QUARTERLY ROUNDUP – Q2 2014

BITCOIN

The Bitcoin Network

Ahead of yet another 12-14% difficulty increase coming in the next 15 hours, the Bitcoin network has reached nearly 100 petahashes of processing power, less than 8 piddling months after hitting 1 petahash.

Let that sink in.

It’s insane. It’s beautiful. It’s utterly mesmerizing. – Peter Dushenski

 

Volatility

There was no bitcoin 5 years ago and now you complain about volatility. It’s quite silly. – Jeffrey Tucker

 

Venture Capital Investment

Venture capitalists have publicly disclosed investments of $64 million this year and are on track to top $200 million by the end of the year – David Smith

 

Real Institutional Investment Coming

What we’re hearing is that some of the big broker dealers on Wall Street are setting up small trading desks just to get exposure to the asset and understand it. That’s the approach now as opposed to a year ago when people thought governments would never allow it, and banks just wanted it to go away. All of the major banks now have teams trying to make sense of bitcoin.

A year ago, most governments and big banks frankly just wanted bitcoin to go away. They were like: ‘this is a joke, I want this to go away. I’m just going to ignore it.’ It’s not going to go away. So now people are saying: ‘it’s not going away and there’s big money coming into this, this is a real innovation, we need to get our heads wrapped around it, and we need to figure out whatever rules we’re going to wrap around it – Jeremy Allaire, CEO of Circle

 

Bitcoin vs. Total War

Fiat currency is the greatest virus to ever strike the planet because it causes so many deaths. Hundreds of millions. You can’t make these wars (total wars), you can’t sustain them and possibly pay for these wars using existing assets.

Monetary policy gives license to the state to do these things, otherwise it’s just not possible. The evils of the 20th century have almost everything to do with monetary policy.

Trying to find out the cost of war is really tough because it’s all self reported and it doesn’t count in the long term costs of war like long term healthcare and benefits, and also CPI inflation is all lies anyway.

* The very first big program funded by central banking was World War 1. It wasn’t scientific monetary policy, it wasn’t low unemployment, it wasn’t low inflation, it wasn’t the end of business cycles. No, it was the beginning of total war. That was the beginning of central banking.

* The cost of  World War 2, for just America which was never invaded, was more than all the gold that had ever been mined in human history.  So that’s why you had to get rid of the gold standard.

* Then Vietnam broke Bretton Woods and convertibility of US debt to gold in 1971.

* America has now spent much more on the War on Terror than it did on the 2nd world war.

– Stefan Molyneux & Jeffrey Tucker

 

The Currency of Peace

All around the world most governments fund what they’re doing, a little bit through direct taxation, but mostly through inflation.

Because bitcoin has a hard limited supply, governments are no longer going to be able to fund what they’re doing through inflation if the world is using bitcoin, so I’m working hard every single day to spread bitcoin to the biggest number of people everywhere.

All these people that are opposed to what states are doing, right now today you have an option. Start using bitcoin, stop using dollars, euros or yen. Use bitcoin. Bitcoin is the currency of peace whereas the dollar and these other currencies are the currencies of violent central bankers and violent governments that like to murder people around the world.

So if you’re opposed to murder and violence and coercion, use bitcoin. If you like murder and violence and coercion keep using dollars, euros, and yen. – Roger Ver

 

 

ALTCOINS

Ethereum

Very intrigued by  Ethereum @ethereumproject would love to talk to you guys – David Marcus, Paypal President

 

The idea of a generalized blockchain platform with Turing complete language that can enable a myriad of applications to be custom written for that language.

I think that is a tremendous innovation, and I’m not saying Ethereum will be it but what Ethereum does will happen one way or another, perhaps by Ethereum, perhaps by a clone of Ethereum or perhaps by something that comes even later, but it gives you a glimpse into just what is possible.

The design pattern of a Turing complete platform based on the blockchain for negotiating contracts is brilliant and genius on a level almost equivalent to Satoshi in terms of taking existing technologies and just pushing them to a whole other level. I think Vitalik is one of the most brilliant people ever for building and designing it and coming up with the idea – Andreas Antonopoulos

 

Altcoin Speculation

I couldn’t give a shit about all this altcoin speculation stuff. I think it’s all rubbish, including the really unfortunate idea to release ZeroCash as an altcoin – Greg Maxwell

 

It’s difficult just to find 10 altcoins that aren’t blatant premine /instamine/ fastmine pump and dump scams, never mind 10 coins that genuinely improve on bitcoin.

Founders who have a decent name, brand, logo (blackcoin) or a seemingly decent feature (darkcoin) could not resist the temptation to cash in on a quick instamine pump and dump over a couple of months, rather than build a coin up that aims for real merchant adoption over a period of many years.

Bitcoin is a remarkable experiment. Despite having 5 years to create a better model, most competitors have failed to balance the tough problem of allocating a coin in a sustainable way.

Even after 5 years, nothing comes close to bitcoin in integrity and utility – Lee Banfield

 

 

EQUITIES

Google

If even a small part of what Silicon Valley currently believes about Google (GOOG) is true, it’s significantly undervalued today.

The company everyone believes is the General Electric of the 21st century: 2014 P/E ex-cash of 19.4Marc Andreessen, Andreessen Horowitz

 

Overstock

I’m exploring listing Overstock on a block chain kind of stock exchange – Patrick Byrne, Overstock CEO

 

S&P500

S&P500 is now at all time high on the news of an economy that collapsed 2.9%. Rigged markets? Nothing to see here, move along peasants – Andreas Antonopoulos

 

 

COMPANIES / PROJECTS

The Decentralized Movement

BitcoinUberLyftAirbnb, etc… We will look back at this time in history as the effective beginning of the decentralized movement – Luke Stokes

 

Microsoft (Skype)

Skype video phone call at codecon with real time voice translation German to English. Awesome. Future. Well done.

Skype voice language translation product will be launched this year – Mark Suster, Upfront Ventures

I can’t help but be reminded of Google no longer understanding how its systems are learning to identify objects in photos so accurately – the technology is hugely impressive and, in developing a mind of its own, kind of disturbing – David Meyer

 

Soylent

A liquid food product designed to be nutritionally complete. It’s a food, not a supplement. It has everything the body needs to be healthy, you can live on this entirely.

It’s been 90% of my diet for the last year and a half – Rob Reinhart, Soylent

 

 

PRIVACY

On 6/5, 65 Things We Know About NSA Surveillance That We Didn’t Know a Year Ago – from EFF – Glenn Greenwald

 

My top 10 From the EFF Report

1) The XKEYSCORE program analyzes emails, online chats and the browsing histories of millions of individuals anywhere in the world.

2) The NSA has plans to infect potentially millions of computers with malware implants as part of its Tailored Access Operations.

3) The NSA tracked access to porn and gathered other sexually explicit information “as part of a proposed plan to harm the reputations of those whom the agency believes are radicalizing others through incendiary speeches.”

4) The Guardian reported: “In one six-month period in 2008 alone, [GCHQ] collected webcam imagery – including substantial quantities of sexually explicit communications – from more than 1.8-million Yahoo user accounts globally.”

5) The NSA’s Dishfire operation has collected 200 million text messages daily from users around the globe, which can be used to extract valuable information such as location data, contact retrievals, credit card details, missed call alerts, roaming alerts (which indicate border crossings), electronic business cards, credit card payment notifications, travel itinerary alerts, and meeting information.

6) The fruits of NSA surveillance routinely end up in the hands of the IRS. Like the DEA, the IRS uses parallel construction to cloak the source of the tip.

7) The NSA had a secret $10 million contract with security firm RSA to create a “back door” in the company’s widely used encryption products.

8) NSA undermines the encryption tools relied upon by ordinary users, companies, financial institutions, targets, and non-targets as part of BULLRUN, an unparalleled effort to weaken the security of all Internet users, including you.

9) Microsoft, like other companies, has cooperated closely with the FBI to allow the NSA to “circumvent its encryption and gain access to users’ data.”

10) The NSA program MUSCULAR infiltrates links between the global data centers of technology companies such as Google and Yahoo. Many companies have responded to MUSCULAR by encrypting traffic over their internal networks.

– Lee Banfield

 

No Place to Hide

All of the documents newly reported in “No Place to Hide” are now online, with some others http://glenngreenwald.net/  http://glenngreenwald.net/pdf/NoPlaceToHide-Documents-Compressed.pdf  – Glenn Greenwald

 

My Top 10 from the NSA/GCHQ Internal Documents

1) “Collect it All – Process it All – Sniff it All – Exploit it All” (Page 5)

2) Alliances with over 80 major global corporations. Leverage unique key corporate partnerships to gain access to high-capacity international fiber-optic cables, switches, and/or routers throughout the world. (Page 12)

3) Microsoft, working with the FBI, developed a surveillance capability to deal with the new SSL. These solutions were successfully tested and went live 12 Dec 2012 (Page 30)

4) Shipments of computer networks (servers, routers, etc) are interceptedredirected to a secret location – Tailored Access Operations employees install beacon implants directly into electronic devices – devices are repackaged and placed back into transit to original destination (Page 61)

5) BLARNEY began delivery of substantially improved and more complete Facebook content. This is a major leap forward in NSA’s abilities to exploit Facebook using FISA and FAA authorities (Page 81)

6) “Oh Yeah…Put money, national interest, and ego together, and now you’re talking about reshaping the world writ large. What country doesn’t want to make the world a better place… for itself? (Page 95)

7) Manhunt Operation. The US on 10 August urged other nations to consider filing criminal charges against Julian Assange. The appeal exemplifies the start of an international effort to focus the legal element of national power upon non-state actor Assange, and the human network that supports Wikileaks. (Page 99)

8) Discredit a target. Set up a honey trap – Change their photos on social networking sites – Write a blog purporting to be one of their victims – Email/text their colleagues, neighbours, friends, etc (Page 102)

9) Photo change; you have been warned, “JTRIG is about!!” Can take paranoia to a whole new level. (Page 103)

10) Stop someone’s computer from working. Send them a virus – AMBASSADORS RECEPTION – encrypt itself, delete all emails, encrypt all files, make screen shake, no more log on – Conduct a denial of service attack on their computer. (Page 105)

Lee Banfield

 

 

PLACES

What Defines your Nationality?

Language? Currency? Where you live+work?

Now Bitcoin, Google translate, telecommuting changes everything – Peter Diamandis, Co-founder of Singularity University

If Telepresence keeps improving exponentially it will change everything within a decade. See “Telepresence / Snowdenbot” comments in the Singularity section below – Lee Banfield

 

Bali

Tourists traveling to the tropical holiday island of Bali would “only need to bring bitcoin” under a new initiative called ‘Bitislands’ that is aiming to convince all local businesses to accept the digital currency, including money changers.

This is the first attempt to convert an entire island.

The project’s first goal is to set up an office and Bitcoin Information Center in Bali, and the island’s first offline bitcoin exchange. The Bitislands team is inviting bitcoin fans worldwide to support the initiative through donations, spreading the word and even volunteering in Bali itself.

Bali is probably a more perfect location for mass bitcoin adoption than most would assume. It has begun to attract digital nomads and other entrepreneurs from around the world as the perfect place to run a laptop-based startup – Jon Southurst

 

New Hampshire: The Free State Project

A Libertarian testing ground for Bitcoin, 3d Printers, and Drones.

Everyone I met in the Project owned Bitcoin and was willing to accept it for goods and services.

Erik Voorhees, a Bitcoin entrepreneur moved to New Hampshire in May 2011 to join the Free State Project. It was there that he first heard about Bitcoin after someone posted about it in the Free State Facebook group. “Very few Free Staters knew about about it at that point. They don’t like using government money, but they were more into gold and silver than virtual currency,” he says. “I went down the rabbit hole and couldn’t stop talking about it, and then warmed other Free Staters up to it.”

Voorhees notes that Roger Ver, a Bitcoin entrepreneur who lives in Tokyo, was also an early signer of the Free State petition, and bought Bitcoin ads on Free Talk Live, a libertarian radio station associated with the project

Most people in the Free State Project are technology-oriented, and many come from a programming or computer background. The libertarian way of thinking is pretty common among technologists,” says Lamassu’s Zach Harvey, 35. “They want to teach themselves as much as they can in order to be free, and you have to use technology these days to be free. Bitcoin is the perfect fit for this group, a government-free currency with freedom programmed in.

Cody Wilson compares the Free State Project in New Hampshire with Silicon Valley; both places have libertarian-leaning techies trying to make disruptive technologies popular. “Silicon Valley is more capitalized and less about practical liberty than the Free State community, which has a better stake in the freedom at the heart of these technologies,” he says. “It’s the hotbed of libertarian activism in the country – Kashmir Hill

 

 

THE SINGULARITY

Computer Program Passes the Turing Test?

I think this is premature. I am disappointed that Professor Warwick, with whom I agree on many things, would make this statement.

In my 2004 book The Singularity Is Near, I anticipated that there would be premature announcements of this kind.

I chatted with the chatbot Eugene Goostman, and was not impressed. Eugene does not keep track of the conversation, repeats himself word for word, and often responds with typical chatbot non sequiturs.

In my 1989 book The Age of Intelligent Machines, I predicted that the milestone of a computer passing the Turing test would occur in the first half of the 21st century. I specified the 2029 date in my 1999 book The Age of Spiritual Machines. After that book was published, we had a conference at Stanford University and the consensus of AI experts at that time was that it would happen in hundreds of years, if ever.

In 2006 we had a conference called “AI at 50” at Dartmouth College, celebrating the 50th anniversary of the 1956 Dartmouth conference that gave artificial intelligence its name. We had instant polling devices and the consensus at that time, among AI experts, was 25 to 50 years. Today, my prediction appears to be median view. So, I am gratified that a growing group of people now think that I am being too conservative – Ray Kurzweil

 

3D Printing

It’s on the horizon: 3D printing a human heart from a donor’s own cellular starter http://www.medgadget.com/2014/04/scientists-on-track-to-assemble-3d-printed-bioficial-heart.html – John Hagel

Just a couple years ago people looked at me like I had three heads when I suggested this kind of thing –George Rocklein

 

Voice Recognition

Tim Tuttle, CEO and founder of Expect Labs, said in the last 18 months, voice recognition accuracy improved 30%—a bigger gain than the entire decade previous. A third of searches are now being done using voice commands.

Voice recognition uses machine learning algorithms that depend on people actually using them to get better. Tuttle believes we’re at the beginning of a virtuous cycle wherein wider adoption is yielding more data; more data translates into better performance; better performance results in wider adoption, more data, and so on – Jason Dorrier

 

Telepresence / Snowdenbot

The futility of geographic occupancy limitations in a telepresence world? http://www.wired.com/2014/06/inside-edward-snowdens-life-as-a-robot/

What will be the purpose & justification for immigration restrictions in a world with ubiquitous, ultra-hi-def, free telepresence? – Marc Andreessen, Co-founder of Andreessen Horowitz

 

For at least the past three months, Snowden and his supporters have been experimenting with a Beam Pro remote presence system, a Wi-Fi-connected screen and camera on wheels that Snowden can use to communicate with the staffers in the New York office of the American Civil Liberties Union, according to his ACLU lawyer Ben Wizner.

From a computer in Moscow, Snowden can turn on the video bot and wheel around the ACLU’s office on a whim. 

“He’s used it to roll out into the hallway and generously interact with large numbers of ACLU staff,” says Wizner. “I think it can be a profound response to exile.”

Once, the non-profit’s executive director Anthony Romero gave the Snowden-possessed machine a walking tour of the building. Another time, Wizner had to jump on a phone call during a meeting with his whistleblower client. When he got off the phone, he found that Snowden had rolled the bot into civil liberties lawyer Jameel Jaffer’s office and was discussing the 702 provision of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. “It was kind of cool,” Wizner says.

Trevor Timm, the director of the Freedom of the Press Foundation where Snowden sits on the board, says Snowden had been interested in trying the telepresence bot even before his TED talk.

“He was telling people for a while that it could be this game-changing technology,” says Timm. “I don’t think anyone quite believed him until we saw it in action…All he needs is arms to open doors, and he can go wherever he wants.”

Glenn Greenwald wrote that he’d like to see the robot unleashed in the NSA parking lot

– Andy Greenberg

 

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