Has the US Equity Crowdfunding Market Lived up to Expectations?

What does financing the future look like? We all know incredible advancements in technology have made new discoveries and products available to millions of people worldwide. But can those same people look to the technology of crowdfunding to help finance their dreams, and by extension, our future? Here is a sobering article on the current state of crowdfunding and what will have to be done to ensure crowdfunding can live up to expectations. -Spencer

BY TOBY CLARENCE-SMITH – FINANCE BLOG LEAD EDITOR @ TOPTAL. [Original article posted here]

In April 2012, then President Obama signed into law the Jump-Start Our Business Start-Ups bill, otherwise known as the JOBS act. In the midst of a recovery from the devastating after-effects of the Financial Crisis, the move was hailed as “a ‘potential game changer’ for fledgling businesses in need of financing.”

In particular, the bill unlocked the promise of equity crowdfunding, an activity which, simply put, allowed companies to raise money from any willing investors via the internet. As President Obama himself put it, by removing these restrictions, the JOBS act promised to allow “start-ups and small business […] access to a big, new pool of potential investors—namely, the American people […] For the first time, ordinary Americans will be able to go online and invest in entrepreneurs that they believe in.”

To be clear, the process of raising money from private investors is nothing new. However, in most countries, including the US, there have historically been rules regarding such an activity that tended to exclude the average person on the street from investing in these deals. In the US for instance, in order to invest in the equity of private companies, individuals needed to be approved accredited investors, or go through regulated middlemen, both of which limited the playing field and created barriers to mass participation. The JOBS act, and the promise of equity crowdfunding, changed all that.

Nearly five years on though, equity crowdfunding continues to remain a fairly limited niche activity. Despite a few success stories, the grandiose predictions of industry-wide disruption haven’t come to fruition. In this article, we take a look at the current state of the equity crowdfunding market in the US, and assess the challenges it needs to overcome in order to live up to its promises. Read more ›

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An Introductory Robot Programming Tutorial

BY NICK MCCREA – SOFTWARE ENGINEER @ TOPTAL. (Original article posted here)

Let’s face it, robots are cool. They’re also going to run the world someday, and hopefully at that time they will take pity on their poor soft fleshy creators (AKA robotics developers) and help us build a space utopia filled with plenty. I’m joking of course, but only sort of.

In my ambition to have some small influence over the matter, I took a course in autonomous robot control theory last year, which culminated in my building a simulator that allowed me to practice control theory on a simple mobile robot.

In this article, I’m going to describe the control scheme of my simulated robot, illustrate how it interacts with its environment and achieves its goals, and discuss some of the fundamental challenges of robotics programming that I encountered along the way. Read more ›

Posted in Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, Programming, Robotics, Technology Tagged with: , , , , ,

Virtual Reality in the Automotive Industry

BY DAAN TERRA – DEVELOPER @ TOPTAL (with link to the original article here).

Despite some rough years, the automotive industry is still one of the most important economic sectors. Car manufacturers are continuously trying to put the current technologies to use in order to deliver the best vehicles. Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) technology is advancing rapidly as computers are becoming more powerful. The market of AR/VR has already become a billion-dollar market and it’s projected to keep growing well beyond a $120 billion market within a few years.

At the low-end of the VR market, Google blogged that their Cardboard has already shipped over 10 million units. It upgrades one’s smartphone to a VR viewer. They also distributed over 160 million apps for them. That’s not all, though, since third-party solutions are available as well. As for the more complete commercial products, Sony reported that almost a million units of their Playstation VR headset were sold.

Virtual Reality in Automotive Industry Driver Illustration

And then there’s the automotive industry. We already laid out the growing market of app development for Car Infotainment Systems which is projected to exceed $35 billion by the end of the decade. With AR/VR becoming more mainstream, developers can also start moving it into your car. Creative minds will have an opportunity to conquer some of that market with new AR/VR apps.

Read more ›

Posted in Artificial Intelligence, Augmented Reality, Autonomous Driving, Machine Learning, Self-driving, Technology, Virtual Reality Tagged with: , , , ,

An Introduction to Machine Learning Theory and Its Applications: A Visual Tutorial with Examples

BY NICK MCCREA – SOFTWARE ENGINEER @ TOPTAL

Read the Spanish version of this article translated by Marisela Ordaz.

Machine Learning (ML) is coming into its own, with a growing recognition that ML can play a key role in a wide range of critical applications, such as data mining, natural language processing, image recognition, and expert systems. ML provides potential solutions in all these domains and more, and is set to be a pillar of our future civilization.

The supply of able ML designers has yet to catch up to this demand. A major reason for this is that ML is just plain tricky. This tutorial introduces the basics of Machine Learning theory, laying down the common themes and concepts, making it easy to follow the logic and get comfortable with the topic.

This curious machine is learning machine learning, unsupervised.

What is Machine Learning?

Read more ›

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A Deep Learning Tutorial: From Perceptrons to Deep Networks

BY IVAN VASILEV – JAVA DEVELOPER @ TOPTAL

Republished with permission by Toptal.comTranslated by Marisela Ordaz into Spanish.

In recent years, there’s been a resurgence in the field of Artificial Intelligence. It’s spread beyond the academic world with major players like Google, Microsoft, and Facebook creating their own research teams and making some impressive acquisitions.

Some this can be attributed to the abundance of raw data generated by social network users, much of which needs to be analyzed, as well as to the cheap computational power available via GPGPUs.

But beyond these phenomena, this resurgence has been powered in no small part by a new trend in AI, specifically in machine learning, known as “Deep Learning”. In this tutorial, I’ll introduce you to the key concepts and algorithms behind deep learning, beginning with the simplest unit of composition and building to the concepts of machine learning in Java.
Read more ›

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Posthuman Dreams: 37 Inventions of our After Mind World

Posthuman Dreams: 37 Inventions of our After Mind World

A Technology Companion for After Mind.

Posthuman dreams: After Mind Bookmark Front

Years from now in our posthuman future, a web crawler might discover this page and smile… in whatever emotive way it will be programmed to do. After Mind explores more than a few dozen technologies, many on the cusp of breakthrough today, and others that stem from deeper dreams.

While intense human relationships underpin the story, 37 human and posthuman technologies rise to open so many doors.

First, the 23 technologies of our posthuman future that will forever change who we are or how we think of ourselves:

1.   General AI that interprets human memories and thrives with an imagination and dreams of its own.

2.   AI Psychology as the new science of humans helping AIs adapt to their new sense of self.

3.   Mind Uploading to bring a human’s lost mind back to life.

4.   Brain Scanning through a combination of nanobot “throwers” that travel and transmit their signals from within the brain to external “catchers” that receive and interpret the whole of the mind. Built on advanced Magnetoencephalography (MEG), the throwers and catchers measure the small magnetic fields that are produced within the brain.

5.   Quantum Computers and Qubits (also spelled ‘Qbit’). Where a standard computer bit can only be a zero or one, a Qubit exists in the strange and wonderful quantum world and can be either a zero or one, or the superposition of both zero and one at the same time. [Spoiler Alert: If Packet’s mind is a quantum computer, then one of its Qubits is represented by Cessini and Ceeborn; each being one of Packet’s two different states of being, and the superposition of both at the same time. Other Qubits include: the reaction or adaption to water; mind or body; reality or imagination; technology or nature; and fate or free-will. Packet is always one or the other, and both at the same time.]

6.   Mind-Body Problem. Exploring the location of consciousness and the soul from the systems engineering perspective.

7.   Enhanced Blackwell Inversion Test (EBIT). An Epistemological test, designed to be failed on its first attempt, that is given to a general AI. The persistent AI will return to self-determine if it is a computer, a human, or a human-computer. The EBIT goes well beyond the Enhanced Turing Test which adds pictures and visual complexity to the Turing Test. The Turing Test is used with text-based conversations to judge for indistinguishability between a human and a machine.

8.   CRISPR Genome Editing for precise, targeted changes to the human genome to improve or repair the genetic code of life. CRISPR stands for Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats.

Posthuman dreams: Idea Alarm Clock9.   Memory Alteration to rewrite undesirable memories or introduce new ones into a general AI’s sense of experience.

10.   Dream Streaming to observe and interpret an individual’s health and development, including full-color video and audio links to external monitors in real time.

11.   Bio-inspired Software that is designed to age naturally like the brain cells it replaces. Once the software code itself ages, then the hormonal drives and declines that accompany natural human aging has the proper impact on decision making and an AI’s developmental progress. An uploaded human mind can then mature through the human stages of emotion and life.

12.   Cochlear implants so the hearing-impaired can hear and the computer-based mind can receive sounds and connect with voices from the outside world.

13.   Direct Visual Cortex projection so visual stimuli can bypasses the eye itself and project instead directly onto the simulated visual cortex of the mind, giving the computer-based mind the ability to “see” the world in which it lives.

14.   Echolocation (bio sonar) through Nano particle infusions to give humans the ability to target and see objects via the reflection and measurement of emitted sound waves.

15.   Respirocytes as a nano-mechanical replacement for blood cells that provide oxygen-rich blood to our bodies, unlocking hours-long breathing underwater.

Posthuman dreams: A boy alone in a data center16.   Dark Magnetocytes, founded in the new science of Quantum Biology, to ensure a living body can align and maintain its 360 degree orientation within its surroundings.

17.   Artificial Hearts that grow physically with the patient and monitor their health from youth to adulthood.

18.   Artificial Skin that is painted onto a robot’s body.

19.   Smart Contact Lenses with streaming internet feeds.

20.   3D-printing of Human Organs and other mechanical parts with a networked catalog of choosable products.

21.   Multi-Acting Vaccines with hundreds of individual viral and bacterial targets in one administration.

22.   Crowd-Sourced Data Mining of massive healthcare record databases to identify pharmaceutical targets of opportunity.

23.   Crowd-Sourced Cures for Genetic Mutations through massive multi-player software coding challenges and online gaming quests.

And, 14 products of our posthuman future:

24.  Meat Fields grown through Aeroponic (in air) and Hydroponic (in water) gardening that provides protein-rich food for a population.

25.  Massive Data Center Size Reduction from current large-scale facilities down to a single room environment, then further down to the size of a human brain, then ultimately down to the size of a red blood cell, all with increasing computational power.

Posthuman dreams: After Mind Title Image26.   Robotic Security Torsos at the security checkpoints of facilities; and autonomous, ant-like patrols that keep order in the community.

27.   Clear, Rollable Digital Tablets with attached finger-keys for interacting and playing with modified apps; and the flexibility to “dog-ear” precious photos in memory.

28.   Self-Fitting Athletic Suits that are scrunchable into a tight ball, then flicked open like a sheet; only microns thick, with a semi-metallic sheen. The self-fitting suit actively monitors the wearer’s body vitals and corrects their imbalances.

29.   Athletic Training Drones on running tracks that fly ahead of their human trainees and motivate them to optimum performance.

30.   Self-Cleaning Paint spiked with nanoparticles to keep the exterior of a building clean from dirt and dust, especially in rain.

31.   Networked Cybersecurity “Digital Ants” for electric grid monitoring and swarming onto a threat, with the goal of complete neutralization.

Posthuman dreams: Winning Certificate32.   Human-like, Chatbot Hosts on roving projection screens that crawl the internet for 24-hour news and information and are hired to moderate events on any topic, any time.

33.   Hydroelectric Power Plant Retrofits optimized with superconductor turbines for large-scale power generation, ultra-high efficiency, and a secure energy grid.

34.   Internet of Things networked appliances.

35.   Fully Autonomous Cars on networked roads, that may still be unfortunately hackable.

36.   Generation Bio-ship that is grown, not built, to carry a multi-thousand person colony between distant worlds; a colossal spacecraft of living architecture.

37.   Spacedust Fuel to power a massive bio-ship on a long, imaginative journey amongst the stars.

And what’s beyond our posthuman dreams? Does anyone really know? Will there be persistent humans? God-like computers? Human-Computers? Perhaps we should all strive to be passionate non-experts.

In their book BOLD, Peter Diamandis and Steven Kotler quote Henry Ford, who said about his employees, “None of our men are ‘experts.’ We have most unfortunately found it necessary to get rid of a man as soon as he thinks himself an expert because no one ever considers himself expert if he really knows his job. A man who knows a job sees so much more to be done than he has done, that he is always pressing forward and never gives an instant of thought to how good and how efficient he is. Thinking always ahead, thinking always of trying to do more, brings a state of mind in which nothing is impossible. The moment one gets into the ‘expert’ state of mind a great number of things become impossible.”

In our posthuman future, one thing will be certain. We, in whatever form that “we” is, won’t be the experts anymore. Here’s to the future of the possible.

You can find more posthuman dreams in After Mind. Let me know if you discover #38, 39, or 40. I’ll add them to our list, and smile.

-Spencer

Posted in AI Psychology, Artificial Intelligence, Books, Technology, writing Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Review: The Telomerase Revolution: What the Latest Science Reveals About the Nature of Aging and the Potential for Dramatic Life Extension

The Telomerase Revolution: What the Latest Science Reveals About the Nature of Aging and the Potential for Dramatic Life Extension The Telomerase Revolution: What the Latest Science Reveals About the Nature of Aging and the Potential for Dramatic Life Extension by Michael Fossel

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The Telomerase Revolution by Michael Fossel is an excellent, passionate update on the progress and benefits of telomerase as a likely cure for aging and its related diseases. Many chapters are devoted to understanding the body’s systems that deteriorate with age and the killers such as cancer and Alzheimers that expose themselves once age has settled in. With all the evidence presented and understood in the scientific community about telomeres and the expression of telomerase for the youthfulness of our cells, it’s amazing that so little is being done to advance the work into the clinic, save for a few pioneers, committed researchers, and experimentalists. Theories are suggested as to why a Manhattan Project type of effort hasn’t already begun. Disbelief? Too many Ponce de Leon’s who cried wolf? Maybe the cause of aging is beholden to the power of entrenched industry, such as pharmaceutical companies that gain more from selling pills to treat symptoms rather than supporting underlying cures. For the sake of all of our health and long lives, a grassroots revolution may be what’s needed to achieve dramatic life extension. If the Telomerase Revolution is the source of truth, then what are we waiting for, and what can we each do today? Highly recommended.

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Will an AI ever be Human enough to Save us from Sci-Fi Doom?

Strong AI vs Weak AI - Natural Human Exploration - Artificial Intelligence Psychology

#3 of My Top 10 Series on AI Psychology

Stephen Hawking, Elon Musk, and Bill Gates know that not every line of Artificial Intelligence (AI) code is plotting to take over the world. But they warn of doom for humanity if AI development is not controlled. So what can save us, AI, and all of humanity from real life anxiety and science fiction doom?

After my last post about how Identity Formation in AI Psychology can save us from catastrophe, a number of readers asked if it’s reasonable to anthropomorphize Artificial Intelligence. If it’s okay to assign human traits and use conventional psychology to guide an AI child to maturity?

Excellent question, which leads to… Read more ›

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Identity Formation in AI Psychology will Save us from Sci-Fi Doom

AI Psychology - Identity Formation - After Mind#2 of My Top 10 Series on A.I. Psychology

Stephen Hawking, Elon Musk, and Bill Gates warn of doom for humanity if the development of Artificial Intelligence (A.I.) is not monitored and controlled.

But I’m betting they also know, as you and I do, that not every line of computer code is one step removed from plotting to take over the world. So what can we do to save us, A.I., and all of humanity from real life anxiety and science fiction doom? The answer is A.I. Psychology.

I posted the first Reason why A.I. Psychology will save us from sci-fi catastrophe here… REASON #1 – A.I. Psychology is Child Psychology.

So now building on that, let’s look at… Read more ›

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After Mind defies the Experts: A.I. is Not the End of the World

After Mind defies the Experts: AI is Not the End of the World

I’m excited to announce that After Mind, my sci-fi debut novel, hit the Amazon Best Sellers List and Top Rated Books in its Category.

For those of you who know me, this has been a labor of love for the past few years, and now the book is finally here.

Some huge-name experts are saying the development of A.I. could lead to doomsday for mankind. This isn’t just about robots taking our jobs… they’re saying Artificial Intelligence could lead to catastrophic scenarios for all of us humans, the likes of which science fiction writers can only dream.

Well, I’m here to write otherwise. After Mind is about Artificial Intelligence, but from a completely different point-of-view. A boy’s perspective. A boy reborn into the world of human lies, artificial intelligence, and robot dreams.

Check it out…

5-STARS – “A book where the characters struggle and are utterly, utterly human.
AFTER MIND leaves the reader to wonder and explore.”
~San Francisco Book Review

“A rewarding tesseract of a novel that doesn’t release its secrets easily.”
~Kirkus Reviews

5-STARS – TOP BOOK PICK – “AFTER MIND is a stunning, reality-bending sci-fi adventure.
~IndieReader

For more info, check out the book on Amazon now.

And thank you again to those who supported my dream!

Spencer Wolf

(Amazon Best Sellers List on March 28, 2015 in Metaphysical Fiction;
Top Rated on March 28 in Metaphysical Science Fiction eBooks;
Hot New Releases on March 28 in Hard Science Fiction)

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