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 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
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 AL.com. "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
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
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
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.
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.
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
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
Dead on Paper makes many beautiful, strange things, but I'm most taken by two of its custom coins. Read the rest
It's an open secret that the world's luxury property boom is being driven by crooked rich people in the former Soviet Union, Asia, and Sub-Saharan Africa who have looted their homelands and want to stash the money out of reach of any new dictators who might come along and change which oligarchs are favored and which are not. Read the rest
Five years ago, a fisherman in Deyang, China, buried his entire life savings. The amount he buried totaled about US$5,500. When Wu Chen, 67, and his family recently dug it up, they discovered that the plastic bag the bills were in had deteriorated. Worms and insects had eaten through much of his cash.
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1. Risk Diversification: Question: Suppose you have some money. Is it safer to put your money into one business or investment, or to put your money into multiple businesses or investments?
2. Inflation: Question: Suppose over the next 10 years the prices of the things you buy double. If your income ALSO doubles, will you be able to buy less than you can buy today, the same as you can buy today, OR more than you can buy today?
3. Numeracy and Comparison (Debt): Question: Suppose you need to borrow $100. Which is the lower amount to pay back: $105 or $100 plus three percent?
4. Interest Compounding (Saving): Question: Suppose you put money in the bank for two years and the bank agrees to add 15 percent per year to your account. Will the bank add MORE money to your account the second year than it did the first year, or will it add the same amount of money both years?
5. Interest Compounding (Saving and Numeracy): Question: Suppose you had $100 in a savings account and the bank adds 10 percent per year to the account. How much money would you have in the account after five years if you did not remove any money from the account?
An 85-year-old woman in Vienna shredded more than $1 million in cash before dying just to zing her relatives. Amazingly, the National Bank of Austria (OeNB) will replace all the cash.
"If the heirs can only find shreds of money and if the origin of the money is assured, then of course it can all be replaced," said Friedrich Hammerschmidt, deputy head of the OeNB. "If we didn't pay out the money then we would be punishing the wrong people."