As global population continues to increase to record highs, scientists around the world have been struggling to solve our food crisis. We simply don’t seem to have the natural resources to support the number of humans on the planet, at least not at current consumption levels. Up until the advent of 3D printing, synthesized foods were never really much of an option. The focus was historically on industrializing the agriculture industry, which we have seen has had averse effects on the ecosystem. Now, the spotlight has shifted towards the potential of “designing” food rather than growing it. Meat and other foods (carrots are mentioned in the article) have already been produced in lab settings, and some companies are beginning to introduce these products into the public marketplace. A California company, Just, has suggested that it will bring its first meat cultured product to the marketplace by the end of 2018. A Dutch company, ByFlow, manufactures 3D food printers for just over $4,000. A lot of our processed “junk” foods are already manufactured, but this is the first time we are seeing plants and meats being artificially produced.
So my question to you, if McDonald’s or Wendy’s started to print their burgers would you still eat them?
In a recent Reddit discussion, Bill Gates made it clear that he does not support cryptocurrencies. He believes they have had a very direct affect on certain criminal activity. From money laundering to illicit drug purchases on the dark web, the anonymity of cryptocurrencies have allowed criminals to hide in the shadows. Gates suggests that it is in our best interest to allow the government insight into transactions, as this can deter illegal and unwanted behavior.
On the contrary, the CEO of a “digital currency information firm”, Charles Hayter, argued that Gates’ assertions were slightly naive. Hayter suggested that more and more legitimate business is being processed with digital currencies. Hayter also pointed at the paper dollar, and believes that any new money or currency will be involved with deaths to a certain extent at their inception.
So my question is how much anonymity do we want and how much is good for society? Total anonymity may not be in our best interest, but how much insight are we willing to give to the government?
That’s the question the Chinese government is wrestling with its new “Social Credit System”. In June of 2014, the State Council of China released a new document titled “Planning Outline for the Construction of a Social Credit System”. In this document was a proposed system that would monitor and track its citizens to prove their “trustworthiness”. The SCS uses an algorithm created by Alibaba to give users a rating between 350-950 points. However, the Chinese algorithm behind this system takes into account much more than the user’s financial history. The system will track five different factors: credit history, fulfillment capacity, personal characteristics, behavior and preference, and interpersonal relationships. Credit history is very similar to the credit score we have here in America. Fulfillment capacity looks at a user’s ability to fulfill contractual obligations. Personal characteristics is essentially personal information, including phone number and address. Behavior and preference looks at your consumer purchases and attempts to correlate that with your daily activities. For example, if you buy a lot of diapers you would be classified as a parent. Interpersonal relationships is the last metric that is tracked and this looks at the scores of your friends and relatives. If a friend you are connected with does something that negatively affects their score, your score may also be impacted.
What steers citizens are the perks associated with high scores. Just like credit scores in America, the rating you receive from the SCS gives you access to get loans and mortgages. With a low enough score, you may be restricted to certain types of restaurants or modes of transportation. Currently participation is voluntary (although there are incentives for joining early), however by 2020 the government states that participation will be mandatory.