A Terminator in your back yard

“1. A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.
2. A robot must obey the orders given it by human beings except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.
3. A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Laws. “

Handbook of Robotics, 56th Edition, 2058 AD

Terminator-Genisys

T-3000 Terminator model from Terminator Genisys

The last months were plenty of odd accidents for the world of robotics, the most remarkable happening by the end of July at Facebook AI’s Labs. Two chatbots were programmed to perform a negotiating and bartering task while improving their skills adapting each other, but weren’t instructed to do it in proper English.  And in fact they didn’t, starting using their own unintelligible mix of words to speed up the process. The experiment had to be shut off as out of control.

Just two week before in Washington DC a Knightscope K5, a sort of Start Wars R2-D2 like security robot, drowned itself into the pond of the mall where was on his duty in what eye witnesses described as a “suicide”.

Besides this two good horror stories, such accidents should make us aware that failures at more important levels of robots programming and automatic machines functions could produce serious problems to us. Few days ago in fact 116 academics and entrepreneurs (Elon Musk among others) signed a document of Toby Walsh, a professor at New South Wales University, asking ONU to regulate robot’s application in warfare and military field.

I’m not sure if the three Isaac Asimov’s laws of robotics may work, but for sure we are on time for self-regulating such technologies in order to do not harm ourselves, in a matter of few years this would be too late and could possibly led to out of control situations like… having a T-3000 in our back yard asking for certain John!

Errr… by the way.. have you got any Sarah Connor on your address book?

Oh Canada!

A recent survey of IPSOS Mori has polled 18,000 people in 25 countries asking what are the most reliable influencers on the world scene. The outcome has been pretty surprising as main global powers, China and USA, have both dropped dramatically to 49% and 40% confidence rate, with Us loosing 24% since last year poll.

Infographic: Canada Seen As The Most Positive Influence Globally  | Statista You will find more statistics at Statista

On the other side two nice surprises: Canada with an astonishing 81% and Australia are the most well regarded countries when it comes to influence international decisions.

This is probably due to their president’s reputation (Trudeau vs Trump) but it’s an interesting trend that probably will lead to news scenarios in the near future.

Curiously enough UK and EU have the same consideration among the polled audience, Brexit issues seem to be irrelevant at least in this field!

 

Crypto currencies: what’s the wheather like?

Monday March 13th 2017 will be an important date for Bitcoin and crypto-currencies in general, the SEC in fact will decide whether if approve or not Bitcoin as an ETF (Exchange Traded Fund).

In case of approval it will be possible to invest on Bitcoins over the long term without directly buy them, while short term investors may bet on price movements: basically the Bitcoin will become a commodity.

But will this be a positive thing for the largest crypto-currency? For sure all e-wallet problems may be overcome once for ever and the value of it may rise as high as 3,200$ as per some analysts prediction.

Infographic: Bitcoin by Far the Largest Crypto-Currency | Statista You will find more statistics at Statista

On the other side the effect of trapping Bitcoin in normal market rules and rituals may have an unpredictable outcome.

For that as regards “real” Bitcoin, after the recent crash, it’s experiencing a recovery. The number of Bitcoin ATMs is increasing with US being the country with the biggest number of machines in the world, making North America to detain 73% of total machines on Earth.

Infographic: Number of Bitcoin ATMs by Country | Statista You will find more statistics at Statista

Also other areas are more and more interested in the crypto currency, countries such as Venezuela and Nigeria in fact look to the Bitcoin as a more secure and less depreciable currency compared to their national ones.

The most powerful city? London!

Ever wondered what is the most important city on earth? Well.. London! At least according to last Mori Memorial Foundation’s report. Their 2016 Global Power City Index in fact sets London as the most powerful city in the world for the fifth year in a row.

The total score is calculated on 6 main areas accounting 70 parameters : Economy, R&D, Culture, Livability, Environment and Accessibility; London with the first place in Culture and Accessibility secures the overall top scores of 1511.5, followed on the podium by New York (best for R&D) with 1384.7 and Tokyo (N. 1 for Economy) 1338.5.

09_worldmap_2016

Others cities worth to mention are Paris with a remarkable 4th place, Vienna 10th despite a smaller economy and not being a metropolis and Frankfurt 11th but best scorer in the Environment sector.

The only weak point of top cities seems to be livability both London and New York along with Singapore (5th) have poor results when speaking of cost and ease of living, working environment and security.

The challenge for next years, for such cities, will thus be find new solution to housing crisis and quality of work and working places.

Mori Memorial Foundation’s Institute for Urban Strategies: http://www.mori-m-foundation.or.jp

Deadly costly startups

London, New York and Silicon Valley have never been famous for being cheap places to live in. According to a recent report of Knight Franks though, also office rent costs for startups are sky rocketing and, of course, London is leading the race.

Renting an office in Shoreditch district in fact, cost more than 66,000 US$ annually that is enough for relegating Brooklyn and San Francisco Mid Market to 2nd and 3rd position respectively with a good 62,000 US$ and 61,000 US$.

Infographic: Where Startup Costs Are Sky High | Statista

You will find more statistics at Statista

The top ten is completed by Paris, Boston, Dublin, Los Angeles and then far east trio Hong Kong, Beijing and Singapore.

Till now the bad news. But Knight Frank has also calculated the rent for a 4 seats shared office and the good news is that prices are far lower also if not properly cheap. In this case London Shoreditch and Brooklyn would cost “only” around 29,000 US$, while San Francisco 24,000 US$.

Oddly enough Hong Kong has dedicated offices cheaper than serviced ones!

The outcome is that co-working spaces are very important for cutting costs of starting up and having an high entry level values for office rent could bring lot of potential entrepreneurs to drop out.

Another service that in my opinion could help in cost cutting is co-living, having house shares with communal facilities such as computer lab, printers, wi-fi connection could bring to cut dramatically office expenditures.

Basically you can have a bedsit and an office at the cost of the bedsit only, for sure won’t be good when you rise facebook-like funding but to start cheap is a good option for sure!

Knight Frank’s analysis: http://www.knightfrank.co.uk/news/start-up-costs-for-techies-in-london-are-the-highest-in-the-world-09857.aspx

The university dilemma

The QS World University Rankings 2016-17 has just been released. Top rankings have no surprises with USA and Europe leading the top ten with 5 universities for each side.

First three places are for the well-known “sisters” MIT, Stanford and Harvard while the first European is Cambridge in 4th; to complete the other positions Caltech, Oxford, Univesity College of London, ETH of Zurich, The Imperial College and Chicago University.

mit

Rest-of-the-world universities are lead by Singapore with NUS and NTU at 12th and 13th respectively and mainly China with several institutes in the top 30.

Criteria used for drafting the rankings include several indicators such as academic and employees reputation, citations and international students.

There is thus a wide number of top class colleges and universities to choose among especially if you’re looking for a technical or economics major, but the real question should be: does it worth the hassle? Does investing tens of thousand euros (or dollars, or pounds if you prefer) in high level formation is better than investing in your startup? And last but not least, are universities still the innovation centers that used to be for centuries?

Looking at the (in)famous dropouts list drafted by the College Dropouts Hall of Fame may be not anymore, at least if you’re planning to be the next world-changing entrepreneur. Reading the list in fact, beside well known dropouts such as Steve Jobs,  Bill Gates, Elon Musk and Richard Branson, we can find among other hundreds, people such as Stanley Kubrick, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Dan Akroyd and Bill Murray, Stefi Graff and Boris Becker.

steve2

Dropouts occasionally speak at graduations too

The web site propose also a half-serious good lists of reasons both to attend and not to attend college that worth a read. At least to make a half-serious reflection on what you really want from your future life.

Who has really won the Olympics? Grenada!

Rio_giochi_2016.svg

The last notes of Samba resounding from the closing show are still in the air in Rio and greatest champions and teams are celebrated worldwide; athletes such as Katie Ledecky, Usain Bolt, Michael Phelps, Simone Biles, to name few, will be remembered by kids whose fathers are not still born.

A quick look at the official ranking tells the winners is US with the impressive number of 121 medals (46 golds), followed by a fantastic Great Britain team with 67 (27 golds), China 70 (26 golds), doping axed Russia 56 (19 golds) and others little-by-little.

But the questions swirling in my mind are the following: for the sake of the Olympics spirit, shouldn’t be more honest draw a ranking weighting results related to population and resources of the country? Why countries and athletes with lower resources must be always located to back seats?

Finally surfing the web i did clarify my doubt! Those in fact are exactly the questions www.medalspercapita.com answer to, not only for the current edition but for all of the previous ones till Athens 1896!

So it’s very interesting to know that on a weighted (4 points to gold, 2 to silver, 1 to bronze) per capita scale the winning team would be Grenada with 53,412 people per weighted medal, followed up by Bahamas with 77,603 while on the lower place of the podium we would find Jamaica with 85,185. Long far away the first “big” country is Great Britain on 16th place with 380,925 while classic superpowers are even lower: US 36th, Russia 37th and China 72nd!

Talking of GDP per weighted medal the podium is slightly different: Grenada is always on the first place with 0.41b US$ per weighted medal, Jamaica is second with 0.47b US$ while Kenya is third with a more than honest 0.91b US$. On this field most celebrated countries take an even greater lesson from “little” ones, in fact the first superpower is Russia 35th followed by Great Britain 36th (both around 14b US$), China 61st and, hard to believe, US are 64th with 51b US$.

This means Grenada is roughly 124 times more sport-effective than US and 34 times than UK… In Tokyo 2020 we all should stand up at their national anthem.