The smallest act like buying a drink with Bitcoin is a hammer that chips away at the enemy’s power – Beautyon
1 Bitcoin = $236
The Power to Pay Without Permission
Bitcoin creates a fixed-supply currency with no issuer. Bitcoin is successful because it does the one thing central banks won’t. Quite a few people in the world personally benefit from bad money. They will never willingly acknowledge this.
The banks may improve their systems for buying coffee. They won’t give you the power to pay without their permission.
The payment tech crowd has done a great job of not talking about permissionlessness as a feature. All they want to talk about are fees, settlement times, and mobile app UX – Justus Ranvier
Using “Blockchain” as a Buzzword
While the blockchain is unarguably the single biggest advancement that allowed bitcoin to succeed where other ‘digicash’ currencies failed, that doesn’t mean it is the right solution for your product – regardless of if you are the bank of England or IBM.
The blockchain is not efficient as a database, requires incentive to secure, and is not the most efficient way to handle peer-to-peer computer communication. So, why is the blockchain good for bitcoin? Because bitcoin is trying to be digital cash. It needs to be immutable, fungible, non-discriminatory, and trustless. If your platform does not require all of these features to be absolutely set in stone then you do not need a blockchain, it will be more damaging than good.
Bitcoin is not an efficient system – every single full node has to verify and store your transaction, and like anything worthwhile computing power, bandwidth, and storage space are scarce. In total this takes about 10 minutes (assuming no difficulty increase) and uses a non-insignificant amount of resources – currently subsidized by the block reward.
Centralization however is very efficient, however it does not meet the criteria described above. It is not trustless, it is not immutable, and it is not non-discriminatory. But that does not matter, your bank certainly cannot meet those above criteria even if it wanted to, and your instant messaging application does not need it. Adding a blockchain would make these systems more expensive and slower. Of course the central banks would want control over who enters the system, what transactions happen, and of course the issuance of currency – which of course has none of the benefits of bitcoin.
Could the Bank Of England use the blockchain in a beneficial manner? Yes, they could turn the British pound into an altcoin replacing the currently used system, however they would in turn have to give up any element of control over fiscal policy, account issuance, transaction verification etcetera. Will they do this? No.
Max Keiser’s featured guest, Erik Voorhees, bitcoin entrepreneur and CEO of ShapeShift.io, weighed in on the role that cryptocurrencies can play in improving the financial system.
Voorhees spent some time explaining ShapeShift.io, which quickly exchanges cryptocurrencies. He described it as a new piece of infrastructure.
“It is how digital currency exchange should work. From start to finish, you can change currencies in under ten seconds, no account required.”
ShapeShift.io holds an inventory of each altcoin / cryptocurrency it exchanges. Voorhees compared it to Travelex, a service at the airport that allows people to exchange different currencies.
Noting that Voorhees was an early skeptic of alternate cyrptocurrencies, Voorhees said he has changed his position.
“I realize a lot of these digital currencies do special things. Some do things bitcoin doesn’t do.”
Any coin that does something useful can find a niche. Those currencies that are clones of each other don’t serve a role. “A lot of these will fail, that is the point of experimentation.”
Shapeshift.io adds Monero support.
ShapeShift.io has integrated Counterparty’s currency XCP, into its instant altcoin exchange platform. Customers anywhere in the world can now buy or sell XCP instantly with Bitcoin or over two dozen other leading cryptocurrencies with ShapeShift.io
“As perhaps the most famous Crypto 2.0 platform, Counterparty has demonstrated a track record of innovation and professionalism,” explained ShapeShift CEO and Founder Erik Voorhees, “The Counterparty asset is a natural fit for ShapeShift.”
Critically, ShapeShift’s model has set a new standard for security and consumer protection, by offering conversion services without the need for user accounts or deposits – PRWeb
Cointelegraph: Can you give us an idea of what else Counterparty has in the pipeline for 2015?
Evan Wagner (Counterparty): Mainnet release of the smart contracts system, maturation of the codebase, and improvements to the Desktop wallet
Overstock Invests $5 Million in Peernova
US retail giant Overstock has invested in blockchain technology specialist Peernova as part of its second tranche of Series A financing.
Formed through a merger between cloud mining contract provider CloudHashing and ASIC hardware designer HighBitcoin in early 2014, Peernova raised $8.6m in funding last December as it sought to accelerate its shift away from mining.
In statements, general manager of Overstock’s Cryptocurrencies Group Judd Bagley framed Overstock’s first investment in a bitcoin industry firm as a vote of confidence in the decentralized ledger-based technologies Peernova is currently building.
Bagley went on to suggest that Overstock is currently seeking to expand its venture finance investments in blockchain and decentralised ledger-based technology providers.
“We’re completely bought into the idea that decentralized ledgers will play a significant role in business going forward,” Bagley said, adding that the company believes the technology could disrupt entire business verticals.
Bagley cited Medici, the decentralised stock exchange announced by Overstock in 2014, as an example of a project with such ambitious goals – Pete Rizzo
Medici is currently being developed as part of a special division at Overstock, though the project’s original developers, Counterparty’s Robby Dermody and Evan Wagner, have since departed to start financial market platform Symbiont – Pete Rizzo
Since we left the Medici project we have not had any communication with Overstock.com so we can’t comment on what they are building or how they plan to execute on their vision. What we can say is that we are big supporters of Medici and we do not see them as a competitor.
This platform is ostensibly geared for larger financial markets – Allen Scott
Symbiont is building a platform for issuing and trading smart securities using blockchain technology.
Its goal is to improve and replace key infrastructure components of today’s financial markets by automating corporate actions, enabling peer-to-peer transaction settlement and eliminating counterparty risk – PR Newswire
“Since we founded Counterparty over a year ago, our focus has consistently been on the creation and positioning of this technology as a solution for structural issues in the larger financial markets,” said Robby Dermody, co-founder of Counterparty and now President of Symbiont.
“Symbiont is the next step in achieving that goal,” Dermody said.
Symbiont will be using Counterparty and other blockchain-based technologies to solve specific, identified issues in several segments of the multi-trillion dollar securities market.
Symbiont’s technology platform will be based on Counterparty, but the Counterparty technology itself will remain open source. The Counterparty Foundation will remain unchanged, with both community and third-party industry voices being represented, and Counterparty co-founder Adam Krellenstein will continue to serve as chief scientist of the foundation besides his new role of Symbiont chief technology officer.
Symbiont already has raised significant interim funding, which will be followed by a formal Series A round investment of preferred stock – Giulio Prisco
Our choice comes as we wrap up large scale improvements to the Counterparty software suite, which has matured very rapidly (especially as of late). So far, over 180,000 Counterparty transactions have been made, often constituting a significant fraction of daily Bitcoin transactions.
In addition, there have been three comprehensive security audits performed on the codebase. With the approaching release of the Turing Complete smart contracts system on mainnet, we are at the point where less work needs to be done on the core protocol and more on tools and services that make use of it.
Symbiont is our next step in that direction. Because Symbiont’s technology platform will be based around Counterparty, the core Counterparty technology will remain open source, and will benefit from the greatly increased resources and sustainability this change brings.
In the near term, Symbiont’s team will work to upgrade Counterparty’s port of pyethereum, Ethereum’s Python-based virtual machine and Turing-Complete programming language to the latest proof-of-concept. This will make it production-ready for a mainnet release. In addition, we continue to make the core software more mature.
With our enhanced resources, the team will also continue to significantly improve the quality assurance and test coverage around the software – Robby and the rest of the Counterparty and Symbiont teams
Hong Kong Set to Overtake Japan as World’s 3rd Largest Stock Market
* The value of equities listed in Hong Kong rose to $4.9 trillion on Thursday, catching up to the $5 trillion total for Japanese stocks.
* The world’s two largest markets are the U.S. at $24.7 trillion and mainland China’s $6.9 trillion
* Chinese investors are driving previously little-known HK-listed companies through the roof
* Chinese stocks have a PE ratio of 220x reported earnings. US 2000 Internet bubble was about 150
“In China, the authorities have indirectly discouraged investors from punting the property market and the high-yield market. So where do they go? There’s only one other avenue: Hong Kong stocks.” – Khiem Do, Baring Asset Management Ltd.
The stock mania that pushed the Shanghai Composite Index up 89 percent in the past 12 months is spreading to Hong Kong, where turnover surpassed Japan each day since Wednesday.
Chinese authorities last month allowed more domestic funds to access the city’s shares through a cross-border bourse link, spurring inflows that narrowed the discount on Hong Kong stocks compared with mainland shares.
Kensho To Do To Financial Analysis What Google Did To Search
Founded in May 2013 by Daniel Nadler and Peter Kruskall, Kensho is out to shake-up the financial data industry (now dominated by Bloomberg and Thomson Reuters) by giving the masses the type of complex, quantitative computer power currently used by a few top hedge funds like Bridgewater Associates, D.E. Shaw and Renaissance Technologies.
Kensho’s cloud-based software can find answers to more than 65 million question combinations in an instant by scanning more than 90,000 actions such as drug approvals, economic reports, monetary policy changes, and political events and their impact on nearly every financial asset on the planet.
Questions (asked in plain English) can be typed into a into a simple, Google-style text box. Stuff like:
* Which cement stocks go up the most when a Category 3 hurricane hits Florida? (The biggest winner? Texas Industries.)
* Which Apple supplier’s share price goes up the most when the company releases a new iPad? (OmniVision, which makes the sensors in the iPad camera.)
Until now, answering these types of questions required several analysts and several days. Kensho can do it in a matter of minutes. As Nadler said: “This essentially is giving you a quant army.” – Steven Bertoni
COMPANIES / PROJECTS / PRODUCTS
Samsung Working with IBM to Track Assets Using Blockchain Tech
Samsung Electronics Co. is working with International Business Machines Corp. to use bitcoin technology for new applications.
The technology can be tweaked to record changes in ownership of any asset in a public ledger using a distributed network of computers or mobile phones. It could help facilitate all types of online transactions – Olga Kharif
Use Your Smartphone to Get a Diagnosis Without Leaving Home
Researchers from Florida Atlantic University have created a sensitive film that can detect viruses and bacteria, such as HIV and Staph, at home. The film could be used in remote regions, helping medical professionals diagnose diseases and decide on the best treatment from afar. The researchers published their findings in a recent issue of Scientific Reports.
To use the new platform, patients would place a small sample of blood or saliva on a film made of cellulose paper surrounded by flexible plastic.
Each film is designed to detect a particular type of bacteria or virus; if that type of cell is present, nanoparticles aggregate around it, dyeing the cells a bluish color to stand out from the rest of the sample.
The patient would then use a smartphone app to take a picture of the sample and send it to a doctor for diagnosis. Medical professionals, no matter where they are would receive the cell-fies and look at the bacterial biomarkers in the sample to diagnose the disease – Alexandra Ossola
Smartphone-Enabled Replicators Are 3-5 Years Away, Caltech Professor Says
In just a few years, we could see the mass proliferation of DIY, smartphone-enabled replicators. At least, Caltech electrical engineering professor Ali Hajimiri and his team of researchers thinks so.
They’ve developed a very tiny, very powerful 3D imager that can easily fit in a mobile device, successfully tested its prowess, and published the high-res results (PDF) in the journal Optics.
Hajimiri claims the imager may soon allow consumers to snap a photo of just about anything, and then, with a good enough 3D printer, use it to create a real-life replica “accurate to within microns of the original object.” – merbs
OpenBazaar 0.4 is Coming
Previous betas have had difficulty connecting to the network without port forwarding, and also had problems with stability. This 0.4 beta moved to a rUDP network, which won’t require port forwarding for most users, and it also is way more stable.
It also has quite a few new features, such as an internal messaging system for nodes that are online, switching over to HD keys for signing, and the ability for notaries to charge fees and send refunds to buyer or release payments to seller (in case of dispute or non-responsive party).
Edit: To be clear, there is still a lot of work to get to a full release, but this is the largest step forward we’ve taken so far.
Our goal is by the end of 2015 that it will be ready for average ecommerce users to jump onto the platform – CC_EF_JTF
New DJI Phantom 3 Drone
* The Professional version of the Phantom 3, which supports 4K, costs $1,250
* The regular HD version (the same in every other regard) costs $1000.
* Flight time is around 23 minutes.
Chinese drone maker DJI has just announced a new model called the Phantom 3 aimed squarely at the consumer market. As a current DJI drone owner and having seen the videos and specs, it seems to bring some really amazing improvements to the current lineup.
The new Phantom 3 brings higher-definition video capture to the average home user, and maxes out in 4K resolution.
The company says the device has been completely redesigned from the ground up, with improvements to every aspect of the drone.
The aim, a spokesperson said, is to ensure that aerial imaging is as “intuitive” as smartphone photography.
Towards this goal, it has revamped the accompanying app and hardware. The drone now offers three-axis stabilisation to make videos smooth, and YouTube Live integration so you can stream the flight live – Larry Banks
Wolff’s Bar Bangkok
The United States
Is it possible for the United States to break up, either de facto or formally?
I wonder. The country is not a happy place. Today it is more consciously and resentfully divided, politically, regionally, racially and by sex and class than perhaps ever before.
Washington is widely loathed. Rules, laws, and regulations never voted on grow ever more burdensome and intrusive.
Many quietly want out. The question is how to get there.
A breakup will not come by armed secession. We tried that, with poor results. It will come, if it does, by gradual degrees, by inadvertence, by quietly ignoring the central government, by incremental defiance. This has begun. Whether it will continue remains to be seen.
What can Washington do if states and regions simply go their own way? If large numbers of people stop paying income taxes, say? One tax evader can be arrested. Fifty thousand cannot. A problem for the feds is that if a state’s police decline to enforce federal laws, the feds have to do it themselves, and they don’t have the manpower. Passive resistance is hard to prosecute, gradualism offers scant pretext, rising generations seem less concerned about immigration than their elders, and a forcible response from Washington would entail frightful political risks.
As California, Texas, Arizona, and New Mexico become ever more Latino, what if they de facto eliminate the border with Mexico? They wouldn’t describe it that way. They probably wouldn’t describe it at all. They would just ignore sovereignty. In a globalizing world, the very idea of sovereignty seems less important that it once did. I will guess that the young, who will one day be older, care less than their elders about national identity.
How then would Washington enforce its will? Send the Army? Bomb Los Angeles? Them as has the numbers gets their way. And are getting it.
The result could easily be a de facto integration with Mexico—businesses operating on both sides of the border as if there were no border, a completely free flow of people, and the like.
A law of human behavior is that people want to live among people like themselves. Another is that they do not like being ruled from afar by people they detest. Who likes Washington today? – Fred Reed
The most important item on any Bitcoiner’s bucket list?
1) Live forever
In February, the SENS Foundation—a life-extension research institute led by anti-ageing crusader Aubrey de Grey—announced on its website that it would start accepting donations in bitcoins.
The decision was made after SENS started receiving a trickle of messages from bitcoiners willing to invest their cryptocurrency reserves in the institute’s quest for eternal youth.
The story of SENS’s eager Bitcoin donors piqued my interest: It was just the latest in a row of cases linking interest in cryptocurrency with interest in life-extension or other transhumanist projects. It looked like there was an unspoken, long-running connection between the two things.
The link is typified, for instance, by the Lifeboat Foundation, a nonprofit devoted to safely steering humankind to the Singularity by financing ventures such as asteroid shields and brain uploading.
In 2013, it published a statement declaring its commitment to cryptocurrency: “We are now working to have the majority of our funding come from 21st century money—money backed not by governments but by algorithms,” the post read. “The 21st century money Lifeboat is currently focused on is bitcoins.”
How come people who want to live forever are also likely to pay for it in bitcoins?
Both transhumanism and Bitcoin’s creed have a techno-enthusiastic character, and—in the best of hacking tradition—both are about overcoming some sort of constraints. If you are up for screwing biology and living forever, you’ll probably dig the idea of using untraceable digital money to subvert the financial system as we know it, too
From a sheerly practical point of view, some think that Bitcoin may help fill the coffers of life-extension research labs much faster. “Bitcoin has the potential to hugely redistribute the wealth of the entire global economy,” Trace Mayer said. “And the new holders of that Bitcoin wealth will probably be smart people very interested in life-extension. They’ll fund these kind of projects.” – Gian Volpicelli
Living Indefinitely is Feasible
Scott Menor: It’s at least possible to live indefinitely and continue adapting. The commonality I see is a reality disconnect.
Balaji S. Srinivasan: Well, if it is feasible…those who dismiss are the ones disconnected from reality 🙂 (When Was the Famous New York Times Editorial About Dr. Goddard?)
Scott Menor: To put a finer point on that – Goddard laid out a detailed map and got there. Most people are closer to Verne territory
Balaji S. Srinivasan: Actually, Aubrey de Grey published a reasonable roadmap 10+ years ago (Escape Velocity: Why the Prospect of Extreme Human Life Extension Matters Now).
Balaji S. Srinivasan: And there are many, many papers in this broad area now with real results, eg New Studies Show that Young Blood Reverses the Effects of Aging When Put Into Older Mice
Balaji S. Srinivasan: Life extension also like Bitcoin in that those who don’t understand the tech tend to be most hostile
Scott Menor: Funny you should mention Aubry (though not surprising) because he was specifically one of the people I had in mind..
Balaji S. Srinivasan: Shrug. De Grey was out there early & taking the hits, with concrete proposals. Respect due for moving the conversation.
A Turning Point in Cancer Care?
Researchers shy away from “cure” when it comes to cancer, but a modified polio virus is promising,with several cured – Spretzzaturian
A discovery for the 21st century that may be a big leap forward –awakening the power of the body’s immune system.
For 10 months, we’ve been inside an experimental therapy at Duke University. Some of the patients there use words that doctors don’t use, like “miracle” and “cure.” And that’s remarkable, because these patients were handed a death sentence, a relentless brain cancer called glioblastoma.
To beat it, researchers are doing something that many thought was crazy, they are infecting the tumors with polio — the virus that has crippled and killed for centuries. The first two patients saw their tumors melt away – Scott Pelley
Scott Pelley: I wonder of all the trials and all of the theories and all of the treatments that you have hoped for all of these years, how does this stack up?
Dr. Henry Friedman: This, to me, is the most promising therapy I’ve seen in my career, period.
Scott Pelley: A turning point in cancer care?
Dr. Henry Friedman: I hope so. I think it may well be.
What Would a World Without Language Barriers Look Like?
At Microsoft, hundreds of humans are trying to train a machine to listen, translate, and then speak.
Last December, the company announced the limited release of Skype Translator, which can translate a conversation between two people videochatting in different languages, in real time.
The software, which is still invite-only, can handle English, Spanish, Italian, and Mandarin. Google, too, has a smartphone app—free and available to the public—that can transcribe spoken text in one language, translate it, and then speak the result aloud in another. It’s not hard to imagine Google embedding this technology into its own videochat platform to a similar end.
Skype Translator will only get better; it depends on machine learning, a process that evaluates its own outputs and makes adjustments accordingly. It’s what has enabled mapping apps and Google searches to improve as more people use them, and the same will likely happen to live translation – Joe Pinsker
NASA: We’ll find alien life in 10 to 20 years
Are we alone in the universe? Top NASA scientists say the answer is almost certainly “no.”
“I believe we are going to have strong indications of life beyond Earth in the next decade and definitive evidence in the next 10 to 20 years,” Ellen Stofan, chief scientist for NASA, said at a public panel Tuesday in Washington.
“We know where to look, we know how to look, and in most cases we have the technology,” she said.
Jeffery Newmark, interim director of heliophysics at the agency put it this way: “It’s definitely not an if, it’s a when.”
NASA associate administrator John Grunsfeld, said part of what excites him most about the search for life beyond our planet is to see what that life looks like.
“Once we get beyond Mars, which formed from the same stuff as Earth, the likelihood that life is similar to what we find on this planet is very low,” he said.
Grunsfeld said he believes that life beyond Earth will be found by the next generation of scientists and space explorers, but Green said he hopes it is sooner than that.
“The science community is making enormous progress,” he said.
Follow me on Twitter @leebanfield1