Designing the future of work


Over at Democracy Journal, my Institute for the Future colleagues Marina Gorbis and Devin Fidler explore the "digital coordination economy" (aka the on-demand economy) and how "it may take deliberate design choices in platform architecture, business models, new civic services, and public policy to prevent this increasingly seamless “coordination economy” from becoming highly inequitable as well." From Democracy Journal:

As software takes an increasing role on both sides of transactions—ordering and producing—it promises to bring vastly more efficient coordination to these kinds of basic economic functions. This emerging digital coordination economy, with its efficient matching and fulfillment of both human and nonhuman needs, has the potential to generate tremendous economic growth.

However, as software engineers essentially author a growing segment of our economic operating system, it may take deliberate design choices in platform architecture, business models, new civic services, and public policy to prevent this increasingly seamless “coordination economy” from becoming highly inequitable as well. Already the growth of on-demand work has allowed investors and owners in some industrialized regions to reap substantial financial returns while many of the people using platforms to generate income streams are struggling to maintain their standard of living. Uber drivers, for example, have seen a drop in earnings in the United States over the last couple of years, even as the company continues to grow at a dramatic pace.

It is clear that the fundamental technologies driving the coordination economy are neither “good” nor “bad,” but rather offer a heady combination of opportunities and challenges.

Read the rest

$1m taken in by random guy promising "Dinner with Trump"


The right wing of American politics has long been a grifter's paradise, but Ian Hawes raked in $1m in a matter of weeks with Facebook ads promising dinner with Donald Trump. Politico reports that the supposed political action committee behind it is designed to resemble the official campaign site, has spent none of its takings promoting his candidacy, and that no-one has had dinner with Trump.

One is at; the other is at The first belongs to Trump’s campaign. The second is a scheme run by Ian Hawes, a 25-year-old Maryland man who has no affiliation with Trump or his campaign and who has preyed on more than 20,000 unsuspecting donors, collecting more than $1 million in the process. ... “I feel ripped off and taken advantage of. This is horrible. That was not my intent,” said Mary Pat Kulina, who owns a paper-shredding company in Maryland and gave $265 to Hawes’s group. Kulina thought she had given to Trump’s campaign until told otherwise by POLITICO. “This is robbery,” she said. “I want my money back and I want them to add up what they stole from people and give it to Donald Trump.”

It's not the only lookalike site he's operating either. The fact that there is no real Trump campaign organization makes it easy for people to fill the gaps like this: there's simply no official competition for attention in the venues where actigrift takes place. Read the rest

Cash grants to people with unexpected bills successfully prevents homelessness


In The impact of homelessness prevention programs on homelessness (Scihub mirror), a group of academic and government economists show that giving an average of $1,000 to people in danger of losing their homes due to unexpected bills (for example, emergency medical bills) is a successful strategy for preventing homelessness, which costs society a lot more than $1,000 -- more importantly, these kinds of cash grants do not create a culture of "dependency" that leads to recklessness, nor does it have a merely temporary effect. Read the rest

Electoral fraud: Trump sends fundraiser emails to foreign politicians


US election law makes it a crime to knowingly solicit campaign funds from foreign nationals who do not have permanent residence in the USA. Read the rest

Video: the literal shrinking dollar


Dip your dollar into liquid anhydrous ammonia, dry it, and repeat. The surface tension of the boiling and evaporating ammonia shrinks the bill. Caveat: It could prove difficult to use a mini-dollar and mutilating a bill may even be illegal.

(Applied Science via Weird Universe)

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What everyone earns working on a $200m blockbuster

Vanity Fair breaks down the individual incomes of people who work on a major Hollywood blockbuster. Assuming a budget of $200m, the breakdown is approximate but based upon average union rates and published figures. [YouTube] Read the rest

Gadget promises electric shocks to people who spend "too much"


Pavlok is a wristband that one can use to deliver mild electric shocks to oneself, an experiment in Pavlovian self-conditioning. Intelligent Environments is a UK firm that has invented a "platform" to link it to your bank account, so it can shock you when you spend money.

No bank has yet announced that it will be offering the Interact IoT (Internet of Things) platform to customers but Intelligent Environments lists several British banks as clients for its existing online banking platforms.

Chief executive David Webber told the BBC the idea was about consumer choice.

"This is about reacting to changes in your financial well-being," he said.

A perfectly British combination of nannying, shame and unintended consequences. Read the rest

Iceland's Pirate Party to receive millions in election funding


Iceland's elections are publicly funded, with funds awarded based on polls of the electorate; the Pirates have consistently polled higher than any other party, and the incumbent coalition (whose parties are polling in the single digits) has been scrambling to avoid a general election after the Panama Papers revealed that he had secret offshore accounts that benefited from his bailout of Iceland's planet-destroying banks. Read the rest

Helicopter was sent to fetch Alabama governor's wallet: "I had to buy something to eat"


Alabama governor Robert Bentley left his wallet in Tuscaloosa when he headed off for his beach house. So his aides sent a state police helicopter to fetch it, at a public cost of about $4000.

"I requested they deliver my wallet, I didn't know how they were going to do it," the governor told "I did not request that a helicopter was used. You have to have your wallet for security reasons. I'm the governor. And I had to have money. I had to buy something to eat. You have to have identification."

Bentley's about to be impeached, but over an unrelated a sex scandal. Read the rest

A cashless society as a tool for censorship and social control


The Atlantic had the excellent idea of commissioning Sarah Jeong, one of the most astute technology commentators on the Internet (previously), to write a series of articles about the social implications of technological change: first up is an excellent, thoughtful, thorough story on the ways that the "cashless society" is being designed to force all transactions through a small number of bottlenecks that states can use to control behavior and censor unpopular political views. Read the rest

Studio sculpts giant coin, photographs it alongside normal objects to make them look tiny


In 2011, the Norwegian design studio Skrekkøgl scuplted a massive 50-Euro-cent coin and shot it from above with a tilt-shift lens alongside numerous full-sized objects to make them seem to be cunning miniatures. Read the rest

Bitcoin transactions could consume as much energy as Denmark by the year 2020

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The numbers in this study are very back-of-the-envelope and assume a worst case: widespread adoption of Bitcoin and not much improvement in Bitcoin mining activity, along with long replacement cycles for older, less efficient mining rigs. Even the best case scenario has Bitcoin consuming a shocking amount of electricity.

Read the rest

Chase freezes man's bank account because his dog's name, 'Dash,' looked like 'Daesh'

Seriously, guys? []

Bruce Francis transferred some money to his dog walker to pay for services to his pit bull, and wrote the dog's name, "Dash," in the notes field.

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Canada's next bank notes will feature portraits of women

Rembrandt style portrait. Oil painting imitation texture

...instead of Spock's great-great-great-grandfather. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau made the announcement on Twitter on International Women's Day, and invited the public to nominate women to appear on the new notes. Read the rest

Despite media consensus, Bernie Sanders is raising more money, from more people, than any candidate, ever


After mixed showings in the primaries and a sense that the Democratic Party's profoundly undemocratic "superdelegates" will hand Hillary the nomination no matter what, the press has all but declared Bernie Sanders out of the race. Read the rest

Free Bitcoin textbook from Princeton


The Princeton Bitcoin Book by Arvind Narayanan, Joseph Bonneau, Edward Felten, Andrew Miller and Steven Goldfeder is a free download -- it's over 300 pages and is intended for people "looking to truly understand how Bitcoin works at a technical level and have a basic familiarity with computer science and programming." Read the rest

Beautiful, 1 oz calavera and oracle coins


Dead on Paper makes many beautiful, strange things, but I'm most taken by two of its custom coins. Read the rest

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