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It Takes a Billionaire – Why Elon Musk’s Interest in Twitter Is a Good Thing

This past month, Elon Musk shocked everyone by purchasing 9.2% of social media giant Twitter. Even to those who have become accustomed to his publicity antics, the move seemed outrageous. Why on Earth would Musk, the richest man on the planet, want to bother himself with the likes of Twitter? Of course, many were quick to claim that changes at Twitter under Musk should be feared. Giving someone with such wealth and power control over a major communications outlet could only mean bad news. But this knee-jerk type of response is both shortsighted and lazy. By examining Musk’s interest in Twitter a bit deeper, a different picture emerges.

Over the last few decades, it’s become evident tech giants enjoy tremendous control and power. Google, Facebook/Meta, and Twitter each enjoy monopolistic power within their respective markets. On a daily basis, these companies determine precisely what content we see and hear. They choose which information can or cannot be shared, and they prioritize news feeds and rankings accordingly. And they’ve only paid lip-service to consumer privacy rights, requiring companies like Apple to serve as privacy protectors. Thus far, Congress has failed to step up to the plate and address these issues effectively. For all of these reasons, the changes at Twitter under Musk may be welcomed breath of fresh air.

(Get up to speed on businesses self-regulating in the tech industry–read this Bold story!)

Musk’s Timing Is Quite Revealing

For all those op-eds sounding the alarm against Musk, few have really considered the timing of his actions. The day before his Twitter stock purchases, he posted the results of a user poll concerning free speech. In short, the poll asked whether Twitter honored the right to free speech as it pertains to a healthy democracy. Over 70% of the participants in the survey responded “no.” This appears to have elevated Musk’s interest in Twitter and in influencing its policies. He has since become one of Twitter’s board of directors and even offered $43 billion for the company. These events suggest that changes at Twitter under Musk are a real possibility for the future.

The immediate reaction in the media was that Musk was looking to expand his net wealth even more. But money has never been a sole motivating factor for Musk. He is estimated to be worth $330 billion. Therefore, Musk’s interest in Twitter isn’t likely a financial one. Managing a social media company is challenging at best, and he has other more pressing responsibilities. Likewise, he isn’t in advancing his own ideology or agenda either. His policy views are notably varied depending on the issue. And he’s certainly not anticipating running for public office. The changes at Twitter under Musk are therefore not ones with a targeted agenda. Instead, they are likely ones with a broader mission that hopes to protect free speech.

An Unlikely Hero of Free Speech

Admittedly, Musk calls himself a free speech absolutist. In other words, he supports the idea that a state of true freedom of speech requires broad opportunities for expression. He also believes the First Amendment should be protected from imposed limitations. While this usually refers to government limitations, Musk extends these beliefs to all media outlets including social media. Thus, it’s not surprising that he has had his disagreements with Twitter and their bans, restrictions, and deletions. Twitter, whether purposefully or not, has become the “go-to” place for real-time, global news. The changes at Twitter under Musk would look to address these policies first. And that would be a breath of fresh air for those who sincerely believe democracies thrive under First Amendment protections.

Rather than be upset about Musk’s interest in Twitter, we should be inspired. After all, is anyone truly happy by the way Twitter restricts content now? The algorithms used to determine which expressions are harmful or not are largely undisclosed. The same lack of transparency applies to Google and Facebook as well. At the same time, consumers receive content feeds designed by social media engineers with key agendas. In most cases, these agendas hope to attract advertising dollars and a captive audience. But once again, these determinations are kept secret under the disguise of proprietary privilege. Let’s hope that changes at Twitter under Musk attempts to reverse these policies. Not only do we need to protect our First Amendment rights but our rights to data privacy as well.

Systematic Failures Abound

In an ideal world, changes at Twitter under Musk wouldn’t be required. Congress and political leaders would operate in an efficient manner to protect Constitutional rights and consumer privacy. Even in its absent, there might still be hope that tech companies would approach practices in an ethical manner. But in today’s world, monopolies and billionaires have failed to move in the right direction. Censorship and bias have been used as a tool for discrimination, both intentional and unintentional. It is exactly these developments that provoked Musk’s interest in Twitter at present.

Someone using the Twitter app on their phone
Elon Musk’s interest in Twitter can only mean good things for free speech.

One of the more critical articles against Musk’s interest in Twitter appeared in the Washington Post. Its author, Tim O’Brien, suggests Musk’s real intentions are to unduly influence Twitter’s board. Given Musk’s financial status and power, it was implied that he would coerce changes in his favor through media communications. The irony of this is almost comical, considering the Washington Post itself is owned by Jeff Bezos. Exactly who’s influencing who through controlled media? One thing is clear. Governments, tech companies, and media giants have all dropped the ball when it comes to free speech. Given this, any changes at Twitter under Musk will likely be a godsend.

It Takes One to Know One

The bottom line is that free speech is under attack, and increasingly, consumer privacy protections are fading. Major tech companies, especially those involved in communications, have the ability to exploit their wealth and power. In some cases, business ethics are ignored, and these tools used to further advance their position. But that doesn’t mean that all large corporations or even billionaires have such agendas. Some truly believe in protecting the freedom of speech and privacy rights. Despite what many claim about Musk, actions speak louder than their words. Musk realizes what’s at stake, which has fueled his interest in Twitter. And this wouldn’t be the first industry Musk disrupts. The changes at Twitter under Musk may be the ones democracy needs, especially given the inadequacies of others.


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Binaural Beats Let the Music Get You High

There’s little question that music can have a powerful influence on the way we feel. The right song can motivate us to perform at a higher level or help us comfort ourselves in times of tragedy. But did you ever think it might also trigger a cerebral high? According to some researchers, different musical tones presented in asynchronous fashion might just accomplish this. Known as binaural beats, millions of people throughout the world are experimenting with this new phenomenon. And based on some reports, the effects of these digital drugs could be quite powerful as well as therapeutic.

In the past decade, many researchers are exploring how psychedelics treatments might help a number of conditions. Magic mushrooms and synthetics are chemicals that have the potential to beneficially alter neuronal networks in the brain. But interestingly, binaural beats might be able to accomplish similar effects without the chemical component. While the actual effects of these digital drugs are not yet known, some scientists suggest they may have therapeutic benefits. In fact, there appears to be a variety of health conditions where binaural beats might be useful.

(Expand your mind with this Bold Business deep dive into the business of psilocybin!)

“We’re starting to see digital experiences defined as drugs, but they could also be seen as complementary practices alongside drug us. Maybe a drug doesn’t have to be a substance you consume, it could be to do with how an activity affects your brain.” – Dr. Monica Barratt of RMIT University in Melbourne, Australia

Explaining the Effects of Digital Drugs

The best way to understand how binaural beats creates its effects is to first appreciate normal sound localization. Whenever we hear a sound, it naturally reaches one ear before the other. The slight discrepancy that exists is something to which our brains have become accustomed. Therefore, it can routinely localize a noise or sound effectively as a result based on this familiarity. But with binaural beats, two different tones that are close in frequency are used. These tones then oscillate in and out of synchronous frequencies, confusing our brains. The end result is a third tone that’s perceived by our brains, which is completely new.

While this may not sound too impressive, it’s this new tone within our brains that has psychedelic and therapeutic potential. The new tone encourages some neurons in the brain to vibrate at its same frequency. This phenomenon is known as entrainment, and entrainment is what causes neuronal function and networks to change. It is precisely this change that might cause positive effects on our mood, thoughts, attention and perceptions. And it is these effects of digital drugs that are stimulating the greatest intrigue among scientists.

“Binaural beats combine two slightly different sound frequencies to create the perception of a single frequency tone. When each ear is exposed to two different frequencies at the same time (one in each ear) the brain actually hears a single tone that is the difference between two separate frequencies, and your brain tunes into this new frequency.” – Melissa Gentry, Life Coach and CEO of Healing the Love

Recent Research on Binaural Beats

Believe it or not, there has been several studies conducted exploring the effects of digital drugs as of late. Some studies have examined usage among the population. Others have tried to determine whether or not binaural beats influence attention, focus, perceptions, and even sexual arousal. The most comprehensive one to date involved a metanalysis that summarized data from 22 studies. It stated there was statistically significant evidence that these digital drugs had a positive influence in all these areas. But not everyone is convinced, especially given the variations in protocol among different studies.

A cartoon of a girl listening to binaural beats
Binaural beats stimulate pleasure centers in the brain that can turn your Saturday night into a real party.

Other researchers evaluated the use of binaural beats instead of the actual effects of digital drugs. A recent study out of Australia surveyed over 30,000 people from 22 different countries. In their research, they found that about 12% used binaural beats as an adjunct or replacement to psychedelics. Others used them for sleep, relaxation, and anxiety effects. And still others used them as a way to achieve deeper levels of meditation. Interestingly, about 16% of the entire population in the U.S. surveyed had tried them. Thus, regardless of the actual effects of digital drugs, it’s clear many people are showing interest in their use.

“Much like ingestible substances, some binaural beats users were chasing a high. But that’s far from their only use. Many people saw them as a source of help, such as for sleep therapy or pain relief.” – Dr. Monica Barratt

Embracing the Potential of Binaural Beats

The original discovery of binaural beats dates all the way back to 1841. Heinrich Wilhelm Dove was the first to describe the effects of altered tones on the brain’s perceptions and mood. But since then, the phenomenon has fell in and out of favor. In fact, there was significant concern over the effects of digital drugs a decade ago prompting several countries to ban them. Specifically, UAE and Lebanon outlawed their use. But such approaches are not only shortsighted but highly biased. Perhaps, given the stigma associated with the word “drugs,’ labeling these as digital drugs was a bad idea. Like cannabis and psychedelics, the stigma might be enough to delay us from seeing their real health benefits.

The bottom line is that much needs to be researched and learned about binaural beats currently. But the existing research looks incredibly promising. Imagine being able to using auditory tones as a way to improve sleep, mood, and creativity. Imagine using this as an inexpensive treatment for pain without all the nasty side effects and risks of medicines. And consider the implications and effects of digital drugs on creativity and innovative ideas. Without question, we need to embrace the potential that binaural beats have before we close the door on them prematurely. Whether it’s an elevated mood or actual mental health benefits, this could be an easy way to help millions.


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Municipal Bitcoin Mining Is Here

Over the last several months, Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies have been quite volatile. But that doesn’t mean many in fintech have lost faith in digital coin over the long haul. According to some statistics, roughly 80% of all venture capital is spent on technology that includes cryptocurrencies. Of course, there are some potential downsides related to cryptocurrency mining with environmental concerns being the most notable. That’s why some states are hesitant to embrace the practice and invest in a bitcoin mining hub. Texas, and the city of Fort Worth, are notable exceptions to this, however. In fact, by the end of the year, there will be a Fort Worth Bitcoin mine located in its own city hall.

The Fort Worth Bitcoin mine will represent the first municipal cryptocurrency mine of its kind in the U.S. Perhaps, this is not too surprising, especially since Texas itself looks to lead the way in cryptocurrency infrastructures. But it is innovative to say the least. As one of the most rapidly growing cities in the country, Fort Worth hopes the move could put them on the map. If all goes well, other cities may soon follow suit and develop a Bitcoin mining hub of their own. It all depends on how the pilot project performs and how well it is accepted. Sink or swim, Fort Worth looks to be the first in exploring the future of municipal digital coin practices.

“Mayor Parker [of Fort Worth] is setting an example and effectively de-risking both bitcoin mining and bitcoin treasury strategies for every other mayor in the country, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see more announcements like this coming in the future.” – Alex Brammer, VP of business development for Luxor technologies

The Fort Worth Bitcoin Mine Proposal

The Bitcoin mining hub that the city of Fort Worth approved will start small before pursuing larger cryptocurrency mining farms. The system will consist of three Bitmain Antminer S9 mining rigs that will operate 24/7 beginning in October. The location of these mining rigs will be in the IT wing of city hall and will be hosted by a private network. Naturally, worries about the use of electricity for these mining operations have been publicized. However, the city states that operations will consume about as much electricity as an everyday vacuum cleaner. The city hopes that Fort Worth Bitcoin mine will generate more than enough Bitcoin to pay for the electricity needed.

(What’s the recipe for a Bitcoin mining town? Read this Bold story to find out.)

The city did enjoy support from some key partners in the process of developing their Bitcoin mining hub plans. The Texas Blockchain Council donated the three Bitcoin mining rigs, which in essence are about $700 each. Likewise, Luxor Technologies is an important partner that operates a Bitcoin mining pool. Their mining pool consists of thousands of other miners that combined hashing power and increases the chance of Bitcoin earnings. As a result, the Fort Worth Bitcoin mine hopes to generate about 0.06 Bitcoin annual, or $2,350 in today’s value. The mining trial will take place over 6 months, after which a reassessment will take place.

“When you can consume 20% of your electricity on site and sell roughly 80% back into the grid, and can shut down our miners in a minute if we need during peak hours, that offers a massive benefit with regards to smoothing our supply and demand across the energy grid.” – Caleb Ward, Cofounder of Geosyn Mining

Environmental Friend or Foe?

There is significant concern about the environmental impacts related to Bitcoin mining as of late. Some states like New York have actually placed a moratorium for companies to build a new Bitcoin mining hub. This primarily pertains to those using old fossil fuel plants to generate the electricity required for operations. It’s well-known that Bitcoin mining consumes tremendous amounts of electricity. But the key is how that electricity in generated. For the Fort Worth Bitcoin mine of the future, the plan is to use primarily renewable forms of energy for this purpose. And this type of approach could have additional benefits as well.

Someone mining bitcoin with a rig
A municipal bitcoin mining hub can mean more revenue… but also more energy expenditures.

Issues with energy grid outages in Texas have been well publicized in recent years. This is where a Bitcoin mining hub electrical grid could be beneficial. If companies construct these grids using solar and wind technologies, then they may actually reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Some blockchain companies estimate that a minority share of the electricity generated would be used for mining. The remaining electricity could then be used for cities within Texas. Based on its rapid growth, the Fort Worth Bitcoin mine could similarly utilize such a strategy. This is yet another way the municipality may serve as a testing ground for other cities.

“For Fort Worth, a lot of people don’t know who we are. We want to change that conversation, and we believe that tech innovation including cryptocurrency is the way we’re going to do that.” – Mattie Parker, Mayor of Fort Worth, Texas

A Cryptocurrency Hub Within a Hub

While Forth Worth hopes to be the first municipal cryptocurrency mining farm, it already operates within a Bitcoin-friendly state. Texas itself looks to be a leading Bitcoin mining hub not only in the U.S. but also in the world. As China placed heavy restrictions on Bitcoin mining, Texas saw an opportunity in the making. Since that time, the state has welcomed dozens of Bitcoin mining operations and sought to acquire Chinese mining equipment. Most recently, Riot Blockchain announced it would be creating a 1.7 Gigawatt electrical substation in Navarro County, Texas. Once completed, Riot Blockchain could easily become among the largest Bitcoin miners in the world.

Appreciating these trends, the city of Fort Worth sees a great opportunity as well. Currently, Fort Worth is among the top fastest growing cities, and it sees cryptocurrency as the way of the future. The city already has nearly 2,000 Bitcoin ATMs  that allows users to buy and sell Bitcoin. Therefore, it seems well-aligned with the city’s vision to add the Fort Worth Bitcoin mine. Of course, its vision extends well beyond the small prototype currently being developed. Ultimately, Fort Worth hopes to be the go-to city for digital coin miners, operators and investors. In essence, the city is taking a calculated risk and assuming Bitcoin represents the future of currency.


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