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Mobile guru Amol Sarva talks about the future of work

Amol Sarva has done some amazing stuff. The founder of Virgin Mobile, Sarva went on to create the Peek email device created back when cheap, ubiquitous mobile devices were nowhere to be found. Now he runs Knotel, a unique workspace aimed at up and coming startups.

In this episode of Technotopia I asked Sarva about his thoughts on work, interaction, and the future of offices. In his vision we are all working together remotely using tools that could allow us to all directly interact simply by using our brains. It’s an odd – and cool – idea and he’s a fun interview subject.

Technotopia is a podcast by John Biggs about a better future. You can subscribe in Stitcher, RSS, or iTunes and listen the MP3 here.

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Udacity tackles cybersecurity with its latest nanodegree

Responding to the talent shortage and increasing demand facing the cybersecurity industry, Udacity said that it is now developing a new nanodegree focused on security.

Launched at the security industry’s RSA Conference, details about the new program (including potential partners) are still sketchy (there’s little available on the information page on the Udacity’s website about the program).

The announcement at RSA actually included an active call for partners for the security program.

To the leaders in this field, we are extending the opportunity to join us. Your organization, together with Udacity, can help shape the future of Cybersecurity training, and nurture the world’s most advanced pipeline of highly-qualified Cybersecurity talent.

Through our partnership, your organization will have early access to this incredible talent pipeline, and the opportunity to hire those experts who have trained on the curriculum you helped to build. 

As we consider the technological landscape of the future, we continually seek opportunities to apply the world’s most transformative technologies to the world’s most pressing challenges, and to educate, develop, and nurture the talent that will solve these challenges. We see this kind of opportunity in the field of Cybersecurity, and we look forward to building this program in partnership with the world’s leading Cybersecurity experts.

Your expertise and experience will inform the development of our curriculum. Your subject matter experts will provide vital leadership and deliver valuable knowledge to our students. Through the establishment of scholarships, you will help ensure maximum opportunity for the most deserving and qualified students across the globe.

Announcing the new program on the company’s blog, Udacity cited reports from the Department of Labor indicating that job opportunities for “information security analysts is projected to grow 28 percent from 2016 to 2026.”

Udacity’s security sales pitch is that it has already trained 10,000 artificial intelligence engineers (no word on how many the company has successfully placed in companies), and has thousands of students actively enrolled in its artificial intelligence and data analysis classes.

Through its paid and free classes Udacity claims some 8 million students and 30,

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Google confirms some of its own services are now getting blocked in Russia over the Telegram ban

A shower of paper airplanes darted through the skies of Moscow and other towns in Russia today, as users answered the call of entrepreneur Pavel Durov to send the blank missives out of their windows at a pre-appointed time in support of Telegram, a messaging app he founded that was blocked last week by Russian regulator Roskomnadzor (RKN) that uses a paper airplane icon. RKN believes the service is violating national laws by failing to provide it with encryption keys to access messages on the service (Telegram has refused to comply).

The paper plane send-off was a small, flashmob turn in a “Digital Resistance” — Durov’s preferred term — that has otherwise largely been played out online: currently, nearly 18 million IP addresses are knocked out from being accessed in Russia, all in the name of blocking Telegram.

And in the latest development, Google has now confirmed to us that its own services are now also being impacted. From what we understand, Google Search, Gmail and push notifications for Android apps are among the products being affected.

“We are aware of reports that some users in Russia are unable to access some Google products, and are investigating those reports,” said a Google spokesperson in an emailed response. We’d been trying to contact Google all week about the Telegram blockade, and this is the first time that the company has both replied and acknowledged something related to it.

(Amazon has acknowledged our messages but has yet to reply to them.)

Google’s comments come on the heels of RKN itself also announcing today that it had expanded its IP blocks to Google’s services. At its peak, RKN had blocked nearly 19 million IP addresses, with dozens of third-party services that also use Google Cloud and Amazon’s AWS, such as Twitch and Spotify, also getting caught in the crossfire.

Russia is among the countries in the world that has enforced a kind of digital firewall, blocking periodically or permanently certain online content. Some turn to VPNs to access that content anyway, but it turns out that Telegram hasn’t needed to rely on that workaround to get used.

“RKN is embarrassingly bad at blocking Telegram, so most people keep using it without any intermediaries,” said Ilya Andreev, COO and co-founder of Vee Security, which has been providing a proxy service to bypass the ban. Current

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Proxeus wants to be the WordPress of blockchain

Can blockchain technology fix the soul sucking tedium and cost of back-and-forth bureaucracy? The Swiss team behind a blockchain-based platform, called Proxeus, believes it can — and that that will be just the tip of what decentralization brings down the pipe, once components such as crypto identities become an accepted (and legal) standard.

Blockchain’s big picture vision is embedded crypto identities opening up all sorts of additional opportunities — from a new wave of share trading and lending, to frictionless identity verification.

But right now the technology remains nascent, with some fundamental challenges — such as energy efficiency and scalability — yet to be overcome and thus standing in the way of blockchain’s much touted transformative potential.

That’s why the team behind Proxeus has taken what co-founder Antoine Verdon dubs a “very pragmatic, very Swiss” approach to blockchain — aiming to bridge the gap between the old (but real) world of linear workflow processes and the brave but still alternative reality where everything that can be decentralized has been.

So they’re focused on enabling blockchain to be used to optimize single processes and workflows — as a first step towards greater transformations.

“Blockchain is going to change the whole way we organize ourselves, the whole way we build software, the whole way that even democracy works — and the whole way societies are organized,” says Verdon, laying out his blockchain faith before tempering it with a little local pragmatism. “The impact will be quite deep and eventually really powerful but in the first step it’s just another digital technology bringing efficiency to businesses.”

The team’s aim for their platform is to become ‘the WordPress of blockchain’. The technology is open source, and the platform will be made freely available for anyone to use (people building Proxeus apps can monetize them via charging fees based on usage).

Back in February Proxeus raised $25M, via an ICO for their XES token, to community fund this vision.

“At its core Proxeus is a workflow builder and document generator,” says Verdon. “We have a framework which allows anyone to come and use building blocks to create workflows and at the end blockchain apps. But — just like WordPress is a website creation t

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Empathy technologies like VR AR and social media can transform education

Jennifer Carolan Contributor Jennifer Carolan is a general partner and co-founder of Reach Capital.

In The Better Angels of Our Nature, Harvard psychologist Steven Pinker makes the case for reading as a “technology for perspective-taking” that has the capacity to not only evoke people’s empathy but also expand it. “The power of literacy,” as he argues  “get[s] people in the habit of straying from their parochial vantage points” while “creating a hothouse for new ideas about moral values and the social order.”

The first major empathy technology was Guttenberg’s printing press, invented in 1440. With the mass production of books came widespread literacy and the ability to inhabit the minds of others. While this may sound trite, it was actually a seismic innovation for people in the pre-industrial age who didn’t see, hear or interact with those outside of their village. More recently, other technologies like television and virtual reality made further advances, engaging more of the senses to deepen the simulated human experience.

We are now on the cusp of another breakthrough in empathy technologies that have their roots in education. Empathy technologies expand our access to diverse literature, allow us to more deeply understand each other and create opportunities for meaningful collaboration across racial, cultural, geographic and class backgrounds. The new empathy technologies don’t leave diversity of thought to chance rather they intentionally build for it.

Demand for these tools originates from educators both in schools and corporate environments who have a mandate around successful collaboration. Teachers who are on the front lines of this growing diversity consider it their job to help students and employees become better perspective-takers.

Our need to expand our circles of empathy has never been more urgent. We as a nation are becoming more diverse, segregated and isolated by the day.

The high school graduating class of 2020 will be majority minority and growing income inequality has created a vast income and opportunity gap. Our neighborhoods have regressed back to higher levels of socio-economic segregation; families from different sides of the track are living in increasing isolation from one another.

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