Augmentation: Early Days, Big Promises

To make things easier for humans – that’s the central principle of most, if not all, of technology. It has always been about accommodating our tasks, whether we want to make these more fuss-free, or we simply wish to do away with doing them, entirely. Moreover, these days, it’s not so much about creating brand new technology, in terms of physical tools; the focus is now on developing new apps to help us with various aspects of daily life. That’s not to say that humans will avoid manual labor, completely. While that prospect may be in the very distant future, seeds of possibility are already germinating. For instance, we now have the potential to interface with computers, without physically doing so. It’s called brain-machine interface (BMI), and it’s hot property in Silicon Valley right now. Social media giant Facebook has concrete plans in that direction, to enable their users to type with their mind, while technology darling Elon Musk is going the medical way, using the tech to create implants that will help people with brain impairments.

These are actually refined ideas of what Larry Page laid out 2004, albeit with a scary connotation. “Eventually, you’ll have the implant where if you think about a fact, it will just tell you the answer,” he told one reporter. Not long after, criticisms poured in, on how corporations can manipulate this technology for their own gain. Loss of identity and freedom, life run by choices dictated by a company –  BMI would’ve been terrifying if it followed Page’s vision, to the letter.

 

On the Way to Augmentation: Two Sides of the Coin

When something as life-altering as BMI comes along, it’s important to see it from all perspectives. There are two prevalent angles on the integration of BMI: its practicality and its potential to mesh the human mind with artificial intelligence. Let’s have a look at both.

The Practical Side – When Facebook announced their BMI intentions, there were some doubts. This is, after all, a social media company. Perhaps the same technology will, in the near enough future, become SEO news, with searchers no longer having to physically type or speak their queries into their gadgets.  Optimistically, there will be more significant applications of the technology as there now are for virtual reality. What was once a tool purely for entertainment has become a surgical assistant, an educational supplement, and a showroom for goods. As of now, helping people with brain impairments, dementia and other neurological disorders are the more potentially useful, life-changing purposes of BMI.

 

On Becoming Androids – We had a very different idea of what an android was until Elon Musk came along. His proposition that humans are already part android because we rely so much on our laptops and smartphones is an unexpected take on bio-mechanical life. He also wants BMI to bridge the gap between us and our potential AI overlords. As you may remember, Musk is one of the many luminaries who fear the prospect of singularity. Brain augmentation or meshing with AI will enable us to compete with the rise and domination of AI or prevent the uprising altogether, Musk theorizes. In short, we would be a kind of superhuman: controlling technology with our minds and maximizing our brainpower, with the implant helping address our weaknesses in real time.

When consumer BMI hits the market, in four years’ time, it will change how we view and live life. It may be frustrating to integrate a new function into our organic system, but considering what it can do for us, it’s hard to ignore the promise of the wizard era.

The 10K Policy: How YouTube’s New Policy is for the Greater Good

YouTube is a haven for big brands who want exposure, and for people who just want to kill time watching videos. For this reason, the social platform has become the go-to site for such audiences — and for brands who want a growing market.

It’s no wonder YouTube ads are also massively popular.

 

Behind the Scenes

For regular viewers, the first 30 seconds can be annoying. Instead of seeing the videos they want, they encounter ads that require waiting before they can skip. For brands, however, it’s one of the best ways to connect with the audience.

The growing popularity of its ads encouraged YouTube to come up with better policies to protect viewers and businesses alike.

That’s when the new policy came in.

 

Change is Here

YouTube’s new policy is simple: if you want to make money from ads on videos, the channel should have more than 10,000 views. New creators aspiring to be part of the YouTube Partner Program should wait until they achieve the said number of total video views before they can start displaying ads.

What was the purpose of the change?

YouTube has been working hard to reduce bad site behavior, particularly content stealing.

 

Say “No” to Content Stealing

Content theft has always been an unfortunate reality YouTube creators face. The trend of bootleg DVDs and illegal re-posting of videos is creating financial losses for independent creators.

With its new policy, YouTube aims to reduce the number of channels that steal content. The site will review the applicant’s activities against their policies; this ensures that all their channels will promote unique and quality content.

Since distinctiveness is a selling point, you may not need to worry about other people poaching and making money out of your unique ideas.

 

Managing Reputation

Another good reason to implement the new rule: to protect brand reputation. When big brands boycotted YouTube ads, they did so with good reason: their ads played over videos with offensive content. There is a tendency for viewers to then associate the business with unsavory or extremist ideas. No entrepreneur wants an association with any video that casts a bad light on the business. The new policy gives you the power to control the content linked to your ads. So your brand stays on the public’s good side.

The change may seem overwhelming, which is a typical reaction for any new guideline. While not everyone’s a big fan of updates, the video sharing site’s current policy may just serve the greater good.

6 Tech Pioneers Who Became Billionaires

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Have you ever wondered what makes tech giants so successful? These billionaires are not only major tech moneymakers; they’re also some of the richest people in the world. It’s safe to say that technology provides opportunities and growth for individuals who strive for innovation. Without these creators, we wouldn’t have seen technological development as great as ours today.

Here’s a rundown of the richest innovators in the world:

 

6. Sergey Brin

 

Brin was an immigrant from Moscow as a child and attended Stanford for his Ph.D. Along with Larry Page, Brin was one-half of the duo behind the massive restructuring of Google, which they announced in 2015. The two now own Alphabet, a holding company, with Brin as the president and Page as the CEO. He has a net worth of $41.6 billion after having increased by $4.1 billion this year.

 

5. Larry Page

 
With a net worth of $42.5 billion at only age 43, Page is a self-made genius. He collaborated with his classmate and tech giant Sergey Brin to create BackRub, a search engine. We all know this project now as Google or Alphabet, one of the biggest and farthest-reaching companies in the industry. Page owns an eco-friendly mansion in Palo Alto and advocates alternative energy.

 

4. Larry Ellison

 
Oracle Corp., a programming firm that built a relational database management system for the CIA, is the brainchild of Larry Ellison together with two of his previous colleagues. Ellison is 72 years old and is worth $45.3 billion even after stepping down as CTO and CEO of Oracle. Despite his massive wealth, he makes sure to share half his fortune to the Giving Pledge, a project by Bill Gates and Warren Buffet.

 

3. Mark Zuckerberg

 
The youngest and perhaps the most famous one in this list, Mark Zuckerberg is the 32-year-old tech extraordinaire behind Facebook. Today, the social media platform has over a billion users daily with a worth of $400 billion. Zuckerberg has a net worth of $58.5 billion with a pledge of 99% to the Chan-Zuckerberg Initiative charity. Together with his wife, he bestowed huge amounts to Ebola treatments and a New Jersey public-school system.

 

2. Jeff Bezos

 
Jeff Bezos founded Amazon.com in the garage of his Seattle home in 1994, operating it initially as an online book retailer. In 2016, Amazon generated a total of $136 billion in revenue, pulling Bezos up the ranks. He now owns Blue Origin, a space company, and The Washington Post, a newspaper which he bought in 2013.

 

1. Bill Gates

 

Still at the top of the list is Bill Gates. Together with Paul Allen, Gates founded Microsoft at the age of 20 before serving as its CEO until 2000. He was also its chairman and largest shareholder until the year 2014. Today, Gates is no longer involved with the company, but this hasn’t affected his $85.2 billion net worth.

These self-made billionaires weren’t born into wealth. They are living examples of how hard work can transpire into success compromising neither humility nor integrity.

Tech Tax: Is the US Finally Ready for It?

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Technology has opened a lot of opportunities and capabilities to people around the world. And when you think of tech, hopefully, you’re not just thinking about the Internet. While network connection is, of course, a huge part of it, technology stretches beyond the online realm and contributes to some industries around the world.

Its contribution is undeniable. The presence of tech in sectors such as healthcare, farming, transportation, and so many others is almost always a sign of progress in that particular industry, even increasingly eliminating the need for manual labor, thus having employees risk losing their jobs.

As such, the use of technology has more economic implications than you may think. Should they be taxed, and should the world, or the US at least, be ready for it?

 

Tech Tax to Address “Digital Divide”

Bob O’Donnell, chief analyst, and president of a marketing consultancy firm, TechNalysis, says that it may be time for a tech tax. In his column in USA Today, Mr. O’Donnell pointed out that technology brings people closer to one another, and also creates what he calls a “digital divide.” While digital capabilities paved the way for many tech advancements, this has also caused a lot of economic gaps, which may severely affect those whose jobs may be compromised by the presence of the available technologies.

Users of these types of tech in their respective industries may soon eliminate the need for traditional jobs, and even human employees, shortly after. As robots and artificial intelligence progress, and businesses and industries are increasingly relying on them, there is a growing risk of further obsoleting jobs, especially when it comes to data analysis, manufacturing and other similar services requiring mass production.

 

Robots Should Pay Taxes — Bill Gates

Microsoft founder Bill Gates said in an interview that robots that “are going in and doing the same things” as human employees should be taxed. Businesses that are heavily reliant on robots and AI should pay taxes, as well, which can be used to train displaced workers to take on other jobs in industries with fewer robot competitors.

While this may or may not ensure employment for everyone, it, at least, reduces the number of unemployed individuals who lose their jobs because of robot workers.

 

Not Exactly a New Proposition

It’s setting the tech world abuzz nowadays, but tech tax isn’t exactly a new proposition. Robot taxation was previously proposed in San Francisco last year but did not have a positive reception among lawmakers in the state. The proposal did not sit well with the states’ politicians, who distinguish themselves as progressive and moderate Democrats. Some of the lawmakers argued that pushing through with tech tax will only further the already existing economic gaps.

 

Should America Embrace It?

Tech tax is a controversial proposition, and people have a lot to say about it, even before it’s implemented. Whatever the opinions may be, the intention to bridge economic gaps is clear. Its viability as a course of action, however, will be undetermined until it comes into play. Whether or not the US, or other parts of the world, is ready for it, they will still have to wait.

Facebook, Still the King of Digital Marketing – Here’s Why

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The concept of digital marketing is no longer just the future. Digital marketing, as we know it, is the advertising and promotional platform of today, of the technologically advanced present where we have more computers than we do trees. For the most part, it’s a good thing. Businesses take advantage of this reality, and rightfully so – marketing has never been so accessible to the common man.

For the people behind the marketing schemes, the choice for execution is tough. Choosing the perfect marketing channel to pour their resources into could be difficult. There are too many to choose from, and each one is completely different from others.

Manish Dudharejia, Co-Founder of E2M, makes that choice easier for all of us. He says that Facebook is still at the top of the ranks and that Facebook ads are set to surpass any other channel this year. Here’s why:

 

Personalized Ads

Mark Zuckerberg came up with the Facebook Custom Audience Tool, designed to build Facebook advertising campaigns around specific audiences. Brands target its market easily with the user information that Facebook provides. Entrepreneurs and businessmen who are new to the party will see maximum results in their growing network instantly.

 

Excellent Visibility

Facebook is reportedly third in the list of the most populated online platforms. With over 1.79 billion active monthly users, it would be a great loss for businesses to miss out on Facebook’s marketing opportunities. Facebook is also the world’s most downloaded mobile app, taking the bulk of the hours a consumer spends on their phones.

 

Brand Awareness

Similar to personalized ads, the Brand Awareness ad objective also makes use of real-time proxy metrics to boost a business but with no target market in mind. The goal of the objective is to get the attention of all users to maximize the number of people who are interested in the brand. This gives the business quality exposure, critical for gaining a bigger audience.

 

Live Feed

One of the most recent yet most used features of the website is Facebook Live, allowing users to share livestream videos straight from their mobile phones and onto their Timelines. Marketers use this to promote events and new store locations, have brand ambassadors speak about products, or to answer questions from viewers. According to a study, Facebook users are more likely to watch live videos than to read content – brands should include this on their marketing schemes.

 

Artificial Intelligence

Facebook Messenger is one way for brands to communicate privately with their customers. The more businesses engage on Facebook, the more hours spent on the platform will increase. Beneficial for both the brands and Facebook itself, the app has now launched a Chatbot feature which enables businesses to talk to customers without a human body behind the screen. Creating an A.I. is one tough job, but Facebook easily lets brands encode certain responses and structured messages for instantaneous transactions.

 

Instant Feedback

Because of Facebook, getting feedback has never been so easy. A simple status update or poll post would rack up quick responses from customers. Facebook is a great venue for hassle-free surveys and product reviews.

 

Customers as Brand Influencers

You might not see it now, but your customers’ opinions are just as important as a celebrity’s. In fact, they might even be more believable because of the stigma about the unreliability of celebrities when it comes to ads. On Facebook, a simple “Like” from one customer can send others scampering toward your page. Just like how we value our friends’ opinions, a customer’s recommendation is a trustworthy one.

 

Innovation

A lot of these features on Facebook did not exist three years ago, but look at where we are now. Facebook continues to improve, grow, and innovate – the future is too bright to ignore. Who knows what groundbreaking digital marketing tool the social media platform will create next?

There are probably only a handful of people whose mission in life is to avoid Facebook at all costs. Facebook will remain a social media essential for a while, and there’s no denying its versatility when it comes to boosting your business. Investing resources and time in curating a Facebook marketing strategy will land your brand the audience it deserves.

WSJ Heightens Digital Experience, Pulls Out from Google’s First Click-Free Program

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Have you ever encountered reading an article online and suddenly, a pop-up ad tells you that you have used one of three free articles for that website? Well, that’s all thanks to Google’s First Click Free program. But since The Wall Street Journal pulled their content out of that, there’s a possibility that others may pull this stunt as well and soon, you may not have access to any article in other digital publications at all, lest you subscribe to them.

 

Free Information in Three Clicks

In their attempt to make the world’s information and make it universally accessible, Google started offering the First Click Free option to web and news publishers. This protects the publisher’s content while including it in the search index. It also provides a discovery opportunity for those who have restricted content.

In 2009, Google limited the free access to five because they thought of the publishers that were still hesitant to try it in fear that people may abuse it to obtain almost all of their content. About a decade after Google launched the program, they updated it and reduced the number of accesses from five down to three because publishers felt the need to revisit these policies, making sure that these apply to a multiple device setting.

 

Subscription Needed

Recently, The Wall Street Journal pulled out four sections of their publication out of Google’s First Click Free program. As a result, non-members will be unable to read them unless they purchase one or subscribe to the Journal.

It was a bold move from the Journal and by removing four sections – Opinion, Markets, Business, and Politics – the experiment aims to give a boost to subscriptions driven directly from content.

However, as per Google, subscription-only content won’t be fully indexed, which means that there’s a possibility that the Journal’s content won’t rank as well as it did before, which could mean a reduction in traffic, resulting in paying subscriptions.

Colorado Businesses Can Profit from Public Data via Go Code Colorado

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In Colorado, there is an ongoing effort to ensure the accessibility of public data in the business community. As a matter of fact, Wayne Williams, the Secretary of State in Colorado, believes that public data is an asset that should be readily accessible to the people of the state, especially business decision makers.

In his goal for public data accessibility, he launched a new site where business owners and leaders could raise questions about acquiring public data and making use of it to formulate better business decisions. The venture could lead to higher profits.

 

Go Code Colorado

Just recently, Williams’ office launched Go Code Colorado, a website that features an apps challenge that will help make public data more user-friendly and accessible.

In the apps challenge, teams in each of the five cities in Colorado will battle it out to create apps that utilize public data to help business come up with more intelligent decisions. Two teams from each city will advance in the competition. They will receive guidance from a network of mentors to help them develop their ideas further. The teams will then meet up for the final event where they will pitch their concepts to the judges.

 

Contest Overview

Those entering the Go Code Colorado Challenge should visit the Go Code Colorado website and register in one of the five Challenge Weekend events. Participants will need to develop a computer application addressing the business challenge. They must also utilize at least one publicly available dataset found in the Colorado Information Marketplace.

Participants may join in the Challenge Weekend in one of the five cities of Go Code Colorado, namely Grand Junction, Fort Collins, Durango, Colorado Springs, or Denver.

 

Judging Criteria

Judges will evaluate each team that qualifies for the Challenge Weekend events based on five criteria: innovation/impact, implementation, quality/code review, presentation, and use of data sources.

Innovation/impact counts as 20 percent of the total score. Teams should clearly present how their idea is different and unique from what’s currently available on the market. It should also show how business decision makers will use the product.

Implementation accounts for 20 percent of the overall rating. Teams must present the feasibility of the app idea.

Another 20 percent would go to quality/code review. Judges will determine if the app is well-built. In addition, independent analysts will conduct a code review, which the judges will use to determine the quality score.

Another 10 percent of the final score will go to the actual presentation. Teams must successfully and convincingly explain to the judges on how their idea can fix a problem for a business decision maker using public data.

The final criterion, use of data sources, is 30 percent of the total score. Teams must show how they analyzed and combined the data to formulate new insights to help a business decision maker.

 

Prizes of the Winning Teams

The best three teams will get to sign a one-year agreement with the state. In addition, one of the three teams will also receive $25,000 to keep their business idea and app going.

The agreement gives the winning teams the license to use the intellectual property developed during the competition. Go Code Colorado, in return, would ask the winning teams to maintain the software and supply analytics on the software’s usage.

After one year, the winning team automatically acquires all the intellectual property and software they had developed. The team may also obtain these two prizes earlier if they can accumulate gross or financing revenues of at least $50,000 before the agreement ends.

 

A More Dynamic Online Brainstorming Approach

Andrew Cole, head of the Secretary of State’s Business Intelligence Center, thinks of the Go Code Colorado as a form of online brainstorming. Cole believes that this approach is more dynamic as people can readily see what ideas other people are posting and how it could kindle the imagination. The latest online site is also meant to complement app development efforts.

 

What Businesses Can Expect from Go Code Colorado Going Forward

Williams hopes that this new site will pave the way for a dialogue where business owners ask for the data they need from the state and how they will use it. Furthermore, he’s also looking for ways on how public data can generate business insights. For instance, when people offer a problem or pose a question regarding their business, others can chime in and provide a comment.