January 2015

BITCOIN

April 2013: $260, “Bitcoin is a bubble.”

Jan 2015: $260, “Bitcoin bubble has burst.”

history animated GIF

Pierre Rochard

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If you think the price of bitcoin is bad today then you should view it on a log chart #mathAlex Millar

 

Strong Hands Unbothered

Hmm. Bitcoin days destroyed still as low as ever: Bitcoin Days Destroyed

Strong hands unbothered, watching a movie, reading a book.

Pete Dushenski

 

NYSE President: We are Tapping into a New Asset Class

Today we are pleased to announce that Coinbase has raised $75 million in Series C financing, the largest funding round to date for a Bitcoin company. This brings our total capital raised to $106 million.

Three of the world’s most respected financial institutions – The New York Stock Exchange, USAA, and BBVA – also invested in the round alongside personal investments from former Citigroup CEO Vikram Pandit and former Thomson Reuters CEO Tom Glocer. This marks the first time that financial institutions have made a major investment in a Bitcoin companyCoinbase

 

An Incorruptible Foundation for an Economy

If you’ve read the financial news headlines recently, you’d swear that each central bank governor could make it rain from the heavens on command, that each of these shamans in suits had the privileged ear of God.

There’s no Governor of Bitcoin, no CEO, and no High Chancellor of the monetary supply. There’s simply the math. Ding-ding-ding mine the blocks. Every 10 minutes on average. That’s it, that’s all.

No one’s inflating Bitcoin unpredictably, no one’s trying to “surprise markets” by changing its interest rates, and no one can scratch Bitcoin’s back during its election campaign to buy political favours later. This is entirely the point: Bitcoin’s an incorruptible foundation for an economy – Pete Dushenski

 

Bitcoin, Value, and Ponzi Schemes

It appears that Gary North has used the falling Bitcoin price as an opportunity to reacquaint us with his condemnation of Bitcoin as a Ponzi Scheme.

One can transfer any amount of it anywhere instantly without anyone else being able to stop it, at almost zero cost. Is the economic utility of such a feature so hard to grasp? Perhaps you have never tried transferring $10,000 of “your own money” to another person? If you had, whether it’s fiat or physical bullion or paper bullion, I promise you can’t get that money anywhere you want it to go in any reasonable amount of time without someone else’s permission.

How does that make you feel as a “free” human being? With fiat, it’s the banks’ and governments’ permission. With bullion, it’s the permission of the shipping company or the company in whose account you hold digital or paper certificates.

And all of these parties are tracking and reporting on you, by law. You are at the behest and mercy of others when it comes to your money, but it seems you’re so accustomed to this serfdom that a liberating technology like Bitcoin comes along and you squint from behind your Stockholm-syndrome shackles and yell, “Ponzi Scheme because volatility!”

Near the end of his accusations, Mr. North writes, “Any time you buy an investment, you had better have an exit strategy. There is no exit strategy for bitcoins.” Well, Mr. North, this may sound strange to you, but we’ve already exited. We exited the banking system. We exited fiat. We’re out here in a new world, a wild experiment, to see if a private, decentralized monetary system can actually work. It’s messy. Some of us have gotten hurt. We’ve all been insulted and ridiculed and some of us persecuted for rejecting monetary scripture. We suffer hacks, thefts, fraud, deceit, politicians, and the most frightening of all human endeavors – the great unknown.

But right now, if you care to look, a hundred thousand transactions a day are happening outside of the fiat banking system, so, Mr. North, maybe you should check your premises – Erik Voorhees

 

 

MINING 

The Bitcoin Network

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

 

Mining Capex

More evidence that Bitcoin investors are wildly incompetent: “Bitreserve Raises US$9.5 Million”:

Halsey wasted his fortune (How Halsey Minor Blew Tech Fortune on Way to Bankruptcy). But sure, why not give him $9.5 MM more “to reach cash-flow positive”.

Bitcoin price went down in 2014 due to (much needed!) capex spend on mining. It will stay down in 2015 if investors don’t get it together – Pierre Rochard

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Fred Wilson: I believe we are witnessing a transition from one phase (monetary and speculation driven) to another phase (new applications and bitcoin as a platform) and there will be a shakeout as the transition happens

Pierre Rochard: Most people who don’t understand the bitcoin mining capex cycle come to this erroneous/premature conclusion. The monetary and speculation driven phase of Bitcoin is just getting started. New apps are likely 5-10 yrs away from maturing to usable.

There is such a thing in technology as being too early. Happens all the time. Very likely that the “bitcoin 2.0″ “appcoin” etc is too early.

Alex B: Curious to compare mining investment last year vs. VC’s “tech platform”. Probably closer than one would think.

Pierre Rochard: I know for a fact that mining investment was greater than VC investment in 2014.

 

 

ALTCOINS

Euro

Wow. The next stage of currency wars. ECB to create up to 1.1 trillion new euros.

The speculation that the SNB knew about this in advance now seems to be accurate: Crude, Gold Jump After Goldman Say SNB Action Hints At “Massive ECB QE”

Ryan X. Charles

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Hard fork in the Euro currency protocol announced!

* difficulty decreased

* block rewards to be increased

* reward output rate: €19, 025 units / seconds

* consensus imposed by centralized proof-of-stake (i.e. large holders of euro units, governments and financial institutions).

Francis Pouliot

 

Namecoin

Namecoin was the first credible fork of the Bitcoin codebase and remains one of the few altcoins of enduring interest.

The Namecoin project was born out of a desire to expand the principles that laid the foundation for Bitcoin’s success in reinventing money to doing the same for Domain and other name services. Namecoin was even early enough to get suggestions and code commits from Satoshi Nakamato himself.

A healthy well adopted implementation of Namecoin could be nearly as great of a boon for a free Internet as Bitcoin has been as a free medium of trade – Bingo Boingo

 

 

COMPANIES / PROJECTS

Soylent

“I’m not so sure about Soylent. Oh, please pass the packaged chips, cookies, microwave burritos, soft drinks, & synthetic nacho cheese!” – Marc Andreessen, Andreessen Horowitz

 

State Governments Losing Battle Against Uber’s Deep Pockets

Emails obtained by the 7.30 program reveal illegal ride-sharing application UberX is undermining transport inspectors by blocking their mobile phones from accessing the service.

UberX drivers use private vehicles as unlicensed taxis to collect passengers who have requested a car using Uber’s smart phone application. It is effectively banned in Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria, and Western Australia, and drivers caught accepting passengers risk fines of up to $1,700.

Driver Debra Walsh said she had been instructed to ignore the ban.

The fines are usually issued on the spot during undercover investigations in which transport inspectors download the Uber app using government-issued mobile phones, and book a ride. However, emails obtained under Queensland’s Right To Information laws show Uber is tracking those mobile phones and suspending all corresponding Uber accounts.

“Due to blocking by Uber, only two covert rides were undertaken [today],” said Nick Marsden from the Department of Transport and Main Roads in an email to colleagues last August.

“Time was spent purchasing new credit cards, activating gmail accounts, and setting up two more phones.

“These phones are the last ones, [we] will be ordering additional units.”

When a transport inspector contacted Uber to ask why their account had been suspended, a customer service representative cited suspicious activity. The Queensland Government says it has issued more than $260,000 worth of fines to 95 UberX drivers since the business began operating in Brisbane early last year. The fines, however, appear to be having little impact on Uber, as the company has deep pockets and is paying the penalties on behalf of its drivers.

The emails obtained by 7.30 reveal tension among staff at Queensland’s Department of Transport and Main Roads who do not believe the undercover investigations are working – David Lewis

 

 

INTERNET / PRIVACY / SECURITY

Greatest Recent Innovations for Human Freedom

TCP/IP, HTTP, SMTP, Mozilla, Linux, BitTorrent, TOR, Bitcoin, GPG, EFF

Naval Ravikant

 

What’s Not Broken?

What’s not broken: OTR, GnuPG, RedPhone/Signal, Tails, and Tor

The NSA doesn’t have superpowers, they have backdoors. Math is their weakness. – Jacob Appelbaum

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The NSA’s strength as they disclose here is not math or science advances that allow them to seemingly magically break strong encryption, but the size and scale of their operations along with their ability to recruit collaborators like Microsoft and subvert standards committees. According to this dump much of the math and science goes into perverting systems before they are born rather than making progress against existing strong encryption.

* HTTPS fares poorly against state level actors. Between flaws brought into the protocol and its implementations like Heartbleed, the Windows Heartbleed analogue, and poor cipher defaults the assumption should probably be that HTTPS isn’t offering much additional security. It is also probably far too early to put much hope into the prospect of cleaner HTTPS implementations like LibreSSLoffering great security for HTTPS traffic though LibreSSL’s seems to be affected by less new security advisories than OpenSSL.

* All Skype traffic has been theirs for the taking since 2011 thanks in large part to Mircosoft’s collaboration.

* Sometimes they can grab plaintext of data transmitted via SSH. Friends don’t let friends use passwords for SSH authentication.

* The NSA really loves sucking up VPN traffic and often successfully giving it a good read.

* Contents of email encrypted with PGP/GPG generally seems safe if sent using sane settings. This is going to mean large RSA keypairs, at least 2048 bits but preferably 4096 bits or longer. For message signing use the most secure message digest hash available which is probably going to be SHA-512. For maximum security keep keys and key operations away from Internet connected computers.

* Some chat encryption protocols like OTR seemed to give them trouble when intercepted over the wire according to disclosed documents. As Internet chat involves realtime encryption and decryption of messages at the endpoints and taking key operations for encrypted chat offline would be exceedingly difficult, there is they real chance that if they suspect you might be sufficiently interesting they would compromise your machine to make your keys available to themselves.

Bingo Boingo

 

PGP

“No decrypt available for this PGP encrypted message.” TOP SECRET / COMINT / REL TO USA, AUS

Documents leaked by whistleblower Edward Snowden have suggested that there are types of hardened cryptography – including the open-source GPG, based on Phil Zimmermann’s Pretty Good Privacy – which when used properly are immune to attack – Gareth Halfacree

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In case you wanted to know why so many are opposed to you using GPG, it’s because it actually works. Get it now: Please To PGP (Guide for Linux, OS X, Windows). All the belly-aching about GPG for the past decade was either motivated by laziness or government/corporate psyop.

Set aside all the excuses, all the disinfo, all the ego, and maximize your use of PGP in 2015. Just do it. Message me if you need help.

Using PGP is not about ~ muh government ~ or ~ privacy ~. It’s about the virtues of trust, integrity, and diligence (Meditations on Cypherpunk Nightmares)

Pierre Rochard

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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

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

“I’m a bitcoin expert, but I have no idea how to use GPG, that’s way too complicated.” – Internet serfer

Pierre Rochard

 

 

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

“If your business and social world is oriented around the premise of “disruptive technologies”, what could be more disruptive than slowing down or “defeating” ageing?” – Patrick McCray

“The first person who will live to 1,000 years is probably already alive.” – Aubrey de Grey

“There is an increasing number of people realising that the concept of anti-ageing medicine that actually works is going to be the biggest industry that ever existed by some huge margin and that it just might be foreseeable.” – Aubrey de Grey

 

The Declining Lethality of Heart Disease, Cancer, & Stroke (USA)

Cancer down 20% from 1990 peak.

Heart disease down 68% in last 50 years. Strokes down 79%

Max Roser

 

The world is in a “pro-ageing trance”

Peter Thiel, 47, PayPal co-founder and Facebook’s first investor, recently told Bloomberg Television he took human growth hormone (HGH) as part of his regime to reach 120. He also follows a Paleo diet,doesn’t eat sugar, drinks red wine and runs regularly. He has given more than $6m to Aubrey de Grey’s Sens Foundation, dedicated to extending the human lifespan. In a recent interview he identified three main ways to approach death. “You can accept it, you can deny it or you can fight it. I think our society is dominated by people who are into denial or acceptance, and I prefer to fight it.”

In an office not far from Google’s headquarters in Mountain View, with a beard reaching almost to his navel, Aubrey de Grey is enjoying the new buzz about defeating ageing. For more than a decade, he has been on a crusade to inspire the world to embark on a scientific quest to eliminate ageing and extend healthy lifespan indefinitely (he is on the Palo Alto Longevity Prize board).

It is a difficult job because he considers the world to be in a “pro-ageing trance”, happy to accept that ageing is unavoidable, when the reality is that it’s simply a “medical problem” that science can solve. Just as a vintage car can be kept in good condition indefinitely with periodic preventative maintenance, so there is no reason why, in principle, the same can’t be true of the human body, thinks de Grey. We are, after all, biological machines, he says – Zoe Corbyn

 

Scientists Say They’ll Soon Extend Lifespan Past 120

Fixing the ‘problem’ of ageing is the mission of Silicon Valley, where billions is pouring into biotech firms working to ‘hack the code’ of life

Scientists have already successfully intervened in ageing in a variety of animal species and researchers say there is reason to believe it could be achieved in people. “We have really turned a corner,” says Brian Kennedy, director of the Buck Institute for Research on Ageing, adding that five years ago the scientific consensus was that ageing research was interesting but unlikely to lead to anything practical. “We’re now at the point where it’s easy to extend the lifespan of a mouse. That’s not the question any more, it’s can we do this in humans? And I don’t see any reason why we can’t,” says David Sinclair, a researcher based at Harvard.

Reason for optimism comes after several different approaches have yielded promising results. Some existing drugs, such as the diabetes drug metformin, have serendipitously turned out to display age-defying effects, for example. Several drugs are in development that mimic the mechanisms that cause lab animals fed carefully calorie-restricted diets to live longer. Others copy the effects of genes that occur in long-lived people. One drug already in clinical trials is rapamycin, which is normally used to aid organ transplants and treat rare cancers. It has been shown to extend the life of mice by 25%, the greatest achieved so far with a drug, and protect them against diseases of ageing including cancer and neurodegeneration.

Other drugs set to be tested in humans are compounds inspired by resveratrol, a compound found in red wine. Some scientists believe it is behind the “French paradox” that French people have a low incidence of heart disease despite eating comparatively rich diets.

In 2003, Sinclair published evidence that high doses of resveratrol extend the healthy lives of yeast cells. After Sirtris, a company co-founded by Sinclair, showed that resveratrol-inspired compounds had favourable effects in mice, it was bought by drug giant GlaxoSmithKline for $720m in 2008. Although development has proved more complicated than first thought, GSK is planning a large clinical trial this year, says Sinclair. He is now working on another drug that has a different way of activating the same pathway – Zoe Corbyn

 

Reprogramming Biology

“I’m fascinated by the idea that genetics is digital. A gene is a long sequence of coded letters, like computer information. Modern biology is becoming very much a branch of information technology.” — Richard Dawkins

Parts of human body version 2.0 are biological enhancements, for example turning off (or turning down) the fat insulin receptor gene (that says “hold onto every calorie in our fat cells because the next hunting season may not work out so well”) so that we can eat a lot and remain slim and get the health benefits of being slim. That’s just one small example of reprogramming the information processes underlying biology – Ray Kurzweil

 

Telepresence & Virtual Environments

* Within a couple years there should be thousands of live streaming telepresence panoramas that we can teleport between – John Carmack, Oculus VR CTO

* 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 – Zack Kanter

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Today I use telepresence robots to telecommute around the globe, attend an XPRIZE meeting in India, or if I’m overseas, pop home for breakfast or dinner with my kids.

The product I personally use comes from Suitable Technology and is called the “Beam.” I have about 15 beams across my different companies.

With the creation of new VR technologies (Oculus Rift technology, Samsung Gear) and 360-degree camera technology (Immersive Media, Jaunt), we’ll be able to slide on a pair of Goggles and “go” anywhere in the real and virtual world.

Companies will forgo bricks and mortar, and instead allow its work-force, from around the world, to beam into the same environment and work cooperatively. Think about a ‘kinder-gentler ‘ version of the Matrix – Peter Diamandis

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

Embedded image permalink

Edward Snowden arrives at Hamburg Airport for tomorrow’s 31C3 conference – Michael

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Let me tell people about Bitcoin in cold NYC, from a warm beach, via the doublerobotics robot –Roger Ver

Bitcoin entrepreneur Roger Ver has been effectively locked out of his native USA after this week being denied a non-immigrant visa for the third time.

Ver became a citizen of the Federation of Saint Kitts and Nevis, a small Caribbean nation, in February 2014 and handed in his US passport a month later.

A frequent attendee and guest speaker at bitcoin conferences worldwide, he makes a point of wearing a ‘borders are imaginary lines’ T-shirt when going through immigration at airports – Jon Southurst

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Roger Ver’s robot appearance at Bitcoin Miami is even better than it sounds.

 

Telepresence is starting to take off.

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

* Julian Assange spoke at the Nantucket Project via hologram

Lee Banfield

 

Tribulation Conquered

Today, Opportunity stands proudly on the top of Cape Tribulation, taking a well-deserved breather after her hard climb.

She did it. Opportunity did it. She reached the top of Cape Tribulation, and is now looking down from the summit, with gorgeous views of the rim of Endeavour on the farside of the crater and of her tracks leading back down the hill to the great Merdiani Plain far below.

pano7

Now she is there, standing on that summit. And I make no apology for repeating the statistics because they are jaw dropping. Opportunity would, it was hoped, survive for 90 days on the surface of Mars before the hostile environment killed her.

It was hoped that in that time she might, possibly, perhaps, drive as far as a kilometre from her original landing site. Eleven years later… eleven YEARS… as you read this, on your phone, laptop, tablet or PC, this truly incredible rover is not only still working, but she has travelled almost 42 km across the Red Planet and is now standing on a rocky ledge high above the surface of Mars.

If you don’t think that’s an amazing achievement, if that doesn’t leave you shaking your head on wonder, then you’re made of stone, I swear – The Road to Endeavour

 

My Writing Profile Picture

Follow me on Twitter @leebanfield1

Bitcoin: 1Jwh6nZiASJf4d3hNytjxqiimWBmEJvJ4S

Bitmessage: BM-2cXjeAykLT7gbjzNHZFnCxdawvyryyb4Nf

 

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