Friday 30th January

BITCOIN

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Early Adopters

You could bring 10 million new people to bitcoin and they would all be early adopters – Jesper Bjorkman

 

Coinbase Exchange

Barry Silbert: BOOM! Coinbase begins trading in bitcoin on Monday, with licenses to operate in 25 of the 50 U.S. states.

Oleg Andreev: How is that much different from what Coinbase was before today? You could also buy/sell/store BTC.

Antonis Polemitis: I think it gives the US institutional field as a whole a more ‘comfortable’ place for exchange trading aka onshore, backed by ICE, etc, etc. It is going to be a big deal I think.

Cypherdoc: Liquidity is going to increase and spreads will narrow increasing real price discovery.

 

The Cryptocurrency that Dare Not Speak Its Name

Michael Goldstein: “By 2016, [the Fed plans to] identify one or more approaches for implementing faster payments.” (Fed Offers Four Options for Speeding up Payments). So agile.

Dan McArdle: That 1st Fed report from a year or so ago targeted a 10yr timeframe to have a full *plan* defined. Nevermind implementation.

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The Federal Reserve appears to have looked at Bitcoin as a potential set of rails for real-time payments in the banking system but shelved the concept for now.

The agency’s white paper on improving the payments system, released Monday, coins a new euphemism for Internet cryptocurrencies (of which Bitcoin is by far the best known): “Digital Value Transfer Vehicles.” These are defined as “decentralized digital stores of value that can be exchanged.”

One such transfer vehicle, which goes unnamed in the paper, “was not considered a sufficiently mature technology at this time, but was identified for further exploration and monitoring given significant interest in the marketplace,” the Fed said. Of the hundreds of cryptocurrencies that have sprouted up in the last few years, we’re pretty sure the Fed is not referring to HoboNickels or PhilosopherStone.

During a conference call with reporters Monday, Fed staffers were asked why the paper made no mention of Bitcoin. They responded by saying that they plan to monitor developments with digital currency, and that later, as those technologies mature, regulators will possibly have a different strategy – Marc Hochstein

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Why the Fed has a morbid fear of stating the word “Bitcoin”: Speculative Attack

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Pierre Rochard

 

 

MINING 

The network is only as secure as the total value of the coins made available to miners regardless of what you use blockchain for.

For a blockchain to be useful *for any purpose whatsoever* you have to trust that the transactions are not faked. the amount of trust you can have in any given blockchain can be quantified roughly by the hash rate in other words how much it would cost an attacker to launch a 51% attack on that network – Antonis Polemitis, Ledra Capital

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The Bitcoin hash rate is holding up well despite the big price drop. It’s currently at 338 pethashes, close to it’s all time high of 358 petahases set just two weeks ago. The mining difficulty adjusted down 6% in response.

The Hash rate is up 21x from this time last year.

Lee Banfield

 

 

ALTCOINS

NXT

NXT is probably my favorite alt. Love the decentrailzed asset exchange – Erik Voorhees

 

 

PRIVACY / SECURITY / INTERNET

GPG

WikiLeaks is going through the roof over Google, alleging the search company of violating the constitutional rights of its members after complying with an overbroad government request for the email content and all related information of three WikiLeaks staff – Nicole Arce

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Any journalist using Gmail without GPG is incompetent. Any journalist involved in any way with Wikileaks using Gmail without GPG is insane – Beautyon

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Internet serfing starts with not using GPG.

Modal internet serfer: votes for Obama and doesn’t use GPG, then complains about mass surveillance by governments and corporations.

“I will defend to the death your right to free speech, but using GPG is much too complicated for me sorry.” – Internet serfer

Pierre Rochard

 

Blackphone

Silent Circle has confirmed allegations that their privacy software has been completely useless.

A memory corruption vulnerability allowed decryption of private messages to any attacker with the victim’s user ID or phone number. The attacker can trigger the flaw by sending a hostile text message – Daniel P. Barron

 

Cuban Youth Build “StreetNet” Despite Wifi Ban

Cut off from the Internet, young Cubans have quietly linked thousands of computers into a hidden network that stretches miles across Havana, letting them chat with friends, play games and download hit movies in a mini-replica of the online world that most can’t access.

Home Internet connections are banned for all but a handful of Cubans, and the government charges nearly a quarter of a month’s salary for an hour online in government-run hotels and Internet centers. As a result, most people on the island live offline, complaining about their lack of access to information and contact with friends and family abroad.

A small minority have covertly engineered a partial solution by pooling funds to create a private network of more than 9,000 computers with small, inexpensive but powerful hidden Wi-Fi antennas and Ethernet cables strung over streets and rooftops spanning the entire city. Disconnected from the real Internet, the network is limited, local and built with equipment commercially available around the world, with no help from any outside government, organizers say.

StreetNet started as a handful of connected users around 2001 and stayed that way for a decade. More than 9,000 computers have connected over the past five years, and about 2,000 users connect on an average day.

“It’s proof that it can be done,” said Alien Garcia, a 30-year-old systems engineer who publishes a magazine on information technology that’s distributed by email and storage devices. “If I as a private citizen can put up a network with far less income than a government, a country should be able to do it, too, no?” – Michael Weissenstein

 

 

PLACES

The Philippines

California-based Bitwage launched a Bitcoin-powered payroll service that allows American companies to pay workers outside the US in their local currencies. The company struck a partnership with Philippine Bitcoin exchange Coins.ph.

Bitwage’s payroll platform accepts and pays out fiat money, but uses the Bitcoin blockchain for transferring.

Via Coins.ph, the workers can choose to collect the remittance in Philippine pesos or preloaded cash cards. They may receive their payments through their mobile wallets, bank deposits, or door-to-door delivery. Money wiring firms and banks take days to transfer funds and charge up to eight percent of the transaction amount. The Bitcoin technology does it in less time and for 50 to 90 percent lower costs.

Jonathan Chester, co-founder and chief strategy officer of Bitwage, therefore sees bitcoin as the singular payment protocol for paying people across the globe.

“From freelancers and small businesses trying to send and receive international payments to large enterprises looking to reduce the costs of internal foreign exchange rates, companies working internationally will ultimately be leveraging Bitcoin to cut costs and increase revenues either directly or indirectly with services such as Bitwage,” he explains.

The Philippines is the perfect market to pilot this kind of service. The country’s business process outsourcing industry – including call centers for banking or tech support – is projected to grow revenues to US$48 billion and double its employee number by 2020. The Philippines is also one of the top earning markets in terms of freelance work – Judith Balea

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There are a number of players looking to bring bitcoin to the Philippines market, which is largely a cash-based society with a large number of ex-pat workers that remit money home. Companies like Coins.ph, 37Coins and Boost VC-backed Palarin are all seeking to gain a foothold in this Southeast Asian market.

Cheap labor costs and often good standards of English also mean there are a number of employers in the US that employ Philippine developers, transcriptionists and general office assistants remotely.

However, it’s not easy to send money to the Philippines, as funds can take many days to arrive and transaction fees are often high. An additional hurdle is the high number of unbanked in the country – Daniel Cawrey

 

 

THE SINGULARITY

We are on the edge of change comparable to the rise of human life on Earth. — Vernor Vinge 

Edge1

As I dug into research on Artificial Intelligence, I could not believe what I was reading. It hit me pretty quickly that what’s happening in the world of AI is not just an important topic, but by far THE most important topic for our future

Kurzweil suggests that the progress of the entire 20th century would have been achieved in only 20 years at the rate of advancement in the year 2000—in other words, by 2000, the rate of progress was five times faster than the average rate of progress during the 20th century.

He believes another 20th century’s worth of progress happened between 2000 and 2014 and that another 20th century’s worth of progress will happen by 2021, in only seven years.

A couple decades later, he believes a 20th century’s worth of progress will happen multiple times in the same year, and even later, in less than one month.

All in all, because of the Law of Accelerating Returns, Kurzweil believes that the 21st century will achieve 1,000 times the progress of the 20th century.

This isn’t science fiction. It’s what many scientists smarter and more knowledgeable than you or I firmly believe—and if you look at history, it’s what we should logically predict. When we hear a prediction about the future that contradicts our experience-based notion of how things work, our instinct is that the prediction must be naive. If I tell you that you may live to be 150, or 250, or not die at all, your instinct will be, “That’s stupid—if there’s one thing I know from history, it’s that everybody dies.” And yes, no one in the past has not died. But no one flew airplanes before airplanes were invented either – Tim Urban

 

Artificial Intelligence

Rapid advancements in hardware and innovative experimentation with software are happening simultaneously, and AGI could creep up on us quickly and unexpectedly.

While there are many different types or forms of AI since AI is a broad concept, the critical categories we need to think about are based on an AI’s caliber. There are three major AI caliber categories:

AI Caliber 1) Artificial Narrow Intelligence (ANI): Sometimes referred to as Weak AI, Artificial Narrow Intelligence is AI that specializes in one area. There’s AI that can beat the world chess champion in chess, but that’s the only thing it does. Ask it to figure out a better way to store data on a hard drive, and it’ll look at you blankly.

* Cars are full of ANI systems

* Your phone is a little ANI factory.

* Google Translate is another classic ANI

Each new ANI innovation quietly adds another brick onto the road to AGI and ASI. Or as Aaron Saenz sees it, our world’s ANI systems “are like the amino acids in the early Earth’s primordial ooze”—the inanimate stuff of life that, one unexpected day, woke up.

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AI Caliber 2) Artificial General Intelligence (AGI): Sometimes referred to as Strong AI, or Human-Level AI, Artificial General Intelligence refers to a computer that is as smart as a human across the board—a machine that can perform any intellectual task that a human being can. Creating an AGI is a much harder task than creating an ANI, and we’re yet to do it. Professor Linda Gottfredson describes intelligence as “a very general mental capability that, among other things, involves the ability to reason, plan, solve problems, think abstractly, comprehend complex ideas, learn quickly, and learn from experience.” An AGI would be able to do all of those things as easily as you can.

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AI Caliber 3) Artificial Superintelligence (ASI): Oxford philosopher and leading AI thinker Nick Bostrom defines superintelligence as “an intellect that is much smarter than the best human brains in practically every field, including scientific creativity, general wisdom and social skills.” Artificial Superintelligence ranges from a computer that’s just a little smarter than a human to one that’s trillions of times smarter—across the board.

As of now, humans have conquered the lowest caliber of AI—ANI—in many ways, and it’s everywhere. The AI Revolution is the road from ANI, through AGI, to ASI—a road we may or may not survive but that, either way, will change everything – Tim Urban

 

VR the Dominant Medium withing 5 Years

Good consumer VR technology is not just a speculative pipe dream – it already exists today. The Oculus Rift is already many times better than traditional alternatives, and consumer versions are due to be released sometime in 2015 at a cost of just $200-400 per unit.

The technology will soon be cheap and widely available. It is inconceivable to think that VR will be anything less than the dominant medium within 5 years – moreover, I believe that consumption will substantially increase as the content and user experience become exponentially better than their predecessors.

The network effect of virtual reality will be mind-numbing. As more people use VR, more media will become available for the platform, the platform gets more engaging, bringing more users and continuing the cycle – Zack Kanter

 

Brain Implants Get Brainier

It’s an electrifying time to be in neuroscience. Using implanted devices that send pulses of electricity through the nervous system, physicians are learning how to influence the neural systems that control people’s bodies and minds. These devices give neurologists new ways to treat patients with a wide range of disorders, including epilepsy, chronic pain, depression, and Parkinson’s disease.

Medical device companies are coming out with dynamic neural stimulators that have a bit of “brain” themselves. These smart systems can detect changes in a physiological signal and then respond by delivering a therapy or adjusting the patient’s treatment in real time.

The goal of all these closed-loop systems is to let doctors take their expert knowledge—their ability to evaluate a patient’s condition and adjust therapy accordingly—and embed it in an implanted device. These dynamic systems have a number of potential benefits: They may react faster than current devices, provide more tailored therapy to individuals, and free up clinicians’ time – Tim Denison, Milton Morris & Felice Sun

 

Telepresence Robots

Roger Ver’s robot appearance at Bitcoin Miami is even better than it sounds. Telepresence is starting to take off.

What will be the purpose & justification for immigration restrictions in a world with ubiquitous, ultra-hi-def, free telepresence? – Marc Andreessen, Co-founder of Andreessen Horowitz

* Edward Snowden’s robot arrives at Hamburg Airport for 31C3 conference

* Peter Diamandis uses telepresence robots to telecommute around the globe, attend an XPRIZE meeting in India, or overseas, pop home for breakfast or dinner with hi kids.

* The salespeople are robots in this downtown Palo Alto store.

* Julian Assange spoke at the Nantucket Project via hologram

Lee Banfield

 

Nootropics

There’s nothing Silicon Valley tech entrepreneurs won’t try to hack, including their own biology. Founders like Dave Asprey, a 41-year-old Californian, chug fistfuls of pills every morning in the hopes that these supplements will give them a competitive edge in an already competitive market.

The drug cocktail Asprey takes is a mix of “smart drugs” meant to increase brain function and performance. These natural supplements are also known as nootropics or by their individual names: Piracetam, Aniracetam, CILTEP, Methyl, and Cobalamin.

Like others in his cohort, Asprey occasionally supplements these supplements with prescription pills like Modafinil, an anti-narcoleptic medication that healthy people have begun using to pull all-nighters. The idea is that, with the right supplement cocktail, you can conquer your body’s mortal limits. You can pull that all nighter while finishing up a sales pitch or write code for 19 hours a day multiple days in a row.

“It used to take a lifetime to radically rewire the human body and mind this way. Technology has changed the rules,” Asprey writes on LinkedIn. “This is real. It’s what happens when you hack the human body the same way you’d hack a website. It’s why I can do what I do.” – Taylor Lorenz

 

My Writing Profile Picture

Follow me on Twitter @leebanfield1

Bitcoin: 1Jwh6nZiASJf4d3hNytjxqiimWBmEJvJ4S

Bitmessage: BM-2cXjeAykLT7gbjzNHZFnCxdawvyryyb4Nf

 

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One comment

  1. This is cool. But if I were there I would have stolen the cap… haha

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