BlockChains - The Basics

BitCoins, digital currencies and Blockchain are all over the news these days. Is this a good thing and what's it all mean? This article discusses the basics of the technology and how it may affect the way we all do business in the relative near future. 

Blockchain—a digital ledger shared across a computer network. So what is blockchain, why is it generating so much buzz, and what does it mean for your business both now and in the future? Here’s a crash course.

What is blockchain?

First implemented to conduct transactions using the digital currency bitcoin, a blockchain is a digital ledger, distributed across a global network of computers, which permanently records digital transactions. Bitcoin isn’t saved in a file somewhere; it’s represented by transactions recorded in a blockchain—sort of like a global spreadsheet. Every 10 minutes, all transactions conducted are verified, cleared, and stored in a block that is linked to the preceding block, creating a chain. Each block must refer to the preceding block in order to be valid.

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A Guide to Better Virtual Meetings

 

Thanks to advancements in conferencing technology, your business can connect with customers, employees, and contractors all over the world. Successful collaboration with dispersed teams requires virtual meetings that run smoothly and enable easy communication—something that is not always easy to achieve.

We've all experienced virtual meetings plagued by technical difficulties, sound problems, and gaffes. Follow these six steps to make sure your next conference call or video chat goes off without a hitch.

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Artificial Intelligence Basics

Despite the grave warnings from Elon Musk and Stephen Hawking, the Artificial Intelligence (AI) apocalyse hasn't arrived quite yet.

AI, however, is advancing in new ways to help us. From predicting earthquakes to improving cancer diagnoses, here are AI’s latest futuristic advances—plus the one that can help your business right now.

So what is AI, anyway?

You already know the Hollywood examples, from HAL 9000 in 2001: A Space Odyssey to the Borg in Star Trek, and Skynet in the Terminator. But real-life AI isn’t quite that advanced yet (and, fortunately, not as bad-tempered either). AI falls into two basic camps: Strong AI and Weak AI. Strong AI is programming that can mimic the way the human mind works—and it doesn’t exist yet. Weak AI are systems that can behave like humans, but they don’t operate like a human brain. However, there are weak AI systems that are approaching an “in-between” level—ones that are inspired by human reasoning even if they don’t quite work the same way—and that’s where the most exciting research is happening right now.  

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Could you be fooled by a robot on the phone?

The prospect of artificial intelligences (AIs) that can get away with fooling humans is leading experts to question whether it's time to regulate telemarketing phone calls from robots.

Wendell Wallach, author of A Dangerous Master and senior adviser to The Hastings Center, says new laws may be needed as the lines between humans and simulations of human activity get blurred.

"If you're basically intelligent you still should be able to deduce when you're talking with a bot," he says. "But perhaps that space is closing more quickly than we would think. I wonder whether we're going to need to signal that it's not a human."

Wallach believes it could still be some time before an AI could phone you up and dupe you into thinking it was a person for long. "There'll be all kinds of inversions of grammar," he says.

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Universal Translator Coming Soon - Maybe

My friends know that I've been watching Star Trek since the 1960s. The series featured great stories and fantastic techologies, all of which all seemed very normal in the 23rd century.  What is truly amazing is that some of those technologies that were pure science fiction in the 1960s have been invented and are in use today. Think of the today's smartphones. In many ways they are way ahead of the "communicator"  envisioned in Star Trek.

Here's a new techology straight our of Star Trek that caught my eye.

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