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Automation, artificial intelligence, and blockchain technology will change what we know as work forever. Millions of jobs will be lost. Millions of jobs will also be created. Some types of jobs will not exist anymore while many other new types of jobs will be invented. But everything will change in the next 5-10 years. The greatest challenges that our economy will face will be how do we retrain everyone into these new jobs.

Impact of Automation

Automation is the most common disruption that people expect to happen. It is already happening in manufacturing. Highly automated factories that require 90% less labor than before. Car manufacturers once required thousands of people welding, assembling, painting and other task are now largely gone. More detailed task still remain but with much more sensitive, smarter and accurate robotics, those task will also go away. The economics behind automation is simple. There are no worker injuries, no sick days, no need for health benefits, no need for shifts changes, no employees taxes to pay and no need for human resources or any support services. For all manufacturers to be competitive, they will need to become vastly automated. The trend is toward extremely automated factories. But this will move into distribution, retail, construction, and many other industries as well. Those companies who automate will increase profits and will be able to lower prices against competition. Game theory will predict that all companies will move toward automation in as many departments as possible.

Impact of Artificial Intelligence

Artificial intelligence will be the first major disruption to the majority of white color jobs. Many software updates using artificial intelligence will do many tedious processes such as categorizing items, detecting errors, writing short form articles, and translating text. This removes the need for workers to do redundant and boring computer task. AI is already writing sports summaries and news articles. AI will take over many marketing tasks and customer services task. Chat bots and smarter kiosk will be able to solve more customer service problems as well as service customers from initial contact to product delivery. We are just in the beginning stages of AI revolution.

Combining artificial intelligence with hardware will further the job losses. This will create smarter machines giving them brains and eyes. Instead of just separating products, they can inspect and analyze while performing their normal task. They will be able to learn and become more efficient. Robotic arms will be able to do multiple task instead of just one. Cameras will now be eyes where they can identify objects and people. They can automatically let in approved cars into parking lots and tell us if all the spots are full. They will allow us to do better quality control and create customized products. AI will make our hardware and robots smarter thus able to do task that were reserved for low skilled workers.

Impact of Blockchain

Blockchain is more than just the technology behind Bitcoin but it is another revolutionary technology that will create more transparency and data automation in many industries. It can become an objective cheaper third party in many types transactions from securities to gambling to banking. It can help retailers like Walmart track products from supply chain to store. It can making auditing obsolete with distributed ledgers. It will make fraud less frequent. It will change finance and lower cost of banking. At the same time, all the jobs related to auditing, fraud, transactions, tracking and documentation will be in less demand as blockchain software will automate the processes.

Overall Impact to Work

While these three technologies will force many jobs to become obsolete, they will also create millions of other jobs. The problem is many people will need to relocate and learn new skills in order to survive in the new economy. In fact, employers have already a difficult time to find workers now. It will only get more challenging as workers will need to learn new skills to fill the current and future needs. To less the pain of this transition, we need to do something now. I will be working on a little project called Career Tree to raise awareness of the need for people to get prepared and retrained for this great change to the economy and work.

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We have labels for everything. We have all these witty labels about smart people, athletic people, pretty people, dumb people and so on. You live in the city, wear skinny jeans and sips lattes all day, then a hipster you are. You waste money on avocado toast, have tattoos and have a boatload of student debt, then welcome to being a millennial. You happen to be Asian, female, love expensive things and clubbing, then you are labeled the infamous ABG. The list goes on and on. We have also turned identifiers such as race, gender, age and other physical characteristics into labels as well. If you're black, tall and male, well society sees you as some possible athletic freak whose only path to success is sports. If you're white, male and old, then many people will assume that you may be a conservative, god fearing capitalist. If you're Asian and female, society still sees you as a passive uber feminine potential wife. All these assumptions are blatantly discriminatory and should have no place in society but they exist. By pretending they don't exist, keeps us in the ignorant. Yes labels are natural heuristic tools that help us think less and figure out people quickly. We all love shortcuts and labels are short cuts for people. Some of them are accepted. Some of them are funny and humorous. Some of them are flat out insulting and discriminatory. In the end, by believing in labels and accepting them blindly, we imprison our views and our opportunities. 

Labels limits our sense of empathy and perspective. We not just making assumptions about who the person is but also how the person acts. We assume values and views. If we subscribe that a NFL football players best talent is athletics than we will overlook NFL players that can become neurosurgeons. Or that Ashton Kutcher a.k.a. Michael Kelso is a top tech venture capitalist. Or how we used to believe that women could not possibly run a marathon until one did. Labels are mental shortcuts that save us time. They speed up our thought process and provide us a template for treating people and interacting with the environment. The only problem is that it is limiting to our relationships. We miss out in the possibilities of the impact of people because we may write certain people off. Wealthy intelligent people dress like slobs. Well dressed clean cut nice people are sometimes con artist and crooks. Street attire wearing tough looking people may be saints and philanthropist. Letting labels cloud our views will also limit how we view the world and interact with it. 

Labels limit us from living beyond our metal barriers. When we subscribe to label, we live within the boundaries of that label. Things that are not congruent to that label we avoid to maintain the label. We do not wear certain clothes. We do not go certain places. We do not associate with certain people. For example, in parts of Asia trying to fulfill the role of a beautiful Asian woman would entail acting a certain way but characteristically having very pale skin. People go to extremes of avoiding the sun and even wearing mask to the beach. The problem with living within that label means you avoid anything outdoorsy or in nature because of the sun. You will avoid many outdoor sports; no soccer or running. You will avoid the beach; no surfing or beach volleyball. You will avoid doing certain activities; no hiking or outdoor restaurants. But all these activities limits you from becoming or trying other things just so that you can maintain a certain label. The imprisonment of that label lowers your quality of life and your options. 

Labels are prisons. Until we unshackle ourselves from labels, we will never be free. 

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First of all, I am way behind. This is my eighth post of the month which puts me now at six post behind. Good news, I have written more this month than the previous ten months put together which is good but not quite a big achievement considering how little that I have written. But I am learning a lot during this process. Not just about writing but also about my place as a writer and teacher. I find that I have to constantly question the clarity and concreteness of my ideas and thoughts. First, I realized that most of the things that I want to write about have been done thus in order for me to add value, I need to first do my due diligence and research. There is no point in duplicating something already out there. I either have to write it from a different perspective or add something more to the discussion; not merely repeat something that has already been said. That brings about a whole new challenge because there are so many smart people adding so much value creating blog posts, articles, podcasts, videos and other media. Creating value takes time and effort. Second, I realized that my thoughts thus my writings are disorganized and not fluid. While I feel my ideas and views bring something new, organizing and articulating them in a easily understandable way adds tremendous value yet that is not easy. After finally creating something of value (finding a diamond), you have to polish it (the diamond is rather rough). There is no point in creating another confusing article; we have enough of them. Creating something that sounds smooth and effortless is also very time consuming and challenging. Third, writing about a topic forces you to know what you do not know and it seems that I do not know much. I can scratch the surface but creating value without completely understanding the fundamentals of a topic first is basically shooting yourself in the foot before the journey begins. I find holes in my understanding of certain topics which could be filled by spending a few hours reading a couple books, watching tutorials or listening to podcasts. Again this takes time and effort. Fourth, this reiterates to me that quality is always better than quantity. One amazing post is a million times better than a hundred average post. In the end, it is not about the number of words that you write but about the number of people that you impact. The key metrics should always be how many lives that you have bettered not how much you have done or money that you have made. 

 

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 At the moment, it is fairly obvious that special interest play a very powerful role in politics. Winners and losers are determined by laws and regulations. There is a conflict of interest problem in the government. Providing transparency in terms of the relationships between donors, lobbyist, politicians and laws will provide clarity in terms intentions and motive.

Currently the SEC has conflict of interest disclosure laws where analyst, journalist, managers, and executives must disclosure their conflicts of interest in print as well as television. For example, if an analyst is bashing a company on television, they must disclose if they own or are being paid by the company or a competitor. If the analyst owns stock in a competitor, he would have a vested interested in bringing down the competing company. These disclosures provide some transparency in the very cloudy world of securities. We can do the same with politics. However all politicians have a vested interest to keeping these conflicts as convoluted as possibly regardless of their political party affiliations. We have passed laws to force conflict of interest disclosures but unfortunately those conflict of interests laws were later reversed.

So it is up to us. It is up to the people to keep them in check. We can develop a commonly used system to share disclosures and force politicians to disclose conflicts of interest. We should encourage the disclosure of the following:

  1. Donation conflicts (conflicts with donors who have vested interested in certain legislation)
  2. PAC conflicts (supportive PACS who have vested interested in certain issues that the politician may vote)
  3. Personal conflicts (ownership or vested interested parties in legislation)
  4. Family conflicts (ownership or vested interested parties in legislation)

We can create something as simple as checkmark system associated to the politician's name with associated conflicts. For example.

John Smith, Legislation: Subsidies for Water Utility Reimbursement

  • Donation Conflict - Yes
  • PAC Conflict - Yes
  • Personal Conflict - No
  • Family Conflict - No

Another solution would be to create a Conflict of Interest score or a COI score next to every politician's name on television or in print everytime that they speaking about any specific legislation. The higher the COI score for the topic, the higher the conflict of interest. Just some ideas for better governance. Transparency is the enemy of corruption. 

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At 7:15AM your bed sways and the windows open to let in the light of the day. You are gently awakened by your room. Siri knows that you prefer a gentle nudge to wake up as opposed to the loud intrusive awakening that your spouses favors who left over an hour ago. Siri knows that you have a morning meeting at 9AM and it will take you forty-five minutes to get ready with a thirty minute commute. Getting into the shower, the water temperature is perfect because the shower knows your preferences and it will adjust based on the weather. Upcoming getting out of the shower, Siri gives you a selection of meals available at work and you tell her you're trying to lose weight. Jokingly, Siri says she's noticed you've gained a few pounds so she will order from Amazon some oatmeal with a bowl of fruit along with tea. As you go to your closet, Siri gives you a set of suggestions based on your schedule for the day. You asked about why she's suggesting that you take an extra jacket and she tells you that you have are a maybe to a happy hour invite on Facebook and it will get cold but Facebook has already inputted that into your calendar because you never say not to David for happy hour. As you walk out toward the kitchen, the television automatically turns onto your favorite morning show. On the screen suddenly, a important email pops up saying that the meeting will be delayed until 9:20AM giving you an extra 20 minutes to relax. Siri asks if you want to delay the car pick up but that will not be necessary.  

The self driving car from Waymo arrives at 8AM along with your breakfast because meal service is a common part of car hailing now. Siri tells you that Waymo is outside. You walk out but Siri tells you that you forgot your Airpods because all the cameras in the house are her eyes. After leaving, Siri locks up and turns off all the lights. Waymo is parked in your drive way with it's doors wide open. Waymo tells you good morning and you will arrive at at 8:30AM. Since your profile is already on Google, Waymo turns on the screen to your favorite morning show. As you enjoy your breakfast, you get a call from your spouse on the screen asking how your sleep was? Sometimes you wonder if it's really your spouse or just an artificial animated graphic because they are so realistic now, you can't tell somedays. So you ask a trick question but your spouse answers correctly so most likely it's not a lazy attempt for your spouse to make up for somehow forgetting your anniversary even though Siri, Google, Facebook, and Amazon reminders were obviously provided. Sometimes there is no solution for human error. You stopped sharing your Amazon wishlist with his AI assistants long ago to make your spouse put in more work. 

Waymo drops you off in front of your office so there is no need to find parking or walk up the stairs. You walk into the elevator and Cortana says good morning then automatically takes you to your floor. Finally you get to your desk and Cortana says hello again. Facial recognition opens your computer screen to reveal your email. Google comes up and prioritizes your email to read because Google has already read it for you. Google tells you that you should response to the vice president of operations first because the issue is a bottle neck and knows that that vice president is a bit more demanding of good response times versus everyone else who based on emotional and behavioral analysis is much more forgiving. Google pre writes your response and read it to you. You press accept along with acceptances for a few other emails because Google already knows how you will respond based on your two decade relationship with Google. It's uncanny how Google knows you now. Cortana reminds you that you have a meeting in five minutes. 

The meeting is in a new location so Siri in your Airpods tells you how to locate it because your Outlook, Google and Apple calendars are synced. The doors automatically opens for you because you're a participant in the meeting. Everyone is there except Matthew who recently had his identity hacked so he is running late. His AI systems need to be reloaded. Having your identity hacked means having to do everything manually as your profile, preferences and access are frozen. For Matthew, it's going back to the old says where you have to remember everything and manually order things like a barbarian. Things just don't go very efficiently when your digital AI assistants goes down. Like most meetings, the company AI systems has already analyzed for optimal results and discussions are merely a formality because the AI is 99.9% correct but there is always some person who is anti-AI who argues that the solution is wrong but more often than not, the AI is right. Sometimes you feel that you have meetings so that people can feel useful still. 

When you walk back to your office, you chat with a single coworker, Tina about some dates that Tinder AI bot, Todd has set up for them. Seemingly it's odd how accurate Todd is with finding someone compatible. But it's difficult to know if those dates are perfect because is it because of the AI matching or because of the AI assistance that is provided to help people these days. It's strange how computers can please us because they truly do know us but unfortunately people use that same information to please or sometimes trick us as well. Then after a few laughs, you both decide to head out to lunch to continue this conversation. Siri has suggested in your ear that a Korean restaurant that is Tina's favorite and that they are having a lunch special. Of course Tina says she loves your suggestion and tells Alexa on her smart watch to order an Uber there. You say please cancel it because Siri already ordered a Waymo and it was on it's way. Well you just didn't tell her that Google already knew that she would love the restaurant based on profile information that she gave you access to a long time ago. Sometimes people forget that everything we want or desire is already known by the AI systems. 

 

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A self fulfilling prophecy is when your belief or prediction that causes itself to become true. Your ideas, thoughts and assumptions can either help you or stop your dreams from becoming reality.

A simple thought can change your behavior dramatically. It can either shift you on the path to possible success or completely off the path of possibility. A limiting mindset of believing that you will not or cannot do something will set yourself into inaction toward a path toward failure even when there is a large possibility of success. Possible becomes impossible purely in your mind. Failure happens because there is is not even an attempt. For example, if you do not believe that you will win the lottery, you will never buy a ticket. Although the odds are against you, by believing that you never will, you do not even give yourself a chance. That can happen in a multitude of aspects in life from dating to school to careers to dreams. Self fulfilling prophecies based off scarcity and limitations are the ultimate killer of dreams. A limiting belief can kill every single dream. Every single one; before the dream ever had a chance. Everything becomes impossible.

A popular pitfall is underestimating the probabilities of success. We underestimate ours skills. We overestimate our competition’s skills. We underestimate the opportunities. We underestimate our potential. Every big business started small. Every expert started out knowing nothing. All these assumptions are many times unsupported and unrealistic because our limiting thoughts stop us from even investigating the validity of these assumptions. We live our lives based off unresearched information or social rules or influences social media. From a logical view, the most challenging goals are actually the easiest and least competitive because most people live with limiting thoughts that create a defeatist self fulfilling prophecy. We call theses limiting thoughts, excuses. Excuses prevent failures. But failures are precursors to success not excuses.

How do you solve this? It’s simple. Be like The Little Engine That Could and say “I think I can, I think I can” and you will. Or at least you give yourself a chance. Create a dream fulfilling prophecy by believing the possibilities. Believe in possibilities instead of impossibilities and you will set yourself on a path toward success.

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Waymo just announced that they will no longer have drivers in their self driving car trials in Chandler, Arizona. For the past few months, Waymo, a subsidiary of Google has been chauffeuring around residents the greater Phoenix suburb. But now the driver will sit in the back of the van allowing the car to do it’s own thing. This is the first step to an evolution that will forever change many facets of our lives. It will help us not just save time but also help us mentally and physically. It will help us build better relationships. It will help us have better mental health. It will help us save and make more money. It will be one of the most disruptive innovations during our lifetimes. Let's take a look how it will improve our lives. 

Autonomous vehicles will save us money

Autonomous cars will free us from car ownership which is one of the most wasteful expenses most people have especially when we consider that our cars sit around parked for 95% of the time. We spend an average of $8,469 a year or $706 a month on owning a car. Imagine if we can paid a monthly car hailing fee instead like a buss pass. We no longer have to pay fuel, interest on car loans, maintenance, insurance, and car washes. Even after paying for ride hailing services, we should still have money to save for other things. 

Autonomous vehicles will give us more time

Self driving cars will allow us to spend that one to two hours of commuting doing something more productive and even enjoyable. It frees us to go through email before work. It allows us to catch up on reading and news. It will allow us to catch up on our favorite shows and clips. It will allow us to talk to people who are traveling with us. Also since time we can complete task and responsibilities in the car, it will give us more time outside the car as our task loads will be reduced. Regardless of what we do with the time, it gives us more time. 

Autonomous vehicles will lower our stress levels

Driving is stressful. Whether it is traffic or it is someone cutting us off on the road, the act of driving causes stress. Also the task is mentally draining which causes us to become even more frustrated when we do not have the mental energy to complete our other responsibilities in life. Traffic has been known to increase blood pressure and body weight.  

Autonomous vehicles will keep us more healthy

Over 35,000 deaths are causes by car accidents in 2016. Self driving car have proved to be less fatal than driving by a human being. Although many of us will never die from car accidents, many of us will be hurt because of one. By reducing accidents, we will live longer and healthier lives. 

Autonomous vehicles will help us have better relationships

By lower our stress levels and giving us more time, we can not only spend more time with people but also more quality time. Often we are mentally checked out after work and a long commute. By building better relationships, we will lower our stress further as studies has shown better relationships improves our health and life span

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I have been on a couple month long social media vacations this year and it has been a good lesson in learning how to use social media properly. In January, I went on the social media hiatus because I found that I spent way too much time just browsing through Facebook, Snapchat, and Instagram. It served as a very convenient distraction from work or a great way to procrastinate. It also served as a way to just waste time but disguised as a way to catch up with people's lives. I would find myself spending dozens of minutes in a trance. Worst yet, it just seemed that like many people, I was addicted to my phone and social media. In fact, it's the goal of social media to keep us glued to our phones

My conclusion from my first hiatus was that I lived perfectly fine without social media. There wasn't a huge void in my life although I did miss certain social news about family or friends. Largely, life moved on and I was forced to catch up with people in other ways like phone, text or in person. Relationships are better in real life. Digital relationships aren't real. Digital relationships should be branches of a real one not the other way around. Ultimately I could survive without social media and the world sadly will go on without me even if I wasn't on social media. 

In August, I did my second hiatus but this time, I looked it as a little more closely from a more academic approach. I wanted to know why I was driven to post and why I came back to see who liked my post. Why did I incessantly check my phone all the time like a mouse checking if there was food in the bowl. I wanted to define my motives and rationale for what I did on social media. I grew up during the first decade of my adult life without a smart phone and the second decade of my adult life with a smart phone. It seems clear that social media and the smart phone has had dramatic impacts on us mentally and socially. It is having an alarming impact on children who have never lived without a smart phone because the smart phones have become their nannies, friends and companions. I wanted to know what the smart phone and social media was doing to me!

So what did I learn this second time? I learned about my motivations to post which is to solve voids in their lives. Everyone has their reasons. It could be loneliness. It could be the desire to be heard. It could be our need for validation. But those things do not solve the root problem. They turn out to be some sort of an escape from something else. Whatever it is, it's beyond finding validation from posting instead of for the purpose of truly sharing. I was able to look at what drove me. Part of it was validation. Part of it was just being lonely. Part of it was just wanting to be heard. Part of it was more genuine wanted to share with other people. 

Another important realization was that there was distortion of reality created by social media. People tend to publish things that are glamorous and "like" worthy. It's a self feeding cycle where people eventually realize what gets the most likes and focus on only those things. No one wants to like sad events or depressing news. No one likes unflattering photos or mundane things in life. We end up painting life as something perfect and amazing when life is usually long periods of the usual and the mundane punctuated by something novel. But if you see the world only through social media, it seems like everything in life is novel and exciting or at least it should be when we compare lives with YouTube stars and Instagram celebrities. Social media distorts reality and that alters our perspective mentally. We live with unrealistic views and impossible expectations which leads to general disappointment and unfulfillment. 

In the end, I still wanted to use social media because there are so many benefits. I get to see my niece and nephew grow up when I'm not able to see them. I get to find out interesting things that my friends are doing that I may miss and can ask about later. I get to peak into the lives of artist and entrepreneurs that I do not know and get inspired. There are so many benefits. But at the same time, there are costs to using social media as well. 

Here are ways to use social media help you: 

  1. Use it for accountability (have people keep you accountable to your goals) 
  2. Use it to spread happiness (spreading happiness actually will make you happier)
  3. Use it to genuinely catch up with friends (reach out to people - don't just "like" or view it.) 
  4. Use it to learn (social media can teach you things so look it as an educational tool by following thought leaders and experts)
  5. Use it for inspiration (find people that inspire you like people going through a journey similar to you or who have done what you want to do) 

Here are ways that social media can harm you: 

  1. Using it to cure boredom (avoid using it to fill the void and waste time because you can do many things other than surfing social media like living life) 
  2. Using it to boost your ego (avoid using social media for validation or likes because you don't need everyone's approval nor can you get everyone's approval)
  3. Using it to boast (avoid the needs to share to brag about places you go and things you do for the sake of your confidence)
  4. Using it to stalk and follow (avoid using it to maintain a relationship that is no longer there; it will only prolong your ability to move on) 

 

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Does it matter if you didn’t make it to your varsity basketball team if you go on to become the greatest basketball player in the world?

Does it matter if you loses billions of dollars if you became the world’s richest person?

Does it matter if you were rejected from all 30 companies that you applied to after college if you eventually build one of the biggest companies in the world?

Does it matter if you couldn’t speak till four ;and read till seven if you become one of the most brilliant scientist in history?

Micheal Jordan, Jeff Bezos, Jack Ma nor Albert Einstein would have been who they are if they thought their previous failures and circumstances mattered. Although you may not become rich or famous but ask yourself even in common pursuits, does it matter? Does it matter that you fell a hundred times before you learned how to ride a bike? Does it matter if you were rejected ten times before you made it to medical school? Does it matter that you were dumped by five people before you married your soulmate? Does it matter that you had five businesses fail before your business became a massive success?

In the end, it all doesn't matter. What matters is that you move beyond the failures, the attempts, the hurdles and challenges. What matters is that you do not quit and stick to the process. When you succeed, the past doesn't matter. The process and then results is what matters. No one remembers your struggles, they only remember your victories and who you are right now.

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Last month's ab challenge was somewhat successful. I didn't quite get six packs but I got four and a little bit more. The transformation looks pretty good considering it was only 31 days. I am not sure if I'll be able to keep it but I think there will be some semblance of it.

Anyways this month, the challenge will be to write 30 blog posts in 30 days. This will be the first but later in the month, I hope to write posts that are well researched and insightful about various topics that I have been interested for the past couple years. I hope this will help me get in a the habit of writing more but also to improve my written communication skills through a deliberate practice. So I will write you tomorrow.

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“When you grow up you tend to get told the world is the way it is and you’re life is just to live your life inside the world. Try not to bash into the walls too much. Try to have a nice family, have fun, save a little money. That’s a very limited life. Life can be much broader once you discover one simple fact: Everything around you that you call life was made up by people that were no smarter than you and you can change it, you can influence it, you can build your own things that other people can use. Once you learn that, you’ll never be the same again.” 

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I have been following Matt Cutts for a while when I was doing a lot of SEO work since he was the SEO czar at Google. Since then, he's gone on to help the government at the US Digital Service team. One thing that I loved following were the 30 day challenges where he would challenged himself to do something new or learn something or simply to remove a bad habit. I have done a couple challenges like my unofficially 30 day social media detox. There is research that says it takes 21 day to develop a habit while some studies say 30 or 66 days. But in general, 30 days is at least enough time to figure out if you can stick to something or if you like something. You can watch his video below. Oddly enough, he was motivated by Morgan Spurlock of all people through his show "30 Days" where you lived 30 days in the lives of interesting demographic groups. 

This past month, I decided to make it more official with my first one. Get six pack abs in 30 days. Well there are 31 days in October but seriously I probably need the extra day. I've always wanted a six pack and I've always been in decent shape but never pushed myself far enough to get it. So far, it's been a fun challenge and I'm seeing progress. 

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NBC News' article "Amazon Is Hungry and It’s Coming for Your Cable Channels" highlighted that Amazon has been buying small TV stations in efforts to eventually dominate television. Amazon seems to be using the same strategy that it used with books. Using cheaper distribution (duh, the internet), they are going after the long tail content of television now. Amazon initially made it's mark as the biggest bookstore in the world, it is changed it's name to the "Everything Store" whether it's physical or digital. Going after the long tail content allows Amazon to slowly pick up niche audiences that have no choice but to get on the Amazon bandwagon. A friend of mine who sells products online found that he had no choice but to use Amazon for fulfillment because in the end, they were the cheapest. Amazon promoted themselves using Amazon boxes for this fulfillment by the way. Then he found out that he needed to take Amazon payments because his consumers demaned it. Both decisions were easy because he did not have a choice. So for long tail niche content like obscure foreign comedies or documentaries, you may find out that you will have to pay for Amazon prime then you will be buying everything else from Amazon. 

Another note, content seems to be the winner in the end because not only is Amazon in the content game but Youtube and Facebook is allocating billions into content along with the leader, Netflix. 

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I am planning on writing more on this blog. At first, I thought that I would start when the new years comes along but there's no point in waiting if there is nothing stopping us or there aren't any consequences. So I'll start today. Not that I write things that are perfect or close to it. I'm not going to let perfection stop something good from happening. Something most of the time is better than nothing. So while most of it will be rambling and thoughts, I'll make a more dedicated to essays that are more well researched and thought out. So I'll write soon. 

- Ed

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It seems like everyone and their grandmas have gotten into crytocurrency and blockchain recently. It seems like I can't escape the conversation mainly because most people know that I am a self professed tech nerd. I've talk about crytocurrency on dates, parties, weddings, and every other digital form of communication. It is not a big deal that I'm talking about these topics at these places but it's a big deal only because I'm talking about this with people who have no idea what blockchain or crytocurrency really is. Not just that, they are talking about other people who know even less trying to get into it. I get it; there's a lot of money to be made (look at the charts below). Look at the one year returns of Bitcoin, Ether and Litecoin. Ether returned a staggering 2,400% return in one year! That means a $10,000 investment would have become $240,000 which would be a down payment even in an expensive city like San Francisco. Bringing up the rear is Litecoin with almost 1,100% return and the original Bitcoin with about 600% return. It doesn't say much about the future of blockchain as a currency because people aren't exchanging their hard earned but sometimes not so hard earned money to use it as a currency or a store of value but as a tool for speculation. Bubbles will be bubbles. In the long run, I think the price will hold up because it's a supply and demand issues. A fixed supply with an increasing demand into the foreseeable future bolds well for appreciation.

Let's get to the real bubble. The initial coin offering (ICO) bubble. Filecoin raised $250 Million. Teza raised almost as much with $230 Million. There's dozens if not hundreds of other ICOs that have happened or is planning to happen. It seems like such easy money to raise money with an idea not in the form of a business plan but in the form of a white paper. The infamous Satoshi Nakamoto's nine page whitepaper started it all. But now everyone seems to have one but this time, they look more like an investment prospective than actual research, let alone a plan of sorts. Filecoin has no product. They promise to make a product but at least $250 million will buy you a lot of time. There are a lot of valid investment objectives for investing into ICOs and a lot of smart people putting money into some of these offerings but the majority are probably just being peddled dreams of making millions by being the first to invest in the next Bitcoin. Millions of dollars are being given to people who have no product and no plan. It's going to go down in a big ball of teary digital fire.

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They say money makes you more of who you are. You give money to a giving person and the person will give even more. You give money to a selfish person and the person will become more selfish. But it can be said the same of a business. You give to a good business; consumers, workers and society will become better. You give to a bad business; consumers, workers and society will become worse. Your money speaks volumes about your values. So follow your values, and vote with your money.

Reads

Been a while since a new post but here's a few awesome reads

1. Dutch Anger Is All About Robots (and Immigrants)

It's somewhat odd to see the growth of the populist anti-immigrant movement from the Dutch who seem to be the most liberal of people but the fear of job loss from automation and globalization is a very real threat to people who feel that the world is changing a bit too fast.

2. YouTube viewers watch more than 1 billion hours a day

Google's Youtube has passed a major milestone which puts it in striking importance compared with traditional television which has seen declining viewership for the past decade. Now Youtube is creating Youtube TV which will become a streaming TV competitor to Sling.

3. Twitch will start selling games and giving its streamers a cut

Amazon's Twitch platform has grown from a gamer centric video platform into a general streaming platform and now will move into the video game selling space. Another strong move by Amazon to become a leader in gaming ecommerce space pitting it against the current leader of Steam. Amazon is spreading it's tentacles everywhere.

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The new year is about one week old and every year, we all get a chance to look back at the previous year’s highs and lows. 2016 was an amazing year in terms of perspective. I can probably say it’s the year that I probably really started getting wiser. Not that I’m much smarter, but things that seemed invisible before became visible. Not that it wasn’t there before, I was finally able to see and understand things much more clearly for some reason. I can attribute this to two books, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing by Marie Kondo and Ego is the Enemy by Ryan Holiday 

First why did a book about tidying make such a different in my life. The book is more than about organizing and cleaning. It’s about simplifying but also about asking yourself about the role of material possessions in your own life. It forces you to question if certain things bring you joy in life. If it doesn’t, you should eliminate it. Tim Ferriss in The 4-Hour Workweek talks about the importance of elimination in the process of being efficient and maximizing. One big part of the elimination section is the “Pareto’s Law” or the “80/20 principle". The gist of the rule is that 80% of the output or result is produced by 20% of the input or effort. Or applied to material things 80% of your joy is from 20% of your possessions. Simply put, you can probably eliminate 80% of your possessions because they are only 20% of your joy. Alternatively, the 20% of possessions that you keep will maintain 80% of your joy. This idea can also be generalized to many other things such as worries, stress, thoughts, investments, people, and the list can go on and on. Do any of books, clothes, souvenirs, papers, and other knick knacks brings you enough joy to keep? Or do it actually cause stress through maintenance and time? While I’m not fully divested of all my worldly possessions, I was able to eliminate a third of my clothes, half of my books, a majority of my paperwork, and a lot of my digital junk. I may write a more detailed post about this later on when I feel like I’m a bit closer to my goal of completely tidying. It’s a book if applied makes a difference because removing physical and mental items leaves you more time and energy to focus on things that matter. 

Second how did a book about ego change my rate of growth and help me learn more? I will have to admit that I thought that I was a pretty humble man. Perhaps as an ignorant naive youth, I was a bit stubborn and arrogant. But now as a man who has failed and failed but somehow survived to be a bit better, I cannot possible have an ego. But as I read through the book, I realized that in fact I did not just have an ego but an ego determined many decisions in my life. An ego that pushed me to one, fail to completely surrender to good advice and instruction, and two, do things to please my ego’s desire to be viewed in a certain way. Most things aren’t terribly difficult of me but just because I was able to do something didn’t mean that I was doing things properly or efficiently. Nor did my shortcuts and rebelliousness lead me to any form of mastery. I am learning to listen to the advice of those before me. I didn’t have to follow it but I will listen to it. My ego would write it off as something simple and rudimentary but now I will start from step one because I have admitted to myself that in many fields, I am a complete dumbass. That’s ok. Every expert starts from nothing.  Second, another big realization was that as a people pleaser, I tended to do things to seemingly help people or to simply show them that I was capable. Your ego wants you to show people that you are smart and talented. I began to question why I do many things in life. Why do you do certain things? It is for function? Is it for your happiness? Or is it simply to show people that you’re a certain person that pleases your ego? Do you work a certain job to please your successful friends and family members or because you love what you do? Perhaps the people close to you don’t even care what you do but your ego does. This topic can probably be elaborated a bit but the gist of it is that after reviewing many things that I did in life, I realized that they were serving my ego and my desire to have people see me in a certain light. In some ways, removing ego out of the equations frees you from the shackles of social pressures and ignorance. 

I hope these two books help you as much as it helped me. I’ll leave you with a quote that seems appropriate for this post.

“A clever person solves a problem. A wise person avoids it.”

― Albert Einstein

Good luck in 2017. Keep reading and learning.  

Reads

AI is the big acronym that is taking over tech lately. Artificial intelligence can usher in the next stage of productivity for society. It makes dumb software into smart software. It makes dumb machines into smart machines. It can make smart decisions into near perfect decisions. It will be smarter than most human beings. It will make life more automatic. It will save you from wasting your energy with the mundane. Lights will come out when you need them. Cars will be waiting as your house right when you're ready to leave while making all the necessary short cuts because you'll be slightly late but your phone already messaged everyone about how you'll be 5 minutes late and made a convenient excuse for you. You'll never forget an anniversary gift because Amazon will remember and has already ordered something from your wife's wish list. You'll be a hero. Life will be easier

1. Uber Bets on Artificial Intelligence With Acquisition and New Lab

Uber is focusing their efforts in AI like Amazon, Google, Apple and Google. A lot of people are saying that Uber will be one of the tech Goliaths. At $70B valuation, it's definitely getting there.

2. Google DeepMind Makes AI Training Platform Publicly Available

Google's DeepMind is sharing it's AI training platform on Github so that people can create their own AI agent that can beat the next great play of Go. Machine beat a man at a game that too complex for a machine but it happened and the nerds of the world were left temporary blinded by the new reality.

3. Introducing Amazon Go and the world’s most advanced shopping technology

AI takes over a retail store. It's a pretty innovative concept. It makes buying things simple and seamless. Like how we don't think twice how an automatic door opens, we may never think twice about a store automatically charing us for what we bought.

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Lately I've been watching "Black Mirror" on Netflix which is a show about how technology infiltrates our lives in a negative way. The show is a throwback to Twilight zone but the creepy thing about the show is that many of the scenarios can in fact become very real. The show also makes us question our society as well as how we depend and interact with technology. Technology brings out very negatives aspects of humanity such as superficialness, materialism, egotism and many flaws of mankind.

1. Hackers are holding San Francisco’s light-rail system for ransom

It looks like a Russian hacker took control of part of the transportation system in San Francisco which is ironic since it should be more secure than any other city in the US. I'm sure that hackers can take control of my of the outdate systems in US municipalities. It can be a very real possibility that someone can take over traffic lights and other transportation hubs causing massive havoc and danger.

2. Google’s DeepMind AI can lip-read TV shows better than a pro

The article basically says that computers running on Google's DeepMind neural network can read lips with almost 50% accuracy. It's not perfect but definitely good enough to figure out what you're talking about. Professional human lip readers can only do 12.4% of words. It's definitely better than human beings. It's a major breakthrough in artificial intelligence but with enough data, this can be more accurate. The real fear is that computers will be able to know what we are doing even if we are not talking on the phone or typing something. It would just require a lot of good cameras which will eventually happen. It can be easy to see our society eventually blanketed with cameras everywhere. The hardware is only getting cheaper and more ubiquitous.

3. Most Students Don’t Know When News Is Fake, Stanford Study Finds

Media already has a big influence on what we think and do. While a lot of marketing messages are not fake, they are extreme representations of reality which are only applicable in very instances. But with the rise of fake news, it's becoming much more difficult to figure how what is real or not. I've been fooled a couple times and I've learned to take everything with a grain of salt. But as fake news become more sophisticated with fake resources or even hacking professional media outlets to present things, how will we know what's true?

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By the end of it all, Hillary Clinton will win the popular vote to become the 45th President of the United States of the America. Like in 2000, the winner of the direct democratic election will not become President as the other candidate, Donald Trump would win through the electoral college. The electoral college is a layer of governance created by our forefathers who had very little confidence in the "majority" in deciding the future leaders of our country. Hundreds of years ago, the masses were normally working class uneducated peasants who were too busy trying to survive. In case, the electoral college feels differently they can overrule the popular vote in their state which never happens.

In fact, Clinton will beat Trump by over a million votes when all is said and done. It will not even be a close vote. It's also important to note that Clinton didn't lose the electoral college vote by much at all as well. Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania were expected to vote blue according to most forecast but many polling forecast had a error margin of plus minus two percent. All three states results were well within statistical polling margins.

Here is a scenario:

34,119 people in Pennsylvania changed their vote from Trump to Clinton
5,919 people in Michigan changed their vote from Trump to Clinton
13,629 people in Wisconsin changed their vote from Trump to Clinton

Then Clinton would have ended up with 46 more electoral votes and would win with a total of 278 electoral votes. 53,667 people or about 54 thousand people decided who would become the leader of the free world. One hundredth of a percent of the population United States who were undecided caused almost every poll forecaster to be wrong and thus shocking the world.

It was a crushing defeat for Clinton who would become the first woman President of the United States. However this palls in comparison to Al Gore who also won the popular vote but barely lost the electoral vote 271 to 264. The 2000 election was decided by only 537 people in Florida.

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Tyson Chandler, the 34 year old NBA veteran is jawing at young Laker’s forward, Julius Randle after they tussled with each other at the other end of the court. Phoenix is down by seven with just under two minutes left in the game. Just minutes before the Suns were only down by one after mounting a come back from double digits but somehow, the game doesn’t seem out of reach. There is plenty of time especially with Phoenix’s young phenom, Devin Booker shooting the lights out in the second half. Finally the referees give both players technicals after the verbal insults become some healthy competitive elbowing on the next play.

With 16 seconds left on the shot clock, D’Angelo Russell in bounds the ball to Randle as everyone clears out while he proceeds to take Chandler one on one with a swagger of a college kid. As the clock ticks down, Randle dribbles closer and closer tempting Devin Booker to double team leaving his player out beyond the three point line. Everyone is the arena is cheering on this upcoming battle but with seconds left, Randle suddenly swings the ball to an open Jordan Clarkson who nails a dagger three pointer to seal the game with a double digit lead. Clarkson is the player that Booker was guarding. Randle could have easily let his emotions and ego get in the way and force a shot against the veteran to show him up but instead, he got the gaming sealing assist. After the game during interviews when ask about why he gave up the ball, Randle said “I’m past getting caught up in the emotions. I just want to win.” True maturity for the young Laker.

It’s early in the year but this epitomizes this year’s Lakers. While Kobe’s last year was an amazing farewell tour, the team only won 17 games while losing 65 games whereas the northern rivals, Warriors won 73 games. The Lakers only won six more games than the Warriors lost all year. This year is entirely different not just because Kobe Bryant is gone but the young core from last year is one year older with a new veteran supporting cast. Gone is the unreliable bench that consisted with all around good guys but basketball challenged of Anthony Brown, Ryan Kelly, and Robert Sacre. Gone is the rent a center named Roy Hibbert. Veterans including a mobile center, Timofey Mozgov, wise man, Jose Calderon and utility man, Luol Deng join dependable hold overs of Lou Williams, Marcelo Huertas and Tarik Black. Also it must be highlighted that Nick Young who seemingly was supposed to be traded or waived has become a resurgent force not only regaining his scoring prowess but magically becoming a defensive threat which only months before would have been unimaginable. Actually we didn’t even think that he thought defense was a word.

The early success of the Lakers who at the time of this writing have a winning record of 4-3 beating the Warriors and at the time undefeated Hawks, is largely attributed to the maturation of Julius Randle, D’angelo Russell, Larry Nance and Jordan Clarkson. Jordan Clarkson, last year’s starting shooting guard has humbly taken a seat on the bench along with Lou Williams to become the best scoring bench in the NBA. Russell who was supposed to take over as the primary scorer and ball handler has become a better shooter and scorer while being mature enough to give up ball handling duties to Williams, Clarkson, Randle and even the highly touted rookie, Brandon Ingram. Nance continues to improve while adding an outside job to his incredible motor. Putting in time at the gym like his teammates, Randle continues to improve from averaging a double double last year while ridding of his weaknesses of not being able to finishing with his right hand and not being able to shoot that didn’t break the rim.

The abilities of the young core, Clarkson, Russell, Nance, Clarkson, Randle along with Ivica Zubac and Ingram continue to improve through their work ethnic. Supposedly Clarkson, Russell, Nance, Ingram and Randle, are self professed gym rats. Their basketball IQ grows not only from experience but from the guidance of former player, Luke Walton. The future looks bright and for once in a long time, it’s exciting to watch the Lakers again.

Reads

1. Learn Voraciously

Great short read about how some people progress and some dont. Basically it tells you to continue reading after school is over. 

2. How to Read a Book

It's more like how to learn but great reference! Read people!!!

3. China has actually built an elevated bus that travels above car traffic

I watched a video about an elevated bus idea a few months back and thought that was one of those wacky ideas that would never be built...I was wrong. Good job innovating China. 

(1/9/2017) Follow up to this article, it turns out this was a hype and investment scam by some Chinese developers. It flops and I'm taking back my props.

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1. Israel Proves the Desalination Era Is Here

It's amazing what the Israelis have done to solve one of the biggest problems that they have faced in the last decade which is the lack of water. This gives us hope as they have installed a desalinization plant in California.

2. Caterpillar’s hybrid microgrid promises much for the powerless

Caterpillar along with Fluidic Engery's zinc air batteries can give power to the 1.2 billion people who don't have access to it. Up to 18% of the world does not have access to reliable power. That's an insane number. But with micro grids and more efficient batteries, people can harness the sun and wind for power 24 hours a day. It makes a dramatic difference as people can be productive at night and have a better standard of living. 

Reads

1. $1 Billion for Dollar Shave Club: Why Every Company Should Worry

A great case analysis of what happens to small creative companies now. Bigger companies eat them up. In the age where everything is outsource, Dollar Shave Club had $240 million in revenue with only 190 employees. WhatsApp was bought for $19 billion with only 55 employees. Going from small and big is easy now because you can outsource manufacturing, distribution, and other capital as well as labor intensive departments. But also it creates a situation where smaller companies are more likely to be bought out because the return is so much large now. 

2. Breakthrough solar cell captures CO2 and sunlight, produces burnable fuel

Global warming is fast becoming one of the biggest threats to humanity so if we can do what plants can do, namely convert the power of the sun into energy, then we can solve a lot of problems in the world. While it may be years away to becoming something commercial, it's to know that we're making progress. 

3. The Internet of Things Will Turn Large-Scale Hacks into Real World Disasters

There's a reason to fear AI but it's probablly not because robots take over but more likely bad people take over the robots by hacking into insecurities. 

 

Reads

1. How I built an app with 500,000 users in 5 days on a $100 server

The barrier to entry are becoming increasingly low for apps and sites but you still need to know what you're doing. But this is a great article about putting in thought and planning as well as some work into making something scale. 

2. Google Sprints Ahead in AI Building Blocks, Leaving Rivals Wary

The battle for AI rages on but Google has been working on this forever so it's clearly they are the ones to beat. Their use of DeepMind to solve their practical energy problems are already proof of their advances that have yet to be shared. Imagine what AI can do other than drive us around and recognize things on camera if it can make everything more efficient. Less time in traffic because all lights and streets are efficient. Less time wasted in lines as AI can predict when we're hungry and what we're likely to want. But imagine also having AI help with our health, physical and mental. AI helping with making nearly everything more efficient. We spend less timing fixing things and more time enjoying things. But we'll see. 

3. America wants to believe China can’t innovate. Tech tells a different story.

It used to be that China was just a copy cat nation but now it's a nation full of bright well educated engineers and innovators in a test bed of opportunity. Wired's story of China's hardware dominance is pretty revealing of what may happen with software as well. China had the same day delivery before the US. China had more comprehensive chat before the US. They have more comprehensive us of digital payments and commerce. But they also have the cash as well. The US may still be in the lead but that gap is definitely closing. 

Reads

On today's reads and impacts. 

1. Facebook to Pay Internet Stars for Live Video

Rise of the content creators. Facebook is fighting to promote their new live service which I think will probably surpass Periscope, Vine, and the other smaller streaming services. Youtube did a similar thing by paying content creators to keep their content on Youtube. The winners - content creators and consumers. Losers - broadcasters. 

2. Nintendo Market Value Passes Sony on Pokemon Go Frenzy: Chart

The fact that Nintendo is worth more than Sony is crazy. I would bet that Nintendo's hype will go down as many video game producers jump into the space and as the Pokemon fad goes away as people realize it's almost a complete waste of time. Sorry I rather get some work done or just hang out with friends than walking aimlessly staring at my phone. 

3. Dollar Shave Club: How Michael Dubin Created A Massively Successful Company and Re-Defined CPG

Congrats to Dollar Shave club on the exit. I wasn't sure if all the subscription model businesses would survive especially with the struggles of Birchbox. HBR has a great article why the subcription model is good for some and terrible for others. I think it's a good exit because it's a low margin business that has a ceiling.