I wrote a call to action for the tech community to dive deeper into the future of innovation this coming decade. Where are some of the hot spots going to come from though? Below, I have assembled a very loose set of five clusters broadly categorized into “wellness,” “climate,” “data society,” “creativity,” and “fundamentals” that offer some scaffolding for understanding what’s about to come this decade and how and any entrepreneur — really, any citizen — can start to build progress.
Take these ideas as inspirational — they aren’t limits, nor should the borders of these categories be seen as anything but liminal. I know in the daily cavalcade of news, it can be hard to fell inspired by the future. But do be! There is so much more coming this decade, that we may look back at the 2010s as the dark ages of innovation.
First, there is a cluster around “wellness.” That sometimes gets elided to just “mental health” and reduced to a prescription bottle, but this area really encompasses so much more than that. How do we build humanistic societies with strong social fabrics that enliven, enrich, and build meaning for our lives?
Yes, we’ve seen strong demand for wellness apps like Calm and Headspace. Exercise hardware like Peloton, Mirror and others along with platforms particularly around group classes have been a huge mainstay during this pandemic era. Mental health treatment itself is getting a makeover as startups reinvigorate the in-person therapist and psychiatrist visit as well as think about new models of delivering mental health services virtually. Even LSD is starting to make headways as a potentially useful tool, and psychedelics are going to be an interesting area to watch in the coming years.
All those areas still are ripe for innovation, yet, how do we go deeper and start to address the root causes of anguish and despair?
Take work, for instance. How do we make workers feel more secure and meaningful in a remote world where gig work makes up an increasing fraction of all employment? The precariousness of labor has a direct effect on wellness, and it’s going to take a much greater leap than a reclassification battle like in California this election cycle to make work “work” for all people. What can we do around stability of pay whether from employment or maybe programs like universal basic income to give people a sense of ownership over their destinies?
How do we start to create the bonds of neighborhoods and communities that hold people together and offer solace in times of despair? Part of this is improving the average town and making it more human-centric (that’s like 20 startups right there), but it also includes constructing more vibrant and expressive virtual worlds where we can find online neighborhoods that are safer than the dumpster fires we find on the web today.
Then there’s the health system in general. While America deservedly receives huge criticism for its overpriced and under-insured system, health systems worldwide face incredible pressures to improve efficiency. How do we make care better, more personalized, and more open? How do we reduce costs while ensuring that care is accurate and delivered expeditiously? There is huge work to be done to make health a key component.
To increase wellness for individuals, we need to increase wellness for our societies, building systems that are designed for the humans that inhabit them. Flexibility with security, engagement with individuality, expression with support. Our existing systems are already antiquated — and we haven’t come up with anything better.
This cluster is about asking “How does the world make us feel?”
The second cluster has to do broadly with the Earth, climate, crisis, and resilience. Climate change is real and not going away, and quite literally billions of people are going to feel its effects in the coming decades. Rising tides, massive hurricanes, power outages, wildfires, droughts and more are going to become part of our daily news vernacular.
Resiliency is not something that any one technology can offer, but innovation has huge potential to allow more of our systems to adapt to the changing nature of our world today.
SEC initiates legal action against FTX’s auditor
The SEC alleges that Prager Metis, an accounting firm engaged by bankrupt crypto exchange FTX in 2021, committed hundreds of violations related to auditor…
The SEC alleges that Prager Metis, an accounting firm engaged by bankrupt crypto exchange FTX in 2021, committed hundreds of violations related to auditor independence.
The United States Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has commenced legal proceedings against an accounting firm that had provided services to cryptocurrency exchange FTX before its bankruptcy declaration.
According to a Sept. 29 statement, the SEC alleged that accounting firm Prager Metis provided auditing services to its clients without maintaining the necessary independence as it continued to offer accounting services. This practice is prohibited under the auditor independence framework.
To prevent conflicts of interest, accounting and audit tasks must be kept clearly separate. However, the SEC claims that these entwined activities spanned over a period of approximately three years:
“As alleged in our complaint, over a period of nearly three years, Prager’s audits, reviews, and exams fell short of these fundamental principles. Our complaint is an important reminder that auditor independence is crucial to investor protection.”
While the statement doesn't explicitly mention FTX or any other clients, it does emphasize that there were allegedly "hundreds" of auditor independence violations throughout the three-year period.
Furthermore, a previous court filing pointed out that the FTX Group engaged Metis to audit FTX US and FTX at some point in 2021. Subsequently, FTX declared bankruptcy in November 2022.
The filing alleged that since former FTX CEO Sam Bankman-Fried publicly announced previous FTX audit results, Metis should have recognized that its work would be used by FTX to bolster public trust.
Concerns were previously reported about the material presented in FTX audit reports.
On Jan. 25, current FTX CEO John J. Ray III told a bankruptcy court that he had “substantial concerns as to the information presented in these audited financial statements.”
Furthermore, Senators Elizabeth Warren and Ron Wyden raised concerns about Prager Metis' impartiality. They argued that it functioned as an advocate for the crypto industry.
Meanwhile, a law firm that provided services to FTX has come under scrutiny in recent times.
In a Sept. 21 court filing, plaintiffs allege that U.S. based law firm, Fenwick & West, should be held partially liable for FTX's collapse because it reportedly exceeded the norm when it came to its service offerings to the exchange.
However, Fenwick & West asserts that it cannot be held accountable for a client's misconduct as long as its actions remain within the bounds of the client's representation.cryptocurrency blockchain crypto crypto
DOJ readies witnesses in Bankman-Fried trial, highlights FTX asset management
The DOJ intends to highlight the experiences of retail and institutional clients who entrusted substantial assets to FTX.
The DOJ intends to highlight the experiences of retail and institutional clients who entrusted substantial assets to FTX.
The Department of Justice (DOJ) has confirmed its intention to summon former FTX clients, investors and staff as witnesses in the upcoming trial involving Sam Bankman-Fried, the former FTX CEO.
The DOJ submitted a letter motion in limine on Sept. 30 describing the witnesses it intends to call concerning FTX’s treatment of customer assets.
The testimonies intend to provide perspectives on the interactions between the accused and the witnesses. It also aims to get the witnesses’ understanding of Bankman-Fried’s remarks and conduct, particularly regarding FTX’s asset management. The DOJ intends to highlight the experiences of retail and institutional clients who entrusted substantial assets to FTX, believing that the platform would safeguard them securely.
Furthermore, a situation has emerged concerning one of the DOJ’s witnesses, “FTX Customer-1,” who resides in Ukraine. Given the ongoing conflict in Ukraine, traveling to the U.S. to provide testimony is associated with difficulties. The DOJ has suggested using video conferencing as a viable alternative. However, Bankman-Fried’s defense has not yet approved this proposal.
Nonetheless, the legal team representing Bankman-Fried, led by lawyer Mark Cohen, has voiced concerns about the jury questions put forth by the DOJ. According to Bankman-Fried’s defense, these interrogations insinuate guilt on Bankman-Fried’s part, potentially undermining the principle of “innocent until proven guilty.“
Additionally, the defense contends that these inquiries may not effectively uncover the jurors’ inherent biases, especially related to their encounters with cryptocurrencies. Moreover, specific questions could inadvertently guide the jury’s perspective instead of eliciting authentic insights, possibly compromising the trial’s impartiality.
With the jury selection scheduled to start on Oct. 3, closely followed by the trial, the spotlight is firmly on this high-stakes legal confrontation. This case underscores not only its immediate consequences but also underscores the vital importance of transparent communication and unbiased questioning in upholding the principles of justice.crypto crypto
Vitalik Buterin voices concerns over DAOs approving ETH staking pool operators
The Ethereum co-founder proposes a solution that could lower the likelihood of any individual liquid staking provider growing to a point where it poses…
The Ethereum co-founder proposes a solution that could lower the likelihood of any individual liquid staking provider growing to a point where it poses a systemic risk.
Vitalik Buterin, the co-founder of Ethereum, has expressed worries regarding decentralized autonomous organizations (DAOs) exerting a monopoly over the selection of node operators in liquidity staking pools.
In a September 30 blog post, Buterin issues a warning that as staking pools adopt the DAO approach for governance over node operators—who are ultimately responsible for the pool's funds—it can expose them to potential risks from malicious actors.
“With the DAO approach, if a single such staking token dominates, that leads to a single, potentially attackable governance gadget controlling a very large portion of all Ethereum validators.”
Buterin highlights the liquid staking provider Lido (LDO) as an example with a DAO that validates node operators. However, he emphasizes that relying on just one layer of protection may prove insufficient:
“To the credit of protocols like Lido, they have implemented safeguards against this, but one layer of defense may not be enough,” he noted.
Meanwhile, he explains that Rocket Pool offers the opportunity for anyone to become a node operator by placing an 8 Ether (ETH) deposit, which, at the time of this publication, is equivalent to approximately $13,406.
However, he notes this comes with its risks. "The Rocket Pool approach allows attackers to 51% attack the network, and force users to pay most of the costs," he stated.
On the other hand, Buterin highlights that having a mechanism to ascertain who can act as the underlying node operators is an inevitable necessity:
"It can't be unrestricted, because then attackers would join and amplify their attacks with users' funds."
Buterin further outlines that a possible approach to address this issue involves encouraging ecosystem participants to utilize a variety of liquid staking providers.
He clarifies this would decrease the likelihood of any one provider becoming excessively large and posing a systemic risk.
“In the longer term, however, this is an unstable equilibrium, and there is peril in relying too much on moralistic pressure to solve problems," he stated.ethereum
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