Greatest Mysteries of Mankind

The Greatest Mysteries Of Human History: The Lost City of Atlantis
The Lost City of Atlantis is one of the oldest and greatest mysteries of the world. Since ancient times, people have been trying to locate Atlantis, which is believed to have submerged after an earthquake or tsunami.

Greek philosopher Plato described Atlantis as a large island located near the Rock of Gibraltar, home of the most advanced civilization and being of unrivaled refinement with a glorious palace. Among its other traits, Atlantis was filled with beautiful citizens, a Poseidon temple and concentric walls and canals.

City of Atlantis Greatest Mysteries
To date, nobody has been able to find the city – underwater or otherwise – though this hasn’t discouraged numerous theories about its possible location. Countless historians and explorers have attempted expeditions to find the underwater island, but whether in South America (as recently reported), of the Greek Islands, or near Antarctica, Atlantis has remained elusive and one of the greatest mysteries of human history.

The Greatest Mysteries Of Human History: Stonehenge

Stonehenge Sunset Panorama Photograph
Stonehenge stands in all its beautiful and enigmatic glory on the Salisbury Plain in Wiltshire, England. The site contains numerous carved bluestones that each weighs six tons and are stacked on top of each other.
Archaeologists have ascertained that the stone monument dates back to 2500 – 3000 BC and believe that it was erected by Neolithic inhabitants.

Stonehenge’s purpose and creation still remain one of the most highly debated and greatest mysteries of human history. The theories, thus, are extensive. Some believe it to be a result of glacial movement or a man-made miracle, while others believe it foretells of alien invasion or is a place filled with healing powers.

The most commonly accepted theory is that Stonehenge is a burial ground. This was substantiated by archaeological evidence in 2008 when cremated remains around the site matched the estimated date of Stonehenge’s creation.

King Arthur
King Arthur Painting

King Arthur, a sword in the stone, his faithful magician, Merlin, and a roundtable of knights – the stuff legends and myths are made of. Apparently, though, the entire King Arthur story was a fabrication that was created to boost the morale of the English troops.

The mythology stems from various literary sources, which all glorify Arthur as the king who led a victory over the Saxons and created a ruling empire over England, Ireland, Iceland, Norway and Gaul in the sixth century.

Though there is no real proof such a man existed, historians continue to debate the fact. There is evidence to suggest Arthur may have been a composite character, with most semblances to a Roman commander, Lucius Artorius Castus, who lived in the second century. Despite the widely accepted belief that King Arthur was a fictitious creation, there are still a number of people who argue otherwise.

There Are Pros And Also Cons To The Gluten-Free Diet

The gluten-free diet seems to be the latest trend. When I was diagnosed with Celiac Disease four years ago, not too many people were aware of what it was. Now “gluten-free” is a buzzword. There are gluten-free restaurants, as well as new food products, and old food products in “gfree” versions to satisfy people’s needs. Whether it’s people who suffer with Celiac Disease, people with “gluten sensitivity” or even people who have simply hopped on the bandwagon for a perceived health benefit, it’s certainly a hot topic these days.

However, many people don’t quite even know what gluten is. So what exactly is it? Gluten is a protein found in grains, such as wheat, barley and rye. It can be found in pretty much any delicious thing we eat. Unfortunately, that means no bread, pasta or baked goods. I’m sure you’re wondering: Why would anyone want to give that up? Well, those people who suffer from Celiac must stay far and clear from gluten. Celiac Disease is an autoimmune disease in which the consumption of gluten can cause damage to the small intestine. The easiest way Celiac was explained to me was by my own gastroenterologist doctor, Dr. Peter Chang. He told me that when people with Celiac consume gluten, there is an immune attack on the villi within the small intestine. This then causes nutrients to not be absorbed. Obviously, when there are no nutrients being absorbed, our health declines, and our bodies will not function properly.

Related: Celiac Disease—Who Needs Donuts Anyway?

Then there are people who have gluten sensitivity—but are not diagnosed with Celiac Disease. Having a gluten sensitivity means that they suffer from all the similar symptoms after consuming gluten, but their small intestines are not being destroyed or damaged. Some symptoms people experience after consuming gluten are headaches, stomachaches, energy fatigue, dizziness and bloating. None of these are enjoyable, but they are not life threatening.

Then there are people who wish to cut gluten out of their diet for reasons like health benefits or weight loss. Thalia Prum, a practicing dietitian, says that because a gluten-free diet is restrictive and limited, many people see weight-loss results when they substitute the high-calorie foods, like carbs where gluten is found, with natural ones. However, since we all need a balance of carbs in our diet, the health benefit comes when we choose the “good carbs.” Fruits, vegetables and beans are gluten-free by nature. There are some excellent gluten-free grain options out there as well, especially quinoa!

But what exactly are the pros and cons of a gluten-free diet? As runners, it can have some great effects but also negative ones.

Pros

Cutting gluten out of your diet can lead to a healthier life. For those with Celiac, eliminating gluten from their diet is essential for optimal health. Many say they feel better immediately after cutting it out. Also, nutrients will finally be absorbed better when the proper foods begin to enter the body. For those that don’t have Celiac and don’t quite know why they might be experiencing stomach issues, eliminating gluten may help those problems. If you experience negative effects from gluten, cutting it out of your diet will certainly cause you to feel better.
Who wouldn’t want more energy? Removing gluten from your diet eliminates high-calorie carbs, which can sometimes make us feel sluggish or bloated. Although certain carbs are essential for runners, natural substitute ones do the trick too. Sweet potatoes are an excellent option!
Removing gluten from your diet aids weight loss. When you replace breads and pastas with natural foods like fruits and vegetables, you’re more likely to get rid of that extra fat.
Because it’s made from grapes, wine is naturally gluten free. Now that’s a plus!
Cons

You have to say goodbye to some of the best foods around.
As runners, we fuel from carbs. Pre-race meals often comprise pasta the night before and bagels the morning of. Finding substitute gluten-free brand options of pasta and bagels is possible. However, they are not nearly as tasty and they don’t provide the same performance results for runners.
If you’re choosing the gluten-free diet, be aware that your body is already used to the particular foods and carbs you put into it. Sometimes removing them may have a negative effect on your nutrient intake. Most foods that contain gluten also contain calcium, vitamin B and iron. When that’s taken away, so are your other essential nutrients. Stick to natural foods as opposed to substitute options!
Anemia is common in runners who are on a gluten-free diet, especially women runners. Gluten-free food substitutes are typically not iron fortified. It’s important to find ways to replace the lost iron.
A gluten-free lifestyle isn’t necessarily a bad one! It certainly has some positive effects for those who choose it. For runners who need to because of a Celiac diagnosis, it is absolutely essential for their good health.

Today in History: Oct. 11

Today is Wednesday, Oct. 11, the 284th day of 2017.

Today’s Highlight in History:

On Oct. 11, 1942, the World War II Battle of Cape Esperance began in the Solomon Islands, resulting in an American victory over the Japanese.

On this date:

In 1779, Polish nobleman Casimir Pulaski, fighting for American independence, died two days after being wounded during the Revolutionary War Battle of Savannah, Georgia.

In 1890, the Daughters of the American Revolution was founded in Washington, D.C.

In 1910, Theodore Roosevelt became the first former U.S. president to fly in an airplane during a visit to St. Louis.

In 1932, the first American political telecast took place as the Democratic National Committee sponsored a program from a CBS television studio in New York.

In 1958, the lunar probe Pioneer 1 was launched; it failed to go as far out as planned, fell back to Earth, and burned up in the atmosphere.

In 1968, Apollo 7, the first manned Apollo mission, was launched with astronauts Wally Schirra, Donn Fulton Eisele and R. Walter Cunningham aboard. The government of Panama was overthrown in a military coup.

In 1979, Allan McLeod Cormack and Godfrey Newbold Hounsfield were named co-recipients of the Nobel Prize for Medicine for their work in developing the CAT scan X-ray.

In 1984, Challenger astronaut Kathryn D. Sullivan became the first American woman to walk in space as she and fellow Mission Specialist David C. Leestma spent 3 1/2 hours outside the shuttle.

In 1987, the NAMES Project AIDS Memorial Quilt was unfurled for the first time on the National Mall in Washington, D.C.; the 7,000-pound quilt bore the names, personal effects and, in some cases, the ashes of victims of AIDS.

In 1991, testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Anita Hill accused Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas of sexually harassing her; Thomas re-appeared before the panel to denounce the proceedings as a “high-tech lynching.”

In 1992, in the first of three presidential debates, three candidates faced off against each other in St. Louis: President George H.W. Bush, Arkansas Gov. Bill Clinton and businessman Ross Perot.

In 2002, former President Jimmy Carter was named the recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize.

Ten years ago: The Bush administration reported that the federal budget deficit had fallen to $162.8 billion in the just-completed budget year, the lowest amount of red ink in five years. Cold medicines for babies and toddlers were pulled off shelves amid concerns about unintentional overdoses. Briton Doris Lessing won the 2007 Nobel Prize in literature. Werner von Trapp, a member of the musical family made famous by the musical “The Sound of Music,” died in Waitsfield, Vermont, at age 91.

Five years ago: Vice President Joe Biden and Republican opponent Paul Ryan squared off in their only debate of the 2012 campaign; the two repeatedly interrupted each other as they sparred over topics including the economy, taxes and Medicare.

One year ago: President Barack Obama, in an op-ed on CNN’s website, sought to reinvigorate his six-year-old call for the U.S. to send humans to Mars by the 2030s. Samsung Electronics said it was stopping production of Galaxy Note 7 smartphones permanently, a day after halting global sales of the ill-fated devices amid reports that batteries were catching fire.

Why Socrates Hated Democracy, and What We Can Do about It.

Article Image

Around the world, people of all ages are finding reason to be wary of democratic government. While the western world places a high value on democracy today, this wasn’t always the case. Some of the greatest minds in the history of western civilization had strong critiques of democracy. Critiques that we would be idiots to ignore.

In the Republic, Plato writes that Socrates was debating (well, more so lecturing about) the nature of the ideal state. At one point he asks his associate, Adeimantus, who he would rather have managing a voyage on the sea. Some random passenger, or a well-trained, educated, and experienced captain? After the captain is selected as the obvious choice, Socrates then extends the metaphor to the state, asking why we would let just anybody try to manage the ship of state. He then goes on to propose a totalitarian regime as the ideal state, where the rulers have all been educated in ruling for decades before taking absolute power.

Socrates’ objections to democratic government can be found in other works as well. He praised Spartan monarchy as being well managed, and in several dialogues about the virtues he laments that so few people have them and how even fewer people are capable of understanding that. It is doubtless that he didn’t consider the general population as smart enough to manage things.

This is not the only criticism of the intelligence of the voting population we have from the cradle of democracy. In the later parts of the Republic, Plato suggests that democracy is one of the later stages in the decline of the ideal state. One which is so bad that people ultimately cry out for a dictator to save them from it. This idea was big for Plato, democracy would lead to tyrants.

Aristotle, for his part, listed democracy as the failed version of rule by the multitudes. “Timocracy”, rule by the propertied class or even just a more constitutional form of republican government was the ideal kind of rule by the many, in his mind. He would have seen Athens as an ever-decaying city, moving away from its original timocratic constitution as laid out by Solon.

The idea that democracy is fundamentally flawed even had sponsors in later, more liberal, thinkers. Voltaire, who supported all of the liberal freedoms of speech and religion, told Catharine the Great of Russia that, “Almost nothing great has ever been done in the world except by the genius and firmness of a single man combating the prejudices of the multitude”. His understanding of liberalism was separated almost completely from democracy.

If democracy was so bad then, why do we have it now? Why repeat the mistake?

Now, it is important to understand that the democracy in Athens was much different than the kind we have today Athens was much closer to a direct democracy than most of us would be comfortable with. It was also very restricted; only twenty percent of the population was ever enfranchised at the same time, all of them free white males over the age of 18 with parents who were also citizens.

Certain offices had a minimum wealth requirement. The quorum for the Assembly was 6000 citizens, so to increase attendance slaves with a red-dyed rope would herd people there from the agora, anyone caught with red dye on their clothes was fined. Many posts in the government were held by citizens selected at random to serve in them.

Socrates himself held office in this way once, and witnessed what amounted to an angry mob illegally putting generals to death on his watch.Then, of course, a jury decided by a slim majority to put him to death on flimsy charges. Plato tells us that a mere 30 votes, out of a jury of 500, killed him.

The Death of Socrates, by Jacques-Louis David

The Death of Socrates

But, why do the critiques still matter if we don’t have Athenian Democracy?

Well, the fact that we have a different government than Athens doesn’t mean we don’t share similar problems. Socrates was worried about the problems posed by an uneducated and easily lead population having power over the state. A problem which continues to trouble thinkers like Richard Dawkins.

In the United States voters can be a little less than informed about what they are voting for. Half of American adults don’t know that each state gets two senators, two thirds don’t know what the FDA does. Jimmy Kimmel shows us how people don’t know much about Obamacare,  and the results of the lack of information voters have is demonstrably negative for them. These facts, combined the power of the offices in the hands of the voting public, would make Socrates reach for the hemlock.

What can we do?

There is one good, knowledge, and one evil, ignorance”. Thus spoke the anti-democratic Socrates. Education is the best hope for a democracy. A population which understands the traits needed in a leader, knows the difference between a con artist and a legitimate leader, and knows which path forward to take is the difference between an effective democracy and Socrates’ nightmare. While in our democracy the typical voter doesn’t need to worry about being placed in a position of power by lottery, they do need to understand enough to select the right person to have in power in their stead.

For the Greeks this was an education in grammar, logic, and rhetoric, arithmetic, geometry, music, and astronomy. All things seen as vital to taking part in public life and living the life of a free citizen, it was later the foundation of our modern Liberal Arts education. While the idea that “the best argument against democracy is a five minute conversation with the average voter” may still ring true, improving the education of the average voter weakens that argument.

“Democracy is the worst form of government except all those other forms”, so said Winston Churchill, noted champion of democratic ideals. Any government is only as good as its rulers. In a democracy, this means that the general population must be properly educated to rule themselves. Will the critiques of democracy given from its cradle be acknowledged? Or will we end up like Athens? A democracy in name, but in fact ruled by the unwashed mob?

Rethinking the Concept of “Outliers”: Why Non-Experts are Better at Disruptive Innovation

 

Image result for unique

 

Bestselling author Malcolm Gladwell says it takes 10,000 hours to become expert at something, whether it’s playing the guitar, charting the stars or writing software code. In his landmark book Outliers: The Story of Success, Gladwell looks at why certain people are successful and postulates that, among other things, a combination of circumstances and the ability to become expert at something produces truly exceptional people and ideas.

That’s an interesting thesis on the part of Gladwell, and perhaps true in yesteryear, but in today’s world of growing exponential technologies, I beg to differ.

I believe that people who will come up with creative solutions to solve the world’s biggest problems—  ecological devastation, global warming, the global debt crisis and distribution of dwindling natural resources, to name a few — will NOT be experts in their fields. The real disruptors will be those individuals who are not steeped in one industry of choice, with those coveted 10,000 hours of experience, but instead, individuals who approach challenges with a clean lens, bringing together diverse experiences, knowledge and opportunities.

Three Big Problems With Facebook Activism

Article Image

BY REBECCA TEICH (guest blogger) 

Many of us have fallen victim to it: changing our profile picture to those white equals signs atop a red background because someone said that it meant you support marriage equality, sharing the now-infamous #Kony2012 video that no one ever watched in full, or reposting the Huffington Post article only because the title was too witty and relevant not to.

From warring perspectives on the conflict in Gaza to the now strangely dated hashtag #bringbackourgirls, the viral social issue of the hour floods Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook with content that looks, on the outside, like deeply felt social activism. But for all the pathos running rampant over news feeds and blogging sites, there is little depth to speak of, and virtually no change afoot in the real world. “Slacktivism” online is exactly as deep as the paper-thin knowledge and commitment that fuels it.

Social Gain vs. Social Change

Social media might be said to revolutionize political activism, connecting us to like-minded peers in previously inconceivable ways. The hive is easier to stir than ever before. But these technologies have a much darker side. Facebook activism amplifies harmful underpinnings of capitalism. It drastically alters how we conceive of ourselves. And ironically, Facebook does harm to the social causes offline that we champion online. Why? Social media platforms transform social issues into cultural capital: issues become labels of political alignment and lend an appearance of social awareness attached to a digitally curated self. They become a means to the end of social gain, rather than of social change. 

Through social media, we engage in personal branding. We cultivate a name and image that we can manipulate for social gain: “likes,” retweets, comments, and shares—rather than real change on the ground—become our primary goal. We choose how we desire to be seen by others and then manipulate that artificial “self” in accord with our known, or desired, audience.

No self-presentation through social media can be fully genuine. The prospect of social rewards always taints that decision-making process. Individuals cultivate their amplified selves on such platforms by sharing a given set of signifiers to attach to their “profile” through the sharing of news articles, the act of ‘liking’ pages, or re-posting other people’s writings. There is a hyper-awareness of our image in the eyes of others; whether consciously or not, our profiles become a self-promoting narrative. 

The Perils of “Slacktivism”

And the end-goal of this online “activism” is typically limited to raising awareness. As valuable as it is to widen people’s understanding of the world, no tangible change flows from awareness alone. In addition, many online activist campaigns reveal their true colors when they raise awareness of convenient untruths. 

                           

Last year we saw massive numbers of our Facebook friends change their profile pictures to a red equals sign to support marriage equality, which inadvertently served as mass-advertising for the organization that uses the emblem as its logo (with a few color changes from time to time). What these Facebook users might not care to know is that the Human Rights Committee (HRC), the organization behind the logo, has been subject to devastating criticism from the LGBTQ+ community. The HRC, Derrick Clifton writes, represents a “well-off, able-bodied, gender conforming, non-immigrant and white” audience that ignores problems of racial injustice in the LGBTQ+ community and has “a long history of throwing trans people under the bus.” Few users adopting the logo as their own profile picture had any idea they were promoting not only a political position but also a specific (an deeply flawed) organization. 

Most people jumping at the chance to use the hashtag #bringbackourgirlshad little to no knowledge of the history and politics of the country in which they obliquely advocated foreign intervention. And they no clue that many Nigerians not residing in America are opposed to US intervention due to a history of the negative effects of US foreign aid and meddling there. 

These examples of “slacktivist” rebellion from current events are prevalent within social media, especially (but not exclusively) among the liberal class who claim to advocate for social justice. The irony lies in the fact that when the labels of “rebel” enters popular culture and “trendiness,” it becomes conformity. The idea of rebellion becomes another commodified modifier to one’s online self. “Rebellion” acts as a signifier to denote a sense of global awareness and a self-directed, educated position within the subject matter. Despite the appearance of rebellion in this public display of a seemingly more radical opinion, the individual is doing just the opposite. We are always keenly aware of our audience; often that audience is one of similar opinion, as that audience is comprised of “friends” or “followers.” 

Individuals craft their public selves and accompanying opinions to obtain social reward from a positive response from their followship. Social issues and critique become buzzwords or clickbait. They function as modifiers for that online public self, and lose their rebellious force. Those issues become objects used to accumulate cultural capital in exchange for social reward. In this process it becomes apparent that both the public self and the social issues become commodified to achieve an end reward that’s external to the function and existence of the commodity.

This isn’t to say that all that happens on these platforms is negative. With this new form of media and communication, there are many liberating and redeeming qualities that arise from these platforms, including the newfound ability to bridge conversational gaps and the opportunity for a larger number of people to engage in a conversation and disseminate knowledge and opinions relatively freely. Social media is fast, easy, cheap and, in one sense, democratic. 

Money Troubles

But there is the corrupting matter of money. Facebook shareholders’ bottom line is not how much social change the site inspires. No, social media sites are profit-maximizing corporations, as all those ads and “sponsored” content in our newsfeeds remind us. Social media sites, and even some social movements, should not be misunderstood as fully public. There is censorship involved, either by internal community policing or external policing from the platform to ensure a profit, making sure that voices are in line with an ideology that benefits themselves. In addition, it requires a critical eye both in terms of what we consume and what we put out because anything displayed on social media platforms is going to be mass-consumed. We must be aware of the way we, consciously or subconsciously, manipulate how we are portrayed such that it does not serve to hinder and devalue issues that require selflessness. 

We must also foster awareness for the way these platforms we engage with have profit-based agendas of their own. A blind progression into social media activism is extremely harmful. This new medium is greatly influenced by hegemonic structures that surround it and ought to be the target of critique rather than the foundation of dissemination.

This is not a call to block off social media as an outlet for exchange. Instead, this newfound presence of hijacking the pressing issues of our time for our own personal gain requires of us to reevaluate how we get involved and participate in this new form of interaction. It’s a call to think more critically about the way information is exchanged and portrayed and to redirect activism in a direction that remains truer to its cause. 

How two countries helped drive the recent rise in cryptocurrency prices

Digital currency prices have soared recently, with reports from the past few months showing enormous valuation increases for currencies across the board.

Bitcoin, Ripple, and Ethereum have all experienced exponential growth, with Bitcoin prices rising to $2,588, Ripple reaching a market cap of nearly $10 billion, and Ethereum growing to a total market cap of over $20 billion.

With supply and demand for digital currencies extremely high in both Japan and China, it is no surprise as to why these two countries are helping to fuel the rise in cryptocurrency prices.

Ability to Withdraw in China?

With access to cheap hardware and electricity, China is the prime breeding ground for mining cryptocurencies, with huge mining pools run by exchanges such as BTCC accounting for more than 60% of the bitcoin network’s collective hashrate.

However, the beginning of 2017 saw a governmental crackdown of Chinese-based digital currency exchanges, causing a suspension in all withdrawals, causing the market to suffer heavily with China being one of the top bitcoin markets in terms of trading volume.

Recently, Caixin reported potential changes in the governmental regulatory framework to allow withdrawals last month, specifically mentioning top exchanges OKcoinHuobi, and BTCC. This potential good news has increased consumer confidence in cryptocurrencies, contributing to their associated rise in value.

Japan: Stepping in to Fill the Chinese Void

With cryptocurrency liquidity in China experienced stagnation earlier this year, the Japanese bitcoin market exploded, with demand reaching new heights.

Previously, Japan represented barely 1% of total bitcoin trading volume, but in recent months estimates put this number as high as 6%, with Japan accounting for nearly 55% of total trade volume on some trading days. This increase in JPY bitcoin trading due to the Chinese inability to liquidate has fueled growth in the digital currency market globally.

Distributed ledger technology , bitcoin icon with hexagonal symbol blue background , cryptocurrencies or bitcoin concept , flare light , 3D illustration

In China, the tightly-controlled yuan is another reason why cryptocurrency prices have experienced their unprecedented rise in value. The Chinese government has total control over the yuan’s valuation, traditionally devaluing the yuan to give itself an international trade advantage when the government saw fit.

With the growing amount of private independent wealth in China, cryptocurrency has become viable as an alternative asset class. And cryptocurrencies are being seen as more accessible, less volatile, and increasingly stable, contributing to their recent growth in value.

Meanwhile, the Bank of Japan’s policy of quantitative easing has resulted in very low, and sometimes even negative interest rates, also caused digital currency values to rise.

The Japanese government’s QE policy, intended to spur economic growth, has resulted in significant deflation for the yen, causing a similar decrease in investor confidence in this currency. With no end in sight for this form of Japanese monetary policy, digital currencies have and are currently being used as an alternative asset class, driving their rise in value.

Virtual currencies are quickly being seen as a better asset class by local investors, who fear the volatility of government interference in their specific economies.

Institutional Acceptance of Digital Currency

The rise in digital currency values can also be attributed to institutional acceptance of cryptocurrencies. The recent conclusion of the Global Blockchain Financial Summit in Hangzhou saw intense interest from reputable institutions like Peking University, which is creating an Ethereum center to work on direct application use and protocol improvements in China.

The Royal Chinese Mint, a downtrace unit of the People’s Bank of China (PBoC) dedicated to its electronic banking mission, has even actively promoted the application of blockchain technology, going as far as to allocate resources and developers in experimentation to digitize the yuan.

In Japan, multiple large institutions are now beginning to accept digital currency as a transactional entity, validating its use to the Japanese population as a whole. On the market front,bitFlyer, Japan’s largest exchange, is currently backed by all three of Japan’s megabanks: MUFJ, Mizuho, and SMBC.

On the consumer/retail side, influential electronics retailer Bic Camera has partnered with bitFlyer to begin acceptance of bitcoin at its retail locations. Additionally, Recruit Lifestyle, part of HR conglomerate Recruit Holdings, reported a new partnership with exchange Coincheck to use as part of a point-of-sale implementation program. The acceptance of digital currencies by these reputable groups have helped fuel confidence in digital currencies for daily transactions by the Japanese.

This institutional acceptance of digital currencies by powerful organizations in both China and Japan have allowed cryptocurrencies’ values to rise as a whole.

It is no secret that the Chinese government has taken steps to regulate digital currency transactions, with their scrutiny and initiatives causing a drop in bitcoin prices to around $1,000 just several months ago.

However, the very fact that the PBoC is seeking to regulate this industry simply proves how viable it is as a legitimate transaction entity, with the Chinese government even taking steps to build their own digital currency.

With the announcement of potential withdrawals of bitcoin on the horizon, the PBoC have just completed a trial run of their own digital currency based on blockchain technology, with participation from major institutions such as the Bank of China and the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, as well as China’s first online bank WeBank.

The Japanese government has also taken huge steps in the acceptance of digital currencies as legal forms of tender, with Japan legally classifying bitcoin as a form of payment just on April 1st.

Ahead of China, Japan has already begun licensure procedures for digital currency exchanges, to be operated under the watchful eye of the government’s Financial Services Agency, with market leaders such as bitFlyer already announcing plans to apply for said license, further driving investor confidence in the Japanese market and beyond.

Additionally, the Japanese government announced that the sale of virtual currency under the new Fund Settlement Law would be exempt from the Japanese Consumption Tax (8%), further driving bitcoin growth as an investment vehicle.

The acceptance of virtual currencies by both the Chinese and Japanese governments are driving cryptocurrency growth, with China on the cusp of establishing its own currency, and Japan regulating bitcoin as true legal payment.

How to Regulate Artificial Intelligence

The technology entrepreneur Elon Musk recently urged the nation’s governors to regulate artificial intelligence “before it’s too late.” Mr. Musk insists that artificial intelligence represents an “existential threat to humanity,” an alarmist view that confuses A.I. science with science fiction. Nevertheless, even A.I. researchers like me recognize that there are valid concerns about its impact on weapons, jobs and privacy. It’s natural to ask whether we should develop A.I. at all.

I believe the answer is yes. But shouldn’t we take steps to at least slow down progress on A.I., in the interest of caution? The problem is that if we do so, then nations like China will overtake us. The A.I. horse has left the barn, and our best bet is to attempt to steer it. A.I. should not be weaponized, and any A.I. must have an impregnable “off switch.” Beyond that, we should regulate the tangible impact of A.I. systems (for example, the safety of autonomous vehicles) rather than trying to define and rein in the amorphous and rapidly developing field of A.I.

I propose three rules for artificial intelligence systems that are inspired by, yet develop further, the “three laws of robotics” that the writer Isaac Asimov introduced in 1942: A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm; a robot must obey the orders given it by human beings, except when such orders would conflict with the previous law; and a robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the previous two laws.

These three laws are elegant but ambiguous: What, exactly, constitutes harm when it comes to A.I.? I suggest a more concrete basis for avoiding A.I. harm, based on three rules of my own.

Our common law should be amended so that we can’t claim that our A.I. system did something that we couldn’t understand or anticipate. Simply put, “My A.I. did it” should not excuse illegal behavior.

My second rule is that an A.I. system must clearly disclose that it is not human. As we have seen in the case of bots — computer programs that can engage in increasingly sophisticated dialogue with real people — society needs assurances that A.I. systems are clearly labeled as such. In 2016, a bot known as Jill Watson, which served as a teaching assistant for an online course at Georgia Tech, fooled students into thinking it was human. A more serious example is the widespread use of pro-Trump political bots on social media in the days leading up to the 2016 elections, according to researchers at Oxford.

My rule would ensure that people know when a bot is impersonating someone. We have already seen, for example, @DeepDrumpf — a bot that humorously impersonated Donald Trump on Twitter. A.I. systems don’t just produce fake tweets; they also produce fake news videos. Researchers at the University of Washington recently released a fake video of former President Barack Obama in which he convincingly appeared to be speaking words that had been grafted onto video of him talking about something entirely different.

My third rule is that an A.I. system cannot retain or disclose confidential information without explicit approval from the source of that information. Because of their exceptional ability to automatically elicit, record and analyze information, A.I. systems are in a prime position to acquire confidential information. Think of all the conversations that Amazon Echo — a “smart speaker” present in an increasing number of homes — is privy to, or the information that your child may inadvertently divulge to a toy such as an A.I. Barbie. Even seemingly innocuous housecleaning robots create maps of your home. That is information you want to make sure you control.

My three A.I. rules are, I believe, sound but far from complete. I introduce them here as a starting point for discussion. Whether or not you agree with Mr. Musk’s view about A.I.’s rate of progress and its ultimate impact on humanity (I don’t), it is clear that A.I. is coming. Society needs to get ready.

How Adverse Childhood Experiences Affect the Developing Brain

Article Image

Unfortunately, not all kids have the same experiences growing up. While some have a comfortable, relatively happy home life, others have to deal with situations like poverty, violence, or death of others at a young age.

Dr. Nadine Burke Harris was the first to bring the term “adverse childhood experience” or ACE into the mainstream with her September 2014 TED talk that has received over two million views. She describes how too many stressors (especially those invoked by parents) as a child can have real impacts on the developing brain. Later, those impacts can show up as heart disease or lung cancer:

If you know or work with a child who has gone through challenging times, it’s a natural instinct to want to help them. But perhaps you’re not really sure what to do, what would really help. New research might have some ideas about what’s needed in those situations in order for children to become resilient.

It appears as though kids who have gone through four or more ACEs have a higher likelihood of both physical and mental health problems down the road. But, the child’s “family, social, and community assets” were criticalto helping him or her thrive despite the challenges. Those are some broad categories, but the research specifically mentions factors such as strong maternal mental health and “patient-centered, coordinated medical care” as some of the most important factors in the findings.

Research has also connected a marker of diabetes control with ACEs and levels of parent education. Children whose parents had at least a high school diploma were less likely to have high levels of the diabetes control marker when compared to children whose parents did not complete high school education. It looks as though for many different health factors, how you grow up matters.

3 High-Growth Stocks That Could Soar

It can be nerve-wracking to invest in high-growth stocks. After all, if there are any signs that their growth is slowing, the market tends to punish such stocks with stunning ferocity, often erasing any gains in short order.

At the same time, it goes without saying that investing in high-growth stocks can be exceedingly rewarding. But where can you find the best high-growth stocks our market has to offer?

Rocket launching into the sky

High growth in disguise… for now

Steve Symington (Silicon Labs): Silicon Laboratories’ growth doesn’t look all that impressive at first glance. After all, the fabless semiconductor specialist’s revenue last quarter climbed a modest 8.7% year over year to just over $190 million. But if you look closer, one key segment should be the key to accelerated gains in the coming years.

More specifically, note Silicon Labs’ Internet of Things (IoT) revenue skyrocketed 27% year over year last quarter to $98 million, and comprised more than half of total sales for the first time in company history. To be fair, Silicon Labs’ Infrastructure segment revenue also climbed 7% to $38 million. But holding back its overall growth were declines of 4% in broadcast revenue to $37 million, and a 10% drop in access business revenue to $17 million.

It should come as no surprise, then, that Silicon Labs has gone to great lengths in recent years to foster its faster-growing IoT segment through both organic investments and strategic acquisitions.

“Our strategy is coming together as we focus on core strategic growth drivers and capture share in target markets,” elaborated Silicon Labs’ CEO Tyson Tuttle.

Over the long term as Silicon Labs’ Internet of Things solutions continue to gain ground, the pace of IoT growth relative to its other segments will only become more pronounced. For investors who buy before that happens — and even with shares up a healthy 18% year to date as of this writing — I think Silicon Labs is a compelling high-growth stock that could extend its winning streak in the coming years.

 

NIC specializes in digital government services, based on the company’s service templates but hand-tailored to each contract’s specifications. Next time you drop by your state’s web portals to renew your driver’s license, pay small business taxes, or apply for a professional license, chances are high that NIC is doing much of the digital work behind the scenes.

The future is online, even when it comes to government operations, so NIC serves a healthy and expanding market segment. The company faces plenty of competition on the nitty-gritty agency level, but stands alone in offering a one-stop shop for all of your governmental data management needs.

So the business model is pointed straight at an attractive long-term growth opportunity, and is already delivering big results. NIC’s annual sales have increased by 36% over the last four years while free cash flows soared 164% higher.

The stock is selling at a discount right now, having fallen nearly 33% year to date. A quick discounted cash flow checkup shows that the stock should be worth more than $20 per share today, but shares are trading at just $16.05 as of this writing. That includes a 9% drop in a single day late last month, as analysts worried about NIC potentially losing a lucrative contract with the state of Texas.

This is not NIC’s first rodeo. The company is likely to renew its Texas deal before it expires in August of 2018, and even a lost agreement wouldn’t be the end of the world.

The NIC stock is set up for a strong short-term bounce and impressive long-term gains. There’s even a good-looking 2% dividend yield to pocket while you wait for the big multi-year returns.

What’s not to love?

Image result for amazon

One trend that’s unlikely to abate is the connected home. Some connected devices, like Amazon‘s Echo smart speaker, are nearing mainstream status, which should help drive demand for all manner of smart devices, from security systems to connected light bulbs.

Alarm.com provides a cloud-based platform to manage all of this complexity. The company’s main focus is security — it partners with thousands of service providers across the country to handle installation and ongoing support instead of selling its services directly. Its platform works with a wide variety of devices, including security cameras, smart light bulbs and outlets, thermostats, garage door systems, smart locks, sprinkler systems, and security panels.

The company is growing quickly, with revenue jumping by 25% last year. Alarm.com is also profitable, producing an operating margin of 5.4% in 2016. Margins have the potential to soar as Alarm.com grows larger, especially since it doesn’t have the burden of a massive sales operation selling directly to customers.

Alarm.com stock is not cheap, trading for roughly 6.3 times sales and well over 100 times earnings. But if the company can keep growing sales at a brisk pace and eventually begin expanding its margins, becoming the standard for home security and the connected home along the way, the stock could be worth far more down the road.