7 Technology Trends That Will Dominate 2017

Personally, I’m amazed at the technology we have available to us. It’s astounding to have the power to retrieve almost any information and communicate in a thousand different ways using a device that fits in your pocket.

There’s always something new on the horizon, and we can’t help but wait and wonder what technological marvels are coming next.

The way I see it, there are seven major tech trends we’re in store for in 2017. If you’re eyeing a sector in which to start a business, any of these is a pretty good bet. If you’re already an entrepreneur, think about how you can leverage these technologies to reach your target audience in new ways.

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1. IoT and Smart Home Tech.

We’ve been hearing about the forthcoming revolution of the Internet-of-Things (IoT) and resulting interconnectedness of smart home technology for years. So what’s the holdup? Why aren’t we all living in smart, connected homes by now? Part of the problem is too much competition, with not enough collaboration—there are tons of individual appliances and apps on the market, but few solutions to tie everything together into a single, seamless user experience. Now that bigger companies already well-versed in uniform user experiences (like Google, Amazon, and Apple) are getting involved, I expect we’ll see some major advancements on this front in the coming year.

Play Video

2. AR and VR.

We’ve already seen some major steps forward for augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) technology in 2016. Oculus Rift was released, to positive reception, and thousands of VR apps and games followed. We also saw Pokémon Go, an AR game, explode with over 100 million downloads. The market is ready for AR and VR, and we’ve already got some early-stage devices and tech for these applications, but it’s going to be next year before we see things really take off. Once they do, you’ll need to be ready for AR and VR versions of practically everything—and ample marketing opportunities to follow.

3. Machine Learning.

Machine learning has taken some massive strides forward in the past few years, even emerging to assist and enhance Google’s core search engine algorithm. But again, we’ve only seen it in a limited range of applications. Throughout 2017, I expect to see machine learning updates emerge across the board, entering almost any type of consumer application you can think of, from offering better recommended products based on prior purchase history to gradually improving the user experience of an analytics app. It won’t be long before machine learning becomes a kind of “new normal,” with people expecting this type of artificial intelligence as a component of every form of technology.

4. Automation.

Marketers will be (mostly) pleased to learn that automation will become a bigger mainstay in and throughout 2017, with advanced technology enabling the automation of previously human-exclusive tasks. We’ve had robotic journalists in circulation for a couple of years now, and I expect it won’t be long before they make another leap into more practical types of articles. It’s likely that we’ll start seeing productivity skyrocket in a number of white-collar type jobs—and we’ll start seeing some jobs disappear altogether. When automation is combined with machine learning, everything can improve even faster, so 2017 has the potential to be a truly landmark year.

5. Humanized Big Data. (visual, empathetic, qualitative)

Big data has been a big topic for the past five years or so, when it started making headlines as a buzzword. The idea is that mass quantities of gathered data—which we now have access to—can help us in everything from planning better medical treatments to executing better marketing campaigns. But big data’s greatest strength—its quantitative, numerical foundation—is also a weakness. In 2017, I expect we’ll see advancements to humanize big data, seeking more empathetic and qualitative bits of data and projecting it in a more visualized, accessible way.

6. Physical-Digital Integrations.

Mobile devices have been slowly adding technology into our daily lives. It’s rare to see anyone without a smartphone at any given time, giving us access to practically infinite information in the real-world. We already have things like site-to-store purchasing, enabling online customers to buy and pick up products in a physical retail location, but the next level will be even further integrations between physical and digital realities. Online brands like Amazon will start having more physical products, like Dash Buttons, and physical brands like Walmart will start having more digital features, like store maps and product trials.

7. Everything On-Demand.

Thanks to brands like Uber (and the resulting madness of startups built on the premise of being the “Uber of ____”), people are getting used to having everything on demand via phone apps. In 2017, I expect this to see this develop even further. We have thousands of apps available to us to get rides, food deliveries, and even a place to stay for the night, but soon we’ll see this evolve into even stranger territory.

Anyone in the tech industry knows that making predictions about the course of technology’s future, even a year out, is an exercise in futility. Surprises can come from a number of different directions, and announced developments rarely release as they’re intended.

Still, it pays to forecast what’s coming next so you can prepare your marketing strategies (or your budget) accordingly. Whatever the case may be, it’s still fun to think about everything that’s coming next.

 

Source: Forbes

 

 

Here’s where the royal family gets their money

queen elizabeth christmas 2008A little summary:

• It costs about $368 million a year to run the British monarchy.
• Some of that money comes from the queen’s private investments.
• But a substantial chunk — about $48 million last year — comes from the British government. 

Royal families don’t come cheap: The Telegraph reports that it costs about £300 million (that’s about $368 million USD at current conversion rates) to run the British monarchy each year. So how do Queen Elizabeth II and her brood acquire such a sum?

Their funding actually comes from a few different sources, both public and private. Here’s how it breaks down.

Every year, the Queen gets a chunk of cash called the Sovereign Grant.

It comes from the treasury and it’s funded by taxpayers, according to the BBC.

The basic agreement is that the Queen gets the grant in exchange for surrendering all profits from the Crown Estate — the Royal family’s massive portfolio of properties — to the government. Every year, the Queen is given an amount of money equivalent to 15% of the Crown Estate’s profits from two years ago.

For example: In 2013, the Crown Estate generated a profit of £267.1 million (about $325.8 million). That means, in 2015, the Queen’s Sovereign Grant was 15% of that total — that’s £40.1 million (or $48.9 million).Buckingham Palace London

The Sovereign Grant pays for the family’s travel, palace upkeep and utilities, and royal employee payroll, according to official royal family financial reports. But the Telegraph notes that at the grant doesn’t cover costs of security and royal ceremonies — that money comes from a few other places.

The Queen’s private income is called the Privy Purse.

That money comes from the Duchy of Lancaster — a portfolio of land and other assets that’s been in the royal family for hundreds of years. It includes 18,433 hectares of land and is made up of residential, commercial, and agricultural properties.

From 2015 to 2016, it generated £17.8 million (about $21.7 million). According to the royal family website, this sum helps with costs not covered by the Sovereign Grant — namely, it’s used to pay “expenses incurred by other members of the royal family.”

The Queen also has a personal fortune estimated to be about £340 million (about $414.7 million). She outright owns Balmoral and Sandringham Estates, which she inherited from her father, and also has a valuable artwork collection, CNN reports.

It’s nothing to sneeze at, but the Queen is by no means the richest person in Britain. For the past two years, she’s failed to make the Sunday Times’s list of the top 300 wealthiest Brits. kate and william christmas 2011

The Duchy of Cornwall— yet another suite of properties owned by the royal family — covers the expenses of the Prince of Wales (that’s the Queen’s oldest son, Charles) and his heirs. That means Harry, William and Kate, and George and Charlotte are all covered by the Duchy of Cornwall, too.

The total income of the Duchy for the 2015–2016 fiscal year was £33.5 million (about $40.8 million). No wonder Prince George has such a fluffy bathrobe!Image result for british royal family

Want to learn more about royal family finances? Check out their official website.

Source: INSIDER

RAF Menwith Hill

 

Royal Air Force Menwith Hill or more simply RAF Menwith Hill is a Royal Air Force station near Harrogate, North Yorkshire, England which provides communications and intelligence support services to the United Kingdom and the United States. The site contains an extensive satellite ground station and is a communications intercept missile warning site and has been described as the largest electronic monitoring station in the world.

Menwith-Hill.jpgRAF Menwith Hill is commanded by a Royal Air Force Officer, supported by an RAF element, whilst a large contingent of support services are provided by the United States Air Force, 421st Air Base Group, and US National Security Agency. In 2014, the number of American personnel stationed at Menwith Hill was reduced as part of a streamlining of operations due to improvements in computer and information technology.

The site acts as a ground station for a number of satellites operated by the US National Reconnaissance Office,on behalf of the US National Security Agency, with antennae contained in a large number of highly distinctive white radomes, and is alleged to be an element of the ECHELON system.

How your body language can change your life.

Body language affects how others see us, but it may also change how we see ourselves. Social psychologist Amy Cuddy shows how “power posing” — standing in a posture of confidence, even when we don’t feel confident — can affect testosterone and cortisol levels in the brain, and might even have an impact on our chances for success.

 

Bill Gates is apparently the world’s greatest Secret Santa

Bill Gates Reddit secret santaIt’s about time we crown business guru Bill Gates as Greatest Secret Santa of Them All.

Since at least 2013, the Microsoft founder has participated in Reddit’s annual Secret Santa gift exchange, and has made the holidays magical with honorary donations, a full-size Loki helmet, and camping and hiking equipment. But this year Gates has really outdone himself for one lucky redditor.

In a Reddit Gifts post, user Aerrix detailed the unboxing of Gates’ gift, which he overnighted to her. This is clearly not your office party’s gift exchange, either—just look at how ridiculously massive that entire shipment is compared to the receiver’s two pets.

After appropriately freaking out that she—out of more than 118,000 participants in this year’s exchange—had Gates as her secret Santa, Aerrix went to town on the box.

Aerrix walked away from the exchange with a significant haul. Take a minute or two of meditation before reading this list, however—it’s a doozy: two pairs of The Legend of Zelda mittens, one for her and one for her dog Claire; one Minecraft-edition Xbox One; three special-edition wireless Xbox One controllers; the Halo 5: Guardians and Rise of the Tomb Raider games for Xbox One; one year’s worth of Xbox Live gold membership cards; and a Zelda blanket.

“I love my Xbox and thought you might like one too -Bill,” Gates wrote on a sticky note attached to the Xbox One packaging. And that was that.

Haha, just kidding. There’s literally still half the list left: one pair of Harry Potter slippers; Kevin Belton’s Big Flavors of New Orleans cookbook; a life-size paper replica of the Master Sword from The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword; DVDs of The Martian, The End of the Tour, and Believe: The Eddie Izzard Story; a Nintendo NES Classic edition; a donation in her name to Code.org, a computer science nonprofit for women and minority communities; and a Zelda-themed picture frame made of Perler beads, which contained an edited photo of Aerrix, her husband, her dog, and Gates, all wearing Santa hats.

Anyone else short of breath and slightly exhausted after reading off that list? No, just me?

Throughout her post Aerrix geeked out over these amazing gifts, but overall Gates’ ability to tailor his presents to her secret Santa list and letter. For example, Gates’ got her the cookbook, a hat tip to Aerrix’s Louisiana origins and her mention of her uncle’s Cajun Thanksgiving food.

“You guys, I am just, SPEECHLESS!” Aerrix wrote. “Merry Christmas to all y’all out there, and to Mr. Gates, who has the biggest heart and REALLY KNOWS HOW TO TREAT A GIRL TO SOME VIDEO GAMES (and video game paraphernalia)! I’m just blown away by his generosity.”

Christmas 2016 isn’t even here yet and we’re already curious as to how Gates will outdo himself next year. One thing is for sure, however: You’ve got to pity the fools who have pulled Gates for their Reddit gift exchange in the past.

Source: The Daily Dot

The 4 Most Important Effects of Rising Interest Rates

The Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC), the Federal Reserve’s interest-rate setting panel, voted unanimously on Wednesday to raise the federal funds rate by 0.25 percentage points to a target range of 0.5% to 0.75%. Stocks hardly budged as a result: the hike was modest, after all, and so thoroughly expected that fed funds futures were pricing in a 90-plus percent probability going into the decision. It’s easy to come away with the impression that investors, savers and consumers should carry on as before.

On the other hand, there are good reasons not to be nonchalant. The FOMC signaled three rate hikes in each of the next three years on Wednesday, a faster pace of tightening than it had projected in December, meaning that the target range could be as high as 2.75%-3.00% at the end of 2019. Given that it was 0.00%-0.25% until December 2015, that’s a dramatic increase (of course the Fed chronically overestimates the rate of tightening – going by December 2014 estimates, the rate should be four times higher than it currently is).
Federal_Funds_Rate_1954_thru_2009_effective.svg.png

The federal funds rate is the bedrock of the world’s financial calculus. Raising it pushes up the price of money, affecting rates on everything from credit cards to corporate bonds. It pushes up the yield on Treasuries, which stands in for the so-called risk-free rate of return on which every lending decision is based. It sucks capital into the U.S., that is, out of everywhere else. The fed funs rate is so powerful that it has the potential to wreak political havoc not just at home, but also oceans away.

All of which means that the list below is far from comprehensive. But it’s a start.

1. Borrowing Becomes More Expensive

The Fed’s key policy rate only applies to overnight lending between banks out of their reserves held at the Fed. In other words, it doesn’t affect consumer or (non-bank) business borrowing directly, but the distinction is academic, because it is so closely linked to borrowing rates that do affect these borrowers directly.

The prime rate is one. Within hours of the Fed’s move, just about every major bank announced that they would raise their prime rates from 3.50% to 3.75%. This rate affects a slew of variable-rate loans, including most credit cards. Mortgages are generally linked to Treasury yields, but these are also rising due to the rate hike: the 10-year Treasury yield shot up nearly 10 basis points to 2.57% Wednesday and is above 2.62% as of 12:15 p.m. EST Thursday. Libor, another common benchmark that serves as the basis for many student loans, for example, rose to its highest level since May 2009 in response to the rate rise. In short, just about every variable-rate lending rate is likely to move more or less in line with Fed actions. Borrowers who can refinance to lock in low rates should consider doing so.

2. Deposits Yield More … Eventually

Higher borrowing costs also apply to banks, which take loans from savers in the forms of deposits. In other words, the savings account that currently pays out a few bucks a year – if that – will become more generous.

But don’t hold your breath. Trading gains, fees and other revenue streams aside, banks profit from the spread between the rates they lend at and the ones they borrow at. In other words, they have little incentive to raise the interest they pay on deposits and cut into their profit margins. Following liftoff in December 2015, deposit rates mostly stayed flat. Between the third quarter of 2015 and the third quarter of 2016, Bank of America Corp.’s (BAC) average rates stayed at 0.08%, according to SEC filings. JPMorgan Chase & Co.’s (JPM) rose by a rounding error, from 0.14% to 0.15%. Wells Fargo & Co.’s (WFC) rose from 0.11% to 0.16%, but that’s still less than $2 earned per $1,000 per year. The three banks held almost $3.9 trillion in combined deposits at the end of the third quarter.

At some point deposit rates are likely rise due to competition among banks for customers. But unlike rate changes that make the bank’s money – like raising the prime rate – it will take longer than a few hours.

As a result of this lag, banks can expect fatter profit margins, and investors are responding accordingly. Bank of America’s stock has risen 2.9% to $23.26 from Tuesday’s close to 1:49 p.m. Thursday, while JPMorgan’s has risen 1.9% to $86.39. Wells Fargo, perhaps due to the ongoing fracas over the debit cards it opened in customers’ names without their knowledge, has seen its shares slip slightly.

The Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC), the Federal Reserve’s interest-rate setting panel, voted unanimously on Wednesday to raise the federal funds rate by 0.25 percentage points to a target range of 0.5% to 0.75%. Stocks hardly budged as a result: the hike was modest, after all, and so thoroughly expected that fed funds futures were pricing in a 90-plus percent probability going into the decision. It’s easy to come away with the impression that investors, savers and consumers should carry on as before.

On the other hand, there are good reasons not to be nonchalant. The FOMC signaled three rate hikes in each of the next three years on Wednesday, a faster pace of tightening than it had projected in December, meaning that the target range could be as high as 2.75%-3.00% at the end of 2019. Given that it was 0.00%-0.25% until December 2015, that’s a dramatic increase (of course the Fed chronically overestimates the rate of tightening – going by December 2014 estimates, the rate should be four times higher than it currently is).

The federal funds rate is the bedrock of the world’s financial calculus. Raising it pushes up the price of money, affecting rates on everything from credit cards to corporate bonds. It pushes up the yield on Treasuries, which stands in for the so-called risk-free rate of return on which every lending decision is based. It sucks capital into the U.S., that is, out of everywhere else. The fed funs rate is so powerful that it has the potential to wreak political havoc not just at home, but also oceans away.

All of which means that the list below is far from comprehensive. But it’s a start.

1. Borrowing Becomes More Expensive

The Fed’s key policy rate only applies to overnight lending between banks out of their reserves held at the Fed. In other words, it doesn’t affect consumer or (non-bank) business borrowing directly, but the distinction is academic, because it is so closely linked to borrowing rates that do affect these borrowers directly.

The prime rate is one. Within hours of the Fed’s move, just about every major bank announced that they would raise their prime rates from 3.50% to 3.75%. This rate affects a slew of variable-rate loans, including most credit cards. Mortgages are generally linked to Treasury yields, but these are also rising due to the rate hike: the 10-year Treasury yield shot up nearly 10 basis points to 2.57% Wednesday and is above 2.62% as of 12:15 p.m. EST Thursday. Libor, another common benchmark that serves as the basis for many student loans, for example, rose to its highest level since May 2009 in response to the rate rise. In short, just about every variable-rate lending rate is likely to move more or less in line with Fed actions. Borrowers who can refinance to lock in low rates should consider doing so.

2. Deposits Yield More … Eventually

Higher borrowing costs also apply to banks, which take loans from savers in the forms of deposits. In other words, the savings account that currently pays out a few bucks a year – if that – will become more generous.

But don’t hold your breath. Trading gains, fees and other revenue streams aside, banks profit from the spread between the rates they lend at and the ones they borrow at. In other words, they have little incentive to raise the interest they pay on deposits and cut into their profit margins. Following liftoff in December 2015, deposit rates mostly stayed flat. Between the third quarter of 2015 and the third quarter of 2016, Bank of America Corp.’s (BAC) average rates stayed at 0.08%, according to SEC filings. JPMorgan Chase & Co.’s (JPM) rose by a rounding error, from 0.14% to 0.15%. Wells Fargo & Co.’s (WFC) rose from 0.11% to 0.16%, but that’s still less than $2 earned per $1,000 per year. The three banks held almost $3.9 trillion in combined deposits at the end of the third quarter.

At some point deposit rates are likely rise due to competition among banks for customers. But unlike rate changes that make the bank’s money – like raising the prime rate – it will take longer than a few hours.

As a result of this lag, banks can expect fatter profit margins, and investors are responding accordingly. Bank of America’s stock has risen 2.9% to $23.26 from Tuesday’s close to 1:49 p.m. Thursday, while JPMorgan’s has risen 1.9% to $86.39. Wells Fargo, perhaps due to the ongoing fracas over the debit cards it opened in customers’ names without their knowledge, has seen its shares slip slightly.

3. Trouble for Stocks and Bonds

In a webcast on Tuesday, DoubleLine Capital chief investment officer Jeffrey Gundlach linked Fed tightening to rising 10-year Treasury yields, which he said could reach the psychologically important level of 3% in the next year. A sell-off in government debt could accelerate the bear market in bonds, which began to take hold almost immediately after Donald Trump’s election victory. (See also, Trump Win Shocks Bond Market With $1 Trillion Loss Globally.)

“We’re getting to the point where further rises in Treasuries, certainly above 3%, would start to have a real impact on market liquidity in corporate bonds and junk bonds,” Gundlach said. He added that equities and housing could also suffer: “a 10-year Treasury above 3% in my view starts to bring into question some of the aspects of the stock market and of the housing market in particular.”

Bond yields move in the opposite direction to their prices; since yields are closely correlated to the federal funds rate, monetary tightening implies a bond rout, particularly when trillions of dollars’ worth of government bonds have been bid up to the point that they trade with negative yields.

The relationship between the federal funds rate and equity prices is less direct. Since higher rates serve to reign in borrowing and spending, they can impact companies’ bottom lines, particularly in industries that depend on discretionary – and often debt-fueled – consumer spending. Higher rates also make it more difficult for companies to borrow, meaning that the pace of hiring, capital investment, acquisitions and stock repurchases slows. Finally, the ability to receive a decent return from safer investments such as Treasuries and even – some day – savings accounts makes the stock market a less appealing destination for capital. (See also, How Interest Rates Affect the Stock Market.)

 

4. The Dollar Strengthens

As higher rates make investing in Treasuries and other safe, dollar-denominated assets more attractive, capital floods out of other countries, particularly risky emerging markets. The result is that the dollar gains against other currencies, which can have profound implications for trade and, in a thoroughly trade-skeptical environment, politics. (See also, How Inflation Expectations and the Dollar Can Both Surge.)

The value of the euro, for example, decreased by nearly 1.9% to $1.0428 between Tuesday and 2:40 p.m. Thursday, leading to predictions that the two currencies would soon reach parity. While a one-to-one exchange rate is an arbitrary level, observers focus on it because of its psychological importance: since the financial crisis, the eurozone has been buffeted by deflation, high unemployment, dormant growth, sovereign debt scares, the prospect of bank failures – which could potentially set off another financial crisis – the fallout from Brexit and a vocal anti-euro contingent in almost every country (ironically, euroskeptics are increasingly allied across borders, increasing their effectiveness). If a euro can’t buy a dollar when French and German voters head to the polls next year, François Fillon and Angela Merkel’s prospects will look bleaker, and the single currency’s future will be in question.

The Fed’s hike has driven the dollar up against another key currency, the yuan, by 0.6% over the same period. Behind the European Union and Canada (where the currency has also fallen against the dollar), China is the U.S.’s third-largest trading partner. It has assumed outsized political importance due to Trump’s emphasis on the U.S.’s trade deficit with China and his claim – apparently false – that China is holding down the value of the yuan in order increase the attractiveness of its exports. (See also, Billionaire Kyle Bass Anticipates 30% Drop in Chinese Yuan.)

By the same token, the dollar’s strength will make American exports more expensive, further squeezing the manufacturing sector that accounts for around 9% of U.S. employment but a significantly larger share of the political conversation.

Source : Investopedia