and evolve.

Google Glass is back and this time they actually have customers!

You are likely to put on AR glasses at work long before you put them on at home.

Kevin Kelly, Wired

It’s a little bit heartbreaking, especially as a technophile, knowing that Augmented Reality is going to satisfy enterprise/commercial needs long before it enters the consumer market. But Kevin Kelly’s statement is right on point.

Whether you work in an office, on the factory floor, or in an emergency room, both Microsoft and Google are betting that you’ll come around to using their AR glasses at work first.

What makes a voice app impressive?

The goal of any new technology is to remove friction from people’s lives. This is especially the rallying cry of smart speakers, voices assistants, and the tens of thousands of voice skills they possess. The Amazon Echo and Google Home lineups exist to make our lives easier.

So how is it that a fictional character which speaks a language that nobody understands became a hit voice app in the Alexa Skill store?

It’s time to download a new messaging app… because yours may not be secure

We all trust USPS, UPS, and FedEx to not open and read our mail. From your pen to your recipient’s hands, nobody gets to see what’s been said except you two. And if someone along the way has tampered with your mail, it’s pretty obvious considering the condition of the mail has changed.

Six Resources That’ll Instantly Improve Your Digital Security

We’re less than 48 hours from our Digital Hangout on the State of Digital Privacy. If you haven’t RSVP’ed yet, please click here to reserve your seat because we’re going live on Wednesday, May 8th at 6 pm CST, and as always it’ll be a conversation you don’t want to miss out on.

Having said that, if you plan on attending, we thought we’d give you some resources to look over before the hangout, this includes a few articles, privacy checklists, and books that we highly respect.

Apple and Facebook want to popularize Digital Security. But are they what we need?

When it comes to digital security, it’s tempting to say “I’m secure today, nothing bad has happened yet, and therefore I’m good for life”. However, this is like taking a shower and saying you’ll be clean for eternity. Maintaining your digital security is an ongoing battle and therefore needs to become habitual. And for most of us, this means it needs to be simple and accessible.

Are we too trustworthy of Google and Amazon’s smart speakers?

Corporations are just as vulnerable to the complexity of trust as people are. Google, Facebook, Apple, and Amazon all must broker trust through their services, their public figures, and the things they create. As I said last week:

A good relationship is built on trust. I don’t have to remind you of all the trust you put in Gmail to send your correspondence, iCloud to secure your precious photos, or Amazon to take care of your purchases. The problem, though, is that our trustworthy relationships are breeding dependence. We’re becoming extremely reliant in a very unhealthy, dangerous way.

Thoughts on our relationship with technology

What I didn’t touch on is how smart speakers are complicating things. They are built with all the qualities of an active listener and are building trust in the same way that a psychologist, a pastor, or a teacher would build trust – through an open ear. That’s literally all that smart speakers are right now… an open ear that occasionally helps out. Nearly a quarter of all US households have already fallen for this ploy of trust and installed a smart speaker.

Facebook is Becoming a Privacy Company. But, How Will They Make Money?

The company that everyone loves to hate (Facebook), held their annual F8 developer conference today to present some ideas that would hopefully turn a new leaf for them and recreate their image as a “privacy-focused social platform”. They presented the following major changes to their core product, which won’t take effect immediately but will supposedly start a new chapter in their book:

  • Redesigning the core Facebook app around Groups and Events – shifting away from the News Feed
  • Launching Facebook Dating and Meet New Friends, two privacy-focused features that allow you to use your profile to date and meet
  • Combining the messaging functionalities of Messenger, WhatsApp, and Instagram – giving the ability to communicate between those services
  • Making end-to-end encryption in Messenger the default

Zuckerberg summarizes the new chapter as a shift from “Facebook the Town Square” to “Facebook the Digital Living Room”.

What I don’t understand, though, is how Facebook the Digital Living Room will make money.

FedEx and USPS don’t read our mail. So why do we let Google and Facebook?

It’s very sad to me that handwritten correspondence has become an abandoned craft. Not because of the beauty in (some people’s) handwriting. Or the emotional release you get after receiving an unexpected letter. Rather, because of its privacy.

We trust USPS, UPS, and FedEx to not open and read our mail because if they did, then it would be fairly obvious to the naked eye.

Today, we’re all choosing to send letters en masse via email, chat apps, and text messages. As with the mail, we default to trusting that our eyes and our recipient’s eyes are the only ones to read it.

Sadly, this is not true.

Some Thoughts on our Dysfunctional Relationship with Technology in 2019

A good relationship is built on trust. The trust, in turn, allows for autonomy. And with autonomy comes personal growth. Many of the relationships we have with software and algorithms are indeed full of trust. I don’t have to remind you of all the trust you put in Gmail to send your correspondence, iCloud to secure your precious photos, or Amazon to take care of your purchases.

In fact, I would say we put an uncanny amount of trust in digital technologies.

The problem, though, is that our trustworthy relationships aren’t empowering autonomy. It’s breeding dependence. We’re becoming extremely reliant in a very unhealthy, dangerous way. And massive problems will arise in two forms.

What if 23andMe created a Digital Family Vault to share and preserve memories

As long as my grandpa has been alive, he’s had, two sisters. That was, up until 6 weeks ago when 23andMe proved him otherwise. I never thought my family would be one of those shocking stories about DNA genealogy tests. But we are. And this is the story:

Amongst the black community, these genealogy tests generally aren’t looked upon with quite the same excitement as other cultures. This is because most of us don’t want to spend the $100-200 only to find a big question mark in our lineage back a hundred or so years ago. Genealogy companies like African Ancestry are changing this stigma, but it’s still not that easy to see very far into African American lineage.

Nonetheless, one of my great aunts took the test and waited for the results. When they came back, it seemed to have a mistake: it said my grandpa had three sisters.

This was obviously wrong. Not only did it say my grandpa had an unknown sister, but she lived just 20 minutes away!

With my great-grandparents gone, there was no one to ask if this were true or not. So one of my grandpa’s “known sister” reached out to the “newfound sister” and they actually met up with her to confirm this seemingly absurd finding.

Unfortunately, my grandpa’s newfound sister passed away shortly after meeting her sister – leaving this ambiguous gap of uncertainty in our family tree.

Given the situation my family experienced. I figured there must be a better way of getting to know a family member you never knew without publicly sharing your personal information on an unsecured social network.

So how would we do this?

What if we used AI to rewrite the Bible?

About two years ago, the Internet had a heart attack when they heard the former head of the self-driving car division at Google and Uber was creating a Church that would worship an AI Godhead. The story ran the press circuit for about a week and then everyone forgot.

Circling back around to the topic about two weeks ago, I was on an Inevitable/Human Digital Hangout to hear what other future thinkers were thinking about the topic of AI religion. One of these future thinkers, Russell, joined the hangout and we discussed the concept of using AI to rewrite the Bible.

Upon doing some research, we quickly found that we weren’t the only creators inspired by this prompt. So rather than reinvent the wheel, I thought I’d echo some of the coolest findings.

The First Live Concert on Alexa… What artist will be first to tour our smart speakers?

Voice skills are supposedly the new apps. However, we’ve witnessed the debut of 80,000 Alexa skills and we still haven’t had a hit. Especially nothing comparable to the early successes on the iPhone app store like Fruit Ninja, Angry Birds, and Words with Friends. That’s why I think the first “hit voice skill” will come from a completely different line of thinking than what produced the first 80,000 skills.

Right now, we’re largely focused on using voice skills to augment daily habits; these are your audible light switches, shopping list apps, weather apps, calendar apps, games like 20 Questions and Jeopardy, etc… 

Instead of augmenting habits, though, if developers created a voice skill around a grandiose, non-regular experience, that might be the ticket to having an absolute hit.

That’s why I’m intrigued by the idea of personalized concerts on Alexa.

Even though music has already been one of the staple features of smart speakers, I’ve yet to even hear the idea of an artist (or label) creating a voice skill – let alone creating a skill that allowed their listeners to experience the artist’s sounds in a “choose your own adventure style”.

There are two reasons why I think personalized concerts on Alexa would be a hit:

  • It creates a more personal concert.
  • Economically and at scale it could be better for the artist (or label) if they were to utilize some type of micropayment solution.

The Robots and Drones that Saved the Notre Dame Cathedral

Drones have unfortunately been pigeonholed by the media as useful in delivering our packages or acting as aerial “suicide” bombers. It’s quite sad, considering there are so many other beneficial use cases. Seriously, CB Insights generated a list of 38 ways drones will impact society, with some of the more intriguing being:

There are many moonshot ways of bringing Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) into our lives. However, the one that is gaining very interesting traction is their ability to provide an aerial perspective during emergency situations such as fires, floods, earthquakes, highway collisions, search-and-rescue missions, etc…

Will Robots Take Your Job? Use This Tool to Find Out

One of the oddest phenomena in human behavior is something known as a gapers block – which is essentially a traffic jam that magically occurs on the opposite side of a highway from a car crash. Nothing is physically present to create a gapers block other than our curiosity to see what happened. Literally we just can’t not look.

I don’t think there’s a better way to describe the past few years of media coverage on job automation. It’s been a complete gapers block. A small portion of retail workers are laid off and everyone’s outlook on the future comes crashing down. We all are susceptible to reading the headlines and thinking we get the whole story from, “47% of US jobs at risk for automation.”