🔮Technologically Clairvoyant

🔮 Technologically Clairvoyant edition 5 - Libra, Sports Direct

June 24, 2019

Hello 👋

Brandon here.

🌊 Welcome to the fifth edition of 🔮Technologically Clairvoyant🔮

This edition is a little long. Lots of things have happened (Libra, + the 2-week break from posting about news)! I’ve reduced it to as short as it can be, I hope you don’t mind!!! 😁

Without further ado, let’s get into it 🎪

Near Future

Facebook announces new cryptocurrency Libra, working with 100 organisations

First, let’s get a little background on cryptocurrencies. What’s wrong with them right now?

  1. Computationally expensive (requires a lot of electricity)
  2. Super slow. Bitcoin handles about 7 transactions / second. Visa handles 1,700 / second.
  3. Can’t abide with laws set by governments (or generally, don’t want to)

Libra aims to fix all these problems.

Why would we want a globalised currency?

My favourite example of this is Kenya (among other African countries).

In Kenya:

The most popular use is working in a city, and sending the money back home to a rural town in a matter of seconds. I remember reading a story about how in countries that are fought over, the currency changes a lot. It’s possible to have 2, 3, 4 currencies carried with you at all times in case someone didn’t accept it.

With a global currency, you don’t have to worry about that. Imagine having all of your money in one currency, and then the country for that currency dies. Your money just… dissapears. A global currency would prevent this from happening.

  • Visa and Mastercard take a 3 - 4% cut of every transaction

Libra plans to take 0%. In fact, Facebook is giving consumers discounts who use Libra. You buy something at Tesco, get an x% discount, Facebook will give Tesco x%.

  • There are many people all over the world without access to banking

Modern life cuts you off without access to banking. No storage of money, no investments, no way to transfer it.

  • Fights against hyperinflation

If you live in a country with tight currency & economic controls and experience hyperinflation (Zimbabwe, Venezuela, others https://tradingeconomics.com/country-list/inflation-rate) access to alternative currencies can mean the difference between life and death.

The money you make on your salary will be worthless by the time you get your cheque.

Not with Libra, which aims to be stable globally.

Hey!!! So I’ve written a lot about the technical side to this crypto. If you’re super interested in a short TL;DR of the 12-page white paper, check it out on my blog here :-)

TL;DR tech specs

  • Libra is decentralised, but not 100% decentralised.

While Facebook intends for Libra to become decentralised, 

the Founding Members will validate transactions initially.

  • Libra is half cryptocurrency/half fiat currency

Libra aims to combine the cool software from cryptocurrencies with the regulations and stability of fiat currencies. One of the features of fiat currencies Libra wants to use is:

  • Hard exchange rate. No wild swings like Bitcoin from £0.7 to £20,000

Libra also aims to stick at a hard exchange rate. For example, 1 libra could equal $1 (the exact exchange is unknown at the moment).

With Bitcoin, 1 BTC could equal £0.07, or £20,000.

With Libra, the price is semi-set in stone. It may differ by a few % every day (as all currency conversions do) but it aims to remain stable.

Libra is an asset-backed token. This means it is backed by an asset (such as gold, the euro etc). It does not have a fixed price in any one currency

Libra will:

“…be backed by a basket of fiat currencies and government securities”

Any interest earned on this basket (reserve) will go to the holders of the investment tokens (given to the Founding Members).

  • Web 3.0

Libra has smart contracts built in.

This uses a programming language (called Move).

This language is Turing Complete.

Any software written at all can be re-written in Move (on Libra).

This includes the World Wide Web.

Libra can create the web 3.0, and with over 100 of the worlds largest companies (including Facebook) it is possible for this to take off.

Although, this is looking into my crystal ball 🔮 First comes the currency.

TL;DR

The technology behind the currency is sound. It’s super cool to see this.

Facebook is planning on creating this currency, then leaving forever.

Yup, Facebook doesn’t want to play a big part in it.

This leaves a big question.

Why create something so big, only to leave it right after?

There are 2 main reasons I can think of:

Get rich. As Libra Investment Tokens generate income (via appreciation), the Founding Members will make money. Libra is asset-backed. The amount of assets scales with how much Libra scales. If Libra scales up, Libra will own more assets. More assets = more interest payments for the Investment Token Holders.

Facebook will move to web 3.0

With Libra, you can create web 3.0.

This means no servers hold all your data. You control it. It’s all decentralised.

“Facebook - the worlds first decentralised social network”

Their share price would rocket. People would join and start to trust them.

If they work on web 3.0, lots of fundamental shifts will happen on the internet.

For starter, Amazon’s online store would die. Imagine being a woodworker and you want to sell something. You make a posting on your website, which is federated to marketplaces.

These platforms charge very little fees (they’re not businesses, but smart contracts on a blockchain). The fees are what you pay for creating smart contracts.

Your product is now in many market places for everyone to see. You only put it online once, but it’s on a lot of marketplaces. When someone buys your item, you pay minimal fees and get most of the profit.

It’s hard to imagine where the web will be, but, this is a currency. They may not work on the web 3.0 at all. , I would hope they do. 100 of the worlds largest companies all working on a cryptocurrency with smart contracts? They’d be missing out if they didn’t explore it. 🔮

🏃‍♀️ Open-source bionic leg aims to rapidly advance prosthetics

Researchers who work with disabled people often have to build their own robotic leg system.

Instead of starting from scratch, the researchers can take this open-source platform and begin working on research. 

This platform aims to take the time of building prosthetic legs down.

It’s a cool idea, but like with most open-source things it remains to be seen whether people will actually use this or not. I’m hoping they do.

Building your own leg from scratch to test some things seems absurd.

🤖🚁 Hybrid drone with mid-air transition changes from quadcopter to aeroplane

2 weeks ago we discussed how Amazon wants to create hybrid drones like this.

Now, we have a video of someone (not Amazon) who have succeeded at this.

Quadcopters have manoeuvrability. They can take off and land vertically. But, they are slow.

Aeroplane based drones are much faster, but can’t place packages down as a normal quadcopter can.

This system combines the best of both worlds. With drone delivery becoming ever more important, we need to work on increasing their speed.

🎮 Gaming arena opens within Sports Direct - UK’s largest sports retailer

This is cool to see. In fact, this is very important for esports.

Recently, Sports Direct brought Game (large UK game retailer).

The founder sees that sports and e-sports are closer than most people think.

What I’m especially excited for is the prospect of combining the physical movements of sport, with virtual creative games. The perfect use case for VR.

The world’s first e-sports VR league runs every year in Leicester, UK. This happens to be the same country that Sports Direct is in.

The founder of Sports Direct is very secretive. He hasn’t spoken about why he’s investing in e-sports.

Fifa, close to a traditional sport, can be played in VR.

I’m excited to see the UK lead the way in combining traditional sports with e-sports.

🌿 Plant-based replacements for meat can produce 2 to 20 times more food per unit cropland, which is nutritionally comparable. The opportunity cost of animal-based diets exceeds all food losses.

Plant-based replacements are becoming ever more important.

This research states that plant-based replacements can produce 2 - 20 times more food per unit cropland than meat. And is nutritionally comparable.

Once the economy of scale kicks in, plant-based replacements should be a lot cheaper to produce than they are now. And with less cropland needed, it’s inevitable (unless we find research that says otherwise).

Researchers identify a key flaw in solar panel efficiency after 40 years of searching

The study outlines a defect in silicon used to produce solar cells. This causes the 2 percent efficiency drop that solar cells can see in the first hours of use called Light-Induced Degradation (LID).

The UK’s 15 nuclear power plants don’t make up for the estimated global loss caused by LID.

Currently solar panels transform  between 15 - 22% of sunlight into energy.

As an example of this, the British cycling team under Sir Dave Brailsford set out to improve by 1% at a lot of things. Better seats, better underwear - you name it. This caused them to win 7 golds at the Olympics after only winning 1 gold in its 76-year history.

2% isn’t a lot, but it’s exciting to know that many smaller efficiency upgrades will combine together.

🔋 Energy firms buy electricity from household solar panels (in the UK)

If you have solar panels, it’s now possible to make money from them by selling it to energy firms. This is a relatively popular thing in America.

When your solar batteries are full, instead of wasting the electricity it goes back into the grid - earning you money.

Electricity in the grid is a confusing topic. Imagine oil, but more volatile.

The price of electricity swings many times a day. Take, for instance, a large football game on TV. The breaks in the football game cause people to make tea, which causes a massive surge in electricity demand.

It’s unclear on how much firms will pay for electricity from their customers, as the price changes a lot throughout the day.

Politicians recently voted on this, I’ll keep you updated if I see any updates on the pricing situation.

🚗 Waymo teams up with Jaguar to release self-driving cars for their Uber rival

Waymo has recently released some of their luxury Jaguar I-Paces into the wild in Mountain View, California.

The cars are the start of a 20,000 strong fleet of self-driving cars.

Customers will be able to order cars to drive them somewhere via an app.

This reminded me of Tesla’s Uber rival. Tesla drivers will be able to set their cars to work as a taxi via the app. Meaning that if you’re asleep, your car could be out earning money for you.

Taxis might not be replaced anytime soon. Driverless cars aren’t available everywhere. And when they are, many people won’t believe they are safe.

🍕 Domino’s teams up with Nuro to begin robot deliveries in Houston, Texas

The robots are super small cars that drive autonomously.

There have been similar things in Greenwich since 2016 (not Domino’s).

I like the idea of food being delivered by autonomous robots. Much faster, cheaper, in the long run, work longer than normal delivery drivers can.

We’re about 10 years away from autonomous robots being able to deliver food in large cities across the UK or USA.

🌾 Results of 21 years of insect-resistant GMO crops in Spain/Portugal

For every extra €1 spent on GMO vs. conventional, income grew €4.95 due to +11.5% yield.

Decreased insecticide use by 37%.

Decreased the environmental impact by 21%.

Cut fuel use, reducing greenhouse gas emissions and saving water.

For more about GMO, see my farming special.

Distant future

🏠 Printstone shows off new 3d Concrete Mobile Printer

The robot is a box on tire tracks with a moveable arm. The moveable arm prints out concrete.

The robot can print small traditional concrete structures (not sure on how ‘small’ but by the looks of it, smaller than 3ft).

This robot can print concrete walkways, while it is moving.

I can definitely see more construction being automated in the distant future.

🚶‍♀️ Complete Wearable Locomotion System for VR

3 small devices you put onto your body that tracks the way your body moves.

This is then put into the game.

The company behind this, KAT, are known for its VR treadmill which aims to do the same thing (but on a treadmill).

I’m excited to see full body tracking implemented with haptic feedback to come into this world. The end goal of VR is to be fully immersed. This is one step towards that.

🚁 Maple Leaf Seed Flying Machines

Colloquially called ‘helicopters’. The kind of seed that spins as it’s dropped.

These machines aim to do the same. You drop them, and they spin - meaning they stay in the air for much longer.

The cool thing is that they don’t need much power to be able to spin. Unlike drones, which need the power to hover.

The robot can make ad-hoc networks.

Imagine being in a warzone and dropping a bunch of these out to create an ad-hoc radio network.

Or attaching cameras to these to monitor the battlefield.

Thanks to the fact that they don’t need the energy to fly, I can imagine these being cheaper than drones in the long run.

🚁 Anti-drone gun

Automated anti-drone guns will be very important in the near future.

London Gatwick was shut down because of a drone a few months ago.

If there was an automated anti-drone gun in place, the drone will be out of commission before airport officials even knew it was there.

A few weeks ago, I touched on the idea of emergency service drones. Drones being used to respond to human emergencies.

I’m starting to think about how drones can police other drones.

I’ve talked about how the police might use drones to stop criminals (tase them or track them). It goes without saying that the criminals could also use such drones to carry out crimes without being there.

In the distant future, it is unreasonable to think about how human police officers could respond to every drone incident. It makes sense to me to have a drone police force put in place to prevent criminal drones and to help the police force with human issues.

💵 “If money wasn’t an issue, what job would you pick?”

Universal Basic Income (UBI) is the idea of paying everyone in a nation a fixed income to let them do what they want.

This Reddit post was a nice sociology post.

Many Redditor’s talked about baking companies, becoming writers, doing their passions.

A few weeks ago, New Zealand said they wanted to make people happy, not rich.

The idea of universal basic income is one where the happiness of a nation might be lifted up if they could do what they love.

It also supports the idea of businesses. Many Redditors talked about starting their own business. If money wasn’t an issue, why wouldn’t you start one? You’ve got nothing to lose.

While this sounds like a socialist agenda, it’s weird. It’s not right wing, it’s not really left wing either.

With universal basic income, you could get rid of free public sector initiatives. Instead of paying for the NHS through tax and not paying for it when you need it, you can pay for it when you need it.

Finland’s study into UBI left people happier, but jobless.

Although, it’s worth mentioning that the Finland study was taken on a group of randomly selected people on unemployment benefits.

🥛 Can’t breath in medication? Try Liquid Air

Some chronic illnesses prevent you from breathing in the medication.

Breathing in medication is the go-to standard for medication relating to the lungs.

The solution? Liquid air. You drink this liquid… which lets you breathe? And contains the medication?

Yeah, I thought it was wild too. You drink this liquid, and you’ve breathed.

I don’t think this will play a big part in our future like drones or XR, but it’s cool and I wanted to show you 😅✨

Until next time,

  • Brandon 🐝

Brandon Skerritt

Written by Brandon Skerritt who loves writing and dogs 🐶 You should follow me on Twitter

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