Josh.is

Hacking the future, one day at a time.


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A DAC (Distributed Autonomous Corporation) designed to use the pseudoanonymity, authentication, distributed nature and public transaction record of the blockchain to create irrevocable, cross-jurisdictional, highly agile, and financially profitable entities for democratizing the tax avoidance measures currently only available to the very rich. Essentially, this is a pair of programs which operate companies. One (the “child” entity) is held by an LLC, and is available to essentially anyone with online access and a mainstream financial instrument of commerce (i.e., bank account, credit card, etc.). The second (or “parent”) entity holds per-transaction ownership of the first for purposes of aggregating and redistributing income via tax mitigation techniques. If at any point a parent entity ceases to be able to legally execute its services, ownership cedes to the child and the only potential risk is the latest transaction. Transaction size maximums are chosen by the child entity, and all transactions are public (and anonymized) via the blockchain. The benefits of execution are both financial and reputational; being the first to do this will own the space – and the massive financial remuneration it would entail – but will also be a significant target as it displaces and forces significant changes on the part of any tax-collecting / dependent entity. Why is this not crack-smoke? Anonymized, global transaction systems are coming, and existing geopolitical entities are currently unable to accept, or to stop, their operation. At the same time, business will be unable to ignore their utility. By forcing existing political entities to address the threat of DACs early we have the opportunity to set the dialogue of transnational commerce within a meritocratic and limited regulatory oversight context instead of a knee-jerk, combative one which will drive profits to black market and downregulated transaction centers. More broadly, it’s an excellent opportunity to put a mark on world history by demonstrating how those entertaining online cryptocurrencies can seriously threaten world governments, and do it in a way that invites dialogue and lets us set an agenda. I.e., Tim Berners-Lee vs. Kim...

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When it comes to minimizing “stuff,” books are often one of the last things to go. Innumerable people have told me they’d love to live more minimally, but can’t imagine doing without books. It’s easy to understand why; we develop a personal relationship with some books, and often associate our self-identity with them. Having a collection of cyberpunk classics on my shelf is important to how I see myself, and picking up that old copy of Neuromancer still makes my fingers itch to code up something world-changing. But the more I thought about it the more I realized that alongside the books that mattered were a bunch that didn’t. High on that list were books I intended to read “someday soon” but which, if I was honest about it, I had my doubts about achieving. The result was that my bookshelf served more to make me feel guilty than inspired. So I talked H into running a six-month experiment: 1) we packed up all our books into boxes, put them in the back of a closet, and waited. 2) Six months later we sat down and made a list of the kinds of books we missed, including specific books that came to mind. 3) Then we opened each box and made a decision about each book: Did we miss it in the last six months, and/or did we seriously expect to read it in the six months to follow? If not, out it went. In the end we donated two-fifths of the books to the library, either because it didn’t make us happy to see on the shelf, or because we could realistically expect that we wouldn’t get around to reading it in a reasonable amount of time. Between the Kindle and the iPad, it’s too easy to get books you just want for the content (as opposed to the experience), and the distance between the boxing and unboxing let us get perspective on which book fell into which category. As an added bonus, I feel like I understand much better what sort of books I want to buy in digital format (i.e., fiction and business books), and which I’d prefer to have as physical artifacts (graphic novels, books with pictures, reference books I wanted to take notes in.) It used to be my eye would inevitably be drawn to the books I was “supposed” to read, which made me feel guilty, stuck, and laggardly. Now when I look at our bookshelves I *only* see books that make me happy. The difference is...

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Something every new couple goes through when they move in together is trying to find an equilibrium around cleaning. When H and I made the shift my attitude was, if I couldn’t see if with my glasses off it was clean. Since my prescription puts me at near legally blind, this meant that tidying was important – and cleaning wasn’t. By contrast, H comes from the Scandinavian school of thought which suggests that if someone with an immunosuppression disease can’t eat off it, it isn’t clean. One of the big sticking points was dishes; H wanted them clean and I wanted them out of the sink, but my desire for efficiency meant dishes often got put away too dirty for her taste and she put them away too slowly for mine. This project addressed the issue neatly. Basically, we took two sets of dishes – two cups, two plates, two spoons, two forks, two mugs, etc. – and put them in the cabinet over the sink. Everything else got stacked on a high shelf elsewhere in the kitchen. This achieved a few things:   After a while, we both started spontaneously washing dishes whenever we saw them in the sink, because cleaning what you needed just before you wanted to eat was a hassle. Eventually I even started doing “her” dishes when I saw them, and vice versa, because with such limited availability chances were good I’d be out of luck if I was the next one who wanted to use a plate or something. Doing dishes became a *much* faster affair. Even factoring in cooking gear like pots and pans, the fact that we never had more than a couple plates, cups, spoons etc. meant dishwashing was hugely expedited. When guests came over we had to deliberately take more plates, cups, etc. down and then, when they were cleaned, put them away again, which saved us a lot of kitchen space. Setting the table became a no-brainer. You just grab all the plates, cups, and cutlery and put them on the table. Done. We still get a few funny looks when friends came over and we have to reach for “the extra dish ware,” but the end result was a *huge* win in terms of time savings and quality of life. No more sink full of dishes, arguments about whose turn it is to clean, or long-winded efforts to train ourselves to keep things tidy. Now it just takes care of...

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I’ve just been named a Research Associate at AIBRT.org, the American Institute for Behavioral Research and Technology. This is a huge honor, and an enormous boon to my research – both in terms of crows, but also human beings!! The AIBRT has an incredible board of advisors, such as Dr. Philip G. Zimbardo (who, aside from having conducted the Stanford Prison Experiments is also tremendous fun at parties) and Dr. Robert Epstein (also fun at parties, and separately notable for his work proving how Google is affecting election results.) I’m really, really looking forward to working with this team and to getting some more guidance in my work. Keep your eyes on this...

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TEDxTimesSquare: What’s your mother worth? Learn how social software is making your previous understanding of value likely to bankrupt you unless you invest… in each other.

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TED

TED: Hacking isn’t just stealing credit cards; it’s a methodology for producing surprising innovation. Case in point? The Crowbox, a vending machine for crows.

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99u

99u: Why who you know is worth more than what you have – an opening keynote pointing out how now, more than ever, technology is making their network their primary...

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My friend Rafe Furst and I came up with this a while back. The premise is that stating your needs in the signature of your email gives your network explicit permission to watch out for ways to help you. No more guessing about how to do someone a favor, or hoping someone picks up a hint… Instead, if someone wants to help you, they’ve got immediate insight as to how. This all rests on the premise that our networks are looking out for us, and that this help is reciprocal. I wrote a book about how I think our networks are the most powerful thing we have, but feel free to adapt this to your own email signature and let me know how it works!   Here’s mine as of June 30, 2014: Was this email helpful? If so, please consider introducing me to someone who: – could hire me to speak about the future of technology / innovation – is interested in exploring a radical new model of investing – can help make a tv show about technology, innovation, and/or hacking – wants to help build www.ntwrkr.is, a platform to add value to people’s networks – I can...

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What if there were a way to meet people you didn’t know existed, but who were likely to be of high value to you? It’d beat the pants off the “shake hands with random people and pray” model currently being used at conferences and events. This is an algorithmic attempt to provide something better using a simple common-sense premise and some branch point maths. Note: this project is currently under funding discussion, so I can’t say much more here. Contact me if you want to know...

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A lot of the conversations I’ve been having around my book, Reputation Economics (MacMillan, Fall 2013) have brought up the idea of a “universal reputation currency.” In all the work I’ve done with various technologies I’ve yet to find an algorithm or computational model which encompassed all of causality – and with the extremely context-dependent nature of reputation, the situation is even worse. This article is an attempt to explain why “one reputation measure to rule them all” is such a bad idea. I’d be curious to know what you...

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I’d only ever done voiceover narration for my television series, The Link – nothing like this: I got to play the role of a conspirator in Google’s huge new location-based Alternative Reality Game (ARG). It’s based on their Android devices and (of course) the web, and it’s pretty epic – using the app you have to capture certain “portals” of weird energy and compete (or collaborate) with unknown others to overthrow… Well, you’ll have to check it out yourself to learn about the rest. 😉 You can view some of the clues here, learn more about the game itself at http://www.ingress.com/, and check out a pretty cool review over at IGN. Special thanks to Flint Dille for giving me the chance to participate. I always knew I’d love playing a super...

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I had a blast writing this article, interviewing some of the smartest minds in business I know (Geoff Vuleta, Allan Chochinov, and Bjarke Ingles.) I started out the piece trying to figure out how these guys handled the huge transitions in their working lives, and was surprised to come out of it with an understanding of how their compulsion to “do the right thing” had driven them so assuredly in one direction. It was a blast to write, anyway. I hope you enjoy it, too – you can read the full piece...

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You’ve got to love a good business model, especially when it replaces one that’s so clearly broken. The margins on eyeglasses are ridiculous – two dollars worth of materials sold for $500, with almost no shipping costs and limited manufacturing overhead. The guys at Warby Parker figured this out and decided to try something different. Instead of blowing all their cash on a retail space and licensing big-brand designer names, they did their homework and made a deal directly with manufacturers to produce classy, high-quality frames you order online. This works for three reasons; One, you can choose up to five frames to try at home. They mail them to you and you have a week or so to try them all on and make a decision. This is in many ways better than shopping in a store – usually you don’t have your friends with you, and it’s impossible to really see how you look in non-prescription frames. Secondly, when you buy a pair they automatically send a set to someone in need. Knowing that you’re money is going towards something that matters sets them apart from most retailers. And thirdly, their frames are only $100. It’s a hard deal to beat, and honestly I *love* my Warby Parker glasses in a way I haven’t loved any glasses in a long time. That’s a huge difference, for a great...

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The guys at Rogan are the sorts of fellows you’d want at your birthday party – genuine, funny, and inspiring as hell. They’ve launched a few product lines, such as Loomstate, billed as “a casual brand dedicated to creating demand for certified organic cotton using socially and environmentally responsible methods of production.” And they deliver. I wore their jeans for most of the filming on The Link and they were enormously comfortable and fit great. Knowing that the pants were produced sustainably was a big plus, especially in terms of wearing higher-end...

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