QUARTERLY ROUNDUP – Q1 2015

BITCOIN

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1 Bitcoin = $244

 

Blockchain.info Hits 3 Million Wallets

January 2013: 100,000

January 2014: 1 million

August 2014: 2 million

March 2015: 3 million

Lee Banfield

 

T-Mobile

One of the world’s largest cell phone carriers, is now accepting bitcoin directly as payment! (T-Mobile Offers 20% Bonus fo Bitcoin Customers) – Roger Ver

 

Rakuten

Japanese E-commerce Giant with 11,000 employees and $5 Billion in annual revenue is now accepting Bitcoin – Niko Younts

 

Merchant Adoption

3 years ago 5,000 merchants in the world accepted Bitcoin; now 100,000+ – Michael Parsons

 

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 company – Coinbase

 

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

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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.

 

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

 

Bank of England Worrying about ‘An Uber-type Situation’ in Banking

Bank of England Governor Mark Carney worries that technology will disrupt the banking and financial services industry in just the same way that it has torn apart newspapers, radio and the postal service.

His chief concern is that governments will fail to regulate it until it’s too late — “an Uber-type situation,” as he put it at the World Economic Forum in Davos last week. – Jim Edwards

 

The Transformation is Coming. Fiat Currency is Finished.

This is the sea change. The Transformation. Business as usual off the table and in the garbage. It makes anyone who can think giddy.

The horrors of the 20th century, prohibition, warmongering, the military industrial complex, Socialism, will all disappear as Rome did. The old insane asylum world will permanently die. We’ll look back on it in the same way that people look back on the USSR and its misery.

No one will be able to understand how billions of people all put up with money printed by criminals. It will be as strange as cannibalism. Inflation, legal tender laws, central banking and The Federal Reserve will seem like the most savage and repellant barbarism imaginable.

And yet as we study Pol Pot today and don’t give it a second thought, men of the very near future will shrug their shoulders and carry on. The Stateless crypto future will allow men to brush off the horrors of the 20th century as we brush off the horrors of the past today.

When this happens, the idea of the State returning will be met with both raucous laughter and great hostility depending on your age. The young will laugh at the idea of a short gargoyle woman saying a search engine must be “taxed “, and the old will remember the monster. – Beautyon

 

 

ALTCOINS

The 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

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* Alan Greenspan: “Greece Will Leave The Eurozone” And “There Is No Way That I Can Conceive Of The Euro Continuing”!

The Euro is going to die. This is a FACT.

Bitcoin at today’s prices is an insane steal, and so is gold. Got Euro savings? You’re NUTS – Beautyon

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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

Soylent

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“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

 

Drone Waiters Unveiled in Singapore Restaurant

 

Telepresence & Virtual Environments

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

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

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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

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

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

 

 

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.

And GTFO if you think that TextSecure, Silent Text, Signal, RedPhone, Silent Phone, or Black Phone are anything other than delusions of digital security, if not outright honey-pots – Pete Dushenski

 

GPG

“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

* That GPG works was one of the most powerful Snowden revelations – Michael Goldstein, The Satoshi Nakamoto Institute

* Use PGP whenever you can. Use it for boring things. Use it to encrypt guacamole recipes. Make the NSA’s life hard – Eva

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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

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“Sony had all kinds of things: intrusion detection, firewalls, antivirus … But they got hacked anyway. The security measures that enterprises do frequently get breached. People break in anyway: they overcome them,” says Zimmermann.

“A lot of this stuff could have been encrypted. If those emails had been encrypted with PGP or GnuPG, the hackers wouldn’t have gotten very far. Those movie scripts that they stole? They could have been encrypted too.”

Zimmermann is a firm defender of strong encryption technology, suggesting that it’s one of the relatively few bona-fide success stories in the online security world.

“If you look at all the things that have been developed – firewalls, intrusion detection systems, all these things put in place to protect computers? They haven’t really hit a home run: they keep getting breached,” he says.

“But if you look at the Snowden material, the one thing that does seem to do well is strong encryption. Of all the things you see getting broken into, it’s conspicuously absent from that list.” – Stuart Dredge

 

 

PLACES

Hong Kong

Autonomous drone delivering a chocolate bar from Kowloon side to the south side of Hong Kong island in less than 14 minutes – Sky Frog

 

The Philippines

Overseas Filipinos Can Pay Family Bills Back Home Using Bitcoin

Rebit, the Bitcoin remittance vertical of Philippine startup Satoshi Citadel Industries (SCI), has launched a new service that allows overseas Filipinos workers (OFWs) to play an active role in managing the finances of their families back home.

Aside from sending remittances, Filipinos abroad can now directly pay for their families’ bills and load their mobile phones with prepaid credit using Bitcoin via Rebit.

Rebit has over 91 bill payment options and five “e-load” providers on its network.

Remittances worth about US$30 billion flow into the Philippines via banks and third-party cash pick-up services annually, according to Rebit. These have been a crucial lifeline for Filipino families who spend the funds largely for basic needs – Judith Balea

 

 

THE SINGULARITY

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

 

Foxconn Expects Robots to Take Over 70% of Factory Work Within 3 years

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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

* “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.” – Peter Thiel

* 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” – David Sinclair, a researcher based at Harvard.

* “If you ask me today, is it possible to live to be 500? The answer is yes” – Bill Maris, President of Google Ventures

* “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

* “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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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 – Zoe Corbyn

 

New Technique Fights Aging

A new technique, developed by Stanford scientists, can extend the life of cultured cells and offer clues to solving diseases and prolonging life.

The technique can quickly increase the length of human telomeres, the protective caps on the ends of chromosomes. As a result, the treated cells behave as if they are much younger and multiply with abandon in the laboratory dish – rather than stagnating and dying. Normally, telomeres shorten with each cell division, and this is the reason a cell eventually dies.

Now we have found a way to lengthen human telomeres by as much as 1,000 nucleotides, turning back the internal clock in these cells by the equivalent of many years of human life,”said Helen Blau, PhD, professor of microbiology and immunology at Sanford, in a statement.

“This new approach paves the way toward preventing and treating disease of aging,” said Blau. “There are also highly debilitating genetic diseases associated with telomere shortening that could benefit from such a potential treatment.” – Harrison McClary

 

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 –Ray Kurzweil

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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

 

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Follow me on Twitter @leebanfield1

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