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What to Expect for Space and Sci/Tech Under President Trump?

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US President-elect Donald Trump doesn’t strike as one who knows – or cares – a lot about space, science, and technology. Since the announcement of Trump’s victory, there have been a lot of headlines about a possible catastrophic impact of the upcoming Trump presidency on space and sci/tech in the US. However, a smart businessman – and Trump is one – knows that he must have competent advisers for issues on which he is ignorant, or uninterested.

Trump is not known for always listening to his advisers. But, when he hasn’t listened, it was about issues he did know and care about – and the elections’ results show that he was right. I think we can assume that, when it comes to space and sci/tech issues, President Trump won’t have strong feelings one way or another, and therefore he will listen to his advisers.

The Trump campaign brought former congressman Robert Smith Walker, known as Bob Walker, as its space policy advisor. Space News reports. Walker is a space policy veteran who was appointed by President George W. Bush to chair the Commission on the Future of the United States Aerospace Industry in 2001, and served on the President’s Commission on Implementation of the United States Space Exploration Policy, which submitted its final report titled “A Journey to Inspire, Innovate, and Discover” in 2004.

Now Walker, who seems likely to receive a formal space advisory role in the Trump administration, is drafting a space policy.

“I would describe what we came up with in four terms,” said Walker.

“It’s visionary, it’s disruptive, it’s coordinating and it’s resilient.”

Among the highlights of the developing new space policy, a commitment to global space leadership, a re-institution of the National Space Council, the development of military hypersonics and small satellite technologies, new private and public partners – including China – for the International Space Station, and increased reliance on the commercial sector, in particular for low Earth orbit access and operations.

Two points seem especially worth noting and praising: setting a goal of human exploration of the solar system by the end of the century, which according to Walker would serve as a “stretch goal” to drive technology developments to a stronger degree than simply a goal of humans to Mars, and shifting NASA budgets to “deep space achievements” rather than Earth science and climate research.

Walker is persuaded that the US should return to the moon. It is “essential to have the moon as a part of our planned missions headed for Mars and beyond,” he said.

“I can’t speak for the campaign or the transition team, but I will say personally I think going to the moon as a part of an extended presence in space is vital.”

The 2004 final report of the President’s Commission recommended to “extend human presence across the solar system, starting with a human return to the Moon by the year 2020, in preparation for human exploration of Mars and other destinations.” Similarly, other space policy leaders, notably including the Director of the European Space Agency (ESA), are persuaded that we should go back to the moon and establish permanent lunar outposts.

Back to Big, Forward Looking, Visionary Sci/Tech Initiatives

Highway worksWhen it comes to science and technology, it seems that President-elect Trump has already a top-class adviser: the billionaire businessman Peter Thiel, co-founder of PayPal and early investor in Facebook, one of the very few Silicon Valley tech titans to support Donald Trump before the elections (many more are likely to support Trump now, but that’s too easy).

Thiel, who has been demonized by the liberal Silicon Valley elites and most of the tech press for supporting Trump and donating $1.25 million to his campaign, seems to be in a position to reap some rewards now that his bet on Trump has paid off, notes The New York Times. But he said in an interview that he has no desire to have a formal role in Trump’s administration. However, “I’ll try to help the president in any way I can,” he said.

Thiel added that Silicon Valley should now work with the rest of the country and the world, instead of spending the next four years issuing denunciatory tweets on Twitter. “For a day or two, that’s fine,” he said. “But I hope Silicon Valley will be more productive than that.”

In his recent speech at the National Press Club, Thiel mentioned the Manhattan Project, the Interstate Highway System, and the Apollo Program as examples of big, forward-looking government programs. “But we have fallen very far from that standard,” he said, echoing his own famous remark:

“We were promised flying cars and we got 140 characters.”

It’s no surprise that Silicon Valley, which these days does too much 140 characters and not enough flying cars, doesn’t like Thiel.

Instead of 140 characters, Thiel wants to go back to big, forward looking, visionary sci/tech initiatives – the kind of projects described in “What happened to the future,” the manifesto of his Founders Fund. In his book “Zero to One,” Thiel – a transhumanist – proposes to accelerate “takeoff toward a much better future,” perhaps toward “new technologies so powerful as to transcend the current limits of our understanding.”

It appears that President Trump will have excellent advisers, with or without formal roles, for space, science, and technology policy. It’s to be hoped, of course, that he’ll listen to them.

Images from Pixabay and Pexels.

Important: Never invest (trade with) money you can't afford to comfortably lose. Always do your own research and due diligence before placing a trade. Read our Terms & Conditions here. Trade recommendations and analysis are written by our analysts which might have different opinions. Read my 6 Golden Steps to Financial Freedom here. Best regards, Jonas Borchgrevink.

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Giulio Prisco is a freelance writer specialized in science, technology, business and future studies.




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A World Divided: Trump and China Take Sides in Venezuela; Maduro Warns: ‘Blood’s on Your Hands’

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The U.S and China have lined themselves up along either side of the ever-widening Venezuelan faultline, as Donald Trump continues to stoke the fire which rages between Nicolas Maduro and the new self-declared president Juan Guaido.

On Monday Donald Trump and his cabinet cranked up trade sanctions against the troubled Venezuelan regime, while Maduro responded in a televised broadcast by addressing Trump in English, telling him ‘Hands off Venezuela!’, and that any blood spilled would be on Trump’s hands.

With China and the U.S positioned on opposing sides of the conflict, these developments add to an already complicated relationship between the two global powers. In addition to the recent arrest of Hauwei CFO Meng Wanzhou – the daughter of Hauwei’s founder – the Chinese tech manufacturer is also being charged on U.S soil for allegedly stealing patented technology from T-Mobile US Inc.

All of this comes right on the eve of U.S-Chinese trade talks in Beijing this week, where both nations will attempt to thrash out what one CEO at Davos suggested was a forming of a ‘New World Order’.

I Drink Your Milkshake!

The U.S added to the mounting pressure being applied to the Maduro regime on Monday by putting profits from the Venezuelan state-owned oil firm, PDVSA, on ice. According to reports by Reuters, the sanctions do not forbid U.S firms from buying oil from PDVSA, however, no profits from the sales will be allowed to leave American vaults, and instead will be stored in a ‘blocked account’.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in a White House briefing on Monday:

“If the people in Venezuela want to continue to sell us oil, as long as the money goes into blocked accounts we will continue to take it, otherwise will we not be buying it.”

As such, the expected counteraction from PDVSA will be to stop all shipments immediately, and already Nicolas Maduro has responded by telling the U.S to keep its hands off his country, and warned that the bodies from any resulting conflict in Venezuela would be laid firmly at Trump’s door. He said:

“Trump, you are responsible for any violence that may occur in Venezuela, it is your responsibility… The blood that can spill in Venezuela is on your hands, President Donald Trump.”

Pawns Still in Play

One major obstacle remains in play if Guaido and company wish to truly oust Maduro, and that’s the still-strong Venezuelan army. But as suggested recently by the BBC, it’s not necessarily loyalty that’s keeping Maduro’s soldiers on his side.

Senior analyst at the Brussels think-tank, International Crisis Group, told the BBC that the military’s role in affairs began to change when former president Hugo Chavez ascended to power:

“Previously the military had been more or less confined to barracks, but Chávez let them out and gave them access to cabinet posts, to control of banks and other financial services…”

This development resulted in the army gaining far more power and influence than it had had before, and, as it happens… more responsibility.

What we have now is a situation where senior officers are too scared to change sides because they know that if Maduro falls, they too will be held accountable for the human rights abuses which occurred throughout the communist dictatorship. Gunson continued:

“Parts of the military, particularly the senior officers, would like this to continue because they are making money out of it but also because they are so compromised. If your officer corps is corrupt and your intelligence people are keeping abreast of who is stealing what then you build up big files on each individual which makes it very difficult for them to change sides.”

‘Not Our Kind of Coup’

Prominent left-leaning outlet the Guardian offered an opposing view on the conflict, with University of London senior law lecturer, Oscar Guardiola-Rivera stating that the current movement by Juan Guaido amounted to little more than a coup.

This is the same publication which regularly celebrated the serial coup-artist Hugo Chavez, and is just one sign of the still-wide (and widening?) gap between the two ends of the political spectrum.

As represented in this graphic courtesy of News.com.au, this gap is making itself felt on the political stage as global powers take sides on the Guaido vs Maduro conflict. China, Russia, Iran, Mexico and Cuba have declared support for Maduro.

Most of the North American continent is joined by a majority of the South in support of Guaido, while most of the Eurozone awaits further developments before showing its hand.

What Does it Mean for Crypto?

At this early stage, not very much. One cryptocurrency is already on its way out thanks to the events in Venezuela (even though it appears someone is still collecting rewards on a Petro masternode), but the current tangled political mess could offer a grim glimpse of what awaits cryptocurrency in the future.

When the world’s economic leaders met at Davos last week to discuss, among other things, the role of Bitcoin and cryptocurrency in a future economy, most of the resultant headlines focused on controversial price predictions (which drew more, and more controversial predictions in response).

But what’s the real story at the heart of the sudden influx of mainstream attention which has befallen Bitcoin, blockchain, and everything in between of late? Is it simply an honest, benevolent curiosity which drives the world’s financial institutions’ interest in crypto? Or are we witnessing the first stage of a technological coup-d’etat which sees Bitcoin become another global asset class – the kind that triggers trade sanctions, coup-d’etats and military conflicts?

This is a long way off at the moment, and crypto could very well remain a small niche for the next fifteen to twenty years if the internet’s road to adoption is anything to go by. But the only thing standing between Bitcoin and its appropriation by the global elite is, funnily enough, its success.

Disclaimer: The author owns Bitcoin, Ethereum and other cryptocurrencies. He holds investment positions in the coins, but does not engage in short-term or day-trading.

Featured image courtesy of Shutterstock.

Important: Never invest (trade with) money you can't afford to comfortably lose. Always do your own research and due diligence before placing a trade. Read our Terms & Conditions here. Trade recommendations and analysis are written by our analysts which might have different opinions. Read my 6 Golden Steps to Financial Freedom here. Best regards, Jonas Borchgrevink.

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4.5 stars on average, based on 146 rated postsGreg Thomson is a full-time crypto writer and digital nomad. He eats ICOs for breakfast and bleeds altcoins. Wherever he lays his public key is his home.




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Davos: What’s Bitcoin’s Role in Trump and China’s ‘New World Order’?

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According to Investec CEO Hendrik du Toit, despite U.S, President Donald Trump and China’s President Xi Jinping not coming face to face at Davos this week, the event is still encapsulated by their simmering economic battle.

The chief of the global investment firm suggested that Davos represents a thrashing out of the coming ‘new world order’ – with the U.S. and China fighting for a seat at the head of the table.

Amid these talks some still found time to throw FUD on Bitcoin and cryptocurrency in general. But putting aside price predictions for the moment, just what is crypto’s role in this new world order? The answer probably has nothing to do with its role as a digital currency.

New World Order at Davos

Du Toit told was quoted as telling CNBC reporters on Thursday morning that:

“The big uncertainty is the U.S.-China trade negotiation which is not really about trade, it’s about a new world order.”

Henrik also made allusions to China’s recent slump in GDP growth, which just hit the thirty year low of 6.6%. As many former communist nations have discovered in the past thirty years, it’s easier to record growth when you don’t have much to begin with. Now China is up in the big leagues, and it’s not entirely clear how the country will adapt to its new surroundings. Du Toit continued:

“And if we get a dysfunctional world order having come from a space which was very, very good business over the last 20, 30 years since communism fell, then there may be some big hits along the way and there may be some big challenges.”

Keeping Score

China’s GDP growth rate is still almost three times that of the U.S, and the trade deficit between the two nations saw China record a $350 billion surplus at the end of the year in 2018. Exports to the U.S. rose 11.3% last year, compared to the measly 0.7% increase in U.S. goods shipped to China.

However, few statistics tell the whole story, and according to financial analyst Gary Shilling, the trade deficit is a clear sign of American dominance, as he recently posited:

“The thing is…we (the U.S) are the buyer, and they’re the seller – and when you’ve got plenty of goods and services, it’s the buyer who has the upper hand. And besides, where would China sell all this stuff if it wasn’t to American consumers?”

Shilling went so far as to say that Donald Trump currently has the upper hand in the trade war, and that U.S. economic dominance would continue to eclipse China – specifically due to Trump’s ‘America first’ policies.

“I think ultimately we’re going to see more imports of American goods into China; they are going to be less aggressive on exports; they’re going to steal less technology, they’re going to demand less technology for the cost of doing business in China. I think it’s going to shift in America’s favour, but the transition is rough.”

Weaponizing Bitcoin

Shilling’s take encapsulates a best-case scenario – one where the growing number of Chinese troops terraforming the South China sea, and the constant theft of U.S-patented technologies don’t cause global tensions to boil over.

But if they did boil over there’s every reason to assume that cryptocurrency, and Bitcoin in particular, would have a major role to play. However, that role may be its last on the world stage.

Estimates towards the end of 2018 placed over 80% of Bitcoin’s mining power in China. Given the Chinese government’s tendency to simply take things they like, any conflict between them and the U.S. would likely see Bitcoin weaponized, and its ‘distributed’ ledger commandeered.

A recent Forbes article suggested as much, and claimed that China’s Bitcoin’s dominance posed a real threat to American tech, finance and economy. Furthermore, many nations have already taken steps to curb that dominance:

“While U.S. regulators are wrapped up in their own turf wars, other nations are moving fast to create a welcoming regulatory environment for cryptocurrency.”

That includes the U.K and the European Union, both of which have taken steps to increase the popularity of cryptocurrency and blockchain within their respective regions. It might terrify the banksters to see blockchain spread around the Western world, however, the shadowy figures at the levers of governmental control are already attempting to leverage blockchain technology in their favour.

Hash Wars

How much would it be worth to China and the U.S. to gain control over Bitcoin’s ledger? In the previous century we saw the world’s nations sacrifice not only money and resources, but also a majority of their male adult populations for a slice of whichever pie was being baked at the time.

While many major cryptocurrencies can be commandeered for just a few thousand dollars per hour, Bitcoin would cost $261,379 per hour to control according to independent data. The Ethereum Classic blockchain can currently be bought for $4,275 per hour via cloud-mining marketplaces like Nicehash, but control of BTC wouldn’t be sought in that way.

More likely both nations would get to work on building the largest mining farms they could, made up of as yet unseen super-computers from various R&D labs hidden around the country. A digital battle for control of Bitcoin would ultimately be decided by which nation could develop their computational tech the quickest.

America needs YOUR Bitcoin!

Such a scenario would see the sharpest minds in silicon valley employed as government agents in much the same scenario as mathematicians and codebreakers during the second world war. By the end, the Bitcoin blockchain would be illegitimate and abandoned; and the lasting legacy of BTC would be as a bit-part player in the much larger engagement that was World War 3.

Looking Ahead

Not all the noises coming out of Davos this week were so ominous. The CEO of Nasdaq, Adena Friedman, recently offered the possibility that cryptocurrency could still be the global currency of the future.

Meanwhile, Circle CEO, Jeremy Allaire, suggested that if humanity is to survive the digital age, it will require the resilient and decentralized tools which crypto and blockchain provide.

Disclaimer: The author owns bitcoin, Ethereum and other cryptocurrencies. He holds investment positions in the coins, but does not engage in short-term or day-trading.

Featured image courtesy of Shutterstock.

Important: Never invest (trade with) money you can't afford to comfortably lose. Always do your own research and due diligence before placing a trade. Read our Terms & Conditions here. Trade recommendations and analysis are written by our analysts which might have different opinions. Read my 6 Golden Steps to Financial Freedom here. Best regards, Jonas Borchgrevink.

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4.5 stars on average, based on 146 rated postsGreg Thomson is a full-time crypto writer and digital nomad. He eats ICOs for breakfast and bleeds altcoins. Wherever he lays his public key is his home.




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GBP Price Prediction: British Pound Jumps on Growing Backing for PM May’s Brexit Deal Ahead of Vote

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  • GBP catches a bid across the board as Prime Minister Theresa May gains ERG support.
  • Despite session gains, GBP/USD technically has vulnerabilities to downside risks, given rising channel formation.

GBP Bulls Awaken

The British pound (GBP) saw a decent jump to the upside on Monday, after an initially very choppy directionless start to the session. The buying swooping into GBP/USD came on the back of a growing number of ministers set to back Prime Minister Theresa May. Specifically, attention was grabbed after closely followed political watcher Robert Peston tweeted that “influential Tory Brexiter MP tells me he and his ERG Brexiter colleagues will be voting with Theresa May and the government all day tomorrow”. This is significant as the ERG is a very influential Brexit research group, which was previously plotting ways to oust PM May.

GBP/USD jumped to its highest level seen since 22nd November. The pair had seen an initial spike of 85 pips to the upside. Gains were capped however by a known strong area of supply; this can be seen tracking from 1.2870 up to 1.2930. The price has not been above here since 15th November 2018, and the bulls having faltered here on several occasions attempting to move above. Should GBP/USD manage to move above this zone, it would be a very strong signal that it is out of the bear market. Technically, this would be largely attractive for inviting further buyers to come in.

A detailed analysis of the upcoming Brexit vote can be viewed here: This Tuesday Will Be Zero Hour For the British Pound

Price Remains Confined Within Channel

GBP/USD daily chart. Price action remains within the confinements of a rising channel.

Another key technical observation is an ascending channel formation, which can be viewed via the daily chart. The GBP/USD pair has been moving within this since 12th December 2018, having gained over 400 pips since it took shape. The daily candle today briefly spiked above the upper tracking trend line of the pattern. However, the price was squeezed back within the confinements of this. Touted profit-taking kicked in towards the close of the European markets. This is not too surprising, as participants maintain an element of caution heading into the high-profile vote.

Given the nature of the above-described formation, should it play out to the textbook, vulnerabilities still point to a breakout south. This move would be heavily assisted should the British Prime Minister lose the meaningful vote on Tuesday. In terms of key levels to note, to the upside, a break above the 1.2930 supply zone will invite large buying pressure. To the downside, a breach of 1.2650, the lower support of the channel, will open flood gates to selling.

Featured image courtesy of Shutterstock.

Important: Never invest (trade with) money you can't afford to comfortably lose. Always do your own research and due diligence before placing a trade. Read our Terms & Conditions here. Trade recommendations and analysis are written by our analysts which might have different opinions. Read my 6 Golden Steps to Financial Freedom here. Best regards, Jonas Borchgrevink.

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4.6 stars on average, based on 124 rated postsKen has over 8 years exposure to the financial markets. During a large part of his career, he worked as an analyst, covering a variety of asset classes; forex, fixed income, commodities, equities and cryptocurrencies. Ken has gone on to become a regular contributor across several large news and analysis outlets.




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