December 2014


All Time High Daily Bitcoin Transactions

* Important Bitcoin record today: more than 100.000 Bitcoin transactions, and growing fast… (Bitcoin Daily Transaction Quantity) – Jorge Ordovas

* How do Bitcoin skeptics argue with this? Could there be a better example of this technology’s organic growth? – Erik Voorhees


Merchant Adoption

600%+ annual growth in merchants and retailers accepting bitcoin. 10,000 to 80,000, not bad.

On pace with website growth from 1994-1995 – Jeremy Allaire


There might be life in the old beast yet: Microsoft now accepts Bitcoin as a payment option on its Windows and Xbox stores — which means you can now use Bitcoin to purchase a new copy of Windows, the latest installment of Call of Destiny: Master Chief Edition, or even to buy the latest season of your favorite TV show – Sebastian Anthony


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


*The largest online poker room in the world, is preparing to accept Bitcoin – Dan Cypra

* My prediction is that within five years, half of the top 10 gaming operators will be Bitcoin only – Jon Matonis


Bitcoin Has Already Won

When people write the history of this thing, of bitcoin, they are not going to write the story of 6 million to a billion (users).

What is truly remarkable is the story of zero to 6 million.

It has already happened! And we’re not paying attention! That’s incredible. That’s what had one chance in a million, and it already happened – Wences Casares




First Difficulty Drop of the ASIC Age

* Network difficulty fell 0.73 percent.

* The first difficulty decrease happened in 2011 when pool operators discovered the existence of botnet miners for the first time and banned several.

* Other difficulty decreases happened during the GPU mining era when price dips made the energy cost of mining unprofitable in the near term.

Bingo Boingo




Gold vs. Bitcoin

Dominic Williams: They are different but complementary things. Gold and currency have long histories.

Pierre Rochard: Actually they’re clearly substitutes! Yes, horses and mules had long history too.


Pierre Rochard: Bitcoin’s price will be stable when every fiat currency’s value == 0. At that point purchasing power of btc will increase w/ productivity

Steve Dekorte: and precious metals go to their non monetary values

Michael Goldstein: Thank goodness. Gold is too useful to *want* to have to use it for money: The Most Useful Metal


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





What’s the most exciting tech for you in the next level of crypto? is one thing I just discovered three or four days ago, and I still need to do a little bit more reading about it, but it’s really caught my attention.

It’s a platform that people are setting up that will probably be on a sidechain. It will basically allow people to make bets on whatever they want, for future events. I think that’s going to be a pretty interesting tool – Roger Ver


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


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


Uber is having quite the week…

* $1.2 billion in new funding, which values the company at $40 billion

* Banned in the Netherlands

* Banned in Spain

* Banned in Thailand

* Banned in Delhi, India

* Operations suspended in state of Nevada

* Sued to stop operating by city of Portland, Oregon

Bradley Leimer / Ben Popper


* On pace to generate $2 billion in revenue – Ben Popper

* In just one year, Uber has gone from operating in 60 to 250 cities, and from 21 to 50 countries – Travis Kalanick

* Uber is in direct competition with a very bad government service, and it is winning – Jeffrey Tucker

* Millions of people may decide that they no longer need to own a car because using Uber will be cheaper –Travis Kalanick

* If you invested $10,000 in Uber’s seed round, it would be worth roughly $80 Million today – Semil Shah

* I think Uber could be largely decentralized. Reputation bootstrap might be the trickiest part. Could leverage open trusted functionaries – Andy Alness




The Prime Mover

Technology is perhaps the most important unappreciated factor influencing the balance of power between ideologies.

When predicting dynamics of crowds people talk of candidates, demographics, the ephemeral events of the day. Technology seen mainly as tool. As technology becomes the primary driver of human events…it’ll surprise those w/ alternative notions of prime movers. The Unmoved Mover.

What’s the most powerful force in the world?

1800s: God

1900s: The Military

2000s: Encryption (Julian Assange: A Call to Cryptographic Arms)

Balaji S. Srinivasan


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


The Dawn of Trustworthy Computing

“Block chain computer” (not just “block chain”) & “fiduciary code” very helpful concepts for building mental model – Richard Gendal Brown

The most elegant explanation of on-chain computing, well, ever. By Nick Szabo – Stephan Tual

This Nick Szabo post on the ‘rise of trustworthy computing’ is one of the top 10 things I have read on blockchains – Antonis Polemitis

The most important breakthrough in computing since the Internet. “The Dawn of Trustworthy Computing” by Nick Szabo – Bill Barhydt

This new Nick Szabo article “The dawn of trustworthy computing” is a roadmap to about a dozen new companies – BTCplainEnglish

Today’s computers are not very trustworthy, but they are so astronomically faster than humans at so many important tasks that we use them heavily anyway. We reap the tremendous benefits of computers and public networks at large costs of identity fraud and other increasingly disastrous attacks.

Recently developed and developing technology, often called “the block chain”, is starting to change this.

A block chain computer is a virtual computer, a computer in the cloud, shared across many traditional computers and protected by cryptography and consensus technology. A Turing-complete block chain with large state gives us this shared computer.

QuixCoin is a recent and Ethereum is a current project that has implemented such a scheme. These block chain computers will allow us to put the most crucial parts of our online protocols on a far more reliable and secure footing, and make possible fiduciary interactions that we previously dared not do on a global network

Much as pocket calculators pioneered an early era of limited personal computing before the dawn of the general-purpose personal computer, Bitcoin has pioneered the field of trustworthy computing with a partial block chain computer.

Bitcoin has implemented a currency in which someone in Zimbabwe can pay somebody in Albania without any dependence on local institutions, and can do a number of other interesting trust-minimized operations, including multiple signature authority. But the limits of Bitcoin’s language and its tiny memory mean it can’t be used for most other fiduciary applications, the most obvious example being risk pools that share collateral across a pool of financial instruments.

A block-chain computer, in sharp contrast to a web server, is shared across many such traditional computers controlled by dozens to thousands of people. By its very design each computer checks each other’s work, and thus a block chain computer reliably and securely executes our instructions up to the security limits of block chain technology, which is known formally as anonymous and probabilistic Byzantine consensus (sometimes also called Nakamoto  consensus).

Trust-minimized code means you can trust the code without trusting the owners of any particular remote computer. Regardless of where any of the computers or their owners are, the block chain computer they share will execute as reliably and securely as consensus technology allows, up to the aforementioned limits. This is an extremely high level of reliability, and a very high level of security, compared to web server technology.

While there is much futurism in many block chain discussions, including many trying to solve problems that aren’t actually solved by the block chain, I will generally stick to low-hanging fruit that could be usefully implemented on Quixcoin, Ethereum, or similar technology in the near future, often interfacing to still necessary parts of traditional protocols and institutions rather than trying to reinvent and replace them in whole – Nick Szabo





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



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




“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

“Reverse engineering the neural cortex: We’re going to finish this off in less than five years”— Jeff Hawkins

Citrix Startup Accelerator’s chief technologist Michael Harries said, any entrepreneurs that aren’t familiarizing themselves with AI have “rocks in their heads.”

According to Modar Alaoui, AI’s immediate future lies in ambient intelligence in smartphones and smart cars.

Jeff Hawkins believes reverse engineering the neural cortex is the fastest way to intelligent machines. Neuroscience has shown that language and touch work on the same principles, and Hawkins expects a machine’s abilities to unfold in a similar way once scientists are able to tap inherent potential.

“Progress is incremental but also exponential. We’re going to finish this off in less than five years, I believe.”

If the thought of enlightened machines in the next five years is too much, Hawkins assured attendees that artificial intelligence isn’t inherently dangerous. The ability to self-replicate is dangerous, however.” – Jessica Lipsky


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


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


Actualizing the Human Imagination

As David Deutsch said in his book The Beginning of Infinity, if you look at the physical topography of Manhattan, the forces of economics, culture, and intent have already trumped geology. Literally the forces of mind create more physical topographical change than the forces of geology. Mind has trumped matter.

And as Ray Kurzweil wrote in his magnificent, magnificent book The Singularity is Near, it turns out that we are central after all. We are not just a pale blue dot.

Our ability to create virtual models in our heads combined with our modest looking thumbs was sufficient to usher in the secondary force of evolution called technology. It will continue until the entire universe is at our fingertips.

Having invented the gods, we can turn into them.

That is the human story.

That is turning ourselves inside out.

That is actualizing the human imagination – Jason Silva


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Follow me on Twitter @leebanfield1

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