Reading: Marvel’s “Black Panther”

blackpantherThe new superhero movie Black Panther is breaking box office records. It is the highest moneymaking debut ever for a February film. Disney, the movie’s maker, estimated that the film has earned over $361 million in its first three days. The opening was the fifth highest-earning film ever. The movie has been helped by great reviews from critics. The movie review site Rotten Tomatoes gave it a 97 per cent rating. It is very rare for any movie to get such a high score. The Los Angeles Times newspaper compared Black Panther to a Star Wars movie. It said “Black Panther fever” took over Los Angeles. It added: “The film opened to the kind of fervor typically reserved for the latest offering in the Star Wars franchise.”

Black Panther is the first Marvel superhero movie with an African-American in the title role. It also has a largely black cast and is directed by a black man. Many people of African descent have been showing their pride in the movie by attending movie theatres dressed in traditional African clothes. CNN writer Van Jones said the film was very important. He said: “This film is a godsend that will lift the self-esteem of black children in the US and around the world for a long time.” A seventh-grade student who watched the film said: “For people of color, it shows us that we can get through any obstacles that are thrown at us if we work together. We can also help the world by sharing our resources.”

 


Based on original content: https://breakingnewsenglish.com/1802/180221-black-panther.html

Reading: Monaco’s Millionaires

The tiny city-state of Monaco on France’s Mediterranean coastline is having problems finding space for rich people. Monaco is less than 2 square kilometers in size and has some of the richest people in the world living there. It is called the playground of the rich and is home to a Formula 1 Grand Prix, a famous casino and a luxury yacht-lined harbor. Over 30 per cent of its 38,000 residents are millionaires. The country is running out of space for more millionaires. House prices are already the highest in the world, with an average price of around $100,000 per square meter. City planners say an estimated 2,700 more millionaires are hoping to move there in the next 10 years.

monaco_mapMonaco’s ruler, Prince Albert II, has decided to build more homes in Monaco. He wants to reclaim land from the sea. He has OK’d a $2.1 billion project to fill in 15 acres of the sea with concrete and sand. The project will have a harbor big enough for 30 ships, a landscaped park, a Japanese garden and 120 new waterfront homes for the rich and famous. There will be a huge demand for the new homes. People are attracted by the luxury lifestyle and no income tax. Marine experts are worried the construction will cause great damage to sea life and the environment. The Prince said he cares about the environment. He said important species would be moved to a new artificial reef.

 

 


Original Content: https://breakingnewsenglish.com/1802/180209-monaco-millionaires.html

Reading: Gulliver’s Travels (B2)

Gulliver’s Travels recounts the story of Lemuel Gulliver, a practical-minded Englishman trained as a surgeon who takes to the seas when his business fails. In a deadpan first-person narrative that rarely shows any signs of self-reflection or deep emotional response, Gulliver narrates the adventures that befall him on these travels.

 

pic_1Gulliver’s adventure in Lilliput begins when he wakes after his shipwreck to find himself bound by innumerable tiny threads and addressed by tiny captors who are in awe of him but fiercely protective of their kingdom. They are not afraid to use violence against Gulliver, though their arrows are little more than pinpricks. But overall, they are hospitable, risking famine in their land by feeding Gulliver, who consumes more food than a thousand Lilliputians combined could. Gulliver is taken into the capital city by a vast wagon the Lilliputians have specially built. He is presented to the emperor, who is entertained by Gulliver, just as Gulliver is flattered by the attention of royalty. Eventually Gulliver becomes a national resource, used by the army in its war against the people of Blefuscu, whom the Lilliputians hate for doctrinal differences concerning the proper way to crack eggs. But things change when Gulliver is convicted of treason for putting out a fire in the royal palace with his urine and is condemned to be shot in the eyes and starved to death. Gulliver escapes to Blefuscu, where he is able to repair a boat he finds and set sail for England.

 

gulliver-brobdingnagAfter staying in England with his wife and family for two months, Gulliver undertakes his next sea voyage, which takes him to a land of giants called Brobdingnag. Here, a field worker discovers him. The farmer initially treats him as little more than an animal, keeping him for amusement. The farmer eventually sells Gulliver to the queen, who makes him a courtly diversion and is entertained by his musical talents. Social life is easy for Gulliver after his discovery by the court, but not particularly enjoyable. Gulliver is often repulsed by the physicality of the Brobdingnagians, whose ordinary flaws are many times magnified by their huge size. Thus, when a couple of courtly ladies let him play on their naked bodies, he is not attracted to them but rather disgusted by their enormous skin pores and the sound of their torrential urination. He is generally startled by the ignorance of the people here—even the king knows nothing about politics. More unsettling findings in Brobdingnag come in the form of various animals of the realm that endanger his life. Even Brobdingnagian insects leave slimy trails on his food that make eating difficult. On a trip to the frontier, accompanying the royal couple, Gulliver leaves Brobdingnag when his cage is plucked up by an eagle and dropped into the sea.

 

Next, Gulliver sets sail again and, after an attack by pirates, ends up in Laputa, where a floating island inhabited by theoreticians and academics oppresses the land below, called Balnibarbi…

pic_2

The scientific research undertaken in Laputa and in Balnibarbi seems totally inane and impractical, and its residents too appear wholly out of touch with reality. Taking a short side trip to Glubbdubdrib, Gulliver is able to witness the conjuring up of figures from history, such as Julius Caesar and other military leaders, whom he finds much less impressive than in books. After visiting the Luggnaggians and the Struldbrugs, the latter of which are senile immortals who prove that age does not bring wisdom, he is able to sail to Japan and from there back to England.

 

pic_4Finally, on his fourth journey, Gulliver sets out as captain of a ship, but after the mutiny of his crew and a long confinement in his cabin, he arrives in an unknown land. This land is populated by Houyhnhnms, rational-thinking horses who rule, and by Yahoos, brutish humanlike creatures who serve the Houyhnhnms. Gulliver sets about learning their language, and when he can speak he narrates his voyages to them and explains the constitution of England. He is treated with great courtesy and kindness by the horses and is enlightened by his many conversations with them and by his exposure to their noble culture. He wants to stay with the Houyhnhnms, but his bared body reveals to the horses that he is very much like a Yahoo, and he is banished. Gulliver is grief-stricken but agrees to leave. He fashions a canoe and makes his way to a nearby island, where he is picked up by a Portuguese ship captain who treats him well, though Gulliver cannot help now seeing the captain—and all humans—as shamefully Yahoolike. Gulliver then concludes his narrative with a claim that the lands he has visited belong by rights to England, as her colonies, even though he questions the whole idea of colonialism.

Reading: “Arkham Asylum” wins Award

The Batman video game “Arkham Asylum‟ has won top prize at Britain’s biggest gaming awards. The all-action superhero adventure picked up best game at the Bafta 2010 awards. Gamers can take on the role of Batman as he fights his traditional enemies in an asylum. It is only the seventh time Bafta has given the award. The best video game category only started in 2004. Bafta is the British Academy of Film and Television Arts. Its new award is to recognise “artistic, creative and technical innovation in video games”. Second place went to the shoot-em-up game, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2‟. This game won the Game award, voted for by gamers. Nintendo scooped the best family and social game with its Wii Sports Resort.
A special moment at the ceremony was when Bafta presented a lifetime achievement award to legendary game maker Shigeru Miyamoto. He is the creator of legendary games such as Super Mario, Donkey Kong, and The Legend of Zelda. He told the audience: “Our imaginations and creativity…should be the only limits and that is what makes our industry a joy and a dream to work in.” Miyamoto‟s words summed up the confidence shared by everyone in the industry. A British politician Tom Watson echoed Miyamoto as he handed out a prize. He said to games  designers: “You are going to be the dominant creative medium of this century.” Many designers believe they are showing a lot more creativity than Hollywood.

ACTIVITIES:

1. Discuss these keywords: Batman / gaming / awards / superhero / enemies / creativity / innovation / Nintendo / ceremonies / achievement / Super Mario / imaginations / confidence / Hollywood

2. Spend one minute writing down all of the different words you associate with the word “gamer‟.

3. TRUE / FALSE: Are these sentences true or false?
  1. A Batman video game scooped the top prize at a British awards show. T / F
  2. The Batman video game only has new enemies in it. T / F
  3. The Bafta awards for video games are now in their tenth year. T / F
  4. Nintendo won an award for one of its Wii games. T / F
  5. The maker of the Super Mario game got a special award. T / F
  6. Shigeru Miyamoto said working in the game industry is like a dream. T / F
  7. A British politician complained the awards show echoed too much. T / F
  8. Many designers believe Hollywood is more creative than gaming. T / F

4. Look at the words below and try to recall how they were used in the text:

top, role, category, artistic, voted, social, lifetime, creator, audience, summed, echoed, medium


5. Answer these questions
a) What did you think when you read the headline?
b) What springs to mind when you hear the word “gaming‟?
c) What do you think of video games?
d) How would your life be different if there were no video games?
e) Do you like the idea of an awards ceremony for video games?
f) What kind of people do you think work in the video game industry?
g) What is your favourite game and why?
h) What are the biggest differences between today‟s games and those that came out five years ago?
i) What‟s your favourite games console (and why)?
j) Would you like to play the new Batman game?
k) Did you like reading this article?
l) What do you think you have to do to get a lifetime achievement award?
m) What‟s the best game ever?
n) Would you like to work in the gaming industry?Why?
o) How creative are you?
p) How important is creativity?
q) Do you think movies or games are more creative?
r) Do you prefer to watch movies or play games? Why?
s) What will games of the future be like?
t) What questions would you like to ask Shigeru Miyamoto?

Continue reading “Reading: “Arkham Asylum” wins Award”

Reading: Scotland (B1)

britain-mapScotland is the UK’s most northern country and has around 790 islands off its coasts 130 of which have people living on them. Scotland is well known for its stunning landscapes, beautiful beaches and lochs, which are fresh water lakes. There are over 600 square miles of lochs in Scotland including the most famous one, Loch Ness.
It has a population of just over five million people which is about 8.5 per cent of the whole UK population. Over 2 million of these live in Glasgow and Edinburgh, and almost half of Scotland’s population live in the Central Belt, where both the
largest city (Glasgow) and the capital city (Edinburgh) are located.
Scotland also hosts one of the biggest arts festivals in the world. This is commonly known as the Edinburgh Festival but is actually made up of a number of different festivals which happen at different times of the year, though many do take place in August and September. Many people have heard of the Fringe Festival, but there are also the International Festival, the Film Festival, the Children’s Festival and the Edinburgh Mela which is an intercultural festival.
EdinburghMusically it has recently produced bands Travis and Franz Ferdinand and other famous Scots include KT Tunstall, Ewan McGregor, Sean Connery and Andy Murray.
In July 1999 the Scottish Parliament was opened, the first for over 300 years as Scotland had been governed from London. Scottish Parliamentary responsibilities include health, education and local government.
Stereotypical images of Scotland often focus on things like tartan, kilts, heather and haggis as well as the scenery. These are all still a part of the country but contemporary Scotland is building a name for itself in other areas, such as its thriving computer games industry.

Reading: Notting Hill Carnival – Europe’s biggest

NTCWhen, in 1964, a members of a Trinidadian steel band were invited to take part in a street festival in Notting Hill, none of them realised that they were going to give birth to Europe’s greatest street carnival.
There had been racial tension in the late 1950’s, and the Black people who had come over from the West Indies to work in London found it hard to mix with Londoners. As a way of breaking the ice, the idea of a street festival was suggested; street festivals being popular events on the Caribbean islands, the original organisers suggested that the sight and sound of a Trinidadian steel band playing on the streets of Notting Hill would encourage local residents, both black and white, to come out on the street and enjoy themselves for an afternoon.
The first festival was an immediate success; once the black people of Notting Hill heard the music of the steel band, they came out into the street to dance and enjoy themselves as they might have done back home in the West Indies; attracted by the unusual and rhythmic sound of the steel band, others too came along to share in the experience. In short, the first festival was such a big success that the organisers decided to organise another one the following year.

 

NTC-1Since then, the Notting Hill Carnival has evolved into a huge multi-cultural arts festival, attended by up to two million people; besides being the annual high point of London’s Afro-Caribbean community, it now attracts hundreds of thousands of people from all over Britain and other countries, and has become the world’s second biggest carnival, second only to Rio.
Over the years, the carnival has grown in variety, reflecting the multi-coloured and cosmopolitan nature of modern London; recent carnivals have seen the participation of groups from Afghanistan, Kurdistan, Bangladesh, Bulgaria, Russia, and many other countries, as well as musicians and dancers from other parts of Britain. In addition to the procession of exotic costumes and steel bands, there are now almost fifty static stages with bands playing different types of West Indian music, but also jazz, soul, and other popular varieties.
With so many people in attendance during the two days of the festival – the last Sunday and Monday in August – moments of tension and the occasional scuffles with the police are inevitable; yet in spite of the crowds, serious problems are rare. The vast majority of those who come to this festival come to have a good time, to finish off the Summer holiday period with a day or two of exoticism and colour; they do not come looking for trouble.

 

From Trinidad To London

article-2401715-1B743F1C000005DC-563_964x636In Trinidad during the days of slavery, black slaves were forbidden to play musical instruments and wear costumes except on the occasion of the traditional imported European carnival, that took place six weeks before Easter. Slaves were also forbidden to be on the streets after dark, unless they were accompanying their master.
When slavery was abolished in British colonies in 1833, slaves took to the streets in song and dance; to celebrate their new-found freedom, they dressed up in fancy and colourful clothes and powdered their faces white, to mimic their former masters and show that they could be masters too.
In the years that followed, as slavery eventually disappeared from other parts of the new World, carnivals developed into great moments of celebration for the former slaves throughout a large part of the region; from Rio to New Orleans, by way of the Caribbean, people vied with each other to produce the most exotic and exciting carnival costumes. Even in 19th century Trinidad, it was amazing what some people managed to produce using the very limited resources available to them.
Today the situation is quite different; and although many Carnival costumes are now made up from left-overs and snippets, others are carefully made from material bought specially for the purpose. Yet regardless of how the costumes are made, the result is spectacular; a flamboyant display of colour and originality that has earned itself a highly deserved place as the most important annual street festival in Britain.

 

Word guide :

  • steel band: percussion band with home made instruments
  • enjoy themselves: amuse themselves, have fun
  • West Indies: Caribbean islands – attended by: visited by
  • static stage: fixed platform – in attendance: present
  • scuffle: struggle, small fight
  • fancy: fantastic, fantasy
  • vie: compete
  • left overs: surplus and unused material
  • snippets: small pieces cut from a big piece (to snip = to cut)
  • purpose: reason

Reading: Regulating Internet Giants (C1)

The world’s most valuable resource is no longer oil, but data.

The data economy demands a new approach to antitrust rules

 

Such dominance has prompted calls for the tech giants to be broken up, as Standard Oil was in the early 20th century. This newspaper has argued against such drastic action in the past. Size alone is not a crime. The giants’ success has benefited consumers. Few want to live without Google’s search engine, Amazon’s one-day delivery or Facebook’s newsfeed. Nor do these firms raise the alarm when standard antitrust tests are applied. Far from gouging consumers, many of their services are free (users pay, in effect, by handing over yet more data). Take account of offline rivals, and their market shares look less worrying. And the emergence of upstarts like Snapchat suggests that new entrants can still make waves.

But there is cause for concern. Internet companies’ control of data gives them enormous power. Old ways of thinking about competition, devised in the era of oil, look outdated in what has come to be called the “data economy”. A new approach is needed.

Quantity has a quality all its own

What has changed? Smartphones and the internet have made data abundant, ubiquitous and far more valuable. Whether you are going for a run, watching TV or even just sitting in traffic, virtually every activity creates a digital trace—more raw material for the data distilleries. As devices from watches to cars connect to the internet, the volume is increasing: some estimate that a self-driving car will generate 100 gigabytes per second. Meanwhile, artificial-intelligence (AI) techniques such as machine learning extract more value from data. Algorithms can predict when a customer is ready to buy, a jet-engine needs servicing or a person is at risk of a disease. Industrial giants such as GE and Siemens now sell themselves as data firms.

This abundance of data changes the nature of competition. Technology giants have always benefited from network effects: the more users Facebook signs up, the more attractive signing up becomes for others. With data there are extra network effects. By collecting more data, a firm has more scope to improve its products, which attracts more users, generating even more data, and so on. The more data Tesla gathers from its self-driving cars, the better it can make them at driving themselves—part of the reason the firm, which sold only 25,000 cars in the first quarter, is now worth more than GM, which sold 2.3m. Vast pools of data can thus act as protective moats.

Access to data also protects companies from rivals in another way. The case for being sanguine about competition in the tech industry rests on the potential for incumbents to be blindsided by a startup in a garage or an unexpected technological shift. But both are less likely in the data age. The giants’ surveillance systems span the entire economy: Google can see what people search for, Facebook what they share, Amazon what they buy. They own app stores and operating systems, and rent out computing power to startups. They have a “God’s eye view” of activities in their own markets and beyond. They can see when a new product or service gains traction, allowing them to copy it or simply buy the upstart before it becomes too great a threat. Many think Facebook’s $22bn purchase in 2014 of WhatsApp, a messaging app with fewer than 60 employees, falls into this category of “shoot-out acquisitions” that eliminate potential rivals. By providing barriers to entry and early-warning systems, data can stifle competition.

social_network_analysis_visualizationWho ya gonna call, trustbusters?

The nature of data makes the antitrust remedies of the past less useful. Breaking up a firm like Google into five Googlets would not stop network effects from reasserting themselves: in time, one of them would become dominant again. A radical rethink is required—and as the outlines of a new approach start to become apparent, two ideas stand out.

The first is that antitrust authorities need to move from the industrial era into the 21st century. When considering a merger, for example, they have traditionally used size to determine when to intervene. They now need to take into account the extent of firms’ data assets when assessing the impact of deals. The purchase price could also be a signal that an incumbent is buying a nascent threat. On these measures, Facebook’s willingness to pay so much for WhatsApp, which had no revenue to speak of, would have raised red flags. Trustbusters must also become more data-savvy in their analysis of market dynamics, for example by using simulations to hunt for algorithms colluding over prices or to determine how best to promote competition.

The second principle is to loosen the grip that providers of online services have over data and give more control to those who supply them. More transparency would help: companies could be forced to reveal to consumers what information they hold and how much money they make from it. Governments could encourage the emergence of new services by opening up more of their own data vaults or managing crucial parts of the data economy as public infrastructure, as India does with its digital-identity system, Aadhaar. They could also mandate the sharing of certain kinds of data, with users’ consent—an approach Europe is taking in financial services by requiring banks to make customers’ data accessible to third parties.

Rebooting antitrust for the information age will not be easy. It will entail new risks: more data sharing, for instance, could threaten privacy. But if governments don’t want a data economy dominated by a few giants, they will need to act soon.

Reading: Blockchains Changing The World (C1)

Ignore Bitcoin’s challenges. In this interview, Don Tapscott explains why blockchains, the technology underpinning the cryptocurrency, have the potential to revolutionize the world economy.

What impact could the technology behind Bitcoin have? According to Tapscott Group CEO Don Tapscott, blockchains, the technology underpinning the cryptocurrency, could revolutionize the world economy. In this interview with McKinsey’s Rik Kirkland, Tapscott explains how blockchains—an open-source distributed database using state-of-the-art cryptography—may facilitate collaboration and tracking of all kinds of transactions and interactions. Tapscott, coauthor of the new book Blockchain Revolution: How the Technology Behind Bitcoin is Changing Money, Business, and the World, also believes the technology could offer genuine privacy protection and “a platform for truth and trust.” An edited and extended transcript of Tapscott’s comments follows.

Video

Interview transcript

In the early 1990s, we said the old media is centralized. It’s one way, it’s one to many; it’s controlled by powerful forces, and everyone is a passive recipient. The new web, the new media, we said, is one to one, it’s many to many; it’s highly distributed, and it’s not centralized. Everyone’s a participant, not an inert recipient. This has an awesome neutrality. It will be what we want it to be, and we can craft a much more egalitarian, prosperous society where everyone gets to share in the wealth that they create. Lots of great things have happened, but overall the benefits of the digital age have been asymmetrical. For example, we have this great asset of data that’s been created by us, and yet we don’t get to keep it. It’s owned by a tiny handful of powerful companies or governments. They monetize that data or, in the case of governments, use it to spy on us, and our privacy is undermined.

What if there were a second generation of the Internet that enabled the true, peer-to-peer exchange of value? We don’t have that now. If I’m going to send some money to somebody else, I have to go through an intermediary—a powerful bank, a credit-card company—or I need a government to authenticate who I am and who you are. What if we could do that peer to peer? What if there was a protocol—call it the trust protocol—that enabled us to do transactions, to do commerce, to exchange money, without a powerful third party? This would be amazing.

Several years ago, an unknown person or persons named Satoshi Nakamoto came up with the Bitcoin protocol. Once again, the technology genie has been unleashed from its bottle. It gives us another kick at the can, another go, to try and rethink the economic power grid and the old order of things. That, to me, is how big this is. It feels like 1993.

How the blockchain works

The blockchain is basically a distributed database. Think of a giant, global spreadsheet that runs on millions and millions of computers. It’s distributed. It’s open source, so anyone can change the underlying code, and they can see what’s going on. It’s truly peer to peer; it doesn’t require powerful intermediaries to authenticate or to settle transactions.

It uses state-of-the-art cryptography, so if we have a global, distributed database that can record the fact that we’ve done this transaction, what else could it record? Well, it could record any structured information, not just who paid whom but also who married whom or who owns what land or what light bought power from what power source. In the case of the Internet of Things, we’re going to need a blockchain-settlement system underneath. Banks won’t be able to settle trillions of real-time transactions between things.

So this is an extraordinary thing. An immutable, unhackable distributed database of digital assets. This is a platform for truth and it’s a platform for trust. The implications are staggering, not just for the financial-services industry but also right across virtually every aspect of society.

Most blockchains—and Bitcoin is the biggest—are what you call permission-less systems. We can do transactions and satisfy each other’s economic needs without knowing who the other party is and independent from central authorities. These blockchains all have a digital currency of some kind associated with them, which is why everybody talks about Bitcoin in the same breath as the blockchain, because the Bitcoin blockchain is the biggest.

But to me, the blockchain, the underlying technology, is the biggest innovation in computer science—the idea of a distributed database where trust is established through mass collaboration and clever code rather than through a powerful institution that does the authentication and the settlement.

The way it works is, if I owe you $20, we do the transaction. There’s a huge community called miners, and they have a powerful computing resource. Some people have estimated that the entire computing power of Google would be 5 percent of this blockchain-computing power, for the Bitcoin blockchain. That platform solves this big, big problem called the double-payment problem. If I send you an MP3 file and I send it to somebody else, it’s a problem for the record industry, but it’s not a massive problem. If I send you $20, and I send the same file to somebody else, that’s a big problem. It’s called fraud, and the economy stops if you have a monetary system based on that. What happens is, I send you the $20, and these miners, to make a long story short, go about authenticating that the transaction occurred.

Each miner is motivated to be the first one to find the truth, and once you find the truth, it’s evidence to everybody else. When you find the truth and you solve a complex mathematical problem, you get paid some money, some Bitcoin. For me to hack that and try and send the same money to somebody else, or for me to come in and try and take your $20 worth of Bitcoins, is not practically possible because I’d have to hack that ten-minute block. That’s why it’s called blockchain, and that block is linked to the previous block, and the previous block—ergo, chain. This blockchain is running across countless numbers of computers. I would have to commit fraud in the light of the most powerful computing resource in the world, not just for that ten-minute block but for the entire history of commerce, on a distributed platform. This is not practically feasible.

So, sure, there have been lots of problems with Bitcoin. You had big exchanges like Mt. Gox fail. You had the Silk Road, where Bitcoin was the payment system for all kinds of horrific, illegal activity. But don’t be confused by that. Many people make the mistake of thinking, “Bitcoin? Well, that’s an asset. Should I invest? Is it going to go up or down?” Well, that’s not of interest to me, just like speculating in gold is not of interest to me.

Something that’s of bigger interest is Bitcoin as a digital currency that enables us to do these kinds of transactions. A cryptocurrency that’s not based on nation-states. The most important thing that we focus on in our work, is the much bigger question, this underlying, distributed-database technology that enables us to have a truthful and immutable record of everything.

How disruption can occur

The financial-services industry is up for serious disruption—or transformation, depending on how it approaches this issue. For the research for Blockchain Revolution, we went through and identified eight different things that the industry does: it moves money, it stores money, it lends money, it trades money, it attests to money, it accounts for money, and so on.

Every one of those can be challenged.

You pick any industry, and this technology holds huge potential to disrupt it, creating a more prosperous world where people get to participate in the value that they create. The music industry, for example, is a disaster, at least from the point of view of the musicians. They used to have most of the value taken by the big labels. Then, along came the technology companies, which took a whole bunch of value, and the songwriters and musicians are left with crumbs at the end. What if the new music industry was a distributed app on the blockchain, where I, as a songwriter, could post my song onto the blockchain with a smart contract specifying how it is to be used?

Maybe as a recording artist posting my music on a blockchain music platform, I’ll say, “You listen to the music, it’s free. You want to put it in your movie? It’s going to cost you this much, and here’s how that works. You put it in the movie, the smart contract pays me.” Or how about using it for a ring tone? There’s the smart contract for that.

This is not a pipe dream. Imogen Heap, who’s a brilliant singer-songwriter in the United Kingdom, a best-selling recording artist, has now been part of creating Mycelia, and they’re working with an amazing company called Consensus Systems, that’s all around the world, blockchain developers, using the Ethereum platform; Ethereum is one blockchain. She has already posted her first song onto the Internet. I fully expect that many big recording artists will be seriously investigating a whole new paradigm whereby the musicians get compensated for the value that they create.

What could go wrong?

I’m not a futurist. I think the future’s not something to be predicted—it’s something to be achieved. What we’re arguing is that this technology is revolutionary and holds vast potential to change society.

What could go wrong? We identified ten showstoppers and we went through them in detail in our research and in the book. There are showstoppers such as the energy that’s consumed to do this, which is massive. Another showstopper is that this technology is going to be the platform for a lot of smart agents that are going to displace a lot of humans from jobs. Maybe this whole new platform is the ultimate job-killer.

The biggest problems, though, have to do with governance. Any controversy that you read about today is going to revolve around these governance issues. This new community is in its infancy. Unlike the Internet, which has a sophisticated governance ecosystem, the whole world of blockchain and digital currencies is the Wild West.

It’s a place of recklessness and chaos and calamity. This could kill it if we don’t find the leadership to come together and to create the equivalent organizations that we have for governance of the Internet. We have the Internet Engineering Task Force, which creates standards for the Net. We have Internet Governance Forum, which creates policies for governments. We have the W3C Consortium, which creates standards for the Web. There’s the Internet Society; that’s an advocacy group. There’s the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), an operational network that just delivers the domain names. There’s a structure and a process to figure out things. Right now, there’s a big debate that continues about the block size. We need a bigger block size to be able to handle all of the transactions that will be arising. There are big differences. There are legitimate points of view, but the problem is, there’s no process to be able to come up with an optimal solution.

I’m hopeful, even optimistic, that this will proceed. It feels a lot like the early ’90s to me. You’ve got all the smartest venture capitalists, the smartest programmers, the smartest business executives, the smartest people in banking, the smartest government of people, the smartest entrepreneurs all over this thing. That’s always a sign that something big is going on. Is it an irrational exuberance? I don’t know. Last year, $1 billion went into venture alone in this area. I’m more hopeful because I can see the power of the applications to disrupt things for the good. Rather than just redistributing wealth, maybe we could change the way wealth is distributed in the first place. Imagine a Kickstarter-like campaign to launch a company where you have 50 million investors and everybody puts in a couple of dollars, or very small amounts.

Imagine all those people who have a supercomputer in their pocket, who are connected to a network but don’t have a bank account, because they only own a couple of pigs and a chicken. That’s their bank account. Imagine if they could be brought in, 2 billion people, into the global financial system. What could that do? Seventy percent of all people who own land have a tenuous title to that land. And you’re in a developing-world country in Latin America, and some dictator comes to power and he says, “Well, you may have a piece of paper that says you own your little farm, but my central computer says my friend owns your farm.”

Imagine a world where foreign aid didn’t get consumed in the bureaucracy but went directly to the beneficiary under a smart contract? Rather than a $60 billion car-service aggregation, why couldn’t we have a distributed app on the blockchain that manages all these vehicles and handles everything from reputation to payments? Ultimately, they’ll be autonomous vehicles moving around. Or blockchain Airbnb? This is all about the value going to the creators of value rather than to powerful forces that capture it. In the process, we can protect our privacy. Privacy is a basic human right, and people who say “It’s dead—get over it” are deeply misinformed. It’s the foundation of a free society.

Imagine each of us having our own identity in a black box on the blockchain. When you go to do a transaction, it gives away a shred of information required to do that transaction and it collects data. You get to keep your data and monetize it if you want, or not. This could be the foundation of a whole new era whereby our basic right to privacy is protected, because identity is the foundation of freedom and it needs to be managed responsibly.

We’ve been unable to do that, so far. I’m compelled most by the power of this opportunity. I’ve been at this 35 years, writing about the digital age. I’ve never seen a technology that I thought had greater potential for humanity.

For more about Blockchain Revolution: How the Technology Behind Bitcoin is Changing Money, Business, and the World, visit the book’s publisher’s page.


Original Content from: http://www.mckinsey.com/industries/high-tech/our-insights/how-blockchains-could-change-the-world

Reading: The Climate Shaped Our Noses (B1)

Have you ever wondered why everyone’s nose is a different shape? Researchers have come up with a possible explanation for this. A study from Pennsylvania State University in the USA says the Earth’s climate could have something to do with the shape of our nose. The study found that people who have wider noses usually live in warmer, more humid areas. People with narrower noses are more commonly found in colder and drier climates. The nose plays an important function in making sure the air we breathe reaches our lungs in a warm and moist condition. The width of the nostrils and length of the nose help to make sure this happens. Researchers said the nose is a little like a temperature controller.

The researchers used 3D images to measure the noses of more than 2,600 people from Africa, Asia and Europe. They measured the width of the nostrils, the distance between nostrils and nose height. The researchers said their findings could help people who move to different climates to adjust to the heat or cold, and the humidity. This could help reduce respiratory problems. Study co-author Dr Arslan Zaidi said increased travel and climate change make it difficult to predict if our nose will change shape in the future. He said: “Our lifestyles aren’t what they used to be. We move around the world way too much. That makes it very complicated to predict the future [evolution] of the nose with the changing climate.”

 


What can you say about these words and your life?

why / explanation / climate / humid / drier / breathe / condition / temperature / sure / 3D images / nostrils / adjust / future / lifestyles / complicated / evolution / predict


Spend one minute writing down all of the different words you associate with the word “breathe”.


Comprehension Questions:

  1. From which country is the university that did this research?
  2. Who did the article say lived in warmer, more humid areas?
  3. In what condition should air reach our lungs?
  4. What did the article say was important about the nostrils?
  5. What did the researchers liken our nose to?
  6. How many pictures of people’s noses did researchers measure?
  7. What did the researchers measure the distance between?
  8. What kind of problems could the study reduce?
  9. What did a researcher say aren’t what they used to be?
  10. What did the doctor say we did “way too much”?

Write five GOOD questions of your own about this topic


 

 

 

Original content: http://www.breakingnewsenglish.com/1703/170319-nose-shape.html

Reading: Memory

Are you good at remembering things? Can you remember a long list of English vocabulary quickly and easily? If the answer to these two questions is ‘no,’ help may be at hand. A new study says pretty much anyone can have an upgraded memory if they train their brain. Scientists say that we can train our brain to be a “memory athlete” just like athletes train to be champions. Neuroscientist Martin Dresler wrote in the journal “Neuron” that just six weeks of brain training can turn people with average memories into people with an incredible ability to remember things. Dr Dresler even suggested people could train their brain to enter the World Memory Championships that are held in March every year.

Dr Dresler compared MRI scans of the brains of 23 of the world’s top 50 memory champions with the brains of “normal” people. He said: “We were interested in what differentiates memory champions from normal people, like you and me.” He was surprised to find no differences. This made him believe we can all become memory athletes with the right training. Dresler found that 40 days of daily 30-minute training sessions using a memory technique called mnemonics more than doubled a person’s memory capacity. Mnemonics is an ancient memory device that helps people remember things, especially in list form. Who knows? It could help you with those words for your next vocabulary test.

 

What can you say about these words from the text?

remembering / vocabulary / help / answer / athletes / average / incredible / ability / MRI scans / champions / normal / differences / memory / technique / doubled / list