Monday 11th May

BITCOIN

bitcoin_logo_small-150x150

1 Bitcoin = $244

 

Node Count

We are below 6000 bitcoin nodes again. for comparison, TOR has about 7000 – Yifu Guo

 

Decreasing the Time Interval Between Blocks

cedivad: Please remind me once again why we can’t decrease the time interval between blocks instead of increasing their size

gavinandresen: I think 1-minute blocks is a good idea. The best time to roll that out would be the next subsidy halving (makes the code much simpler). We still need a bigger max block size, though.

FrankoIsFreedom: holy shit.

Throwahoymatie: It’s a canary message. He’s been compromised.

davout-bc: the whole block-size debate was a canary message, reddit simply didn’t notice…

 

 

MINING

Cheap Electricity for Bitcoin Mining

Iceland ($0.015 / kw-hr)

Washington State ($0.027 / kw-hr)

* China ($0.03 / kw-hr→ Free)

The average american household gets their electricity for $0.12 / kw-hr.

Bernie Rihn

 

What is 21 Building?

21 are clearly already in the mining business (their mining pool, pool34 was recently outed and is humming along nicely at 3–4 petahashes / second).

They are clearly building an ASIC (Application Specific Integrated Circuit, commonly called a “chip”). The question is, for what? A few possibilities:

 

1 – An integrated hardware “wallet” for mobile.

Some conjecture that they’re making a hardware wallet. I’m just going to say it flat out: I don’t understand “hardware wallets.” I have a phone.

 

2 – A mining ASIC for SHA-256 (the hashing algorithm bitcoin uses).

Right off the bat I’m going to say this is the highest probability (Occam’s razor). The question is, what will be interesting about their ASIC in comparison with others that have come before?

Building a mining chip is (laughably) simple in comparison with other chips. Intel, for example, probably has thousands of engineers and billions of dollars devoted to a single core CPU family.

Should bitcoin continue to grow and the market support mining, many other existing fabless semiconductor firms will also build mining chips. There’s already rampant counterfeiting in China (another reason 21 probably chose Qualcomm + Samsung).

So, in the short-term, my guess is that 21 is building a mining ASIC for SHA-256. And this is largely irrelevant in the grand scheme.

The best-case scenario is:

1. 21 releases their ASIC into the wild and it is ~25% more efficient than the nearest competitor.

2. Their ASIC is immediately counterfeited and available on Chinese markets within 4–6 months.

3. Industrial mining facilities fill up with this slightly-more-efficient design driving margins back down.

4. Lots of retail miners end up with really inefficient space-heaters that complain when they’re not connected to the internet.

 

What 21 Could Build That Would Make Sense

We can relatively quickly think of other things that do make sense to decentralize into the home, however (all of which are un-related to mining). Examples:

1) A full-node + tor node paid for in bitcoin micropayments (perhaps through payment channels?) based on bandwidth served. (particularly interesting because it should operate autonomously & anonymously)

2) A connectivity device (similar to a wireless router) that enables pervasive, distributed connectivity like SeattleMeshNet and receives payment based on bandwidth served & uptime (which would likely include the tor node in (1)). If they sell this (without an ASIC miner in it), I will buy it.

3) A distributed storage system in which participants get paid bitcoin micropayments based on capacity, bandwidth, and uptime (yes, there’s Storj, but there’s definitely room for another, better player).

Bernie Rihn

 

 

ALTCOINS

Ripple (XRP)

FinCEN Fines Ripple Labs for Bank Secrecy Violation Acts

FinCEN Director Jennifer Shasky Calvery said in a statement that the event should serve as a reminder to all US companies that facilitate the exchange of digital currencies:

“Innovation is laudable but only as long as it does not unreasonably expose our financial system to tech-smart criminals eager to abuse the latest and most complex products.”

Ripple Labs and XRP II have agreed to a number of conditions to settle with both FinCEN and the US Attorney’s Office, including “enhanced remedial measures” aimed at beefing up its monitoring programs.

The settlements dictate that “certain enhancements” to the Ripple Protocol need to take place “to appropriately monitor all future transactions” – Stan Higgins

———————————————————

* This was utterly predictable and a known fatal weakness. Bitcoin can’t be “Rippled” like this – Andreas Antonopoulos

* Investing in Ripple, Ripple Labs, or any various iterations of XRP is a monumental waste of money – Jon Matonis

 

 

COMPANIES / PROJECTS / PRODUCTS

Bitmarkets

Bitmarkets logo

* Bitcoin is used for payments.

* We run no servers, host no content, and take no fees.

* All communication is through the location hiding Tor network.

* The Bitmessage network is used for posting and buyer/seller communication.

www.voluntary.net/bitmarkets/

 

Samourai Wallet

We are privacy activists who have dedicated our lives to creating the software that Silicon Valley will never build, the regulators will never allow, and the VC’s will never invest in. We build the software that Bitcoin deserves.

*A modern bitcoin wallet hand forged to keep your transactions private, your identity masked, and your funds secure.

* Default block chain obfuscation on every send.

www.samouraiwallet.com

 

Purse.io

I think www.purse.io is providing the most compelling reason for normal people in the USA to start using Bitcoin. 5% to 25% off anything from Amazon should get anyone’s attention.

5% discount on whatever you want from Amazon INSTANTLY
25% discount on whatever you want from Amazon if you are willing to wait an extra day or two.

This should be enough to drive millions of new users to Bitcoin if only we can get the word out.

 

Amazon Mechanical Turk pays its workers with Amazon gift cards. If these people are not living in a country with Amazon, the gift cards are not very useful to them, so they are willing to sell them at a discount. Currently Purse.io seems to be one of the best places for them to do this.

The total value of outstanding Amazon gift cards is more than the total value of all the bitcoins in the world, so I think there is still a long long way for purse.io to continue to expand – Roger Ver 

—————————————————-

Amazon gift cards have been the dominant payment method for “micro-contractors” for decades. Before Bitcoin, it was the best way to transfer $5 anywhere in the world. Similar to Bitcoin, gift card codes can be stored as codes or in account balances. Best of all, it’s available to anyone with an email address. Amazon gift cards were preferred over all other gift cards because:

1) Amazon’s market share in ecommerce driven by large inventory, strong service, and competitive prices.
2) Amazon has a gift card issuance API that is used by Mechanical Turk, Amazon Associates, Swagbucks, eBates ($1B acq by Rakuten), Junowallet, TurboTax, and 15+ other tech companies.

Today, Amazon issues over $150M+ annually internationally through these services – orders of magnitude larger than current Bitcoin remittance volume.

Purse.io enables these workers to convert gift card balances to a more liquid form of value.

Purse.io makes this possible through a marketplace using Bitcoin because it is globally available, escrowable, and irreversible.

More intuitively, we know that $100 in Amazon gift card balance stuck on an account is not as valuable as $100 in cash or bitcoin. Purse.io creates the market for these “trades” through a reverse auction (Name Your Discount) – Andrew Lee, Co-founder & CEO of Purse

 

The Oculus Rift VR Headset

The headset will be based on the Crescent Bay prototype, which means there will be 360-degree positional tracking features on the headset.

rift_1-S

* Pre-orders for the VR headset will start later this year

* First consumer virtual-reality headset will ship to consumers in the first quarter of 2016.

* Finer details on the headset—including display resolution and price—are scant at the moment.

Tim Moynihan

 

The Tesla Powerwall (Home Use) & The Tesla Powerpack (Business)

$3,000 / $3,500

* Shipping starts in 3 or 4 months

* Take Homes and Businesses Off the Grid

* Solar Powered Day and Night

* Avoid Paying Peak Rates

———————————————————

Tesla is already building a 5-million-square-foot battery factory. It’s not big enough.

That was the message from Tesla Chief Executive Officer Elon Musk this week while discussing, for the first time, the early response to his new product line of storage batteries designed for use in homes and businesses.

The numbers are impressive. In the first few days of reservations since the battery announcement on April 30, Tesla took orders worth roughly $800 million in potential revenue, according to figures compiled by Bloomberg Business.

“It’s like crazy off-the-hook,” Musk said during an earnings presentation on Wednesday. “The sheer volume of demand here is just staggering.”

There’s no way for Tesla to keep up with the level of demand reflected by the early reservations. The company is sold out of storage batteries until mid-2016. Musk claimed the production of storage batteries alone could “easily” take up the entire capacity of Tesla’s $5 billion factory in Nevada, which is scheduled to open next year. The massive facility was originally slated to devote about two-thirds of its output to electric-vehicle batteries.  “We should try to make the factory bigger,” Musk said – Tom Randall

 

 

PLACES

Asia

Asia is becoming world’s first mobile only region. 49% of Myanmar accesses the Internet primarily via smartphone – Tech in Asia

 

The UN’s Venezuela Crush Gets Orwellian

Lunacy: The U.N. will honor — get this — Venezuela as “the country that has fought hunger the most in the world.” Given the country’s self-induced shortages, this is pure Orwell. And it’s contradicted by the U.N.’s own data. If you thought the United Nations’ scaremongering global warming shop was daft, a look at its Food and Agriculture Organization should assure you the rot goes all the way to the bottom.

President Nicolas Maduro announced Thursday that he would be traveling to Italy to receive an award for Venezuela’s “food missions,” according to El Universal. In June 2013, the FAO honored Venezuela for “making big strides in reducing hunger.

Currency controls, expropriations and state corruption have left Venezuelans standing in multiple lines for much of the day just to get access to basic foodstuffs. The last official data, issued two years ago, show supplies of basic foodstuffs are 28% below 2004 levels.

Fights are now commonplace in food lines. Medical shortages are so severe that the country has resorted to fingerprinting to catch thieves, and Maduro blames “hoarders” and “CIA plots” for the failures. With scapegoats aplenty, don’t expect him to fix the problems soon. At last month’s Summit of the Americas in Panama, there was open talk from Latin American leaders of sending food-aid caravans to ease the hunger.

“We’ll expropriate whatever needs to be expropriated,” Maduro told his country last year, threatening to seize farms and food production companies.

He’s now in the midst of seizing Polar — Venezuela’s largest and best-run food company — in a sign that this was no idle threat. Three years ago, 988 farms and businesses were seized (they’ve stopped reporting those data since), leaving a gutted food base and massive shortages that will only get worse – Investors Business Daily

 

 

THE SINGULARITY

AI and Life Extension

Matt Schlicht: Are you completely focused on the bitcoin industry or are there other industries you are active in?

Roger Ver: In the future I plan to focus on AI and human life extension technologies.

Robert Kuhne: It’s good to hear that you are planning to invest in AI and life extension technologies, so to what extent do you agree with the “Singularity” hypothesis of Ray Kurzweil?

Roger Ver: I read all of Kurzweil’s books and was influenced by them. At the end of the day, I don’t know what is going to happen, but I intend to stay alive to find out. Interestingly enough, recently I was able to meet Ray’s son, Ethan Kurzweil, who works at a VC firm that is interested in investing in the Bitcoin space.

 

Watson Artificial Intelligence

Many companies big and small are now pursuing the holy grail of artificial intelligence – at its starkest, thinking machines. Most are shrouding their efforts in secrecy, IBM isn’t.

Watson is now being marketed as a tool for people to explore and use. In New York, there’s an impressive building near the city’s so-called Silicon Alley devoted to demonstrating Watson, and finding uses for its apparent intelligence.

A new cluster of AI specialists is emerging in New York. Some of them are financial market algorithmic whizz kids redeployed after the crisis. Some are refugees from AT&T’s famous Bell Labs over the river in New Jersey. It was there that the transistor was developed in 1947. Bell Labs also did a lot of work on speech recognition for telephone networks… something that is obviously allied to machine intelligence.

At Memorial Sloan Kettering Hospital in New York a famous cancer specialist is using Watson’s data-gathering skills to expand hugely his own knowledge base, and bring him instant news of developments in his field that may be relevant to the symptoms he feeds in to it – Peter Day

 

DORA Telepresence Robot

* DORA is a robot that works with a virtual reality headset and allows a person to see what the robot sees

* The goal is to give users the experience of actually inhabiting the robot’s body, even if it’s halfway around the world.

* Imagine a robot that exactly copies every movement of your head. At the same time, through an Oculus Rift VR headset, you see what the robot sees.

* DORA accomplishes a near-perfect version of a phenomenon neuroscientist Henrik Ehrsson calls the “body-swap illusion.”

As I use DORA, I find myself thinking I’m inhabiting the robot’s body. As I turn around to look at my actual body, sitting at a desk and wearing a VR headset, I think “who is that guy?”

Already, systems like the Beam “smart presence system” put a screen and camera on top of a simple, remote-controlled stand, creating something like a Skype robot with wheels. DORA is a natural evolution of this concept.

Christopher Mimms

 

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Follow me on Twitter @leebanfield1

Bitcoin: 1Jwh6nZiASJf4d3hNytjxqiimWBmEJvJ4S

Bitmessage: BM-2cXjeAykLT7gbjzNHZFnCxdawvyryyb4Nf

 

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