Health care costs in the U.S. have been rising so steadily for so long that containment barely seems possible. Even optimists don’t dream of cutting the price tag. As its official name — the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act — suggests, Obamacare aims for affordability, not radical reduction.But at a time when we’re all […]
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.
Last week’s violent government attack on the hugely popular site Megaupload — the U.S. government arresting Belgian citizens in New Zealand, of all places, and stealing at gunpoint servers bank accounts and property — has sent shock waves through the entire digital world.
The first shock was the realization that the gigantic protest against legislative moves (SOPA and PIPA) that would smash the Internet turned out to be superfluous. The thing everyone wanted to prevent is already here. SOPA turns out not to be the unwelcome snake in the garden of free information. The snakes have already taken over the garden and are hanging from every tree.
The second shock took a few days to sink in. It could mean that the whole way in which the digital age has functioned is in danger, or even doomed. This is not a forecast. This doom is all around us right now.
The problem is this: Megaupload was accused of violating copyright through its file-sharing technology. This permits users to upload their own content and permit other users into their space. If anything that one person uploads is of uncertain copyright status — it could be anything, really — sharing it would then seem to amount to a crime.
For some years, the feds have unnecessarily harassed people for nonviolently streaming or sharing content. This has had something of a chilling effect and increased the use of IP-scrambling proxies to keep online habits from being traced. College kids know this all too well. Masking IPs is just the way they live and work.
The attack on Megaupload takes all of this to a different level. This was not some wholly surreptitious, sketchy institution that was trying to get around the law. It was already becoming a legitimate service for launching careers in music and art generally. It seemed to be doing exactly what we expect in the digital age. It was reinventing an old model for new times through innovation in production, delivery and profit sharing.
As I wrote before, this was most likely why the old-line industry came after them. It was not the illegal activities, but their legal ones that made them a target. The moguls do not want change. They crushed the competition.
At the same time, the actual legal rationale that the feds used to blast these people away was their supposed violation of intellectual property through file sharing.
Which raises the question: Is every site that makes file sharing possible in danger? Consider Dropbox, the hugely popular service that allows you to put your files in the cloud and create special folders that share them with others. This allows people to work on shared folders in a collaborative way, and prevents the inevitable problem of version control that comes with emailing back and forth.
How exactly is Dropbox different from Megaupload? It is not that different. It is staid and scholarly, rather than flashy and jazzy. It’s interface is plain and neat, rather than colorful and upbeat. Otherwise, it is hard to qualitatively distinguish one from another.
Dropbox is hardly alone. As TechCrunch puts it:
“Several digital locker services operate like Megaupload. RapidShare and MediaFire are two of the larger services. But these sites have undergone a face-lift recently and at least appear to be much less nefarious than they once were. Other services like Dropbox, iCloud, and Amazon S3 are open to hosting any file type a user uploads. They also make sharing easy, but in a way, that’s a lot more private than Megaupload. Still yet, there are sites like Zoho in which users can easily share content, content that could be copyrightable. But the prime goal of all these sites is open file sharing — just like Megaupload.”
It is hard to see how any file-sharing site can pass muster under the new regime. There are plenty more like SugarSync and FileSonic. As Ghacks points out, users of the latter were greeted with the following ominous message just this week:
Question: What value is a file-sharing site if it doesn’t permit the sharing of files? It becomes a thumb drive in the cloud. Maybe that is a bit of convenience, but it is not highly marketable or useful.
Another tactic that file-sharing sites are using after the Mega attack is to outright ban U.S. users in hopes that this will somehow immunize them from the terror attacks being used by the U.S. government. Thus at one upload site were American users greeted with the following:
Americans look at China with shock that the government doesn’t allow access to a huge amount of the World Wide Web. But look: It is happening right now in the United States, but in an indirect way. This has been called a “virtual Iron Curtain” that is being thrown up around U.S. borders. It has already happened to banking. We are seeing the first signs of this on Internet access.
Another site called uploadbox.com has decided that it will no longer deal with the risk of these kinds of terror tactics and plans to shut down completely at month’s end.
What else? Google Docs allows file sharing and has solved so many problems as a result. This has been a great advantage of this innovation. I use it every day. It is essential. But it is in danger. What about Facebook? I could post a copyrighted image there right now and share it with thousands. Facebook thereby becomes an accessory to the same crimes that Mega is alleged to have abetted.
For that matter, what about email? When I send a file, it doesn’t remove it from my machine. A copy is made and made and made again. Who and what is to say whether what is sent or received is proprietary and made it through all the legal hoops? In the last several weeks, I’ve actually received emails expressing fear of sharing links to public sites!
All these changes go beyond the traditional “chilling effect” of random attacks on free speech and free association. This is a sudden and outright freeze, one that is devastating for the whole way in which the Internet has come to exist. What is called “file sharing” is the unique service that the Internet provides. Without that, the Internet becomes an efficient post office or another means of delivering television-style content.
The reason that the Internet has been the driving forced behind economic growth, political change, social progress and the general uplift of humanity is its capacity for taking scarce goods and converting them into nonscarce goods of infinite duplicability and availability. Information, media, data and images that were once captive of the physical world — paper and ink, film and bankers boxes — have been freed into another realm so that they can serve and enlighten the whole of humanity.
This has happened because of the miracle of duplicating digital goods that are driving economies in the digital age. To ban duplication and file sharing today is no different from banning flight in the 1920s, banning steel in the 1880s, banning the telegraph in the 1830s, banning the printer in the 1430s and banning the wheel and sail at the beginning of mankind’s advance out of the cave.
It will set humanity back. It violates liberty. It attacks everything that constitutes and defines the times in which we live. It replaces a world of sharing and thriving with a world of violence and technological regression. The Internet will continue to exist, but it will take a different form. Large sectors will have to thrive behind very secure pay walls and only within private digital communities.
And who is doing this? The U.S. government. Government in league with old-line corporate elites.
And what is the official reason? To enforce “intellectual property.” It has really come down to this: Either the whole basis of copyright, trademark and patent are scrapped or we could see the death of the digital age as we know it. So long as IP is enforced, the U.S. world empire can continue to roam the world seeking whom it may devour.