Toggle light / dark theme

by Tatiana Moroz

The most moving thing to me about music is it’s ability to change. It changes the mood, the atmosphere, and it fills us with emotion. It can unify mankind in the power of good and triumph over evil regimes. What most struck me was when we saw this in the 60’s and 70’s folk songs that became anthems for the civil rights, equality, and antiwar movements. Even as a little girl, I knew that this core drive and expression for freedom was critical to the success of humanity as we marched ever closer to the nightmarish visions painted in 1984 and Brave New World.

This is a heavy and serious purpose, but one I took to heart as I created songs of hope, sadness, life, beauty and love. I noticed that the music industry seemed averse to this type of meaning based songwriting, and the radio waves were filling with more vapid nonsense by the minute. However, I kept my head down and tried to educate myself on the ways we could organize society for the better.

I joined the Ron Paul movement in late 2011 after I learned about the Federal Reserve system of central banking. I saw that it was one of the biggest obstacles to true liberty. I used storytelling in my music to illustrate the solutions I was finding, but I think we all hit a wall with politics at one point (which is probably how we all know each other in a way as seekers of the truth).

If you told me 6 years ago that I would be involved with “fintech” or technology in general, I would have laughed you out of the room. As soon as I start reading a manual, I disengage, my eyes glaze over, and within 6–8 words, I am daydreaming about something else. Even though my friends teaching me about Bitcoin were able to illustrate the benefits, something didn’t click. I gave them $500 anyway (which was a lot of money to me!) and they bought me some Bitcoins at $11. Eventually as the price went up and I learned more, I became enthusiastic about the possibilities. If my goal was to help “save the world” (for lack of a better term), then there were few inventions in the history of man that could compete with Bitcoin and blockchain technology.

I created the Bitcoin Jingle and became immersed in the community. I soon befriended Adam B. Levine of Let’s Talk Bitcoin, one of the most popular Bitcoin podcasts that also acted as a network home to over a dozen other shows. As content creators, we were the first to experiment with artist tokens and markets based around music, podcasts, and other media that removed the middleman and were secured through the power of the blockchain. In 2014 we created TATIANACOIN, the 1st ever artist cryptocurrency, but creating the coin was just the beginning. Upon launch, we soon realized we had to build the ecosystem for the coin to thrive.

Think of artist coins as a type of token that you can hold in a digital wallet, like store credit. These coins can be sold to your fans that want to support your work, similar to a crowdfund or patronage type platform, but they get back TATIANACOIN that they can spend however they want. It can be redeemed for backstage access, music, merchandise, held onto for future rewards, and the coins can even be traded or sold with other music fans. They allow an artist to gather support from their community through long-term fundraising that gives back real value and engagement. Imagine, as a fan, becoming that much more entwined with the careers of your favorite musicians, visual artists, and other content creators! Artist coins also allow for direct messaging, streaming, and support functions between artists and fans. We see this as a more enriching experience than just your average social media platform.

But so what? We built a platform. What does this have to do with artists and a message? Well, currently artists are paid very little. If your song is played on a streaming platform a million times, you are then paid a measly $1000. When you get a record deal, you are getting, in essence, a bad loan from the record company. Most likely, you have to pay it back over the course of your entire career and you have given control over your music to the record company. There is no transparency, it is inefficient, and rife with human error that slows things down dramatically.

But that’s just one side of the problem. The more glaringly wrong side is the homogenous nature of music we now encounter. Corporations want profit and since the repeat of the same old party music can be more secure and lucrative than an edgy performance, that’s what gets made. But humanity and culture suffer, while a select few accumulate more power over our minds and bodies.

To highlight this, I decided to use a drawing of me made by political prisoner Ross Ulbricht of the Silk Road as my album cover. The drug war is an abysmal failure, and the precedent set by this case effects us all. If I was on a major label, I wouldn’t be able to side with Ross and bring attention to the devastation being wrought worldwide by the US governments overzealous prosecution of non-violent offenders. It’s immoral and as an artist, I have an obligation to stand up and say no more.

Artist coins at their core are about the same thing Bitcoin is about: autonomy and freedom. If we do not have control over our money (in the arts and otherwise), we will have a harder time moving toward more prosperity and enlightenment. We now have the tools to take back our most precious means of communication and create communities based around cryptocurrency and P2P. I believe artistic creativity is essential to mankind’s progress, and I hope others will join me in this pursuit to free the art.

To find out more about Tatiana Coin and to support my new album Keep the Faith out March 31, 2017, please go to

Recent evidence suggests that a variety of organisms may harness some of the unique features of quantum mechanics to gain a biological advantage. These features go beyond trivial quantum effects and may include harnessing quantum coherence on physiologically important timescales.

Quantum Biology — Quantum Mind Theory

Transhumanists will know that the science fiction author Zoltan Istvan has unilaterally leveraged the movement into a political party contesting the 2016 US presidential election. To be sure, many transhumanists have contested Istvan’s own legitimacy, but there is no denying that he has generated enormous publicity for many key transhumanist ideas. Interestingly, his lead idea is that the state should do everything possible to uphold people’s right to live forever. Of course, he means to live forever in a healthy state, fit of mind and body. Istvan cleverly couches this policy as simply an extension of what voters already expect from medical research and welfare provision. And while he may be correct, the policy is fraught with hazards – especially if, as many transhumanists believe, we are on the verge of revealing the secrets to biological immortality.

In June, Istvan and I debated this matter at Brain Bar Budapest. Let me say, for the record, that I think that we are sufficiently close to this prospect that it is not too early to discuss its political and economic implications.

Two months before my encounter with Istvan, I was on a panel at the Edinburgh Science Festival with the great theorist of radical life extension Aubrey de Grey, where he declared that people who live indefinitely will seem like renovated vintage cars. Whatever else, he is suggesting that they would be frozen in time. He may actually be right about this. But is such a state desirable, given that throughout history radical change has been facilitated generational change? Specifically, two simple facts make the young open to doing things differently: The young have no memory of past practices working to anyone else’s benefit, and they have not had the time to invest in those practices to reap their benefits. Whatever good is to be found in the past is hearsay, as far as the young are concerned, which they are being asked to trust as they enter a world that they know is bound to change.

Questions have been already raised about whether tomorrow’s Methuselahs will wish to procreate at all, given the time available to them to realize dreams that in the past would have been transferred to their offspring. After all, as human life expectancy has increased 50% over the past century, the birth rate has correspondingly dropped. One can only imagine what will happen once ageing can be arrested, if not outright reversed!

So, where will the new ideas of the future come from? The worry here is that society may end up being ruled by people with overlong memories who value stability over change: Think China and Japan. But perhaps the old Soviet Union is the most telling example, as its self-consciously revolutionary image gradually morphed into a ritualistic veneration of the original 1917 revolutionary moment. To these gerontocratic indicators, the recent UK vote to leave the European Union (‘Brexit’) adds a new twist. There were some clear age-related patterns in the outcome: The older the voter, the more likely to vote to leave – and the more likely to vote at all. To be sure, given the closeness of the vote (52% to leave vs. 48% to remain), had the young voted in comparable numbers to their elders, Brexit would have lost.

One might think that the simple solution is to encourage, if not force, the young to vote in larger numbers. However, this does not take into account the liabilities of their elders when it comes to dictating the terms for living in the future. Whatever benefits might accrue to people living longer, the clarity of the memories of such people may not be an unmitigated good, as it might incline them to perpetuate what they regard as the best of their own pasts. One way around this situation is to weight votes inversely to age. In other words, the youngest voters would effectively get the most votes and the oldest voters the least. This would continually force the elders to make their case in terms that their juniors can appreciate. The exercise would serve to destabilize any sense of nostalgia that members of the same generation might experience simply by virtue of having experienced the same events at the same age.

However, two technologically based solutions also come to mind. One is for the elderly to be subject to the strategic memory loss procedure described in the film, The Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, which might be understood as a the cognitive correlate of an inheritance tax – or even a high-class lobotomy! In other words, the elders would lose their personal attachment to events which would nevertheless remain available in the historical record for more detached scrutiny vis-à-vis their lessons for the future. The other, more drastic solution involves incentivizing the elders to exchange biological for digital immortality. This would enable them to enjoy a virtual existence in perpetuity. They might be resurrected (‘downloaded’) on a regular or simply a need-to-remember basis, depending on prior contractual arrangements. The former might be seen as more ‘religious’, as in a Roman Catholic feast day, and the latter more ‘secular’, as in an ‘on tap’ consultant. But in either virtual form, the elders could retain their attachment to certain past events with impunity while at the same time not inflicting their memories needlessly on present generations.

David Wood, the head of the main UK transhumanist organization, London Futurists, has recently published a summa of anti-ageing arguments, which makes a cumulatively persuasive case for indefinite life extension being within our grasp. But most assuredly, this would create as many social problems as it solves biological ones. Under most direct threat would be the sorts of values historically associated with generational change, namely, those related to new thinking and fresh starts. Of course, as I have suggested, there are ways around this, but they will invariably revive in a new high-tech key classic debates concerning the desirability of brainwashing and suicide.

Virtual and augmented reality is taking giant leaps every day, both in the mainstream and in research labs. In a recent TechEmergence interview, Biomedical Engineer and Founder of g.tec Medical Engineering Christopher Guger said the next big steps will be in brain-computer interfaces (BCIs) and embodiment.

Image credit: HCI International
Image credit: HCI International

If you’re unfamiliar with the term, embodiment is the moment when a person truly “feels” at one with a device controlled by their thoughts, while sensing that device as a part of, or an extension, of themselves. While researchers are taking big strides toward that concept, Guger believes those are only baby steps toward what is to come.

While augmented or virtual reality can take us away for a brief period, Guger said true embodiment will require far more BCI development. There has been a lot of work recently in robotic embodiment using BCI.

“We have the robotic system, which is learning certain tasks. You can train the robotic system to pick up objects, to play a musical instrument and, after the robotic system has learned, you’re just giving the high-level command for the robotic system to do it for you,” he said. “This is like a human being, where you train yourself for a certain task and you have to learn it. You need your cortex and a lot of neurons to do the task. Sometimes, it’s pre-programmed and (sometimes) you’re just making the high-level decision to do it.”

Another tool at work in the study of embodiment is what Guger called “virtual avatars.” These virtual avatars allow researchers to experiment with embodiment and learn both how avatars need to behave, while also helping humans grow more comfortable with the concept of embodiment inside the avatar. Being at ease inside the avatar, he said, makes it easier for one to learn tasks and train, or re-train, for specific functions.

As an example, Guger cited a stroke patient working to regain movement in his hand. Placing the patient into a virtual avatar, the patient can “see” the hand of the avatar moving in the same manner that he wants his own hand to move. This connection activates mirror neurons in the patient’s brain, which helps the brain rewire itself to regain a sense of the hand.

“We also do functional electrical stimulation (where) the hand is electrically stimulated, so you also get the same type of movement. This, altogether, has a very positive effect on the remobilization of the patient,” Guger said. “Your movement and the virtual movement, that’s all feeding back to the artificial systems in the cortex again and is affecting brain plasticity. This helps people learn to recover faster.”

One hurdle that researchers are still working to overcome is the concept of “break in presence” (discussed in the article under the sub-heading ‘head-tracking module’). Basically, this is the moment where one’s immersion in a virtual reality world is interrupted by an outside influence, leading to the loss of embodiment. Avoiding that loss of embodiment, he said, is what researchers are striving to attain to make virtual reality a more effective technology.

Though Guger believes mainstream BCI use and true embodiment is still a ways off, other applications of BCI and embodiment are already happening in the medical field. In addition to helping stroke patients regain their mobility, there are BCI systems that allow doctors to do assessments of brain activity on coma patients, which provides some level of communication for both the patient and the family. Further, ALS patients are able to take advantage of BCI technology to improve their quality of life through virtual movement and communication.

“For the average person on the street, it’s very important that the BCI system is cheap and working, and it has to be faster or better compared to other devices that you might have,” he said. “The embodiment work shows that you can really be embodied in another device; this is only working if you are controlling it mentally, like the body is your own, because you don’t have to steer the keyboard or the mouse. It’s just your body and it’s doing what you want it to do. And then you gain something.”

A Lifeboat guest editorial

Richelle Ross-sRichelle Ross is a sophomore at the University of Florida, focusing on statistics and data science. As a crypto consultant, she educates far beyond the campus. Her insight on the evolution and future of Bitcoin has been featured in national publications. Richelle writes for CoinDesk, LinkedIn, and Quora, providing analysis on Bitcoin’s evolving economy.

In 2003, I remember going to see my first IMAX 3D film,
Space Station . My family was touring NASA at Cape Canaveral Florida. The film was an inside view into life as an astronaut enters space. As the astronauts tossed M&Ms to each other in their new gravity-free domain, the other children and space_station_1I gleefully reached our hands out to try and touch the candy as it floated towards us. I had never experienced anything so mind-blowing in my 7 year life. The first 3D film was released in 1922. Yet, surprisingly, flat entertainment has dominated screens for in the 9½ decades that followed. Only a handful of films have been released in 3D—most of them are animated. But now, we are gradually seeing a shift in how people experience entertainment. As methods evolve and as market momentum builds, it promises to be one of the most groundbreaking technologies of the decade. I foresee Virtual Reality reaching a point where our perception of virtual and real-life experiences becomes blurred—and eventually—the two become integrated.

Ever since pen was put to paper, and camera to screen, audiences have enjoyed being swept into other worlds. For those of us “dreamers” being able to escape into these stories is one way we live through and expand our understanding of other times and places—even places space_station_2that may not be accessible in our lifetimes. Virtual reality is the logical progression and natural evolution of these experiences.

I caught the VR bug after one of my Facebook contacts was posting about it and sharing 360 degree videos that were of no use to me unless I too had the headset. Having been a Samsung user for the last several years, I purchased the Samsung VR headset to understand what all the hype was. Just as with my childhood experience visiting the space station, the VR Introduction video sent me floating across the universe. But this time, it was much more compelling. I could turn my head in any direction and experience a vast heavenly realm in 3D vision and tied to my own movements. Behind me was a large planet and in front were dozens of asteroids slowly moving by.

Similar to visiting the Grand Canyon, this is one of those novel experiences you really have to experience to appreciate. Within about ten seconds of trying it out, I had become hooked. I realized that I was experiencing something with far greater potential than an amusement park roller coaster, yet I also recognized that any applications I might imagine barely scratch the surface. This unexpected adrenaline rush is what leads tinkerers to the imaginative leaps that push new technologies into the next decades ahead.

Video games are probably the industry everyone thinks of being affected by this new paradigm. I immediately thought about the Star Wars franchise with its ever expanding universe. It will be a pretty exciting day when you can hold a lightsaber hilt that comes to life when you wear a headset and allows you to experience that universe from your living room. You could even wear a sensored body suit that allows you to feel little zaps or vibrations during gameplay. With more connected devices, the possibility of Li-Fi replacing Wi-Fi and so on, video games are just scratching the surface.

I discussed what the future of VR could offer with Collective Learning founder, Dan Barenboym. We explored various difficulties that impede market adoption. Barenboym was an early enthusiast of virtual reality, having worked with a startup that plans to deploy full-body scanners that give online life to gamers. The project began long before the film Avatar. Berenboym suggests ways that this would improve online shopping dan_barenboym_5624sby allowing people to see their avatar with their own personal measurements in various outfits. This doesn’t have to be limited to at-home experiences though. Dan suggests that instead of walking into the boutique changing room, you walk into one with mirrors connected to VR software. Your reflection ‘tries on’ different virtual outfits before you pull your favorite one off the store rack.

We also discussed the current obstacles of VR like the headset itself, which is a hindrance in some respects as it is a bit uncomfortable to wear for prolonged use. The other looming issue is money. There are many ideas similar to the ones we brainstormed, but startups may struggle to get off the ground without sufficient funding. The Oculus Rift is one great example of how crowdfunding can help entrepreneurs launch their ideas. It is easier than ever before to share and fund great ideas through social networking.

Facebook creator, Mark Zuckerberg, shared his own vision in 2014 after acquiring the Oculus Rift. Zuckerberg eloquently summarized the status of where we’re headed:

Virtual reality was once the dream of science fiction. But the internet was also once a dream, and so were computers and smartphones. The future is coming and we have a chance to build it oculus_rift-transtogether.”

What could this mean for the social networking that Zuckerberg pioneered? I’d venture to say the void of a long distance relationship may be eased with VR immersion that allows you to be with your family at the click of a button. You could be sitting down in your apartment in the U.S., but with the help of a 360 camera, look around at the garden that your mother is tending to in the U.K. The same scenario could be applied to a classroom or business meeting. We already have global and instant communication, so it will serve to add an enriched layer to these interactions.

The concept of reality itself is probably the biggest factor that makes virtual reality so captivating. Reality is not an objective experience. Each of us has a perspective of the world that is colored by our childhood experiences, personality, and culture. Our inner dialogues, fantasies of who we want to become, and areas of intelligence determine so much of what we’re able to accomplish and choose to commit to outside of ourselves. Michael Abrash describes how VR works with our unconscious brain perceptions to make us believe we’re standing on the edge of a building that isn’t really there. At a conscious level, we accept that we are staring at a screen, but our hearts still race—based on an unconscious perception of what is happening. Tapping into this perception-changing part of our brain allows us to experience reality in new ways.

As VR becomes more mainstreamed and incorporated into all areas of our lives such as online shopping, socializing, education, recreation, etc., the degrees of separation from the real world that society applies to it will lessen. Long-term, the goal for VR would be to allow us to use any of our senses and body parts. We should see continued improvements in the graphics and interaction capabilities of VR, allowing for these experiences to feel as real as they possibly can.

One can only imagine the new vistas this powerful technology will open—not just for entertainment, but for education, medicine, working in hazardous environments or controlling machines at a distance. Is every industry planning to incorporate the positive potential of virtual reality? If not, they certainly should think about the potential. As long as we pay attention to present day needs and issues, engineering virtual reality in the Internet of Things promises to be a fantastic venture.

Author’s Note:

Feedback from Lifeboat is important. I’ll be back from time to time. Drop me a note on the comment form, or better yet, add your comment below. Until then, perhaps we will meet in the virtual world.
— RR

Next January Stephen Hawking will be 74 years old. He has lived much longer than most individuals with his debilitating condition. In addition to being an unquestionably gifted cosmologist, he has invited controversy by supporting the pro-Palestinian, Israel-BDS boycott and warning about the dangers of alien invaders who tap into our interstellar greetings

Antisemitism, notwithstanding, this man is a mental giant. He is Leonardo. He is Einstein. Like them, his discoveries and theories will echo for generations beyond his life on earth. He is that genius.

Forty years ago, when Stephen Hawking still had mobility, he delivered a paper on a mystery regarding information-loss for entities that cross the event boundary of a black hole.

In the mid 1970s, Astronomers were just discovering black holes and tossing about various theories about the event horizon and its effect on the surrounding space-time. Many individuals still considered black holes to be theoretical. Hawking’s analysis of the information paradox seemed extremely esoteric. Yet, last month (Aug 2015) , at Sweeden’s KTH Royal Institute of Technology, Hawking presented a possible solution to the paradox that he sparked.

I can barely understand the issue and cannot articulately rephrase the problem. But my interest in the black hole event horizon takes a back seat to my interest in the amazing tool created to compensate for the famous cosmologist’s handicap. Watch closely as Stephen Hawking offers a new theory that provides a possible explanation for the paradox.

Near the end of the video (beginning at 7:22), the camera begins a steady zoom up to Hawking’s face. Unlike a year ago, when he could still smile at a joke or move his eyes, he now appears completely motionless. Throughout his speech, there is no sense of animation—not even a twitch—with or without purpose. His eyebrow doesn’t move, his fingers are not restless, he doesn’t blink anymore.


So, how, then, does Hawking speak with normal cadence and just a short delay between sentences? (If we assume that his computer adds emphasis without additional effort, I estimate that his ASCII communications rate is roughly equivalent to a 1200-baud modem, circa 1980). Yet, clearly, there must be a muscular conduit between thought and speech. How is it that his thoughts are converted to speech at almost the same rate as someone who is not paralyzed?

That magic is enabled by a tiny camera that monitors a slowly deteriorating cheek muscle. It is Hawking’s last connection to the outside world. What began as index cards with words and then an Apple II computer, has evolved into a sophisticated upgrade process involving cutting edge analysis of the professor’s slightest tick combined with sophisticated computing algorithms. The camera and software that interprets this microscopic Morse code is tied to a process that optimizes options for successive words and phrases. He is actually communicating at far less than 1200 baud, because—like a court stenographer—he employs shorthand and Huffman encoding to compress words and phrases into his twitch pipeline. Drawing on a powerful processor and connected to the Web, his gear is constantly upgraded by a specialized Intel design team. StenographerThey are engaged in a race to offer Hawking the potential for communication up until he has no capacity for interaction at all.

In a recent documentary by Hawking himself,* he laments the likely day when he will no longer have any capacity for output at all. No ability to discuss physics and cosmology; no way to say “I need help” or “I love you”; no way to show any sign of cognition. At that time, he reflects, the outside world will no longer be certain that there is anything going on behind his blank stare. They will never really know when or if he wants them to pull the plug. Even more mind boggling, humanity will never know what secrets his brilliant mind has unlocked to mysteries of the cosmos.

* Referring to his 2013 autobiographical film and not the 2014 feature film about his life, Theory of Everything.

Philip Raymond is CEO and Co-Chair of CRYPSA,
The Cryptocurrency Standards Association.

Research news — Technische Universität München

Pilots of the future could be able to control their aircraft by merely thinking commands. Scientists of the Technische Universität München and the TU Berlin have now demonstrated the feasibility of flying via brain control – with astonishing accuracy.

The pilot is wearing a white cap with myriad attached cables. His gaze is concentrated on the runway ahead of him. All of a sudden the control stick starts to move, as if by magic. The airplane banks and then approaches straight on towards the runway. The position of the plane is corrected time and again until the landing gear gently touches down. During the entire maneuver the pilot touches neither pedals nor controls.

Read more