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Top 10 Quotes – Weapons of Math Destruction

Top 10 Quotes – Weapons of Math Destruction

Weapons of Math Destruction – Cathy O’Niel

O’Niel earned a Ph.D. in Mathematics at Harvard and taught at Bernard College before moving the private sector finance and data science. Her overall theme is summed up in the conclusion: Big Data processes codify the past. They do not invent the future. Doing that requires moral imagination, and that’s something only humans can provide (p 204)

1) Justice cannot just be something that one part of society inflicts upon the other.

p 96

The good news…. is that once thousands of security cameras in our cities and towns are sending up our images for analysis, police won’t  have to discriminate as much (p 101)

2) People had deliberatly weilded formulas to impress rather than clarify

We must avoid this at all costs. This created noise in the silicon valley bubble. If you can’t explain something in simple English, you probably do not understand it well enough. p 44

3) Algorithm – an opinion formalized in code

Algorithms, like processes and culture, must adapt to fit the needs of the human-centric goals they strive to achieve. p 53

4) The trouble was that the rankings were self-reinforcing

When discussing US News collegiate rankings. Low rankings caused less alumni donations and lower applications. The ranking was destiny. p 53

5) young children and adolescents of parents working unpredictable schedules or outside standard daytime working hours are more likely to have inferior cognition and behavioral outcomes

Clopenings must be done away with. Human time must not be optimized as a commodity. p 129

6) The problem is not the US News model but its scale. It forces everyone to shoot for exactly the same goals, which creates a rat race – and lots of harmful unintended consequences

Algorithms are almost never to be applied on global scales. It is generally better to focus on scale where data is rich and insightful to helping local neighborhoods and communities. p 58.

7) In a system in which cheating is the norm, following the rules amounts to a handicap

p 63

 

8) In our largely segregated cities, geography is a highly effective proxy for race

Exclude geography from value-judgments or risk harming groups of humans based on race. p 87

9) Hackathon

The goal of such events is to bring together hackers, nerds, mathematicians, and software geeks and to mobilize this brainpower to shine light on the digital systems that wield so much power in our lives p 91

10) While looking at WMDs, we’re often faced with a choice between fairness and efficacy.

if we don’t wrest back a measure of control, these future WMDs will feel mysterious and powerful. They’ll have their way with us, and we’ll barely know it’s happening. P 173.

 

My point is that oceans of behavioral data, in the coming years, will feed straight into artificial intelligence systems. And these will remain, to human eyes, black boxes. Throughout this process, we will rarely learn about the tribes we “belong” to or why we belong there. In the era of machine intelligence, most of the variables will remain a mystery. Many of those tribes will mutate hour by hour, even minute by minute, as the systems shuttle people from one group to another. After all, the same person acts very differently at 8am and 8pm.

 

 

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10 Quotes from What’s the Future and Why It’s Up to Us

10 Quotes from What’s the Future and Why It’s Up to Us

Tim O’Reilly is the CEO and Founder of O’Reilly media, the company which provided the metaphorical pickaxes to the silicon valley boom. O’Reilly also brought into mainstream the terms “Web 2.0” and “Open Source”. Written in 2017, What’s the Future and Why It’s Up to Us (WTF) discusses the new technologies which have become prominent in the Information Age. He examines the business maps which are enabling current companies to become unicorns and how other companies can create systems which are human focused. While there were a lot of ideas I took from the book to make podcast episodes for 365 Tech by Sweets here’s my top 10:

  1. The Innovators who first brought us the Internet and the open source software that made it possible. They did what they did out of love and curiosity, not a desire to make a fortune

  2. There is only one valid definition of business purpose: to create a customer… It is the customer who determines what a business is.

  3. The question of whether the next wave of automation will leave enough jobs for humanity is deeply rooted in outdated maps of what counts as paid work, and what we take for granted and expect to be provided for free.

  4. No company, no job – and ultimatly, no government and no economy- is immune to disruption. Computers will manage our money, supervise our children, and have our lives in their “hands” as they drive our automated cars.

  5. The flip side of every problem is an opportunity.

  6. Information doesn’t want to be free. Information wants to be valuable.

  7. Train yourself to recognize when you are looking at the map instead of at the road.

  8. Reality itself is fundamentally unknowable, since what is is always mediated by our nervous system.

  9. If the future is here, just not evenly distributed yet, find the seeds of the future, study them, and ask yourself how things will be different when they are the new normal. What happens if the trend keeps going?

  10. A platform strategy beats an application strategy every time!

One of the tools I take most stock in is the Business Model for the Next Economy which includes:

  • Replacing Materials with Information
  • Magical User Experience
  • Augmented Workers
  • Networked Marketplace Platforms
  • Talent and Resources on Demand
  • Managed by an Algorithm
  • Services on Demand

Another Round of points highlights what makes the “bazaar of open source development” so powerful:

  • An architecture of participation means that your users help to extend your platform
  • Low barriers to experimentation mean that the system is “hacker friendly” for maximum innovation
  • Interoperability means that one component or service can be swapped out if a better one comes along
  • “Lock-in” comes because others depend on the benefit from your services, not because you’re completely in control

To close, “the future is created by people who can make and invent things and those who can tinker and improve and put inventions into practice. These are people who learn by doing” Don’t wait on the future to come. It is already here. We must now decide if we like the future we see. If not, it is our responsibility to invent a better one.

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10 Quotes from Principles

10 Quotes from Principles

Principles – Ray Dalio

He divides the book into 3 parts: Where I’m Coming From, Life Principles, and Work Principles. In the introduction to the novel, he says “I wouldn’t mind if you decided to skip this part of the book”. and you know what? That’s exactly what I did. In a 550 page book, I skipped the first 125 pages.

1) Look to nature to learn how reality works.

All the laws of reality were given to us by nature. p 138.

2) Make sure people give more consideration to others than they demand for themselves.

p 343.

3) Pain + Reflection = Progress

One of the themes of the book. p 152.

4) Use the 5-Step Process to get what you want out of life

  1. Have clear goals.
  2. Identify and don’t tolerate the problems that stand in the way of your achieving those goals.
  3. Accurately diagnose the problems to get at their root causes.
  4. Design plans that will get you around them.
  5. Do what’s necessary to push these designs through to results.

5) Make your passion and your work one and the same

and do it with people you want to be with. p 317.

6) Hire right, because the penalties for hiring wrong are huge

“In picking people for long-term relationships, values are most important, abilities come next, and skills are the least important. Yet most people make the mistake of choosing skills and abilities first and overlooking values” This concept was introduced to my @Uptake when my manager interviewed candidates for full-time roles. The same concept was also brought up in one of my college courses: BUSMHR 3510 – New Venture Creation. p 404.

7) Everyone has strengths and weaknesses

and everyone has an important role to play in life.

 

  • Introvert vs extrovert – energy from ideas vs other people
  • Intuiting vs sensing – big picture (forests) vs details (trees)
  • Thinking vs feeling – logical analysis vs focus on harmony
  • Planning vs perceiving – stick to plan vs adapt to surroundings
  • Creators vs advancers vs refiners vs executors vs flexors
  • Focus on tasks vs goals –  incremental changes of reference vs reflect on what and how

p 226-229.

8) It is better to bet on changes you have seen than those you hope for

Remember that people typically don’t change all that much. p 411

9) you get 80 percent of the value out of something from 20 percent of the information or effort

This is a natural law that shows up often in the 2010s tech culture. See Peter Thiel (Zero to One). I love this principle, and use it often as a tool to get rid of noise in my life. p 246.

10) Until you make the unconscious conscious, it will direct your life and you will call it fate

– Carl Jung

p 251.

 

 

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Top 10 Quotes from Homo Deus

Top 10 Quotes from Homo Deus

10) “Modern humanity is sick with FOMO – Fear Of Missing Out – and though we have more choice than ever before, we have lost the ability to really pay attention to whatever we choose” (p 366)

9) “If we invest money in research, then scientific breakthroughs will accelerate technological progress. New technologies will fuel economic growth, and a growing economy will dedicate even more money to research” (p 202)

8) “Knowledge = Experiences x Sensitivity… You cannot experience something if you don’t have the necessary sensitivity, and you cannot develop your sensitivity except by undergoing a long string of experiences” (p 240)

7) “History is often shaped by small groups of forward-looking innovators rather than by the backward-looking masses” (p 271)

6) “In the past, censorship worked by blocking the flow of information. In the twenty first century censorship works by flooding people with irrelevant information” (p 402)

5) “Algorithms won’t revolt and enslave us. Rather, they will be so good at making decisions for us that it would be madness not to follow their advice” (p 339)

4) “Traditionally, life has been divided into two main parts: a period of learning followed by a period of working. Very soon this traditional model will become utterly obsolete, and the only way for humans to stay in the game will be to keep learning throughout their lives and to reinvent themselves repeatedly” (p 331)

3) “A host of tough technical problems still prevent Watson and its ilk from replacing most doctors tomorrow morning. Yet these technical problems – however difficult – need only be solved once” (p 319)

2) “AI is nowhere near human-like existence. But 99 per cent of human qualities and abilities are simply redundant for the performance of most modern jobs. For AI to squeeze humans out of the market it needs only to outperform us in the specific abilities a particular profession demands” (p 326)

1) “The crucial problem isn’t creating new jobs. The crucial problem is creating new jobs that humans perform better than algorithms” (p 331)

 

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Mission Statement

Mission Statement

My mission is to redefine the purpose of humanity to fit our abilities rather than our beliefs.

To fulfill this mission…

I learn… “Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty” – Henry Ford

I innovate… “Learning and innovations go hand in hand. The arrogance of success is to think that what you did yesterday will be sufficient for tomorrow” – William Pollard

I diversify… “Diversity: the act of thinking independently together” Malcolm Forbes

I create… “Creativity is the power to connect the seemingly unconnected” – William Plomer

I love… “There is only one happiness in this life, to love and be loved” – George Sand

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10 ways to wake up earlier

10 ways to wake up earlier

The most successful leaders of the world are early risers. That includes business leaders, leaders of nations, and pop idols. Your brain is most active when you first wake up. Choosing to wake up early improves happiness and health. Despite this, most of us either find excuses or have trouble creating meaningful change.

1) Exercise

The first thing I do every morning is a handstand. Setting a practice of exercising first thing in the morning energizes us for the rest of the day. I also like to apply the law of inertia: “An object at rest stays at rest and an object in motion stays in motion with the same speed and in the same direction unless acted upon by an unbalanced force.” If the first act of the day is to jump out of bed and do a push up, you’re likely to remain energized throughout the day. Exercise not only makes you feel better in the present moment, but also encourages better choices throughout the day.

2) Start the Night Before

While it’s easy to think our mornings start when we wake up, they really begin the night before. We accumulate stress throughout the day. Taking time to write ideas to remember helps to decrease stress and improve sleep quality.

In addition to nightly writing, quick practices to help improve sleep quality include avoiding large meals, alcohol, digital screens, and sticking to a bedtime.

3) Find Accountability

Without a reason to do something, it becomes difficult to make change.  Having a partner/system to check in with every morning can help to form the habit of early rising. Before 10am every morning I post an article to twitter I found interesting while consuming the daily news along with a description of my takeaway (@sweetmantech).

4) Sleep Consistently

Our sleeping and eating patterns are controlled by our circadian rhythm. As a natural response to sunlight and temperature, our bodies send signals and release chemicals to prepare us for sleep. Circadian rhythm causes our level of wakefulness to rise and dip throughout the day. The best way to improve our circadian rhythm is by setting a consistent bed/wake up time every day. Although individual sleep needs vary, we’ve got some math to help figure out how much sleep you need.

5) Sleep Enough – Sleep Cycle Math

We sleep in 90 minute sleep cycles. Knowing that, each sleep cycle may provide different lengths of time for each stage of sleep. The important thing is to ensure you get enough TIME spent in each STAGE of sleep. Some people may only need 4 sleep cycles to get enough NREM stages 3/4 while I need 5-6 sleep cycles to feel most awake.

6) Get Outside

The amount of light your eyes receive affects your circadian rhythm. Exposure to natural light in the morning not only helps wake us up, but also helps to reset our body’s clock to be more in tune with nature. Camping and exposure to natural light help prime your body for an earlier bedtime.

7) Pavlok – Negative Punishment

If you’re really struggling to get out of bed you can try Pavlovian conditioning. Ivan Pavlov discovered he could create a ‘conditioned response‘ in his dog so it would salivate when he rang a bell. This principle of classical conditioning can be used to incite a ‘conditioned response’ of getting out of bed.

In 2012 Maneesh Sethi created Pavlok, a wristband which provides an electric shock to discourage the wearer from bad behavior. One of Pavlok’s biggest use-cases is to help people get out of bed in the morning.

8) Silence

Laying in bed can often be the only period of inactivity we experience all day. As a result, in the first few minutes our minds often race through the day’s events. This leads to increased activity and stress which prolongs the time it takes to fall asleep. Taking time for silence during the day prioritizes your current state of being. The opportunity to value signals our bodies send us establish clarity and grounding. Examples of silence include meditation, prayer, reading, etc.

9) Affirmations

The word affirmation comes from the Latin affirmare, originally meaning “to make steady, strengthen.” In Think and Grow Rich, Napoleon Hill reveals the ability to use affirmations to manifest ideas from ether into reality. Repeating affirmations on a regular basis helps reinforce the ideas we want to become habits. Some sample phrases which help improve sleep quality:

  • “I let go of fear, worry, anger, and blame. I release anxieties and stress. I release the heaviness of today and the weight on my shoulders. I let go of negative thoughts, and keep the happy ones. In my sleep will I find the freedom to know joy and peace again.”
  • “What has happened has been so, and there is no other way I could have or should have let it be. And so, I let it go and I let life be as it is. I forgive the people, I forgive the situation, and I forgive myself. I trust life and I am safe.”
  • “I give myself permission to close my eyes tonight, and awake refreshed tomorrow. I am allowed to drift into a good night’s sleep. My body, mind, and soul are worthy of their rest.”

10) Clean your Room

The cleanliness of your room represents your current mental state. People who make their beds every morning are more likely to regularly report getting a good night’s sleep. Organization creates symmetry. On an atomic level, we are made up of organized systems. Our bodies are well-regulated and well-organized. As a result, we subconsciously seek organization in our daily lives.

 

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Fall 2017 Goals

Fall 2017 Goals

Importance of Goals

It’s been approximately one year since I started setting goals. After leaving the US Air Force Academy, I was in a low place. My previous goals I’d been working towards for the past 4 years suddenly required changing. It wasn’t until I read Rich Dad Poor Dad by Robert Kiosaki that I realized the need to understand what it is you want on a deeper and more meaningful level than monetary success.

Goals have helped me understand and refine what it is I truly desire. They have also assisted me in benchmarking. In a world where we are always distracted and never truly happy, goals help me to find my signal through all of the noise.

My goals for Fall 2017 are:

  1. Get accepted into the Computer Science & Engineering major at the Ohio State University
  2. Make myself a more valuable software engineer
  3. Find companies to intern at for Summer 2018 where I can create exclusively win-win situations

Creating Goals

Start with why. My oldest sister is not a passionate person… yet. I am constantly asking her why she does things. “Why do you exercise with your best friend?”, “Why do you currently work at a coffee shop?”, “Why are you trying to install that .jar in your IDE?”, etc. Asking the question of ‘why’ helps me to not only have a better understanding of the problem, but shortens the time needed to generate an impactful solution.

When I create goals, I start by thinking of why. My goals are to extend human life and promote human travel of space. I approach this goal from a utilitarian philosophy, I work to make the greatest positive impact on the highest number of beings.

Finding your ‘why?’

In January 2017, I started meditating on a daily basis. My practice consisted of visualizations, trait development, and generating feelings of loving-kindness. I then stumbled on the 6 Phase Meditation by Vishen Lakhiani. This became my daily practice towards imagining myself in the perfect situation 2-3 years from  now. At first I visualized a typical life in Colorado with a dog in the mountains, but over time I realized my goal was too small. I realized how boring certain dreams I had would become after a period of time. That allowed me to pivot my goals to generate more long-term and sustainable happiness.

In finding your ‘why?’ there are two actions I find critical (supported by the 5 hour rule):

  1. Meditation – silence your mind from distraction
  2. Reading – learn continuously to prevent decay
  3. Reflection – review feedback from past actions to inform future decisions
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Book Review – Sapiens

Book Review – Sapiens

Sapiens

First published in Hebrew in Israel in 2011, Sapiens, by Professor Yuval Noah Harari, was released in English in 2014. Incredibly well-received book, receiving 4.5/5 on Goodreads, 90% approval through Google Ratings, and 4.5 stars with 3.5k reviews on Amazon at my time of writing. It races through the evolution of the Homo Sapiens to present day. The novel spans millions of years, discussing everything from the establishment and spread of religion to gender differences within the species.

Breakthroughs in Humanity

Harari discusses the 4 major revolutions: The Cognitive Revolution (70,000 BC), the Agricultural Revolution (11,000 BC), the Scientific Revolution (1500 AD), the Industrial Revolution (1750 AD), the Information Revolution (1970 AD), ending with the Biotechnological Revolution (in progress). This follows Klaus Schwab’s prediction in his 2016 novel, The Fourth Industrial Revolution, that we are entering a new revolution powered by inexpensive sensors and exponentially increasing abilities to process large amounts of data efficiently.

Each revolution follows more quickly the previous one. In Peter Thiel’s 2014 book, Zero to One, he proposes 4 different ways humanity may progress in the near future. Because of the rapidly occurring revolutions, we have 3 viable solutions: 1) Society will plateau once we reach a certain level of comfort and achievement 2/3) Society will continue to progress until we reach a singularity which causes the 2) extinction of our species or 3) The exponential increase in Sapiens’ evolution.  I believe the last option to be the path where we’re headed, but I’m also an optimist, shoot me ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Assumptions and Normality

Throughout history, Sapiens have made assumptions to create and maintain stable social structures. While they may temporarily solve our problems, they also lead to longstanding impediments in our society such as secularism, sexism, racism, ageism, etc.

In Originals (2016) Adam Grant discusses the difference between conceptual and experimental innovation. While conceptual innovators like Einstein developed breakthroughs in relativity, these same concepts inhibit innovators ability to adapt their concepts to new information (such as quantum physics). In contrast, experimental innovators, like Leonardo da Vinci, spend time in trial and error, constantly refining their practice until they create beautiful works such as the Last Supper and Mona Lisa.

Most societies are founded on concepts rather than experiments. This has prevented us from modifying our current structures and governance to account for the developments in technology and changing understanding of the universe.

Eternal Life

Harari argues “Homo sapiens as we know them will disappear in a century or so.” I have to agree. We have a new ability as a species to be able to repair, upgrade, and modify ourselves with the help of technology through biotechnology and artificial intelligence. While I am hopeful to be included in the society of amortal Sapiens, my goal is to add value to this field of study to bring it’s inevitable manifestation to life in time for my children and their descendants.

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Interning at Uptake

Interning at Uptake

Uptake

Founded in 2014, Uptake is a data science platform which partners with industry leaders in large-scale verticals to provide insights and solutions based on their assets. In 2017, Uptake was valued at $2 billion USD after receiving $40 million in Series C round funding. Uptake was one of the first companies to emerge as a leader during the fourth industrial revolution.

Intern Experience

Interns from Summer 2017 came from universities across the United States ranging from Carnegie Mellon to Yale. Positions include Software Engineering, Marketing, and Data Science interns. We had a lot of fun this year. The work we did was impactful, working directly with teams to solve challenging technical and business challenges. In addition, Uptake took us on adventures throughout the Summer including the Chicago Architectural Boat Tour and Indoor Skydiving.

Culture

Within the first week of starting our internship the CEO, Brad Keywell, sat down for breakfast with the interns. We were told the company’s story from its inception through its experiences these past 3 years. Brad concluded with a message that this internship, we would be challenged to contribute at the same level as our full-time counterparts.

Uptake has a culture devoted to deep work and continuous improvement. One of my highlights from the summer was the sphere garden, where I was able to meditate every morning when I arrived at work. Throughout the office there are pods, bean bag chairs, and even a new library where employees can put themselves in a situation where they are able to achieve deep work and flow.

In addition to a culture of deep and meaningful work, Uptake is built around improving employees happiness. They have 3 fully stocked kitchens free for employee use. I would typically show up to work and drink a fruit smoothie, followed by yogurt and a granola bar. Lunch varied depending on the day, my favorite meal at Uptake this summer was the Caesar chicken wrap and their French toast cake balls.

Mission

Uptake’s mission is to be “the actionable insights platform, creating products and solutions, that makes industry more productive, secure, safe, and reliable”

Uptake is a principle-centered company. When the business objectives changed in July, Brad called the entire company of 700 employees together to personally tell us what the new objectives were as well as why each one had been chosen.

beyond.uptake, the philanthropic arm of Uptake, works to address the world’s most pressing problems. The problems they are currently seeking to solve include providing human anti-trafficking organizations the insight they need to better identify victim profiles. For first-generation college applicants, beyond provides a list of schools that give them the best chance of admission and graduation. For animal poaching, beyond is developing an application assists with patrol route planning, knowledge sharing, and drone footage analysis.

 

I leave Uptake excited to continue learning and growing. I would highly recommend Uptake to anyone looking to make a large impact on this world in an exciting work environment. They’ve got over 50 open positions at time of writing, check them out here.

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Peter Diamandis’ Laws: The Creed of the Persistent and Passionate Mind

One of my oldest friends, Steve, came to visit me in Chicago last month. During the visit, we went to the MSI (Museum of Science and Industry). In one of the permanent sections, Fast Forward… Inventing the Future laws, we saw Peter Diamandis’ Laws. This exhibit got me excited. Not only because I had found a new role model, but because his laws are so perfectly modeled after our current, disruptive, culture.

Peter is the founder of the X Prize Foundation, as well as an entrepreneur and innovator looking to accelerate the progress of humanity. Here are the laws he uses to change the world:

  1. If anything can go wrong, Fix It!!… to hell with Murphy!
  2. When given a choice…take both!!
  3. Multiple projects lead to multiple successes.
  4. Start at the top then work your way up.
  5. Do it by the book … but be the author!
  6. When forced to compromise, ask for more.
  7. If you can’t win, change the rules.
  8. If you can’t change the rules, then ignore them.
  9. Perfection is not optional.
  10. When faced without a challenge, make one.
  11. “No” simply means begin again at one level higher.
  12. Don’t walk when you can run.
  13. When in doubt: THINK!
  14. Patience is a virtue, but persistence to the point of success is a blessing.
  15. The squeaky wheel gets replaced.
  16. The faster you move, the slower time passes, the longer you live.
  17. The best way to predict the future is to create it yourself!
  18. The ratio of something to nothing is infinite.
  19. You get what you incentivize.
  20. If you think it is impossible, then it is… for you.
  21. An expert is someone who can tell you exactly how it can’t be done
  22. The day before something is a breakthrough it’s a crazy idea.
  23. If it were easy it would have been done already.
  24. Without a target you’ll miss it every time.
  25. Fail early, fail often, fail forward!
  26. If you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it.
  27. The world’s most precious resource is the persistent and passionate human mind.
  28. Bureaucracy is an obstacle to be conquered with persistence, confidence and a bulldozer when necessary
  • Copyright, 1986, 2009, Peter H. Diamandis, All Rights Reserved. Laws #14 & #18 by Todd B. Hawley #19 Adopted from Alan Kay #26 by Byron K. Lichtenberg. #27 by Gregg E.

#3 Multiple Projects Leads to Multiple Successes

Don’t put all your eggs in one basket, have multiple irons in the fire, etc. This law has been restated in different ways, which is one of the reasons I like it so much. I am someone who is building a react app while working  for a company through UpWork right before I build an Amazon Alexa Skill and then I’ll do research on Aubrey de Gray extending human life through biological gerontology before bed. The more projects you give yourself permission to start, the more you learn where your passions lie.

#22 The Day Before Something is a Breakthrough it’s a Crazy Idea.

Right now we’re in a time where things become possible overnight. We have a prosthetic hippocampus, games that use brain activity to play and win, as well as full exoskeletons to encourage movement despite handicaps. Rather than call something impossible, in the 21st century we are instead challenged to think of what it would take to make things possible. Technology enables us to solve problems which have eluded humanity for centuries.

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