Predictions Scorecard

no gradient makes falsifiable predictions because it forces this publication to take a stand rather than hide behind vagueness or platitudes. Not only do predictions make it easy to track how accurate a worldview is over time. It also gives an extremely potent dose of what the worldview actually is. It is the belief of this publication that public discourse would be far better served if more publications and public figures made falsifiable predictions.

Accuracy (no. true ÷ no. resolved)30%
Total Predictions (All predictions made) 82
Unresolved (Predictions awaiting true, false, or invalid determination)59
Resolved (Predictions determined to be true, false, or invalid.)23
False (Predictions proven incorrect.)14
True (Predictions proven correct.)7
Invalid (Predictions proven unverifiable or already verifiable when made.)2

To hold this publication accountable all predictions are tweeted to allow easy verification they were made at a certain time and have not been edited. Further verification can be made by viewing a history of the no gradient website on the Wayback Machine. Still more each prediction is sent to all no gradient email subscribers at the time they are made.

True

  1. Google will release a Pixel device with Google designed silicon in 2019.
  2. By 2025 a top three robo-advisor will offer a checking account.
  3. By 2022, Google will release a router with voice activated Google Assistant built in.
  4. Before February 1, 2019, Bitcoin will at one point trade below $3632, a 10% drop in value. BTC is currently trading at $4,031.13. This price drop will be caused by the fall out from the Ethereum Classic attack as more question the security of other blockchains. E.g. A large portion of Bitcoin is controlled by a small group of mining pools.
  5. By 2025 Coinbase will release public APIs for businesses to accept cryptocurrencies as payment online.
  6. In Android P, the UI to indicate battery saver mode will be replaced with something less garish.
  7. Google will release a Pixel device with Google designed silicon in 2019.

False

  1. In 2019 Google built Android devices will be the most prevalent in developed nations.
  2. The one year adoption rate for Android P will be 15% (+/- 2.5%).
  3. Google will release a Pixel device with a Google designed SoC in 2019.
  4. A 51% attack is currently being carried out against Ethereum Classic. ETC is currently trading at $5.05. Before February 1, 2019, ETC will at one point have a market price below $2.50. The goal of a blockchain is to maintain consensus. Once that’s gone, the value is gone.
  5. By 2019 the Facebook Messenger platform will be huge, absorbing what would normally be stand alone apps.
  6. In 2019 Google built Android devices will be the most prevalent in developed nations.
  7. In the Pixel 3 phone, Google will release a Face ID equivalent that utilizes less specialized hardware than the iPhone X, but makes up for it in software. Similar to Portrait mode now.
  8. Google will release the Pixel phone through all major US carriers in 2018.
  9. Google will release an Android Wear watch in 2018.
  10. The one year adoption rate for Android Oreo will be 9% (+/- 2.5%).
  11. By 2030 there will be a financial services company offering a fully managed investment solution (e.g. saving for retirement, portfolio diversification) that charges no fees.
  12. Google will release the first Pixel phone in 2017.
  13. The Nexus program will end in 2018.
  14. Periscope is going to be huge. Streaming of protests, sports events, disasters etc. Making tv networks even more redundant.

Invalid

  1. Google will leave the low end Android device market to other manufacturers.
  2. By 2030 there will be a financial services company offering a fully managed investment solution (e.g. saving for retirement, portfolio diversification) that charges no fees.

no gradient prediction rules

• This publication errs on the side of categorizing a prediction as false or invalid. That is, a prediction is only considered true if it can be considered so beyond a shadow of a doubt. Meaning the prediction is a matter of objectivity and the sources used to verify correctness are without controversy.
• Once a prediction is published this publication vows to track it to its conclusion. Retraction of predictions diminishes the sanctity of this scorecard and will under no circumstances be done.
• No prediction will be published which directly opposes a previously published prediction. For example, the prediction Donald Trump will be reelected means no other prediction can be made regarding who will win the 59th U.S. presidential election. This, again, is to protect the sanctity of the scorecard and prohibits this publication from taking a scattershot approach to prediction.
• Where appropriate, a reasonable time horizon befitting the prediction must be given. This is in the form of, for example, “Before 2030…” This not only gives readers a rough estimate as to the time range a possible prediction may come true, but also to hold this publication accountable by resolving the prediction so it can be added to this scorecard to track the accuracy of this publication’s world view. Predicted events that occur after a given time horizon will still be considered false.
• Justification of a prediction will not be considered when a prediction is resolved. For example, the prediction Donald Trump will be reelected includes reasons why this may happen. The validity of these reasons will not be considered when determining whether the prediction is true. Supporting points for a prediction are firmly in the field of subjectivity and this publication intends to keep assessment of predictions to strictly whether something happened or not.
• Predictions published on no gradient but not made on behalf of the publication are not tracked on the scorecard e.g. the non no gradient predictions about Tesla.

Motorboating the Pacific Crest Trail

Pacific Crest Trail class of 2019 legends Monk, Ranger, Bumble Bee, and Half Facts riff no holds barred on the 2,650 mile trail from Mexico to Canada.

Watch on YouTube, subscribe on Apple PodcastsSpotify, or wherever podcasts are available. Support the show on Patreon. Follow on Instagram and Twitter for pictures of the guests and show updates.

Executive produced by Charlie “Finch” Finley, co-produced by Chris Derr and James Newhouse, music by Chris Hoogewerff.

What Dick’s Missed Since He Left

As no gradient interim editors, we would like to apologize for letting down the no gradient community, as well as Dick Lucas himself (aka Richard, aka Lakkis, aka Buzzy), who left us in charge of his legacy while he was away. It’s inexcusable, and we vow to make Dick proud over the next week before he returns to civilization. 

A lot has happened in the last four months, from the carousel of Brexit to the resurgence of Bitcoin. Since we failed to cover any of those events as they happened, here are a few of the things Dick would have written about, or at least retweeted if he weren’t orienteering his way up the west coast. (More to come on his exact whereabouts for the last four months when he returns.)

Crypto

Bitcoin was just beginning its resurgence when Dick left. On May 20, one bitcoin traded for just under $8,000 and rose as high as $11,800 before dropping back to $10,300 at the time of this writing. While cryptocurrencies remain extremely volatile, these price swings alone don’t tell the whole story. Demand for the Ethereum network continues to climb as demonstrated by Ethereum “gas” usage reaching all time highs. Gas is the fee charged to execute a smart contract on the Ethereum platform and is usually represented in Ether (ETH), so the increase in gas usage is directly correlated to transaction volume. The fact that gas usage continues to climb is a more positive sign for the long term staying power of cryptocurrencies and blockchain-based applications in general than the speculation that drove crypto prices to record levels in 2018. 

Brexit

A LOT has changed with the Brexit situation over the last few months; On May 20, Theresa May was still Britain’s Prime Minister and would remain so until her resignation took effect on June 7th. Her replacement, Boris Johnson, has done little to improve Brexit’s outlook. After promising that the UK would leave the European Union by October 31, with or without a deal, despite Parliament already voting against a no-deal Brexit. In an effort to prevent British Members of Parliament from blocking a no-deal Brexit, Johnson moved to suspend Parliament until October 14. On September 11, Scottish courts ruled that the move was unlawful, setting up an appeal in the UK Supreme Court. As of now, it would be almost impossible to speculate on how all of this turns out. Johnson is accused of deliberately misleading the Queen regarding his reasons for suspending Parliament and even compared himself to the Hulk when saying that he would defy Parliament if they tried to block a no-deal Brexit. Meanwhile, the Brexit deadline looms only a month and a half away…

Hong Kong

In June, citizens of Hong Kong began protesting a proposed extradition bill that would allow any country’s government (including mainland China), to request the extradition of wanted criminals regardless of whether or not an extradition treaty is in place. If the bill passed, Hong Kong’s Chief Executive, Carrie Lam, would evaluate each on a case-by-case basis. While the Hong Kong government stated that the bill would prevent wanted criminals from seeking refuge in the city-state, citizens saw it as an erosion of their independence from Beijing, as it would allow the Chinese government to request extradition of political dissidents and critics of the Communist Party. After several months of demonstrations, during which Hong Kong police brutally attacked protesters, the Hong Kong government withdrew the bill on September 4th in an effort to put an end to the violence. However, violence erupted on both sides after Hong Kong police tried to ban public demonstrations, with police firing water cannons and tear gas as protesters hurled Molotov cocktails. In addition to the withdrawal of the extradition bill, protestors are calling for Lam’s resignation, an inquiry into police brutality and the right to democratic elections. 

Yang 2020

Andrew Yang is running for President on a platform that would provide a stipend of $1,000 per month to every American citizen over the age of 18 that is not incarcerated. The stipend is intended to fight the impacts of automation and artificial intelligence, which Yang claims are destroying millions of jobs. While he is a long-shot to win the Democratic nomination, he has gained a cult following and polled well enough to participate in the Democratic debates. Before his rise to national prominence, Yang’s campaign tried to raise funding via cryptocurrency donations, a process which Dick previously documented as wholly insecure.

Conclusion

With Dick coming back in a week, no gradient patrons can expect a return to the regular cadence of tweets, posts, podcasts and predictions that they’ve become accustomed to. Given the performance of the interim editors during his absence, we honestly aren’t sure whether Dick will continue to retain our services or release us for gross negligence and conduct detrimental to the site. Whatever happens, it has been an honor to serve you all.

-no gradient staff

Sawyer and Pat have arrived, Dick shall return

For Immediate Release: Los Angeles, California — no gradient today announced that Sawyer Billings will be joining as Managing Editor and Pat Daly as Assistant to the Managing Editor. A fortunate addition given founder Dick Lucas will be on leave until 2020.

My plan for no gradient is simple: keep it tight and entirely in sight. Pat and I will work to maintain the integrity, straightforwardness and character of this impressive publication. If you are interested in writing for no gradient please contact us here.

Sawyer Billings, Managing Editor

As Assistant Managing Editor, I will ensure that the content published on no gradient provides a balanced view on all issues and stays true to the mission of giving it to the audience straight. Sawyer and I look forward to providing readers with the same objective and insightful content they have become used to from Dick.

Pat Daly, Assistant to the Managing Editor

Apple will be Called to Account

Before 2030 Apple will be called to account by the United States government for their willingness to cooperate with the Chinese government.Twitter

Readers of no gradient will know that I’ve discussed this in my In 2018 and Facebook’s Feasible Future is Apple’s Fictitious Present posts. I have also tweeted about it several times (copied below).

For this prediction to be deemed correct, Apple must be called to account in some official capacity. That may be, but is not limited to, Apple having to testify before congress or being investigated at the federal or state level. A congress member or president merely making a statement about them is not enough.

Coinbase and the Future

Editor’s note: A business plan I wrote for Coinbase in late 2018. Publishing here for posterity.

Today
Coinbase has positioned itself as the most trusted cryptocurrency exchange with its perfect track record of security and its constant rollout of new products and features. More importantly though, it has established itself as the leader in pushing the industry and the technology forward with its educational tools, engagement in the community, and Coinbase Ventures.

Tomorrow
Coinbase will succeed if blockchain technology succeeds. Blockchain will succeed through increased adoption and innovative apps. In my opinion, the stated goal of Coinbase to “create an open financial system for the world” is not big enough. Blockchain is more than just finance, and that means Coinbase is too. I see enormous potential in focusing on education, diminishing reliance on fees, and Coinbase Ventures. This will create a flywheel effect that will make blockchain, with Coinbase as a global leader, even more successful.

  • Educate to encourage adoption and empower developers to build the future of blockchain.
    • The blog and Coinbase Learn are amazing resources. But there’s so much more untapped potential. Coinbase has an amazing network, utilize it. For example, create a podcast interviewing members of the internal team and also leaders in the space. With my podcasting experience and passion for the medium, I would love to be the driving force and host behind such a project.
    • Create a mining pool among exchanges that will agree to protect each other against double spend 51% attacks by having hash power at the ready should a chain come under attack.
    • It is still too hard to get up to speed on building blockchain apps, especially with how bad testnets can be. Coinbase should provide open source example dapps and create testnets for various blockchains to give developers an easy way to sandbox and test their ideas.
    • Create dashboards like Ethernodes and Ethstates to show the current state of various blockchains.
    • Expand the Coinbase API to allow extracting info and exploring various blockchains.
    • Create Ethereum Oracles with stock pricing data, weather data, etc.
  • Diminish reliance on fees.
    • Given consumers are more price sensitive, Coinbase must be prepared to lower fees on Coinbase.com as competition increases. Lowering fees to keep users on Coinbase will allow Coinbase to more easily direct them to products built internally and through Coinbase Ventures.
    • The trust that Coinbase has developed with regulators and institutions will allow it to keep institutional fees higher for longer, but cannot be relied on in the future. Financial institutions everywhere are lowering fees, investors are becoming accustomed to it, so they will expect that of crypto financial institutions as well.
    • Coinbase will not be able to sustain itself long term if the main revenue driver is collecting rent on the exchange of fiat to cryptocurrency. Not only because this can be replicated, but mainly because this is not where the true value is.
    • The fees are a stop gap to help grow the business, but it’s not going to be the moat.
  • Coinbase Ventures to build and profit from innovative blockchains, tokens, and apps.
    • Use the network, resources, and domain expertise at Coinbase to create and identify startups, invest in them, and help them succeed.
    • Internet protocols through tokens now have a means for their creators to be compensated for the value they create. Being at the center of valuable protocol creation will allow Coinbase to thrive.
    • This is where the profit should come from because this is where the value for humanity is created. This is the unfair advantage of Coinbase and how it establishes itself as the leader over the next several decades.

Facebook’s Feasible Future is Apple’s Fictitious Present

The things we think and do not say.

CEO of Facebook Mark Zuckerberg just had his Jerry Maguire moment. In his mid 30s and at the height of his career Zuckerberg has released an about face mission statement for the future of his company. That’s where the metaphor ends though. Unlike Tom Cruise’s character Zuckerberg won’t be getting fired given his 53.3% of voting rights in the company. And I don’t think he should. As I read his mission statement, I’m reminded of what a survivor Zuckerberg is and what a hypocrite Apple has become.

Between Zuckerberg’s decisions to acquire Instagram, WhatsApp, and downright stealing the features of Snapchat he has proved ruthless in ensuring the future of his company. His next bet is that the “the future of communication will increasingly shift to private, encrypted services where people can be confident what they say to each other stays secure and their messages and content won’t stick around forever.” The focus is shifting from “a digital equivalent of a town square…[to] the digital equivalent of the living room.” No longer will the focus be on sharing with all your “friends” but only certain things with certain groups. Ironically, this was the exact stated goal of “Circles” in the now defunct Google Plus when it launched in 2011:

Not all relationships are created equal. So in life we share one thing with college buddies, another with parents, and almost nothing with our boss. The problem is that today’s online services turn friendship into fast food—wrapping everyone in “friend” paper—and sharing really suffers.

Google Plus Announcement, 2011

I think Zuckerberg is dead on with this shift in focus. As I look at my own social networking and those around me, it includes private email threads and more extensively group chats. It’s the latter that Facebook is now setting their sights on. As a society we tried the share everything with everyone thing and it was all new, fresh, fun, and internety. But all of a sudden everything got so real. People realized that as “we build up large collections of messages and photos over time, they can become a liability.” So now, now we go underground.

A privacy first mission is only possible with end to end encryption coupled with the keys never leaving your device. A point Zuckerberg made clear is going to be the modus operandi for their services going forward. Along with the plan they “won’t store sensitive data in countries with weak records on human rights” which “may mean that [their] services will get blocked in some countries…a tradeoff [they’re] willing to make.” This shines a bright light on the hypocrisy of Apple which “if you have iCloud Backup turned on, your backup includes a copy of the key protecting your Messages” and more egregiously “iCloud services in the mainland of China are now operated by Chinese internet services company Guizhou…this allows us to…comply with Chinese regulations.” Which means the human rights abusing dictatorship that is the government of China has full access to the data of their citizens.

Google received serious flack for the rumored Project Dragonfly which sought to create a censored version of Google Search that complied with Chinese regulations. Facebook receives little credit for bringing secure end to end encrypted messaging to more users than any company in history with WhatsApp. Meanwhile Apple is working directly with the Chinese government and still gets credit for caring more about its users’ privacy much more than any other tech company.

Apple still deserves credit for their device encryption made famous in the San Bernadino case, their hard stance against the FBI to not build a backdoor in iPhone, the security around Apple Pay and most recently the new Apple Card credit card. And Facebook is certainly not without sin with its history of privacy abuses. It remains to be seen whether Facebook will even cary out the plan outlined by Zuckerberg. But the focus of this publication is to shine a light on the issues where there is the biggest disconnect between public perception and reality. This includes covering what the world’s most profitable companies actually do versus what the public gives them credit for.