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WEF panelist suggests COVID response accustomed people to the idea of CBDCs


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Central Bank of Bahrain governor Khalid Humaidan

From LifeSiteNews

By Tim Hinchliffe

When asked how he would convince people that CBDCs would be a trusted medium of exchange, Bahrain’s central bank governor said that COVID made the digital transformation ‘something of a requirement’ that had ‘very little resistance.’

Central bank digital currencies (CBDCs) will hopefully replace physical cash and become fully digital, a central banker tells the World Economic Forum (WEF).

Speaking at the WEF Special Meeting on Global Collaboration, Growth and Energy Development on Sunday, Central Bank of Bahrain governor Khalid Humaidan told the panel “Open Forum: The Digital Currencies’ Opportunity in the Middle East” that one of the goals of CBDC was to replace cash, at least in Bahrain, and to go “one hundred percent digital.”

Humaidan likened physical cash to being an antiquated “analogue” technology and that CBDC was the digital solution that would hopefully replace cash:

“I thank this panel and this opportunity. It forced me to refine my thoughts and opinions where I’m at a place comfortably now that I’m ready to verbalize what I think about CBDC,” said Humaidan.

If we think cash is the analogue and digital currency is the form of digital – CBDC is the digital form of cash – today, clearly we’re in a hybrid situation; we’re using both.

We know in the past when it comes to cash, central bankers were very much in control with all aspects of cash, and now we’re comfortable to the point where the private sector plays a big role in the printing of the cash, in the distribution of the cash, and with the private sector we use interest rates to manage the supply of cash.

The same thing is likely to happen with CBDC. Yes, the central bank will have a role, but at some point in time – the same way we don’t call it ‘central bank cash’ – we’re probably going to stop calling it central bank digital currency.

“It’s going to be a digital form of the cash, and at some point in time hopefully we will be able to be one hundred percent digital,” he added.

When asked how he would convince people that CBDC would be a trusted medium of exchange, Bahrain’s central bank governor said that people were already used to it and that COVID made the digital transformation “necessary” and “something of a requirement” that had “very little resistance.”

“Right now, many of our payments are digital. The truth is, I said that we’re in a hybrid model; there’s less and less use of cash,” said Humaidan.

I think from predominantly digital with a little physical, I think the transition to fully digital is not going to be a stretch.

People are used to it, people have engaged in it and certain circumstances did help. Its adoption rates increased because of COVID.

“This is where contactless started to become something of a necessity, something of safety, something of a requirement, and because of that there is very little resistance; trust is already there,” he added.

Meanwhile, European Central Bank president Christine Lagarde has been going around the world telling people that the digital euro CBDC would not eliminate cash, and that cash would always be an option.

Speaking at the Bank for International Settlements (BIS) Innovation Summit in March 2023, Lagarde said that a digital currency will never be as anonymous as cash, and for that reason, cash will always be around.

“Is it [digital euro] going to be as private as cash? No,” she said.

A digital currency will never be as anonymous and as protecting of privacy in many respects as cash, which is why cash will always be around.

If people want to use cash in some countries or in some transactions, cash should be available.

“A digital currency is an alternative, is another means of payment and will not provide exactly the same level of privacy and anonymity as cash, but will be pretty close in terms of complete neutrality in relation to the data,” she added.

WEF Agenda blog post from September, 2017, lists the “gradual obsolescence of paper currency” as being “characteristic of a well-designed CBDC.”

Last year at the WEF’s 14th Annual Meeting of the New Champions, aka “Summer Davos,” in Tianjing, China, Cornell University professor Eswar Prasad said that “we are at the cusp of physical currency essentially disappearing,” and that programmable CBDCs could take us to either a better or much darker place.

“If you think about the benefits of digital money, there are huge potential gains,” said Prasad, adding, “It’s not just about digital forms of digital currency; you can have programmability – units of central bank currency with expiry dates.

You could have […] a potentially better – or some people might say a darker world – where the government decides that units of central bank money can be used to purchase some things, but not other things that it deems less desirable like say ammunition, or drugs, or pornography, or something of the sort, and that is very powerful in terms of the use of a CBDC, and I think also extremely dangerous to central banks.

The WEF’s Special Meeting on Global Collaboration, Growth and Energy Development took place from April 27-29 in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

“Saudi Arabia’s absolute monarchy restricts almost all political rights and civil liberties,” according to D.C.-based NGO Freedom House.

In the kingdom, “No officials at the national level are elected,” and “the regime relies on pervasive surveillance, the criminalization of dissent, appeals to sectarianism and ethnicity, and public spending supported by oil revenues to maintain power.”

Reprinted with permission from The Sociable.


Musk: X to sue groups that conspire to boycott conservative news sites

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From The Center Square

“That system guarantees that advertising dollars flow only to left-leaning media brands.”

Tesla founder and X owner Elon Musk said Thursday he plans to file a lawsuit against a collaboration of people and organizations that work to prevent advertising dollars from going to conservative news media brands.

Musk announced his intention on X while sharing video of Daily Wire co-founder Ben Shapiro’s Congressional testimony on the topic from Wednesday.

“Having seen the evidence unearthed today by Congress, 𝕏 has no choice but to file suit against the perpetrators and collaborators in the advertising boycott racket,” Musk wrote. “Hopefully, some states will consider criminal prosecution.”

At Wednesday’s House Judiciary Committee hearing on “Collusion in the Global Alliance for Responsible Media,” Shapiro told lawmakers that legacy media and their political allies conspire with online advertising gatekeepers to paint conservative news organizations as “dangerous,” limiting their opportunity to receive advertising revenue.

“There is in fact an internal pressure system created by Democratic legislators, this White House, legacy media, advertisers and pseudo-objective brand safety organizations,” Shapiro testified. “That system guarantees that advertising dollars flow only to left-leaning media brands.”

Shapiro identified the Global Alliance for Responsible Media (GARM) as one of those gatekeepers of online advertising revenue.

“In reality, GARM acts as a cartel. Its members account for 90% of ad spending in the United States, almost a trillion dollars,” he testified. “In other words, if you’re not getting ad dollars from GARM members, it’s nearly impossible to run an ad-based business. And if you’re not following their preferred political narratives … you will not be deemed brand safe. Your business will be throttled.”

​Dan McCaleb is the executive editor of The Center Square. He welcomes your comments. Contact Dan at [email protected].

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Artificial Intelligence

Elon Musk is building the ‘most powerful Artificial Intelligence training cluster in the world’

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News release from The Deep View

Elon Musk’s xAI has ended talks with Oracle to rent more specialized Nvidia chips — in what could have been a $10 billion deal — according to The Information.
Musk is instead buying the chips himself, all to begin putting together his planned “gigafactory of compute.”
The details: Musk confirmed in a post on Twitter that xAI is now working to build the “gigafactory” internally.
  • Musk explained that the reason behind the shift is “that our fundamental competitiveness depends on being faster than any other AI company. This is the only way to catch up.”
  • “xAI is building the 100k H100 system itself for fastest time to completion,” he said. “Aiming to begin training later this month. It will be the most powerful training cluster in the world by a large margin.”
xAI isn’t the only one trying to build a supercomputer; Microsoft and OpenAI, also according to The Information, have been working on plans for a $100 billion supercomputer nicknamed “Stargate.”
Why it matters: The industry is keen to pour more and more resources into the generation of abstractly more powerful AI models, and VC investments into AI companies, as we noted yesterday, are growing.
But at the same time, concerns about revenue and return on investment are growing as well, with a growing number of analysts gaining confidence in the idea that we are in a bubble of high costs and low returns, something that could be compounded by multi-billion-dollar supercomputers.
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