Monday 29th December

BITCOIN

bitcoin_logo_flat_coin_star_bl_by_carbonism-d3h7bxh

Merchant Adoption

TIME inc. subscriptions confirmed. Fortune magazine has bitcoin option prominently displayed – artfully_doges

TIME inc. is now accepting Bitcoin as payment from their 130 million consumers across multiple platforms – Roger Ver

 

Russian Ruble Implodes

Little surprised that Bitcoin is not benefiting from a flight from the Ruble. – Naval Ravikant

More than offset by tax loss selling. Also, need to be established locally ahead of crisis. Hard to educate & deploy quickly – Nick Szabo

This was a missed opportunity for bitcoin. Russians fled en masse to the dollar but were not capable of converting rubles into BTC. Where will the next crisis be? Argentina? Japan? Will they be educated enough or will the dollar take all the purchasing power up for grabs in the next currency crisis? – Lee Banfield

 

Bitcoin Remittances to The Philippines Increasing

For the Bitcoin community in the Philippines, the triple-digit growth in transaction value, no matter how small a portion of the remittance pie it may be, is a huge improvement considering that Bitcoin adoption is still in nascent stages and the business concept is new: the very first Bitcoin-powered remittances were sent only in the third quarter this year.

Luis Buenaventura II, head of product at SCI says one other reason their transactions spiked is because tech startups have started to use Bitcoin for payroll. “We’re seeing a bit of enterprise use, instead of just personal remittance, by employers in the US with staff in the Philippines.”

According to the data from the Philippine central bank, overseas Filipinos sent home nearly US$23 billion in 2013, making the Philippines the third-highest recipient of remittances in the world, trailing behind only China and India.

Bitcoin is unregulated in the Philippines. The Philippine central bank has done nothing except issue an advisory against the use of Bitcoin – Judith Balea

 

Hellobit Plans to Become the Uber for Global Remittance

Instead of creating infrastructure that enables global bitcoin payments, HelloBit has built a consumer app that will connect bitcoin senders to local exchangers.

Users can connect with these exchangers, be they individuals or businesses, and receive payments in local currency.

The company’s co-founder Ali Goss likens his startup to ride-sharing giant Uber in the way that it seeks to integrate the power of a cellphone service into an existing market.

Goss said:

“The idea is like Uber. You have a cellphone, you can earn money dishing out currency, receive it on the back-end. It’s definitely Uberfication.”

“We’re just matching the two people for a transaction,” Goss said.

The sender transmits bitcoin to a local exchanger using the app.

The exchanger then provides the receiver, who gets an SMS code to validate that they are the recipient of the transaction, with local currency.

HelloBit plans to make money by charging a fee to exchangers on top of what they charge for transactions – the exchanger gets to choose what percentage fee it charges through a sliding scale in the application.

Goss said HelloBit initially focused on the Latin American market, but has found substantial interest for the platform in India and the Philippines, and has decided to shift its strategy accordingly – Daniel Cawrey

 

Currency is Bitcoin’s Killer App

Bitcoin Jonah: “it’s a mistake to think about Bitcoin as a new kind of currency”. Bitcoin – Bad Currency, Good Network versus Speculative Attack

Currency (aka p2p electronic cash) is Bitcoin’s killer app. Full stop. End of story. All reasonable discussion happens within that frame.

Fantasies about Bitcoin being a ~ bad currency ~ is a form of escapism and an affront to reality itself (The Bitcoin Central Bank’s Perfect Monetary Policy). What’s wrong with Bitcoin’s monetary policy? Nothing. What’s wrong with critics of Bitcoin’s monetary policy? Ultra-short attention spans.

Takes courage to say “Bitcoin is the best money” during a bear market, so instead people say “Bitcoin is more than money”.

“Bitcoin is more than money” is a fine rhetorical shortcut, until it causes malinvestment of capital and dev time. Then it’s noxious – Pierre Rochard

 

Bitcoiners – Refocus Yourselves

I suspect too many bitcoiners are coming from the wrong mindset. They are overly focusing on people using bitcoin as a transactional currency, rather than on bitcoin as a better money and store of value. Put in other words, they are taking the ‘entrepreneur’ view of bitcoin, rather than the ‘investor’ view of bitcoin (The Two Ideologies in Bitcoin).

Understand the monetary and economic case for bitcoin (SNI Mempool Crash Course in Bitcoin Political Economy). Once you understand this, you should focus on the more important hoarding, over the less important factors like merchant adoption and transaction volume.

The other main point I want to make in this post is that the average person is not that interested in bitcoin right now. Remember, plenty of people know about bitcoin now, so it’s not that. They won’t care about switching to the new form of money unless they can see a big incentive to it. They will care about it eventually, but this may only happen after they’ve had to suffer from bail-ins, negative interest rates, big currency devaluation, or oppressive capital controls. Some of these things are happening now around the world, but maybe it just hasn’t gotten ‘bad enough’ for the average person to truly care about getting into bitcoin.

The next step is for those people to feel the drive to actually go and buy some bitcoin, and to then hoard those bitcoins. Remember, bitcoin hoarders are the true heroes.

Stephan Livera

 

 

ALTCOINS

Gold

Ukraine opened a criminal probe after several gold bars at the central bank’s storage in the southern city of Odessa turned out to be painted lead.

The regulator “took a principal decision that we will not buy gold any more” from the population, First Deputy Central Bank Governor Oleksandr Pysaruk said.

Pysaruk said potentially 11 kilograms of gold is missing. That would have a value of about $420,000, according to data compiled by Bloomberg – Daryna Krasnolutska

 

 

COMPANIES / PROJECTS

Fifty More Ways to Leave Leviathan

It’s been over a year since we published “50 Ways to Leave Leviathan.” That successful piece showed how innovation and entrepreneurship are gradually undermining the top-down, command-and-control approach to governance.

We even take it all for granted. In reality, the ground is shifting beneath our feet. Those in power feel it, and it scares them. The innovation can be slowed, but it can’t be stopped, much less reversed. This great transformation is already underway.

The planners thought they had it all sewn up. None of these innovations was part of their plan.

Highlights of 50 More Ways to Leave Leviathan:

* Manage transactions with Counterparty.

* Buy and sell through Open Bazaar.

* Ditch school and go Praxis

* Hire a virtual assistant.

* Transfer money ridiculously cheaply

* Benefit from drones.

Max Borders, Jeffrey A. Tucker

 

Bitmarkets

It’s an eBay for the bitcoin generation with encrypted communications and no limits on product types.

A new app allowing users to sell anything to anyone in complete privacy has been launched, opening a new front in the fast-developing war between coders and the law. Bitmarkets, an opensource app available for download at voluntary.net, is the latest in a series of technical innovations by digital activists who want to prevent surveillance over commerce and communications.

The app is built on the framework of an anonymous messaging service, Bitmessage, which takes its inspiration from BitTorrent software.

The developers of the app say their aims are explicitly political. “We don’t like the possibility of a world where every transaction you make over your entire lifetime will be tracked,” Steve Dekorte, the lead developer on the project told Bitcoin news site, Coindesk. “We feel this is a basic human rights issue.”

Chris Robinson said that the software will instead enable free trade without institutional interference. “It is the first time in history where anyone anywhere can trade with anyone else without asking permission,” he wrote – Mike Power

 

Dark Wallet’s Spanish CyberSquat Raided

This story is some serious news, but… it seems everyone else in the English language space is avoiding it.

There are report that Kasa de la Muntanya has been raided by Spanish police for its connections to Anarchist activity in an operation that has been described as being “Counter-Terrorism” in nature. At least 11 people have been arrested. Kasa de la Muntanya had in the past been profiled by the BBC as being a ‘Cyber Squat

One of the more notable libertarian projects associated with the technologically oriented group at Kasa de la Muntanya is the Dark Wallet project.

It remains to be seen if law enforcement in other jurisdictions will also begin investigating and persecuting libertarian and anarchist groups under the guise of ‘Counter Terrorism” efforts. As always it is advised that persons involved in Bitcoin make sure they do not have to invent the parachute at the moment they require it

Bingo Boingo

 

Magic Leap

If you’re one of the seven billion people who haven’t read Snow Crash, I’ll explain that it has a lot to do with both virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR). When I wrote it, it seemed as though those technologies were just around the corner. Accordingly, Snow Crash is set in a near-future world.

In practice, it has taken longer than just about anyone expected to get that kind of tech consumer-ready. The devil has turned out to be in the details of satisfying the amazingly finicky human visual system.

The retina lies outside of what we normally think of as the brain, but it performs brain-like processing operations on the light that strikes it. What it feeds down the optic nerve to the brain proper isn’t so much an image as it is the beginnings of an idea–something that has already been thought about by that chunk of peripheral brain in the back of the eyeball. Banging photons off of this thing in an effort to fool it turns out to be hard. For hundreds of millions of years of animal and human evolution, seeing stuff that’s actually there = not dying = getting to have children.

So it was in an appropriately skeptical frame of mind that, a few weeks later, I traveled to what for me is the opposite corner of the United States. In a teeming, overcrowded hardware lab in a South Florida strip mall, I got the demo from Rony, the founder and CEO. Shortly thereafter, I agreed to become Magic Leap’s Chief Futurist.

What fascinated me wasn’t what Magic Leap had done but rather what it was about to start doing.

Magic Leap is mustering an arsenal of techniques–some tried and true, others unbelievably advanced–to produce a synthesized light field that falls upon the retina in the same way as light reflected from real objects in your environment. Depth perception, in this system, isn’t just a trick played on the brain by showing it two slightly different images.

Magic Leap is not exclusively about games. It’s also going to be a great tool for readers, learners, scientists, and artists. What applies to games applies as well to other things of interest, such as making the world safe for books, doing new things with science and math visualization, and simply creating art for art’s sake – Neal Stephenson

 

Google

* Google wants its self-driving car ready in five years – Joseph B. White & Rolfe Winkler

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* Google Ventures, the investment arm tasked with spending the search giant’s billions on exciting new companies, released its annual report last night. Interestingly, the majority of its money did not go into the areas of consumer internet services, mobile apps, and enterprise software that Google is best known for.

Instead, of the $1.6 billion it has under management, it put a whopping 35 percent of its new bets in 2014 into the category of life sciences and health, way up from less than 10 percent in the two years prior – Ben Popper

—————————————————————————————————————————————–

* Healthcare is becoming part of information technology. The acceleration we saw in computers from 1960 until now is an acceleration we’re going to see in the life sciences, and that’s why it’s a huge opportunity. There is so much acceleration that can happen now that these tools exist.

In 2000 you couldn’t sequence a genome, maybe for a billion dollars and over five years. Now you can do it on your desktop in an hour for a couple hundred dollars. The huge gulf between 2000 and now, we are going to cross an even bigger gulf in the next 10 years where we will learn so much about the way your body works. For me it’s like the difference between blood-letting and penicillin. Ok, we have no clue what’s going on so we’re just going to bleed it out of you because we don’t know what else to do. Versus, here is a pill, and if you take this you won’t die. That is such a huge difference that happened in such a short amount of time. That’s what we’re about to see again.- Bill Maris, Managing Partner at Google Ventures

 

 

INTERNET

Decentralized Internet Projects

Seeing Ethereum increasingly characterized as decentralized Internet substitute rather than a bitcoin substitute. Off the top of my head, MaidSafe, meshnet, and Namecoin are all “decentralize the Net” approaches – Andrea Castillo

 

Pirate Bay Shutdown Has No Effect

pirate bay logo

While the Pirate Bay had attracted millions of users, pirates are still pillaging Hollywood content using any one of dozens of other sites or services.

On Monday, Dec. 8, a total of 101.5 million Internet addresses worldwide were engaged in torrent downloads

On Dec. 9, Swedish law-enforcement authorities descended on a Web-hosting facility used by Pirate Bay and confiscated its servers and other equipment.

The result: The total number of IP addresses engaged in p2p downloads of content tracked by Excipio dropped slightly from 99.0 million on Dec. 9 to 95.0 million and 95.6 million the following two days, before bouncing back to 100.2 million on Friday, Dec. 12.

That’s roughly in line with the daily average of 99.9 million since Nov. 1 – Todd Spangler

 

 

PLACES

Russia

Russia’s $2.1 trillion (£1.3 trillion) economy has shrunk to $1.1 trillion, half the GDP of California – Ambrose Evans-Pritchard

 

Japan

Legendary Japan household savings rates gone: Aging, & spending jump before tax rise, saw rate go negative first time since at least 1955 – Chris Anstey

 

US Government Normalizes Relations with Cuba

A hotel worker in Havana tells a friend of mine who’s there today: “It is a day of jubilation for Cuba.” – David Corn

High time to normalize relations with Cuba. Can’t tell you how many Cuban-Americans I know with business plans ready to go – Ian Bremmer

Free trade, once bestowed and enjoyed by citizens, is not easily taken away again. Cuba could be the next Hong Kong – Jeff Garzik

 

When We Speak of Nationality, What Do We Mean?

I’ll never forget, at the beginning of my graduate studies in international relations, discovering that the nation-state had not been with us always.

It was 2002. The United States was waging a second war with Iraq. I’d come to England for graduate work in large part to learn why. Newspapers and textbooks referred to these entities — Afghanistan, America, England, Iraq — as naturally occurring, singular, almost anthropomorphized things.

I was unconvinced. On a personal level I didn’t quite believe in nations. In my lifetime they had disappeared (Czechoslovakia), appeared (Timor-Leste), failed (Somalia). My own nationality was largely an accident of history; born in London and raised in Boston, I held U.K. and U.S. passports on the basis of laws long overturned by 2002. My Ghanaian father lived in Saudi Arabia, my Nigerian mother in Ghana, both citizens of countries that hadn’t existed when they were born. That we were all somehow meant to derive our most basic sense of self from nations — these expandable, collapsible, invent-able things — struck me as absurd.

Then, one day at the University of Oxford, I discovered statehood. Before beginning grad school, I used the words “nation,” “state” and “country” interchangeably, e.g., the United Nations is comprised of member states, with countries elected to councils. The terms, I learned now, were discrete.

A nation was a cultural and linguistic entity

A state, a political and geopolitical one.

The idea of the modern nation-state — a sovereign state governing a cultural nation — was just that: an idea, 350 years old and showing its age – Taiye Selasi

 

 

THE SINGULARITY

“My take is that A.I. is taking over. A few humans might still be ‘in charge,’ but less and less so”

– Sebastian Thrun, Lead Developer of Google’s Driverless Car Project

 

Double Amputee Becomes First to Control Robotic Arms with his Mind

 

Suitable Technologies Opens Store Staffed Only By Robots

Embedded image permalink

The salespeople are robots in this downtown Palo Alto store.

This week, for the first time, I went into a store in which the members of the sales staff weren’t only identified by their hometowns, they were actually working from their hometowns, via telepresence robots. Their names and locations appeared on their screens, and on the day I visited there were employees based in at least three different states – Tekla Perry

 

Skype’s Real Life Babel Fish Translates English/Spanish in Real Time

Microsoft has released its first preview of Skype Translator, which allows real-time conversations between spoken English and Spanish and will be extended to more languages.

It is now available as a free download for Windows 8.1, starting with spoken English and Spanish along with more than 40 text-based languages for instant messaging.

Gurdeep Pall, Microsoft’s corporate vice-president of Skype and Lync, said in a blog post that Skype Translator would “open up endless possibilities”, adding: “Skype Translator relies on machine learning, which means that the more the technology is used, the smarter it gets. We are starting with English and Spanish, and as more people use the Skype Translator preview with these languages, the quality will continually improve.”

Skype Translator is part of Microsoft’s artificial intelligence research relying on machine learning and deep neural networks, much like Google and Apple’s voice assistants. It can understand speech and then rapidly translate it into another language before using text-to-speech systems to speak the translation back to the user, or in this case the other party.

The more people use the preview the more data the Skype team will have to improve the translation – Samuel Gibbs

 

First Ever Hardware ‘Emailed’ to Space

* Made in Space Email Wrench to the International Space Station.

* So far, 21 objects have been created via the ISS’ 3D printer.

It looks like the first file made on Earth and sent to space was a resounding success! This opens the door to a bright future for space travel and manned trips. If, for example, humanity does ever colonize Mars or go back to the moon, any broken or needed tools can be produced on an as-needed basis – Sarah Anderson

 

2014: The Year That Made Space Exploration Look Easy

This year, we witnessed an impressively diverse range of space agencies and private companies push space exploration into brand new directions and unexplored territories. It was the year, after all, that we landed on a fucking comet. Space exploration has never seemed so within our grasp—or a comet lander’s harpoons.

2015 holds some treats in store for armchair space explorers:

* For starters, the Rosetta mission will continue right through to December, following Comet 67P as it gets closest to the Sun in August before continuing on its way.

* We’ll also visit another previously unexplored space object: In July, NASA’s  New Horizons spacecraft will get closest to Pluto, which was the only unexplored planet left in our Solar System when the mission launched.

* We’ll still be keeping our eyes on that promised manned mission to Mars, and a few other longer-term plans like a potential probe to  Jupiter’s moon Europa – Victoria Turk

 

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Follow me on Twitter @leebanfield1

Bitcoin: 1Jwh6nZiASJf4d3hNytjxqiimWBmEJvJ4S

Bitmessage: BM-2cXjeAykLT7gbjzNHZFnCxdawvyryyb4Nf

 

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