The illiterate of the 21st century

Want to make a quick $2.6 billion?

All you need to do is get us back to the moon.

From Business Insider:

NASA announced on Thursday that it was offering up to $2.6 billion in contracts to nine American companies to get the agency back to the lunar surface.

NASA isn’t going to buy the company’s lunar landers outright, nor will it take responsibility for launching, landing, or controlling the robots. Instead, NASA wants the private sector to deal with those challenges and bid on the opportunity to take NASA’s experiments to the moon.

“We’re doing something that’s never been done before,” Jim Bridenstine, NASA’s administrator, said during a live broadcast on Thursday. “When we go to the moon, we want to be one customer of many customers in a robust marketplace between the Earth and the moon.”

The first missions are taking place as soon as next year.

“On the moon there is water. On the moon, there are precious resources. We want to learn how to use these resources because, guess what?  We want to go back with humans and actually use those resources for us to bring back to Earth or to fuel, to breathe, to drink,” said Thomas Zurbuchen, NASA’s associate administrator for science.

If you’ve been following Exponential Investor this year, you’ll see the moon and space travel in general has become a hot topic of the world’s billionaire entrepreneurs and NASA alike.

It seems like for decades space was out of fashion, and now, suddenly, it’s as hot as it was during the space race.

I have no idea why that is. But it certainly makes life more exciting. And it will surely lead to many new and great technologies, just as the first space race did.

When you think about it, it’s crazy that people put in all that effort to go to the moon and then, well, just left it at that. Mission complete.

During the first space race it seems like landing on the moon was seen as a sort of thing to tick off the list. Like scaling Everest, or reaching the North Pole.

Then when it was done, it was done.

It’s taken decades for people to think about it differently. To realise that rather than being the end goal, the moon is more of a stepping stone to real space exploration and colonisation.

And it seems like everyone came to this realisation at the same time.

Perhaps it’s just that technology has reached a point where it can make people’s wildest visions come to life.

Or, perhaps there’s more to this sudden new interest in space than we yet realise.

Perhaps, it’s something akin to what happens in 2001: a space odyssey.

Another day, another 100 million people get hacked through no fault of their own

Less than 24 hours after I wrote about Marriott giving hackers the personal details, passport and bank account details of 500 million of its customers and we have another major hack on our hands.

This time, it’s question and answer site Quora.

From Ars Technica:

Quora.com, a site where people ask and answer questions on a range of topics, said hackers breached its computer network and accessed a variety of potentially sensitive personal data for about 100 million users.

Compromised information includes cryptographically protected passwords, full names, email addresses, data imported from linked networks, and a variety of non-public content and actions.

That’s right, another 100 million people have had their names, email addresses and passwords leaked.

If they are like the vast majority of users, they will be using those email address and password combinations for many different online services. So it’s not just their Quora account that has been compromised.

I went into detail yesterday about how these kinds of data breaches can be easily prevented, so I won’t go over it again here.

But this hack represents another 100 million reasons why major companies need to catch up with blockchain technology.

The lack of research and basic know how by the teams that run these multi-million, or in many cases multi-billion dollar companies is staggering.

Illiterate elites

It reminds me of a news story I got sent a few weeks ago by a colleague here at Southbank Investment Research.

The article revealed that Japan’s cybersecurity minister has never used a computer.

Seriously.

From The Telegraph:

The Japanese minister for cyber security was accused of making a mockery of his new role after he admitted he has never used a computer.

Yoshitaka Sakurada, 68, faced a wall of laughter from fellow legislators when he made the admission in a car-crash response to questioning in parliament.

Mr Sakurada, from the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, is in charge of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and deputy chief of the government’s cyber security strategy office.

Clearly uneasy when quizzed about technical matters during a televised debate, the MP admitted: “Since the age of 25, I have instructed my employees and secretaries, so I don’t use the computers myself.”

Mr Sakurada also appeared confused by the concept of a USB drive. When asked about Japanese nuclear facilities and malicious software, Sakurada said USBs were “basically never used” in the utility systems.

You couldn’t make it up.

I suppose you could argue that by never using a computer he is truly unhackable. But I don’t think that was his intent. I think he’s just technologically illiterate.

The situation is well summed up by futurist Alvin Toffler.

He famously said: “The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn.”

The problem is, these illiterates currently occupy positions of power in many of our highest places.

Until next time,

Harry Hamburg
Editor, Exponential Investor

Category: Robotics

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