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Gillmor Gang: Fossil Fuel

Gillmor Gang Artcard

The Gillmor Gang — Doc Searls, Keith Teare, Frank Radice, and Steve Gillmor. Recorded live Friday, April 21, 2017. Big Media meets the Big Algorithm as we reach subscription saturation. B=V/T: Self-service Bundling based on Value prioritized by Trust will erase the distinction between short and long form.

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The MWW Iconik 3 is an inexpensive automatic watch for military fans

The MWW Iconik 3 is an inexpensive automatic watch for military fans

Manchester Watch Works aka MWW makes small batch watches that are sometimes homages to historic timepieces and are sometimes entirely new design. This model,

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How to make Twitter profitable

How to make Twitter profitable

Bruce Judson is a bestselling author of books on business and public policy strategy in the evolving digital era. He is a senior IoT adviser at Tern PLC .

For better and sometimes worse, Twitter is one of the most powerful forces on the planet. Twitter has arguably played a critical role in at least two of the defining political upheavals of our era: The Arab Spring and the election of a political outsider, Donald Trump, as president of the United States.

Every day, Twitter contributes to the political debate, the sharing of ideas and the widespread dissemination, via links, of news articles and the otherwise obscure findings of academics and nonprofit studies. And, each day, this activity on Twitter contributes to meaningful, ongoing political debate across societies and across the political spectrum.

Of course, Twitter also is filled with conversations related to our everyday lives. Sometimes they are meaningful, sometimes they are not. But, for many people, Twitter plays a central role in how they connect with friends and family. Like every social platform, there is noise filled with high-minded discussions as well as seemingly mundane conversations.

What is perhaps unique about Twitter is the dichotomy between this valuable role in empowering and connecting people and its ongoing lack of profitability. With restructuring charges, Twitter’s net loss in the fourth quarter of 2016 was $167 million, or 23 cents a share, and less than 1 percent year-over-year revenue growth. For 2017, the company has announced plans to achieve profitability, largely through staff cuts. Skepticism that profitability will be achieved is high.

At the same time, many believe these layoffs mortgage the company’s future by cutting the sales force that generates revenues and the R&D staff that makes the service more appealing over the long term. In 2009, after writing a book arguing that extreme and growing economic inequality would lead to societal dangers, for our politics and the health of our economy, I became an active Twitter user. Over the years, my activity has waxed and waned, but Twitter remains the central mechanism I use to share my ideas.

At the same time, as an internet marketer, I have developed Twitter campaigns for myself and commercial clients. The net result is that I have a strong understanding of how Twitter can build awareness and influence in the political, nonprofit and commercial realm. Most important, my belief in the fundamental value of the service, and the benefits it brings the world, is very high.

A simple proposal

Twitter, like all social media, has evolved dramatically since its founding. What the founders fully envisioned we cannot know. My guess is Twitter’s founders never envisioned corporate accounts with millions of followers. I believe they set out to create a service that would connect people with each other.

Nonetheless, there is one thing we do know: Today, many business entities have millions of followers and communicate with these followers using Twitter as a tool to promote their products and services. This is free advertising, no ifs, ands or buts.

What is perhaps unique about Twitter is the dichotomy between this valuable role in empowering and connecting people and its ongoing lack of profitability.

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Is a “robot tax” really an “innovation penalty”?

Is a “robot tax” really an “innovation penalty”?

Steve Cousins Contributor

Steve Cousins is founder and CEO of Savioke , which develops and deploys autonomous robots that work in human environments to improve people’s lives. Steve was previously president and CEO of robotics incubator Willow Garage.

More posts by this contributor:

When Bill Gates recently suggested robots should pay income tax like any other employee, I didn’t immediately disagree. I applaud Gates’ bold thinking to help solve one of society’s biggest upcoming challenges: embracing automation in a way that “lifts all boats” instead of leaving large swaths of society behind.

A robot tax would help offset the reduced revenues flowing into public coffers as machines take some jobs previously held by humans.

However, before we start taxing companies that deploy robotics, let’s first agree on what a robot actually is.

When we think of robots, we typically conjure up images of giant arms building cars on an assembly line, or autonomous delivery vehicles ferrying goods around warehouses. But the classic definition of a robot is fairly simple: a combination of technologies that together sense, evaluate, and act to carry out a defined task.

Is a “robot tax” really an “innovation penalty”?

The problem with this definition is that it’s so broad, it would categorize almost all technology – including most modern household appliances, computers, and smartphones – as robots. So where do we draw the line? Indeed, why single out robots to be taxed and not other technology that increases automation, productivity, or quality?

Is the technology that translates a surgeon’s hand movements into more precise movements of tiny instruments considered a robot? How about an ATM, an automated grocery checkout station, or a refrigerator that tells you when you need milk?

We could narrow the definition of a robot to include only those machines that do tasks once done by a human, but then we’d have to include Microsoft’s vast hardware and software offerings, since computers do things like word processing, transcribing, calculating mathematical formulas, and analyzing data – all of which used to be human tasks.

When you think of all the once-human tasks now done by machines, it quickly becomes clear how difficult it would be to separate certain automation technologies into the  “robot” category.  And if a robot tax was imposed, why wouldn’t a company simply classifying their new automation technology as “computers”, “appliances” or “equipment”?

Of course, implementing a robot tax wouldn’t just be difficult due to the challenge of defining what is and isn’t a robot. It would also be nearly impossible to prove a direct correlation between the implementation of automation technology and the net loss of jobs. In some rare instances, a company might deploy an automation device and then simultaneously lay off a person. But most companies don’t operate like this.

Is a “robot tax” really an “innovation penalty”?

They continually deploy new technologies to improve productivity, laying off some workers while hiring others. In fact, if a robot causes one person to lose a job, perhaps three new people will be hired – one to run the robot and two others because the robot

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PowerRay is an underwater drone for filmmakers or fishermen

PowerRay is an underwater drone for filmmakers or fishermen

The creator of the

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