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Why net neutrality isn’t as necessary as many people claim

The argument that we are given Internet access by only a few companies who cooperate and divide up the land among themselves is totally valid. But there may be a silver lining we’re not seeing that is staring us right in the face. The potential of the free market. Specifically, Google Fiber.

Google entered the scene in the 90s solely as a search engine and its assets and capital at the time were no where near what they have today. Google is a brand people trust and depend on and they decided to start introducing fiber optic Internet access simply because it grew to a size where it could afford to begin laying down its framework.

Google did this on its own, seeing potential in drawing/stealing consumers in from other ISPs (and the other ISPs definitely took notice). Granted, Google Fiber is only in a select number of cities right now, but it literally had zero cities at the time of its inception. Google is just one example of a powerhouse that started small and then entered new markets we never saw coming.

Amazon started off as an Internet retailer for books. It now has its own streaming service, 2-day delivery for the things we want, potential drone delivery, and Alexa. Walmart also had its humble start as a retailer. It now offers banking, cell phone plans, 2-day delivery, and sell groceries.

These services were not within the companies’ visions at inception. Netflix used to only sell physical media and competed with Blockbuster, eventually eliminating them from the picture altogether. Now Netflix’s capital is through the roof. These companies and potentially more (Apple, Microsoft, Cricket Wireless, T-Mobile, Uber, Disney) have the potential and the capital to enter the ISP market and undercut what the current big guys are offering.

Google Fiber is already doing this, and no one told them to. It saw an open market and decided to act because it wanted to make more money. That is just how the free market works and we are better off if we let that dictate who wins and loses.

We cannot predict how the Internet will evolve and prosper. We probably could never have imagined that a ton of people could be walking around with Internet connected devices in their pockets back in the day. The free market created these innovations without government intrusion. So why are people so adamant about using the government to stop the big guys from doing what they know how to do when they can just fight among themselves and offer lower prices and better services to undercut their competition or raise its profits?

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Marijuana producers in Canada fined up to $1 million for using banned pesticides

An investigation by The Globe and Mail found compelling evidence of federally regulated marijuana companies in Canada using banned pesticides for weed production. According to Health Canada, illegal use of unapproved chemicals can be dangerous to people who consume marijuana, so federal legislation must crack down on growers, dispensaries, and companies.

In order to enforce compliance to the regulations, Health Canada regularly conducts inspections of licensed producers of cannabis, ensuring cooperative action to keep users safe. Producers caught using unauthorized could get fined up to $1 million per violation.

“I think it’s a positive step forward,” said Scott Wood, a former military policeman and user of medical marijuana for ailing injuries while serving. “You would think the companies are all going to think twice before they use anything they’re not supposed to.”

Perhaps cannabis producers in California should take heed to Canada’s federal legislation, as similar sanctions could potentially be put in place if the U.S. government deems it necessary.

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New York City-based apartment to accept bitcoin as rental payments

In an effort to modernize and become a bigger player in the real estate market, New York City-based Brookliv has begun to accept bitcoin as a form of payment.

Brookliv’s owner, Ari Weber, has stated that he hopes bitcoin will help them attract more young clients. The ability to predict new trends in an ever-changing market is another reason they decided to make that move.

“The market is changing, whether we like it or not. We foresee the norm will be cryptocurrencies being used for rental market and beyond in the near future,” Weber says.

Allowing tenants to pay for rent in bitcoin is a calculated risk, as there is still a chance that bitcoin could crash at any moment. Weber states that this is a negligible risk, as bitcoin has largely stabilized around $13,500. He believes that attracting new tenants that want to pay in bitcoin is worth the small losses he’ll take if bitcoin dips slightly.

“We can take a little bit of a hit if it does dip, but it’s worth it,” Weber added.

This is no doubt a big step forward for owners of the cryptocurrency, as many mainstream vendors still do not take it as payment, but this is proof that it is becoming more widely accepted.

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Blockstack’s virtualchain technology helps accelerate blockchain development

Blockchain technology was a hot topic in 2017, as the ledger system saw exponential innovations added to its mainframe. Blockstack, founded in 2013, has put forth effort to creating a decentralized system for users to consume media content.

“We’re living in a time period where the new incumbents like Amazon, Google, and Facebook have firmly established themselves, and are near monopolists in their markets,” venture capitalist Albert Wenger told MIT Technology Review. “If we want a long-term, open playing field for innovation, we’re going to need new, decentralized infrastructure.”

This is why Blockstack is designing its decentralized architecture around user control, implementing virtualchain technology to help achieve this goal, at least according to the white paper.

“We’re trying to turn the existing model on its head,” added Ryan Shea, CEO and cofounder of Blockstack. “You can try to work with the existing model from within, but sometimes it’s easier to step outside of it and build something new from a clean slate.”

Blockstack introduces new decentralized apps that you access through the Blockstack Browser. With Blockstack, users can own their data to better maintain privacy, security and freedom.

Mess around with the browser and jump on the blockchain bandwagon in 2018. This could be the first big player in media entertainment becoming a key component of blockchain’s infrastructure. With apps like Ongaku Ryoho‘s music player and Guild‘s journalism services, the sky is the limit for new innovations on this decentralized network.

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Switzerland head of Foreign Affairs deletes a slew of his old tweets

Ignazio Cassis, an Italian born citizen, was recently chosen to hold the position of Switzerland’s newest cabinet minister, serving as the head of Foreign Affairs. With this new title, Cassis has taken the time to scrub his Twitter feed clean of any tweets that may make him seem unfit to be Switzerland’s foreign affairs minister.

Politwoops, a tweet archiving website designed to track politician’s deleted tweets, accounted for over 500 tweets that were meant to never be seen again. Luckily, data on the web will always be available for archiving, as it is very clear Cassis removed over 90% of his posts almost two weeks ago.

“I will take my political values as a Radical Party member to the cabinet, but I’m prepared to listen to other opinions and reserve the right to change my mind if need be,” Cassis said at a news conference a few months ago.

According to a report from Tages-Anzeiger, Cassis is focused on using his social media platforms to promote business operations within his department.

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Quebec to help citizens in poverty with basic income aid

Citizens of Quebec below the poverty line will be happy to hear the recent news from Premier Philippe Couillard. Starting in 2018, Quebecers who make less than $18,000 annually will receive government help as part of a $3 billion action plan to fight poverty and promote “economic inclusion,” according to CBC News.

Premier Philippe Couillard

This plan has many moving pieces, and it has received plentiful criticisms from anti-poverty groups, noting how the plan only focuses on a single sector of citizens below the poverty line in Canada.

Serge Petitclerc, spokesperson for the Collectif pour un Québec sans pauvreté, notes how “limiting [the plan] to a single category of people in Quebec, [is] missing the point. Because one of the primary characteristics of guaranteed minimum income is that it should be unconditional and it should apply to the entire population.”

Although statistics and metrics can hardly quantify the true experience of being below the poverty line, corrective actions must occur in segments if we want gradual change. What constitutes as fair in situations like these is heartbreaking, as someone’s experience dealing with poverty should never be seen as conditional when considering who receives aid.

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EU court legally defines Uber as a transport company, not a digital service provider

Users of the global transportation technology Uber in the European Union will have to reconsider how they do business, as the EU recently imposed certain regulations on the company’s business model. Before, Uber Technologies Inc. managed to have itself considered as a digital service provider for users, but new rules decided by the EU court determine it to be a transport company, much like taxis and other public transit options.

“The most important part of Uber’s business is the supply of transport — connecting passengers to drivers by their smartphones is secondary,” said Rachel Farr, senior employment lawyer at Taylor Wessing. “Without transport services, the business wouldn’t exist.”

This will disrupt business operations for Uber in the EU, as plentiful people use Uber as a middle man for setting up safe and secure transactions between drivers and customers.

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Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian declares net neutrality will remain in France

The net neutrality ruling in the United States caused a backlash that even prompts other countries to chip in their two cents. France’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Jean-Yves Le Drian decided to speak out on how net neutrality rules will continue to carry out for his representatives.

“It (net neutrality) is a cardinal principle for the internet to be a space of openness and innovation,” Le Drian said.

For multimedia entrepreneurs, the internet landscape will shift in ways hard to anticipate. Companies like TWC, Comcast, and Verizon already dominate the internet service provider market, so whatever they choose to alter about the internet will likely cause people to roll with the punches.

Hopefully there is a robust entrepreneur out there able to navigate in this uncertainty, and provide a solution that appeases the masses. There are smaller ISPs like Google Fiber that are operating in about 30 cities right now, so we will see what other options arise.

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Google’s AI development team to create a new research lab in China

Although Google search engine services are nonexistent in China unless you have a VPN, the company has made great efforts to create new innovations in artificial intelligence. Knowing China is riddled with experts scientists in the field, Google is willing to cooperate with the Chinese government to advance AI technology worldwide.

“I believe AI and its benefits have no borders,” Google Cloud chief scientist Fei-Fei Li said in her blog. “Whether a breakthrough occurs in Silicon Valley, Beijing or anywhere else, it has the potential to make everyone’s life better for the entire world. As an AI first company, this is an important part of our collective mission. And we want to work with the best AI talent, wherever that talent is, to achieve it.”

“It will be a small team focused on advancing basic AI research in publications, academic conferences and knowledge exchange,” Li added.

This could very well be the onset of China realizing what kind of company Google is. Global efforts focused towards a collective goal in technology may be the bridge this world need to come together as a cohesive unit.