QUANTech #3

by QICT_master

What is QUANTech? An easy-to-digest selection of what’s hot in tech and the impact on society to help you keep ahead in this rapidly changing digital world.

QUANTech is brought to you by Denys Malengreau (@D_MLG), digital advisor to QUANT.


This week was all about blockchain. Beyond the hype, a real move into the technology is perceptible this year. Strongly decided to know more about it, we flew to Switzerland to attend the Blockchain & Bitcoin Conference in Geneva.

The gathering was insightful, leaving more questions than answers. On the topic this week and amid numerous initiatives, I stumbled upon interesting readings. Futurism published about how state-backed Venezuelan cryptocurrency Petro or petromoneda might work (or not) for the country. As stated on Wikipedia, the petro « is claimed to be backed by the country’s oil and mineral reserves, and it is intended to supplement Venezuela’s bolívar fuerte currency as a means of hyperinflation of Maduro’s Goverment and access international financing. »

Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro (C) speaks during the event launching the new Venezuelan cryptocurrency “Petro”, next to Venezuela’s Vice President Tareck El Aissami (L) and the Minister for University Education, Science and Technology Hugbel Roa, in Caracas, Venezuela February 20, 2018. REUTERS/Marco Bello

Another noteworthy initiative spotted is a proposal to rethink the advertising-based business model of leading social platforms such as Facebook, using blockchain. With about 30% of Internet users using adblockers and countless bots screwing up numbers, conversions (sales) in digital advertising may be legitimately questioned.

US company Salon Media Group aims at spinning ad blocking into cryptocurrency and this is one of the first practical initiatives —albeit flawed— that I came across bringing alternatives to the table.

BitClave‘s event manager Stanislav Liutenko was in Geneva to present the company’s decentralized search engine project which also aims at rethinking online advertising. It is worth checking out their website: www.bitclave.comThe Next Web also wrote about the company this week.

To reach the best, expect the worst. Here is this week’s concerning —not to say frightening— session. Two topics to put forward: malicious AI and next-level fake news.

In a report released on Wednesday, top researchers from universities such as Oxford, Cambridge and Yale, as well as organizations like OpenAI highlighted worst-case scenarios that could occur with advances in artificial intelligence (if) in the hands of the wrong person. CNBC published a rundown worth looking at. e.g. In late 2017, a viral video backed by a website aimed at raising awareness about the need of banning autonomous weapons. If you haven’t watched it yet, here it is.

Directly tied to unwanted scenarios of potential bad use of AI, there is fake news. The expression has gone mainstream and caused havoc since 2016. I found time to read the long-form article Aviv Ovadya published in Buzzfeed on 12 February to warn about the urgent need to address what he calls the threat of infocalypse. A must-read. Example of what’s shown up online this week:

And it seems that a selfie might be enough tomorrow…

No need to worry. We’ll have robo-dogs to make sure that we behave.

Fuss aside, these are issues that we, as a society, will have to address to truly create a smart network as the world connects.

While we’re talking blockchain, AI, big data, IoT, 5G, AR/VR/MR, biotech as transformative technologies, we may tend to forget that there is another something potentially big in the making: quantum computing. The MIT technology review published an interesting article this a week about the nascent new form of computing and how it may be useful for new applications. In the meantime, Alibaba (the Amazon of China) just launched a quantum computer with processing power of more than 10 qubits.

Last but not least, Google Lens is coming to your phone and this could be a landmark looking backwards. As smartphones show limitations in portability, we could expect smart glasses (neither geeky nor creepy) such as Intel’s Vault to better work with solutions such as Google Lens, Blippar or Ripple‘s face scanning feature.

Here is why hands-free devices such as smart glasses might end up fostering mass adoption in the future as convenience drives public interest.

Flash

Facebook co-founder suggests taxing the richest 1% of Americans to fund UBI.
Signal’s secure messaging app backed by Snowden gets a $50 million investment from WhatsApp co-founder.
First SpaceX’s satellites for beaming internet access to earth are now in orbit.
• 1,2 million signatures to bring back the old Snapchat and a tweet from Kylie Jenner are putting extra pressure on the messaging app’s team.
• Gartner predicts 30% of search will be voice-conducted by 2020. Here is what companies can do to adapt.
• We are at an inflection point. These are Boris Veldhuijzen van Zanten’s words, founder of tech website thenextweb.com.

Talk soon!

Denys Malengreau
@D_MLG