When you type a website address into a browser, you might have noticed that the letters “http” appear at the front. “HTTP” stands for Hypertext Transfer Protocol. In typing a Web address, you are actually sending an HTTP command to transmit that website to you. Hypertext Transfer Protocol is the means by which information is […]
Picture the scene. It’s 2020. You’re at the checkout in a convenience store with a carton of milk. But you’ve got no cash and you’ve left your cards at home. No problem. You scan your right index finger; the green light flashes. Purchase approved and you leave. Easy.Is this a realistic vision of the future, […]
After a week of reckoning about the American oil and gas boom… I’ve got to get something off my chest.I can’t stand it when a coworker takes credit for something I did.Whether it’s a special report I wrote or just a little investing trick I found on my own — if someone takes it and […]
Franklin Delano Roosevelt famously used the term “forgotten man” in a 1932 speech to describe those at the bottom of the economic pyramid who, he felt, government should aid.But the originator of the phrase “forgotten man” had a whole different meaning in mind. He aimed to expose the seeming good intentions of government to reveal […]
I want to share some insight and give you a front-row seat to America’s next big shale play.Let’s get to it…Over the past 10 years, the U.S. has turned the ship around, quite literally.We’ve gone from a country that was expecting to import massive amounts of oil and gas — to a country that’s sitting […]
Whatever your views on the role of government, one thing is clear: There will be no way to pay for it if the economy doesn’t grow. And I’m not talking by a measly percentage point or two. If we can’t find our way back to 5% annual economic growth or above soon, America’s accumulated federal […]
What if I told you that the march of human progress could be traced in a direct line from the Epicureans of Ancient Greece… through the 18th Century’s cure for smallpox… to where Steve Jobs and Bill Gates found inspiration as scrappy teenagers… to the flying car of tomorrow?Stay with me and I’ll show you […]
Real progress happens through real people, ideas, and innovations. Not by legislation argued and debated in Congress. Right now, one of the most influential technologies is changing the way people do business. And reinventing the future in the process.
Innovation can change the world… if the world lets it. Unfortunately, society’s gatekeepers make it a point to constrain, regulate, and control these ideas. But their power is limited, and the power of innovation is too great. Unfortunately for regulators, there are some technologies they can’t control.
What’s the #1 reason a start-up fails?It runs out of money!And why would it run out of money?Because nobody wants the product it’s selling!For early-stage investors, this presents a bit of a conundrum:If a product doesn’t exist yet, how do you figure out if there’s demand for it?And how do you figure it out before […]
A cushy job in Hawaii that pays six figures. A beautiful girlfriend/boyfriend. Job security and professional experience that gives you plenty of future opportunities. Would you throw that all away to do what you think is right? Last year, one government contractor did just that. And now you see the world the government tried to hide from you.
Every time Bitcoin crashes, it winds up at a price greater than it’s previous high. Yet the experts still call it a currency fad that will fade away. But a little over a year since it really took up, the digital currency is still going strong, and is once again seeing its price rise. But is there another reason why people are buying Bitcoins.
According to some estimates, one man - whose name you're probably not familiar with - has saved over a billion lives. Who is he? And how has he influenced the current crop of innovators? Josh Grasmick explains...
Edward Snowden’s one year visa in Russia expires at the end of next month. With only a few weeks left before he finds himself without a safe country to live in, he sat down to give an exclusive interview. Here are the most important things he wants you to remember from his recent sacrifice.
Biotech breakthroughs and other transformative innovations are a few of the brightly shining spots in the U.S. economy. In fact, Paul Mampilly believes this is the golden age of biotech investing, and that you can earn massive returns while investing in companies with drugs that benefit all of humanity. Read on for his latest example...
Harold Hamm isn’t your typical entrepreneur. His life’s story shows you success in America doesn’t always depend on a fat checkbook
Obama recently claimed this was the “Decade of the Brain”. But it not the first time the government made that promise. The last time they did it, they wasted millions of your tax dollars. Now they’re back for round two. But this time, their failure could mean more than squandered money. It could mean making Alzheimer’s even worse for those who suffer from it.
Does owning a gun mean you’re guilty until proven innocent? Considering what happened to one man from Florida, that might be the case. But there’s more to this story than just a case of police overreach. Police departments across the nation could be implementing a new technology that puts the burden of innocence squarely on your shoulders.
American ingenuity. It’s the stuff of lore and legend, and it’s what drives the global economy. We literally bank on the next disruptive entrepreneur — and innovative new technology — to completely redefine or create new industries. It’s what America does really well, our goose that continues to lay golden eggs.And yet, maybe not.The truth […]
When Michael Lewis’ new book Flash Boys came out, the author caused a stir while making the media rounds to promote it. “The stock market is rigged,” he told 60 Minutes flatly. His comments set off a firestorm of debate as to whether sharp techies and their fast computers are screwing small investors.As titillating as […]
Last November, when the Environment Protection Agency (EPA) proposed moderating years of escalating mandates by reducing the amount of ethanol that must be mixed into gasoline, a top ethanol lobbyist seemed perplexed. “We’re all just sort of scratching our heads here today and wondering why this administration is telling us to burn less of a […]
Why Is U.S. Health Care So Much More Expensive?After years of research and many conversations with health policy experts, I see three key culprits of expensive health care in the U.S.In no particular order, they are the third-party payer system (i.e., employer-provided health care), malpractice suits, and administrative support costs/paperwork.The unintended consequence of institutionalized employer-provided […]
At the recently concluded Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russian security officials used state of the art facial recognition software to identify potential terrorists. Today, Byron King takes a closer look at this sophisticated new technology and what it means for the future of national security. Read on...
Back in the 1980s, John Nestor became infamous for single-handedly causing massive traffic jams on the Capital Beltway. But in his professional life, he created a completely different kind of traffic jam... one that may have contributed to the deaths of thousands of innocent people. Juan Enriquez has the full story. Read on...
Entrepreneurs innovate. Bureaucrats regulate. It’s the eternal struggle that exists in our modern economy/government. The people in power try to make the playing field as even and fair as possible. While innovators buck the rules and push the world toward a better tomorrow.
Technological progress moves the world forward. It finds ways to do things better, for less money, while using fewer resources. And if you ask any politician, they’ll tell you that’s the way to grow the economy and get America back on track. But if that progress threatens one of the government’s sacred programs, then that’s a different story. One that results in a crackdown on progress, and protection of the status quo.
No one loves democracy more than the politicians in power because of it. But just because you get to vote every year or so doesn’t mean the system works. In fact, the system could be responsible for its fair share of problems. But democracy’s become sacred in the U.S. And no one bothers to question it.
It began as a skirmish. Then it was a battle. It became a war. Now it is a bloody conflict that is global in scope. Both sides have passed the point of no return. There is no question who is winning and going to win totally in the end, despite massive carnage along the way.
The field of battle in this case are the digital networks that swirl around the world in arrangements so thick and wide — seemingly infinite points of light that represent human contact backed by technological genius– that they surpass the capacity of the human mind to conceptualize them.
The two sides: everybody vs. everybody’s governments.
The death of Aaron Swartz, the 26-year-old digital genius, seems to have been some sort of turning point. The government hounded him, threatened him, planned to jailed him and bankrupt him for life. The ostensible reason for the persecution was that he downloaded research papers with the intent to distribute them. The real reason was that he was using his skills to pioneer new methods of subverting government’s attempts to thwart Internet freedom.
His tormentors broke his gentle spirit. He killed himself before they could get their way.
But since his death two weeks ago, there have been thousands of tributes written about his life. His interviews and writings have gone viral online. The organizations he founded have seen new life. His causes have gained new adherents. Hundreds and thousands have been showing up to events to give tribute to his work and ideas.
I’m thinking here of the life and death of Martin Luther King, Jr., and how it became a symbol of the urgent and non-negotiable desire for racial justice and peace. After he died, there was no turning back. The arguments and struggles largely ended. There would be no more legal barriers to the freedom of people to associate.
One wonders if the death of Aaron Swartz will take on a similar significance in the demand for the digital freedom to associate. After all, the war against the mass migration from physical to digital cannot be won by the state. The cloud is humanity’s new home — a world without borders, coercion, or barriers. Aaron was a prophet of this dramatic change in the social order that took place from 1995 onward. He understood it like few others.
But is the winner in this war really decided? Think of this. The war on online sharing (“piracy”) has been ongoing for ten years. It has involved ever more spying, ever more warnings plastered everywhere, ramped up intimidation in every sphere of life.
The penalties are more intense. Civil infractions have been converted to criminal acts. Kids have been fined, humbled, jailed. Enforcement has involved military raids and body bags. Every voice of government authority the world over has weighed in to denounce the pirates, the infringers, the copiers, the stealers, and looters.
We’ve been told that viewing unauthorized material, sharing things without permission, saying stuff without checking with the authorities, is tantamount to robbing grocery stores and stealing cars. The penalties are higher than for kidnapping and manslaughter.
And yet look at the results. Right now, this instant, “pirated” material has never been more available online. You can stream practically anything that has ever been filmed or recorded, instantly. The waves of information, licit or illicit, are rising and crashing ever harder in every minute that goes by.
It is impossible to police, impossible to stop, impossible to control, and ever more brazen by the day. The more governments try to stop it, the more there is to stop. And yet the politicians and bureaucrats still swear that they will fight to the bitter end, unconditional surrender as the only terms. It’s the ultimate unwinnable war, even more absurd than the war on drugs or the war on demon rum.
It’s not criminals who are thwarting the efforts of governments. It is human beings who are seeking out ways to connect and share information. They are acting as people do, using the tools they have been given to find and share value. They are seeking ways to push progress in the world of ideas.
They are using the magical capacity of the Internet to copy — that’s its real power and real function — in order to universalize whatever is wanted by others. The driving force is the burning desire on the part of people to link up to their mutual betterment. And this is taking place outside the artificial borders of the nation state and creating new forms of human engagement and innovation on a scale that no one imagined possible.
But are the “pirates” wrecking enterprise and profits? That’s what we are told. But look at it. The Wall Street Journal reports that the slide in revenue for Hollywood over the last ten years has been stopped as “online revenue grew enough to offset a continued drop in DVD sales and rentals.” Subscriptions to streaming sites rose 45%, and digital download sales are up 35%. Digital distribution accounts for 30% of spending on of home entertainment.
Meanwhile, people are still going to the movies. Last year was a banner year. Same with music. We are living in a new renaissance of all forms of art, creativity, media, books, research, ideas — and there are plenty of profits to be made by the smart, creative, savvy, and talented. More than ever before!
As always, the key to profitability is to deliver value to consumers in ways that match their most intense desires. It matters not at all that nearly everything on iTunes can be pirated in some other way, that most everything on Netflix can be streamed through another venue, that most proprietary software can be snagged somewhere for nothing, that smart phones can be hacked to get things that otherwise cost money, that services from phone calls to online conferencing are available in a gigantic range of pricing from six figures down to zero.
The governments that have battled against digital networks have worked tightly with reactionary interest groups in industry. Their dominant assumption has always been that if the Internet wins, the rest of us lose. That is obviously false. There is no zero sum game here. Those who have made money in this digital world have done so the old-fashioned way: selling valuable stuff to people at prices that people are willing to pay.
We’ve lost Aaron and it is a terrible loss. But look who we have: people like Kim Dot Com, the file storage pioneer who was coming up with new ways to take power from the industry/government establishment and put it into the hands of users.
The government tried to ruin him. Read my piece on his case from this time last year: “The Death of File Sharing.” He and his service seemed to be doomed.
He fought back. His servers were destroyed but he has started a new company with new servers: Mega.co.nz. This new service is even more amazing, super encrypted with enough filed storage and sharing capacity for a good part of humanity to use. It is also the product of learning. This machine will not be destroyed.
The new systems live in the digital cloud where governments have little to no access. Encryption ensures privacy. These combinations of technologies give all users an opportunity to “secede” from government. If you are looking for a large-scale, anonymous, and affordable file-storage system run by a company that is a proven survivor, you could probably benefit from Mega: http://kim.com/mega.
Mega is only one of many new systems that challenge the governments of the world. There will be many more. They will get even better. The revolution can’t be stopped.
This is the way of the future. The watchwords are voluntarism, commerce, and laissez faire, the French expression meaning that if you just leave us alone, society can manage just fine. We don’t need their wars, their authority, their impositions, their legislation, their threats, their fines, their jails.
Aaron is gone, but his spirit not only lives; it pervades the future in every way. Be not afraid: join the side of the winners.