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Top 5 Online Gambling Sites in 2017 – Best Casinos & Betting

Posted: February 20, 2017 at 7:49 pm

GamblingSites.com is a trusted guide to help ensure safe online gambling and betting. Our website features regularly updated rankings of the best online gambling sites in a number of categories, making it easy for you to find a quality option for your betting and gaming interests. Our rankings are based on thorough testing and extensive research, where we assess a wide range of important factors.

In addition to compiling our rankings, weve also written detailed and unbiased reviews of everything these sites have to offer. We provide an abundance of gambling related advice and information, written by experienced and knowledgeable experts. We cover sports betting, casino gaming, poker, bingo, daily fantasy sports and more. Our goal is quite simply to make sure that you have the best online gambling experience possible, whether youre a complete beginner or a seasoned gambler.

Since the early days of real money gambling online, the industry has evolved at a fast pace but it is still relatively young and the online gambling landscape is constantly shifting. Legislation around the world changes all the time, technology advances, new sites open, and some sites make improvements while others get left behind.

All of this makes it hard for the average gambler to stay up to date with which sites are best and which should be avoided. A leading gambling site one year could easily be overtaken by several others and no longer be one of the best options the following year. This is exactly why we make sure that our rankings and recommendations are ACCURATE and UP TO DATE.

We dont just tell you which sites are the best and safest to use either. We also explain WHY we recommend them, and our detailed reviews tell you everything you need to know about each and every one.

Wed like to address this question before we go any further, as its the one were asked more than any other. Many people understandably have concerns about depositing their money online, and want some reassurance that its safe to do so.

The simple fact is that online gambling IS safe, providing you use the right sites. Thats why we take such great care when compiling our rankings. We only want to recommend websites that we KNOW are safe, trustworthy and reliable. They have to meet these criteria in order to receive our seal of approval and be listed on our website.

The bottom line is that we WILL help you to find an online casino thats right for you, and we WILL help you to maximize your online gambling experience. Please read on to find out all about this website and the information it contains.

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Our team is made up entirely of passionate and experienced gamblers and between us we have a diverse and detailed knowledge of pretty much every conceivable aspect of gambling. We have been developing and building this resource since the early 2000s, and work hard to ensure that we supply you with accurate and up to date information on a wide range of topics.

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We are committed to helping you find the most suitable options for your own personal gaming needs. To do this we have ranked the very best places to gamble online in a variety of categories, making sure that we only recommend those that are proven to be safe and secure. We offer much more too, including the following.

Weve tried to make GamblingSites.com as easy as possible to navigate, so its split into a number of different sections. Weve detailed all of these throughout this page.

To get the best possible online gambling experience its important that you choose a site thats completely trustworthy and offers everything youre looking for. By carrying out extensive research into a large number of options and thoroughly testing them we are able to help you do precisely that. Here are some of the most popular categories we rank the best sites in.

With a quick search on the internet you can find plenty of websites that provide reviews and rankings of online gambling sites and casinos. Many of these are very useful, but unfortunately many of them are out of date or contain incorrect information. Even those that are accurate are not always particularly helpful, as simply providing a list of recommendations is not really enough to enable you to make an informed decision about where to join.

We do things a little differently. While we do make recommendations in a range of gambling types such as the best online casinos and sports betting sites, we also rank the leading sites in a number of more specific categories. This is much more helpful when youre trying to make the right choice. We even explain exactly how we go about assessing and ranking each.

Basically we try to make it as easy as possible to pick a site based on the factors that are the most important to you, as we recognize that everyone has their own considerations when choosing where to join. The best sports betting sites for live betting, the best mobile casinos and the best Mac compatible poker rooms are just a few examples of what we cover.

Whatever it is youre looking for, were confident we can help you find it. You can also be sure that each and every one of our recommendations is reputable and safe to use. Please visit the following section to find your ideal gambling site.

Before you do decide which gambling site to join youll almost certainly want to know as much as possible about all your options. You can find out more about all of our recommendations by reading our comprehensive reviews. These contain plenty of detail about exactly what these sites are all about and any possible concerns to be aware of.

Its well worth taking the time to read a few reviews before making a decision about where to sign up. We cover useful information such as what bonuses are available, how easy a site is to use, the quality of the software, the variety of the games available and the range of betting markets.

We provide a number of gambling guides, written by knowledgeable experts, which contain a variety of strategies, advice and tips. They are useful resources for beginners, experienced gamblers and everyone in between. These guides will help you get the most out of your gambling endeavors and should improve your chances of winning money.

We cover topics such as the bonuses and rewards available online, and tell you how you can use these to your advantage. Youll find information on all the different types of wagers you can place on sports and horse races, and plenty of advice on betting strategy. Details on all the popular casino, poker and bingo games are included too, including subjects such as how these games originated and their different variations. We provide tips on how to play the games, with rules and strategy advice.

Here are the links to our gambling guides. Please take some time to read through any that are relevant to the activities you enjoy.

Our general gambling section contains a ton of additional information. We cover a range of important subjects such as gambling laws and legislation, addiction help and prevention, and even some fun topics such as the best gambling books and movies.

Weve also compiled a history of online gambling which includes detailed accounts of many of the well-known operators and brands in the industry. You can find out more about the people behind these brands too, as weve written biographies of some of the most influential people in the gambling industry. There are even topics on famous gamblers, careers in the gambling industry and much more.

Heres a selection of the most popular topics in this section.

Weve already answered the question we are asked the most by people wanting to know more about gambling online. Heres a small selection of some other questions that are frequently asked.

Please note that youll find detailed answers to all of these questions (and more) throughout this site in the informative articles that weve written. For now, though, here are some quick answers.

This website has been around for many years, and the owners and contributors are committed to ensuring that its a useful and accurate resource. Were all experienced gamblers in one form or another, with a shared passion for the subject. We enjoy sharing the benefit of our experience and knowledge with others, and we take great pride in helping our readers get the most out of their betting and gaming experiences.

Although this is a comprehensive resource covering many topics, the rankings and recommendations we provide are the cornerstone of what we do. You can be absolutely certain that they genuinely reflect the best places to gamble online at any given time.

There isnt really a straightforward answer to this question. Theres no global legislation that governs online gambling, so it depends on your local laws. And these vary significantly from one region to another. They can also be confusing, and are often open to interpretation.

However, its very rare for a government to make it explicitly illegal for an individual to gamble online. Most of the laws are aimed at the companies that operate the actual online casinos. Weve never heard of an individual being arrested just for betting or gaming online.

You might want to check out your local gambling laws if youre concerned. But, realistically, its very unlikely that youll be breaking any laws simply by placing a wager online.

Short answer is yes, however there is a caveat. Not all gambling sites are regulated, so you should avoid those as you cant be certain of a safe and fair experience.

There are plenty of sites that are regulated though. Stick with them, and you have nothing to worry about. They have to adhere to very strict rules regarding how they operate. Theyre subject to regular audits and software testing too. So they have to be safe and fair, or theyll get shut down.

Remember, at GamblingSites.com we ONLY recommend sites that we know are safe, fair and fully regulated.

No one form of gambling is definitively better than the others, as it ultimately comes down to personal preferences. The best advice we can offer to complete beginners is to simply experiment with all the different forms and see what you enjoy the most. Whether thats playing casino games, betting on sports, poker or some other form. Just remember to keep your stakes small, as theres a good chance that youll lose money when starting out.

There is no definitive answer for this because it will be different for each individual. Bitcoin is fully open-sourced and decentralized, which is what has made it very popular recently. For those that dont know very much about Bitcoin, you can take a look at our page that discusses Bitcoin gambling in-depth. For others that do know what it is, you already know that it can be an excellent way to fund your account and a lot of US sites have started to move over to using Bitcoin as their preferred banking method.

This will vary from one site to the next, and can depend on factors such as where you live and which payout method youre using. In some circumstances youll receive your winnings within a matter of hours, while in others you may have to wait 7-10 days. The best sites, such as those that we recommend, will always endeavor to get your money to you as soon as possible.

We cant guarantee that well turn you into a winner, as theres no magic system that can do that. We can definitely provide you with all the information and advice you need to improve your chances of success though.

Please note that the odds are always against you with some forms of gambling, such as casino games for example, but its possible to make regular and consistent profits from others. Sports betting and poker are the best examples of this.

Bankroll management is essentially about proper budgeting when gambling. This is vitally important for a number of reasons, especially the fact that it will help you to control how much you spend. You should only ever gamble with money that you can afford to lose.

Its perfectly normal for online gambling sites to request identification documents. In fact, they are often obliged to under the terms of their betting or gaming license. Its simply to ensure that you are who you say you are, and that theres no fraudulent activity taking place.

Our blog complements our main website perfectly. It features articles on a diverse range of supplementary topics that we want our readers to know about. We add new articles often, which include our regular market updates where we keep you informed about whats happening at gambling sites and in the gambling industry as a whole.

We also post all kinds of tips and strategies for various aspects of gambling in general. This is where our sports betting previews go as well.

Our authors do a great job of providing interesting and engaging content, so please check out our blog to see for yourself.

Theres one more thing we should mention before we let you discover everything that GamblingSites.com has to offer. Online gambling is a great form of entertainment, but its really important that it stays as a form of entertainment. Although the vast majority of people enjoy betting and gaming without any problems at all, there is a small minority of people who lose control.

If you suspect that you or anyone you know is becoming addicted or having difficulties staying in control, please read our guide to responsible gambling for advice on what to do.

Finally, we would like to simply wish you good luck. Enjoy yourself, have some fun, and make sure you stick to the most reputable and safest online gambling sites.

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Top 5 Online Gambling Sites in 2017 – Best Casinos & Betting

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Liberal Democrats move to quash all historical sex-work convictions of prostitutes and punters – The Independent

Posted: at 7:44 pm

The Liberal Democrats are likely to adopt as official policy a move to quash all historical sex-work convictions including brothel-keeping, soliciting business and kerb-crawling.

The move to wipe convictions from peoples records will be included in a key motion at Lib Dem spring conference as part of the partys wider drive to decriminalise sex work, while strengthening laws against non-consensual activity.

It will also cement official policy to oppose Government plans to introduce an age-verification process for people wishing to access online pornography, currently passing through the House of Lords.

Lib Dem Leader Tim Farron thinks the quashing of all previous convictions is a critical element in the drive to decriminalise sex work, something which overall will help reduce risks faced by women and men in the industry.

The partys home affairs spokesman Lord Paddick said: As a former police officer I know what works and the current laws around prostitution do not. They might sound tough but they dont protect people. The police should be focusing their resources on the very real crimes of trafficking and coercion rather than policing consenting adults.

Sex workers face enormous discrimination and are more likely to fall victim to crime and violence simply because the law criminalises them. We should target our policies and efforts at reducing harm not wasting police time and creating barriers that stop vulnerable people seeking help.

The former Metropolitan Police Deputy Assistant Commissioner said: That’s why Liberal Democrats are proposing to take these outdated laws off the statute book. I believe it is time for an informed debate on this complex issue and I want my party to be leading that debate.

The motion to be voted on at the conference in late March would quash past convictions for anything that would be decriminalised under the new system.

That would include brothel keeping, which the party believes prevents sex workers from getting together to work in a safe space, solicitation, seen as something that pushes sex workers to take risks to secure business, and also kerb-crawling.

As well as decriminalising sex work activity, the motion seeks to refocus laws on tackling non-consensual activity including trafficking, child prostitution and pimping, and would see a strengthening of measures against coercion into sex and sex work on the grounds of fear, force, or fraud.

In addition, the policy would set up additional support for people trying to leave sex work, including through housing authorities, healthcare providers and places where education and training are available.

The Digital Economy Bill, which continues its passage through Parliament this week, will force pornographic websites to add age-verification checks that will not let people watch videos until they sign up through a special process, that would involve giving personal details.

But the motions says the party believes the checks to be illiberal, to pose a severe danger to privacy, and to be fundamentally unworkable.

There have been a string of hacking attacks on internet pages, such as dating websites, which have seen peoples personal data stolen, spread across the internet and even used as means for blackmail.

In 2016 users of elite dating site Beautiful People had their sexual preferences and personal messages splashed across the internet after being hacked. A year earlier users of the Ashley Madison website, which offered married people the chance of infidelity, had users details hacked and posted online.

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Liberal Democrats move to quash all historical sex-work convictions of prostitutes and punters – The Independent

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Gene Editing: The Next Step In Evolution – Daily Beast

Posted: at 7:20 pm

With humans on the cusp self-evolution, a new report emphasizes the need for a societal conversation that were not likely to have.

Last week, two developments in gene editing shifted this potent new technology from a possibility to more of a probability. Yet its likely that the news didnt register with most people. Despite the revolutionary potential of a tool that may soon make it possible for Homo sapiens to manipulate DNA and to self-evolve – for better or for worse.

The new technology goes by the funny-sounding name Crispr-Cas9 a method that has the power to cut and paste DNA, the basic code of life in humans and all other organisms, almost as simply as moving letters around on a word processor. Researchers expect to use Crispr-Cas9 to fix or improve DNA sequences linked to diseases like Huntingtons and some cancers. The method could also be used to bump up a persons smarts, height, or stamina, although not yet.

We have within our grasp the technology to change evolution, said Paul Berg, a genetics pioneer from Stanford, about Crispr-tech. This could change the course of biological life.

Discovered in 2012 by scientists in California and Sweden, Crispr-Cas9 moved closer to reality last Tuesday when the National Academies of Sciences (NAS) released a report about the ethics and the proper uses of Crispr-tech. The next day came a patent court ruling that decided who has the rights to commercially exploit some basic components of Crispr-Cas9.

The media dutifully carried the news in the usual this is an important science story manner, while experts weighed in on science blogs and websites. Crispr-Cas9, however, is so far not following the usual pattern of scientific and technological breakthroughs, which typically take decades or even centuries to perfect, and for society to absorb them.

For instance, it took us thirty or forty years to properly build and learn to use the Internet. Even with genetics, the pace has been one of mostly incremental discoveries over decades, with society very slowly absorbing the basics of the science, and what it means for real people beyond what they saw in Jurassic Park and Gattaca.

Gene editing, however, is not following the usual, slow-roll-out pattern of most new discoveries. Crispr-Cas9 is still in its early days, but scientifically is moving at warp speed, playing out in years rather than decades.

Invented just five years ago, the technology allows DNA to be edited with an ease and at a lower cost than previous versions of the technology. Last year, a Pennsylvania high school senior named Michael Zhang even won a prestigious Intel Science Talent Search award for a project using Crispr.

Crispr stands for Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats, a natural process used by bacteria to remember the DNA of invading viruses so that that they can identify and destroy similar intruders, aided by DNA-slicing enzymes. In 2012 Jennifer Doudna of the University of California at Berkeley and Emmanuelle Charpentier of Swedens Umea University demonstrated in Science how to co-opt this process and intentionally edit DNA in any organism by using a slicer enzyme called Cas9.

Since Doudnas and Charpentiers breakthrough, a Crispr frenzy has generated thousands of scientific papers in hundreds of labs around the world. It has inspired the formation of companies like Editas, Intellia, and CRISPR Therapeutics that expect the gene editing market to one day generate billions of dollars. (All three companies have issued IPOs in record time). Last November, doctors began the first human trials in China using Crispr for patients with aggressive lung cancer.

Crispr-techs rapid deployment has also launched a brisk debate among scientists and bioethicists. In 2015, 18 prominent scientists and experts in law and ethicsled by Nobel Laureate David Baltimore and Jennifer Doudna published a call in Science magazine for a moratorium on some uses of this technology. As I reported at the time:

The group, which met in Napa, California, last January [2015] for a one-day summit, fretted about a possible slippery slope that might occur from using disease-curing applications that everyone wants, toward uses with less compelling or even troubling implications. They call on scientists to impose a voluntary stoppage while societal, environmental, and ethical implications of such activity are discussed among scientific and governmental organizations.

The group was particularly concerned about editing the germline cellsthe sperm and eggthat could pass alterations down to offspring. These are different than the somatic cells that make-up you and me and our organs and other body parts. They are not involved in reproduction, and wont impact progeny if edited.

Not surprisingly, the Crispr-rush has led to a battle over rival patents. Last week, the Patent Trial and Appeal Board issued a 51-page ruling that sided with one of the first parties to file early patents, the Broad Institute in Boston. They won against an even early filer, the University of California at Berkeley. At issue was Berkeleys claim to patent uses of Crispr-Cas9 in all cells, versus the Broad claiming a patent for use in certain cells, including human cells. If this sounds confusing, it is, indicating that the legal wrangling over Crispr is just beginning.

The National Academies of Sciences (NAS) issued a 243-page report prepared after the call for the moratorium in 2015, and a subsequent international summit on gene editing held in December, 2015, in Washington, DC, sponsored by the NAS.

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The report provides a detailed assessment of where the science is, and the ethical and societal issues. It lists a number of recommendations, most notably that in rare and limited cases, germline editing might be allowable to save lives, but only following much more research, according to the report, and only for compelling reasons and under strict oversight. One magazine called this a yellow light, although it does represent a big shift from traditional bioethics, which strictly forbade any modifications to the human germline.

The report is dense and written in academic-speak, but it does a good job of elucidating the science and the conundrums. It also cites polls suggesting that the public seems to be in favor of gene editing to treat grave illnesses and to save lives, but is very wary of using this technology for so-called “enhancement.”

Last weeks pronouncements are important in beginning to create a scientific and societal undergirding for Crispr-tech. Yet we still seem a long way off from a societal zeitgeist. Even Hollywood has yet to start spinning Crispr-inspired plotlines, at least that Im aware of.

Nor does the politics of the moment bode well for a proper public conversation about Crispr-techor really about any new and fast-moving scientific enterprise that confronts us with a species-level set of risks and benefits. A failure to elevate this discussion, however, could cause this inevitable and rapidly moving technology to overrun our ability to absorb the implications, and our ability to make intelligent decisions about the future of us, our children, and humanity.

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Gene Editing: The Next Step In Evolution – Daily Beast

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Why AI could be Silicon Valley’s latest ‘micro bubble’ – Yahoo Finance – Yahoo Finance

Posted: at 7:18 pm

2016 was supposed to be the year the tech bubble finally burst.

Much like the dot-com bubble of the early 2000s an industry implosion marked by high-profile flops such as online grocery delivery startup Webvan and pet supplies retailer Pets.com skeptics pointed to less VC funding in 2016, stratospheric valuations including Ubers $69 billion, the sales of once-pricey companies such as One Kings Lane, and sky-high rental and real estate prices.

And contrary to tech insiders who largely remain bullish on the industry, some even saw smaller signs of a bubble in the hours-long bumper-to-bumper traffic on the US-101, a highway that meanders its way down the peninsula to tech-laden cities such as Menlo Park, San Jose and Mountain View.

But after more than six years in Silicon Valley collectively, Im convinced there isnt one big bubble these days, but rather a series of smaller bubbles within tech that balloon and swell until they burst, taking with them the droves of copycat derivatives and poorly managed companies all trying to capitalize on the latest, frothiest trend.

Ask just about any venture capitalist at this moment, and theyll tell you theyre seeing a glut of artificial intelligence and machine learning startups flow their way angling for cash, employing increasingly complex algorithms across a wide range of industries.

While some of these new companiesmay fulfill actual needs, there may simply be more AI startups than the world needs.

The pets.com sock puppet dog stars in a commercial for the company, Los Angeles, California, January 11, 2000. Photo by Bob Riha/Liaison/Getty Image

Of course, some AI startups are more promising than others. Andreessen Horowitz general partner Vijay Pande told Yahoo Finance he is particularly bullish on companies such as Freenome, which the firm invested in last June. The Palo Alto-based startup uses machine learning to help detect different types of cancers from a blood test rather than from a tissue sample a process that detects cancer long before more traditional methods can. Another startup Pande invested in, the health tech startup Cardiogram, is promising because it makes sense of and analyzes large amounts of user data to provide actionable insights that could ultimately save lives.

SomeA.I. ventures are trying to shake up other long-standing industries, like the San Carlos, Calif.-based Farmers Business Networks,a social network for, well, farmers, that relies on machine learning to improve data results around seed performance and pricing. And there are many, many more.

While its too early to tell which of those startups will evolve into viable businesses and which wont, its relatively easy to look back over the last decade now to see past micro-bubbles for what they actually were.

Alex Mittal, CEO and co-founder of the FundersClub, an online VC firm which invests in promising tech startups, agrees Silicon Valley has found itself swept up in macro-trends over the years that come and go in predictable cycles.

Every time theres a focus on a technology thats new, it gets overhyped, and the hype reaches an extreme, Mittal told Yahoo Finance. The pendulum always seems to swing too far, and theres some sort of correction. Sometimes, it literally was just hype. Theres no substance, and then it goes away. But sometimes, theres something really there.

The 2008 financial crisis, interestingly, marked the first micro-bubble, marked by the sharing economy, a business model based on the idea that assets or services are shared between people through the internet or mobile. Airbnb, founded in 2008, singlehandedly legitimized the idea of couch-surfing as a hotel alternative, by easily letting people rent out a room, an apartment or a home; Uber in 2009 upended the crusty, old taxi industry by creating a network of private drivers reachable with just a few easy taps on the smartphone.

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But while Airbnb and Uber have become bona fide global businesses, many more sharing economy upstarts failed to catch on. Remember the Uber copycat Sidecar? Shut down in 2015, because Uber and Lyft had more money and an easier-to-understand user experience.

How about laundry delivery ventures Prim and Washio? Shuttered in 2014 and 2016, respectively, due to low profit margins and high infrastructure costs. Even businesses like Homejoy, an online marketplace for cleaning services, hit the skids despite many a venture capitalist crowing about what a promising business it was apparently due to a lack of repeat customers and slew of lawsuits.

Washio was the victim of another micro bubble.

On the heels of the sharing economy bubble came a slew of e-commerce startups like online design store Fab.com. It burned through a significant chunk of the $325 million it raisedin aggressive attempts to expand globally, acquiring similar sites in Germany and England, before a spectacular crash-and-burn that few in Silicon Valley, including its investors, will forget anytime soon.

Meanwhile, once-promising home furnishings site One Kings Lane, which failed to differentiate itself enough from the glut of flash-sale sites, sold for just $12 million last August to Bed Bath & Beyond a serious markdown from its $900 million valuation of yesteryear and online furniture retailer Dot & Bo used up its $20 million in funding before shuttering last September.

The most recent micro-bubble to burst? On-demand food delivery startups. No less than a dozen food delivery startups have shuttered over the last 18 months, with names like Bento, Spoonrocket, Din, Kitchit, Kitchen Surfing, and the creatively-named Take Eat Easy. Others like Munchery, Zesty and Sprig, trudge on, but with considerably downsized workforces. Because, while people certainly enjoy good dining, there were too many startups for San Francisco locals for them to keep track of and not enough interested mouths to feed. Indeed, Din founders Emily Olson and Rob LaFave pointed to an overly crowded market as a key reason for closing the startup in a postmortem interview with SF Eater in October.

Many of the venture capitalists and founders Ive spoken to in recent months are hopeful that this latest boom in A.I. and machine learning startups isnt part of another micro-bubble in the way many sharing economy and e-commerce startups came and went in the past, largely because these technologies can ostensibly benefit and improve any industry, from health care to agriculture to consumer-focused virtual assistants. (Hello, Alexa.)

A.I. is probably more accessible than it has ever been before, contended Peter Cahill,an authority on A.I., who has spent the last 15 years studying speech technology and neural networks from Dublin, Ireland.Its easier for companies to see the clear benefits from it because technology has largely caught up.

Maybe theyre right this time, or maybe the Farmers Business Networks of the world will eventually join the startup graveyard, alongside Fab.com, Homejoy and so many others. But as Mittal points out, this almost blinding sense of optimism that any startup with a good idea can succeed is what makes Silicon Valley unique and, dare I say it, innovative. Because for every 100 startups, 10 of them may become successful, and perhaps one has the potential to become the next transformative company like Facebook (FB).

Its a large part of the reason Im still here, Mittal confesses, with a sheepish grin.

No doubt many in Silicon Valley would agree.

JP Mangalindan is a senior correspondent covering the intersection of business and technology.

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"brain scans" of artificial intelligence processes – Boing Boing

Posted: at 7:17 pm

Graphcore produced a series of striking images of computational graphs mapped to its “Intelligent Processing Unit.”

The graph compiler builds up an intermediate representation of the computational graph to be scheduled and deployed across one or many IPU devices. The compiler can display this computational graph, so an application written at the level of a machine learning framework reveals an image of the computational graph which runs on the IPU.

The image below shows the graph for the full forward and backward training loop of AlexNet, generated from a TensorFlow description.

Our Poplar graph compiler has converted a description of the network into a computational graph of 18.7 million vertices and 115.8 million edges. This graph represents AlexNet as a highly-parallel execution plan for the IPU. The vertices of the graph represent computation processes and the edges represent communication between processes. The layers in the graph are labelled with the corresponding layers from the high level description of the network. The clearly visible clustering is the result of intensive communication between processes in each layer of the network, with lighter communication between layers.

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"brain scans" of artificial intelligence processes – Boing Boing

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How Sanjay Lalbhai & Pankaj Chandra are trying to build a unique university in Ahmedabad – Economic Times

Posted: at 7:14 pm

When Kevin Naik wanted to do a PhD at the interface of robotics and Internet of Things, it wasnt Ahmedabad University (AU) that first came to mind. Like many his age, he first wrote to professors at three IITs Delhi, Mumbai and Gandhinagar. The IIT faculty had clear research goals for themselves and their groups and Naiks plans didnt quite fit in. Thats when he looked to AU, where he found a willing professor along with freedom to develop his own interests in a PhD. Robotics and IoT are an unusual combination, says Naik. So only a small faculty is working in this area.

In contrast to the IIT legacy, AU is relatively new just eight years old with little reputation outside Gujarat. It makes up by providing flexibility in choice of research. AU enjoys another distinctive edge: a large endowment that provides plenty of leeway to students and faculty.

AU was set up in 2009 by the Ahmedabad Education Society, with a mandate to become a comprehensive university driven primarily by research. It was an unusual start. All private universities in India began as teaching institutions and then developed research as they grew. Almost all private universities were dominated by engineering or medicine. There was no private university at the time that mixed humanities, arts, the sciences and engineering in equal measure.

AU grew slowly initially, laying the foundation in the first five years. Institution-building picked up pace in 2014 when chairman Sanjay Lalbhai brought in Pankaj Chandra as vicechancellor. Chandra was till then director of the Indian Institute of Management Bangalore (IIMB), where he was instrumental in reconstituting the board and instituting new standards for faculty tenure, among other things. He had a few novel ideas about how a university should function and they were a departure from what universities do now. Two principles guide his vision for the fledgling university. We want to do impactful research, says Chandra. We also want to bring the visual into the classroom.

The foundation raised about Rs 670 crore from sale of land and Chandra set to work. The university had a few unusual characteristics from the beginning. One being that the vice-chancellor reports to a management board and not a family, a governance structure not common among Indias private educational institutions. Delhi-based Ashoka University is an exception to this. We have a governing board that is not easy to hijack, says Ahmedabad University chairman Sanjay Lalbhai. The university also works with a large endowment and is not so dependent on fees. Not many of Indias private universities have a large endowment, the notable exception being Azim Premji University. When the government sanctioned new IITs, each one was given only Rs 500 crore, some yet to get the full money.

Chandra has an endowment that can grow up to Rs 1,500 crore if necessary (through sale of land), and a 180-acre campus that could be designed almost from scratch. He has as much academic freedom as is possible for a private university. He also has the support of the trust and the board that share a common vision. Money, a common vision and a professional board have all brought in flexibility to the university functioning. You cannot build a world class university without top-class talent, says RA Mashelkar, former CSIR director general and member of Ahmedabad University governing board. And you cannot have top-class talent without flexibility.

All the best universities in the world have flexibility to hire the best. Mashelkars prime exhibit is Ahmed Zewail, the Egypt-born chemist who was made full professor at the age of 28. Zewail went on to do pioneering work at Caltech and win a Nobel Prize. Peter Danckwerts, one of last centurys finest chemical engineers and former professor at Cambridge University, didnt have a PhD. Indian scientific institutions and universities once had that flexibility. MM Sharma, one of Indias best-known engineers, was made professor at the University Department of Chemical Technology at the age of 27. India has lost that flexibility now.

But Chandra has flexibility and used it by getting some of the best architects in the country to design AU. Desai Architecture in Ahmedabad was campus architect. Rahul Mehrotra, founder of RMA Architects and professor of urban design and planning at Harvard University, designed the arts and sciences building. Swiss architect Mario Botta designed the library. French architect Stephen Paumier will design the student centre. Although situated in the city, the campus is being built with a central forest, being overseen by ecologists. Pankaj Chandra has a specific vision of pedagogy and culture, says Bobby Desai of Desai Architecture. The campus is built for cross faculty interaction and debate.

In the private sector, OP Jindal Global Universitys main building was designed by Paumier as a vast classical garden. AU architects, who had to work with some old buildings as well, are designing campus buildings for frequent interactions. It is being built for walking in peak summer, when temperatures are in the high 40s.

The concept of universities without departments is not new in the world. University of California at Merced was the first to try it in the 1990s. In India, IIT Gandhinagar has tried the concept with some success. Chandra has organised AU around schools and centres, not departments. Schools are formed in well-established disciplines. Centres are in subjects not well established, and are aimed at developing expertise as the subject grows in depth and relevance. The biggest future inventions are going to be multidisciplinary, says Lalbhai.

The schools are organised around four related areas. Data, materials, biology and behaviour; energy, transport, education and food; air, water, land and forest; individual and community, civilisation and constitution. The three centres are for heritage management, for learning futures and the venture studio.

The centre for heritage management is an unusual experiment, based on the premise that India has a lot of heritage but few professionals to manage it. Ahmedabad itself has many heritage sites. The university centre, however, does not study just tangible heritage like museums, art galleries and buildings. It will also study intangible heritage like language and music, not just by scholars of the discipline. The centre has a partnership with the University of Vallalodid, a 700-year-old university in Spain, through a 0.5 million grant from the European Union.

Partnerships are key to some of the programmes of Ahmedabad University. The deepest of these partnerships is with the Olin College of Engineering near Boston, a twenty-first century institution with a global reputation for innovative pedagogy. Olin College, which has no other partner in Asia, does not have classroom lectures like other universities. Students learn by doing projects.

Over the last two years, four AU faculty have spent a few months each in Olin College and imbibed its methods. The class is no longer like a podium, says Ratnik Gandhi, assistant professor at the school of engineering and applied science. It is like a studio. Undergraduate students are exposed to research methods from the beginning. In the life sciences division, among the most developed disciplines at the university, undergraduates have the luxury of a well-equipped laboratory usually accessible only to masters and PhD scholars in most places. All equipment is handled by our undergraduates, says Ajay Karakoti, nanobiologist and associate professor at the university. It is one way of immersion in the subject.

All students are required to take courses in science, data and mathematics. Engineering students have to learn biology and commerce students must learn maths. Arts subjects are also compulsory. Mayank Jobanputra, an undergraduate in information, communication and technology, had to take courses in critical thinking and argumentation, ethics, communication skills, English literature, and so on.

AU is part of the zeitgeist, part of a movement when rich philanthropists are setting up good educational institutions. The government will never be able to build a disruptive educational system, says Ramaswamy Subramaniam, professor at the Institute of Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine in Bengaluru. Hardcore scientists may not easily go to Ahmedabad, as Gujarat is not seen as an academic destination. It took four decades before IIM Ahmedabad got its current reputation. It will take equally long for a private university as well.

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How Sanjay Lalbhai & Pankaj Chandra are trying to build a unique university in Ahmedabad – Economic Times

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Tears in the Club – PopMatters

Posted: at 7:06 pm

(Fade to Mind) US: 24 Feb 2017 UK: 24 Feb 2017

In the 21st century, theres an increasingly sad and desperate quality to pop culture hedonism. Oddly, this is perhaps most evident in the way that R&B has given way to club music. When former R&B producers and performers embraced dance music, you might have expected an increase in euphoria, an influx of ecstasy. Yet the digitally-enhanced uplift in the records by producers such as Flo-Rida, Pitbull and will.i.am has a strangely unconvincing quality, like a poorly photoshopped image or a drug that weve hammered so much weve become immune to its effects. Its hard not to hear these records demands that we enjoy ourselves as thin attempts to distract from a depression that they can only mask, never dissipate. A secret sadness lurks behind the 21st centurys forced smile Drake and Kanye West are both morbidly fixated on exploring the miserable hollowness at the core of super-affluent hedonism. No longer motivated by hip-hops drive to conspicuously consumethey long ago acquired anything they could have wantedDrake and West instead dissolutely cycle through easily available pleasures, feeling a combination of frustration, anger, and self-disgust, aware that something is missing, but unsure exactly what it is. Mark Fisher, The Secret Sadness of the 21st Century, Electronic Beats

Tears in the Club is a provocative title, and not only because the last few years have seen far too many actual tears in music venues from Bataclan to Pulse to Ghost Ship to BPM Mexico to a massacre in an Istanbul nightclub only a few weeks back. Clubs are supposed to be safe spaces, places where communities can form. They shelter those already feeling isolated and alienated from society by gathering their patrons together as part of a singular event. Clubs are allegiances and unions of listeners, linked to each other through common sound, but its easy to overlook kinks and vulnerabilities in this bond, the desolation, and conflict that often does not dissipate at the door.

The DJ, who up until the recent advent of the celebrity hand-waver set maintained a structural need to be integrated into the scenery of the club, may be the clubs loneliest attendant. He stands outside of the action because hes the master of controls, orchestrating fun for everyone else, but only participating in the party from the sidelines, behind the wizards curtain.

Unlike the secret sadness that the late Mark Fisher alludes to in the quote above, Kingdom, and the battalion of like-minded producers he has cultivated for his groundbreaking Fade to Mind imprint, have never hidden their malaise. Perhaps thats because their vernacular is 21st century pop, even if they ostensibly make experimental club tracks. Kingdom (aka Ezra Rubin) is no stranger to the format of slowed trap-inflected R&B/pop. He has worked wonders behind the boards of several hyper-contemporary tracks for Danity Kanes Dawn Richard (DWN) and Kelela over the past few years. Now, he has upped the ante on Tears in the Club, an immersive new conceptual experiment centered around four dour pop tracks, spaced out across the breadth of the record.

These songs are exactly the kind of gorgeously constructed, intimate, and melodically rich pop songs someone from the recent past might have thought wed be listening to in 2017. Theyre futuristic, sophisticated, catchy, and psychedelically wrought. However, theyre also deeply depressive.

The decision to focus on a canvas of future-pop/R&B may lead many to think that this represents some kind of permanent realignment for Kingdom, whose past work, while still deeply expressive, was mainly targeted towards feet rather than heartstrings. The lyric sheet doesnt exactly dissuade this theory either. Nothin featuring Syd of the Internet even goes so far as to paint this fluctuation as capitulation. My real art is amazing / Aint that a shame?, she intones, giving the false impression that perhaps this whole attempt at the pop record is half-hearted and more about staying financially afloat than charting new territory. Nothin is a deep, boozy reflection on the choice to go overground, but made from a nihilistic resolve and, ultimately, a vantage of practicality: Somethings got to give right now / So this is what it is right now / All or nothin / Nothin / Didnt work this hard for nothing / So Im gonna act up, gonna act out/ Gonna stack up, and then cash out. These cues exist elsewhere on the album too. Mostly instrumental, the transitional track Into the Fold begs to be interpreted as an invitation to the dark side, its lyrics limited simply to Come / Come / To me. Where? Into the fold, one would guess.

One might even see the trajectory of the entire album in this light. It opens with the forlorn breakup tune What Is Love, whose rhetorical question SZA answers by offering a compartmentalization: Break it down / Fuck it up / Now I see / What is love. Her tenor in this verdict is not aggressive, but anodyne, if a bit dispirited. Throughout the track amidst the slinky synths are two chants: NBA Jam style grunts on loan from Jam City and SZA herself distorted and hiccupping back it up. The latter functions as a literal placeholder (i.e., these are backup vocals) and a detached mechanized force for that compartmentalization, as if she is attempting to download somehow the data set for love. Broken through romantic misfortune, the album sets off in existential crisis, attempting to find solace in the club and finding that it cant fill voids which seem to have no bottom. The corresponding bookend to What Is Love is a Club Mix of Nothin, but one with a simple house beat rather than the abstract contraptions of Kingdoms previous EPs. That its the least interesting piece on the album seems to confirm the sellout/cash-out cycle alluded to in Nothin. Its surrender.

The easy riposte to the idea that this is a sellout album itself rather than an album tangentially about selling out is the music itself, still a little too odd for the charts even when its way too wound down for the clubs. Nothin easily rivals as the Internets Girl as one of the best things Syd has done to date, while vibrant neon jaunt Down 4 Whateva might be the best thing SZAs been involved with to date. Even better still is Breathless featuring unknown singer Shacar, an evocative performance in grimy hues, wild breadths of emotion sputtering throughoutconfidence, melancholy, pain, desire, and isolation all in the span of three minutes. It too concerns the creeping changes of success (Im not sorry because Im / Blowing up) and becoming guarded by its trappings (No weapon formed against me shall prosper / Tied up and alone I get haunted by my pride / So I can sing in front of my phone), eventually slicing open the surface to display the ache underneath. I bleed/I bleed/I bleed, Shacar sings in a sonic interpolation of Beyonces I slay / I slay / I slay from Formation. He resigns to hiding in the work, trailing off his final lines to face this suffering alone: Constantly grinding out hereyou cant see that / Im still trapped, and Im still hurting.

The energy of Breathless bleeds nicely into one of the albums six non-pop tracks, Tears in the Club. Tears in the Club is not only the track most reminiscent of Kingdoms older works, but also comes with specific sonic callbacks to one Kingdoms most well-known hits, Stalker Ha off of his 2011 Dreama EP. The pop cuts wallow in a kind of boozy attachment. SZA assumes an elegantly wasted stance on her two contributions, at first sounding wine-drunk and disoriented on What Is Love, slithering on and off the beat, and then predicting before a kind of skin-shedding hook up that Im gonna take a sip and lose my way tonight on Down 4 Whateva. Tears in the Club, comparatively, is all paranoia and dark feels, a cinematic second act of perpetual anxiety and rootlessness with its sinister piano and trap-does-70s horror film vibe.

The rest of the cuts are nothing to skip over either and lend extra weight and resonance to the songs surrounding them, making Tears in the Club an experience best listened to as a whole. Each and Every Day is almost off-puttingly centered and well-postured around a traditional beat, perhaps taking cues from Sophie in its minimalism. Its simple rhythm-based chorus cuts out melody altogether and then resumes for mantras of the words Each and Every Day while the pitched-up voice of Najee Daniels chirps ok, ok, ok. The self-betterment routine continues into the uncomplicated and swoony cut-ups of Nurtureworld which beg the listener to take me away, as the listener and producer drift together.

Although three years in the making, its increasingly hard to hear this or any album without 2017 ears. In the wake of Trumps despicable first few weeks, I found myself listening more and more to a playlist Id constructed of intensely melancholy music, realizing that Id done so because I hadnt yet given myself permission to be sad. The main takeaway I get from listening to Tears in the Club on repeat is the overwhelming feeling of you cant go home again. Somethings gotta give right now, Syd says. SZA takes this a step further saying, Ill be into you even when you aint around me / Ill be missing you even when you been around me. For every transcendent feeling of closeness in the clubs this year, therell be plenty others where one couldnt feel any more distant from whos standing right next to you. The urgency of being here now vs. the creeping sense of slowly becoming an island haunts this moment, with our interconnected sociality simultaneously culling common causes and confirming our isolationist biases.

Walking back into the club after having all thats on Kingdoms mind is like getting jolted by the nightmare trap of Tears in the Club. Its all darkness and anxiety now. Its visceral grip is as pulsatingly real as it is synthetic. The escape that the nave EDM pop that the turn of the decade offered now seems like the infamous K.C. Green strip On Fire, the flames burning around us as the nihilistic fatalism of #YOLO truly sinks in. The only way through is forward, and well need plenty of forward-thinking pop to help with that. Well need lots of songs that can help reform the bonds of community that a club can offer, and which pop can alleviate. Solidarity in suffering, a shared loneliness. We cant deny ourselves the right to be sad any more than we can deny ourselves the right to dance. Kingdoms album confronts this from a place that, if not deeply personal, at least feels so.


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The limits of free speech (when you have 50 million YouTube subscribers) – Polygon

Posted: at 7:03 pm

There is an increasing amount of noise surrounding freedom of speech, fake news, and everyones right to be heard. This has particular bearing on the gaming community, where the term freedom of speech is often used incorrectly.

On the other hand, online personalities are often playing a role in game marketing, and issues with GamerGate and other hate groups latching onto gaming means that games, studios and publishers are confronted with the task of moderating community and forum posts and interactions while being told they are censoring others. Hence, depriving someone of their right to free speech.

As an entertainment attorney with over seven years of experience in a practice dedicated exclusively to gaming culture and industry, this has been an ongoing cause for concern. Its an issue my clients face daily.

Legally, theres no argument to be had. Let me explain why.

Felix Kjellberg, aka PewDiePie, blamed the press immediately after apologizing for his bad judgement, which brings up some interesting legal points about his situation.

He seemed to be operating under the assumption that the Wall Street Journal and mainstream media intentionally destroyed his business relationships. However, based on his own explanation, its more than likely he broke his contract under any number of contract theories, as well examine below.

This was my first notice of PewDiePie, so Im not bringing any baggage into this debate. I dont like him or dislike him. I just know hes being widely discussed, and Im familiar with the legal aspects of these situations.

His departure from Google and Disney seems like a no-brainer to anyone with a basic understanding of entertainment contracts. His first mistake likely came from his presumption that either Google or Disney have a sense of humor, or value him for his comedic chops.

Companies typically wont support you when doing so will harm their brand or otherwise expose them to liability

The contracts he signed with Google (through YouTube) and Disney (through Maker Studios) should have made it apparent that they do not. Any tolerance on their part would be based on financial interest, not out of any respect for his freedom of expression or his budding career as a rookie comedian. That is not the business they are in, as evidenced by how quickly they dropped him when his humor became a liability.

Companies typically wont support you when doing so will harm their brand or otherwise expose them to liability. Thats why YouTube has a code of conduct, and why most contracts for endorsement include rather robust non-disparagement/no disparaging effect clauses. Disney includes this in its terms of use:

You may not submit or upload User Generated Content that is defamatory, harassing, threatening, bigoted, hateful, violent, vulgar, obscene, pornographic, or otherwise offensive or that harms or can reasonably be expected to harm any person or entity, whether or not such material is protected by law.

Or, if youd like a more direct example from one of my own agreements:

Influencer may not: [.] engage in conduct or a pattern of behavior that may: (i) diminish Influencers reputation as a personality in the gaming community; or (ii) as a result of [Companys] association with Influencer, harm [Companys] reputation.

Typically a non-disparagement clause wont act alone to limit influencer conduct in an agreement. Some agreements will include strong moral clauses, broad warranties and representations, and at will termination as additional means of controlling the influencer or providing backers a buffer if the Influencers conduct creates a problem.

For example, a moral provision may prohibit an influencer from engaging in behavior in his or her private life that may amount to a scandal, while almost any reps and warranties provision will include a proviso prohibiting content that is defamatory or otherwise subject to legal action. The goal is to make sure, if you get into a scandal, you can be cast off quickly and with little legal repercussion.

In the interest of fairness, it is possible that the relevance of such provisions werent made clear to Kjellberg. In an effort to court lucrative talent, backers may treat such verbiage as boilerplate until and unless something triggers it. Ive heard they said we dont need to worry about that part, from more than a few clients.

This doesnt absolve responsibility on the part of the talent. You should read and treat as enforceable anything you want to sign. If youre not sure, consult an attorney and save yourself trouble down the road. However, its generally common sense that companies like Google and Disney are in this for two main reasons: it helps their bottom line, and its good for brand building.

When an influencer under contract does something that harms that brand, that influencer is materially breaching their contract. That means termination.

Its possible that the relationship can still be repaired. However, he broke the rule any competent attorney would advise in a matter concerning an open dispute: the less you say, the better. An eight minute diatribe placing blame on third parties and treating your business partners as complicit in the conspiracy against you probably isnt going to help smooth this out.

Thus my surprise when Kjellberg admitted that his content was offensive and he crossed the line, that he exhibited poor judgment and that his amateurish attempt at comedy was a failure. He effectively admitted to breaching his contracts with Disney and Google, and then immediately sought to blame the press.

The context for his joke, and whether mainstream media took it out of context, never really had anything to do with it. Its reasonable for companies like Disney and Google to consider mainstream media as the litmus test for what is considered offensive; their respective brands cater to a far broader demographic than PewDiePies followers, after all.

Welcome to the wonderful world of entertainment, Felix. Youve joined an elite club of performers, comedians and artists who crossed the line. No one is entitled to a platform, and your platform is a privilege that you will lose if you breach the terms under which that platform operates. In all likelihood you broke your contract. You even explained how you broke that contract in a video. Its irrational to conclude that a third party is responsible for the failure of your contract.

More alarming is the response by supporters, or rather, the response against detractors. The idea that companies or institutions are infringing on someones freedom of speech is commonly expressed, often in very strong language. When Twitter banned Milo Yiannopolous, we heard the same refrain. Kjellberg himself has already confirmed that a subset of his fan base consists of white supremacists. As many of us have witnessed, that particular subset is known to be more vocal about a perceived injustice than your average netizen.

Let me go ahead and get this out of the way:

A private individuals right to tell you to shut up, and a companys right to censor your offensive content, are both protected by the first amendment.

If a client of mine terminates a players subscription because they violated a games code of conduct by spamming a chat channel with anti-Semitic rhetoric, they are well within their contractual rights to terminate that subscription. Your participation on a platform like Twitter, YouTube or one of the excellent games offered by my clients, however, is not. That is strictly governed by the Terms of Service or EULA you agree to when you sign up.

If you are an Influencer, your continued support from your backers is contingent on your compliance with whatever non-disparagement language youve agreed to. Almost every platform available to you is offered by a private entity. Surprise! Welcome to Capitalism!

The first amendment isnt prohibitive against society at large; it protects society from government action. This typically shouldnt be a point of confusion, as the text itself is clear and unequivocal:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

The context of free speech, in roughly every territory where free speech exists, is uniformly a limitation on government power to suppress that right. Your personal feelings about censorship notwithstanding (or mine, for that matter), your only recourse against censorship on a platform provided by a private company is to not use that platform. There is no legal recourse. In fact, if there were, that really would violate the First Amendment. Clearly no one wants that.

When someone decries censorship and claims free speech, they generally are not talking about the right to say what they want. They are talking about the right to say what they want wherever they want to share it, and that is a distinction that crosses the line between fundamental human right and moral rationalization.

No one is morally obligated to listen to another persons opinion. No one should feel morally obligated to offer a platform for someones message when they consider that message offensive. Freedom of speech does not place one persons rights above another persons right, simply because the other provides the platform. That rationale subverts the fundamental right to freedom of speech generally.

We like to see the Internet as an open platform for the free exchange of ideas. Many of the companies who make the Internet possible, and they are each and every one private corporations, do their best to make that a reality.

But as we begin to recognize the risks associated with that free exchange, companies must take measures to safeguard the privacy and happiness of their consumers. This necessarily means censoring the content shared online. We are comfortable with censorship intended to protect us (e.g., prohibitions against sharing your personally identifiable information, passwords, etc. online), but we are less comfortable with censorship designed to protect others (e.g., codes of conduct).

The bottom line is that when you engage in free speech online, you typically do so as a consumer of the platform you are using. Normally you wont have the opportunity to negotiate the contracts you are bound to (whether it be a ToS or EULA) when you use those services.

Even the most successful influencers, Kjellberg included, are bound by provisions that limit their behavior. Ironically, they are often subject to greater restrictions because of their influence on the brand. The reality is that your right to free speech may directly conflict with the agreement youve entered, and engaging in some kinds of speech will almost certainly cost you a contract.

Mona Ibrahim is a Senior Associate at Interactive Entertainment Law Group. She is an avid gamer and has dedicated her career to counseling the video game industry and indie development community.

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The limits of free speech (when you have 50 million YouTube subscribers) – Polygon

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Malta protesters oppose draft bill that could limit freedom of speech – JURIST

Posted: at 7:02 pm

[JURIST] A draft bill [text, PDF, in Maltese] proposed by the Maltese government [official website] that aims to regulate online news could inhibit freedom of speech, argued protesters Sunday. At the protest, which was organized by the opposition party, opposition leader Simon Busuttil said [EU Observer report] that the bill would be “the beginning of the end of freedom of expression on the internet.” The bill would update Malta’s defamation and libel laws requiring citizens to provide their name, age, home address and valid government identification to the nearest Maltese government authority before expressing political views online. In an editorial [Independent op-ed], a Maltese newspaper expressed concern about the number of people the bill would impact and commented that “many people out there will be forced to think twice before commenting on current affairs of any sort.”

Malta currently holds the rotating six-month presidency of the EU until mid-2017 and will hold elections next year. Reporters without Borders [advocacy website] ranked Malta forty-sixth on its 2016 World Press Freedom Index [ranking]. The country also received a 96 percent score in the Freedom House [advocacy website] ranking and the press freedom status label “free.”

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Malta protesters oppose draft bill that could limit freedom of speech – JURIST

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How cryptocurrency will cripple todays governments and …

Posted: at 6:52 pm

Cryptocurrency will cripple governmental ability to collect taxes, and they wont see it coming. When its already happened, expect major changes to take place in how society is organized on a large scale but also expect governments to act in desperation to retain control.

As bitcoin launched in 2009, most early adopters saw its disruptive potential. While bitcoin has stalled for some time approaching a valid use of the term stagnation, cryptocurrency in a larger context is still just as disruptive. In 2011, I stated that bitcoin (cryptocurrency) will do to banks what e-mail did to the postal services. This is not just true, but it will be even more brutal to governments, and by extension, governmental services.

Now, governments love anything that smells like innovation, because it means jobs, this magic word that smells of magic unicorns to anybody in government. Therefore, people who like innovation are nurturing this bitcoin thing, this cryptocurrency thing, this ethereum thing (as if governments made a difference, but still). Lots of startups in tip-of-the-spear financial technology means that their government may get a head start over other governments. They have no idea that cryptocurrency will radically scale back the power of government, not just their own one, but also all those other governments over which it seeks a competitive edge.

Individual people in government can also love bitcoin because it gives them something to do. More specifically, it gives them something to regulate. Fortunately, other people in government see that this gives them something to do, which is to hold those government regulators with an overdeveloped sense of order somewhat in check. Youll hear no shortage of wannabe regulators saying that bitcoin is bad because its being used in crime and contraband trade!, to which I usually respond, well, bitcoin is a currency, so I mean you put it in relation to the US Dollar, which then is not used in crime and contraband trade, is this the argument youre using to support your position?, at which point the discussion generally changes topic.

This completely disregards the observation that bitcoin and cryptocurrency were designed to not submit to regulation in the first place. Well, at least not governmental regulation. It is heavily regulated but by its source code, and by its source code alone.

The reason this will cripple todays governments todays idea of what a government is and does is because todays economy is built on one layer doing actual work and three layers of abstraction on top.

At the first and bottom layer of our economy are the individual people doing all the actual work.

The second layer on top of the first is the abstraction we call corporations, which is a way to organize our economy and optimize transaction costs.

The third layer on top of the second would be banks, which handle money for corporations and individual people in a middleman gatekeeper position.

Finally, the fourth layer is the government, which takes advantage of the banks gatekeeper position to siphon off taxes from money flows in order to fund itself and governmental services. In other words, layer four completely depends on layer three for its operations or at least for the relative simplicity of funding its operations.

Now, what bitcoin and cryptocurrency do is make away with the banks cutting them out of the loop entirely, making them redundant, obsolete, dinosaurified. This resulting absence of anything where banks used to be creates an air gap between the functional part of the economy people and corporations and governments who want funding.

The way governments want to tap all money flows in order to fund itself is not entirely unlike how the surveillance agencies want to tap all information flows in order to have an information advantage. In this way, the deployment of cryptocurrency is to tax collection what deployment of end-to-end encryption is to mass surveillance. The government can no longer reach into money flows and grab what it wants, but will be dependent on people actively sending it money. The government cant point a gun at a computer and have it give up its money; you can only make a computer operator feel very sorry for not voluntarily producing the keys to that money. So the government is no longer able to collect taxes without the consent even if coerced and forced consent of the people being thus collected.

The deployment of cryptocurrency is to tax collection what deployment of end-to-end encryption is to mass surveillance.

Governments, and individual people in government, have no idea about this bigger picture. Theyre far to wrapped up in things-as-usual to notice. They wont see it coming until its already happened.

When this happens, there will be no shortage of people in government who suddenly want to regulate cryptocurrency only to find out it will be as effective as regulating gravity. When this happens, government as we know it will be redefined from a coercive Colossus able to take what it wants and do what it wants into a construct that actually depends on people wanting to fund it. This will be a very interesting time to live in. While todays governments will see themselves as getting crippled, I suspect most citizens will regard it as unquestionably healthy that governments will actually begin to depend on the approval of the people at large.

Were just beginning to see the changes to society that the Internet brings. This is one of them.

(Note: I write cryptocurrency and not bitcoin on purpose here, just as Id prefer proclaiming the success of social media over the success of Myspace.)

Rick is Head of Privacy at Private Internet Access. He is also the founder of the first Pirate Party and is a political evangelist, traveling around Europe and the world to talk and write about ideas of a sensible information policy. Additionally, he has a tech entrepreneur background and loves good whisky and fast motorcycles.

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How cryptocurrency will cripple todays governments and …

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