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Pillar is the blockchain built for average folks, not ultra tech nerds

(TECH NEWS) Pillar is a next-level blockchain wallet that will help you keep your digital life in order without the hindrance of having to rely on someone else.

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New and exciting

I’m excited today. In tech, you only get to say the following phrase so often and really mean it. This is new.

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Meet Pillar, which aims to be an equal and opposite option to the present digital trends at work in finance, security and the distribution of economic power.

Use it, don’t own it

If you’re an entrepreneur, a businessperson, a power user of any kind of technology – really, if you’ve interacted with currency and/or tech in the past ten years – you know the prevailing paradigm is “X as as service.”

Everything from public transport to Peggle has been reimagined as something you use rather than something you have.

The resources necessary to functioning in society belong to someone else and are implemented by millions of someone elses, a workforce of service professionals often employed on a contract rather than traditional salary or wage-benefit basis. Them’s the breaks in This Modern World. Ownership is so 20th century.

Pillar says otherwise.

World changer

We’ve talked about blockchain at American Genius. Here’s how it could be a huge deal for tech security. Here’s a great primer on what, you know, it even is. The short version is that a blockchain is a secure, anonymous way to buy goods and services, built on high-end cryptography and the basis that nobody ever has all the information, all the time. Bitcoin’s the one you’ve most likely heard about, but there are all kinds of others.

Pillar would be another, “cryptocurrency” to use the (silly) word, but with a vital addition: it’s actually built to do something.

Bitcoin and its kindred represent a new transaction paradigm, an approach to buying and selling that removes public and private middlemen of all kinds. That’s a big deal by itself – in theory. In practice Bitcoin and its kindred have stayed curiosities. They haven’t put an offer in the world that appeals to anyone outside a core community of early adopters and various fringes. I say it with love: it’s hipster money. By comparison, Pillar claims, direct quote, to be “a world changer.”

It could be.

Pillar as a pillar

Unlike Bitcoin and friends, Pillar isn’t just a blockchain-based currency. It’s an implementation of blockchain-based currency, a means of making it do things that actual people need their money to do. The titular Pillar is a core of information available only to you, accessible through an AI assistant with access to various carefully demarcated parts of it for the services you use it to pay for. It’s a blockchain wallet.

To paraphrase our primer, at present blockchain appeals primarily to people who need or want their transactions to be private.

Frankly, that was a reasonable concern when the biggest security holes in the modern money system were credit card numbers and talkative bank tellers.

As more services are digitized, things get less secure. Honestly, now: how many of you out there use the same password for more than one thing? I do, and I literally do this for a living.

Blockchain security

How many of you trust important data to a service that may or may not exist in ten years? I’ve got a half-terabyte of stuff on someone else’s cloud server and 175 games on Steam. Either one goes belly up, and all that information wafts away like a summer breeze, along with the not inconsiderable amount of money I spent on it.

How many of you centralize with one service for convenience, in spite of what seem like weekly breaches, leaks and hacks?

I swear to Insert Deity Here, right now I am writing this on a Chromebook, in Google Docs, with one eye on a big file I’m uploading to Drive.

Not to be alarmist, but the plain fact is, that’s information you don’t control. It lives with somebody else, and by accident or malice something untoward could go down. It’s the downside of the digitized world: only big companies own the infrastructure to implement day to day services like transactions and identity protection.

Pillar and its $50 million ICO (that’s Initial Coin Offering, since obviously they’ll be taking investments in blockchain currencies) intend to see that changed.

It’s the first serious effort I know of to implement blockchain as a consumer proposition, offering blockchain security with the tools necessary for an ordinary person to actually use the functionality blockchain provides.

Pillar’s paradigm is the opposite of how things are done right now. More often than not, that means it’s nonsense, a geek pipe dream that will never hit the big wide world.

New, but not

But blockchain is already hitting the big wide world. Pillar’s offer, in essence a take on Bitcoin and other blockchain-based currencies that work for the average consumer and have a reason for existence other than Sticking It To The Man™, might well be enough to make it the next step forward in the digital marketplace, “like Uber, but for shifting beyond the Uber paradigm to owning your own dang stuff again.”

That could be a thing.

#Pillar

Matt Salter is a writer and former fundraising and communications officer for nonprofit organizations, including Volunteers of America and PICO National Network. He’s excited to put his knowledge of fundraising, marketing, and all things digital to work for your reading enjoyment. When not writing about himself in the third person, Matt enjoys horror movies and tabletop gaming, and can usually be found somewhere in the DFW Metroplex with WiFi and a good all-day breakfast.

Tech News

Tinder creators launch Ripple, a professional networking app void of pros

(TECH NEWS) Ex-Tinder employees have come together, backed by Match.com, to create a swipe-based professional network, but we don’t plan on giving it a second date.

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In 2015, we discussed briefly the possibilities of taking the dating app’s and repurposing them for professional networking. What if finding professional connections was as easy as finding a date on Tinder? Tinder (executives) literally heard us because they have introduced a solution in their new mobile app called Ripple.

Not to be confused with Ripple the cryptocurrency, Ripple the app is a professional networking tool that literally feels like Tinder.

As it should, the former CTO, Director of Engineering, and Lead Designer of Tinder all make up the founders, along with Mike Presz from Match.com. People who make good dating platforms came together for a professional networking solution that they hope makes networking easier, more natural, and more modern. I took the liberty of signing up for a few days and experimented with the app and I have a few things to say about it…

The good?

Design. Design. Design. The app has a luxuriously simple UI, and is fabulously easy to use. If you even tried Tinder for six minutes, you’ll be able to use this app. The use of symbols, big images, and easy UI is great. The application navigates simply.

It’s fantastic. It’s minimal, it’s content oriented, the interest categories are so good (but they could be better – no interest in process improvements? Go learn about Six Sigma) LinkedIn should look it. The profile set up takes no time at all, about five minutes and you’re ready to go.

But that’s about it.

Everything that’s not good? Everything else.

This is probably because the app is new, but there is nothing going on for the US market. I saw a lot of European professionals and professional groups, but zero people in my area, a major US metropolitan area also called Dallas-Fort Worth. The lack of content and the lack of professionals means the app has nothing.

I can’t rate group experience or say I met the mentor of my professional dreams because no one is on it. Which leads me to ask: What’s next?

The branding, marketing, and advertising for this app are going to have to take off. This is a beautiful product, but the lack of content makes it a pretty dull use. I had to actively remind myself to use it, and I’m in a serial relationship with LinkedIn.

Basically, no second date for me with Ripple until they get… something to happen.

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The cutest part of CES was Sony’s AI robot doggo, Aibo

(TECH NEWS) The Consumer Electronics Show revealed the technologies that are dominating and will dominate the market, with Sony’s AI puppers stealing the show.

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One of the most endearing items to emerge from CES this year was Sony’s revamped robot dog, Aibo.

Aibo’s first unveiling in 1999 featured a blend of emergent Sony technology, such as their Memory Stick and companion operating system. By the time of its demise in 2006, the Aibo was equipped with a large vocabulary (it could speak 1,000 words) and could interact with an owner’s commands and motion. The computerized canine wasn’t limited to just the realm of their traditional counterparts, however – the 2006 model of the Aibo could take pictures from the eye-embedded camera system, play music, and write blogs.

Equipped with more personality and a better interactive capability with its environment, the 2018 Aibo looks more like a real dog as well.

Composed of 4,000 parts and OLED-screen eyes to more authentically mimic movements, Sony says it relies on sensor systems and embedded cameras akin to those in self-driving cars to provide as close to an authentic experience as they can. The cameras, located in nose and tail, allow the robot to learn its way around the house and to deliver it back to its charging station once the two-hour charge runs out.

Reviewers at CES noted that the updated version of the Aibo was very “puppy-likem” barking and scampering with unlimited energy.

The current model is also touch responsive on its head, back and under its chin, allowing the user to give “puppy love” in a way that mimics that of what real dogs like.

Perhaps proving that Aibo is capable of acting more and more like a real dog, the robot canine was unresponsive to commands from Sony CEO Kazuo Hirai on stage at its unveiling, prompting Hirai to return Aibo to Sony staff quickly.

Slated to go on sale in Japan later this year, the dog isn’t cheap, priced at nearly $1,800, but does find itself selling into a dedicated Aibo fanbase from its earlier issue and a consumer market which is hungrier and more accepting for interactive experiences of this type of poo-free pet ownership.

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Tech News

Lyft offers test rides in their autonomous cars – how’d it go?

(TECH NEWS) Lyft let passengers roll around Vegas in their self-driving cars, and surprisingly, no shocking viral videos resulted.

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If you haven’t been paying attention to the progress of self-driving cars, you’re in for a shock – they’re closer to a daily reality than you might think. As part of this year’s CES conference, Lyft offered test rides in a handful of their autonomous cars, and the results were reportedly decent.

Unlike other companies’ public tests in the past, Lyft’s demonstrations consisted of normal passengers taking normal routes in Las Vegas; there was little in the way of preemptive route control, meaning that the tests were as authentic as possible. Passengers were able to board autonomous Lyfts from the Las Vegas convention center, with some testers traveling well over three miles with minimal operator interference.

The cars themselves are designed by Aptiv, which is a technology company heretofore unaffiliated with Lyft.

While both companies are aware of the potential for flaws and the need to iron them out before production begins en masse, test riders reported that the cars were able to anticipate and respond to a myriad of traffic conditions (for example, slowing down to allow a faster vehicle to merge); this bodes well for the 2020 goal that many autonomous car companies have set.

Naturally, there were a few kinks in the cars’ respective operations, including yellow light confusion and some other finessing issues, wherein the cars’ human operators had to intervene.

The technology behind self-driving cars is only part of the equation, however. As autonomous vehicles become more commonplace, cities will have to adapt to accommodate them.

This process will most likely include things like redefining road architecture, legislation regarding car use (at the moment, autonomous cars must always have a driver in them), and implementation of smart technology.

There’s also the matter of public perception. While most of the reports from the Lyft demo in Las Vegas were positive, the fact remains that plenty of people will be skeptical of new technology – as well they should be, since any emerging technology is bound to make a few bad headlines before it evens out.

How Lyft counters this perception will be key in determining the future of its autonomous fleet, and perhaps even the future of autonomous cars as a whole.

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