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Utopias, Dystopias and Today's Technology

Technology Podcasts

AI/ML, the blockchain and many other nascent technologies are already affecting peoples’ lives across our planet, yet a discussion as to how these effects play out and whether they produce dystopian or utopian conditions is still largely missing. Where there are discussions about technology and ethics, they mostly come from decisively western ethical traditions and they are often concentrated not on what is good but merely the negative consequences that those technologies might bring and how to avoid the worst. We expect technologies to solve our problems and to catapult us into a future of abundance, improved health and ecosystems flourishing. Yet what those hopes are and how we shall arrive in this world of plenty must be discussed on a global level in order for us to steer the ship and not have the ship float our lives into random and perhaps dystopian waters, determined only by profits. The purpose of this podcast then, is to spur an inclusive discussion with expert thinkers who are underrepresented in today’s discussions about these new technologies and what they can achieve or break in our global societies.


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AI/ML, the blockchain and many other nascent technologies are already affecting peoples’ lives across our planet, yet a discussion as to how these effects play out and whether they produce dystopian or utopian conditions is still largely missing. Where there are discussions about technology and ethics, they mostly come from decisively western ethical traditions and they are often concentrated not on what is good but merely the negative consequences that those technologies might bring and how to avoid the worst. We expect technologies to solve our problems and to catapult us into a future of abundance, improved health and ecosystems flourishing. Yet what those hopes are and how we shall arrive in this world of plenty must be discussed on a global level in order for us to steer the ship and not have the ship float our lives into random and perhaps dystopian waters, determined only by profits. The purpose of this podcast then, is to spur an inclusive discussion with expert thinkers who are underrepresented in today’s discussions about these new technologies and what they can achieve or break in our global societies.



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AI, ESG and Startups

Join us in this episode of "Utopias, Dystopias, and Today's Technology" as host Johannes sits down with Christian Lazopoulos, a seasoned expert in the FinTech and ESG sectors. We step into the world of AI, exploring its rise, potential, and the ethical implications that come with it. Is AI on the brink of self-awareness? What does this mean for the rights of AI entities? How is AI reshaping the startup landscape and navigating the ecosystem? We tackle these questions and more, offering a comprehensive look at the intersection of AI, ethics, and consciousness. But that's not all. We also discuss the role of technology in shaping our future, the challenges startups face, and the potential of AI in connecting the dots in various fields, including medicine. We explore the influence of AI on human behavior and its role in democratization. This episode is a must-watch for anyone interested in AI, startups, and the future of technology. Tune in, gain insights, and join the conversation. Don't forget to like, share, and subscribe for more deep dives into the world of technology.


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'The Artificial Era': Bridging AI, Music, Sustainability, and Societal Impact for the Future.

In this episode of "Utopias, Dystopias and Today's Technology," host Johannes invites the multifaceted AI expert and celebrated pianist Gissel Velarde for an exploration of AI, music, and society. Starting off with Gissel's journey in the fields of AI and music, the conversation swiftly ventures into the interplay between data science, AI and the art of music creation. The duo contemplates on profound questions concerning AI's role and impact in music, whether it can be considered to have intentionality, and the debate on AI with respect to intelligence, consciousness, and sentience. Intricacies of musical influence, historical transformations in music, and the genesis of music in rituals, all in relation to AI bring out nuances that are not usually discussed. Can AI replicate human experiences? Is it possible to empathize with AI or to use technology such as immersive experiences to empathize with other biological intelligences? The episode dives into these scantly discussed areas, providing listeners with fresh perspectives on the topic. The episode further touches on the role of AI in sustainability, the dangers of technology, and the potential manipulation of human nature, highlighting the importance of developing critical thinking in our rapidly digitalizing world. Johannes and Gissel shed light on the educational inequality, digital divide, and the promise of technology in overcoming these barriers. Gissel gives us a sneak peek into her upcoming book, "The Artificial Era," which will be puclished in October and is available for early ordering here: https://gvelarde.com/books/Artificial-era-by-Velarde.html This book promises to address pressing issues like the lack of diversity in AI and potential future predictions. The conversation takes a personal turn as Gissel shares her journey from Bolivia to Germany and Denmark, instilling hope and inspiration in aspiring data scientists. Finally, they contemplate AI's role in fostering sustainable energy and environmental conservation, leading up to a concluding thought that underscores the potential of every individual to make the world a better place. Join us in this intellectually enriching dialogue that promises to challenge your understanding of AI and its pervasive influence on various aspects of our lives. Don't forget to like, comment, and subscribe for more insightful discussions! Gissel Velarde's website can be found here: https://gvelarde.com/ Gissel's paper on time series forecasting with deep learning is available here: https://arxiv.org/pdf/2302.12027v1.pdf


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Coding Nepal's Future: A Unique Blend of High-Tech and Tradition in the Himalayas

Venture with us into the unique conversation nexus of Utopias, Dystopias, and Today's Technology. This episode features the thought leader, Umesh Upadhyaya, Co-founder of HPCNepal, who, along with our host, Johannes Castner, navigates the intersections of high-performance computing (HPC) and the evolving landscape of Nepal. Unfurling Umesh's professional chronicle from the international corridors of UNDP and the International Seabed Authority to fostering an HPC revolution in Nepal, this discussion illustrates the comparative dynamics of cloud and HPC, primarily highlighting the latter's quintessential necessity for Nepal. Uncover the challenges cloud platforms pose in Nepal and the empowerment brought about by global supercomputing conference learnings. Witness the amalgamation of high-performance computing with low-tech devices, foreseeing an educational and research revolution in Nepal. This episode also illuminates the practical utility of supercomputing in weather prediction and the influence of Moore's Law on HPC evolution. Stay tuned as we elucidate the prospective role of IoT in HPC, Umesh's experiences with global organizations, and the pivotal role of supercomputers in nurturing computational research ambitions in young minds. Our dialogue further encompasses the unique geographical challenges and opportunities for HPC in Nepal, international collaborations, and the essence of digital inclusion. Concluding with the vision of mobile-enabled HPC, the incorporation of collective intelligence in contemporary scenarios, and harmonizing traditional wisdom with advanced technology, this episode serves as a trailblazer for future advancements. We also shed light on the burgeoning influence of technology in Nepal, demographic and economic trajectories, green energy avenues, and the ethical quandaries surrounding AI. Our conversations are not mere technological showcases but serve as windows into the societal implications, the practical workings, and the future trajectory of technology. Connect with us and participate in this lively discourse to reimagine the future. If our content resonates with you, show us your support by liking, sharing, and subscribing to our channel. Stay connected, stay updated, and together let's envision a technologically advanced, ethical future.


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AI's Trajectory: From '80s Beginnings to the GPT Era and Beyond

Join our host Johannes and AI expert Neville Newey as they explore the intricate world of Artificial Intelligence (AI), quantum computing, and consciousness. This compelling discussion ventures into the origins of AI, its evolution from the AI Winter to the AI Spring, and the potential it holds for the future of technology and society. From early programming experiences to cloud computing, the conversation covers the impact of Moore's Law, the rise of language models, and the future of personal computing. But it doesn't stop there. The duo delves deep into the philosophy of consciousness and sentience, scrutinizing these concepts in humans, animals, and AI. The episode culminates with debates around AI regulation, its potential misuse, and its future role in transforming work and education. Get ready for a mind-bending conversation that will challenge your understanding of AI and consciousness. Don't miss this insightful episode of Utopias, Dystopias and Today's Technology. Tune in, share with your tech-savvy friends, and join the conversation!


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Transforming Finance: Varun Mehta's Work on India's Future in FinTech

India's FinTech Revolution" is the topic of this week's installment of the 'Utopias, Dystopias and Today's Technology' podcast, facilitated by your host Johannes and featuring guest Varun Mehta. Mehta offers a unique perspective on India's rapidly evolving FinTech environment. The conversation places a sharp focus on India's potential to emerge as a pivotal player in the worldwide FinTech arena, an idea Mehta champions fervently. Aadhaar and Sahamati, the cornerstones of India's advanced data infrastructure, are scrutinized for their potential to revolutionize digital financial services. The duo thoughtfully scrutinize the complex tapestry of regulatory discrepancies between India and the U.S, delivering insights on the delicate balance between industry expansion and legal frameworks. Blockchain technology's real-world applications and hurdles are also candidly analyzed by Mehta. A discussion on the fascinating realm of multi-currency investments paints an alluring vision of the future of cross-border financial transactions. Perhaps surprisingly to some, Mehta conjectures that the Metaverse may not play a significant role in FinTech's future. This distinctive dialogue is an essential listen for anyone seeking to comprehend the trajectory of FinTech, not only in India but globally. Don't let this examination of technology's impact on modern finance pass you by! Varun Mehta's podcast "the Indian Market Story": https://youtube.com/playlist?list=PLjW-sTmup9IYsVVr1wnsF5j0wcIpi1x0Q Twitter Link for Varun Mehta: https://twitter.com/VarunDMehta


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Shaping Work's Future: AI, Gig Economy, & Tech-Driven Transformation

Ben Legg, co-founder of the Portfolio Collective and host Johannes discuss the evolving job market and gig economy. They touch upon the role of emerging technologies, such as AI and Blockchain, that are contributing to the reshaping of our professional world. Through their exchange, Decentralized Autonomous Organizations (DAOs) and the peer-to-peer economy emerge as new models, offering innovative perspectives on work and employment. Fractional work is given particular attention, an intriguing alternative to traditional full-time employment. Their dialogue explores the challenges and concerns associated with these changes, such as the ethical implications of AI, the need for adaptive education systems, and enhancement in an ever-more productive environment. Ben Legg sheds light on the global nature of entrepreneurship, revealing how geographic and time constrain growth into new markets when running workshops, as the Portfolio Collective does. He offers a glimpse into the vibrant community within his organization, characterized by its remarkable diversity. Engage with this dialogue, share your thoughts, and contribute to the conversation. Subscribe to our channel for more content exploring the intersection of work, technology, and society.


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Prototyping Futures: Anatola Araba's Exploration of Art, AI, and the Metaverse

Join us in the latest episode of Utopias, Dystopias, and Today's Technology, where host Johannes engages in a stimulating discourse with the multifaceted Anatola Araba, a NYC-based futurist, visual artist, and journalist. Araba's work, known for its strong narrative voice, stands at the intersection of art, activism, and emerging technologies, advocating for a sustainable and equitable future. Unveiling the intriguing potential of artificial intelligence (AI), Araba underscores its transformative power to revolutionize various realms from storytelling and art to journalism and activism. Araba's recent film, Afro Algorithms, probes the complex interface of AI and bias within an Afrofuturist lens, illuminating the societal implications of AI, especially for marginalized communities. The discussion further navigates the intricate landscape of AI biases in sectors like law enforcement, hiring, and healthcare. The conversation provides insight into how AI algorithms, reflecting human imperfections, can distort information and create an overload of machine-generated content. The narrative shifts to the emotional resonance of AI in art, exploring how emotionless machines can evoke human responses and actions. It also considers the darker side of AI and its potential to exploit human vulnerabilities. Araba emphasizes the importance of democratizing AI, envisioning a decentralized future powered by the rise of Web 3.0. The speakers discuss the role of AI in art, comparing it to the use of assistants in Michelangelo's workshop, and the controversy of AI's potential role in Hollywood. Moving into the realm of the metaverse, Araba shares her experiences of creating a digital art museum, a novel frontier for artistic expression. The dialogue acknowledges the powerful role of the metaverse in shaping climate change narratives, while also considering its potential as a form of escapism from physical reality. Araba's perspective on urbanization, the evolving role of artists in a tech-driven world, and the reflection of societal changes in modern art provides a well-rounded perspective on the current state and future trajectory of the intersection of art and technology. Engage with us in this episode to gain a comprehensive understanding of these topics and more. Connect with Anatola Araba on her social media channels and join her in creating art that explores key societal topics, from AI to climate change and beyond.


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Empowering Diverse Learners with Ananya Agrawal's Unique EdTech Approach

In this episode of Utopias, Dystopias and Today's Technology, host Johannes engages with Ananya Agrawal, an education technology (EdTech) expert who began her professional journey building an educational platform for remote Himalayan villages. As a computer science engineer and new media designer, Ananya founded Dreamverse Learning Lab, where she develops conversational agents, games, and innovative metrics to assess the success of businesses built on their educational platform. Together, they discuss education challenges such as the lack of mentorship and the need for discovery-based learning. They explore how technology, including low-tech solutions like Integrated Voice Response (IVR) systems, can address these issues, especially in remote communities. Ananya also shares her experiences creating a local cluster-based learning system for collaborative learning environments. This episode examines Bloom's Taxonomy, the role of multimodal technology in creative learning, and the importance of balancing basic knowledge with technology use. The conversation covers how technology can be harnessed to deliver near-optimum learning experiences for individuals with diverse learning styles and learners from different cultural backgrounds. Furthermore, they discuss cultural diversity, language barriers, storytelling in education, and the significance of human-centric design in technology. Join Johannes and Ananya as they explore the future of education and technology in this fascinating discussion. Learn about the potential of EdTech solutions, the power of collaborative learning, and the unique ways technology can be utilized to cater to a wide range of learning styles and cultural contexts, all while differentiating Ananya's approach from competitors like Khan Academy and Duolingo as businesses are built on Ananya's approach.


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Exploring the Relationship Between Consciousness and Artificial Intelligence

In this podcast, guest Srijit Panja and host Johannes discuss and debate the complex and fascinating relationship between artificial intelligence (AI) and consciousness. They explore the differences between brain-like and brain-inspired AI systems, the unique capabilities and limitations of both human and AI learning, and the potential ethical implications of developing conscious machines. The conversation is thoughtfully guided by Srijit and Johannes's deep knowledge of the topic, and offers valuable insights into the challenges and opportunities of AI research in the 21st century.


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Digital Health Frontiers: Balancing Innovation, Ethics, and the Human Touch in Healthcare

In this episode of "Utopias, Dystopias, and Today's Technology," host Johannes and digital health expert Claudia Pagliari dive into the critical interplay between healthcare, technology, and ethics. Discover Sir Berners Lee's Solid project, aiming to revolutionize user control over personal data, and the Internet of Bodies' effect on data privacy. Learn about the role of wearables in health monitoring, the utilization of virtual reality in medical training, and the challenges of regulating technology in healthcare. Engage in the discussion on balancing automation and human touch in healthcare. Become aware of the emergence of techno-feudalism as a political, cultural, and economic phenomenon. Immerse yourself in this enlightening episode exploring the future of digital health and its societal implications, and share with others who would appreciate the wealth of information offered.


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AI, Human Cloning, and the Future: Exploring the Boundaries of Singularity and Transhumanism

In this episode, host Johannes and Christian Wilk engage in a deep conversation about artificial intelligence (AI), human enhancement, and the future of society. They discuss human cloning and the potential utopian and dystopian outcomes, delving into the role of AI in art, creativity, and ethics of customizing AI clones. The dialogue explores the impact of increased intelligence on human behavior, the interplay between rationality, emotion, and AI in decision-making, and the use of AI to reconnect with deceased loved ones. They also examine the pursuit of immortality, singularity, transhumanism, and the wild notion of experiencing multiple realities simultaneously through AI. As the conversation unfolds, they address topics such as the beginning of the technological singularity, conscious AI goals, and the dangers of over-relying on AI to solve humanity's problems. They touch upon human enhancements, accelerating technology advancements, and the power of simulations in modern engineering. Throughout the episode, Johannes and Christian speculate about various possibilities surrounding the future of AI and technology, acknowledging the complexity and uncertainty. They encourage listeners to appreciate biological aspects of life while adapting to changes brought about by digitization.


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Shaping Conscious Machines, Semantic Capital, and Our Digital Future

Explore the future of AI and ethics with host Johannes and Enrico Panai in this riveting podcast episode. They dive deep into the entanglement of consciousness, empathy, and ethics, and discuss the role of the state in AI development. Discover the fascinating concepts of semantic capital, Anagnorisis, and the impact of AI on our perception and time management. Rethink education, work-life balance, and the importance of philosophical thinking in guiding AI development. Join the conversation as we shape our digital future together.


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Quantum Consciousness Unveiled: Exploring the Mind's Hidden Dimension & Encountering Smart Zombies

Dive into the world of quantum consciousness with host Johannes and Utpal Chakraborty as they explore the fascinating intersection of science, philosophy, and human experience. Utpal shares his groundbreaking ideas on how consciousness and aspects of the mind function at a quantum level, within a unique dimension of reality. Discover the potential implications of these theories for artificial intelligence, machine learning, and the future of human interaction. In this captivating episode, you'll learn about: The fundamental differences between classical and quantum physics Utpal's innovative quantum consciousness theory and its connection to science and philosophy The eerie possibility of encountering "smart zombies" – unconscious beings that seem conscious The impact of quantum consciousness on AI development and machine learning advancements The significance of observer effect and quantum entanglement in our daily experiences The scientific basis of Utpal's ideas, moving beyond mystical interpretations Expand your understanding of the human mind, consciousness, and the nature of reality by joining Johannes and Utpal in this wide-ranging discussion. Subscribe now and don't miss out on future episodes exploring the cutting-edge of scientific and philosophical thought!


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ChatGPT and Beyond: Unpacking the Potential of Large Language Models

In this episode of Utopias, Dystopias and Today's Technology, host Johannes talks to data scientist Alan Tominey about ChatGPT, GPT-3, GPT-4, Meta's Galactica and other large language models. They discuss Noam Chomsky's critique of these models and their ability to generate content from lived experience, but also explore the potential business opportunities and use cases for such models. Alan shares how he uses ChatGPT to generate potential beer recipes and name lists, among other things. Whether you're interested in AI and language models, or curious about how they can be used in practice, this conversation is a must-listen.


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AI Ethics and Democracy: Debating Algorithm-Mediated Direct Democracy and the Democratization of AI

In a stimulating conversation about the intersection of democracy and AI, AI ethicist Dorothea Baur and host Johannes discuss the term "democratization of AI" and its disingenuous use by "technology evangelists." They explored the use of algorithms in democracy and government, with Dorothea expressing skepticism about César Hidalgo's "bold idea" of an algorithm-mediated direct democracy. She raised concerns that such a system could undermine the role of experts, undervalue debate and discussion, and worsen the war on accurate information. However, Johannes offered his belief that delegating important decisions to algorithms might be exactly the right thing, contrary to our instincts, since their properties can be understood and precisely *because* they lack emotions, making them more predictable and controllable in the long run. They both agreed that accountability is an issue that must be solved. The conversation was both engaging and informative, presenting a challenging exchange of viewpoints on this important topic. César Hidalgo's "bold idea": https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CyGWML6cI_k&t=2s Open AI's plan for AI behavior: https://openai.com/blog/how-should-ai-systems-behave Arvind Narayanan's talk about AI snake-oil: https://www.cs.princeton.edu/~arvindn/talks/MIT-STS-AI-snakeoil.pdf Emily Bender on stochastic parrots: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N5c2X8vhfBE


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Digital Twins for Refugees

In this episode of Utopias, Dystopias and Today's Technology, host Johannes talks with Richard Thickpenny about his groundbreaking work with digital twins for refugees. By enabling refugees to take control of their own data and monetize it through research institutions, this technology promises to provide valuable insights into career paths and to allow for the safe and secure sharing of information without triggering traumatic memories. Thickpenny's digital twin technology also offers a highly personalized approach to refugee services, allowing refugees to build a career path that is tailored to their unique experiences. Thickpenny's work promises to be a major step forward in the fight for refugee empowerment. By leveraging the power of technology, we can create a world where refugees have the tools that they need to take control of their own lives, create fulfilling careers, and contribute to their host societies and the world at large in the most meaningful ways possible.


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Diving Deep into Deepfakes: excuse me, that’s my face!

At times chilling, at times inspiring, guest Rajendra Shroff leads host Johannes deep into the world of deepfakes and their potential for both political manipulation and artistic expression. They discuss the devastating case of journalist Rana Ayyub, who fell victim to a deepfake sex film that featured her face without her consent, as cited in Danielle Citron's riveting TED talk on this subject: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pg5WtBjox-Y&t=1s They discuss the implications of the deepfake inflection point at which it becomes costless for everyone to make such videos of anyone else. The conversation then shifts to the potential of deepfakes beyond their negative implications, including the use of the technology to bring deceased actors back to life and augment the work of human artists. Shroff highlights the power of deepfakes and other forms of artificial intelligence as new tools in the artist's toolkit, tools that can help to create new forms of expression, which themselves are deeply rooted in human experience. Tune in to hear about the darker and more optimistic aspects of deepfakes and their implications for our world. Prescient fictional accounts of deepfakes were briefly discussed: Futurama episode: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NVs8_DzaRrE&t=15s Twenty Minutes into the Future (Max Headroom): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aZY-yQYVf38


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Revolutionizing the Internet: The Movement of Web3 and the Fight for User Control.

Experience the conversation between host Johannes and Yasmin Al-Douri about the web3 movement and the challenges it faces. They discussed Tim Berners-Lee's critique of blockchain and the potential privacy concerns it poses and they speculated about Berners-Lee's ongoing project, Solid, which was envisioned to fix these concerns. They also explored Jaron Lanier's data wallet approach as a possible solution to people owning their own data. What is perhaps most striking, is the realization that the web3 movement is not just about technology, but about a broader movement towards a more decentralized and user-controlled Internet. It represents a shift away from the current centralized model, where large corporations and governments wield significant power and influence over the internet and its users.


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The Challenge of Ethical AI: A Virtue Ethics Perspective

The rapid speed of technological innovation and the slow speed of ethical learning make it challenging to ensure that AI and other technologies align with sound moral values. Powerful tech leaders, who design these systems, may not fully understand how they will be used globally. Olivia Gambelin, a virtue ethicist, suggests taking a virtue ethics approach to ensure that the moral virtues embedded in AI systems reflect the values of the people who use them. Developing inclusive and thoughtful AI is crucial to ensure our technologies align with sound moral principles. Olivia Gambelin's website: www.oliviagambelin.com Olivia's TedX talk: https://youtu.be/H9Esi2kDUsc


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The Future of Money: Blockchain and Cryptocurrencies

Join the discussion with Johannes Castner and Flávio Azevedo as they delve into the world of blockchain and cryptocurrencies. Flávio, a founder in the industry, shares his perspectives on the role of central banks and the current monetary system. He argues that central banks are not effective managers of the money supply and believes in the principles of "sound money" from the Austrian school of economics. In addition he hints at what is to come to much of the tech sector once quantum computing is available. Get a unique insight into this rapidly growing sector and the debates surrounding it. Flávio is currently researching Digital Sovereign Identity on Web 3.0 As promised, here are the links for the free courses that Flávio is currently taking: Digital currencies - https://www.unic.ac.cy/blockchain/fre... Defi - https://www.unic.ac.cy/blockchain/fre... NFTs and Metaverse https://www.unic.ac.cy/openmetaverse/...