A Real Economy
* Bitcoin is poorly understood because it runs on real economics, not on keynesian or whatever bullshit is taught at schools – Oleg Andreev
* This is about making their structure irrelevant – bravetheworld
* Bitcoin is not volatile because it is not anchored or pegged to something else. It is volatile because it is new, and small, and weird – Erik Voorhees
* You don’t get from 0 to total M1 without experiencing a little volatility – Michael Goldstein
VC investment in Bitcoin
2014: $268m (so far!)
What is Bitcoin? The Best Money in Human History
What will be the inflection point for bitcoin as a currency? Probably when it hits 500 million, maybe one billion, users. Maybe this happens in five years, maybe ten, maybe more. But it will happen.
When it does, for the first time in human history, we will have a common economic language, a monetary lingua franca that completes money’s evolution from two tribesmen with a shell to a global currency with which six billion people can transact directly, instantly, at any moment.
Skeptics sometimes dismiss the oft-repeated phrase, “Bitcoin will change the world” as a naive dream offered by uninformed idealists. With the proper knowledge of monetary history, however, we can see that bitcoin is the highest evolution of the social technology known as money and that, to the contrary, “Bitcoin will change the world” is a vast understatement. – Ted Rogers
Bitcoin Tells Big Banks: “Thanks for Lunch!”
“Bitcoin developers ‘are going to try and eat our lunch” – Jamie Dimon, JP Morgan
Mr. Dimon has read the writing on the wall and (finally) sees that Bitcoin is poised to set his paper empire ablaze, meaning that he recognizes Bitcoin’s power as more than just a technology for fast/cheap payments and sees it for the world eater that it is. Despite this tardy, if well reasoned, observation, Dimon is deluded enough to imagine that he and the Big Governments on which his bank is so utterly co-dependent can choose to “foster Bitcoin” or not.
Mr. Dimon’s colleague, CEO of Morgan Stanley James Gorman, seems similarly reluctant to submit, and imagines that his bank can actually take advantage of Bitcoin, as if they still had the upper hand or some shit, “You have to be respectful in the face of new technologies like Bitcoin, but you don’t capitulate. You adjust and take advantage. Consumers feel better putting their money with a brand they recognize. We have capabilities and resources that are very powerful.”
The Big Banks will shrivel in direct proportion to Bitcoin’s growth, but they may survive in some diminished capacity. Like Nokia or something. Only 6 years into its blessed little life, Bitcoin has gone from “that forum thing” to “that drug thing” to “that thing that killed the bankers.”
Delicious, isn’t it?
Overstock’s Crypto Stock Exchange
“There are big things we can do from day one with regards to transparency,” said Robby Dermody, one of Counterparty’s cofounders.
In the long run, Mr. Demody said, peer-to-peer share trading over Medici would incur just 20% of the costs carried by the current, centralized system run by the Depository Trust & Clearing Corporation, the entity owned by Wall Street banks and brokerages that manages clearing for most securities in U.S. capital markets – Michael J. Casey
It is no secret that Elon Musk has a dream of sending people to Mars. This past July (2014), Musk told Stephen Colbert, “We are aspiring to send people to Mars.” In that same interview Musk eluded to the idea of interplanetary colonies when he stated that his main reason for sending people to Mars was to hedge our bets on the survival of the human species.
“A multi-planet species, humanity as we know it is likely to propagate into the future much further than if we are a single-planet species.” However, during that interview he never explicitly stated that SpaceX would be the company leading the charge on Martian Colonization.
On September 8, 2014, Musk put all of the wondering to bed when he publicly stated that the long term goal of SpaceX was to build a human city on Mars. “The reason I haven’t taken SpaceX public is the goals of SpaceX are very long-term, which is to establish a city on Mars.” – Dennis
COMPANIES / PROJECTS
The one other thing that people are really underestimating is the impact of entertainment-industry economics applied to education. Right now, with MOOCS, the production values are pretty low: You’ll film the professor in the classroom.
But let’s just project forward. In ten years, what if we had Math 101 online, and what if it was well regarded and you got fully accredited and certified? What if we knew that we were going to have a million students per semester? And what if we knew that they were going to be paying $100 per student, right? What if we knew that we’d have $100 million of revenue from that course per semester? What production budget would we be willing to field in order to have that course?
You could literally hire James Cameron to make Math 101. Or how about, let’s study the wars of the Roman Empire by actually having a VR [virtual reality] experience walking around the battlefield, and then like flying above the battlefield. And actually the whole course is looking and saying, “Here’s all the maneuvering that took place.” Or how about re-creating original Shakespeare plays in the Globe Theatre? – Marc Andreessen
The startup, led by CEO Rony Abovitz, announced today the close of its $542 million Series B, featuring investors led by Google, Inc., and including KPCB, Andreessen Horowitz, Obvious Ventures, Qualcomm and Legendary Entertainment.
The list of investors reads like a who’s who of influential companies and individuals across various industries, and Abovitz explained to TechCrunch that the reason for that is that the tech’s potential isn’t limited to any one field, which he says puts its potential market size in the trillions of dollars annually range. That could explain the valuation of Magic Leap, which is north of $1 billion, given that this round is still a minority investment, per Abovitz.
Based on his comments, it sounds like artificial, but extremely realistic images might be projected directly onto a user’s retina to achieve this effect, but we may have to wait until an official reveal to learn more about the nature of the device(s) in use here.
What Abovitz would tell me is that they think of Magic Leap’s capabilities in terms of both the phrases “the world is your new desktop,” and “the world is your new silver screen,” meaning it provides a visual experience not bound by traditional media content consumption devices. The use of both those phrases also hints at some of the potential markets for the tech – silver screen includes Hollywood in the mix, which helps explain why both Legendary Pictures, and Legendary Pictures CEO Thomas Tull personally invested in Magic Leap as part of this round.
“I was an Oculus Rift investor, and they’re certainly doing some amazing things,” Tull explained in a separate interview with TechCrunch. “Magic Leap takes a completely different approach, and all I can say is that as I got to know Rony [Abovitz] and we got to really know and like each other this past year, and I went to their headquarters and I spent half a day immersed in [their technology], I just couldn’t get the smile off my face.” – Darrell Etherington
The entry of Google’s billions into the field makes human trials more likely.
Late in 2013, Google brought its trove of cash into the game, founding a spin-off called the California Life Company (known as Calico) to specialize in longevity research. Six months after Calico’s charter was announced, Craig Venter, the biotech entrepreneur who in the 1990s conducted a dramatic race against government laboratories to sequence the human genome, also founded a start-up that seeks ways to slow aging.
In worms, genes called daf-2 and daf-16 can change in a way that causes the invertebrates to live twice as long as is natural, and in good vigor. A molecular biologist named Cynthia Kenyon, among the first hires at Calico, made that discovery more than two decades ago, when she was a researcher at UC San Francisco. By manipulating the same genes in mice, Kenyon has been able to cause them to live longer, with less cancer than mice in a control group: that is, with a better health span. The daf-16 gene is similar to a human gene called foxo3, a variant of which is linked to exceptional longevity. A drug that mimics this foxo3 variant is rumored to be among Calico’s initial projects.
A long time has passed since Kenyon’s eureka moment about worm genes, and she’s still far from proving that this insight can help people. But the tempo of the kind of work she does is accelerating. Twenty years ago, genetic sequencing and similar forms of DNA research were excruciatingly time-consuming. New techniques and equipment have altered that: for instance, one Silicon Valley lab-services firm, Sequetech, advertises, “Go from [cell] colony to sequence” in a day. The accelerating pace of genetic-information gathering may come in handy for health-span research.
As recently as a generation ago, it would have seemed totally crazy to suppose that aging could be “cured.” Now curing aging seems, well, only somewhat crazy – Gregg Easterbrook
The OS Fund
Today I am announcing the OS Fund — $100 million of my personal capital dedicated to investing in inventors and scientists who aim to benefit humanity through quantum leap discoveries at the operating system, or OS, level.
We are at one of the most exciting moments in history. At no other time has the distance between imagination and creation been so narrow. We now have the power to build the kind of world we could previously only dream of. With new tools such as 3D printing, genomics, machine intelligence, software, synthetic biology and others, we can now make in days, weeks or months things that previous innovators couldn’t possibly create in a lifetime. Where da Vinci could sketch, today we can build. And yet, there are still so many problems that we haven’t begun to solve, so many rich opportunities that lie in wait.
Right now, scientists and inventors all around the world are working on amazing things we couldn’t have imagined 50, 25, or even 10 years ago.
A company in China is using a giant 3-D printer to construct as many as ten houses per day. Biomedical devices are returning to injured people the use of their formerly paralyzed limbs. Autonomous networks of drones are delivering critical supplies to rural African villages. Materials science is undergoing a revolution as researchers can now fabricate structures that are 100 times stronger than steel, yet as thick as a mere atom.
Scientists working with genomics and synthetic biology are proving that we, our environment and our universe are essentially software, which we have the power to read, write and create. In a San Diego lab, Human Longevity, Inc. is assembling the world’s largest database of genomic information and applying advanced machine learning to reinvent medicine and cure age-related diseases. Synthetic Genomics is using synthetic biology to create a global immune system to protect us from pandemics in real-time, find a solution to super bugs and create xenotransplants of vital human organs to save the lives of hundreds of thousands of people each year.
More OS-level advancements are coming. In Seattle, a team is working to claim the world’s first trillion dollar asset — a low Earth-orbit asteroid — hoping that it will kick off a gold rush to space and create enduring incentives for off-planet development. Researchers and doctors are developing novel nanoparticle drug delivery technologies to target genes and cells, radically improving our ability to treat disease and maintain health. Neurologists are marching forward in developing tools to enhance our minds and unlock hidden human potential. A company in Northern California is working on the next iteration of machine intelligence; replicating the human visual cortex and creating machines with human-level intelligence in vision, language and motor control.
At the OS fund, we want to support those who see what others cannot, who chart their own course toward the future and who have the courage and determination to pursue their vision. We want to help them turn their most audacious ideas into real, sustainable businesses that scale by providing capital, support, advice and an interdisciplinary network of like-minded people who are there to help each other – Bryan Johnson
PRIVACY / SECURITY
Stealth Addresses & CoinJoin
Stealth Addresses and CoinJoin are now available as JS libraries for http://BitcoinJS.org . All thanks to the awesome Darkwallet team. Mass surveillance isn’t passive. It damages how we think. It makes us smaller, more obedient, less daring (How the Surveillance State Changes Our Everyday Lives)
Stealth Addresses and Coin Join are about liberating our humanity from the very real damage of surveillance, and that is why I support them – Kyle Drake
“Worldwide adoption is necessary for Bitcoin to succeed. And I believe Singapore is the place for Bitcoin in Asia.” – Adam Draper, Boost VC CEO
South Korea is Getting 10Gbps Broadband
Asian countries such as Japan and South Korea have some of the fastest broadband connection speeds in the world. While North Americans struggle with what the minimum internet speed should be. In the United States, AT&T and Verizon argue over 10Mbps as the minimum speed to qualify for “broadband” and in Canada it’s 5Mbps.
“In the 1960s the world watched NASA send men to the moon and many of us grew up amazed at the constant advancements of the Americans,” said Natsuki Kumagai. “Now the Americans watch us.”
“In my travels to the United States, it is very plain they have lost their way in advancing broadband technology,” said Pyon Seo-Ju. “Internet access is terribly slow and expensive because American politicians have sacrificed Americas’s technology leadership to protect conglomerates and allow them to flourish. Although unfortunate for America, this has given Korea a chance to promote our own industry and enhance the success of companies like Samsung that are well-known in the United States today.”
The average speed in South Korea is 100Mbps and once it upgrades its fiber to allow 10Gbps, it will take 0.8 seconds to download a 1GB file – Matthew Moniz
Crypto Valley: Zug, Switzerland
Many have asked me why I relocated from Texas to Switzerland. Perhaps the best response is a question of my own: Can any software from the United States be safe?
When Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer was asked why she and her colleagues did not reveal the extent of government-mandated surveillance on email and internet searches, she explained the reason was because they were threatened with prison. No wonder that many crypto innovators—Monetas included—have started setting up shop in Switzerland.
Silent Circle, an innovator in secure communications, just moved their headquarters to Switzerland, a move they characterized as “extremely important.”
Why? “Switzerland’s strong privacy laws, legendary neutrality, and economic business advantages.” Additionally, “Switzerland has the world’s best privacy legislation that is actually written into the constitution.”
Clearly the United States doesn’t meet those standards. Lavabit founder Ladar Levison certainly doesn’t think so. He said, “This experience has taught me one very important lesson: without congressional action or a strong judicial precedent, I would strongly recommend against anyone trusting their private data to a company with physical ties to the United States.”
Monetas is based in Zug, Switzerland. Our software is built to Swiss quality standards, and the privacy and security of our users is paramount. – Chris Odom, Monetas
First Ever Comet Landing
Very soon, on November 12, a spacecraft called Rosetta will sidle up to a comet, steady itself and drop a 100-kilogram robotic lander toward the hunk of rock, dust and ice. The lander, named Philae, will drift through space, tugged only slightly by the gravity of the comet, commonly called 67P. Mission scientists will be holding their breath for what could be several anxiety-filled hours to see if Philae lands where and how it’s supposed to.
The exercise — the first attempt to set a lander on a comet — is as nerve-racking as landing on Mars or the moon, with some added challenges. Comets and other small space rocks have much less gravity than planets or moons, which is why it will take Philae close to seven hours to float to comet 67P’s surface. Then there’s the comet’s speed: Rosetta will drop the lander toward 67P as the comet shoots through the solar system at 55,000 kilometers per hour.
Comets, along with asteroids, are thought to be the oldest, most pristine relics of the early solar system. We can’t go back billions of years to the birth of the sun, Taylor says, so exploring comets and asteroids may be the best option for learning how the solar system evolved. Studying their geology and chemistry could give clues to how the planets became what they are today and whether comets brought water and other ingredients for life to Earth.
That’s a lofty goal, one that hinges on a spectacular landing and the final 14 months of Rosetta’s 10-year voyage – Ashley Yeager
Paralysed Man Walks Again After Pioneering Surgery
A man who was completely paralysed from the waist down can walk again after a surgical breakthrough which offers hope to millions of people who are disabled by spinal cord injuries.
The 38-year-old, who is believed to be the first person in the world to recover from complete severing of the spinal nerves, can now walk with a frame and has been able to resume an independent life, even to the extent of driving a car, while sensation has returned to his lower limbs.
Professor Geoffrey Raisman, whose team at University College London’s institute of neurology discovered the technique, said: “We believe that this procedure is the breakthrough which, as it is further developed, will result in a historic change in the currently hopeless outlook for people disabled by spinal cord injury.”
The surgery was performed by a Polish team led by one of the world’s top spinal repair experts, Dr Pawel Tabakow, from Wroclaw Medical University, and involved transplanting olfactory ensheathing cells (OECs) from the nose to the spinal cord.
OECs assist the repair of damaged nerves that transmit smell messages by opening up pathways for them to the olfactory bulbs in the forebrain. Relocated to the spinal cord, they appear to enable the ends of severed nerve fibres to grow and join together – something that was previously thought to be impossible.
The NSIF’s founder, David Nicholls, whose son Daniel was paralysed in 2003, said information relating to the breakthrough will be made available to other researchers around the world to help cure paralysis – Ben Quinn
Super-Geniuses in the New Genomic Age
The genetic study of cognitive ability suggests that there exist today variations in human DNA which, if combined in an ideal fashion, could lead to individuals with intelligence that is qualitatively higher than has ever existed on Earth: Crudely speaking, IQs of order 1,000, if the scale were to continue to have meaning.
The possibility of super-intelligence follows directly from the genetic basis of intelligence. The Social Science Genome Association Consortium, an international collaboration involving dozens of university labs, has identified a handful of regions of human DNA that affect cognitive ability. They have shown that a handful of single-nucleotide polymorphisms in human DNA are statistically correlated with intelligence, even after correction for multiple testing of 1 million independent DNA regions, in a sample of over 100,000 individuals.
It is not at all clear that IQ scores have any meaning in this range. However, we can be confident that, whatever it means, ability of this kind would far exceed the maximum ability among the approximately 100 billion total individuals who have ever lived. We can imagine savant-like capabilities that, in a maximal type, might be present all at once: nearly perfect recall of images and language; super-fast thinking and calculation; powerful geometric visualization, even in higher dimensions; the ability to execute multiple analyses or trains of thought in parallel at the same time; the list goes on.
To achieve this maximal type would require direct editing of the human genome, ensuring the favorable genetic variant at each of 10,000 loci. Optimistically, this might someday be possible with gene editing technologies similar to the recently discovered CRISPR/Cas system that has led to a revolution in genetic engineering in just the past year or two. Harvard genomicist George Church has even suggested that CRISPR will allow the resurrection of mammoths through the selective editing of Asian elephant embryo genomes. Assuming Church is right, we should add super-geniuses to mammoths on the list of wonders to be produced in the new genomic age. – Stephen Hsu
The Buck Institute
* For millennia life expectancy was short. The typical person was fortunate to reach 40.
* Beginning in the 19th century, that slowly changed. In 1840, life expectancy at birth in Sweden was 45 years for women; today it’s 83 years.
* When the 20th century began, life expectancy at birth in America was 47 years; now newborns are expected to live 79 years.
Projections of ever-longer life spans assume no incredible medical discoveries—rather, that the escalator ride simply continues. If anti-aging drugs or genetic therapies are found, the climb could accelerate. Centenarians may become the norm, rather than rarities who generate a headline in the local newspaper.
Pie in the sky? On a verdant hillside in Marin County, California—home to hipsters and towering redwoods, the place to which the Golden Gate Bridge leads—sits the Buck Institute, the first private, independent research facility dedicated to extending the human life span. Since 1999, scientists and postdocs there have studied ways to make organisms live much longer, and with better health, than they naturally would. Already, the institute’s researchers have quintupled the life span of laboratory worms. Most Americans have never heard of the Buck Institute, but someday this place may be very well known.
Society might learn the answer to an ancient mystery: Given that every cell in a mammal’s body contains the DNA blueprint of a healthy young version of itself, why do we age at all?
“Here in our freezers we have 100 or so compounds that extend life in invertebrates,” says Gordon Lithgow, a geneticist at the Buck Institute. He walks with me through labs situated on a campus of modernistic buildings that command a dreamlike view of San Pablo Bay, and encourage dreamlike thoughts. The 100 compounds in the freezer? “What we don’t know is if they work in people.”
The Buck Institute bustles with young researchers. Jeans and San Francisco 49ers caps are common sights—this could be a Silicon Valley software start-up were not microscopes, cages, and biological-isolation chambers ubiquitous. The institute is named for Leonard and Beryl Buck, a Marin County couple who left oil stocks to a foundation charged with studying why people age, among other issues. When the institute opened, medical research aimed at slowing aging was viewed as quixotic—the sort of thing washed-up hippies talk about while sipping wine and watching the sunset. A mere 15 years into its existence, the Buck Institute is at the bow wave of biology.
In one lab, researchers laboriously tamper with yeast chromosomes. Yeast is expedient as a research subject because it lives out a lifetime before an analyst’s eyes, and because a third of yeast genes are similar to human genes. Deleting some genes kills yeast; deleting others causes yeast to live longer. Why deleting some genes extends life isn’t known—Buck researchers are trying to figure this out, in the hope that they might then carry the effect over to mammals. The work is painstaking, with four microscopes in use at least 50 hours a week.
Researchers curious about aging mainly work with mice, worms, flies, and yeast, because they are small and easily housed, and because they don’t live long, so improvements to life expectancy are quickly observable. “Twenty years ago it was a really big deal to extend the life span of worms. Now any postdoc can do that,” says Simon Melov, a Buck geneticist. Experiments funded by the National Institute on Aging have shown that drugs can extend a mouse’s life span by about a quarter, and Buck researchers have been able to reverse age-related heart dysfunction in the same animal. Think how the world would be upended if human longevity quickly jumped another 25 percent.
The rubber will meet the road with human trials. “We hope to find five to 10 small molecules that extend healthy life span in mice, then stage a human trial,” says Brian Kennedy, the Buck Institute’s CEO. A drug called rapamycin—being tested at the institute and elsewhere—seems closest to trial stage and has revolutionary potential. – Gregg Easterbrook
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