Categories
Cryptocurrency Economics Future Politics

Going Going Going Without Moving At All

I feel like the entire year of 2018, both nationally and internationally – economically and politically, can be reflected pretty well by my own working life over the same period. So, it makes sense to touch on that a little bit.

Old big eye statue

I’ve been a productivity machine these past few months. I’ve been learning new skills, prepping myself for new careers (if I want), and discovering new tools which allow me to get past stuck points of the past. My reading has been focused and constant. I’ve been using my time running or sitting in the car to listen to podcasts and educational lectures. I’ve been writing, revising, and researching. To give some idea of my progress here – in 2018, I’ve co-founded a cryptocurrency, started a podcast, launched a new blog, relaunced an old blog, become a featured blogger for a major publication, developed an app, started a new business, developed another app and taken on investment in it, and am working with a partner to co-found a third app. All of this in addition to working hard to be a caring and present father – which means that time needs to be dedicated there – and to working at a job that actually pays my bills – because despite the fact that I’m doing all that stuff listed above – none of it is earning a dime – in fact, most of it, the education, the books, the development, the hosting, the domains, the licensing, the business registrations, the research, the parenting – none of it earns money (yet) and it all costs money.

That’s what I’ve seen in the U.S. economy, the international political world (and the U.S. political scene), and in the overall progress of the human species as a whole. There are a lot of great and powerful things happening right now but none of them are paying the bills (yet) and as a result – there are a lot of short-term thinking people who are complaining about the waste of energy, resources, and capital that these things currently look like (from a short term perspective). It’s as if my wife were nagging at me for reading too much or spending too much time on things that don’t provide for us – and forced me to go get a job at McDonalds- which, to be fair – might actually end up paying more than everything I am currently doing in the long run. It might. And the money and energy going into genetic research, industrial automation, cryptocurrency, advanced materials, artificial intelligence, and other forward thinking technologies – it might be wasted.

But probably it’s not. (And I am still hopeful that my efforts will yield more than $15/hr as a fast food worker as well.)

Planet Earth is in a bit of a dark spot right now. There are really two camps. Those who want things the way they’ve always been – and those who want things to be very very different. The hard work being put in, is yielding results. However, there are those who don’t want to see things change. They are the know-nothings or more accurately the don’t-want-to-know-nothings who deny climate change, poo-poo on concepts like Universal Basic Income and they don’t want to see anything like equality between people who have been separated by oceans of hate, racism, and mysogeny. They are in a position that is likely to lose power – so they don’t want to see anything actually change. Yes, I’m talking about old white men but more broadly I’m talking about the military, industrial, economic, government power structure and the elaborate control systems that it has constructed world-wide. Old Asian men, old African men, old Arab men, old Indian men, and also the women who are entrenched in benefitting from that system too. There’s a reason all those old white women voted for Trump, Brexit, and right wing racists…it’s called power and privelige.

A few days ago, the societal index measure I built – the ‘vagorithm’ dropped below the level that I have suppossed would be reached only by a massive collapse on the scale of a government. That level was 287.5 – we dropped below that and then an additional 18 or so points. I watched with breath held as Russia seized Ukranian war ships and protestors took to the streets in France…and then…something shifted and as I write it is a bit above 300 – still not an ideal range – but much better than collapse. It appears to have some tendency to rise – which makes me hopeful for the future.

I would like to think that the Vagorithm Index is going to go up above it’s all time high of 900+ in 2019. It would be nice to have all that going going going actually lead to somewhere we want to be…on both a personal and a professional level.

Categories
Economics Politics

An Inflection Point for the Direction of the United States of America

I’ve introduced my Vagorithm Index previously, but it’s a good time to take a bit of a deeper dive into what it is looking at. Rather than focusing on a breadbasket of currencies, stocks, bonds, or economic indicators – the Vagorithm Index is built to indicate overall mental and cultural trends with regards to advances in technological adoption, societal inclusion, social justice, and distributed economic benefits. So, in a nutshell – when the Vagorithm Index moves higher – it means that we (humans as a whole) are progressing towards a sort of Star Trek Federation ideal where you can have your favorite food assembled in a kitchen gadget, where the color of your skin or other physical features don’t matter, and where life is valued over individual wealth. When the Vagorithm Index goes down, it means that we (humans as a whole) are moving backwards towards a more feudal state where dictators of nation states, entitled nobility, and the 1% get to do whatever they want to the rest of us.

This is what the Vagorithm Index looks like for the past couple of weeks:

But don’t worry…we are already far below the all time high of 908.13 (Nov 6, 2015) and still a little bit above the all time low of 318.84 (August 14, 2017). What does this mean? Well, it means that despite the crowing of the left over the ‘blue wave’ last week, that what progress was actually made is being sabotaged. Now, here is the thing – the left doesn’t actually want to live in a futuristic utopia…they want to live in a very similar economic world to the right – the difference is that the left acknowledges scientific evidence about climate change, the obvious roles of racism and sexism in power politics, and doesn’t tend to be as buffoonish when it comes to things like religion and sexuality.  This is what gives the V.I. a boost when Dems win – the problem this time is that there is an entire camp within the democratic party who are every bit as dangerous as the Trump-know-nothings who are currently in charge – yes Hillary Clinton would have been a better option to Donald Trump, but she would still have driven the index lower if she continued to follow the neocon pathway laid out by her husband, the Bush’s, and Reagan.

It might seem strange to group Clintons, Bush’s, and Reagan together but they are one and the same. Trump is a completely different category. Obama was a completely different category though he followed much of the neocon playbook when it came to war, defense, and international relations – where he was different was on his domestic policies, his views towards science and technology, and his attitude towards religion and sexuality.  So essentially, we have four parties in the USA.

Trumpism – essentially fascism and strong man politics based on fear, xenophobia, and racism

Neo-Conservatism – The politics of the Reagan, Bush I, Bush II, and the Clintons with a focus on corporate control of the military industrial government complex

Obamaism – Neocon Foreign Policy with Liberal Domestic Policy

Democratic Socialism – This is the domestic policies of Obama combined with a liberal foreign policy which has never been tried – this could be incredibly dangerous if it becomes evangelical in nature meaning if the Demsos want to export their world view.

Unfortunately, all of these are flawed because they all start from the basis of nationalism and the priority of one nation over all others. There is no viable political party in the USA which views the interests of all people with equality. Right now, there is a massive battle going on between the Neocons and the Demsos for control of the Democratic Party. It does not seem that there is anyone capable of the balancing act which Obama performed for eight years.

We are at an inflection point with a great unknown ahead of us. The unknown lies with the Democratic Socialists – they could lead us to a place of greatness or – if they are rash and can’t figure out how to navigate the ship of state in a safe manner – they could lead us to catastrophe. The next 60 days will be key in figuring out which of those things will take place.

 

Categories
Economics Future Politics Review

Sapiens by Yuval Noah Hariri – An Honest Review

I just finished reading Sapiens by Yuval Noah Hariri. 

In my life, I’ve read many thousands of books. This is the one I wish everyone would read. Seriously. It had a few issues – but ultimately – at this moment in time, if someone were to ask me “What one book do you recommend that everyone on Earth read?” This is the one I would choose.

Yes, I admit it. In the moments or days when I finish reading a particularly good book, I am like a 13-year-old after his first kiss. My emotions are engaged, endorphins are spinning through my head and I have hormones coursing through my veins. I’m sure that everyone doesn’t react to a good book like that – but everyone reacts to something like that – because we are all humans. And ultimately, that is what this book is about – it’s the story of humans from begining to present without any fluff, lies, exaggerations, or unprovable beliefs or theories.

In many ways, I feel like this was the book that I have been looking to read for decades.  The reason I got a degree in anthropology, traveled all over the world, and worked in archaeology was because I am fascinated with humans and why we do the things we do. If you want to see why I love this book as much as I do, go have a look at the one-star reviews on Amazon. Religionsists, nationalists, statists, ideologists, and other people who Hariri calls out as delusional. The ultimate message of Hariri’s book is this :

We just aren’t that important.

Lots of people hate to hear that, but there it is. We just aren’t that important. The universe is 13.5 billion years old. 6 million years ago our common ancestor that we share with chimpanzees emerged. 200,000 years ago – humans emerged – not just us but at least six distinct species of humans. Our species survived but probably had a hand in wiping out the others somewhere around 40,000 years ago. From there we spread out and just 12,000 years ago stopped being hunter-gatherers. Next we made kingdoms and religions and invented money and empires. Just 500 years ago the first industrial revolution began and 200 years ago the scientific revolution and so on and so forth until right nowwe are on the edge of the fourth industrial revolution. The bottom line is – our history is a blink of an eye in the history of the universe, the solar system, the planet, life, or even human species.

Hariri delves into the great questions and emerges with great answers – although, admittedly, sometimes his answers rely less on facts than on suppostions based on history, science, and medicine woven together. Essentially, the book looks at our political, economic, religious, social, and tribal constructs and demonstrates in the only way possible that they are imaginary and no more real than anything else we might imagine. If you read this book with an open mind you will learn two things 1) As a species we are pretty terrible and 2) On the whole, we are improving and getting better.

While the ‘-ists’ may hate to hear it – the truth is that humans and everything we have done so far – it’s all pretty unimportant.  None of it really matters —empires, religion, capitalism, communism, nations, wars, movements, revolutions – none of it matters.

Except that actually – it does. It’s started to matter. We’ve entered a new era. We’ve started on a portion of our path where we might come to matter a great deal…or we might disappear with the other human species that came before us. In fact, it’s almost certain that we will disappear as we become something else, something wonderful, something brand new in the universe.

So, for those who hate to hear it – we aren’t that important but if they would have read on  with an open mind they would have gotten to the real message. We do matter. The way we do things matters. Why we do things matters. How we do things matters.

I can understand why so many readers/reviewers got upset. It’s not easy to have someone slaughter your sacred cows. It’s not easy to hear that your religion isn’t the chosen one, your country isn’t the best one, your diet isn’t the most ethical one. To be honest, I was bothered by some of these things too – and I found myself saying things like ‘this guy is obviously pushing a vegetarian agenda’ which is probably true – but why shouldn’t we treat animals better? Why shouldn’t we eat less meat? Why shouldn’t we strive to protect biodiversity? Why shouldn’t we acknowledge that we treat other people terribly? Yes, it shakes our foundational beliefs – the ones that were put in place by our ancestors who knew less about just about everything than we do today, as a species. Maybe we need a good shaking. Actually, strike that maybe. We need a good shaking.

Ultimately, Sapiens is a very needed message of hope in a time of fear, dread, uncertainty, doubt and change. It’s a very welcome message.

Read this book.

 

Categories
Economics Politics

Vagorithm Special Election Coverage Prediction

Like everyone in the U.S. – I have become unecessarily stressed out over the election tomorrow – which is really stupid because I voted two weeks ago and the rest of it is out of my hands now. There is literally nothing I can do about what will happen. Unless you haven’t voted yet – there is nothing you can do. If there are people out there who haven’t made up their minds – maybe you can try to convince them to vote for your candidate – but good luck with that unless they already support your candidate or your candidate’s views – because the U.S. electorate is totally polarized and the U.S. system has completely failed anyway – so even if your candidates win or lose – it doesn’t really matter.

The Democrats and the Republicans are mostly owned by the same corporate interests. There is a narrow path that is acceptable to those corporate interests and candidates who deviate from that path will find themselves financially castrated or euthanized or isolated (because the rest of the elected officials walk the corporate line).

So, with all that being said – these are my predictions for the election tomorrow.

1) The Blue Wave Result There will be some big wins for Democrats and then there will be lots of crying foul by Republicans, cries of corruption, cries of election meddling, cries of voter irregularities, cries of criers crying – and then a big exhausting process of recounts and yelling and protests and things will take place. Of course, Mr. Big Mouth will get involved and then his brown shirt brigades will do some atrocious awful shit – like they’ve been doing the past two weeks – killing people, sending bombs, and awful deplorable things.

There probably won’t be any results overturned, but there will be enough questions raised to put shadows on any candidates who defeated fascist party candidates that their voices will be limited. The Democrats will cfy foul, but they’ll do it very politely. The stock markets will suffer some heavy losses before completely recovering and than imploding sometime in 2019.

2) The Red Wave Result The Russians, the North Koreans, the Trump machine, and the other forces of evil already have complete control and the expected blue wave will be destroyed. ACA will be gutted, more tax breaks, big wall built, war with Mexico, slaughter of the migrant train, concentration camps in former shopping malls, and maybe slavery will be reinstated. The stock markets will rocket straight up and then a cultural revolution will begin where the educated, liberal, and multi-cultural elites will be rounded up and slaughtered.

3) The Purple Wave Result Democrats make minor gains and take the house, Republicans keep the Senate. Minor version of Blue Wave Result. Nothing really changes. We move closer one step at a time to becoming the worst country in the history of humans. Stock markets rally until the next crisis of whatever nature.

As you can see – I no longer think positve results are possible for the United States. Personally, I’ve lost faith in the American people and the American Dream. But, I still hold out hope for one result.

4) The Tech Rebellion Amazon, Google, Facebook, Tesla, IBM and the resto of the tech companies on the West Coast and the Northeast decide they’ve had enough and use their amazing power to bring about a secession from the USA. The West Coast, Hawaii, New York etc declare a Tech States of the U.S. and start the world’s first Techocracy and tell all the old white politicians to go fuck themselves.

Happy Voting and Good Luck.

Categories
Economics Future Investing Politics Review

Shaping the Fourth Industrial Revolution by Klaus Schwab – An Honest Review

As a geek, a sci-fi lover, a futurist, a technology lover, a person with a fascination for humans and what makes us tick, and an investor – I am constantly on the lookout for what the next big thing, the next big disruption, or the next human-culture shattering event may be – so reading Shaping the Industrial Revolution by Klaus Schwab was a no brainer.

Klaus Schwab is the Founder and Chairman of the World Economic Forum. He wrote a book in 2016 called the Fourth Industrial Revolution – which was one ofthe first books to clearly show just how sudden, powerful, and life chainging the technology we see around us every day is. We are in the midst of the most dramatic change our species has ever encountered. To put things in perspective – let’s take a step way back. This summary is not in the book but is helpful for understanding it.

The Agricultural Revolution (12,000 years ago) turned our species from nomadic hunter gatherers to farmers and allowed for massive population growth. The Scientific Revolution (500 years ago) gave us the tools to study and change the world around us based on what we learned. The First Industrial Revolution (200 years ago) opened the world up to us and allowed us to explore, settle, and kill each other on scales never seen before.  The Second Agricultural Revolution (100 years ago) allowed for mass production of food and huge expansion of population. The Second Industrial Revolution (100 years ago) gave us mass manufacturing and electricity. The Third Industrial Revolution (50 years ago) gave us computer, semi-conductors, and the internet. The Fourth Industrial Revolution (now) is changing everything across every aspect of our lives. Schwab’s book identifies the following as being the key technologies of the new world we are entering.

1) Extended Digital Tech including quantum computing, blockchain and distributed ledger tech, the internet of things, and big data crunching algorithms.

2) Changing the Physical World with artificial intelligence and robotics using advanced materials, 3-D printing, and and drones.

3) Alteration of Human Beings through biotechnologies, neurotechnologies, and through virtual and augmented realities.

4) Integrating our environment through clean energy, storage and transmission. Also geo-engineering on both Earth and other planets as well as space technology itself.

After reading this book – it becomes clear that the most immediate threat is that of social upheaval as the need for human workers becomes less through automation, artificial intelligence, and (to some extent) the problem of what to do with all the people who will be using up the resources of the planet. The intent of this book was to both show the coming technology and to let stakeholders know what they can do to make sure that the future is based on a human rights framework that has important human values built into it. We are moving very quickly and the ground we are covering is totally uncharted. We will make many mistakes. Schwab is trying to help us make less of them.

This book dovetailed nicely after reading Andrew Yang’s The War on Normal People – one thing is for sure. Automation is coming and your job is probably not going to last very much longer – no matter what your job is. We are all walking around with super computers in our pockets that are recording data all the time – that data is being used for many purposes. The way that data is used and sorted is key to what happens to us in the future – there are positive and negative outcomes attached to that. Blockchain is much more than jsut cryptocurrency and Bitcoin – it is a revolutionary tech that will change the way business gets done. In fact, it already is. The internet of things on the other hand is one of the ways that our pocket super computers and the quantum computers of the future will be gathering data about us and making decisions for us. Our shoes, clothing, cookware, and more will be gathering data – not just our phones, TVs, cars, and refrigerators.

I was pretty aware of automation technology in the form of robots and A.I. The idea of advanced materials and automated 3-D printing sort of blew my mind, however. Imagine every city or every house having a Star Trek style fabricator where you simply say ‘computer make a pork chop’ or ‘computer make a picture hook’ or ‘computer make a new part for my VW van’ and it either appears in the 3-D printer several minutes later or arrives by drone a few hours later. Not science fiction any longer. It’s happening and it is eliminating the need for warehouses, trucks and truckers, and stores on a massive scale.

The next section on biotechnology, neurotechnology and altered realities also was a bit of an eye opener. Essentially, I’ve been thinking of gene editing for a while now as a way to cure disease and fix our problems – I’ve read about the ideas of giving us new abilities and physical features but never really considered it viable – now though – these things are happening. The biggest opportunity/threat here is the integration of our minds/bodies with advanced A.I and robotics – we will, very shortly – almost certainly stop being humans as we have been. We will be something different. The perfection of artificial and augmented realities will also expand our world to horizons far beyond what that of Columbus and the colonization of the Americas did.

Finally, there are the ways we are changing the planet and our opportunities in space. We are and have been for a long time – destroying our evnvironment, wiping out the biodiversity of the planet, and giving ourselves the illusion of wealth while we destroy the only true wealth we have. The advent of the fourth industrial revolution has given us tools for accelerating this process or alternatively for reversing it. In addition the death of fossil fuels and the birth of clean, renewable energy are opportunties that can make the world a better place or a worse one. Finally, there is the development of space which the book touches on a little bit.

I bought this book to learn more about the technologies. It covered that but mostly the book was about what we as individuals, companies, governments, or individuals can do to deal with the change and to help bring it about in a way that benefits human values. I appreciated this information. I recommend that anyone read this book – it’s readable but not easy or particularly fun. It will educate you. It was compiled from over 200 individuals contributing information over an 18 month period.