April 2015

BITCOIN

The smallest act like buying a drink with Bitcoin is a hammer that chips away at the enemy’s power – Beautyon

bitcoin_logo_flat_coin_star_bl_by_carbonism-d3h7bxh

1 Bitcoin = $233

 

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

 

The Technical Doubts Have Evaporated, Now Fear is Setting In.

First they said Bitcoin was a Ponzi Scheme, then they said it was only for “techies” then they said it was a bubble, then they said some other nonsense about it.

Now, no one says any of those things, and they are onto the next iteration of their FUD; for example, the transaction rate is “not fast enough”. They have conceded that Bitcoin works exactly as specified, and are running out of novel attacks.

The rumblings of complete capitulation are starting to be written, and its a distinct pleasure to read them – Beautyon

 

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

 

Bitcoin’s Success is Deeply Disturbing to the Statists

What the Statists do not like about Bitcoin not being under central control, is that its success is a strong, undeniable signal that control by democratic government is not needed for essential societal functions like money, and that there are better ways to organize every aspect of society that do not require government.

The idea that money will no longer be the special preserve of the State and its corrupt central banks is deeply disturbing to these men, and so, they do anything they can (which is precisely nothing) and say anything they can (which is too much) to undermine the idea that Bitcoin does not need to be centrally controlled – Beautyon

 

 

MINING

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

Karl J. O’Dwyer & David Malone

 

If Google Mined Bitcoin

All of Google today would represent less than 1% of mining. The sheer degree of what is happening in mining hasn’t been appreciated in the press.

If we assume there are 10 million Google servers and each of these servers is running. You can multiply that through and you get about one petahash. If they turned off all their data centers and pointed them at bitcoin, they’d be less than 1% of the network – Balaji S. Srinivasan, 21 & Andreessen Horowitz

 

 

ALTCOINS

I probably should get around to finally buying some Monero. xmr.to is a pretty clever service.

We’re going to find out the hard way that Bitcoin will get outcompeted by currencies like Monero and Zerocash if we don’t act to get better anonymity and privacy into Bitcoin itself – Peter Todd

 

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

 

 

MARKETS

Markets are More Distorted Than Ever Before

The current cycle is very unusual, because never before have we seen authorities, central banks in particular, intervening on such a large scale and pumping so much money into global financial markets. Hence, global financial markets are more distorted than ever before and accordingly, the risks are very high.

Investing becomes very difficult in such an unprecedented environment, as it can’t be compared to previous situations.

Zero or even negative interest rates have distorted the valuation and pricing of virtually all assets. We know that the longer a distortion prevails, the more investors get used to it and it becomes the “new normal” to them. That’s where the problem lies! – Felix Zulauf, Zulauf Asset Manangement

 

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

Embedded image permalink

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

 

Imposing Negative Interest Rates

53% of all global government bonds are yielding 1% or less

In recent months, negative rates have become widespread in Europe’s financial capitals.

Pause for a second and marvel at how strange this is. Banks have always paid interest to depositors. We’ve entered a new era of surplus in which banks—some, anyway—are deigning to accept money only if customers are willing to pay for the privilege – Peter Coy

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Negative interest rates are not exclusive to Europe. Last week the first government bond ever with a negative yield was issued in Australia.

Not many market watchers saw this coming, which underlines the seriousness of the problem. Negative interest rates change the rules of the game in the financial system, namely. Those who want to save money, have to pay money. Those who create debt, receive additional reward. It is the world upside down, but that is in fact what is happening – Secular Investor

 

 

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

———————————————

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

 

There Are Now More Uber Cars Than Yellow Taxis In New York City

The ride-sharing company has 14,088 cars operating in New York, compared to the 13,587 yellow medallion cabs allowed to drive at any one time – Jacob Pramuk

 

Driverless Car Travels 3,400 Miles from San Francisco to New York

Delphi's Autonomous Audi Made It From San Francisco To New York City

Delphi’s driverless SQ5 covered almost 3,400 miles while crossing 15 states and the District of Columbia in nine days.

Delphi packed their SUV full of autonomous features that should make it into production in just a few years from now. The coast-to-coast trip was the longest automated drive in America so far, and with 99 percent of the distance covered in fully autonomous mode, Delphi calls it a success despite missing that crucial final percent – Mate Petrany

 

Tesla Cars Will Start Self Driving This Summer

All Teslas will get an over-the-air update this summer, probably around June, allowing them to drive in “Autopilot” mode.

Musk did confirm that the Autopilot mode would be “technically capable of driving from parking lot to parking lot.” The car will also be allowed to drive itself when you summon it, and when you’re parking it in your garage.

It seems Autopilot will be disabled when you’re not doing freeway driving, which is by far the easiest aspect of autonomous vehicle activity.

Just to be clear, we’re not talking about some far-off future Tesla. We’re not talking about Google driverless car prototypes or government road tests. This is a car you can buy today, which will be given the ability to drive itself in a few months via the same setup that updates your iPhone. Automated automobiles, automatically activated – Chris Taylor

 

 

PRIVACY / SECURITY / INTERNET

These are the Belladonnas of the Digital Garden

Anti-virus software : This is pure security theatre. If you need a rubber stamp to make you feel safe about your computing environment, you’re either a professional ass-coverer or a just very simple man indeed.

Javascript : Regularly used to make websites more “dynamic,” Javascipt is widely used in phishing attacks and to execute malicious code on the client’s computer.

PDF : There are no less than 279 critical vulnerabilities published for Adobe Reader and hundreds of “less serious” ones that don’t exactly inspire confidence.

Tor : The NSA designed and controls this system and the nodes that support it. You don’t have anonymity, you just have really, really slow Internet.

Webwallets : There are proper ways to store your bitcoins, namely paper wallets, and there are improper ways, namely webwallets

Whole-disk encryption : While an appealing idea, whole-disk encryption doesn’t work like it says on the box. You’re better off using PGP to encrypt on a file-by-file basis.

Windows : This warning encompasses anything produced by Microsoft, including but not limited to operating systems and the widely used and equally loathed Office suite. It’s all really rather horrifying.

Pete Dushenski

 

 

PLACES

Asia

Ultra-rich individuals in Asia hold net assets of US$5.9 trillion, now even surpassing North America’s $5.5 trillion – AFC Vietnam Fund

 

Hong Kong

Hong Kong has made it clear they will not regulate. It is now destination number one for all Bitcoin Businesses that want to profit – Beautyon

——————————————————–—–

The Hong Kong government has rebuffed requests for new legislation aimed at curtailing the use of Bitcoin because it is unlikely to have a significant impact on the Hong Kong financial system.

Professor KC Chan believes there is no need for the government to consider the introduction of new legislation to regulate or prohibit Bitcoin at this time – cazalla

 

 

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.

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 Most Important Item on Any Bitcoiner’s Bucket List?

1) Live forever

Balaji S. Srinivasan, 21 & Andreessen Horowitz

—————————————————————–————-

SENS Reseach Foundation Logo.jpg

In February, the SENS Foundation—a life-extension research institute led by anti-ageing crusader Aubrey de Grey—annou​nced 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 state​ment 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.

 

Parkinson’s Disease

Stem cell therapy is the damage repair approach for Parkinson’s.

People started trying this about 20 years ago, it didn’t really work too well back then. The basic problem was that we didn’t know enough about how to manipulate stem cells before injecting them into the body. Now we know a lot more and there are new stem cell trials for Parkinson’s disease starting up now which people are really optimistic about.

I think there’s a very good chance, even a 50/50 chance that we will be able to say, in as little as 10 years from now, that Parkinson’s disease has genuinely been cured with stem cell therapy – Aubrey de Grey

 

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

 

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Follow me on Twitter @leebanfield1

Bitcoin: 1Jwh6nZiASJf4d3hNytjxqiimWBmEJvJ4S

Bitmessage: BM-2cXjeAykLT7gbjzNHZFnCxdawvyryyb4Nf

 

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