We can't trump authoritarianism by being authoritarian ourselves
Senator Dick Durbin wants Facebook, Amazon, Apple, eBay, and other companies to report back to him with their plans to protect human rights in China. While it's not unreasonable for Americans to want American companies to behave in an enlightened way around the world, Senator Durbin really has no meaningful jurisdiction over this matter. He chairs a Judiciary subcommittee on human rights, but that doesn't really give him grounds to start throwing around the weight of the Senate to tell American companies how to behave overseas. The US government does far more to empower the authoritarian regime in China by running up a colossal Federal debt (which weakens our negotiating power on the world stage and puts American taxpayers at the mercy of Chinese bondholders) than anything American companies can do on their own. Those companies should be held to a high standard -- but by their shareholders and customers. The Senate needs to get its own act together before it starts imposing on others.
A new X-Prize: Connecting the brain to a computer
A new X-Prize is being cooked up to encourage the development of an interface between the human brain and a computer that could make the technological advances of the last 20 years look like child's play. If anyone denies that they'd ever consider connecting their brain directly to a computer, let them consider whether their attitude would change in the face of a terminal illness. Figuring out where and how the brain can safely reside in connection with computers -- and, ultimately, whether we have a mind that can survive outside the organic brains we have today -- could have a dramatic effect on the way the human species aggregates its knowledge. What if Stephen Hawking were no longer bound by a body debilitated by ALS? What if Warren Buffett didn't have to joke about guiding his company via seance from beyond the grave?
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It's becoming really difficult to forecast the prices of most metals