The central purpose of the divine religions

The central purpose of the divine religions is the establishment of peace and unity among mankind. Their reality is one; therefore, their accomplishment is one and universal—whether it be through the essential or material ordinances of God. There is but one light of the material sun, one ocean, one rain, one atmosphere. Similarly, in the spiritual world there is one divine reality forming the center and altruistic basis for peace and reconciliation among various and conflicting nations and peoples.

‘Abdu’l-Baha, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, (Wilmette: US Baha’i Publishing Trust, 1982 second edition), p. 98. Available from http://reference.bahai.org/en/t/ab/PUP/pup-41.html#pg98

Posted in Baha'i Writings | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

The Blessed Perfection bore all these ordeals and calamities in order that our hearts might become enkindled and radiant

“Briefly, the Blessed Perfection bore all these ordeals and calamities in order that our hearts might become enkindled and radiant, our spirits be glorified, our faults become virtues, our ignorance be transformed into knowledge; in order that we might attain the real fruits of humanity and acquire heavenly graces; in order that, although pilgrims upon earth, we should travel the road of the heavenly Kingdom, and, although needy and poor, we might receive the treasures of eternal life. For this has He borne these difficulties and sorrows.”

— Abdu’l-Baha, The Promulgation of Universal Peace

http://www.bahai.org/library/authoritative-texts/abdul-baha/promulgation-universal-peace/#f=f2-162

In this passage, Abdu’l-Baha refers to Baha’u’llah as the Blessed Perfection.  On Oct 21 of this year we celebrate the 200th anniversary of the birth of Baha’u’llah, the Founder of the Baha’i Faith.

 

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Kudos to AICoin and First Global Credit for Their Brilliant Business Model and Successful ICO!

The AICoin business model is brilliant.
AICoin is a leading example of a new generation of ICO: A solid existing company like First Global Credit uses an ICO to launch a new line of business, but has the strength of an existing company to provide services, infrastructure, and customer support. It’s time for strong existing businesses to leverage the Blockchain for new business models, and use ICOs to launch them. Kudos!

Posted in Blockchain, Tech | Leave a comment

Voted for Decentraland on the district0x site

I just voted on the district0x site for Decentraland to be prioritized as a project.

Here is how that works: You get some district0x DNT tokens into a suitable ERC20-compatible wallet (they suggest MetaMask), and then go to the district0x site and vote for a project. DNT tokens will probably be valuable for both economical and governance reasons.

Here is how I did it:

* The basic instructions are found in the voting area on the district0x site https://vote.district0x.io/
But I’ve detailed the steps more here.

* Set up a Liqui.io exchange account (because they trade the new district0x DNT token already, Bittrex doesn’t yet)

* Deposited some BTC or ETH into the exchange and traded it for DNT

* Install MetaMask wallet — a Chrome extension

* Withdrew the DNT tokens from Liqui.io into my MetaMask wallet.

* Instructed MetaMask about the new DNT token

* Transfered a small amount of ETH into the MetaMask wallet too, to pay for the gas of the voting process.

* Went to the voting area on the district0x site https://vote.district0x.io/

* Scrolled down to find Decentraland

* Launched Metamask (so it is running in the Chrome browser for sure, else the Vote button will be greyed out)

* Clicked on the VOTE word JUST BELOW the Decentraland progress indicator (not above the Decentraland section).

* MetaMask will pop up asking you to Submit (or reject) the vote. You don’t lose any DNT in voting, just a small ETH mining fee.

* Once your Tx is fully confirmed, your DNT balance will be added to the vote on the district0x site.

* If you change the amount of DNT in that wallet, you will change your vote!
vote.district0x.io

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

What I’ve learned about Blockchain, Cryptocurrencies, and Initial Coin Offering (ICO) investing

I’ve had some queries about what I’ve been doing and learning about blockchain, cryptocurrencies, and investing — how this all works, and how I pick which companies to invest in.

So here is a little min-primer based on what I’ve learned so far.

NOTICE: I AM NOT AN INVESTMENT ADVISOR.  I AM NOT RECOMMENDING THAT YOU INVEST IN ANY COMPANY, NOR THAT YOU DO NOT.   MAKE YOUR OWN DECISIONS.

Cryptocurrencies and Blockchain

First, cryptocurrencies are digitally-represented value that is recorded in a distributed, decentralized system of bookkeeping ledgers on the Internet, called Blockchain.

Blockchain ledgers are not stored “on a server” somewhere, like legacy websites or web apps.  Instead the data is stored in an encrypted form flowing around the network, in a highly redundant way, using a vast number of computers, including perhaps your own.

This redundancy, decentralization and encryption make these records of value and of transactions extremely robust against attacks or control by corporate or governmental entities.

Although this is a big motivator for some, my interest is in the strength of the record keeping and the security it has.

Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs)

Many new companies, especially those that are making use of blockchaing technologies as part of their play, are using a new way of raising substantial early capital quickly, called Initial Coin Offerings or ICOs.

Some are really interesting and worthy young businesses.   Some are vaporware.  Some are pure scams.

Picking a company to invest in

I’ve been researching cryptocurrencies, blockchain, and ICOs recently, doing a little investing, and learning a lot.

Before I get into the mechanics of buying, storing, and investing with cryptocurrencies, I want to lead with how to pick companies to consider for investment.  I do this because without care, you can be throwing your money, and your good cheer, down the drain.

Here are the things I look for in a company that will do an ICO.

I look for companies that have nearly all of these qualities.

Avoid emotions. This is not gambling.

Think like a VC:  find reasons to disqualify the company.

I start with one of the sites that list and analyze ICOs, like:

Qualities to  look for in the company doing the ICO

  • Your ability to participate
    • Do you qualify to participate?
    • Many ICOs exclude citizens of the US and of Singapore, where laws prohibit unregistered companies from selling stock to the public, and if the token is primarily about holding value in the company and secondarily about utility in the business model, they cannot allow these investors.
    • Can you get into presale or whitelist instead?  Maybe you can make contributions to the pre-ICO needs of the company and gain bonuses or invitations to the presale.
    • If you can’t get in, but love the company, buy into tokens after the initial pop instead of in the ICO.
    • Consider that unless you are in the presale or on the whitelist, or the ICO is long, you likely won’t get into a fast ICO at all.
  • Team
    • Great team with solid demonstrated experience.  
    • Research their experience claims from independent sources
    • Check LinkedIn experience, duration, endorsements links,
    • Validate site pictures with other pictures
    • See evidence of their track record and involvement outside the website and social media claims that could be fiction.
    • Read their chats.
  • Form of business, now and into the future
    • Is it a non profit org?  
    • Is it incorporated?
    • Does it create a foundation
    • Governance model
  • Business Plan
    • Business model is published, it makes sense and produces an “aha”
      • Whitepaper is published
      • It isn’t vague, nor is it a dissertation that obscures the business model.
    • How the business will make revenue?
    • What are its challenges, objectives it must meet, to succeed?
      • Are they articulated by the company?
    • How much of its success depends on 3rd parties who might not participate
    • Are partners properly incentivized?
    • Credible roadmap
    • Terms of use of the eventual service are published
    • A clear and credible business plan, with allocation of tokens and use of funds.
    • Not overly ambitious statements or vague solution statements.
  • Track record and evidence of this venture so far
    • Prototype exists
    • Beta testing already done – there has been testing with the public or a community
    • Essential partnerships are signed
    • Is it open source? Take a look at code, documentation, issue tracking
    • Roadmap has product launches in 3 to 6 months at max.
  • Community
    • Size and quality community growing around the idea, not just the ICO frenzy
      • Check their slack and news/ social media, buzz,
      • Po.et had 1600 watching announcements 4d after close
      • Decentraland Slack had 3500 4 days before ICO
      • Kin had 3600, before before announcement of ICO date.
    • Participation, contribution to the business concept
    • Contributing ideas about how they will use the solution
    • Already are using the existing early version
  • ICO raise
    • Amount being raised is reasonable
      • What they need for a  few years of development, probably $10-25M tops.
    • All the Token Sale Terms, Rules, Agreements are published on company website.
      • Token allocation is published, binding
      • Capped tokens.  Uncapped gives skewed advantages to token creators (founders and perhaps early investors) and dilutes ICO participant share later.
      • If there are going to be more tokens minted in the future, a published plan for that which doesn’t overly dilute investors.
    • If it is an early stage company, a large capital raise should be offering half or more of the company in the ICO.
      • 50% goes to public investors
      • 20% or less of the tokens go to the founders/developers
      • http://i.imgur.com/WAVLXWE.png
      • 20% goes to endowment of the future (e.g. a Foundation), if it intends to be non profit or decentralized governance, or to profit sharing for future employees, if there is going to be a significant staffing.
    • If the company has been around some years, and is in solid shape, but is raising funds for a big push into a new area, they may only be selling a smaller fraction of the company.
    • Is an escrow service available?

Watch out for Scams and Phishing attacks

  • There are many bad players who will try to steal people’s money
    • They may do this by creating look-alike websites with slight spelling changes in the URL.
    • They to the Slack or other chat venues in which the company interacts with the public and post announcements or links that are bad.  Those announcements may look really convincing and motivating.  Watch out
    • Avoid any accouncement that asks you to send currency to some other place, or to “open your wallet” to fix something.

The Mechanics of Investing.

Here are the basic steps to investing in ICOs, or soon after an ICO:

  • Learn about how cryptocurrency works
    • What kinds exist
      • Bitcoin (“BTC”) is the first and most expensive.  Some ICOs accept it.
      • Ethereum is both a blockchain infrastructure used by many companies, as well as having the second strongest cryptocurrency, Ethers (“ETH”).  Most ICOs accept ETH, some only accept ETH.
      • Other coins (there are hundreds of them).  These are ‘minted’ for sale in an ICO.  They are both the means for attracting investors, and/or will play a role in the company’s business model (votes, pariticpation, exchange of value, etc.)
      • Two sites in which you can learn about existing coins (also known as Tokens) and their price history re:
    • How to buy some cryptocurrency
      • I’ve used both Coinbase.com and Coinmama.com
      • Coinbase.com is an exchange between US Dollars and a few key cryptocurrencies, including BTC and ETH.  You can buy and sell these  currencies here.  They store your cryptocurrencies in wallets that they control, and from which you can (and should) transfer it to your own wallet that you control.
      • Coinmama allows you to buy BTC only, with Dollars only, and send it immediately to your own wallet (they do not store it in a wallet for you)
    • Understand Accounts
      • You will need one or more cryptocurrency “accounts” (also called “public addresses” on the blockchains used by the currencies you want to use.
      • You will typically create an account when you create a wallet, such as by establishing a Coinbase account, or by getting some wallet.
      • An account is your public address in the blockchain. Your cryptocurrency balances are stored in the blockchain associated with your accounts.  You send currency from an account to another account (yours or someone else’s)
    • How to store it securely and safely in Wallets
      • A Wallet is a tool for creating accounts on the blockchain for its supported currencies, for accessing existing accounts, and for sending and receiving payments.
      • One kind of Wallet (such as Jaxx that I use and like) is a piece of sofware that you install, such as a Chrome plugin or a mobile app.d
      • Another kind of Wallet is a web-based wallet, like MyEtherWallet.com, which I have also used and like.
      • There are also hardware wallets, like Trezor, that can connect to your computer via USB.  They can allow you to keep the wallet in a safe deposit box, for example.
      • Although you have public addresses for your currency accounts at Coinbase, they are not wallets fully under your control, and DO NOT USE THEM to particpate in ICOs, or you will lose your ICO tokens.  Transfer your purchased currency balances to a wallet you have full control over like Jaxx, MyEtherWallet, or Trezor, and invest from there.
  • Purchase some cryptocurrency for investing, get it into your own wallet, and have its address ready to put into the registration form and/or the ICO event.
  • Find good companies to participate in (see above)
    • Research!
    • Read their white paper, study their business plans and token sale terms, consider their team carefully.
    • Use your head at least as much as your heart
  • Connect with the company
    • Register on their website (and be sure it is really their site)
      • Get onto their official announcements email list
      • That may or may not be the same as registration for their “whitelist”
    • If they have a “whitelist” or “presale” or “registration” method, do it when it becomes available.  Whitelists and presales are ways that investors can secure some participation early.  The ICO event itself may be over in seconds, before you can get through the payment queue.
    • If they have a social chat system, join it (Slack, Discord, Rocket.chat, or similar), and get a sense of their team, and of the ‘buzz” around what they are doing.
    • AVOID BEING SCAMMED, which is especially possible by following phishing links from their social chat, or by going to look-alike websites.
  • Participate in the ICO if you can.
  • If not, then wait until the sale is over and their new coin is trading on the open market through exchanges.  You cannot probably get into purchasing it and selling it within the very high peak / pop it may have shortly after it goes live, but you can watch for it to fall from that to some level where it levels off.
  • You can also look for good companies that are well past their ICOs and invest post-ICO.
  • Learn how to use one of the cryptocurrency exchanges where you can sell your investment coins back into BTC or ETH, from which you can either make further investments and/or sell them for Dollars through Coinbase
    • Exchanges that are easy to use for crypto-to-crypto exchanges are ShapeShift and Changelly.  The exchanges are not super quick, and cost a noticable fee.
    • Exchanges that have a steeper learning curve, for buying and selling (bidding and asking) include Bittrex.

Study, learn.

Be careful, don’t go crazy, avoid frenzy, play safe.

*** Don’t invest more money that you couldn’t afford to lose entirely. ***

And… Enjoy!

 

Posted in Blockchain, Cryptocurrency | 2 Comments

You, Too, Can Be Part of a Venture Investment Fund!

#AICOIN
Today I joined the Initial Coin Offering (ICO) for AICoin.
 

AICoin will use blockchain technology to support a decentralized collective of investors, voting to decide which cutting edge blockchain and AI companies to invest in. AI will also be employed to enable fast, smart, automated cryptocurrency trading as well.
That will optimize the time at which to realize cryptocurrency gains.

If you want to know more, check it out at:

If you are not a US or Singapore citizen, or are an accredited investor you can join the ICO, although it’s nearly over.
If you don’t participate in the ICO, you can still join later when their XAI coin is tradable on public exchanges.

Posted in Blockchain, Cryptocurrency, Tech | Leave a comment

Sansar Creator’s Guide

Sansar Creator’s Guide: Building Compelling Experiences in Virtual Reality

This book is intended as an introduction to the basics of using and creating Virtual Reality experiences in Sansar.

Sansar is a social online Virtual Reality (VR) system that can be accessed by through your personal computer. A VR headset can improve the experience, but is not required.

Sansar ‘Experiences’ are ‘places’ you can visit and engage with, and where you can interact socially with other people. Why are they not simply called ‘LocatIons’ or ‘Places’? Because the emphasis is on the experience that you can have there.

You can visit Experiences designed by various people and organizations.
Or you can make new Sansar Experiences yourself using skills introduced in this book.

People who will find this book useful include:
– Anyone who wants to understand the basics of how Sansar Experiences work
– Anyone who has been inspired by visiting an Experience and is curious as to how Experiences are created
– Anyone who wants to begin building their own Sansar Experiences

This book is not an advanced guide to using all of the various tools you may eventually want to use in developing high-end experiences. But it will introduce you to the basics, and point you to where to learn more about specific tools and methodologies, and help you get into creating in Sansar smoothly.

 

 

We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Robot Apocalypse? Implications of AI, Automation and Robotics for society, education, work, and economics

The trends toward the adoption and spread of AI, automation and robotics continue to accelerate.

There are valid concerns about the impacts this will have on us.

The main concerns seem to break down into a few primary areas:

  • Robot Apocalypse
    • The fear of AI/Robots taking over mankind, harmfully.  The entertainment industry has had fun with playing on fear about this one, — think Terminator, The Matrix, etc.
    • Misuse of armed drones
    • Robot “malware” – robots and AI being used with harmful intent
  • Economic Impacts
    • Job loss and economic dislocations through the increasing automation of many existing jobs done by people
    • Big changes in how things are done, changing the definitions and needs in the workplace

We tend to think of these things as off in the future, but they have been with us already for some time

  • The effects of automation of work previously done by people (or by more people) has been true in many industries for decades.   It is just accelerating.
  • The smartphones carried by much of humanity today are more capable than the worlds best computers of a few decades ago, and are interconnected with other people, and with AI, across the planet.
  • We can already, if we choose, converse by voice with our phones, our homes, and our cars.
  • There is an explosion of increasingly-automated drones and vehicles — privately owned, commercial and military – land, air, water and in space.

On the apocalypse topic, Ray Kurzweil, author of “The Singularity is Near” and a founder of Singularity University, gave this short talk:.

  • How Do We Avoid a Robot Apocalypse?
  • My summary: we need to put controls in place, just like we did when we learned that fire can be a benefit or a disaster.
  • My observation:  I think that a key reason that Ray helped found Singularity University is to tip us toward wise use of the accelerating tech trends by educating future leaders and technologists to create benefit and to be aware of the risks.

The economic front is realistically probably the more challenging and pressing issue for most of us.

It seems that a new social contract is going to be needed as many existing jobs are automated, and as automation drives the cost of many things towards zero

  • Prosperity Sharing: How can the potential prosperity created by automation be justly shared, to create a prosperous society?
    • Part of this will be driven by the cost creating many things we use dropping toward zero
    • Many voices are now discussing the pros and cons of a guaranteed Basic Income, or “Mincome” (minimum income) or other ways of making prosperity universal.
    • Experiments in mincome have been promising – people don’t stop working, though some attention moves toward valuable but unpaid or underpaid work: raising children, eldercare, the arts, etc.
    • For-profit businesses, as structured today, are largely unable to solve this problem, so the solution will need to come from elsewhere – coops, NGOs, religions, or society in a more universal way.   Bringing about this change will be, at least initially, more about vision and belief than it is about legislation.
  • Education for the Future:  What is it that human beings are especially good at, and how do we educate for that?
    • Our existing educational paradigms are mostly training for the very things that AI and automation will obsolete:  memorization, existing particular skills.
    • More attention needs to be given to creativity, out of the box thinking, cooperative/collaborative skills, music and the arts.
    • New paradigms of how education will be delivered are emerging, many of them being based on self-directed learning and collaborative learning together with AI.
    • Changing Education Paradigms by Sir Ken Robinson

“The dogmas of the quiet past, are inadequate to the stormy present. The occasion is piled high with difficulty, and we must rise — with the occasion. As our case is new, so we must think anew, and act anew. We must disenthrall ourselves, and then we shall save our country.”
– Abraham Lincoln, Annual Message to Congress, Dec 1, 1862

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Reflections on Healing the Ills of Our Culture

Reflections on Healing the Ills of Our Culture

As I learn more about the history of slavery in my country, I reflect on how hard it was for the people who had power in the situation and had grown up invested in sustaining it to see a way out of it, or to even see the profound need to do so.  The culture was infused with rationalizations, a sense of moral right, a distortion of reality to support the system, and an immense gap between the state of affairs and where it should get to.  Despite the goodwill and efforts of many people, the result was that the problem grew to the point of a terrible war, with a very long tail of aftermath stretching forward to our time.

So I ponder: what are the things we believe in and participate in today that a century or two from now will be viewed as reprehensible, and yet today we rehearse their rationalizations and are acculturated to believe that they are acceptable and right, or at the least habitual and little examined?  And do we have the ability to change them, starting with our own beliefs and perspectives, and with making changes in both our individual and collective behaviors and in the structural institutionalization of these ills in our civilization?

Here are some possibilities that come to mind.

  • The extreme inequality we have in how we share resources and prosperity.
  • Our dependence on and addiction to fossil fuels, and the opposition that arises to the investment in and invention of cleaner and more renewable sources of energy.
  • The School-to-Prison Pipeline, and the funding of law enforcement by subsidies from privately-operated prisons.
  • Our belief in competition, rather than cooperation, as being the best model for advancement of our endeavors.
  • The reduction of our value systems to the use of the financial bottom line as the primary and essentially only credible way of evaluating human endeavor.
  • The way we produce food having become corrupted by the centralized power systems that have come to exist as we have figured out how to produce food in the quantities needed to sustain the nutrition of a growing humanity.
  • The way we use language to criticize, tear down, focus on the negative, backbite and otherwise negatively impact our social environment.
  • The way we think of ourselves first as separate psycho-physical realities, with self-interest coming first.
  • The way we devalue the education of our children, as evidenced by the fact that we fund our cars and our vehicle services better than we fund the education of young people, and by how we fail to respect and properly compensate the great profession of teaching our children.

I don’t believe that these issues are just “out there”, something that “they” are responsible for.   These issues play out inside every one of us to some degree, as they are deeply woven into the conditioning we are immersed in culturally.

If that is so, then, notwithstanding taking appropriate social action around particular issues, we may expect that changing our minds, changing our beliefs, changing our hearts, changing our conception of what we really are as human beings, would be essential.   Key elements for bringing about such change would be public and private discourse, time taken personally to reflect on our contribution, and the way we educate our children and empower our youth.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Scientists create the first digital ‘tree of life’ for 2.3 million species – CSMonitor.com

http://m.csmonitor.com/Science/2015/0920/Scientists-create-the-first-digital-tree-of-life-for-2.3-million-species

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment