Half-Year Report (January-June 2014)


Bigger Than the Internet

Whenever I use Bitcoin, the reality strikes me. There is no way that national monies can survive the competition. The future is so clear.

Pulling money away from the State, or at least diminishing the monopoly that governments around the world have on money is going to unleash productivity and innovation like we’ve never seen before. This is bigger than railroads. I think it’s bigger than the internet itself. – Jeffrey Tucker



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


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


The bitcoin network hit 100 petahashes of processing power on 5th June 2014.

In the last month the network has added another 28 petahashes of processing power. As of July 7th 2014 the network is 128 petahashes.

At 5 petahashes (in November 2013) the bitcoin network was already the world’s most powerful computer network (256 times faster than the top 500 supercomputers combined)

Bitcoin has existed for five and a half years. The network has grown more in the last month than it did in its first five years of existence.

Lee Banfield


The Mega-Master Blockchain List

84 things that can be put in the blockchain – Antonis Polemitis, Ledra Capital


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

The above forecast of $200mill by year end was made in May.

By the end of June, total publicly disclosed VC investment for the year had already reached $125mill. Investment in bitcoin startups is outpacing all forecasts and accelerating at a breathtaking rate. Expect to see some very impressive bitcoin services emerge over the coming months  Lee Banfield


Andreessen Horowitz

Internet pioneer Marc Andreessen is doubling down on bitcoin amid turbulence in the virtual-currency world, in a bet that widespread adoption of the currency will fuel the growth of new businesses and technologies.

Mr Andreessen says bitcoin reminds him of the early days of the internet. “I’m having deja vu,” Mr Andreessen says.

“I’m completely unfazed and I plan to invest more”

Andreessen’s firm Andreessen Horowitz, has already invested $50 million in bitcoin and plans to invest hundreds of millions more over the next several years. – Gregory Zuckerman


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


Eliminating Trusted Entities

Any entity that you see in the Bitcoin community that you have to trust is going to go away. It’s going to cease to exist.

Silk Road was a neat concept, but even if they hadn’t been shut down they would have ceased to exist because they acted as a trusted entity.

Mt Gox someday will cease to exist. Satoshi’s dream was not that you have to trust a new bunch of trusted entities. His dream was to eliminate these entities entirely. – Chris Odom, OpenTransactions

One month later, Mt Gox ceased to exist – Lee Banfield



The bitcoin price is seven months away from its previous high and has settled into a trading range of $450-$650

Considering the massive infrastructure put into place during this time (millions of new wallets, tens of thousands of new merchants, >$100mill VC investment) and growing public and institutional awareness, it seems only a matter of time before a catalyst triggers a violent upswing that pushes the price up by more than 10x over the space of a few weeks (as happened in April 2011, February 2013, and October 2013)

With a money stock of only $8 billion compared to trillions for the Dollar, Euro, Yen the upside is immense.

Most mainstream observers see it as far fetched that bitcoin could become bigger than the dollar, but to me it seems far fetched that a single nation’s currency could be anywhere near as valuable as a frictionless currency designed for 7 billion people in 200+ countries. In time it will seem obvious that the world’s first great peer-to-peer digital currency, the currency of the internet, would become much bigger than mere national currencies controlled by a handful of elites.

Even if there isn’t an imminent catalyst that triggers a >10x upswing, bitcoin is heading in the right direction. As Wences Casares (CEO of Xapo) articulates here, bitcoin doesn’t need a specific catalyst or a media frenzy to stay on track to becoming the world’s dominant currency.

Casares claims that we just need to keep doing what we’ve in the last five years over the next five years (getting new users to sign up for wallets and hold a small amount of bitcoin).

Five million bitcoin wallets have been opened so far. Getting the next five million wallets opened will be much easier. When there were only five million email accounts in the world, email was pretty useless. When there were 100 million email accounts in the world, the network effect kicked in and people naturally started using it as they found email more convenient to use than traditional methods of communication – Lee Banfield





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, Bitcoin Core Developer


Centralized Distribution Metacoins

OpenTransactions makes all centralized distribution metacoins look like scams. #truthhurts – Bryce Weiner



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




The 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



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




The Decentralized Movement

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



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 Rhinehart, Soylent


I’m excited about this because it tackles a problem which desperately needs a low cost and convenient solution. Having a nutritionally complete, easy to prepare food which is widely available would be a great foundation/backup for people to have access to.

Rob Rhinehart came up with the idea for Soylent while struggling to build a startup. Feeling the pressure to cut his $470 monthly food bill he resorted to instant noodles and cheap junk food which cut his costs but destroyed his energy levels and productivity.

Feeling desperate, he decided to looking at food as an engineering problem and broke it down into its raw chemical components, which he then ordered from the internet (mostly in tablet or powder form) and threw into a blender. He managed to reduce his monthly food expenses down to $50.

Soylent has since received more than $3.5million in funding ($1mill of that from Andreessen Horowitz). The formula is open source.

Many people will look down on Soylent and whine that food should be enjoyable and this is some kind of futuristic science fiction dystopia, but people are clearly struggling with current food options, pricing and distribution and they don’t have to use it for 90% of their diet like Rhinehart does.

Most of the US is overweight and riddled with costly self inflicted illnesses. Other parts of the world are severely malnourished such as Haiti where soil is a key staple. There’s already an initiative to distribute Soylent to poor communities in the Philippines. At the moment Soylent is still too expensive to be a global solution, but the interest around it will spark competition and cheaper products in the synthetic food industry – Lee Banfield




No Place to Hide

All of the documents newly reported in “No Place to Hide” are now online, with some others.


Glenn Greenwald


My Top 10 from the NSA’s 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 intercepted – redirected 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




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


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




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


Skype Real-Time Voice Translation Available by End of 2014

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


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


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


Life Expectancy

My health regime is a wake-up call to my baby-boomer peers, most of whom are accepting the normal cycle of life and accepting they are getting to the end of their productive years. That’s not my view. Now that health and medicine is in information technology it is going to expand exponentially. We will see very dramatic changes ahead.

According to my model it’s only 10-15 years away from where we’ll be adding more than a year every year to life expectancy because of progress. It’s kind of a tipping point in longevity. – Ray Kurzweil



  • Elon Musk wants to die on Mars. Not because it is fun to die, but because that is fucking important. –Max Levchin

In 10 years I hope to live on Mars. The fact is, we have the existing technology — right now — to land humans on Mars.

If everything goes according to plan, I could be saying goodbye to Earth as soon as 2024. As an astronaut candidate for a manned mission to Mars, I’m prepared to spend the next ten years training for a new reality.

Mars One is a private company with a stated goal of colonizing the Red Planet, and plans have already been laid out for how the roughly $6 billion mission would unfold. Virgin Galactic, Sierra Nevada, and XCOR Aerospace are all developing suborbital vehicles for space tourism, and Planetary Resources has its sights set on mining asteroids.

It might sound like science fiction, but this is how far we’ve come as an industry. – Kellie Gerardi


Telepresence / Snowdenbot

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



So far, 2014 has seen many exponential technologies move to the next level. It looks like we’ve hit an inflection point where big breakthroughs are now routine and happen too fast for anyone one person to keep up with (Bitcoin, 3D printing, Virtual Reality, Drones, Space, Robotics, Voice Translation, Telepresence, Deep Learning)  – Lee Banfield





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