Monday 20th April

BITCOIN

This really has the power to change just about everything.

If we can get the State out of manipulating currency it would make a much nicer life for just about everybody on this planet.

Michael Covel

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1 Bitcoin = $226

 

Bitcoin Adoption

Certain countries will fall right in the sweet spot. I’m thinking Argentina, Indonesia, The Philippines, many countries in South East Asia, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, Malaysia, Vietnam, Thailand, Singapore, and then also perhaps large parts of China and many of the former Russian Republics.

These countries are going to move faster because they already have a lot of the infrastructure they need, they have numerate, literate populations, and they have tremendous need because the government and the banks in many of these countries cannot easily be distinguished from an organized crime syndicate. They operate like one, they have an impact on the economy by trying to take a cut of every cross border transaction, every remittance that comes in, and every deal that happens in the country, and so people need alternatives.

I would see those countries jumping on it first. You’re not going to see this grow in parts of Sudan or The Congo or anywhere like that, but you might see it grow in Lagos Nigeria, South Africa, Manila, and places like that much faster – Andreas Antonopoulos

 

South East Asians Get to Grips with Bitcoin

Bitcoin-based financial services, such as low-cost overseas remittances for foreign workers, are increasingly common in Southeast Asia.

World-Wide House, an office building in Hong Kong’s Central business district, is crowded with women from the Philippines who work in the city. They wait in long lines to send money to their families back home through Bitspark, a local startup offering a cash remittance service through bitcoin.

Bitspark, headed by founder and CEO George Harrap, began operating in December last year. It charges less than half of other remittance services for money transfers.

In the Bitspark office, users write their names, contact information and beneficiary account numbers on remittance forms and then hand over Hong Kong dollars to tellers. There is no difference in the process for sending money through Bitspark and traditional remittance services.

Bitspark charges a 1% or so commission, significantly lower than the around 3% it usually costs to send money from Hong Kong to the Philippines.

Using bitcoin makes lower commission charges possible. Bitspark converts accepted cash into bitcoins and sends them to its Philippine partner, Rebit.ph, which converts the cryptocurrency into pesos. Rebit then sends the Philippine currency to designated accounts or delivers it to designated addresses.

In the Philippines, where bitcoin-based remittance services started ahead of other countries, the number of transactions was between 10,000 and 20,000 in the past year, an industry official said. The number, however, is increasing at a double-digit percentage rate monthly – Jun Suzuki

 

 

MINING

As of June 2014, the power used for Bitcoin mining was comparable to Ireland’s electricity consumption

Karl J. O’Dwyer & David Malone

 

 

ALTCOINS 

Counterparty (XCP)

We just crossed the 200,000-transaction mark.

It took us about 10 months to get to the 100,000-transaction mark, and in 4 months we went from 100 – 200 so that rate is definitely kicking up.

If we keep this rate up we’ll be at about 500,000 transactions by the end of the year, which is great – Robby Dermody, Counterparty

 

The Thai Baht

The council of economic ministers yesterday signalled the Thai central bank to pursue a monetary-easing policy in an attempt to shore up the export sector.

Deputy Transport Minister Arkhom Termpittayapaisith said after the meeting that the council had instructed the Bank of Thailand to manage the baht and ensure it does not strengthen against the US dollar to the detriment of the business sector – The Nation

 

The Argentine Peso

Over the past decade the peso has tumbled and inflation, the official statistics on which have been manipulated for years, has increased sixfold.

Despite these drains on Argentines’ purchasing power, Ms Fernández has refused to allow a higher-value banknote. Today, 100 pesos buys a mere $11 at the official exchange rate. It fetches only $8 on the black market, which flourished after 2011 when Ms Fernández throttled foreign-currency dealings.

This erosion of the peso’s value means that banks must handle ever-growing volumes of cash. Their lobby groups complain this makes business unwieldy and unsafe. ATM machines are hard to keep stocked, since their capacities have remained the same even as the average withdrawal has increased from 380 pesos in 2008 to 1,500 pesos today.

Argentina's President Cristina Fernandez unveils an archetype of the new 100 Argentine pesos bill bearing the profile of former late first lady Maria Eva Duarte de Peron, better known as

Things are equally inconvenient for consumers, who tend to make even big purchases in cash. Some do so to shirk taxes. Others prefer to keep their savings stashed under mattresses and in freezer boxes than to make deposits in the banking system, which crashed during Argentina’s 2001 financial crisis. Properties, cars and big events such as weddings are commonly paid for with paper notes.

Such transactions, always cumbersome, are becoming ridiculous. Before the government stemmed access to foreign currencies, many big purchases were transacted in dollars, meaning a smaller pile of notes. Today, says Axel Brostrom, the boss of Binswanger Argentina, a property group, the volume of pesos needed to buy even a small apartment cannot be carried on foot. Many choose armoured trucks for safety. Once the vehicle arrives at the site of the sale, bricks of pesos are shuffled inside using duffel bags. Counting the cash can take up to four hours. For commercial deals it can take even longer.

Argentines will probably be counting their cash bundles for some time. With only eight months left in office, Ms Fernández is unlikely to allow a more valuable banknote. To do so would acknowledge that when it comes to inflation, she has long been counterfeiting the facts – The Economist

 

 

MARKETS

Market Cap to GDP

The stock market right now as a percentage of GDP is higher than – with the exception of nine months from ’99 to – 2000 it’s the highest it’s been in the last hundred years of any other period except for those nine months.

But you know what, when you look at the monetary policy we’re running, it should be – it should be about where it is. This is crazy stuff we’re doing. So, I would say you have to be on alert to that ending badly – Stan Druckenmiller

 

Portuguese 2 Year Bonds

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Has the ECB created a bond bubble of epic dimensions? Even 2yr Portugese bonds yield negative – Holger Zschaepitz

 

 

COMPANIES / PROJECTS / PRODUCTS

Blockchain Tech

Centralized block chains w/o tokens = most expensive database ever. Dumb, not dogma. No real world uses.

I fear there are a lot of suckers out there wasting a fair amount of money chasing a dumb idea. – Brian Goss

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Initially I was into the blockchain of things idea, but after spending the last 12 months pondering on it, I realized how foolish it is.

The bitcoin blockchain has absolutely no benefit, but many negatives on anything that does NOT require being immutable, fungible, non-discriminatory, and trustless. UBS does not want these features, and pizza delivery boys don’t care.

I would be glad to see a decent reason to use blockchain technology outside of bitcoin – its definitely not competition but interesting technology – but there are very few good usecases. Money needs these features, stock issuance can be interesting with these features. At best, this is over-engineering at its finest.

Proof of wasted-time amirite?!

I think a lot of people are comparing the blockchain to the internet, in that it will eventually be part of every aspect of most peoples’ lives. However the internet was, like most advances, more efficient. The car is faster than the horse, the plane faster than the boat, the internet faster than the mail. Equally bitcoin is faster than government restrictions on international payments, the blockchain faster than an SQL database? No. That is not the case.

WIL, WHAT DO YOU THINK IS A COOL BLOCKCHAIN USAGE?

  • Counterparty – decentralized asset issuance (with trading)
  • ColoredCoins – decentralized token issuance
  • SandHill.Exchange – avoiding USG regulations (10/10)

William Dunne

 

 

SpaceX

The thing about rockets is that they’re all expendable. All rockets that fly today are fully expendable. The space shuttle was an attempt at a reusable rocket, but even the main tank of the space shuttle was thrown away every time, and the parts that were reusable took a 10,000-person group nine months to refurbish for flight. So the space shuttle ended up costing a billion dollars per flight.

So it’s important that the rocket stages be able to come back, to be able to return to the launch site and be ready to launch again within a matter of hours.

What a lot of people don’t realize is, the cost of the fuel, of the propellant, is very small. It’s much like on a jet. So the cost of the propellant is about .3 percent of the cost of the rocket. So it’s possible to achieve, let’s say, roughly 100-fold improvement in the cost of spaceflight if you can effectively reuse the rocket.

That’s why it’s so important. Every mode of transport that we use, whether it’s planes, trains, automobiles, bikes, horses, is reusable, but not rockets. So we must solve this problem in order to become a space-faring civilization – Elon Musk

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This is the Eventual Goal

 

Tuesday 14th April 2015: Rocket Landing Attempt

Odds of rocket landing successfully today are still less than 50%. The 80% figure by end of year is only because many launches ahead – Elon Musk

If they can land the lowerstage on the platform today it’s a huge moment in space history – Wait But Why

———————————————————————–

* Ascent successful. Dragon enroute to Space Station.

* Rocket landed on droneship, but too hard for survival.

* Cause of hard rocket landing confirmed as due to slower than expected throttle valve response.

* Next attempt in 2 months

Elon Musk

 

 

How One Company is Using AI to Develop a Cure for Cancer

At Berg, we use AI to create over 14 trillion data points on only one tissue sample.

AI is actually able to take all the information from the patient’s biology, clinical samples, and demographics and really categorize which ones are similar and which ones are different and then stratify those in a way that helps us understand the difference between the healthy and diseased.

We go much deeper than just analyzing the genome, we look at all the genes in that tissue sample, all the proteins, metabolites, lipids, patients records, demographics, age, sex, gender, etc. We combine the 30,000 genes in the body with about 60,000 proteins and a few hundred lipids, metabolites.

Then we take those components and subject them to high order mathematic algorithm that essentially learns, uses machine learning, to learn the various associations and correlations. – Carl Berg

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Could we be just two or three years away from curing cancer? Niven Narain, the president of Berg, a small Boston-based biotech firm, says that may very well be the case.

With funding from billionaire real-estate tycoon Carl Berg as well as from Mitch Gray, Narain, a medical doctor by training, and his small army of scientists, technicians, and programmers, have spent the last six years perfecting and testing an artificial intelligence platform that he believes could soon crack the cancer code, in addition to discovering valuable information about a variety of other terrible diseases, including Parkinson’s.

All this data crunching has led to the development of Berg’s first drug, BPM 31510, which is in clinical trials. The drug acts by essentially reprogramming the metabolism of cancer cells, re-teaching them to undergo apoptosis, or cell death. In doing so, the cancer cells die off naturally, without the need for harmful and expensive chemotherapy.

So far, Berg has concentrated most of its resources on prostate cancer, given the large amount of data available on the disease. But thanks to recently announced partnerships, the firm is now building a new model targeting pancreatic cancer, which is one of the deadliest forms of cancers with a survivorship rate of only 7% – Cyrus Sanati

 

BPM 31510

We tested this on a patient who had bladder cancer. It was a very aggressive cancer, which failed to respond to all other therapies. We then put him on BPM 31510, which targeted the metabolism of the cancer cell, and by week 18, the tumor was completely gone – Carl Berg

 

 

PRIVACY / SECURITY

Police Use Spyware against Whistleblower’s Lawyer

Police in Fort Smith Arkansas have been caught embedding malware in a collection of documents requested by the lawyer for a whistleblower reporting on misconduct in the department.

Attorney Matt Campbell reports that upon the return of a drive he provided to the Fort Smith Police Department for the purpose of receiving evidence, three common pieces of spyware targeting Microsoft Windows computers were implanted into a sub folder on the drive.

The spyware includes a keylogger, backdoors, and a command and control utility.

The blanket refusal of other police agencies and Prosecuting Attorney Shue to even consider investigating the attempted spyware implantation of Campbell’s laptop in violation of wiretapping statues and attorney client privilege suggests that such measures might be routinely carried out locally with the knowledge of the prosecuting attorney.

This raises grave concerns into how many private practice attorneys in Arkansas, particularly in Sebastian County, may have had their computing infrastructure similarly compromised by police deployed malware.

As always persons located in the United States are recommended to discount the possibility that “Law Enforcement” agencies are realistically constrained by the law – Bingo Boingo

 

 

PLACES

World’s Biggest Bitcoin Networking Group is London-based

Every Tuesday evening in a trendy cafe in London’s Shoreditch neighbourhood, a group of digital currency enthusiasts gathers to discuss ideas, “vape” from e-cigarettes and exchange their pounds for bitcoins in a dedicated “ATM”.

With more than 2,200 members, CoinScrum, run by a former derivatives trader who left the world of traditional finance to work on a digital currency start-up, is the biggest bitcoin networking group in the world. Its meetings draw a mostly young, mostly male crowd – some amateurs, others who have come to Britain to start bitcoin businesses.

Already the capital of traditional currency trading, London is competing with San Francisco’s web expertise and New York’s financial clout as it pushes to be the foremost financial technology – or fintech – centre in the world.

Londoners can change cash for bitcoins at seven ATMs in the capital, and use them to pay for anything from tantric massage to a designer dress, a pork chop to a pint of beer. One company even allows rent on property to be paid in bitcoin.

Back in the trendy “Vape Lab” e-cigarette cafe, one young bitcoiner was putting 800 pounds’ worth of 20 pound notes into a bitcoin ATM in exchange for the digital currency.

“I just sell bitcoin to others, because they don’t know how to do it, so I take advantage of that and I make a profit,” he said – Jemima Kelly

 

 

THE SINGULARITY

graphic link for Moore's Law special report

Against All Odds and Regular Predictions of its Imminent Demise, Moore’s Law Endures

Fifty years ago, on April 19, 1965, chemist and reluctant entrepreneur Gordon E. Moore set out to graph the rapid rate of improvement in semiconductor-chip performance—and ended up discovering the heartbeat of the modern world.

That discovery is what became known as “Moore’s Law,” which is the observation that performance (speed, price, size) of integrated circuits, aka microchips, regularly doubled every 18 months.

Against all odds and regular predictions of its imminent demise, Moore’s Law endures.

Even pessimists now accept that we likely will live under its regime well into the next decade and beyond.

If some of the recent breakthroughs in atomic-level transistors, nanotechnology and biological computers prove fruitful, Moore’s Law could again accelerate, or at least continue to rule, for decades to come.

It now seems more likely than ever that a thousand years from now, what will be remembered most about our time will be its stunning efflorescence of innovation and entrepreneurship. By then Moore’s Law will have become Moore’s Era – Michael S. Malone

 

Millennials Face One of the Greatest Opportunities of Any Generation: Completely Remake the World with Technology

The millennial generation now entering the workforce have never known a world not defined by Moore’s Law. But unlike their generational predecessors, to this new cohort social networks and iPhone apps are old hat.

What obsesses them is hardware—drones, robots, 3-D printing—that is even more closely connected to the fortunes of Moore’s Law. Their careers will rise and fall on how well they ride the curve of an equation devised during the Johnson administration by a now-octogenarian settled into a comfortable retirement in Hawaii.

And what a curve it will be. Moore’s Law is creative destruction on steroids – Michael S. Malone

 

The Great Turning Took Place a Decade Ago

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The great turning took place a decade ago, while we were all distracted by social networking, smartphones and the emerging banking crisis. Its breathtaking climb since tells us that everything of the previous 40 years—that is, the multi-trillion-dollar revolution in semiconductors, computers, communications and the Internet—was likely nothing but a prelude, a warm-up, for what is to come. It will be upon this wall that millennials will climb their careers against almost-unimaginably quick, complex and ever-changing competition.

Crowd-sharing, crowdfunding, bitcoin, micro-venture funding, cloud computing, Big Data—all have been early attempts, of varying success, to cope with the next phase of Moore’s Law. Expect many more to come. Meanwhile, as always, this new pace will become the metronome of the larger culture.

Everything is now in play. Millennials face one of the greatest opportunities any generation has ever known: to completely remake the world through boundless digital technology.

The good news is that this generation seems to be already, often unconsciously, preparing for this adventure—through robotics competitions, gatherings of tech enthusiasts, engineers and tinkerers at Maker Faires and other do-it-yourself events, and playing with new applications for their drones and 3D printers. Having lived their entire lives at the pace of Moore’s Law, they seem to sense that the time has come to hit the accelerator. If millennials don’t entirely get it yet, they soon will – Michael S. Malone

 

The Rising Billions (2016 – 2020)

The most dramatic (positive) change in our global economy is about to occur between 2016 and 2020.

Three to five billion new consumers, who have never purchased anything, never uploaded anything, and never invented and sold anything, are about to come online and provide a mega-surge to the global economy.

While most of these individuals are in Africa, India, China and the developing world, and their income is low, when aggregated, this represents tens of trillions of new dollars flowing into the global economy… and no one is talking about it.

The Rising Billions are not coming online like we did 20 years ago with a 9600 modem on AOL. They’re coming online with a 1 Mbps connection and access to the world’s information on Google, cloud 3D printing, Amazon Web Services, artificial intelligence with Watson, crowdfunding, crowdsourcing, and more.

While the Internet has been extraordinary, it has only until recently connected the wealthiest.

In 2010, 1.8 billion people were connected.

Today, five years later, about 2.8 billion are connected…

Graph - Internet Users in the World

In other words, on a planet with a 7+ billion population, 4+ billion people still don’t have access to the Internet.

But by 2020, I expect the entire world will be connected – Peter Diamandis

 

Breakfast with the FT: Ray Kurzweil

There is a bowl of berries; a plate with smoked salmon and mackerel; six pieces of dark chocolate; a carton of vanilla WestSoy milk, a pile of Stevia sachets, and a bowl of tepid, dense porridge.

“Cocoa is anti-inflammatory and it’s very good for you. So that’s very dark chocolate with some espresso in. Berries, soy milk, unsweetened. Fish and green tea,” he says, pointing out each item. He eats almost no meat, is pescatarian and favours “healthy carbs and healthy fats. So a healthy carb is a little bit of berries, oatmeal, vegetables.”

As his hand hovers over the berries, I tell him I am disappointed not to see his bag of pills. He used to take up to 250 a day; now it is 100. “I’ve found more bio-available forms. So instead of taking 10 pills I can take two.” He has already taken his morning intake of 30 pills (he later shows me a typical bag of them), including ones for “heart health, eye health, sexual health and brain health”.

I ask how much this regime costs. “It’s a few thousand dollars a year. But it’s not one size fits all. A healthy 30-year-old might just need basic supplements”

Though the 67-year-old Kurzweil looks fresh-faced (he uses antioxidant skin cream daily), he is ageing, even if his “biological age comes out in the late forties. It hasn’t moved that much.”

But this is peanuts compared with Kurzweil’s ultimate goal: to live for ever. That means staying healthy enough to get to what he dubs “Bridge Two, when the biotechnology revolution will reprogramme our inherited biology”, and “Bridge Three”: molecular nanotechnology enabling us to rebuild our bodies.

If medical progress might once have been a hit and miss affair, he argues that we are now starting to understand “the software of life”. Data from the Human Genome Project will enable exponential, not incremental, progress. “Over the next 20, 25 years, we’re going to overcome almost all disease and ageing.” – Caroline Daniel

 

Are We The First? Massive Survey of 100,000 Galaxies Finds No Evidence of ET.

After searching 100,000 galaxies for signs of highly advanced extraterrestrial life, a team of scientists using observations from NASA’s WISE orbiting observatory has found no evidence of advanced civilizations in them.

“The idea behind our research is that, if an entire galaxy had been colonized by an advanced spacefaring civilization, the energy produced by that civilization’s technologies would be detectable in mid-infrared wavelengths — exactly the radiation that the WISE satellite was designed to detect for other astronomical purposes,” said Jason T. Wright, an assistant professor of astronomy and astrophysics at the Center for Exoplanets and Habitable Worlds at Penn State University, who conceived of and initiated the research.

“Whether an advanced spacefaring civilization uses the large amounts of energy from its galaxy’s stars to power computers, space flight, communication, or something we can’t yet imagine, fundamental thermodynamics tells us that this energy must be radiated away as heat in the mid-infrared wavelengths,” Wright said. “This same basic physics causes your computer to radiate heat while it is turned on.”

Theoretical physicist Freeman Dyson proposed in the 1960s that advanced alien civilizations beyond Earth could be detected by the telltale evidence of their mid-infrared emissions. It was not until space-based telescopes like the WISE satellite that it became possible to make sensitive measurements of this radiation emitted by objects in space.

NASA Wise Telescope

Wright said, the team’s non-detection of any obvious alien-filled galaxies is an interesting and new scientific result.

“Our results mean that, out of the 100,000 galaxies that WISE could see in sufficient detail, none of them is widely populated by an alien civilization using most of the starlight in its galaxy for its own purposes. That’s interesting because these galaxies are billions of years old, which should have been plenty of time for them to have been filled with alien civilizations, if they exist. Either they don’t exist, or they don’t yet use enough energy for us to recognize them,” Wright said.

“This research is a significant expansion of earlier work in this area,” said Brendan Mullan, director of the Buhl Planetarium at the Carnegie Science Center in Pittsburgh and a member of the G-HAT team. “The only previous study of civilizations in other galaxies looked at only 100 or so galaxies, and wasn’t looking for the heat they emit. This is new ground.” – University of Pennsylvania

 

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