The Corporate Capture of Social Change

“If we want things to stay as they are, things will have to change”

Anand Giridharadas isn’t afraid of controversy. His debut book Winner Takes All is a blistering take down of the faith put in the biggest beneficiaries of capitalism to lead capitalism’s reform and change the world for the better.

Be it the next Silicon Valley start up or philanthropic foundation, the underlying assumption pushed by the rich is always that business, entrepreneurship and the private sector are the most efficient and effective means of tackling society’s collective problems.

Giridharadas describes how even the language of social change which has historically been associated with grassroots movements, social justice and mass protest has been colonised by market logic and the billionaire class.

Rather than discussing social change as being rooted in rights, justice and systemic reform, the new corporate conception of social change sees inequality, climate change and poverty as a set of technical problems with market solutions. For these people  fixing the world is not about challenging powerful interests and overhauling a rigged economic system but about empowering “global leaders and opinion formers” to leverage “capital, data and technology to improve lives.”

What this actually means is cutting the public out of decision making for what the future should look like. Instead of community leaders, unions and businesses engaging in dialogue to decide whats best for their communities, we are instead told to look to McKinsey consultants and Goldman Sachs analysts to crunch numbers and provide reports on how to “restructure” the economy, to prepare for “inevitable” disruption and spur economic growth.

The glaring contradiction of putting the winners of our broken economy in charge of its repair is that the winners are actually quite comfortable with the status quo. Why would Goldman Sachs want solutions to social change if social change threatens their status, money and power?

By capturing social change within their control they are able to ensure social change is not pursued at all. Angel Gurria secretary General of the OECD describes the top down approach as “changing things on the surface so that in practice nothing changes at all.”

[END of part 1]

 

 

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How Cryptocurrencies Are Building A New Internet

Author:     Henry Benjamin of SkyCoin

 

At present, no one knows how the FCC plan to roll out their unwelcome Net Neutrality Repeal. Nor does anyone know how it will affect end users and companies who might have conflicts of interest with large Internet Service Providers (ISP’s).

Whatever way it turns out, we know there are going to be changes in the way we use the internet and most will benefit the Service Providers rather than businesses or individuals.

What We Know So Far

When ISP’s decide to change the way they provide us with internet, a lot of companies might find they no longer have access to the fast lane and either have to pay surcharges to keep up full bandwidth, or will have to rethink what and how they conduct their business.

Yet ultimately it will be end users most affected. Services which are now free to sign up to might soon become subscription based with a fee to join. Users will also have to worry about increased data tracking from which is something that has become increasingly profitable and popular.

Running alongside the story of Net Neutrality in the media is the explosion of cryptocurrencies. Yet little discussion has connected the two and asked how the repeal of net neutrality will affect blockchain transactions?

Cryptocurrencies may just be negatively impacted in the same way larger corporations would be. It’s quite easy for an ISP to throttle connections where any cryptocurrency is in use or restrict access to exchanges where coins are traded.

Yet many cryptocurrencies have looked at the way the internet works and taken it upon themselves to see if decentralization is a way they can operate independent of ISP’s. 

To truly decentralize the internet is no easy task but some crypto’s has taken a radical approach to achieve it.

Decentralizing  and Creating A New Internet

To find the best solution to creating a decentralized internet, it is best to look at the cryptocurrencies themselves to see what answers to the Net Neutrality problem they have. Here are some of the ways the internet could be decentralized:

  1. Blockstack

The way this works is through a dedicated browser. The lower layers of the internet are still used while Blockstack focuses on the application layer.

Here users are able to decentralize their storage along with user identity and authentication.

Central points of control are removed, and users run decentralized applications through this browser where they can give explicit read and write permissions to their data.

All data is retained on user devices so there is no central point or data warehouses that can be hacked into.

2. Maidsafe

The SAFE (Secure Access For Everyone) network is next generation and very secure.  It decentralizes the internet and data management. With this, unused computer resources can be shared around the system.

Every user on the SAFE system shares a proportion of their computing resources be it storage, CPU power, and internet connectivity.

All data on the Maidsafe network is broken into separate pieces and spread throughout the network. This is then allocated space on various systems.

These pieces are stored without any users knowledge or having access to it, so the entire process is highly secure and private. Each user that participates in providing these resources receives compensation in the form of Safecoin crypto tokens.

3. Golem

In its purpose Golem is similar to the previous coin in that it shares computing resources in a decentralized network. All resources shared can be from a single user to spare capacity in a data center.

Uses can be anything from hosting a website to the rendering of images or film which takes considerable amounts of computing power.

Golem also pays incentives to users who share their resources by renting out spare computing capacity. These incentives are paid through exchanges, and the entire network runs atop the Ethereum Blockchain.

4. Substratum

This is one coin that many people are looking toward after the FCC-Net Neutrality decision. On this network, users are able to browse or host services between each other compared to a centralized network that has many of these services stored in large data centers on their physical servers.

When the network runs, users will only pay for network bandwidth they consume. As with other systems, users are free to allocate a proportion of their resources to earn coins for themselves.

All this can be set to run specific times, so there is no conflict if their system is in use. Through this method, Substratum offers both browsing and hosting that can be a much cheaper alternative than what end users subscribe to now.

5. Continual Flaws

There is a good deal of cryptocurrencies that aim to fix flaws with first generation or second generation cryptocurrencies, or they seek to offer services in which they think users will be interested in.

One problem though is many still run on top of the current internet infrastructure rather than being separate altogether. They might bypass any restrictions ISP’s imposing yet they might find they are still in the same situation further into the future.

Building a New Internet

One company which has done things a little more radical is Skycoin.  What we are proposing to create is a new internet which is separated from the current Internet. This is done using nodes (miners) which are all interconnected wirelessly.

This takes away the need for current infrastructure and creates a mesh-network that is secure and private.

ISP’s are unable to track users, and as data is divided between these nodes on the Skywire network, no single point has a weakness. The coin also brings benefits as transactions are instantaneous and the coins require no mining.

The miners are paid for hosting the mining rigs, so the entire network is self-sufficient and brings with it plenty of value and interest.

Unlike the BTC Blockchain SKY has their own Blockchain that uses a new web of trust (consensus) to perform transactions. It also gets faster and more secure the more users who join the network.

The company has been developed by some of the original BTC and Ethereum developers who have looked at all the flaws with first and second generation cryptocurrencies and looked at the best way of addressing these issues.

As the network grows, this is one to watch as users will no longer be tied to a connection at home. It will give security, privacy and will be fully mobile. A new internet. 

 

To learn more about Skycoin check out their website here: 

https://www.skycoin.net/

Harvard Professor Explains Why Finance Doesn’t Work

Mihir Desai professor at Harvard Business School discusses how the world of finance has become broken and corrupted by indifference and greed.

In this clip he argues that while general dislike and animosity towards finance is mostly justified, financial services and investment are industries we cannot live without.

Whether it be saving to go to college, grow businesses or the ability to purchase home finance is central to helping manage society. According to Desai, energy must be directed towards fixing the industry so that it is focused on value creation for people rather than value extraction for bankers.

This is an interesting discussion and poses some difficult questions as to the capacity to change the global neoliberal system in which the worlds 8 richest people have as much wealth as half the worlds population

Professor Perfectly Explains Income Inequality

Professor Mark Blyth aptly synopsises the problems with a neoliberal economy and how income inequality has spiked so significantly in recent decades.

this is a formal discussion wihich deals with tech company monopolies and the weak institutional responses to corporate malpractice and unethical activities in the U.S market.

What Would Elon Musk Be Working On If He Was 22?

Inventor, Entrepreneur and Englineer discusses what he views as the most important work to be doing if he was a young person in 2017.

Musk has been at the centre of the conversation around artificial intelligence and sustainable energy consumption over the past 15 years. He is ranked the 21st most influential people in the world and his current company SpaceX are working on a project to eventually allow humans to colonise Mars.

How to Stop Wasting Your Days on Facebook

It’s an addiction. A stimulation we crave. Yet it can really inhibit the quality of our lives and ability to focus on hard tasks. Most of us would admit we spend way too much time aimlessly drifting through newsfeeds but how do we beat it?

Author Charles Duhigg believes we must treat it like any other ingrained habit. Accept that we have a dependency and slowly try and wean ourselves off.

This can be done by scheduling timeslots in the day when we will use social media and removing automatic notification alerts that we don’t need and slowly start creating a new habit of focus.

How Social Media is Shaping Our Thought Patterns

In this extraordinary clip Dr. Dan Siegel, clinical professor of psychiatry at the UCLA School of Medicine reveals how social media is actually physically rewiring our brains.

The addictive nature of social media has become starkly apparent as anyone who takes public transport will be aware. Yet its capacity to manipulate and reshape our brains is something not often discussed and something parents should be particularly aware of in relation to exposing their children to smartphones.