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Virtual reality is back

In a tech industry where the word “innovation” is growing stale and most startup ideas are closer to micro-optimizations and slight improvements in efficiency than actually disruption, the long-awaited coming of immersive virtual reality is, more than mobile apps and food delivery services, the most promising candidate to give rise to the next Google.

The unfortunate state of mobile payments

True innovation in mobile payments that allows micro-transaction payments and affordable payment processing for small businesses and individuals will continue to be a pipedream as long as we continue to have layers of middlemen seeking tolls. It is unfortunate that Walmart’s CurrentC initiative, the closest thing we have to a challenger to the credit card duopoly, has demonstrated itself to be both incompetent and self-serving in the past week.

Mentality of progress

Moore’s Law is limited by the minimum size of a transistor, which in turn is limited by the size of atoms. A 2014 IEEE report concludes that, “Moore’s Law is not dead, but it has clearly reached old age, and no fundamental technology has emerged to replace it.” And just as the propeller did not imply the jet engine, quantum computing, widely seen as our best chance beyond Moore’s Law, still remains an uncertainty.

The Nerds have inherited the Earth

Today, the nerds seem to have been largely proven right. Tech companies have grown from scrappy underdogs into giant incumbents dominant in the various verticals they enter. Stanford, self-proclaimed “Nerd Nation” and birthplace of most of these giants, saw its social capital and prestige dramatically increased as a consequence.

Data and the power it bestows

In the great debate over government surveillance, we forget that for all the failings of the FISA court, there exist formal mechanisms in which government’s temptation to use data it has access to in unintended ways can be kept in check. If Google or LinkedIn ever decided to use their user data for more unambiguously selfish purposes, there seems to be little we can do about it. In the age of big data where every database is being turned into a commodity for sale, expectations of privacy and social norms have clearly failed to keep in check the power of data collectors.

Smartwatch redux

In order to be widely adopted, a new technology must provide compelling value not just for the early adopters and technophiles, but the average user. This is where smartwatches, along with many other wearable devices, continue to fall short.

Our privacy champion

Two weeks ago, a peculiar event took place in the Auckland Town Hall and was streamed live to the world. After a short introduction in Maori, Laila Harré, leader of the Internet Party in New Zealand, proclaimed, “We are here to celebrate and protect our democracy.” As she introduced one of the guests, Glenn Greenwald,…