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Innovation

Hatch, Zuckerberg Talk Innovation, Field Questions At BYU

PROVO, March 28, 2011 – Facebook founder and CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, and Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) visited Provo, Utah, Friday to answer questions posted to the Brigham Young University Facebook page.

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PROVO, Utah, March 28, 2011 – Facebook founder and CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, and Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) visited Provo, Utah, Friday to answer questions posted to the Brigham Young University Facebook page.

Sen. Hatch joked that he was glad to be there with Zuckerberg, but that the senator was still hoping he would accept his friend request.

As Chairman of the Senate Republican High Tech Task Force, Sen. Hatch had previously met Zuckerberg after a congressional meeting, where he invited him to speak at BYU. Dressed in a zip-up hoodie and jeans, the former computer science and psychology major spoke to several thousand students, faculty, and members of the public in his first ever University forum address. Sen. Hatch directed the questions, which were taken from BYU’s Facebook page.

Most student questions dealt with technology and public policy, delving into privacy concerns and addressing the government’s role in regulating Internet companies. Sen. Hatch asserted, “the best thing Congress can do is keep out of the way.”

“A lot of people were afraid of sharing things on the Internet, initially,” Zuckerberg explained while addressing privacy concerns, “but [on Facebook], you control who sees the information. There’s no downside.”

The Facebook chief pointed out that Facebook has worked to protect privacy for younger users, adjusting the default information-sharing settings for those under 13 years of age.

Zuckerberg also explained efforts to protect users’ personal information, identifying a feature that requires users logging in to Facebook from a unique location of the world to first recognize their “friends” in order to confirm their identity. He noted that Facebook users concerned about privacy should realize that their social connections provide an even stronger way to protect their information.

The 26-year-old billionaire also showed interest in Sen. Hatch’s approach to technology policy.

“A lot of people want to tax the Internet,” said the six-term senator, “[but] one reason we have so much innovation on the Internet is because of a lack of regulation.”

Sen. Hatch made his stance clear, noting, “I prefer keeping innovation alive.” He also pointed to research and development tax credits as a way to stimulate technological innovation.

In addition to the answering questions related to technology and public policy, Zuckerberg spoke of Facebook and other social networking sites as “catalysts for reform,” a reference to the role of technology in the current revolutions in the Middle East. He also mentioned peace.facebook.com, a site based on the Facebook platform and dedicated to tracking connections between regions historically in conflict.

Time magazine’s 2010 Person of the Year spoke of technology’s potential to transform education, a transformation he described as, “really disruptive [but] in a positive way.” He referred to a difficulty in measuring students’ learning that could be more easily addressed with the use of technology than through more traditional approaches.

In their questions, students also tended to seek advice from the former Harvard undergraduate. Zuckerberg emphasized the importance of his psychology classes in understanding people, an integral part of running a business and living a successful life.

“You have to love and believe in what you’re doing,” he said. “Life can be hard, and you encounter challenges, so if you don’t love what you do, it might even be rational to give up.”

He also explained that in hiring employees, “we look for what they’ve shown initiative to do on their own – did they just attend classes, or did they do more beyond that? People don’t get put into roles; they create them for themselves.”

 

Innovation

ITIF’s Atkinson Urges Strategic Policies for U.S. Technological Superiority

Panelists argued that the federal government needs to institute policies for growth in strategic technology industries.

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Rob Atkinson, president of the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation

WASHINGTON, January 12, 2022 — Panelists on an Information Technology and Innovation Foundation event warned Tuesday about China’s rise as a technological superpower that requires the U.S. to step up or get usurped.

Rob Atkinson, president of the ITIF said as other countries like China advance in technology, America becomes more susceptible to falling behind. What’s required, he said, are policies that make space for adequate production and innovation for key industries, like chip manufacturing, inside the country.  “Policymakers need to accept that while market forces should continue to guide non-strategic industries, for strategic industries government needs explicit sector-based strategies implemented through industry-led public-private partnerships,” according to a January 3 article by Atkinson on the ITIF website.

Past are the days that the federal government focused almost solely on defense and weapons and now is the time for it to focus on leading in sectors including drones, autonomous systems, artificial intelligence, quantum computing, biotechnology, energy storage systems, lasers, optical equipment, space technology, machine tools, shipbuilding, and advanced wireless systems. The article notes the Senate did pass the U.S. Innovation and Competition Act, which provides money for technology research over five years, but it now awaits House votes.

Atkinson’s thesis became a point of discussion at an ITIF event on Tuesday.

“We need to make sure these industries are competitive,” said Mike Brown, director of the Defense Innovation Unit under the Department of Defense. “The US is in the position to have breakthroughs in technology that are going to allow prosperity both economically as well as national security.

“China is using all instruments of national power to allocate capital, determine what industries are strategic and replace us as the technology superpower,” said Brown.

When Erica Fuchs, a professor at Carnegie Mellon University, suggested possible collaboration between America’s technology industry and China’s, Atkinson said he was “skeptical of the fact that we ever learn much from China. I think it’s 95% the other way.”

A majority of the panelists agreed that China aims to displace America in the race to technological advancements, and that there will be consequences if they do. “If China does displace us, our standard of living is going down,” Brown said.

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Innovation

CES 2022: More Multi-Dwelling Units Adopting Smart Home Devices

The smart home industry is seeing continued growth, smart home experts said.

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Samantha Fein Osborne, vice president of businesses development for Samsung’s SmartThings

LAS VEGAS, January 11, 2022 — A smart home analyst said at the Consumer Electronics Show last week that more families living in multi-dwelling units are increasingly purchasing smart home devices, providing a boost to connectivity devices.

“Old trends are continuing,” said Parks Associates analyst Chris White. “Single family home residents own more smart home devices, but MDUs are more likely to buy.”

The top reason for this shift in consumer behavior is falling prices, White said. White presented data from his firm showing that the average price of networked cameras, smart thermostats, and smart door locks have sharply declined between 2017 and 2020.

To facilitate wider adoption of smart devices, companies employ strategies such as including “value-tier” and “premium-tier” devices across their product portfolio and, in the case of home monitoring, offering professional monitoring across all product lines.

“We need to have a bigger range of smart home devices,” added Samantha Fein Osborne, vice president of businesses development for Samsung’s SmartThings. “You can buy a smart device for $9 and $300. We need to run the gamut because the real priority is personalization and choice,” she said.

Companies should also think about ways to connect their products with critical services that customers use every day, the conference heard.

Blake Miller, founder of Homebase.ai, said that its important to connect residents with critical services in the community with technology. Homebase.ai offers a “connected building solution” for multifamily housing, enabling apartment buildings the ability to offer smart access control, community Wi-Fi, device automation, and internet-connected appliances.

“We work with Walmart to do remote grocery delivery,” Miller said. “It provides value to the resident and to the property owner,” he said.

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Blockchain

CES 2022: Cryptocurrency Leaders Press Benefits as Uncertain Over Regional Clampdowns Looms

Regional crackdowns raise questions about the stability of cryptocurrencies.

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From left: Michael Terpin, Tushar Nadkarni, Kristin Smith, and Clara Tsao

LAS VEGAS, January 11, 2022 – Cryptocurrency advocates at the Consumer Electronics Show last week tried calming fears that growing global uncertainty and clampdowns on coin mining would cast a shadow over the nascent space.

“Everybody talks about the volatility [of Bitcoin], but it has tended to go up,” said Michael Terpin, CEO of Transform Group, a company that does public relations for blockchain, on a panel Wednesday. “[2021] has been one of the least volatile years.”

Clara Tsao, founding officer and director at Filecoin Foundation, an organization that deals with certain cryptocurrency governance, added that “there are so many people from around the world who have benefited from blockchain. [Blockchain] touches everything today.”

And Tushar Nadkarni, chief growth officer at Celsius Network, a cryptocurrency earning and borrowing platform, said “this is not the first time that a technology has come in and essentially just railroaded through inefficiencies that were in the [pre-existing] system.

“We have seen this movie before,” Nadkarni added.

Experts argue that one of the most significant benefits to cryptocurrencies is that they decentralize finance. This means that “miners” and consumers from anywhere in the world, in theory, can mine and use Bitcoin regardless of their location, and they do not need to operate through a regulatable intermediary.

But the comments come against a backdrop of global events that are adding to concerns that the state of cryptocurrencies is too volatile.

Beginning on January 4, the government of Kazakhstan, which has been quelling protests in recent days, began implementing internet blackouts that led to a national blackout on January 5. Kazakhstan is the second largest miner of Bitcoin – after the U.S. – and accounts for approximately 18 percent of the mining power in the world.

The value of Bitcoin plummeted in the following days, and though it has since begun to stabilize, questions remain about how truly decentralized the currency is, given how drastically its value can be impacted by the goings-on in a single country.

At the same time, Kosovo joined the growing list of countries that has made cryptocurrency mining illegal, seizing mining devices. Cryptocurrency mining is a notoriously power-intensive process; as the network of miners grows, so to does the complexity of the cryptographic equations required to mine a coin. To combat this, miners rig matrices of graphics processing units, thereby reducing the time it takes to solve algorithms.

Kosovo, much like the rest of Europe, is in the midst of an energy crisis as Russia continues to withhold its glut of natural gas as leverage over European Union and NATO aligned countries, some of whom are largely dependent on Russia to meet their energy needs.

Because of this fuel scarcity, Kosovo, a small country with just under 2 million people, announced a ban on cryptocurrency mining on January 4. On January 6, police forces in Kosovo announced their first arrests for those who refused to comply with the new law.

Kosovo is only the most recent country to outlaw cryptocurrency mining. In September of 2021, China announced a complete ban on cryptocurrency after nearly a decade of cracking down on it. Cryptocurrency is even facing challenges from non-state actors, as it was declared haram – or forbidden – by the national council of Islamic scholars in Indonesia, home to the largest population of Muslims in the world.

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