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Category Archives: Big Tech

Big tech, regulators and conservationists must unite to tackle online wildlife trade – The Conversation CA

Posted: January 14, 2022 at 8:39 pm

Every month, Facebook attracts 2.89 billion active users. Every minute there are hundreds of thousands of comments and status updates. Each could be discussing anything, including extremist views, or the sale of endangered wildlife across continents.

Social media platforms have enabled wildlife traders to connect as never before. Some operate legally, within the boundaries of international laws. Others are less scrupulous. Illegal traders use private chats and groups to bypass middlemen and exchange information on how to evade law enforcement. They use the ecosystem of public and private channels on social media platforms to sell wildlife as pets or luxury artefacts. Public posts enable traders to connect with a potentially vast global customer base, but arrangements for payments and shipping, and conversations about what else may be available, can be quickly directed to private messaging services.

Some platforms have introduced strong community standards prohibiting attempts to buy or sell endangered wildlife and private sales of live animals. But it takes only seconds to find, for example, endangered parrots for sale. Dig a little deeper and you can find posts featuring wholesale quantities of parrots captured from the wild for export, in what would be clear violations of international laws.

Tackling this is critical: the wildlife trade poses a major threat to global biodiversity. It can also contribute to the spread of infectious zoonotic (passed from animal to human) diseases.

In a recent study published in the journal Conservation Biology, we examined the online behaviour of wildlife traders based in West Africa. We wanted to explore how researchers and moderators can use information scattered across different parts of social media platforms to detect posts selling wild birds.

Some of the trade we studied is permitted under international agreements. But its scale and scope, which is discussed in a forthcoming parallel study, has conservationists concerned. Trade in wild parrots from West Africa has also been linked to the global spread of infectious diseases. Some of the exporting countries in this study, Mali, Cte d'Ivoire and Senegal among them, are working to contain highly pathogenic strains of avian influenza.

Working with ornithologists, conservationists and legal analysts, we were able to identify over 80 different species in trade, some of which are highly threatened and prohibited from commercial trade under international law. Species ranged from parrots and hornbills to songbirds and doves.

We detected 400 social media posts made by known bird traders featuring or promoting birds in trade.

The majority (80%) did not contain explicit text that could be used to determine that the posts were intended to facilitate the sale of wildlife, violating platform community standards.

The application of simple algorithms searching for words such as for sale, or the names of target species, would help detect some of this activity. But admins in some closed Facebook groups have advised their members to avoid using certain key words. This means a significant amount of trade would pass under the radar of key word algorithms.

Read more: Reptiles: one in three species traded online and 75% aren't protected by international law

However, our research found that the triangulation of information available elsewhere both within and beyond social media platforms could be used to make powerful inferences about how posts facilitate trade, violate platform standards and signpost illicit activity. Such information may be found in elements such as images, profile descriptions or comments. This is why its important that experts be involved in monitoring social media for potentially illegal trade: they have the knowledge to identify the species involved and contextualise the activity within international and domestic regulations.

Different wildlife products are bought and sold in different locations online and in different ways. There is no one size fits all solution for detecting wildlife traded online, let alone all illicit and harmful goods.

Read more: Five reasons people buy illegal wildlife products and how to stop them

Our study, however, establishes a framework for thinking about how different sectors of illicit or harmful activity can be understood and monitored and moderated more effectively. Careful analyses, led by experts in specific fields, can help in the design of algorithms and approaches to moderation tailored to the situation.

Our study happened against the backdrop of major global discussions about how best to regulate social media platforms. New regulatory legislation is being planned or coming into play in major economies including China, the US, the EU, Australia and the UK, aimed at cajoling and coercing big tech to do more to protect users from harmful content.

Regulators are mindful of the need to balance the harms and benefits of the brave new world ushered in by social media. Designing moderation practices that make a meaningful impact on the vast amount of wildlife traded on the internet is no trivial undertaking. But it is clear that greater action is needed.

We propose that the solutions lie with tech firms working closely with subject matter experts to design moderation practices tailored to the trade in different species across regions. Regulators, tasked with determining if tech firms are fulfilling their duty of care (as proposed in the UKs draft Online Safety Bill), should similarly engage with subject matter experts to ensure that tech firms approaches are fit for purpose.

Carefully designed algorithms that can intelligently triangulate across multiple data sources will be part of the solution. Manual analysis will also be critical. In our study, knowing which species were in trade and the relevant local legislation was critical for understanding legality. But such tasks lie beyond the abilities of artificial intelligence and machine learning.

Collaborations and partnerships between tech firms and subject matter experts remain in their infancy. But cleverly designed legislation, savvy regulators and investment from tech firms are needed to drive solutions forward at pace.

Alisa Davies, a wildlife trade specialist at the World Parrot Trust, contributed to this article and was a co-author of the research it is based on.

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Big tech, regulators and conservationists must unite to tackle online wildlife trade - The Conversation CA

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The Big Tech Show: Learning lessons from Theranos – is it okay for startups to fake it until they make it? – Independent.ie

Posted: at 8:39 pm

A few years ago, an ambitious young entrepreneur made a big claim: she was developing technology that could diagnose illnesses from a drop of blood.

lizabeth Holmes of Theranos dazzled investors with her pitch, dressing up like Steve Jobs and talking a perfect game.

As we now know, there was no ground-breaking technology. Holmes, who was faking it rather than making it, has now been convicted on several counts of fraud.

The episode, which captured the imagination of the world, has shone the spotlight on a darker side of startup ethics how far can you stretch your startups claims of potential when looking for money? Is it still okay to fake it until you make it?

Joining Adrian to compare stories and discuss the issue is seasoned startup advisor Donal Cahalane.

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Why Big Tech’s best and brightest are jumping ship to web3 – Yahoo News

Posted: at 8:39 pm

For something that doesnt exist yet, web3 sure is getting a lot of people riled up.

Its on the tip of tongues these days in Silicon Valley. Tech scions are fighting about web3 on social media. Investors last year shoveled $30 billion into startups premised on it. And bright engineers are leaving cushy jobs at companies such as Facebook to get in early.

The very idea that theres a new frontier on the internet even has people paying millions of dollars for digital tokens themed around cartoon apes.

But so far, web3 has been more like a buzzword thats designed more to confuse than to illuminate, and its causing something like an identity crisis for the tech industry with implications for the rest of us.

Its short for Web 3.0. Its sometimes spelled with a capital W, but usually not.

The thinking goes that Web 1.0 was the first World Wide Web that took off in popularity through web browsers in the 1990s, and that Web 2.0 followed a decade later with the rise of mega platforms like Google and Facebook.

Most mentions of web3 treat it as an umbrella term, a vision of the future of the internet where ownership and power are more widely distributed. This vision is based on transparent digital ledgers known as blockchains (the technology that underpins cryptocurrencies), and it supposes that Big Tech will be rivaled by more democratic forms of internet governance where you, the user, will get a say maybe even a vote in big decisions about how platforms run.

But that definition strikes many people as pretty vague.

Tech magnate Elon Musk, the worlds wealthiest person, was recently at a loss when he tried to figure out what web3 was. Seems more marketing buzzword than reality right now, he wrote on Twitter last month.

In short, many technologists (not to mention plenty of users) worry that a handful of tech CEOs have a lot of power. The likes of YouTube, Instagram and Twitter are the hosts for a huge proportion of online content, including political speech, and those companies get to decide who gets banned. They also hoard huge amounts of data and take an increasing share of Silicon Valleys revenue.

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Its a situation that no one except maybe stockholders is really happy about, and it wasnt supposed to be this way.

We are creating a world where anyone, anywhere may express his or her beliefs, no matter how singular, without fear of being coerced into silence or conformity, activist John Perry Barlow wrote in his 1996 Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace.

Software engineers have been toying for years with alternatives. Think of the standardized, open nature of email, but for social media. So far, though, services like Mastodon, which is similar to Twitter but without a central server, havent caught fire. Twitter is tinkering with its own distributed social media project called Bluesky.

If web3 is unproved, why the optimism?

The cause of the optimism is the development of blockchain technology and cryptocurrencies. Bitcoin, Ethereum and other digital forms of money are the most concrete examples that exist of an all-online, no-one-in-charge, blockchain-based system.

And as the perceived value of those coins took off last year, with the total value of the market passing $3 trillion in November, so has the expectation that the decentralized model can be applied to other areas of online life. If Bitcoin can work, so the thinking goes, why not other blockchain-based financial products like insurance or loans?

Crypto is not only the future of finance but, as with the internet in the early days, is poised to transform all aspects of our lives, Andreessen Horowitz, a venture capital firm thats betting big on web3, said last year.

The firm defines web3 as the internet owned by the builders and users, orchestrated with tokens. And a token, in this sense, is like a deed of ownership for a small piece of the internet, whether thats an object in a video game or anything someone else might value, like art.

Maybe well all soon own lots of tokens, each one for something different and all rising in value over time, or so the thinking goes.

Thats what web3 evangelists say. But one high-profile tech founder recently threw cold water on all the preaching.

You dont own web3, Jack Dorsey, co-founder of companies Twitter and Block, tweeted last month. Instead, he said, the investor class will own it, as usual. It will never escape their incentives. Its ultimately a centralized entity with a different label.

Dorsey, who days earlier had been Exhibit A in a Wall Street Journal column about web3 revolutionaries, said in a burst of tweets that he had never been a part of web3 and he called for massive investment in free, open-source software. (Dorsey is nevertheless a Bitcoin booster who has said it may help to deliver world peace.)

His posts angered a few people. Marc Andreessen of Andreessen Horowitz blocked Dorsey on Twitter, causing a mini soap opera in the tech world.

But the early winners of web3 may in fact be big businesses. Non-fungible tokens that people are buying and selling as art including those cartoon ape tokens need to be traded in a marketplace somewhere, and OpenSea, one such marketplace, was recently valued at $13.3 billion. (Andreessen Horowitz is an OpenSea investor.)

A number of venture capital firms now specialize in crypto investments, and they put more money into cryptocurrency and blockchain startups last year than they ever had before, according to estimates from Crunchbase and Pitchbook, two research firms.

One venture capital firm, Coinbase Ventures, affiliated with cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase, made 100 different investments last year, according to Crunchbase. The startups include an Indonesian website for buying cryptocurrency and an online marketplace for buying video clips of gaming streamers. Like startups generally, most are just beginning to explore business models.

Remember those tokens were all reputedly going to have with web3? Each of those might come with voting rights.

The best example so far is a group that formed in November with the idea of crowdsourcing a pot of money to buy a rare copy of the U.S. Constitution at auction. The term for this kind of group is decentralized autonomous organization (DAO), and the group was called Constitution DAO. That off-the-wall caper failed, but if the group had succeeded, its plan was to vote on a plan to publicly display the document.

Another recently formed DAO plans to buy a golf course, with contributors getting voting rights as in a country club.

The appeal of web3 the money or the idealistic talk, or both is big enough that top engineers are jumping ship from so-called web2 companies.

Two of Facebooks top engineers on its blockchain and digital currency project left the company to join Andreessen Horowitzs crypto team in October, CNBC reported. They cited the investment firms track record of advancing the entire crypto ecosystem a more expansive mission than they had at Facebook. And last month, a vice president at Facebooks parent company Meta left for OpenSea.

Its not exactly a brain drain, but the pace seems to be picking up.

The future is always uncertain, but the tech industry is generally on the leading edge and the buzz around crypto is unmistakable, whether its a bubble or not.

Benedict Evans, a London-based tech investor, wrote this month that the crypto world is characterized by both irrational, religious hype and straw-man attacks. And he said it has helped to shift the center of gravity in tech away from, say, smartphones or social media.

Crypto is so big and potentially important, and yet so vague and so early, that we cant even agree what to call it, he said, without using the term web3.

There are other hot tech sectors including gaming, autonomous cars and virtual reality, Evans said but theres likely little that could cool off web3 hype in the immediate future without a regulatory intervention from Washington or elsewhere. Other countries, including China, have cracked down on Bitcoin mining, for example.

Still, a few more actual products would help the cause of web3 proponents.

So far: mostly debate. The Biden administration is weighing cryptocurrency regulations, and in December, Congress held hearings on possible regulation of cryptocurrencies and by extension, all the potential tokens of web3.

What do you say to the folks that say this doesnt seem like a new financial system per se but an expansion of the old one? asked Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y.

One of last weeks witnesses, Brian Brooks, was a former Trump administration official whos now CEO of blockchain tech company Bitfury. And other former government officials are being snapped up by none other than Andreessen Horowitz as part of a lobbying blitz to rewrite regulations around cryptocurrency.

Andreessen Horowitz is also predicting voters may favor pro-crypto candidates. Web3 has emerged as a major political force, it said last month, based on one survey it paid for.

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TCS, Infosys, WiproIndias big tech giants hire 51,000 in Q3 alone – Times Now

Posted: at 8:39 pm

TCS, Infosys, WiproIndias big tech giants hire 51,000 in Q3 alone  |  Photo Credit: iStock Images

Three of India's largest IT companies TCS, Infosys, and Wiproannounced their December quarter (Q4FY22) results on Wednesday. All three reported healthy jump in financials propelled by business growth across geographies and segments and new deal wins.

However, high levels of attrition, christened as the Great Churn or the Great Resignation in the post-Covid setting, continue to plague the industry amid heavy demand for tech talent in an all-pervasive digital transformation push.

Out of the three companies that announced their results for the quarter ended December 31, 2021, Salil Parekhs Infosys seemed to be at the receiving end of the great resignation, witnessing an attrition rate of 25.5% followed by Wipro at 22.7% while TCS managed 15.3%. To mitigate the situation, the three companies collectively hired 50,994 employees during Q3.

TCS hired 28,238 new employees during the period, Infosys hired 12,450 and Wipro added 10,306 new faces to its workforce.

Jobs & promotioms galore

TCS: TCS said it crossed a new milestone in its diversity journey in Q3, with the number of women in its workforce crossing 200,000. The company added 28,238 employees on a net basis, taking the total number of employees to 556,986 as on December 31, 2021.

Milind Lakkad, TCS, Chief HR Officer said the company also hired 34,000 freshers in Q3 in addition to 43,000 rookies it hired in H1more than the companys full-year fresher hiring numbers in prior years. It also gave promotions to 1.1 lakh workers during the period with plans for 40,000 in Q4

On the talent retention side, we continue to be the industry benchmark. By continuing to invest in our people, giving preference to internal candidates for the most exciting open positions, providing global deployment opportunities, fast track career paths linked to learning, and promotions to over 110,000 employees, we have been able to retain our best talent and overcome supply-side challenges, said Lakkad.

Infosys: Indias second-largest IT company plans to hire 55,000 freshers for FY22 as part of its global graduate hiring program.

Its total headcount as of December 2021 was 2,92,067 as compared to 2,79,617 in the previous quarter and 2,49,312 as of December 2020.

Wipro: At 22.7%, the company reported a spike in attrition as compared to 20.5% and 15.5% witnessed in second and first quarters. However, the company added 10,306 employees during Q3, taking its overall headcount to 231,671 employees. Over the last year, Wipro has added 41,363 employees to its headcount on a net basis. During the quarter, 10,306 new employees were hired by the company.

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What Oracle’s acquisition of Cerner could mean for big tech in health – Mobihealth News

Posted: December 23, 2021 at 10:32 pm

Earlier this week enterprise software giant Oracle shocked the healthcare IT world when it announced its plans to buy one of the leading EHR systems Cerner for $28.3 billion. Thenews puts Oracle on the map as a potential major player in the health technology world.

This was a deal that no one saw coming. Beyond that, I would say it puts Oracle quietly in the healthcare tech space for the first time, Paddy Padmanabhan, CEO of Damo Consulting, told HIMSSTV.

Oracle has a presence through its ER pay products and its database offerings, and so on, but this is the first time they are getting into the clinical software space.And they are doing that with the biggest acquisition by far that they have done, but also the biggest acquisition of this year in tech, and in general one of the biggest acquisitions weve seen in the tech space in sometime.

Its not the first time big tech has entered the healthcare arena. Over the last several years the FANNG companies have invested in the space. For example, Google developed an EHR search tool called Care Studios, Amazon began to offervirtual care services and Appledeveloped an FDA-clearedECG algorithm for its Watch.

There is a new player in town, and that player has announced their presence in a very loud and compelling way. But lets also not forget that big tech has had its own set of challenges in the last year.

"A couple of them actually took a step back, and the most obvious one is Google, where David Feinberg used to work before taking on the role of CEO at Cerner.And Google effectively shut down its healthcare business.There isnt a healthcare business. Apple also had some setbacks in the primary care business they were launching, Padmanabhan said.

"Amazon is pressing forward.They seem to have consolidated all of their healthcare initiatives under one leader. They are getting directly into the primary care space, which is something that other tech firms have avoided. That is getting into the healthcare business, because selling healthcare technology and selling healthcare services are two entirely different things. Microsoft has had the most steady growth, if you look at all of these tech firms.

The news also brings to mind another major big tech acquisition of a healthcare company.

It has already happened and will continue. Microsofts acquisition of Nuance is one example, Lee Shapiro, cofounder and managing partner at 7wireVentures, wrote in an email to MobiHealthNews.

Electronic health records and billing systems are pervasive in the industry, so the next frontier will be on leveraging the data that comes from these systems to improve health. Oracle, with its experience in life sciences, is well situated to help drive some of these learnings. There are other big-tech players that have also made progress in healthcare that I expect will also be on the acquisition trail.

There is also a question of this acquisition making Oracle a competitor to Nuance, a voice recognition and artificial intelligence technology. In the acquisition announcement, Larry Ellison, Oracles chief technology officer, brought up potential new capabilities in voice recognition.

With this acquisition, Oracles corporate mission expands to assume the responsibility to provide our overworked medical professionals with a new generation of easier-to-use digital tools that enable access to information via a hands-free voice interface to secure cloud applications, Ellison said in the press release announcing the news.

This new generation of medical information systems promises to lower the administrative workload burdening our medical professionals, improve patient privacy and outcomes, and lower overall healthcare costs.

However, voice recognition isnt something often associated with Oracle.

When we talk about voice recognition technology, Oracle is not the first name that comes to mind. There will be many questions that come up in the months to unfold, Padmanabhan said.

There are still a lot of unknowns about what the acquisition will mean for the industry, but in the meantime the other major tech players will be watching.

Now they are going to have to contend with this really big player, and one that has quite a dominant position through just one single transaction, Padmanabhan said. So it is going to put everyone on notice to say the least.

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What the top crypto execs predict for the industry in 2022: Regulation and a Big Tech ‘brain drain’ – CNBC

Posted: at 10:32 pm

Sam Bankman-Fried, CEO of cryptocurrency exchange FTX, at the Bitcoin 2021 conference in Miami, Florida, on June 5, 2021.

Eva Marie Uzcategui | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Cryptocurrencies have had yet another wild year.

Bitcoin, the world's largest digital asset, has seen a roughly 65% gain since January with some ten to twenty percent swings in between. It brought in a crop of new, individual investors along the way as payment giants like PayPal started letting users trade crypto. More billionaires and institutional investors dove in to help legitimize the asset class.

The industry now sprawls well beyond bitcoin. NFTs, blockchain-based videogames and "Web3" are top of executives' minds heading into next year. Regulation remains as the biggest uncertainty.

Here's a look at what some of the industry's most influential executives had to say.

The 29-year-old founder and CEO told CNBC he doesn't expect legislative action to be the immediate answer for "regulatory clarity." Especially since it's "pretty hard right now to get things through Congress."

It's just as likely to be cobbled together from a series of statements, enforcement actions, and "other indications" to set the guardrails," Bankman-Fried said.

The CEO is still bullish on Solana as an alternative to Ethereum. But it's possible that a new blockchain pops up as the "Holy Grail" that would eventually be able to host a million transactions per second. Right now, he said there are "very few even trying to get that point."

"There will be substantial fleshing out of the crypto regulatory systems over the next few years."

"Most banks have effectively decided internally that they will be entering the crypto ecosystem. But how and when they do it is going to depend a lot on the details of regulatory structure."

"There's enormous worry about stablecoins right now. But it's pretty straightforward to address. You have attestations, or you have an audit from a regulator."

"The thing that people are worried about with stablecoins is are they stable? If you can address that, you've addressed most of the worries about it from a customer protection and a systemic risk perspective. It's not that hard to do. So I'm cautiously optimistic that that's where we're going."

Jeremy Allaire, Co-Founder and CEO, Circle

David A. Grogan | CNBC

The CEO of Circle is calling for more use of dollar-pegged cryptocurrencies, or stablecoins, by e-commerce firms, consumers and financial institutions. Circle, which is set to go public via SPAC, operates its own stablecoin called USDC.

Allaire expects to see more institutional adoption and celebrity trendsetters lending their brands to crypto through NFTs. DAOs, which rely on crowdfunding, may even "challenge venture capital investors on some of the largest and hottest deals in crypto," he said.

The biggest threat? "Incoherent and inconsistent, hastily formed regulations and policy," Allaire said.

"Even in an environment where the Fed raises interest rates, investors and businesses will be hungry for the high-yield opportunities offered through digital assets. So expect to see institutional adoption of digital assets balloon directly, through ETFs, or custom yield-generating products."

"There is bipartisan recognition that blockchain and crypto technologies represent a U.S. competitive advantage, especially if properly regulated, so new legislation and laws will come quicker than many people expect."

"In 2022 stablecoin adoption will continue its upward trajectory. We believe that dollars on the internet will soon be as efficient and widely available as text messages and email."

Brian Brooks, chief executive officer of Bitfury Group Ltd., speaks during a House Financial Services Committee hearing in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday, Dec. 8, 2021.

Stefani Reynolds | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Brian Brooks, the former Acting Comptroller of the Currency, said there's now consensus among lawmakers in Washington that crypto is here to stay. He expects more blockbuster funding rounds after a record 2021, continued mainstream understanding of the crypto space.

For example, not all "crypto" are currencies, or meant to act like currencies, he said.

"Retail adoption is there and will continue to accelerate, but for those established Wall Street firms and other financial services companies that are not already involved in the crypto ecosystem, it is a matter of "when" not "if".

"The need for clear regulatory action that creates a sustainable framework to allow crypto and Web 3 to grow in the United States will reach its tipping point."

"The level of activity and innovation occurring in the space is too great to ignore, as is the risk to American competitiveness in technology and capital markets."

Chad Cascarilla, CEO of Paxos.

Adam Jeffery | CNBC

Paxos is the company powering PayPal's crypto offering behind the scenes. CEO Charles Cascarilla also expects more action in the stablecoin market. His company offers its own dollar-pegged coin, USDP. The CEO is one of many warning that the U.S. has a lot to lose if it gets regulation wrong.

"Big tech and finance players like Venmo, Interactive Brokers and Mercado Libre entered crypto in 2021. There will be even more and bigger players joining the onslaught next year."

"2022 is the year of the stablecoin. Consumer wallets enabled stablecoins for the first time this year. Money is a product and it needs to be updated for how people live today. Regulated stablecoins like USDP are the answer."

"Regulatory clarity, consistency and certainty will foster Safe blockchain innovation in the US. This technology presents many opportunities for American market primacy in the long-term if we get this right, and there are many risks if we get it wrong."

This year marked an industry milestone of the first futures-based bitcoin ETF. But Grayscale and others in the industry are looking to take that a step further.

It's looking to convert the world's largest bitcoin trust, GBTC, into an ETF and CEO Michael Sonnenshein is optimistic for an approval in 2022. He's also seeing investor interest beyond bitcoin, and "tension" between Big Tech and start-ups.

"We're entering into 2022 without a [spot] Bitcoin ETF, but believe that in the coming year the SEC and other regulators will continue to dig in on this issue. We remain optimistic that they will allow for an even playing field -- and give investors the optionality between both spot and futures-based ETF products for getting exposure."

"This was certainly a year when we thought people were diversifying beyond Bitcoin and Ether. We're starting to see that investors are going to specific protocols and projects, and an increasing mindshare among investors that the universe of crypto assets is only broadening."

"There will be an expanded conversation around the tension between some of these centralized platforms that are today managed by social media and e-commerce giants, and established tech companies versus some of these up and coming decentralized platforms."

Robinhood started as a stock-trading start-up. But in its second quarter as a public company, it got more than half of total revenue from crypto trades. Of that, more than 60% came from Dogecoin transactions. As the asset class becomes more important to the company's bottom line, executives have said they're moving slowly on adding new assets to the platform, until there's more regulatory clarity.

"2021 was the year crypto went mainstream."

"Whether through NFTs or their token of choice, more people engaged in crypto in what was a breakout year."

"Crypto has long had a HODL mentality, and that extended to NFTs in 2021 where JPGs replaced photos all across social media. The infrastructure investment from 2017 is ready for primetime, with multiple layer L1s and L2 platforms flourishing in 2021. With more crypto enthusiasts to cater to, 2022 will see companies focus more on design and user experience to ease that transition from web 2 to web 3, and we'll continue to see major brands continuing to get involved."

If you've ever perused crypto Twitter, you probably know "Pomp." With more than 1 million followers, the investor is known for his bullish calls on bitcoin and said the asset has transitioned from a contrarian idea, to a "consensus idea on Wall Street in 2021." He expects more adoption next year from legacy companies buying bitcoin for their balance sheets, and eventually building dedicated business units.

Pompliano also highlighted moves in the bitcoin mining industry after China made the activity illegal, bitcoin's potential for global payments, and a "brain drain" underway from Big Tech and Wall Street.

"Bitcoin mining transitioned from a largely international activity to a US-centric activity in 2021. It would not surprise me to see new all-time highs in the bitcoin hash rate in 2022, along with continued market share growth for the US as a whole, along with Texas as a single state."

"We saw a major social media platform, Twitter, embrace the Lightning Network for payments in 2021 via Strike's API (I'm an investor). We also saw a nation state, El Salvador, embrace the Lightning Network for payments. We should expect multiple large Fortune 500 companies to embrace the Lightning Network in 2022 for payments."

"The brain drain from legacy technology and finance industry will continue. Young people, and increasingly the most skilled people, want to focus their talents on the industry where they can have the greatest impact. Crypto has been growing at an incredible rate, both in terms of new jobs, new companies, funding, economic value created, etc. This transition has only begun and will likely accelerate in 2022."

While this was a busy year for the crypto trade association in DC, "2022 is going to be way busier," Bond said. She also expects the SEC to come out with more enforcement actions.

"The Biden administration has been in office for a year. We're now presented with a window where something can get done on a bipartisan basis. And that will advance the industry and it will provide guardrails for market integrity and consumer protection."

"While final legislation may not actually take place, take effect in 2022. I think the direction of travel is going to be clear, and what we're doing in 2022 is setting the stage for 2023, 2024 and beyond."

"The balance is going to be one finding a policy framework in which the industry can flourish and the U.S. can benefit where consumers can also be protected."

The crypto exchange, founded by Tyler and Cameron Winklevoss, climbed to a $7 billion valuation this year and is among the dozens with a bitcoin ETF application in the works. Its COO, Noah Perlman, sees crypto payments going mainstream, more non-tech companies embracing the Metaverse, and more women jumping into a male-dominated market.

"More retail companies with household names will expand their crypto offerings, further legitimizing digital currencies as a form of payment and as an asset. Credit card companies such as Mastercard and Visa that offer crypto rewards will become more prevalent, which will make investing in digital assets as easy as swiping your card at a store."

"It's no surprise to see tech giants Apple, Meta, Snap, Alphabet, and Microsoft build out their Metatverse ecosystem, but we expect this trend will target other industries as we've seen with Nike's acquisition of RTFKT and Adidas launching an NFT collection called "Into the Metaverse".

"The profile of the typical crypto investor will change significantly in 2022. Previously, the typical crypto investor was a man in his 30s making more than $100,000 per year. We already saw some significant demographic shifts in the past year. According to Gemini's 2021 State of the US Crypto Report, 63 percent of U.S. adults are crypto-curious, meaning they don't yet own crypto but report interest in learning more or holding digital assets soon."

"We'll see an approval for a spot bitcoin ETF most likely in H1."

Ethereum has had a break-out year but new, alternative blockchains are popping up as platforms to build NFTs and other apps. Avalanche is among the new challengers to Ethereum. The president of Ava Labs, a former hedge fund trader, predicts a shake out of "speculative" assets, and a "brain drain" as software developers leave Big Tech in search of next wave of computing. He also expects bitcoin's market dominance to keep declining.

"We will continue to see inflows into smart contract platforms, DeFi, Gaming and metaverse. The winners will be the ones with strong growth of users, use cases and transaction activity. Speculative assets with no network effects will be the losers."

"BTC still has strong interest from both institutional and retail investors. Let's not forget that it has had a 10 year lead time compared to other platforms so it still has the biggest brand name out there. On the other hand, it's dominance over the crypto market is declining and will continue to do so."

"While these smart contracts platforms do compete with each other for developers, the real competition is with traditional web 2.0 companies like Google and Facebook. We are seeing tremendous interest from web 2.0 developers who want to now build on decentralized systems because they find web 3.0 to be a lot more creative and exciting."

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What the top crypto execs predict for the industry in 2022: Regulation and a Big Tech 'brain drain' - CNBC

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We’re living in an age of big tech promises and small results – Fast Company

Posted: at 10:32 pm

We live in an era of big promises but results that fall far short of expectations. Take the failed construction startup Katerra. Founded in 2015, the company claimed it would use the approaches of digital and mass production industries, including glued and laminated mass timber products and modular design, to disrupt the construction industry, long seen as a bastion of backward, inefficient craft labor. Many people enthusiastically bought into this vision. Over six years, the company raised $3 billion, including $2 billion from Japanese telecom and investment giant SoftBank Group.

In 2021, the global construction industry had a market size of about $11.5 trillion. Any company that truly disrupted and claimed a large chunk of such a huge market would be one of the largest winners in industrial history. But Katerra was not to be that company. It failed for many reasons, including because it hubristically underestimated the complexity of construction. It went belly-up in June 2021.

Journalism and popular culture today are full of similarly large promises around a slew of other emerging technologies, including artificial intelligence, self-driving vehicles, the sharing economy and delivery apps, AI for healthcare, fusion energy, nanotechnology, bio-electronics of the Theranos kind, virtual reality, augmented reality, commercial drones, domestic robots, blockchain, the Internet of Things, asteroid mining, and smart homes. Yet, so far at least, the hype around these technologies far outweighs the creation of successful products and services and growing markets for them.

There is plenty of countervailing evidence that should lead us to question the dramatic claims made of these technologies and the health of an economy so deeply and highly invested in the tech sector. Yet the many setbacks and outright failures rarely lead industry leaders and boosters to reflect, instead of merely upping the promises.

Its now very well known among those who follow the economics of technology that the United States and other industrial nations have experienced pronounced low productivity growth since 2004, precisely the period during which we have heard some of the most exaggerated claims about some of the technologies listed above. Moreover, one of us (Funk) has published several articles demonstrating a gap between hype and reality: One such piece, for example, showed that artificial intelligence technologies are unlikely to produce significant productivity changes soon and will more likely give birth to slow incremental improvements over decades. Another showed that annual and cumulative losses for todays startups are far higher than those of previous decades, suggesting big problems in venture capital. If these new technologies are so great, why cant they make money?

More recently, however, we have found that the gap between promises and reality become even clearer when we compare much-hyped technologies of the past decade to new technologies of previous decades that did lead to significant change. To show just how ridiculous recent claims are, we gathered data on the revenues of new technologies from previous decades, with an emphasis on new ones that are purportedly behind the so-called digital transformation of companies, factories, homes, and roads. We find a fairly radical disconnect between newer technologies and what came before.

Most observers would consider 1950s computing and their electronic components, transistors, and integrated circuits to represent the beginning of the digital transformation. Mainframe computers began to have an impact in the 1950s and 1960s, minicomputers and robots in the 1960s and 1970s, and personal computers in the 1970s and 1980s, with packaged software for them not far behind. Behind these new computers were rapid improvements in microprocessors (from the late 1960s), memory (from the early 1970s), and graphic processors (from the early 1980s). These changes developed enormous markets. In 1989, for example, 21 million PCs were sold at an average of about $3,000 each for a total market of $63 billion ($132 billion in 2020 dollars).

Bigger changes began to occur in the 1990s as networking equipment enabled these computers to be connected both within and between companies, largely based on rapid improvements in fiber optics. The commercial internet was born. Construction of the internet accelerated, giving us e-commerce, enterprise software such as customer relationship management and manufacturing resource planning, and widespread use of mobile phones.

These changes also quickly led to large markets. E-commerce, internet hardware, and software, and mobile service revenues had reached $446 billion, $315 billion, $282 billion, and $230 billion respectively by 2000 (1998 for mobile services), all in 2020 dollars to simplify comparisons to subsequent decades. Internet-connected personal computers also likely led to significant economic growth, with a period of high productivity gains between 1994 and 2004 that outpaced both the period from 1970 and 2004 and the period between 2004 and the present.

The 2000s were the beginning of rapid growth for smartphones, cloud computing, online advertising, social networking, and e-books. Cloud computing had global revenues of $127 billion by 2010 (also in 2020 dollars), and online advertising of $81 billion by 2010. Facebook had 550 million users by the end of 2010. (Some of this growth accelerated during the end of the 2000s and thus the quoted figures are for a year after 2010.) The iPhone was introduced in 2007, and the App Store and Android phones followed in 2008. The global revenues for smartphonesreached $293 billion by 2012, pushing more people to mobile web browsing, navigation services, and a smattering of new apps.

We see something shifting in the 2010s, which were a decade of growing markets for existing technologies, but less so for new ones. Although revenues for e-commerce, cloud computing, smartphones, online advertising, and other technologies continued to grow, only one category of new technology had achieved $50 billion in sales by 2020. That was video streaming, which is more applicable to consumers than to corporate digital transformation efforts. (See the table below.) The next closest was big data/algorithms with $46 billion, tablet computers with $40 billion (the iPad introduced in 2010), and OLED displays with $32 billion in revenues; the latter is also not usually considered part of corporate digital transformation efforts.

Artificial intelligence, virtual reality, augmented reality, commercial drones, smart homes, and blockchain have even smaller markets. Even the Internet of Things had only reached 20% of the number of connected devices projected in 2012 for 2020 and most of those devices were smartphones. To add insult to injury, many hyped startups in these sectors, such as Uber, Lyft, Palantir, Airbnb, Bloom Energy, Nutanix, and Snap have cumulative losses of more than $3 billion each, the amount Amazon had at its peak; they are still unprofitable, and their total cumulative losses are $58 billion and rising.

[Market size of large current high-tech categories. Data from assorted market research reports; see links above.]

Again, contrast these market sizes with what came before: E-commerce, which was launched with the commercialized internet in the early 1990s, had reached $446 billion (in 2020 dollars) less than a decade later. Talk of smart homes began in earnest around the year 2000 but the U.S. market is only $20 billion today. OLEDs were first used in phones in 2007, yet their revenues were only $46 billion in 2020 and the first VR headset was released in 1991, yet its revenues are only $16 billion.

Big data and its successor, AI, are particularly disappointing because they are the technologies that were supposed to bring us the productivity improvements necessary for an accelerating digital transformation. Not only are their market sizes still small, but they have been heavily criticized for both impacting low-income and minority groups and for failing to deliver technically. Those concerns indicate that their impact on productivity growth might be even smaller than their market sizes suggest.

Without a strong base of growth in the 2010s, it is unlikely the newest technologies will achieve high market sizes by 2030.

Why is the slow growth in new technologies in the 2010s a problem? Among other reasons, because their future growth depends on the base that was established for them in the 2010s, and this base remains surprisingly weak. E-commerce, enterprise software, online advertising, social networking, and cloud computing now have huge markets because large bases for them were established decades ago in the 1990s and the 2000s, and as a result exponential growth has built from this large base. But without a strong base of growth in the 2010s, it is unlikely the newest technologies will achieve high market sizes by 2030, and thus they cannot have a big impact on productivity by then. This is simply how exponential growth works.

Explaining why the growth in new technologies was slow during the 2010s is a more complex and challenging question, one that must be left to other articles. The point we wish to make here is that digital transformation has not achieved what many had expected by 2020 and thus productivity improvements will likely take much longer to emerge than techno-optimists have thought they would take. Comparing market sizes between newer and older technologies adds to the pile of evidence suggesting that our current tech industry is not what its boosters claim it is. If we want higher productivity growth, we need to develop different ways of thinking, but first and most of all we must come to grips with the bleak realities of our era, with all of its big promises that simply havent delivered.

Jeffrey Funk is a consultant and a former professor at the National University of Singapore and Pennsylvania State University. Lee Vinsel is an assistant professor of science, technology, and society at Virginia Tech University and a cofounder of The Maintainers.

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We're living in an age of big tech promises and small results - Fast Company

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Biden’s big bill is dead. What tech provisions might live on? – Politico

Posted: at 10:32 pm

With help from Rebecca Kern, John Hendel and Mark Scott

PROGRAMMING NOTE: Morning Tech wont publish from Friday, Dec. 24-Friday, Dec. 31. Well be back on our normal schedule on Monday, Jan. 3.

Editors Note: Morning Tech is a free version of POLITICO Pro Technology's morning newsletter, which is delivered to our subscribers each morning at 6 a.m. The POLITICO Pro platform combines the news you need with tools you can use to take action on the days biggest stories. Act on the news with POLITICO Pro.

Life after BBB: Here are the tech and telecom provisions that could survive the wreckage of the Build Back Better Act, congressional aides told us amid Sundays chaos.

Looking to the new year: The digital ads industrys major trade group wants to get more vocal, and has hired an Amazon public policy executive to help.

Amazons ties to FBI and DOJ: The e-commerce giant has increasingly tipped off the Justice Department to investigate alleged fraud by the sellers using its platform and even Amazons own employees.

HAPPY MONDAY AND WELCOME TO MORNING TECH! Im your guest host, Emily Birnbaum. Ill be filling in during this unexpectedly busy week drop me a line if theres something you think we should cover before Christmas!

You can reach out via @birnbaum_e or [emailprotected]. Got an event for our calendar? Send details to [emailprotected]. Anything else? Team info below. And dont forget: Add @MorningTech and @PoliticoPro on Twitter.

A message from Save Our Standards:

Technical standards like 5G and Wi-Fi have the power to transform industries, fuel the economy, and create high-quality jobs. But that only happens if owners of patents essential to standards honor their commitments to license all innovators to use those patents on fair and reasonable terms. A new draft Administration statement restores the balance vital to standards adoption and job creation. Support the Administration to promote American manufacturing and limit product bans on standard-essential patents.

WHATS LEFT FOR TECH Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) stunned the White House and sent many in Washington scrambling on Sunday by crushing Democrats chances of passing the House version of President Joe Bidens massive social spending bill. Now Senate Democrats are scheming about what elements might survive if they can assemble a more Manchin-friendly bill. Among the possibilities for the bills tech provisions:

FTCs new privacy bureau: Democrats are hopeful they can still use a pared-down legislative package to provide $500 million for creating an Federal Trade Commission data privacy bureau, one senior aide told MT on Sunday.

Though some Republicans have warned against an expansion of the agencys authority especially under Bidens FTC chair, Lina Khan lawmakers have shown some bipartisan interest in firming up the FTCs ability to respond to concerns like data breaches and tech companies privacy practices. Manchin has not weighed in publicly on the issue, but he has previously supported privacy legislation.

$1 billion for antitrust enforcement: The BBB called for splitting an influx of antitrust funding evenly between the Justice Department and the FTC. Both agencies are cash-strapped but are pursuing major cases against Google and Facebook, with suits against Apple and Amazon under consideration.

Another senior Democratic aide told MT on Sunday that its very likely that upcoming packages including the U.S. Innovation and Competition Act, which has passed the Senate and passed out of committee in the House will include additional funds for the agencies, though that figure may not be $1 billion.

FTC penalty authority: The commission has long sought the ability to fine companies that deceive consumers by lying about their privacy or data security practices. A provision granting this authority was tucked into the House bill, though the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and top Republicans like Sen. Roger Wicker of Mississippi oppose it. Its unlikely that the civil penalty authority will make it through any future vehicle amid intensifying opposition.

Broadband investments: The House-passed bill included $1.15 billion for broadband internet, a pot of money meant to supplement the $65 billion in broadband spending included in the bipartisan infrastructure law signed by Biden this year. The BBBs proposals included $300 million for bolstering remote-learning subsidies and a $280 million pilot program on urban broadband affordability. Manchin has not stated a clear position on these provisions.

$470 million to upgrade 911 call centers: Democrats urgently hope to upgrade the countrys 911 system for the digital age. This money in the BBB a fraction of the billions lawmakers originally proposed would enable emergency call centers to receive text messages, video and photos, not just phone calls. Manchin has not weighed in on this proposal, either.

FIRST IN MT: A NEW CHAPTER FOR IAB The Interactive Advertising Bureau, a massive trade group that represents companies on all sides of the digital ads ecosystem, is about to get a whole lot more involved in tech policy discussions on Capitol Hill.

IAB has tapped Lartease Tiffith, an Amazon public policy executive and former aide to Vice President Kamala Harris, to lead its policy shop. And he plans to make the groups presence known.

IABs challenges: The group has faced serious disagreements among its roughly 700 members, who include both the big tech platforms such as Google, Meta and Amazon as well as smaller publishers and brands that feel exploited by those companies control over the digital ads ecosystem. IAB too often advocates on behalf of the biggest tech companies.

Tiffith believes it will be his job to find consensus among IABs diverse membership, he said in an interview. His top priorities include lobbying for federal privacy legislation that preempts state laws and against digital services taxes. The digital advertising ecosystem is one that our country relies on, Tiffith said.

He added that he is absolutely in touch with the vice president and her close aides, and said he intends to advocate particularly on behalf of the small- and medium-sized businesses that benefit from digital ads. I do think there will be some opportunities to be more vocal about what we do and dont do, Tiffith said. We want to make sure people know where IAB stands.

What IABs CEO says: Chief executive David Cohen said the trade group tries to not focus itself on Google or Meta or Amazon or anyone. We are industry-focused. Thats why it has stayed out of the congressional antitrust battles the tech giants are facing so far, though Cohen said IAB reserves the right to change our perspective on that.

If there are individual member companies doing things that are harmful to the industry at large there are other forums, like courts and judicial systems, that would be better suited than a trade association to weigh in on that, Cohen said.

AMAZONS TIES TO THE FEDS: The federal government has indicted 20 people for crimes related to Amazon in the past year and a half a number that exceeds indictments related to other comparably large retail and logistics companies like Walmart and FedEx, according to a POLITICO report from your host and Daniel Lippman. In many of those cases, Amazon either tipped off the government or cooperated closely with the investigations, according to public disclosures. The crimes relate to a range of issues including fraud and counterfeits.

While federal officials have discretion over which criminal cases they choose to pursue, Amazon has invested significant resources into pushing prosecutors and investigators to take on cases it wants them tos.

And the company appears to be getting results. This looks like a huge and powerful company attempting to generate goodwill and appear to be cooperative with the government, said J. Kelly Strader, an academic focused on how companies deal with the government when they handle white-collar crime.

Amazons response: Amazon says its referrals to law enforcement show that it is taking forceful action against criminal activity.

We take our responsibility seriously to protect our customers and selling partners from fraud and abuse, said Amazon spokesperson Jodi Seth. We are proud of the industry-leading investments weve made in technology and human expertise to prevent criminal activity and deter bad actors.

Amazons revolving door: As part of its efforts to get closer to the feds, Amazon has hired people with deep ties to federal law enforcement. The company employs at least 21 former federal prosecutors and at least 49 former FBI employees, according to a review of LinkedIn pages of current Amazon employees.

TODAY: LIGHTBOX TO UNVEIL BROADBAND MAPPING TOOLS LightBox, a company known for crunching reams of real estate data, is today announcing what it is calling a SmartFabric, a newly enriched and customizable map of location data that it hopes states will tap to guide their broadband funding decisions.

We have a state that is already signed up, LightBox CEO Eric Frank told John, though he declined to say which state. They've also asked us to do all the work so were actually collecting the ISP data, were building the map, mapping the ISP data to location data, doing the gap analysis, identifying service versus non-serviceable and building the public website so the public can interrogate it. Watch for more details soon, Frank said.

And LightBox still wants that bigger nationwide FCC contract: The company is in the middle of a challenge to the FCCs November decision to award a $45 million location fabric contract to a rival company known as CostQuest Associates, which had worked with USTelecom to run a mapping pilot effort in two states in 2019.

Todays announcement is another sign of LightBoxs ongoing broadband ambitions. Other customers using LightBoxs location data include internet service providers like AT&T and Charter Communications, tech giants like Google and Microsoft and real estate companies Zillow and Redfin.

The Government Accountability Office has up to 100 days to review the FCC contract decision, meaning the agency may not be able to proceed with a key part of its federal mapping efforts until sometime in February.

FCC Chair Jessica Rosenworcel has complained of the associated delays and suggested Congress may want to intervene. If Congress wishes to identify a legislative way to

expedite this process, the agency will provide whatever further information is necessary to assist, she assured lawmakers in a letter unveiled Friday.

FACEBOOK GRAPPLES WITH ISLAMIC EXTREMISM: Supporters of the Islamic State and the Taliban continue to sidestep the social networks content moderation rules, despite the companys claims to be clamping down on extremist material. In multiple open Facebook groups at least one of which had more than 100,000 members jihadist groups posted beheading videos, propaganda and violent hate speech, according to a report by POLITICOs Mark Scott, who conducted a review of months of social media activity

Refresher: Internal Facebook documents, made public by Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen earlier this year, showed the companys own researchers had repeatedly raised concerns that hate speech targeting war-torn countries like Iraq and Afghanistan was avoiding detection by the platforms moderators.

A message from Save Our Standards:

Eva Berneke was appointed CEO of telecom company Eutelsat. She was previously CEO of IT company KMD.

International scamming: The New York Times conducted an investigation into an enormous online scam involving Harvard and several prominent media personalities in India.

Not just Meta: How TikTok inundates teens with videos to encourage eating disorders, via The Wall Street Journal.

ICYMI: We recommend this fabulous POLITICO piece by Nancy Scola about how Republican Colorado Rep. Ken Buck tries to avoid using products from Google, Amazon, Twitter and Apple.

Revolving door hits Kanter: Advocacy groups say Googles attack on DOJ antitrust chief Jonathan Kanter is far-fetched, according to Motherboard.

ICYMI: Critics say businesses regularly exploit H-1B visa holders, paying them below market wages, POLITICOs Rikha Sharma Rani writes.

A message from Save Our Standards:

Support US Jobs. Stop SEP Abuse.

A new draft policy statement on standard-essential patents (SEPs) committed for licensing on fair, reasonable, and non-discriminatory terms was released jointly by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, the National Institute of Standards and Technology, and the Department of Justice. The draft statement provides guidance on appropriate remedies in cases involving the use of these patents, and presents an approach to SEPs that strives to balance the interests of patent holders with the broad range of U.S. industries that use standards to protect the future of innovation.

Save Our Standards is a broad-based coalition working to end abusive practices in SEP licensing. We welcome the draft statement and support the Biden Administration for their leadership protecting U.S. competitiveness in charting out this balanced approach. Comments are being accepted through February 4. Support the Biden Administration to stop SEP abuse.

Tips, comments, suggestions? Send them along via email to our team: Bob King ([emailprotected]), Heidi Vogt ([emailprotected]), Emily Birnbaum ([emailprotected]), John Hendel ([emailprotected]), Rebecca Kern ([emailprotected]), Alexandra S. Levine ([emailprotected]) and Leah Nylen ([emailprotected]). Got an event for our calendar? Send details to [emailprotected]. And don't forget: Add @MorningTech and @PoliticoPro on Twitter.

TTYL!

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Meatless meat, Web 3.0 and Big Tech battles: Tech trends we look forward to in 2022 – The Daily Star

Posted: at 10:32 pm

After a year that made the terms WFH (work from home) and metaverse instantly recognisable for many people, there are a new set of technological trends headed this way for 2022. Here's a selection of how technology may change lives in the coming year:

Meatless meat

Meat alternatives have become common in an increasing number of US households, thanks in part to Beyond Meat and Impossible Food plant-based products that come far closer to the texture and flavour of red meat. As the products have improved and the prices edged downward, demand has been boosted by concern about the environment: raising animals for food is responsible for a whopping 14.5 per cent of human-linked greenhouse gas emissions, according to UN data. The global market for plant-based meats is expected to be worth $35 billion in 2027 -- up from $13.5 billion in 2020, thanks in part to expansion beyond the United States, according to a report from Research and Markets.

"2022 will be the crowning year of food made from plant-based proteins," said David Bchiri, president of US consulting firm Fabernovel. "The products are mature and good. They're going to become mainstream."

Web 3.0 and crypto

The internet's first phase was the creation of websites and blogs, which allowed the emergence of companies like Yahoo, eBay, or Amazon. The next iteration was Web 2.0, defined by social media and user-generated content on sites like Facebook and YouTube.These platforms "get the money and control it, they let you on their platform," summarised Benedict Evans, an independent analyst specializing in Silicon Valley. So, is Web 3.0 coming? In this iteration, "users, creators and developers would have stakes and votes" in a platform in much the way cooperative works,

Evans said on his "Another Podcast."Such a revolutionary step could be made possible by blockchain technology, where computer programs run on networks of thousands or millions of computers. So far, blockchain has enabled the rise of cryptocurrencies like bitcoin, and more recently, the unique digital objects such as drawings or animations called NFTs. "We talk a lot about decentralized finance, but I think that in 2022 we will see more localized use cases, which will enter everyday life," said Bchiri of consulting firm Fabernovel.

As highly-volatile digital monies like bitcoin have hit record high values in 2021, a huge range of players has gotten into the game including versions launched by the cities of Miami and New York.

Ransomware, everywhere

The spike toward record ransomware attacks and data leaks in 2021 looks likely to spill over into the coming year. Cyber-extortion heists break into a victim's network to encrypt data, then demand a ransom, typically paid via cryptocurrency in exchange to unlock it. A confluence of factors has fueled the trend, including the booming value of cryptocurrencies, victims' willingness to pay and the difficulty authorities have in catching attackers. Cybersecurity company SonicWall wrote in late October: "With 495 million ransomware attacks logged by the company this year to date, 2021 will be the most costly and dangerous year on record. "

"When I think about 2022, the thing that's top of mind for me and for my colleagues continues to be ransomware. It's simply too lucrative," wrote Sandra Joyce, executive vice president and head of global intelligence at cybersecurity firm Mandiant.

Big Tech regulation?

It's difficult to say if 2022 is the year Big Tech will finally be hit with significant new rules, but a series of regulatory and legal threats launched in 2021 will provoke major battles. In the United States, the Federal Trade Commission's antitrust lawsuit against Facebook represents a genuine threat to the social media giant, though a court has already dismissed the case once. More lawsuits and a federal investigation -- and maybe even finally new laws -- are possible in the wake of the damning whistleblower leaks showing Facebook executives knew its sites could cause harm. Some critics say the firm's major push into realizing the metaverse -- a virtual reality version of the internet -- is an effort to change the subject after years of criticism.

Apple dodged a bullet in 2021 when a US federal court said Fortnite maker Epic Games failed to show the iPhone giant held an illegal monopoly, but the firm was still ordered to loosen control over its App Store. Both sides have appealed. New regulations may come sooner in the EU as it pushes through new laws, such as the Digital Services Act which would create much stricter oversight of harmful and illegal content on platforms like Facebook.

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Meatless meat, Web 3.0 and Big Tech battles: Tech trends we look forward to in 2022 - The Daily Star

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Big Tech Censorship of COVID Information Leads to Vaccine …

Posted: December 19, 2021 at 6:39 pm

You may have seen it on TV or in action, up close and personal on social media: Big Tech, at the request of the federal government, has been censoring Americans who ask questions about the COVID vaccines. The unintended consequences of this blatant violation of Americans' First Amendment rights has been a growing mistrust of the government and what it says about the vaccine, resulting in a steady percentage of Americans remaining hesitant to get vaccinated. Everyday Americans are being censored by our social media giants when they ask questions or oppose the prevailing narrative. This censorship, intended to tamp down on "misinformation," is instead a leading source of vaccine hesitancy and fuels the fires of conspiracy theories.

Recent polling suggests that across party lines, Americans have an overall negative view of social media. A supermajority of 69 percent of Americans believes that social media makes it easier for misinformation to spread, creating a culture where a lack of trust is prevalent. Big Tech companies have tried to remedy this by censoring content it finds problematic, but this has had the opposite effect. The answer to speech one disagrees with isn't less speech; it's more speech.

Ever since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, Big Tech has been working overtime to promote its own ideology over any dissent standing in the way. This strategy has only grown during the Biden administration. We've seen doctors censored for questioning the vaccine, along with any posts that did the same thing. It's easy to conclude this was the result of Big Tech working together with the government, which Jen Psaki openly admitted did happen earlier this year. Big Tech and the federal government don't want debate that could undermine their preferred narrative. It's straight out of the totalitarian playbook.

Understanding and appreciating our differences helps bring us together by building bridges, thus benefiting all of us. That is why censorship and cancel culture are so troubling. Instead of resolving our differences, these forces exacerbate them. When you marginalize, you radicalize.

Today's biggest proponents, enablers and enforcers of censorship and cancel culture are the trillion-dollar Big Tech monopolists: Google, Amazon, Facebook and Apple. Big Tech monopolists have an unholy alliance with Big Government to censor, silence, deplatform and even cancel those with whom they disagree. When Big Tech censors under the guise of protecting us from "misinformation," it behaves more like the communist Chinese than patriotic, constitutionally guided Americans.

Big Tech has been particularly egregious with its COVID censorship. Big Tech is censoring noted doctors, scientists and even a sitting United States senatorwho also happens to be a doctor. Even if one is ignorant or arrogant enough to believe that Big Tech is the ultimate arbiter of truth, how does censoring dissenting doctors and scientists help convince vaccine-hesitant Americans disproportionately Black and Hispanicto overcome their concerns and get vaccinated?

Censorship is counter-productive. It makes people lose confidence in the science, particularly the science behind vaccines. COVID vaccines are indeed quite effective, especially in preventing hospitalizations and deaths. But many people don't believe this because censorship has created mistrust.

Individuals must be allowed the freedom to make their own choices, especially when it comes to their health and well-being. We don't need Biden administration officials and their censors working with Big Tech to protect us from ourselves. Get the information out there, good or bad, right or wrong, and let people make their own informed decisions, in consultation with their own medical providers.

There are no real competitors to Big Tech, especially as it relates to online speech. Google owns YouTube. Facebook owns Instagram and WhatsApp. Google controls online search. Facebook and Google control the digital advertising market. Google and Apple control the smartphone app market. And Facebook, Twitter and Google control social media. These conglomerates can pick and choose winners and losers with no repercussions. This cannot be allowed any longer.

How do we fix this? We must do two important things.

First, we must end Big Tech's antitrust amnesty. We cannot continue to allow trillion-dollar Big Tech monopolists to use their market dominance to kill competitors like Parler, control the online public square and censor our opinions. We must break up Big Tech before it is too late.

Second, we must repeal Big Tech's Section 230 shieldwhich gives the companies immunity with respect to third-party content posted on their platformsso they can no longer censor, silence, deplatform and even cancel those with whom they disagree. This leads to government-sponsored censorship, and Biden officials have made it clear that the government is actively working with various social media platforms to censor Americans.

The COVID vaccine is a remarkable human achievement that is saving millions of lives across the globe. But many Americans aren't going to believe that because they think they aren't being told the full story. And it's truethey're not. Big Tech is censoring critical voices online and it's having a devastating effect, contributing directly to vaccine hesitancy. If we break up Big Tech to give users more options and modernize Section 230 to allow for freer online speech, Americans would feel more confident they aren't being lied to. They would choose to get vaccinated after they feel more fully informed.

We need more competition, not less. We need more free speech, not less. The less we have of each, the more dangerous and totalitarian the national political and social environment becomes. And that's not a road we want to continue to go down.

Mike Davis is the founder and president of Unsilenced Majority, an organization dedicated to opposing cancel culture and fighting back against the woke mob and their enablers. Davis is the former chief counsel for nominations to Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley and clerked for Justice Neil Gorsuch.

The views expressed in this article are the writer's own.

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