The SEC just made crowdfunding way more interesting for small startups

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Tech funding usually happens in one of two ways. In one scenario, a software or service product— think Twitter — usually sells equity to venture capitalists who expect some kind of return on their investment. Hardware products usually go the crowdfunding route, building up a list of pre-orders that they can then use to pay for manufacturing.

Recently, however, a new Securities Exchange Commission ruling allows small companies to crowdfund equity raises, albeit in ways the aim to keep small investors safe from financial sharks. Using something called Regulation Crowdfunding, the companies were able to raise up to $1.07 million from non-accredited investors (aka you and me). Now, thanks to an update in the rules, they can raise up to $5 million in the same way hardware startups can raise millions on Kickstarter, but instead of delivering a product, these Reg Crowdfunding companies deliver profits or equity.

What this means in practice is that the alternative stock market just got a whole lot bigger. Because nearly any company can run a Regulation Crowdfunding round, you can buy a part of a small company in the same way you can invest in Apple or Amazon. Further, the SEC is “removing investment limits for accredited investors” and is now taking into account salary or net worth when it comes to limiting investments by non-accredited investors, meaning it can approve your investment to a certain income level.

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Getting a country from moderate/high EV purchase rate to 100% EV market share – some ideas

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 Norway just hit 82% plugin vehicle new car sales in September 2020. This raises the question: “Why are 18% of the purchases non-plugin vehicles?” That got me dreaming up ideas for how to get a country from moderate EV market share (5–10%, for example) to 100% EV market share. Perhaps some of those ideas could be effective in Norway now, and other countries later as they get closer and closer to a high percentage of plugin vehicles.

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Transforming homes into power stations – how Sweden is disrupting energy production

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  • 54% of Sweden’s power comes from renewables and this energy is increasingly local.
  • Smart grids are switching Swedish homes from energy consumers to power-making ‘prosumers.’
  • Local ‘district heating’ plants use excess heat to warm the majority of Swedish homes.
  • Sweden tops the World Economic Forum’s Energy Transitions Index

By 2030, almost a third of all the energy consumed in the European Union must come from renewable sources, according to binding targets agreed in 2018. Sweden is helping lead the way.

As well as targeting 100% renewable electricity production by 2040, the country is transforming homes into highly efficient ‘prosumers’ – buildings which both produce and consume the vast majority of their own energy.

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The US military’s heat weapon is real and painful. Here’s what it does.

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It is in the same category as a sonic tool that’s known as “the voice of God.”

Earlier this week, an NPR report uncovered an exchange from June 1, in which a military police officer wanted to know if the D.C. National Guard owned a pain-inducing heat weapon for potentially using on protesters. He also asked about a powerful auditory communication system that’s been compared to the “voice of God.”

The weapon, the Active Denial System (ADS), is a real thing, as is the sound system, which is called a Long Range Acoustic Device (LRAD).

In documents published by NPR, a member of the National Guard recounted the email thread in which the question was asked, and stated: “I responded that the DC National Guard was not in possession of either an LRAD or an ADS.”

The fact that a controversial weapon was floated as a possible means of dealing with what the Washington Post described as “peaceful protesters” has sparked outrage, with the ACLU writing on Twitter: “REMINDER: Our government shouldn’t be conspiring to use heat rays against us for exercising our constitutional rights.”

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Showdown between Facebook and Australia

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SYDNEY (Reuters) – Facebook Inc FB.O will be “weakened” if it stops Australians from sharing news so the company can avoid paying for content under proposed laws, Australia’s top antitrust regulator said on Thursday.

Australia has proposed forcing Facebook and internet search giant Google GOOGL.O to pay local media outlets for content, drawing strong opposition from the U.S. companies in a dispute that is being watched by regulators and news organisations around the world.

Facebook said this month it would stop Australians from sharing local and international news on its website if the proposal becomes law. The company and the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) are still negotiating before the regulator makes a formal recommendation to the government.

“It would be a shame for Australian democracy (and) it would be a shame for Facebook users if they took that course of action,” ACCC Chair Rod Sims said in a speech delivered via Zoom.

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COVID-19 pandemic could usher in a ‘New Digital Age,’ study claims

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The study suggests that COVID-19 can be used as a chance to rebuild the nation, by making Israel the starting point for solutions its own society needs, and then for the planet.

Israel should focus on its unique strengths in the fields of Artificial Intelligence (AI), Augmented Reality (AR), Autonomous Technologies and the Internet of Things (IoT) to be ahead of the new digital age being ushered in by the COVID-19 pandemic, a study by Start-Up Nation Central claimed on Monday.

Since the novel coronavirus has disrupted existing supply chains and industries, the report argues that Israeli talents could promote innovative solutions. AR means could be used to take over some aspects of customer service and manufacturing. As more and more people are expected to work and purchase goods and services from home, cyber security demands are expected to grow.

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Momentum for basic income builds as pandemic drags on

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A man shows off an Andrew Yang “Freedom Dividend” $1,000 bill sign on a street in San Francisco. Amid the pandemic and a global recession, basic income and a basket of related policies have gained unprecedented momentum.

When the idyllic upstate city of Hudson, New York, launches its basic-income pilot program in late September, it will become one of the smallest U.S. cities to embrace a policy once seen as far-fetched or radical.

“Basic-income” programs — designed to dole out direct cash payments to large swaths of people, no strings attached — were, until earlier this year, largely the realm of Washington, D.C., policy wonks and West Coast futurists.

But amid the pandemic and a global recession, both basic income and a basket of related policies have gained unprecedented momentum, surfacing everywhere from Capitol Hill to community Zoom meetings in cities like Hudson.

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What happens if Uber and Lyft flee California? Look at Austin

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Line of rideshare vehicles driving in protest

 The ride-hail services are threatening to stop service in the Golden State to protest a judge’s ruling. They did something similar in Texas in 2016.

A California judge has ordered Uber and Lyft to treat drivers as employees; the companies say they’ll leave the state rather than comply.

RAFAEL RODRIGUEZ REMEMBERS the moment he learned Uber and Lyft were leaving Austin. “It was Mother’s Day, and I was with my girl in a restaurant,” he says. “I said, ‘Now I’m not paying for that piña colada.’” Today, he laughs about it. But in 2016, the situation was worrying. Rodriguez was a full-time driver for the ride-hail companies. Just two days later, the platforms ditched the Texas capital, frustrated that they had lost a ballot measure that forced them to fingerprint potential drivers for background checks. Rodriguez was out of a job.

Now, something similar might happen on a much bigger scale, in California. Earlier this month, a state judge ordered the ride-hail companies to treat ride-hail drivers as employees, instead of independent contractors. The companies had said they would stop operating in California on Friday, but an appeals court on Thursday delayed the effective date of the ruling until it could rule on the companies’ appeal.

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Artificial intelligence will surveil and study released prisoners to “reduce recidivism”

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A group of researchers is launching a new artificial intelligence led study that will collect data from recently released prisoners.

Artificial intelligence applications are popping up everywhere these days, from our Internet browsing to smart homes and self-driving cars. Now a group of researchers is launching a new AI-led study that will collect data from recently released prisoners. The ultimate goal of the project is to identify – and, ostensibly, one day eliminate – the psychological and physiological triggers that cause recidivism among parolees.

Researchers at Purdue University Polytechnic Institute plan to monitor volunteer parolees using a panoply of AI-powered tools and methods, including smartphones and biometric wearable bracelets. These gadgets will record and analyze a variety of data, such as the ex-prisoners’ biological information (heart rate), photos, and location meta-data.

According to project-leads Marcus Rogers and Umit Karabiyik, the resulting data will assist them in conducting a forensic psychological analysis. While the monitoring will be gauged in intervals – not real-time – they believe it will help build a profile of the risky behaviors and stressful triggers that recent parolees face when returning to the outside world.

Citing a Department of Justice study, the researchers say over 80 percent of prisoners released from state prisons get arrested in their first 9 years and a plurality of those prisoners get arrested in less than a year.

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Germany is beginning a universal-basic-income trial with people getting $1,400 a month for 3 years

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Starting this week, 120 Germans will receive a form of universal basic income every month for three years.

The volunteers will get monthly payments of €1,200, or about $1,400, as part of a study testing a universal basic income.

The study will compare the experiences of the 120 volunteers with 1,380 people who do not receive the payments. About 140,000 people have helped fund the study through donations. The concept of universal basic income has gained traction in recent years, and Finland tested a form of it in 2017.

Supporters say it would reduce inequality and improve well-being, while opponents argue it would be too expensive and discourage work.

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New Hampshire is first state to allow flying cars on the road

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Will New Hampshire suddenly look like GTA 5? No, but the state’s ready to let them hit the road legally.

This is the Switchblade, which was supposed to arrive last year.

We’ve been promised flying cars for seemingly decades, and although we still don’t have one ready for production, New Hampshire has gone ahead and given them the OK.

On Wednesday, the Granite State passed House Bill 1182, aka the “Jetson Bill,” into law, and the transportation bill includes a prevision that makes flying cars legal on public roads. There aren’t any to hit the roads today, but it’s a future forward gesture, I suppose.

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Busting up big tech is popular, but here’s what the US may lose

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Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg testifies remotely during a House Judiciary subcommittee hearing on antitrust on Capitol Hill on Wednesday, July 29, 2020, in Washington.

Lawmakers don’t like them, but what they bring to the competition with China may be too valuable to break up.

The heads of Facebook, Apple, Google and Amazon appeared before angry lawmakers Wednesday as Congress prepares to weigh new anti-monopoly regulations, including possibly breaking them up. Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg turned to a familiar argument, saying that breaking up the big tech companies would hurt U.S. competitiveness against China in developing new technologies and America’s ability to curb Chinese influence globally.

So are U.S tech giants an asset to the U.S. in its competition with China or a hindrance?

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