Decision Making
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Episode 48
Featuring Annie Duke
How can we tell if we’re making a good decision? Is there a sure bet way of overcoming uncertainty and fear? Here, poker champion Annie Duke outlines why success depends on our ability to shift our thinking from a need for certainty to the goal of accurately assessing what we know. In other words, why we need to think in bets.

We make millions of decisions over the course of our lives. Most of these seem to be small and of little consequence, and so we make our choices and act with little care or thought. Other decisions require more care and consideration, as their significance will, for better or worse, have a lasting impact on our life: What job offer to accept, what life partner to choose, how to invest in retirement.

 

When faced with these truly important decisions, many people become crippled by their fear and doubt. What if it’s a bad prediction? What if I am missing information, and so my choice is wrong? Often, such fears have a cascade effect, they trickle down and impact our ability to make even the smallest judgement, leaving us paralyzed.

 

However, there is a way to increase the likelihood that we’re making a sure bet.

 

According to Annie Duke, a World Series of Poker champion and the author of Thinking in Bets: Making Smarter Decisions When You Don't Have All the Facts, regardless of whether the choice is small or large, the key to solid decision-making rests in our ability to shift our thinking from a need for absolute certainty to “a goal of accurately assessing what you know and what you don't.” In other words, people need to look at every decision as though it were a bet.

 

Ultimately, Duke argues that by adopting this way of thinking — by assessing how sure we are of something, tracing the possible outcomes, and analyzing the odds of failure — we can ensure long-term success for ourselves, our loved ones, and our business partners.

 

Calling on her degrees in behavioral and cognitive psychology, and her years of experience in professional poker, throughout the episode, Duke speaks with host Demetri Kofinas about how we can  eliminate fear and unproductive emotions from our decision-making processes, embrace uncertainty, and make better decisions.

 

Producer & Host: Demetri Kofinas

Editor & Engineer: Stylianos Nicolaou

Join the conversation on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter at @hiddenforcespod

Annie Duke is an experienced corporate speaker and consultant on the behavior of decision making.

 

On February 6, 2018, Annie’s first book for general audiences, “Thinking in Bets: Making Smarter Decisions When You Don’t Have All the Facts” was released by Portfolio, an imprint of Penguin Random House.

 

As a former professional poker player, she won more than $4 million in tournament poker. She has won a World Series of Poker bracelet, the World Series of Poker Tournament of Champions, and the NBC National Poker Heads-Up Championship.

 

She has written five books, raised four children and raised more than $18 million for charities. Annie is a cofounder of HowIDecide.org, a member of the National Board of After-School All-Stars and a member of the NationSwell Council.

 

In 2016 she joined the board of directors of the Franklin Institute, one of America's oldest and greatest museums. She has also won a televised championship in rock-paper-scissors.

 

Connect with Annie on FacebookTwitterYouTube or LinkedIn. Her website is: www.AnnieDuke.com where you can also sign up for her newsletter or read her blog with her periodic analysis of all things data, pop culture, politics and more.

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Technology
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Episode 47
Featuring Jimmy Soni
The digitization of information transformed the foundation of our society, thrusting us into an era, and economy, dominated by information technology. This information age was created by one man: Claude Shannon. Here, we dive into Shannon’s work, the most important thesis of the 20th century, a mathematical theory of communication.

The 20th century is known as the information age, and for a good reason. It is a period that is dominated by knowledge and data. It’s an era in which the economy is no longer driven by traditional industries — such as construction, manufacturing, or agriculture — but by advanced information technologies that store, retrieve, transmit, and manipulate data.

 

This revolution finds its roots in Information Theory. And remarkably, it is a theory that was developed by one man: Claude Shannon.
 

Before Shannon, society had a rather immature understanding of what information was. Information was understood as something immaterial and intangible. It was not seen as something that could be touched or manipulated. It was assumed that the only way to send information (intelligence, as it was then refered to) across a greater distance was to “boost” the signal by using more power. This was a notoriously imperfect system, as it increased the amount of “noise” that was received and made the message more difficult to discern.
 

In his foundational work, A Mathematical Theory of Communication, Shannon solved this issue and presented a completely new way of understanding information. He showed that information isn’t insubstantial, but something that we can measure and manipulate — something that has physical characteristics and can be quantified. Shannon also created a diagram which showed that all information has certain, set components — such as a source, a transmitter, a recipient, and so on. As such, not only did he show that information is something that can be made material, through his work, Shannon proved that all information (be it a radio signal, a photo, or a song) can be governed through a set of common laws.

 

In short, he turned information into something that can be computed and reliably transmitted, laying the foundation for the digital revolution.

 

In this episode, Jimmy Soni, author of A Mind at Play: How Claude Shannon Invented the Information Age, joins Demetri Kofinas to discuss how Shannon was able to develop a new way of automating thought, one that would prove to be far more powerful than the analog machine.

 

Producer & Host: Demetri Kofinas

Editor & Engineer: Stylianos Nicolaou

Join the conversation on FacebookInstagram, and Twitter at @hiddenforcespod

Jimmy is a New York based author, editor, and speechwriter. He's the co-author of Rome's Last Citizen, a biography of the ancient Roman Senator Cato, and A Mind at Play, a biography of the late mathematician Claude Shannon. The latter book won the Neumann Prize for the top book in the history of mathematics for 2017 and was named

one of the best books of the year by Nature and Bloomberg. Jimmy has also served as an editor at the Huffington Post, the New York Observer, and the Washington Examiner. He's also the absurdly proud father of a nearly three-year-old daughter.

 

@jimmyasoni

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Cosmology
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Episode 46
Featuring Brian Keating
Cosmologists stare into the abyss of space in an attempt to uncover the origins of the cosmos and the beginnings of time itself. However, they're often waylaid on their quest. Here, Brian Keating discusses the most remarkable discoveries in physics and the biases and incentives that are shredding the fabric of modern science.

When we think about competition, we don’t typically think about scientists. Instead of seeing these individuals as adversaries competing for fickle prizes or glory, we see them as impartial explorers of the cosmos. We see them as the selfless gatekeepers of knowledge. This view, as we are coming to learn, is more than a little askew.


The darker sides of science — the prejudices and egos and dubious incentives — are realities that we are forced to face almost as soon as we start investigating what it is that drives scientists in their pursuits.


And they are realities that Brian Keating knows all too well.


Keating is an astrophysicist at UC San Diego's Center for Astrophysics and Space Sciences. He is also the author of Losing the Nobel Prize: A Story of Cosmology, Ambition, and the Perils of Science's Highest Honor and is credited as being the driving force behind BICEP2, the most powerful cosmology telescope ever made. BICEP2 was tasked with answering some of the biggest questions in physics, such as how our cosmos came to be and what the universe was like at the beginning of time. Specifically, the telescope was created to detect the unique B-mode polarization signature of the cosmic microwave background (CMB), a byproduct of the cosmos’ first moments of expansion.


For a time, Keating and his team believed they had detected this signature. The work almost won Keating the Nobel Prize in Physics. Almost.


In this episode, Keating joins host Demetri Kofinas to walk us through the history of experimental cosmology and trace its course to modern science. He starts with an examination of the early geocentric models of the universe and shows how the scientific revolution, and the introduction of empiricism, altered the course of history and set us on the path to modern physics. The episode culminates with a discussion of what it is that drives scientists in their pursuits. From wealth to fame, from a genuine desire to understand the origins of the cosmos to an egotistical desire to wage war on religion, Keating outlines some of the most remarkable discoveries in physics and how biases and incentives are slowing innovation and shredding the fabric of modern science.

 

Producer & Host: Demetri Kofinas

Editor & Engineer: Stylianos Nicolaou

Join the conversation on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter at @hiddenforcespod

 

Brian Keating is an astrophysicist with UC San Diego’s Department of Physics. He and his team develop instrumentation to study the early universe at radio, microwave and infrared wavelengths. He is the author of over 100 scientific publications and holds two U.S.Patents. He received an NSF CAREER award in 2006 and a 2007 Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers at the White House from President Bush for a telescope he invented and deployed at the U.S. South Pole Research Station called “BICEP".

 

Professor Keating became a Fellow of the American Physical Society in 2016. He co-leads the Simons Observatory Cosmic Microwave Background experiments in the Atacama Desert of Chile, and is the author of Losing the Nobel Prize: A Story of Cosmology, Ambition, and the Perils of Science's Highest Honor, selected as one of Amazon.com’s Ten Best Nonfiction Books of the Month and one of Nature Magazine’s Six Best Books of the Season.

 

@DrBrianKeating

BrianKeating.com

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Social Science
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Episode 45
Featuring Daniel H. Pink
Life is a never-ending series of "when" decisions. When to schedule a class? When to do something creative? Yet, we make our choices based on whims and impulses, not the biological reality of our daily rhythms. Daniel Pink explains how chronobiology allows us to hack our lives using our biological clock and the science of perfect timing.

Timing is everything, so it’s kind of surprising that most of us don’t give it any serious consideration. We think about what things we want to do. We think about who we want to do these things with. When we want to do something is generally our final consideration — if we consider it at all.

 

Take college students, for example. They must take classes in art, math, history, science, and a host of other fields. Each year, just before the semester begins, students flock to their computers and plot out the class schedules that will govern their lives for the next five months. Their top considerations are when their friends are taking classes, how they can avoid getting up early, and how they can ensure their classes are all on the same day so that they get a few extra days off.

 

This is a bit of a problem.

 

As Daniel Pink notes in his latest book When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing, there is a biological reality to our daily rhythms. This means that, at certain times, we are better at problem solving. At others, we perform better when it comes to creative endeavors. It may seem counterintuitive, but we each have a biological clock that has a material impact on our lives. Put simply, the time that we choose to do something alters our performance, influences our wellbeing, and shapes our overall experience. So if we are making decisions about when to do things on an impulse or according to whatever happens to be convenient, in many ways, we are setting ourselves up for failure.

 

However, there is a solution to this problem. It’s known as “chronobiology,” and it allows us to make fact-based decisions about when we should do things. By using chronobiology — by following the natural patterns found in our biology — we can help ensure that we are at our peak performance when we attempt any given task.

 

But how can we tell what our natural cycle is? How do we know if we are making good when-based decisions? In this episode, Demetri Kofinas speaks with Pink about the science of perfect timing and why when we do something is just as important as what we doand how well we do it.

 

Producer & Host: Demetri Kofinas

Editor & Engineer: Stylianos Nicolaou

Join the conversation on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter at @hiddenforcespod

Daniel H. Pink is the author of six provocative books — including his newest, When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing, which has spent three months on the New York Times bestseller list. His other books include the long-running New York Times bestseller A Whole New Mind and the #1 New York Times bestsellers Drive and To Sell is Human. His books have won multiple awards and have been translated into 37 languages. He lives in Washington, DC, with his wife and their three children.

 

Pink was host and co-executive producer of “Crowd Control,” a television series about human behavior on the National Geographic Channel. He also appears frequently on NPR’s Hidden Brain, the PBS NewsHour, and other TV and radio networks in the US and abroad.

 

He has been a contributing editor at Fast Company and Wired as well as a business columnist for The Sunday Telegraph. His articles and essays have also appeared in The New York Times, Harvard Business Review, The New Republic, Slate, and other publications. In 2007, he was a Japan Society Media fellow in Tokyo, where he studied the country’s massive comic industry.

 

For the last six years, London-based Thinkers 50 named him, alongside Michael Porter and Clayton Christensen, as one of the top 15 business thinkers in the world.

 

Pink’s TED Talk on the science of motivation is one of the 10 most-watched TED Talks of all time, with more than 19 million views. His RSA Animate video about the ideas in his book, Drive, has collected more than 14 million views.

 

He currently serves on the advisory boards of RiseSmart, Betterment Institutional, Heleo, and Hubspot.

Before venturing out on his own 20 years ago, Dan worked in several positions in politics and government, including serving from 1995 to 1997 as chief speechwriter to Vice President Al Gore.

 

He received a BA from Northwestern University, where he was a Truman Scholar and was elected to Phi Beta Kappa, and a JD from Yale Law School. He has also received honorary doctorates from Georgetown University, the Pratt Institute, the Ringling College of Art and Design, and Westfield State University.

Pink and his wife live in Washington, DC. They have three children — a college junior, a college freshman, and a high school freshman.

 

@DanielPink

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Sed egestas, ante et vulputate volutpat, eros pede semper est, vitae luctus metus libero eu augue. Morbi purus libero, faucibus adipiscing, commodo quis, gravida id, est. Sed lectus. Praesent elementum hendrerit tortor. Sed semper lorem at felis. Vestibulum volutpat, lacus a ultrices sagittis, mi neque euismod dui, eu pulvinar nunc sapien ornare nisl. Phasellus pede arcu, dapibus eu, fermentum et, dapibus sed, urna.

Morbi interdum mollis sapien. Sed ac risus. Phasellus lacinia, magna a ullamcorper laoreet, lectus arcu pulvinar risus, vitae facilisis libero dolor a purus. Sed vel lacus. Mauris nibh felis, adipiscing varius, adipiscing in, lacinia vel, tellus. Suspendisse ac urna. Etiam pellentesque mauris ut lectus. Nunc tellus ante, mattis eget, gravida vitae, ultricies ac, leo. Integer leo pede, ornare a, lacinia eu, vulputate vel, nisl.

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Sports
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Episode 44
Featuring Sam Walker
Demetri Kofinas speaks with Sam Walker of the Wall Street Journal about his new book, The Captain Class. Humans gravitate naturally towards sports, but our love affair with athletic performance is about more than rivalry alone. Sports give us a front row seat to the unfolding drama of evolutionary forces that have shaped human selection.

In this week’s episode of Hidden Forces, Demetri Kofinas speaks with Sam Walker, the Wall Street Journal’s deputy editor for enterprise. In his capacity at the Journal, Sam directs the paper’s in-depth, page-one features and investigative reporting projects. A former reporter, sports columnist, and sports editor, Walker founded the WSJ's prizewinning daily sports coverage in 2009. Sam is also the author of The Captain Class: The Hidden Force That Creates the World's Greatest Teams. In addition to The Captain Class, he is the author of Fantasyland, a bestselling account of his attempt to win America’s top fantasy baseball expert competition (of which he is a two-time champion).

 

Human beings gravitate naturally towards sports. We love competition, but our love affair with athletic performance is not just about rivalry. It’s about so much more. As our lives becomes increasingly intermediated by computer interfaces, spectator sports provide one of the few remaining ways to experience the elegance and power of the human body. In a world that is constantly changing, sports are a window into the old. They offer us a rare glimpse at millions of years of evolution – the impulses, characteristics, and behavioral urges of our ancestors. Team sports, in particular, give us a front row seat to the unfolding drama of evolutionary forces that have shaped human selection. Demetri's conversation with Sam Walker is, in some sense, a search for the DNA of greatness.

 

Producer & Host: Demetri Kofinas
Editor & Engineer: Stylianos Nicolaou
Join the conversation on FacebookInstagram, and Twitter at @hiddenforcespod

Sam Walker is The Wall Street Journal’s leadership columnist, a keynote speaker and team-building consultant. In his two decades at the Journal, he has served as sports columnist, deputy page-one editor and founding editor of the paper’s prizewinning daily sports coverage. His bestselling 2006 book, Fantasyland, chronicled his bid to win Tout Wars, the world’s top fantasy-baseball expert competition (of which he is a two-time champion). He lives in New York City with his wife and two children.

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China Politics
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Episode 43
Featuring Elizabeth C. Economy
China Politics
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Episode 43
Featuring Elizabeth C. Economy
In just five years, Xi Jinping has seized all the most important leadership positions in the Chinese government. By centralizing institutional power, he may thrust China into a new imperial age. Here, Elizabeth Economy discusses Xi’s top political, economic, and foreign policies and the impact that this new empire may have on the world.

We may be witnessing the birth of a new imperial China, one that was brought about by the charismatic machinations of the nation’s leader, Xi Jinping. At the present juncture, it’s not exactly clear what Xi’s excessive centralization of power means or how his disruptive new policies will impact the rest of the world, but we can say one thing with certainty — international power dynamics are already starting to shift in response.

 

Xi’s tenure truly began in 2012, when he became the General Secretary for China’s Communist Party, which is the sole governing party in China. Today, he also serves as the head of the state and the head of the military. Taken as a whole, these are all of the most important leadership positions in the Chinese government. If that’s not enough, earlier this year, in a highly controversial move, Xi did away with presidential term limits. So, he may be president for life.

 

Because of the near-total control that Xi wields, he is able to keep both his adversaries in the government and the citizens he presides over on a tight leash.

 

He eliminates his dissenters using divisive anticorruption campaigns, he oversees massive propaganda operations rooted in fabricated news and events, and he denies his people access to information by censuring the internet behind a Great Firewall.

 

Although many Western nations may balk at such practices, they have their benefits. Ultimately, Xi’s illiberal maneuverings often allow China to outcompete nations that cling to liberal values. This fact forces world leaders to contend with a question that cannot be ignored: Can liberal nations keep pace with Xi’s imperial policies and ensure that power structures remain stable?

 

In today’s episode, Elizabeth Economy, author of The Third Revolution: Xi Jinping and the New Chinese State, joins Demetri Kofinas for an extensive exploration of Jinping’s top political, economic, and foreign policy priorities and the impact that his policies will likely have on the rest of the world.

 

Producer & Host: Demetri Kofinas

Editor & Engineer: Stylianos Nicolaou

Join the conversation on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter at @hiddenforcespod

 

Elizabeth Economy is the C. V. Starr senior fellow and director for Asia studies at the Council on Foreign Relations.

 

Dr. Economy is an acclaimed author and expert on Chinese domestic and foreign policy. Her recently released book, The Third Revolution: Xi Jinping and the New Chinese State, (Oxford University Press, 2018) analyzes the contradictory nature of reform under President Xi Jinping. She is also author of By All Means Necessary: How China's Resource Quest is Changing the World (Oxford University Press, 2014) with Michael Levi, and The River Runs Black: The Environmental Challenge to China's Future (Cornell University Press, 2004; 2nd edition, 2010; Japanese edition, 2005; Chinese edition, 2011). Dr. Economy has published articles in foreign policy and scholarly journals including Foreign Affairs, Foreign Policy, and the Harvard Business Review; and op-eds in the New York Times and Washington Post, among others.

 

Dr. Economy serves on the board of managers of Swarthmore College and the board of trustees of the Asia Foundation. She was also on the advisory council of Network 20/20 and the science advisory council of the Stockholm Environment Forum. She served as a member of the World Economic Forum (WEF)’s Global Agenda Council on the United States from 2014 to 2016 and served as a member and then vice chair of WEF’s Global Agenda Council on the Future of China from 2008 to 2014. She has taught undergraduate and graduate level courses at Columbia University, Johns Hopkins University's Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies, and the University of Washington's Jackson School of International Studies.

 

Dr. Economy received her BA from Swarthmore College, her AM from Stanford University, and her PhD from the University of Michigan. In 2008, she received an honorary doctor of laws degree from Vermont Law School.

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Education
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Episode 42
Featuring Fred Swaniker
By 2050, almost a quarter of the world’s population will live in African countries. Helping these individuals succeed and participate in the world economy can help us avert global catastrophe. The most effective way of doing that? Education. Here, Swaniker explains why our future depends on empowering Africa.

By the year 2050, the human population will increase by a staggering 2.4 billion. According to data from the UN World Population Prospects, the figures are cause for great concern. Researchers worry that our planet may not have the carrying capacity to sustain a population of this size; however, their primary concern stems from the fact that a majority of the increases will take place in the world’s most depressed areas. In fact, experts predict that approximately 50% of the increase will take place in African countries. Put another way, by 2050, a quarter of the world’s population will live in Africa.

 

Some may contend that there’s no real cause for concern — 2050 is still decades away. We have time. But this is not the case, and this is not an issue that can be left for future generation or governments because, in just seventeen years, Africa will have the largest workforce in the world.

 

Yet, there is cause for hope. By giving these individuals the tools and resources necessary to succeed, we can help ensure that they become valued and productive members of society. By ensuring that they have the opportunities necessary to participate in the world stage, we can secure for future generations an era of unimaginable innovation and prosperity. The alternative? The mass unemployment, starvation, poverty, and displacement of over a billion people — a global catastrophe the likes of which we’ve yet to witness in the modern age.   

 

The difference between the abundance narrative and the scarcity narrative rests on one simple thing: Education and the leadership skills that it fosters. Seventeen years is just 6,000 days away. Time is short, and it’s passing remarkably fast. We must act now. And we are.

 

Fred Swaniker is the co-founder of three organizations that aim to catalyze a new generation of ethical, entrepreneurial leaders in Africa: the African Leadership Academy, the African Leadership Network, and the African Leadership University. His paradigm shifting approach to education is transforming how we conceptualize learning. But more than that, through his work Swaniker is empowering a generation and creating a revolution in Africa.

 

In this episode, Swaniker talks with host Demetri Kofinas about the difference between financial poverty and poverty of the spirit, the importance of faith and determination, and why our future depends on empowering Africa.
 

Producer & Host: Demetri Kofinas

Editor & Engineer: Stylianos Nicolaou

Join the conversation on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter at @hiddenforcespod

Fred ​Swaniker is the co-founder of three organizations that aim to catalyze a new generation of ethical, entrepreneurial African leaders: African Leadership Academy, African Leadership Network, and African Leadership University. Collectively, these institutions aim to groom 3 million leaders for Africa over a 50-year period.

 

A passionate entrepreneur, Fred also served as Founder and CEO of Terra Education, a global education company that today provides leadership training to about 4,000 people annually at 46 sites in 20 countries in Latin America, Asia, Africa, and Europe. Prior to his work in education, Swaniker co-founded Synexa Life Sciences, a biotechnology company with operations in Cape Town, Berlin, London, and Dublin. Prior to launching his entrepreneurial pursuits, Swaniker worked as a management consultant at McKinsey & Company in South Africa. Swaniker has been recognized as a ​Young Global Leader ​by the World Economic Forum and was listed by Forbes Magazine among the top ten young ‘power men’ in Africa.

 

Fred has an MBA from Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business, where he was named an ​Arjay Miller Scholar​, a distinction awarded to the top 10% of each graduating class. He holds a BA in Economics with a minor in Mathematical Statistics from Macalester College (​magna cum laude). ​He was born in Ghana but has lived and worked in about 10 different African countries.

 

@FredSwaniker

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Suspendisse mauris. Fusce accumsan mollis eros. Pellentesque a diam sit amet mi ullamcorper vehicula. Integer adipiscing risus a sem. Nullam quis massa sit amet nibh viverra malesuada. Nunc sem lacus, accumsan quis, faucibus non, congue vel, arcu. Ut scelerisque hendrerit tellus. Integer sagittis. Vivamus a mauris eget arcu gravida tristique. Nunc iaculis mi in ante. Vivamus imperdiet nibh feugiat est.

Metaphysics
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Episode 41
Featuring Jim Holt
Demetri Kofinas speaks with philosopher and essayist Jim Holt, about the philosophy of science, ethics, and metaphysics. Why does the world exist? Why is there something rather than nothing? Is reality knowable? Is free will an illusion? These are questions that have concerned philosophers for millennia. Yet, they remain unanswered. Why?

In this week’s episode of Hidden Forces, Demetri Kofinas speaks with the philosopher and essayist Jim Holt, about the philosophy of science, ethics, and metaphysics. Jim is a longtime contributor to the New Yorker, where he has written on string theory, time, infinity, numbers, jokes, logic, and truth. He also writes regularly for the New York Times, the New York Review of Books, and the London Review of Books, and he is a former book-columnist for the Wall Street Journal. Jim Holt hosted a weekly radio spot on BBC Wales called “Living in America, with Jim Holt” for ten years, appeared on William F. Buckley’s Firing Line, and NBC News with Tom Brokaw. His book, “Why Does the World Exist?” was a New York Times bestseller for 2013. His latest book, “When Einstein Walked with Gödel: Excursions to the Edge of Thought,” will be released on May 15th and is available for pre-order today.

 

Why does the world exist? Why is there something rather than nothing? Is reality knowable? What is a good life? What is a good death? Who am I? Where did I come from? Is free will just an illusion? These are just some of the questions explored in this hour-long conversation with Jim Holt, on the philosophy of science and metaphysics. They are questions that have concerned philosophers for more than two thousand years. Yet, they remain unanswered. Unlike the hardnosed, falsifiable propositions of empirical science, philosophical science poses questions for which definitive answers are hard to come by. They are not bounded by the constraints of formal logic or objective truth. Still, something about them jabs at us. Why? Perhaps it is in our nature to question everything, even those things for which answers do not exist. Or, perhaps the act of engaging in ontological arguments is itself the goal. In either case, the pursuit of answers to the perennial questions of metaphysics is a necessarily humbling experience. In an answer based culture, the philosophy of science and metaphysics forces us to contend with the mystery of our own existence and the limits of our explanatory powers. 

 

Producer & Host: Demetri Kofinas

Editor & Engineer: Stylianos Nicolaou

Join the conversation at @hiddenforcespod

 

 

Play
Episode 18
Featuring Samuel Bowles
Episode 18
Featuring Samuel Bowles

Jim Holt is a longtime contributor to the New Yorker, where he has written on string theory, time, infinity, numbers, jokes, logic, truth, and bullshit. He also writes regularly for the New York Times, the New York Review of Books, and the London Review of Books, and he is a former book-columnist for the Wall Street Journal. His latest book, "When Einstein Walked with Gödel: Excursions to the Edge of Thought," will be published in May 2018 by Farrar Straus Giroux. His 2012 book "Why Does the World Exist?: An Existential Detective Story" was a National Book Critics Circle Award finalist for general nonfiction and was named one of the ten best books of the year by the New York Times Book Review. An international bestseller, "Why Does the World Exist?" has been published worldwide in 18 languages. His 2006 book "Stop Me If You've Heard This: A History and Philosophy of Jokes" was published in the U.S. and the United Kingdom, and in French, Italian, and German translation. He is currently at work on a book titled "Living (Theory and Practice)," to be published in the U.S. by Farrar Straus, in the UK by Penguin, and in German by Rowohlt. Holt has taught mathematics at the University of Virginia, philosophy at Columbia University, and economics at the City University of New York. He lives in Greenwich Village.

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Episode 40
Featuring Jeremy Heimans & Henry Timms
Demetri Kofinas is joined by Jeremy Heimans and Henry Timms for a conversation on "New Power," a timely exploration of the forces reshaping politics, business, and society. How are the dynamics of power changing? Is there a battle raging between old and new forms of power? What can the distribution of that power tell us about the future?

In this week’s episode of Hidden Forces, Demetri speaks with Jeremy Heimans and Henry Timms, the authors of the book “New Power: How Power Works in Our Hyperconnected World and How to Make It Work for You.” Jeremy Heimans is the co-founder and CEO of Purpose, an organization specializing in building social movements around the world. He has been named one of Fast Company’s Most Creative People in Business and chaired the World Economic Forum’s global council on civic participation, among other notable accomplishments. Henry Timms, is president and CEO of 92nd Street Y, a cultural and community center that creates programs and movements that foster learning and civic engagement. He is also the co-founder of #GivingTuesday, a global philanthropic movement that engages people in close to 100 countries and has generated hundreds of millions of dollars for good causes.    

 

The subject of power is something that we have covered tangentially on Hidden Forces. Demetri examined it most explicitly in “Industrial Society and its Future: Machine Intelligence, Encryption, and the Will to Power." There is no question that the poles of power are shifting, but when have they not been shifting? Power is, to quote Friedrich Nietzsche, "a sea of forces flowing and rushing together, eternally changing." In this sense, we are seeing the manifestation of these forces as the participatory energy of the crowd. Crowdsourcing, crowdfunding, and crowd hiring are all replacing their analog equivalents. Campaigns increasingly rely on the capacity of their supporters to spontaneously organize, act, and then dissolve back into the voluminous crowd. Terrorist organizations rely on crowdsourcing new recruits from inside countries that they cannot otherwise travel to or access. The principles of new power to transform industry can be seen, most clearly perhaps, in the growth of cryptocurrencies and ICO's.

 

So, if we accept that the world is changing and that the dynamics of power are changing with it, what then? How is this battle between old and new power determining who governs us, how we work, and even how we think and feel? How can understanding new power dynamics help us reshape the world around us in a positive way? What can the distribution of power in the 21st century tell us about how the future is going to unfold? Is our ability to mobilize the mass of humanity in previously unimaginable ways a net positive development for the aims of egalitarianism and progress?

 

Producer & Host: Demetri Kofinas

Editor & Engineer: Stylianos Nicolaou

Join the conversation at @hiddenforcespod

 

 

 

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Episode 18
Featuring Samuel Bowles
Episode 18
Featuring Samuel Bowles

Jeremy Heimans is the co-founder and CEO of Purpose, an organization specializing in building social movements around the world. In 2005, he co-founded GetUp!, an Australian political organization with more members than all of Australia’s political parties combined. He is a co-founder of the now 45-million strong global campaigning organization Avaaz and the LGBT rights platform All Out. He received the Ford Foundation’s 75th Anniversary Visionary Award for his work as a movement pioneer. He has been named one of Fast Company’s Most Creative People in Business and chaired the World Economic Forum’s global council on civic participation.

 

@JeremyHeimans


Henry Timms is president and CEO of 92nd Street Y, a cultural and community center that creates programs and movements that foster learning and civic engagement. Under his leadership, the 144-year-old institution was named to Fast Company’s “Most Innovative Companies” list. He is the co-founder of #GivingTuesday, a global philanthropic movement that engages people in close to 100 countries that has generated hundreds of millions of dollars for good causes. He is a Visiting Fellow at Stanford University’s Center on Philanthropy and Civil Society.

 

@HenryTimms

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Episode 39
Featuring Mark Spiegel
Demetri Kofinas speaks with Mark Spiegel, a New York-based equity investor who has been publicly short Tesla since 2013. Mark has been openly critical of the company's CEO, Elon Musk, whom he believes is committing securities fraud by misleading investors. We explore the state of the company's financials and the health of its business.

In this week’s episode of Hidden Forces, host Demetri Kofinas speaks with Mark Spiegel, Managing Member & Portfolio Manager of Stanphyl Capital Partners, a New York-based equity investor who has been publicly short Tesla since 2013. Mark has also been openly critical of the company's CEO, Elon Musk, whom he believes is committing securities fraud by misleading investors about the capabilities of Tesla's present and future products and financial prospects.

 

In our most recent episode with Charley Grant of the Wall Street Journal, we discussed the state of Tesla's financials and the overall health of the company's business, which seems increasingly dire. The Tesla story also sits at the intersection of a number of powerful forces that we have covered on this program: the ready availability of cheap financing, the growing wealth and income gap, and the preponderance of technology in the popular culture. In this sense, Tesla is about more than just electric vehicles or the car manufacturing business. It is a poster child for the financial excesses, stock price manipulations, and general euphoria for anything “tech” related that we have seen during this latest bull-market. The rise of Tesla also stands as a testament to the power of personality and to the inextricable role that Elon Musk has played in building faith among the company’s shareholders and the general public.

 

As the Federal Reserve continues to tighten by raising interest rates, companies like Tesla, which have relied on cheap financing in order to fund their businesses, are coming under significant pressure. The company’s stock has been besieged by speculative shorts and heavy selling in March, though it has recouped more than half of those losses in the past week. Still, serious questions remain about the company’s path towards profitability. Does it even have one? Assuming Tesla can raise the capital it needs from investors over the next six months, can it manage to overcome the major production challenges that have plagued the Model 3? What happens when Jaguar, Audi, Mercedes, and Porsche, each come to market with their own electric vehicles, some of which are cheaper and seen by many as more attractive than Tesla’s suite of electric cars? And, what about Elon Musk? The famous short seller Jim Chanos, who took down Enron in the early 2000’s for defrauding its investors, has made similar claims against the popular Silicon Valley car executive. The cult of Elon Musk surpasses anything we have seen in decades. Some would say that even Steve Jobs did not command as much adoration from congregations of the faithful. And yet, there is something noticeably rotten in the state of Denmark...

 

In last week’s episode, we asked the question “what is the path towards profitability for Tesla?” In this week’s episode, Mark Spiegel questions the very credibility of Elon Musk, as CEO of the electric car company. Can he and Tesla survive the onslaught of bad publicity amid a rocky period for capital markets and for the company’s stock? Ten years from now, will we look back at Tesla as the poster child for this latest bull market? Is Elon Musk the personification of a bubble in tech? Only time will tell.

 

Producer & Host: Demetri Kofinas

Editor & Engineer: Stylianos Nicolaou

Join the conversation at @hiddenforcespod

 

 

Mark is an Investor, Managing Member of Stanphyl Capital, and perpetual wiseguy. He has noted that he “buys deep value and short bubbles, and I doesn't do it quietly.”


Twitter - https://twitter.com/markbspiegel

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Sed egestas, ante et vulputate volutpat, eros pede semper est, vitae luctus metus libero eu augue. Morbi purus libero, faucibus adipiscing, commodo quis, gravida id, est. Sed lectus. Praesent elementum hendrerit tortor. Sed semper lorem at felis. Vestibulum volutpat, lacus a ultrices sagittis, mi neque euismod dui, eu pulvinar nunc sapien ornare nisl. Phasellus pede arcu, dapibus eu, fermentum et, dapibus sed, urna.

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Episode 38
Featuring Charley Grant
Demetri Kofinas speaks with Charley Grant, of the Wall Street Journal, who has been writing critically about Tesla since 2015. The electric car company's stock has been under tremendous pressure recently. What is the path towards profitability for Tesla? Charley makes his case for why Tesla may already be on the road towards bankruptcy.

In this week’s episode of Hidden Forces, host Demetri Kofinas speaks with Charley Grant, a columnist for the Wall Street Journal, who has been writing critically about Tesla since 2015.

 

Tesla sits at the intersection of a number of powerful forces that we have covered on this program: the ready availability of cheap financing, the growing wealth and income gap, and the preponderance of technology in the popular culture. The first of these forces has already been showing signs of abating. Interest rates have been rising steadily for the past two years, putting a strain on companies like Tesla, which have relied heavily on credit markets to support their cash-intensive businesses. In fact, according to Stanphyl Capital’s Mark Spiegel, “Tesla’s interest expense is now at a run-rate of nearly $600 million a year, which in Q4 amounted to $4,884 per car sold.” This means that fully one-third of the company’s gross profit goes towards servicing its debt. But, the willingness of debtors to continue to fund these losses looks increasingly doubtful, leaving equity markets as the next best source from which Tesla is likely to raise capital. The company’s stock price has dropped more than twenty-five percent in the last thirty days, so it is unclear how many new shares Tesla can afford to issue without turning a limp into a fatal injury. Time, in other words, is not on Elon's side.

 

As if Tesla’s financial woes were not enough, the broader equity markets may be in the processes of peaking or else may have already peaked, adding additional roadblocks to the electric car maker’s ability to raise capital. There are also signs that Silicon Valley’s honeymoon period with investors and the broader public may be over. This is something we covered in an episode on Uber with transportation analyst Hubert Horan this past summer. If this is true, and the public’s patience with Silicon Valley is wearing thin, then Elon Musk may find it harder to distract investors from failing fundamentals with the promise of yet another fantastical new product (e.g. hyper loops, electric semi-trucks, and an all-electric passenger airliner).

 

At this stage, the single most important question any investor in Tesla must be able to answer is, “what is the path towards profitability?” Charley Grant thinks there isn't one. “I don’t believe they have one,” he says. He believes Tesla may be on the inexorable road towards bankruptcy instead. What do you think?

 

Producer & Host: Demetri Kofinas

Editor & Engineer: Stylianos Nicolaou

Join the conversation at @hiddenforcespod

 

 

Charley Grant is a Heard on the Street columnist based in New York, where he covers U.S. health care and industrial companies. Charley previously was a reporter at Grant's Interest Rate Observer. He is a CFA charterholder.


@CGrantWSJ

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Episode 37
Featuring Josh Wolfe
Demetri speaks with Josh Wolfe, co-founder of Lux Capital, about his perspective on investing in a discussion that ranges from the material to the immaterial. We learn to capitalize on the breakthroughs of science while freeing ourselves from the impulses of the herd. Topics include artificial intelligence, energy investments, and more.

In this week’s episode of Hidden Forces, host Demetri Kofinas speaks with Josh Wolfe, co-founder of Lux Capital. Lux Capital is a venture firm that specializes in the hard sciences, supporting scientists and entrepreneurs who pursue counter-conventional solutions to the most vexing puzzles of our time. Josh is also a founding investor and board member with Bill Gates in Kymeta, which makes cutting-edge antennas for high-speed global satellite and space communications. He is a Westinghouse semi-finalist and published scientist who previously worked in investment banking at Salomon Smith Barney and in capital markets at Merrill Lynch. In 2008, Josh Wolfe co-founded and funded Kurion, a contrarian bet in the unlikely business of using advanced robotics and state-of-the-art engineering and chemistry to clean up nuclear waste. He is a columnist with Forbes who has lectured at MIT, Harvard, Yale, Cornell, Columbia, NYU and been invited to The White House and Capitol Hill to advise on nanotechnology and emerging technologies.

 

The fields of science, technology, and investing are not new territory for Hidden Forces listeners. These are subjects that we have covered at length with previous guests, including Geoffrey West, Ray Monk, Robert Johnson, Christopher Cole, and Tim O'Reilly. Rarely, though, do we find ourselves in conversation with someone like Josh Wolfe, who has made a multi-billion dollar business of investing in and around ground-breaking technologies and innovations in the hard sciences. Some of these breakthroughs include artificial intelligence, advancements in medicine and biotechnology, gene editing, energy technology, and much, much more.

 

In an effort to help us understand how he capitalizes on these breakthroughs, Josh Wolfe shares his unique perspective on investing with us, as well as his methodology for learning about the forces shaping our unknown future. What role does art play in informing our understanding of the world? How do we gain direction for our work from the insights provided to us by our passions? What information can we glean from the substance of our curiosities? How important are the presence of internal strife and discontentment in propelling us towards success? Can we learn to nurture our contrarian impulses in the face of our instinct to follow the herd?

 

In a philosophical discussion that ranges from the material to the immaterial, Josh Wolfe inspires us to reckon with the paradox of our own humanity. Are we simply animals born in an indeterminate world whose mysteries we are helpless to uncover? Or, are life's greatest mysteries - the nature of reality and the hard problem of consciousness - open to same types of empirical analyses and reasoning that have propelled our species forward since the earliest days of human enlightenment? 

 

Producer & Host: Demetri Kofinas

Editor & Engineer: Stylianos Nicolaou

Join the conversation at @hiddenforcespod

 

 

 

Josh Wolfe co-founded Lux Capital to support scientists and entrepreneurs who pursue counter-conventional solutions to the most vexing puzzles of our time in order to lead us into a brighter future. The more ambitious the project, the better—like, say, creating matter from light.

 

Josh is a Director at Shapeways, 3Scan, Lux Research and Kallyope and helped lead the firm’s investments in Planet, Echodyne, Clarifai and Authorea. He is a founding investor and board member with Bill Gates in Kymeta, making cutting-edge antennas for high-speed global satellite and space communications. Josh is a Westinghouse semi-finalist and published scientist. He previously worked in investment banking at Salomon Smith Barney and in capital markets at Merrill Lynch. In 2008 Josh co-founded and funded Kurion, a contrarian bet in the unlikely business of using advanced robotics and state-of-the-art engineering and chemistry to clean up nuclear waste. It was an unmet, inevitable need with no solution in sight. The company was among the first responders to the Fukushima Daiichi disaster. In February 2016, Veolia acquired Kurion for nearly $400 million—more than 40 times Lux’s total investment.

 

Josh is a columnist with Forbes and Editor for the Forbes/Wolfe Emerging Tech Report. He has been invited to The White House and Capitol Hill to advise on nanotechnology and emerging technologies, and a lecturer at MIT, Harvard, Yale, Cornell, Columbia and NYU. He is a term member at The Council on Foreign Relations and Chairman of Coney Island Prep charter school, where he grew up in Brooklyn. He graduated from Cornell University with a B.S. in Economics and Finance.

 

@wolfejosh

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Crypto
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Crypto
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Episode 36
Featuring Leemon Baird
Demetri Kofinas interviews Leemon Baird about the launch of Hedera Hashgraph, a public ledger built atop the hashgraph consensus protocol. We get into the details of how Hedera does proxy staking, sharding, as well as its unique approach to open review, governance, and regulatory compliance.

In this week’s episode of Hidden Forces, host Demetri Kofinas interviews Leemon Baird about the launch of Hedera Hashgraph, a public ledger built atop the hashgraph consensus protocol that aims to serve as the trust layer of the modern Internet.

 

Hedera implements a suite of solutions that we have never seen before in a public ledger. Its method of governance is unique. Its open review approach to software development challenges the paradigm that has dominated the world of cryptoeconomics for the past decade. Its approach to database sharding allows for massive increases in throughput and its approach to proxy staking incentivizes ownership without the burden of having to stand your own node.

 

Is the technological superiority of hashgraph enough to secure its success as the utility protocol of the future, or will blockchain developers reject a model of governance that demands stability over the right of any one individual to copy the code and fork the ledger?

 

Producer & Host: Demetri Kofinas

Editor & Engineer: Stylianos Nicolaou

Join the conversation at @hiddenforcespod

 

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Episode 35
Featuring Alex Mashinsky
Episode 35
Featuring Alex Mashinsky

Leemon Baird is the inventor of the hashgraph distributed consensus algorithm, and is the Co-founder and CTO of Hedera Hashgraph and Swirlds Inc. With over 20 years of technology and startup experience, he has held positions as a Professor of Computer Science at the Air Force Academy and as a senior scientist in several labs. He has been the co-founder of several startups, including two identity-related starts-ups, which were acquired. He received his PhD in Computer Science from Carnegie Mellon University, and has multiple patents and publications in peer-reviewed journals and conferences in computer security, machine learning, and mathematics.

 

@LeemonBaird

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Crypto
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Episode 35
Featuring Alex Mashinsky
Crypto
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Episode 35
Featuring Alex Mashinsky
Demetri Kofinas speaks with Alex Mashinsky, CEO of Celsius, a next generation lending wallet. In this conversation, we examine the mechanics behind the Celsius Network, as well as how the company intends to manage risk, execute short sales on behalf of institutional clients, and lower borrowing costs for users.

In this week’s episode of Hidden Forces, host Demetri Kofinas speaks with Alex Mashinsky. Alex is the founder, and CEO of Celsius, a next generation lending wallet that aims to be the ‘Killer App’ of the bitcoin and cryptocurrency revolution. Celsius attempts to overcome the limitations of a traditional banking system by leveraging technology and rethinking lending for the 21st century. A serial entrepreneur, Mashinsky is the founder of seven New York City-based startups with over three billion dollars’ worth of exits to his name. He is a serial inventor with over 35 patents, relating to exchanges, VOIP protocols, messaging & communication. Alex Mashinksy is also one of the inventors of Voice Over Internet Protocol with a foundational patent dating back to 1994.

 

In their conversation, Demetri attempts to understand the mechanics behind the Celsius Network, as well as how the company intends to manage risk, execute short sales on behalf of institutional clients, and lower borrowing costs for its users. Who are Celsius' main competitors, and how does its lending wallet differ from the competition? How are loans issued on the Celsius network? How does the CEL token work, and how does it incentivize the network to service its customers and not some financial middleman? What is the revenue model for this network? How does Celsius generate income from lending, short sales, and staking? What are some of the unintended consequences that could arise from a securitization market in cryptocurrencies? What are the risks associated with hoarding utility tokens in a proof-of-stake system? Could Celsius and other networks become central points of attack for malicious actors looking to destabilize the Ethereum once it moves from proof-of-work to proof-of-stake? Finally, what is the timeline for Celsius' new wallet and how soon will crypto holders be able to rely on it as a real source of credit and interest-bearing income?

 

Producer & Host: Demetri Kofinas

Editor & Engineer: Stylianos Nicolaou

Join the conversation at @hiddenforcespod

 

 


Alex Mashinsky was born into communism, reared under socialism, and is currently thriving under capitalism. He is a prominent Israeli-American entrepreneur who has founded several companies over the years, including GroundLink, Transit Wireless, Elematics and Arbinet.

Alex's success as an entrepreneur stems from his acute ability to identify winning trends and assemble world-class teams. Two of his companies, Arbinet and Transit Wireless achieved a monopolistic hold in their respective industries and pioneered new business models and technologies used today.

Alex has a long history with tech in fact, evidenced by his powerful intellectual property portfolio. He has authored over 50 patents that cover aspects of the Smart Grid,  Ad exchanges, Groupon, Twitter, Skype, App Store, Netflix streaming concept and many other top performing web companies. He is one of the leading evangelists of web-based exchanges and is even considered to be one of the early developers of VOIP.

Due to his extensive experience as a prolific inventor and a business strategist, Alex has been a featured speaker at over 120 international conferences. He has also made numerous TV appearances on talk shows.

He has received numerous awards, notably the prestigious Albert Einstein Technology Medal in 2000, the Technology Foresight Award for Innovation (presented in Geneva at Telecom '99) and Crain's Top Entrepreneur Award in 2010. He has also been nominated for E&Y's Entrepreneur of the Year Award in 2002 and 2011.

After years of entrepreneurship, Alex subsequently gravitated towards investing in startups, founding his early stage venture capital firm, Governing Dynamics. Over the years, Alex has raised over $1 billion in venture and private equity funds to help position his startups as leaders in their fields. Arbinet's fundraising efforts were even documented in an HBS case study in 2001.

Currently based in New York, Alex serves as a Managing Partner of Governing Dynamics. The firm has a keen interest in helping Israeli startups scale-up in the United States. The immense growth potential of the "startup nation" and its advances in high-tech - particularly in AI, biotech and cybersecurity - interests Alex greatly, who has a strong affiliation with Israel.

Having grown up, attended college and served in the military there, many of his ventures started out based in Israel - which he then went on to scale in the US. Thus, he has been fostering Israeli-American business ties for years, and he hopes to continue to do so with his work at Governing Dynamics.

Alex has invested in over 60 startups over the years, recording many successes and an equal number of failures. As a prominent figure in the New York entrepreneurial scene, he has previously been a member of the YPO's NYC chamber. He believes that "the secret to success is finding something to do in which your skills can exceed your ambitions."

 

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Sed egestas, ante et vulputate volutpat, eros pede semper est, vitae luctus metus libero eu augue. Morbi purus libero, faucibus adipiscing, commodo quis, gravida id, est. Sed lectus. Praesent elementum hendrerit tortor. Sed semper lorem at felis. Vestibulum volutpat, lacus a ultrices sagittis, mi neque euismod dui, eu pulvinar nunc sapien ornare nisl. Phasellus pede arcu, dapibus eu, fermentum et, dapibus sed, urna.

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Sed egestas, ante et vulputate volutpat, eros pede semper est, vitae luctus metus libero eu augue. Morbi purus libero, faucibus adipiscing, commodo quis, gravida id, est. Sed lectus. Praesent elementum hendrerit tortor. Sed semper lorem at felis. Vestibulum volutpat, lacus a ultrices sagittis, mi neque euismod dui, eu pulvinar nunc sapien ornare nisl. Phasellus pede arcu, dapibus eu, fermentum et, dapibus sed, urna.

Morbi interdum mollis sapien. Sed ac risus. Phasellus lacinia, magna a ullamcorper laoreet, lectus arcu pulvinar risus, vitae facilisis libero dolor a purus. Sed vel lacus. Mauris nibh felis, adipiscing varius, adipiscing in, lacinia vel, tellus. Suspendisse ac urna. Etiam pellentesque mauris ut lectus. Nunc tellus ante, mattis eget, gravida vitae, ultricies ac, leo. Integer leo pede, ornare a, lacinia eu, vulputate vel, nisl.

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Crypto
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Episode 34
Featuring Brian Kelly
Demetri Kofinas speaks with author, investor, and contributor to CNBC's Fast Money Brian Kelly about the problem of scalability, exchange & regulatory risk, cash-settled futures & ETF’s, and how bitcoin may fare compared to gold during a financial crisis. They also contemplate the impact of systemic trading on market downturns.

In this week’s episode of Hidden Forces, host Demetri Kofinas speaks with Brian Kelly, CEO of BKCM LLC, a digital asset investment firm. He is an experienced Global Macro investor with over twenty-five years’ experience in financial markets and a CNBC contributor who appears regularly on Fast Money.

 

Our most recent episodes with Chris Burniske on modeling cryptoassets and with Ari Paul on cryptocurrency trading methodologies introduced two foundational frameworks to our audience. This week's episode with Brian Kelly affords our audience the opportunity to explore both of these perspectives (theory and execution) in a single conversation. Brian Kelly is uniquely qualified to talk about the financial side of cryptocurrencies, but he also provides valuable perspective on how the media is covering this space.

 

Brian begins his conversation with Demetri by recounting his introductory experience to bitcoin, how he made his first investments, and what he learned in the year he wrote his book “The Bitcoin Big Bang.” The two explore familiar topics like the problem of scalability, exchange and regulatory risk, cash-settled futures and ETF’s, and how bitcoin may fare to gold during a systemic financial crisis. Is there any way to measure the intrinsic value of a given cryptocurrency? Can permissioned blockchains compete with public ledgers, or will cryptocurrencies come to dominate the future of software? Besides bitcoin and Ethereum, what are some of the more interesting cryptocurrency investment opportunities out there? Brian and Demetri also cover the recent spike in financial volatility amid this rising interest rate environment. Lastly, they consider how the rise of systemic trading strategies and passive investment vehicles like ETFs may accelerate (or not) a future market downturn.

 

Producer & Host: Demetri Kofinas

Editor & Engineer: Stylianos Nicolaou

Join the conversation at @hiddenforcespod

 

Play
Episode 35
Featuring Alex Mashinsky
Episode 35
Featuring Alex Mashinsky

Brian Kelly is Founder and CEO of BKCM LLC, an investment firm focused on digital currencies. He is the portfolio manager of the BKCM Digital Asset Fund. Brian is the author of "The Bitcoin Big Bang – How Alternative Currencies Are About to Change the World."

 

Prior to BKCM LLC, Brian was Co-Founder and Managing Partner of Shelter Harbor Capital LLC and managed the Shelter Harbor Capital Global Macro Hedge Fund. As well, Mr. Kelly was a co-founder and President of MKM Partners, a brokerage firm catering to institutional investment managers.

 

Brian provides money management services to a select clientele and consults on digital currencies.

Brian is a graduate of the University of Vermont where he received a B.S. in finance. He also holds an M.B.A. from Babson Graduate School of Business with a concentration in finance and econometrics.

 

@BKBrianKelly

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Sed egestas, ante et vulputate volutpat, eros pede semper est, vitae luctus metus libero eu augue. Morbi purus libero, faucibus adipiscing, commodo quis, gravida id, est. Sed lectus. Praesent elementum hendrerit tortor. Sed semper lorem at felis. Vestibulum volutpat, lacus a ultrices sagittis, mi neque euismod dui, eu pulvinar nunc sapien ornare nisl. Phasellus pede arcu, dapibus eu, fermentum et, dapibus sed, urna.

Morbi interdum mollis sapien. Sed ac risus. Phasellus lacinia, magna a ullamcorper laoreet, lectus arcu pulvinar risus, vitae facilisis libero dolor a purus. Sed vel lacus. Mauris nibh felis, adipiscing varius, adipiscing in, lacinia vel, tellus. Suspendisse ac urna. Etiam pellentesque mauris ut lectus. Nunc tellus ante, mattis eget, gravida vitae, ultricies ac, leo. Integer leo pede, ornare a, lacinia eu, vulputate vel, nisl.

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Suspendisse mauris. Fusce accumsan mollis eros. Pellentesque a diam sit amet mi ullamcorper vehicula. Integer adipiscing risus a sem. Nullam quis massa sit amet nibh viverra malesuada. Nunc sem lacus, accumsan quis, faucibus non, congue vel, arcu. Ut scelerisque hendrerit tellus. Integer sagittis. Vivamus a mauris eget arcu gravida tristique. Nunc iaculis mi in ante. Vivamus imperdiet nibh feugiat est.

Russia
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Episode 33
Featuring Bill Browder
Demetri Kofinas speaks with Bill Browder, once the largest foreign investor in Russia, about the murder of his lawyer and the dismantling of his investment fund. This is a discussion about the history of post-Soviet Russia: how the country's wealth was plundered by the oligarchs and re-centralized in the hands of Vladimir Putin.

In this week’s episode of Hidden Forces, host Demetri Kofinas speaks with Bill Browder. Bill is the founder and CEO of Hermitage Capital Management, the largest foreign investor in Russia until 2005, when he was deported from the country and his $4.5bn in assets liquidated. Since 2009, when his lawyer, Sergei Magnitsky, was murdered in prison after uncovering a $230 million fraud committed by Russian government officials, Bill Browder has been leading a campaign to expose Russia’s endemic corruption and human rights abuses. Before founding Hermitage, Browder was vice president at Salomon Brothers.

 

Today's story begins with the fall of the Berlin Wall and the dissolution of the Soviet Union. It is a story about the plundering of Russian industries and resources by the oligarchs and the consolidation of power in the hands of Vladimir Putin. How did the promises of reform and the opening of Soviet Russia by Mikhail Gorbachev in the 1980's, lead so quickly to the traumatic redistribution of wealth into the hands of a tiny kleptocracy? What were the mechanisms that facilitated this plundering, and what role have ill-gotten gains played in the mechanics of post-soviet Russia? How important is corruption to the functioning of the Russian state? How would a curtailing of bribery, fraud, and murder represent an existential threat to the current regime? Finally, what does the personal story of Bill Browder - a story of high finance, corruption, and murder - portend for the future of this powerful nation?

 

Producer & Host: Demetri Kofinas

Editor & Engineer: Stylianos Nicolaou

Join the conversation at @hiddenforcespod

 

 

Play
Episode 17
Featuring Robert Johnson
Episode 17
Featuring Robert Johnson

Bill Browder is the founder and CEO of Hermitage Capital Management, which was the investment adviser to the largest foreign investment fund in Russia until 2005, when Bill was denied entry to the country and declared a “threat to national security” as a result of his battle against corporate corruption.

Following his expulsion, the Russian authorities raided his offices, seized Hermitage Fund’s investment companies and used them to steal $230 million of taxes that the companies had previously paid. When Browder’s lawyer, Sergei Magnitsky, investigated the crime, he was arrested by the same officers he implicated, tortured for 358 days, and killed in custody at the age of 37 in November 2009.

Since then, Browder has spent the last 5 years fighting for justice for Mr. Magnitsky. The Russian government exonerated and even promoted some of the officials involved so Browder took the case to America, where his campaigning led to the US Congress adopting the ‘Sergei Magnitsky Rule of Law Accountability Act’ in 2012, which imposed visa sanctions and asset freezes on those involved in the detention, ill-treatment and death of Sergei Magnitsky (as well as in other human rights abuses). This law was the first time the US sanctioned Russia in 35 years and became the model for all subsequent US sanctions against Russia. Browder is currently working to have similar legislation passed in Magnitsky’s name across the European Union.

 

@Billbrowder

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Crypto
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Episode 32
Featuring Ari Paul
Demetri Kofinas speaks with Ari Paul, co-founder and CIO of BlockTower Capital, a hedge fund focused on the cryptocurrency space. How are crypto funds managing risk? What are some of the most interesting and creative investment opportunities for making money in cryptocurrencies? Most importantly, how you can take advantage of them?

In this week’s episode of Hidden Forces, host Demetri Kofinas speaks with Ari Paul, co-founder, and CIO of BlockTower Capital, a hedge fund focused exclusively on the cryptocurrency space.

 

How are crypto fund managers managing risk? What are the existential risk factors to such a new and fledgling market? What sorts of benchmarks are crypto funds using in order to measure performance? Is the benchmark bitcoin, cryptocurrencies, or the broader equity markets? How does a cryptocurrency investor seek alpha in an already uncorrelated market? How might the flood of institutional capital alter these correlations? What does a consolidation in cryptocurrencies look like? Are we verging near a collapse in valuations, and if so, what sorts of tools are available for shorting an overheating market?

 

We also take a look at cash-settled futures markets, consider the use of put and call options, and explore ways of protecting ourselves from counterparty and exchange risk. Finally, we examine some of the most interesting and creative investment opportunities for making money in cryptocurrencies and what you can do in order to take advantage of them. 

 

Producer & Host: Demetri Kofinas

Editor & Engineer: Stylianos Nicolaou

Join the conversation at @hiddenforcespod

 

 

Ari Paul is the CIO and co-founder of BlockTower Capital. He was previously a portfolio manager for the University of Chicago's $8 billion endowment, and a derivatives market maker and proprietary trader for Susquehanna International Group (SIG). Ari earned a BA in political science from the University of Pennsylvania, and an MBA from the University of Chicago. Ari is a CFA charterholder. BlockTower Capital takes long and short positions across a variety of cryptocurrencies.

 

@AriDavidPaul

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Real Estate
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Market Forces
Featuring Ben Friedland
Demetri speaks with Ben Friedland, Vice Chairman & Co-Head of Alternative Investments Practice for CBRE. Ben advises the world’s top hedge funds and PE companies and is in a unique position to provide insight into how the forces of technology and globalization are changing this age-old, multi-trillion-dollar industry in the 21st century.

In this Market Forces segment of Hidden Forces, host Demetri Kofinas speaks with Ben Friedland, Vice Chairman and Co-Head of CBRE’s Alternative Investments Practice (AIP), an industry-specific practice group focused on advising private equity firms, hedge funds, and other Alternative Investment companies on their real estate strategies throughout New York City and around the world.

 

Throughout his 18+ years with CBRE, Ben has distinguished himself by developing exclusive relationships with many of the world’s most prestigious financial services companies. Partnering closely with his clients, he shapes and implements creative real estate strategies that align with their goals, helping them further efficiencies and achieve significant savings.

 

Ben has consistently been recognized as one of CBRE’s top producers globally and is in a unique position to provide insight into how the forces of technology and globalization are changing this age-old, multi-trillion-dollar industry for the 21st century. 

 

Producer & Host: Demetri Kofinas

Editor & Engineer: Stylianos Nicolaou

Join the conversation at @hiddenforcespod

 

 

Ben Friedland serves as Vice Chairman and Co-Head of CBRE’s Alternative Investments Practice (AIP), an industry-specific practice group focused on advising private equity firms, hedge funds and other Alternative Investment companies on their real estate strategies throughout New York City and around the world. Additionally, Ben provides advisory services to firms in the Alternative Investments sector on real estate needs within their investment portfolios.

 

Ben is recognized as an industry expert and valued for his client-centric focus. Throughout his 18+ years with CBRE, he has distinguished himself by developing exclusive and unbroken relationships with many of the world’s most prestigious financial services companies. Partnering closely with his clients, he shapes and implements creative real estate strategies that align with their goals, further efficiencies and achieve significant savings. Ben has consistently been recognized as one of CBRE’s top producers globally.

 

Ben is looked to for his insights and has been quoted in the WSJ, New York Times, and many leading industry publications.

 

@BenFriedland

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Crypto
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Episode 31
Featuring Chris Burniske
Demetri Kofinas speaks with Chris Burniske about how to value cryptocurrency. How do we differentiate between currencies, DApps, and tokens? How does one judge the merits of a white paper, the seriousness of the dev team, and the enthusiasm of early adopters? How important is governance, supply schedules, and money velocity in valuations?

In this week’s episode of Hidden Forces, host Demetri Kofinas speaks with Chris Burniske about how to value a cryptocurrency. Chris is a co-founder of Placeholder, a New York venture firm that specializes in cryptoassets. Before Placeholder, Chris Burniske pioneered ARK Invest's Next Generation Internet strategy, leading the company to become the first public fund manager to invest in cryptocurrency. He then transitioned to focus exclusively on cryptoassets, paving the way for Wall Street to recognize it as a new asset class. His commentary has been featured on national media outlets, including the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, Fortune, and Forbes.

 

With the total market capitalization of all cryptocurrency having surpassed $800 billion by the start of 2018, it was only a matter of time before Wall Street would stand up and take notice. The establishment of a cash-settled futures market for bitcoin in late 2017 is one of many bullish signs for the long-term viability of cryptoassets. It has also opened the door to further institutional capital and crypto-focused hedge funds with hundreds of millions of dollars to deploy. The opportunities for profitmaking are too lucrative to ignore, but the flood of institutional and private capital into the cryptocurrency space is also fueling a speculative mania. The newness of this asset class and its lack of historical price data make proper valuations even more challenging. So, given these constraints, the question remains, how do you value cryptocurrency?

 

The answer lies at the intersection of macroeconomics and financial modeling. Chris Burniske and Demetri Kofinas start by laying out a taxonomy for cryptoassets that breaks them into three categories: cryptocurrency, cryptocommodities, and cryptotokens. In their conversation, they explore how one can learn to differentiate between the different currencies, DApps, and tokens. How does one judge the merits of a white paper, the seriousness of the dev team, and the enthusiasm of early adopters? How important is governance? How can volatility in the underlying token impact the robustness of the software? How do supply schedules determine future values? What are some of the most reliable, early indicators of success or failure for a cryptoventure? These are just some of the questions that Demetri and Chris address in this highly informative and timely conversation.

 

Producer & Host: Demetri Kofinas

Editor & Engineer: Stylianos Nicolaou

Join the conversation at @hiddenforcespod

 

 

Chris Burniske is a co-founder of Placeholder, a New York venture firm focused on the economics and governance of cryptonetworks. Prior to Placeholder, he worked at ARK Investment Management as the first buy-side analyst to cover cryptoassets, driving the firm's decision to invest in bitcoin in 2015. 

 

In addition to his work as an investor, Chris co-authored the best-seller, Cryptoassets: The Innovative Investor’s Guide to Bitcoin and Beyond (McGraw Hill, 2017). His commentary has been featured on national media outlets, including the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg, Fortune and more. 

 

@cburniske

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Technology
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Episode 30
Featuring Tim O’Reilly
Demetri Kofinas speaks with Tim O’Reilly about mapmaking in the 21st century. Maps are an integral part of human exploration. Without them, we’d never have left the plains of Africa, conquered the seas, or landed on the moon. If we want to navigate the world better, and learn how to predict the future, then we need to build better maps.

In this week’s episode of Hidden Forces, Demetri Kofinas asks the question, "how can we learn how to predict the future?" According to his guest, Tim O'Reilly, learning how to predict the future starts with building better maps. 

 

Tim O'Reilly has played a seminal role in creating the framework through which an entire generation has come to know and understand the modern Internet. If you have ever used terms like “open source” or “web 2.0,” you are relying on the language cultivated by Tim O'Reilly, through his innumerable conferences, gatherings, and intimate conversations. His work has reshaped how people in the computer industry think about technology. He is the founder, CEO, and Chairman of O’Reilly Media, and his most recent book, WTF: What’s the Future and Why It’s Up to Us, forms the basis for much of this conversation. 

 

The need to explore is a fundamental driver of human progress. Without it, we would never have ventured off the plains of Africa, conquered the seas, or landed men on the moon. How has humanity managed to navigate the unknown? The process of exploration is one of mapmaking. Maps are not some relics of a bygone era. Maps are not artifacts that exist naturally in the world. Maps are products of the human mind. Mapmaking is the process through which our brains structure time and space; they help us put order around experience. Maps are the expression of human perception. If we want to navigate the world better, and if we want to learn how to predict the future, then we need to build better maps. Tim O'Reilly helps us do just that.

 

Producer & Host: Demetri Kofinas

Editor & Engineer: Stylianos Nicolaou

Join the conversation at @hiddenforcespod

 

 

Tim O’Reilly is the founder and CEO of O’Reilly Media, Inc. His original business plan was simply “interesting work for interesting people,” and that’s worked out pretty well. O’Reilly Media delivers online learning, publishes books, runs conferences, urges companies to create more value than they capture, and tries to change the world by spreading and amplifying the knowledge of innovators.

Tim has a history of convening conversations that reshape the computer industry. In 1998, he organized the meeting where the term “open source software” was agreed on, and helped the business world understand its importance. In 2004, with the Web 2.0 Summit, he defined how “Web 2.0” represented not only the resurgence of the web after the dot com bust, but a new model for the computer industry, based on big data, collective intelligence, and the internet as a platform. In 2009, with his “Gov 2.0 Summit,” he framed a conversation about the modernization of government technology that has shaped policy and spawned initiatives at the Federal, State, and local level, and around the world. He has now turned his attention to implications of AI, the on-demand economy, and other technologies that are transforming the nature of work and the future shape of the business world. This is the subject of his new book from Harper Business, WTF: What’s the Future and Why It’s Up to Us.

In addition to his role at O’Reilly Media, Tim is a partner at early stage venture firm O’Reilly AlphaTech Ventures (OATV) and on the boards of Maker Media (which was spun out from O’Reilly Media in 2012), Code for America, PeerJ, Civis Analytics, and PopVox.

 

@TimOreilly

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Crypto
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Crypto Forces
Featuring Mark DiMichael
Demetri Kofinas speaks with Mark DiMichael, a Forensic Accountant who specializes in the tax implications for cryptocurrencies. What are the filing requirements for anyone who has profited from, transacted in, or mined a cryptocurrency? Do cryptocurrencies qualify under the terms of a like-kind exchange? How can you lower your tax burden?

How do governments tax bitcoin? In this Crypto Forces segment of Hidden Forces, host Demetri Kofinas speaks with Mark DiMichael, a forensic accountant with Citrin Cooperman, who specializes in the Bitcoin tax implications for cryptocurrencies. In this conversation, we define what constitutes a taxable event in bitcoin, ethereum, and other altcoins and cryptocurrencies. We also provide information for those of you looking for help in filing your taxes for bitcoin or any other cryptocurrency in 2017.

 

Is it possible for someone holding bitcoin, ethereum, or some other cryptocurrency to qualify for a 1031 like-kind exchange? How does the recent House and Senate tax law restricting 1031 like-kind exchange to only real estate assets affect cryptocurrency holders going forward? What are the Bitcoin tax filing requirements for anyone who has profited from a cryptocurrency? Are there any loopholes that you should know about when filing your taxes for bitcoin? How does the IRS tax newly mined coins? Does the government require you to pay taxes for bitcoin transactions? Does the IRS tax on Bitcoin protocol tokens like BTC differ from that of utility tokens? What are the crypto tax implications for security or investment tokens like DAO? What are the regulatory and crypto tax requirements around ICO’s, and how does the SEC treat them? How will the gains made by anyone holding bitcoin cash as a result of the hard fork in August of 2017, be taxed by governments? Is this asset seen as a dividend, and taxed accordingly? Might the government tax bitcoin (and related) forks similarly to how it taxes farmers and livestock owners, whose newborn calves are seen as part of the original investment, allowing the owner to defer tax liability?

 

Lastly, how many individuals have profited from this new investment class? What is the IRS doing to verify compliance and how do they investigate those who attempt to evade taxes? Are there any exemptions or other legal ways to avoid paying taxes on gains made in bitcoin, ethereum, or any other cryptocurrency?

 

Producer & Host: Demetri Kofinas

Editor & Engineer: Stylianos Nicolaou

Join the conversation at @hiddenforcespod

 

 

Crypto