1 Bitcoin = $249
Blockchain.info Hits 3 Million Wallets
January 2013: 100,000
January 2014: 1 million
August 2014: 2 million
March 2015: 3 million
Japanese E-commerce Giant with 11,000 employees and $5 Billion in annual revenue is now accepting Bitcoin – Niko Younts
3 years ago 5,000 merchants in the world accepted Bitcoin; now 100,000+ – Michael Parsons
Bitcoin Startup 21 Reveals It Has Raised $116m
* Someone needs to build the full-stack infrastructure for Bitcoin, from silicon to software. Backed by Andreessen Horowitz and Peter Thiel, that someone is us – 21.co
* It’s become clear to me that the biggest new disruptor across the board is now likely to be Bitcoin – Balaji S. Srinivasan, Chairman of 21 and Partner at Andreessen Horowitz
Chief Executive and co-founder Matthew Pauker says there will be “several interesting developments over the next weeks and months” about software and hardware products designed “to drive mainstream adoption of bitcoin.”
21’s investors include:
* U.S. venture-capital heavyweights Andreessen Horowitz and RRE Ventures
* Chinese private-equity firm Yuan Capital
* Chipmaker Qualcomm Inc through its venture-capital unit.
* Khosla Ventures
* Data Collective
* PayPal co-founders Peter Thiel and Max Levchin
* eBay Inc. co-founder Jeff Skoll
* Dropbox Inc. CEO Drew Houston
* Expedia Inc. CEO Dara Khosrowshahi
* Zynga Inc. co-founder Mark Pincus.
Mr. Pauker, who previously co-founded data-encryption firm Voltage Security Inc., which last month sold to Hewlett Packard Co., said Qualcomm’s involvement is key. He hopes to exploit the San Diego company’s mass-marketing and production capabilities in the development of a suite of consumer products that integrate with bitcoin’s core technology called the “blockchain.” This technology takes the form of a public, digital ledger that’s maintained by a decentralized network of thousands of independently owned computers.
Qualcomm’s involvement could spur speculation that 21 has its sights on the so-called “Internet of Things.” That’s the idea that a myriad of smart, Internet-connected appliances will in the future communicate with servers, networks and each other to optimize their operation, maintenance and energy usage without direct human involvement.
Some developers believe that bitcoin technology could play a key role in transparently managing the vast flow of information generated by these smart gadgets. The decentralized blockchain ledgers are free from the control of any one party, so smart appliances can in theory connect with computers built by other entities safely without worrying that the information was manipulated.
The initial secrecy around 21 was “solely for pragmatic reasons – we didn’t have anything to say to the world,” says co-founder Balaji Srinivasan, who is also a partner at Andreessen Horowitz. He compares 21’s work in building bitcoin products for the general public to the sequential development of 56-kilobit Internet modems, international fiber cables and wireless Internet towers, which all helped bring the Internet into people’s homes in the late 1990s.
This notion also has parallels with the mass Internet appeal achieved in the 1990s by the development of the Netscape browser by Marc Andreessen, a co-founder of Mr. Srinivasan’s firm. Asked for his views on 21, Mr. Andreessen said it “is working on what they — and we — consider to be core infrastructure for mainstreaming bitcoin.” – Michael J. Casey
* With people like Balaji S. Srinivasan running 21.co, a Bitcoin startup with $116 mill in funding, the future is bright! – Roger Ver
Transcript of video: Balaji Srinivasan on Silicon Valley’s Ultimate Exit
Qualcomm Funds 21 to Use Bitcoin for Internet of Things
* Qualcomm Ventures is the venture capital subsidiary of the global semiconductor company that designs and markets wireless telecommunication products. 21 aims to leverage Qualcomm’s production capabilities to develop a suite of undisclosed products to be released in the coming months – Joon Ian Wong
Raystonn: Qualcomm’s chips represent a large portion of the cell phone market. They intend to bring their cellular chip technology to all manner of interconnected things, and use the Bitcoin blockchain to do so.
Rodeo X: Holly $#!+ Could it be… maybe…What if they are looking at producing chips to conduct BTC transfers that could go into ANYTHING?
Raystonn: Yes, that is exactly what is meant by “internet of things”. There is a cost to running every machine in the world, and there is a cost to allocating resources. Objects are managed by their owners. It can take a great deal of time to allocate your resources efficiently. With an internet of things, your objects compete to provide services within your guidelines, but without your explicit micromanagement. This frees humanity to focus on the bigger picture: their goals in life.
Bit_Happy: This could be one of the biggest stories in the history of Bitcoin. We are seeing Bitcoin explode onto the global stage!
RodeoX: This looks like a new phase. If I’m guessing their intent correctly, they are creating hardware for the coming bitcoin economy. It’s all happening so fast!
Vitalik Buterin: Reminder: the Ethereum team has >30 people, many of whom have way more software dev exp than I do. Project is much bigger than just myself.
Cazalla: Is this your way of saying don’t blame me once investors figure out they blew 30k bitcoin?
Does everything I say have to revolve around cryptocurrency? I’ve been explicitly trying to expand my mind beyond that lately – Vitalik Buterin
Vitalik Buterin: Blockchains are a friggin database technology; 5 years down I doubt any users will care what the underlying network token is.
Jon Matonis: Disagree. Resiliency of the database network is the main purpose of the underlying token, which makes it about survival. If you think that the underlying network token doesn’t matter for the block chain, you’re doing it wrong.
Michael Goldstein: Not all ledgers are equal. Network size + liquidity suggest Bitcoin maximalism. Setting a reminder for Feb 23, 2020.
Barry Silbert: The industry at biggest risk of being disrupted by bitcoin? Gold industry. Trillions of value and billions of revenue at risk. Discuss
CoinFlipper: Sorry Barry. Way to much history going back to 700 BC when the first gold coins appeared. Bitcoin wont disrupt gold!
Gabriel D Vine: Way too much history going back to 5000 BC when the first horse-drawn chariots appeared. Cars won’t disrupt carts!
Noah: Funny how people are so naive when it comes to certain things. “gold is too old it can’t be replaced!”
The single currency, which has lost roughly a quarter of its value against the US dollar since mid-2014, rose 0.9% to $1.0595 after earlier hitting its lowest level since January 2003.
Comments by Italy’s central bank governor that the euro had fallen faster than the European Central Bank expected contributed to the currency’s rise today as the ECB launched quantitative easing.
Italian governor Ignazio Visco is also a member of the ECB Governing Council. He told a conference over the weekend that the euro had weakened faster than expected since the ECB first hinted at the programme of money-printing last year – RTE News
COMPANIES / PROJECTS / PRODUCTS
Magic Leap, a virtual reality company, raised $50m in February 2014 and then $550m in October. It persuaded the second set of investors to contribute by showing them a virtual cup of coffee alongside a real one and asking them to pick up the real one – Calum Chace
The HTC Vive
Release Date: November 2015
I saw the future today. I mean that. I got the chance here at MWC to try the new VR headset that Valve and HTC are developing. Is it good? It’s absolutely incredible. This thing is just…my god you guys I can’t even.
What this headset nails—and I mean fucking nails—is a sense of presence. A sense that you’re not just seeing a different world, but that your actual body is being transported there. Strap on the Vive and you are somewhere else. I slapped at fish in a shipwreck, walked like a giant through a battlefield, cooked in a virtual kitchen, and it felt so unbelievably real.
With the original Oculus Rift and things like Samsung Gear VR, that sensation of reallybeing somewhere else is present, but fleeting. Those can’t track your body, so as soon as you lean just slightly, the illusion is shattered. The Oculus Rift DK2 did it better, with a motion tracking camera that at least let you lean, but you were still a sort of an armless half-body. Sony’s Project Morpheus improved it further by using controllers keep track of your hands.
But the Vive? It’s like nothing that’s ever come before.
Virtual Reality is coming in many ways, shapes and flavors, and it’s coming right now. And that, my friends, is that awesome scifi future I’ve always dreamed of. Let it roll – Carlos Rebato
PRIVACY / SECURITY / INTERNET
Your Cellphone is a Tracking Device That Relays Your Conversations in Plain Text
GSM networks have used ‘toy crypto’ – that is, cryptography readily hacked by sub-state-level actors, as opposed to ‘full fat crypto,’ as employed by PGP and Bitcoin – from day one, and very much by design.
CIA Spent Years Hacking iPhone
U.S. government-sponsored research has been aimed at discovering ways to decrypt and ultimately penetrate Apple’s encrypted firmware. This could enable spies to plant malicious code on Apple devices and seek out potential vulnerabilities in other parts of the iPhone and iPad currently masked by encryption.
The security researchers also claimed they had created a modified version of Apple’s proprietary software development tool, Xcode, which could sneak surveillance backdoors into any apps or programs created using the tool. Xcode, which is distributed by Apple to hundreds of thousands of developers, is used to create apps that are sold through Apple’s App Store.
The modified version of Xcode, the researchers claimed, could enable spies to steal passwords and grab messages on infected devices. Researchers also claimed the modified Xcode could “force all iOS applications to send embedded data to a listening post.”
Researchers also claimed they had successfully modified the OS X updater, a program used to deliver updates to laptop and desktop computers, to install a “keylogger.”
For years, U.S. and British intelligence agencies have consistently sought to defeat the layers of encryption and other security features used by Apple to protect the iPhone. A joint task force comprised of operatives from the NSA and Britain’s Government Communications Headquarters, formed in 2010, developed surveillance software targeting iPhones, Android devices and Nokia’s Symbian phones. The Mobile Handset Exploitation Team successfully implanted malware on iPhones as part of WARRIOR PRIDE, a GCHQ framework for secretly accessing private communications on mobile devices.
One GCHQ slide from 2010 stated that the agency’s ultimate goal was to be able to “Exploit any phone, anywhere, any time.” – Jeremy Scahill and Josh Begley
Microsoft’s BitLocker Encryption
Microsoft has, for nearly a decade, included BitLocker, an encryption technology that protects data stored on a computer, in its Windows operating system.
Unlike Apple, which made encryption available to all customers, Microsoft had included this feature only in its more expensive premium and professional versions of Windows, up until a few years ago. BitLocker is designed to work with a Trusted Platform Module, a special security chip included in some computers, which stores the encryption keys and also protects against unauthorized software modification.
Presented at the Jamboree were successes in the targeting of Microsoft’s disk encryption technology, and the TPM chips that are used to store its encryption keys. Researchers at the CIA conference in 2010 boasted about the ability to extract the encryption keys used by BitLocker and thus decrypt private data stored on the computer.
Because the TPM chip is used to protect the system from untrusted software, attacking it could allow the covert installation of malware onto the computer, which could be used to access otherwise encrypted communications and files of consumers. Microsoft declined to comment for this story –Jeremy Scahill and Josh Begley
Canadian Refuses to Unlock Phone, Faces $20k Fine, Jail Time
Alain Philippon has been detained and charged with “obstructing border officials” after he refused to provide his BlackBerry phone password to Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) officers upon his arrival from the Dominican Republic this week.
“Philippon refused to divulge the passcode for his cell phone, preventing border services officers from their duties,” the Canada Border Services Agency told AFP. Philippon told local media he would fight the charges, saying that he refused to provide the password because his smartphone data is “personal.”
Philippon’s case may make him the first person in Canada to test the depth and the scope of the applicable law. “This is a question that has not been litigated in Canada, whether they can actually demand you to hand over your password to allow them to unlock the device,” Rob Currie, director of the Law and Technology Institute at the Schulich School of Law at Dalhousie University told CBC.
“[It’s] one thing for them to inspect it, another thing for them to compel you to help them,” Currie added. –Ina Fassbender
I used to say that this is the most important graph in all the technology business. I’m now of the opinion that this is the most important graph ever graphed. – Steve Jurvetson, DFJ Venture Capital
When Exponential Progress Becomes Reality
Human perception is linear, technological progress is exponential. Our brains are hardwired to have linear expectations because that has always been the case.
Technology today progresses so fast that the past no longer looks like the present, and the present is nowhere near the future ahead. Then seemingly out of nowhere, we find ourselves in a reality quite different than what we would expect.
We are still prone to underestimate the progress that is coming because it’s difficult to internalize this reality that we’re living in a world of exponential technological change.
It is a fairly recent development. And it’s important to get an understanding for the massive scale of advancements that the technologies of the future will enable. Particularly now, as we’ve reached what Kurzweil calls the “Second Half of the Chessboard.”
– Niv Dror
I wonder if there was ever a technology that took off as fast as the Smartphone, or if there will ever be another – Bill Gross
Foxconn Expects Robots to Take Over 70% of Factory Work Within 3 years
The electronics industry may still be reliant on human workers to assemble products, but Apple supplier Foxconn Technology Group is hopeful that robots will take over more of the workload soon.
Although the Taiwanese manufacturing giant employs over 1 million workers in mainland China, it has also been investing in robotics research. Previously Gou said he hoped to one day deploy a ”robot army” at the company’s factories, as a way to offset labor costs and improve manufacturing.
Last year, Gou said that the company already had a fully automated factory in the Chinese city of Chengdu that can run 24 hours a day with the lights off.
Gou declined to say more about the factory, or what it produced, but Foxconn has been adding 30,000 industrial robots to its facilities each year, he said in June. “I think in the future, young people won’t do this kind of work, and won’t enter the factories,” he said – Michael Kan
Death And Taxes
In 1800 there was no country with a life expectancy over 40. – Max Roser
Because everyone has always died, we live under the “death and taxes” assumption that death is inevitable. We think of aging like time—both keep moving and there’s nothing you can do to stop them. But that assumption is wrong. Richard Feynman writes:
It is one of the most remarkable things that in all of the biological sciences there is no clue as to the necessity of death. If you say we want to make perpetual motion, we have discovered enough laws as we studied physics to see that it is either absolutely impossible or else the laws are wrong. But there is nothing in biology yet found that indicates the inevitability of death.
This suggests to me that it is not at all inevitable and that it is only a matter of time before the biologists discover what it is that is causing us the trouble and that this terrible universal disease or temporariness of the human’s body will be cured.
The fact is, aging isn’t stuck to time. Time will continue moving, but aging doesn’t have to. If you think about it, it makes sense. All aging is is the physical materials of the body wearing down. A car wears down over time too—but is its aging inevitable? If you perfectly repaired or replaced a car’s parts whenever one of them began to wear down, the car would run forever. The human body isn’t any different—just far more complex.
If we ever do cure death, the aging of humanity’s past will seem like this great tragedy that happened, which killed every single human until it was fixed – Tim Urban
Drugs That Dramatically Increase Healthy Lifespan Discovered
A research team has identified a new class of drugs that in animal models dramatically slows the aging process, alleviating symptoms of frailty, improving cardiac function, and extending a healthy lifespan.
They found two drugs — the cancer drug dasatinib (sold under the trade name Sprycel) and quercetin, a natural compound found in many fruits, vegetables, leaves and grains and also sold as a supplement that acts as an antihistamine and anti-inflammatory — can kill senescent cells. These are cells that have stopped dividing and accumulate with age, accelerating the aging process.
The scientists coined the term “senolytics” for this new class of drugs.
“We view this study as a big first step toward developing treatments that can be given safely to patients to extend healthspan or to treat age-related diseases and disorders,” said TSRI Professor Paul Robbins, PhD – Kurzweil Accelerating Intelligence
Nanobots Successfully Deliver Their Cargo Inside A Living Animal For The First Time
By the 2020s, most diseases will go away as nanobots become smarter than current medical technology. Normal human eating can be replaced by nanosystems. The Turing test begins to be passable. Self-driving cars begin to take over the roads, and people won’t be allowed to drive on highways – Ray Kurzweil
Advancements in nanotechnology are finally starting to pay off as proved by a recent experiment which involved feeding nanobots to a living mouse.
The 20 micrometer-long nanobots were fed to the animal and immediately began to react once they made contact with the acid found in its stomach. More specifically, the zinc coating reacted to the acid by producing hydrogen bubbles, which essentially propelled the tiny devices towards the stomach’s lining where they were supposed to arrive. Once there, the nanobots dissolved and the particles found within were released into the stomach tissue. In other words, mission successful.
The goal of this experiment was to see if these rudimentary nanobots can deliver their cargo inside a living animal without any sort of side effects. Fortunately, everything worked like a charm and the mouse wasn’t even aware that it was part of an experiment which could lead to further major breakthroughs in the field of nanorobotics. The research was conducted by scientists from the University of California and published in the journal ACS Nano – Jason Moth
Google Ventures Funding Life Extension Efforts
Bill Maris has $425 million to invest this year, and the freedom to invest it however he wants. He’s looking for companies that will slow aging, reverse disease, and extend life.
“If you ask me today, is it possible to live to be 500? The answer is yes,” Bill Maris says one January afternoon in Mountain View, California. The president and managing partner of Google Ventures just turned 40, but he looks more like a 19-year-old college kid at midterm.
Here’s where you really figure out who Bill Maris is: on his bookshelf. There’s a fat text calledMolecular Biotechnology: Principles and Applications of Recombinant DNA. There’s a well-read copy ofBiotechnology: Applying the Genetic Revolution. And a collection of illustrations by Fritz Kahn, a German physician who was among the first to depict the human body as a machine.
Wedged among these is a book that particularly stands out to anyone interested in living to 500. The Singularity Is Near: When Humans Transcend Biology, published in 2005, is the seminal work by futurist Ray Kurzweil. He famously predicted that in 2045, humankind will have its Terminator moment: The rise of computers will outpace our ability to control them. To keep up, we will radically transform our biology via nanobots and other machines that will enhance our anatomy and our DNA, changing everything about how we live and die.
“It will liberate us from our own limitations,” says Maris, who studied neuroscience at Middlebury College and once worked in a biomedical lab at Duke University. Kurzweil is a friend. Google hired him to help Maris and other Googlers understand a world in which machines surpass human biology. This might be a terrifying, dystopian future to some. To Maris, it’s business.
This is where he hopes to find, and fund, the next generation of companies that will change the world, or possibly save it. “We actually have the tools in the life sciences to achieve anything that you have the audacity to envision,” he says. “I just hope to live long enough not to die.”
Google puts huge resources into looking for what’s coming next. It spends millions on projects like Google X, the internal lab that developed Google Glass and is working on driverless cars. In January, the company made a $900 million investment in Elon Musk’s SpaceX. In 2014, it started Google Capital to invest in later-stage technology companies. Maris’s views on the intersection of technology and medicine fit in well here: Google has spent hundreds of millions of dollars backing a research center, called Calico, to study how to reverse aging, and Google X is working on a pill that would insert nanoparticles into our bloodstream to detect disease and cancer mutations.
With Google’s money and clout behind him, Maris has a huge amount of freedom. He can, and does, go after Silicon Valley’s most-sought-after startups. Uber, Nest, and Cloudera are among the firm’s big wins. Maris doesn’t intend to stop pursuing these kinds of deals. But he has other ambitions, too. “There are plenty of people, including us, that want to invest in consumer Internet, but we can do more than that,” he says. He now has 36 percent of the fund’s assets invested in life sciences, up from 6 percent in 2013.
“There are a lot of billionaires in Silicon Valley, but in the end, we are all heading to the same place,” Maris says. “If given the choice between making a lot of money or finding a way to make people live longer, what do you choose?”
“We aren’t trying to gain a few yards,” Maris says. “We are trying to win the game. And part of it is that it is better to live than to die.” – Katrina Brooker
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