Using the Blockchain to Clean Up the Niger Delta


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I have been hearing a lot about Blockchain recently. According to Wiki – Functionally, a blockchain can serve as “an open, distributed ledger that can record transactions between two parties efficiently and in a verifiable and permanent way.” Today’s needull is an example of Blockchain being used for social impact.

Kevin Werbach, a Wharton professor of legal studies and business ethics who has studied the blockchain, says there’s been an “explosion of blockchain-based applications and systems. It’s still very early. It’s still not as solid and reliable as where they need to be, but it is clearly where we’re going to see more activity.” He notes that the blockchain has been used in various social impact efforts. In May, the United Nation’s World Food Programme conducted a pilot that gave cryptocurrency vouchers to 10,000 Syrian refugees in Jordan that they redeemed at certain markets.

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Knowledge@Wharton

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Is Tesla Really Making Progress?


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This needull presents both sides of the argument. Some look at Tesla as game changer while others are not that impressed.

Because that scenario seems like a real possibility, a car that doesn’t need fossil fuel to run does feel like a game-changer, contrary to Cowen’s argument. Even when accounting for the environmental impacts of manufacturing a Tesla and running it on electricity from a coal-fired grid, its zero-emissions feature still counts as progress, given it will help reduce both future climate impacts and localized pollution from urban traffic, which disproportionately affect communities of color.

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Brentin Mock — CityLab

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In praise of Facebook Instant Articles


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Everything seems to be moving to Facebook these days. Journalism, Business, Activism.

Two years since the product’s launch, Instant Articles has been criticized for underwhelming monetization, the absence of robust subscription options, an inability for publishers to directly connect to their readers, the limited amount of user data returned by Facebook, and the lack of autonomy provided to publishers over their ad space. One publishing executive described them as “a public flop.”

But the Daily News still sees potential in courting a mobile audience. This represents a considerable shift in strategy in the past few months. The Daily News has always posted a high volume of articles on Facebook compared to other publishers—typically almost 100 per day. But the paper barely used Instant Articles; the strategy was all about driving back to nydailynews.com.

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Pete Brown — CJR

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Having slow phones may come to be seen as a form of disability


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With the slower phone, I felt the same sense of personal failure and frustration as I do when, at my library job, I have to get down on my knees to shelve a book that someone else could replace with a glance and a slight lean. Except with the slower phone, I could fix the problem, for a price I could afford.

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Olivia Rosane — Real Life

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The Boundaries of Artificial Emotional Intelligence


Alicia Vikander in Ex Machina (2015).

Is it possible for AI to have emotional intelligence? Is it even important?

We’ve long been thinking about how AI might be able to take over some of this work, whether it’s tending to the mysteries of the human heart or the existential, daily burdens of an unjust society. Robot therapists, butlers, maids, nurses, and sex dolls are familiar components of the techno-utopian future fantasy, where dutiful machines perform all our undesirable chores, while we enjoy lives of leisure. But these familiar dynamics may actually be about nurturance and care just as much, and perhaps even more, than they are about service or labor.

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Leigh Alexander — How we get to next

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From Bitcoin to Ethereum


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These crypto currencies have been hot topic of discussion recently with the success of Ethereum. Today’s needull tries to explain what these are and the differences between Bitcoin and Ethereum.

The Ethereum blockchain is much faster than that of Bitcoin. The delay between two blocks in the bitcoin system is around 12 seconds. The propagation time of a block through the network, understandably, poses de facto new challenges. The Ethereum protocol provides solutions in both cases. Moreover, and this is the great innovation of this platform, one can arbitrarily store data on the blockchain—by which I mean smart-contracts—that are, in fact, programs written in a complete Turing language. There is thus no restriction on the complexity of programs that can be deposited on this particular blockchain.

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Aurélien Alvarez, reply by Jean-Paul Delahaye — Inference

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The Threat


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Ross Anderson discusses the threat of intrusive surveillance on the web.

Twenty years ago, I could find everything about you that was on the World Wide Web, and you could do the same to me, so there was mutuality. Now, if you’re prepared to pay the money and buy into the advertising networks, you can buy all sorts of stuff about my clickstream, and find out where I’ve been staying, and what I’ve been spending my money on, and so on. If you’re within the tent of the intelligence agencies, as Snowden taught us, then there is very much more still. There’s my location history, browsing history, there’s just about everything.

This is the threat. This was a threat before Mr. Trump got elected president. Now that Mr. Trump has been elected, it must be clear to all that government having very intrusive powers of surveillance is not something that necessarily sits well with a healthy democratic sustainable society.

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Ross Anderson — Edge

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