Wednesday 20th August

BITCOIN

Government Attempts to Ban Bitcoin

How would this go down exactly? Could they pass a law that makes the blockchain stop working? Would the full nodes suddenly stop relaying transactions? Compare this to bittorrent, a similar technology that is similarly hated by legislators. Did bittorrent go away? No! It’s still just as popular as ever; maybe you don’t hear about it much in the news, but it’s still a huge percentage of the total internet traffic. That isn’t to say that the government’s have no options; their options just suck.

Bitcoin is here to destroy socialism (that is, pretty much all current forms of government); who cares what they have to say about it? It’s like a convict telling his executioner that he’ll ban the electric chair. The executioner just laughs and throws the switch – Daniel P Barron

 

Billions of People Entering International Trade

When you connect humanity on a global level with economic opportunity and international trade, without intermediaries without huge frictional costs, without hard borders, it changes the very nature of the global economy. The amount of trade that can happen dwarfs today’s GDP for any country.

This isn’t about converting Amazon’s sales from US dollars into bitcoin. If Amazon adopts bitcoin, great, I’m going to celebrate, the price is going to go up, but that’s not the point.

The point is, if you bootstrap international trade on an equal footing without intermediaries and borders, you can completely change the face of this planet and you can have participation by billions of people who are currently disconnected from this system. That is very big news.

I don’t think believe people have even begun to grasp how big this is and how enormously it’s going to affect the world around us – Andreas Antonopoulos

 

Bitpay

The company charges for premium processing on a monthly basis, though its free tier is robust

In September 2013, BitPay had 10,000 merchants signed to its platform

Currently, BitPay has 40,000 merchants signed onto its service

BitPay expects to cross the 50,000 merchant mark in September

The company has a goal to have 1 million merchants using its platform by the end of 2016. It’s a massive objective, given that the company is implicitly hoping to grow its merchant base by 25X in less than a year-and-a-half – Alex Wilhelm

 

 

ALTCOINS

Alternative Chains, Currencies, and Applications

Chapter 9 “Alternative Currencies” of my book “Mastering Bitcoin” is drafted, now on github: https://github.com/aantonop/bitcoinbook/blob/develop/ch09.asciidoc

Andreas Antonopoulos

 

Anonymous Coins

Even if New York somehow succeeding in regulating bitcoin, which I think is extremely unlikely, all they would so is encourage the development of alternatives that are much more stealthy and much more anonymous. These already exist, and at the moment no one feels the need to switch from bitcoin to these alternatives, until of course New York starts getting more and more aggressive with their enforcement actions at which point the people of New York may find it necessary.

We’ve seen this happen before, it was the evolutionary path taken from Napster to BitTorrent.

In retrospect the media recording companies should have made a deal with Napster. Instead what they did was to ignore reality, to ignore the fact that they live in a post scarcity economics environment in terms of music production and distribution and to think that they could continue to extract extravagant profits from CDs.

Their entire industry collapsed in on itself because when they stomped on Napster they got Kazaar and when they stomped on Kazaar they got Limewire and when they stomped on Limewire they kept stomping and eventually they got BitTorrent. And BitTorrent turned around and bit their arse – Andreas Antonopoulos

Antonopoulos talks about a necessary evolution from bitcoin, but we’ve already been through this process to get here. They stomped on centralized digital currencies like Liberty Dollar and Liberty Reserve and eventually they got Bitcoin. Instead of switching to a stealthier altcoin, it’s much easier just to use bitcoin in stealthier ways by using services like Dark Wallet – Lee Banfield

 

 

COMPANIES

Uber

* I’m thinking of selling my car and using Uber and Zipcar for everything. So much cheaper than full-time gas, parking, and insurance – Tim Ferriss

 

* Uber banned in Berlin on “safety grounds”?! Zero evidence = bad policy. It’s a huge blow to Berlin’s start-up and innovation reputation – Neelie Kroes

 

* The Jakarta Transportation Agency will prohibit premium taxi service Uber from operating because it has not been issued a permit, according to a city official. “If they don’t have a permit then they will also not pay tax. The company is very sketchy. We don’t know who owns it, where their office is or how their management structure operates” – Dewanti A. Wardhani

Government = mafia. If you don’t give them their cut from your earnings they will destroy you – Rothbardian

Uber defies every order it receives to cease and desist. There is nothing the State can do to stop it. This is the future. Every uber user is using their phone to connect. This is impossible to detect monitor or control. There is no depot to cordon off and shut down. When you are in an uber car, no one knows but you, the driver and uber. They can’t stop it.

Uber knows they have the upper hand and that if they cave they will be damaged. They should not cave and should disobey. All of this transfers to Bitcoin perfectly. Banks are now mobile phones. Transfers can’t be stopped. There is no central point to attack. There is nothing that the State can do to stop Bitcoin and no protest can be effective. Bitcoin is even more powerful than Uber because there is no company that owns it. It is totally decentralized and headless. There is no one to surrender, capitulate, comply, or cave in. Once Bitcoin is on a Billion phones, it’s 100% GAME OVER for the State – Beautyon

 

 

 

Private Space Companies

Rather than work in NASA, the best young engineers today are increasingly heading to get jobs at private companies like SpaceX and XCOR.

At NASA, young engineers find that they spend a lot of time with bureaucracy, the pace is slow, their projects often get canceled or delayed, and the creative job satisfaction is poor. At private companies like SpaceX, things are getting built now.

Hoffman described SpaceX as resembling a giant workshop, a hive of activity in which employees stood working on nitty-gritty mechanical and electrical engineering. Everything in the shop was bound for space or was related to space. No one sat around talking to friends in the morning, “another level from what you see at NASA,” she said. “They’re very purpose-driven. It looked like every project was getting the attention it deserved.”

Hoffman believes space tourism will eventually become reality after commercial launch companies take over missions from NASA – Susan Du

 

 

PLACES

Nepal

Wow, remittances are believed to be as much as 40% of Nepal’s GDP. http://www.nytimes.com/2014/08/15/world/asia/in-nepal-a-better-life-with-a-steep-price.htmlJon Evans

 

Hong Kong

Hong Kong has a reputation of being one of the most expensive cities in the world, but that’s only for those opting to live in its expensive quarters.

I live a 10-minute walk from a nice beach in a quiet resort town, a mere 35-minute ferry ride from the city’s center. It costs me less for housing than what I paid for it in relatively low-cost Salt Lake City. The ample transportation options mean I don’t need to own a car, which lends a significant boost to my wallet.

* For 20 years Hong Kong has been ranked as the #1 place in the world to do business by the Heritage Foundation.

* There is no capital-gains tax in Hong Kong.

* Has relatively low crime rates

* Its inhabitants enjoy a long life expectancy

Joshua Steimle

 

Paris

“I thought Europe would be a very clean place but I found that Paris is quite dirty and French people don’t really care about cleanliness,”

An epidemic is gripping Chinese tourists visiting the French capital: the Paris syndrome.

Like their Japanese counterparts, first-time visitors from China — fed on media reports and movies like “An American in Paris,” or “Le Fabuleux Destin d’Amelie Poulain” — arrive expecting to see a quaint, affluent and friendly European city with smartly dressed men and women smelling of Chanel No. 5.

Instead, they discover Paris’s grittier side — packed metros, rude waiters and pickpockets intent on robbing cash-carrying tourists — all of which sends them into psychological shock.

“Chinese people romanticize France, they know about French literature and French love stories,” said Jean-Francois Zhou, president of the Chinese association of travel agencies in France. “But some of them end up in tears, swearing they’ll never come back.”

And as petty crime is increasing in the French capital, city officials and travel agencies are concerned about the slowing growth of Chinese visitors – Ania Nussbaum

 

 

THE SINGULARITY

The Quest to Build an Artificial Brain

Deep learning has suddenly spread across the commercial tech world, from Google to Microsoft to Baidu to Twitter, just a few years after most AI researchers openly scoffed at it.

All of these tech companies are now exploring a particular type of deep learning called convolutional neural networks, aiming to build web services that can do things like automatically understand natural language and recognize images. At Google, “convnets” power the voice recognition system available on Android phones. At China’s Baidu, they drive a new visual search engine.

But this is just a start. The deep learning community are working to improve the technology. Today’s most widely used convolutional neural nets rely almost exclusively on supervised learning. Basically, that means that if you want it to learn how to identify a particular object, you have to label more than a few examples. Yet unsupervised learning—or learning from unlabeled data—is closer to how real brains learn, and some deep learning research is exploring this area.

“How this is done in the brain is pretty much completely unknown. Synapses adjust themselves, but we don’t have a clear picture for what the algorithm of the cortex is,” says LeCun. “We know the ultimate answer is unsupervised learning, but we don’t have the answer yet.” – Daniela Hernandez

 

Brain Hacking is Having Incredible Effects and It’s Just Getting Started

Researchers think that as we learn more about the brain, we’ll be able to use electricity to boost focus, memory, learning, mathematical ability, and pattern recognition. Electric stimulation may also clear away depression and stave off cognitive decline.

We’re heading down a path that will allow us to supercharge the brain. The key is decoding how the brain works. That’s the hurdle in the way, and the one that billions of dollars in research are going toward right now.

“I don’t think there’s any doubt we’ll eventually understand the brain,” says Gary Marcus, a professor of psychology at New York University, and an editor of the upcoming book The Future of the Brain: Essays by the World’s Leading Neuroscientists.

“The big question is how long it’s going to take,” he says.

Neural implants can already transmit sound to the brain to provide a type of hearing for some deaf people. When connected to a tiny camera, they can even capture shape and motion and transmit them to the brain, providing a type of vision for certain blind patients.

No matter what type of technique we talk about, experts agree we aren’t quite there yet — though we’re a lot closer than most people think – Business Insider

Once nonbiological intelligence gets a foothold in the human brain (this has already started with computerized neural implants), the machine intelligence in our brains will grow exponentially – Ray Kurzweil 

 

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