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99 Bitcoins and an Elephant

I love books! I'm currently reading 4 books at the same time- Yep I'm that kind of book lover. And I'm happy to announce that my kids are too. When I came across 99 Bitcoins and an Elephant, I knew I wanted to review it, the Tech element in this book is very innovative and I believe that's very important that our kids start learning about it while having fun.

Thank you, Vincent Chen, for sending me this wonderful book to review.

As you can see in the pictures above, my daughter is reading the book to our robot Loomo. Now, many kids might not have been exposed to robots and new technologies such as Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality yet but just like the smartphone, it will only be a matter of time.

The future in which our kids will live will be so advanced that we can barely understand what it will look like.

What I loved about this book

  • The overall story was magical and engaging.

  • The images were absolutely fantastic.

  • I loved that the main character was a girl using tech, this is a very powerful message.

  • Kindness and empathy are important elements in this story.

  • It's affordable

  • My kids wanted to read this book more than once and that my friends it's a great sign.

What did not work for me -Luckily not many things

  • The idea that money is still at the center of everything, especially in the future. I understand that its how the world is currently rolling and I respect that but the fact that money is still in the way between spending time with your family, receiving love or achieving your dreams is not how I envision the future and its not how I'm teaching my daughters to prepare for it. We are already seeing subtle changes in the way that entrepreneurs are making an income- You Tubers, residual income, online courses, stores on social media and how big companies are trying to automate everything. Whether we want it or not, our relationship with money will change too because in the process of automation, if we are able to organize things in an effective way, we'll be left with what I believe is our most valuable asset: Time.

Interview with Vincent Chen


Mindfully Augmented (MA) What inspired you to write this book? Vincent Chen (VC): Technology is amazing. Many things that I daydreamed of as a kid came true because technology keeps improving. An example is that back then, I had to go to the library or a local Blockbuster to read or watch something I want. Now I can access those books and videos whenever and wherever. It may not seem amazing viewed from my kids’ point of view, but to me, this opens up a world of possibilities.

Some people see the technological progression as negative. I see this as reality, with both negative and positive impacts.

As a father of two young kids, a frequent question I ask myself is: how to raise them in a world that's continually reshaped by emerging technologies? The jobs available today will be replaced by technology. And they need to adapt.

A key message of the book is that technology can keep changing, but some things that we, as humans, value will remain timeless. Some of those things are relationships, kindness, and creativity. I want to write a children’s book that weaves all these into a story that kids and their parents will have fun reading.

MA: With all the technology that kids are using these days, why choosing a book instead of an ebook or an interactive story?

VC: A book is an old technology. But somehow, my kids still enjoy picking up a book and reading. I visited a library near my home recently. The children’s book area was filled with kids! It was so hot and stuffy that I wanted to leave immediately. So I think that a book has a place in this world, along with ebooks, interactive apps, or perhaps virtual reality.

Also, whenever I hand my kids the iPad, an ebook does not stand a chance against YouTube Kids and games. The latter two are engineered to be addicting. If I want them to read and not get distracted, I rather hand them a book.

MA: Do you think that the current educational system caters to the needs that our children will have in the future?

Yes, but it’s not enough.

My kids are learning reading, writing, and math. They are also painting and making things. These are important lessons.

I feel that the educational system in the United States is decent and a lot of the people that I have encountered have their hearts in the right place. It’s designed to prioritize a certain body of knowledge over others. It’s also designed to work for a large number of people, and not to be individualized. Like any system, there are areas to improve.

In addition to the standard core body of knowledge, I think that kids today need to learn other things needed in future (also today) - knowing how to build relationships, knowing how to learn new things quickly, and being able to try, fail, and bounce back fast. There are courses out there addressing these, usually provided outside of the general educational system. 

It is one of my jobs as a father to fill in the gaps for my kids. For those gaps that are important to me, I need to find them the right teachers and lessons. 

MA: What do you think that technologies such as Augmented reality, Virtual reality, and Machine Learning are teaching to our kids?

VC: These are tools. They can be used to our kids’ benefit, but they can also be harmful. 

One area that interests me is that technologies' impact on culture and behaviors. The culture in the real world is diverse. But there are also new and different set of cultures and norms in the virtual world. People will speak, act, and interact in a different way virtually. Technologies give us new ways to express ourselves through constantly evolving language (e.g., LOL), symbols (e.g., emojis), images, video, and experience. It’s fascinating, wonderful, and in some cases, it could scary.

Sometimes the virtual and real world may mix. For example, my son showed me his Fortnite dance moves over the summer. Fortnite is to gaming as Harry Potter is to books. Everyone at his camp was doing this dance.

I need to be constantly aware of culture its influence. It’s up to us parents and caretakers to teach our kids the rights and wrongs as much as possible and early on. Because if not, many others will, and they may not have the kids’ best interest in mind.

MA: Is there anything else you would like to add?

VC: As much as my book is about technology, it’s more about being human. And most of us want the same thing after our physiological and safety needs are met – it’s to matter.

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