Monday 18th May



1 Bitcoin = $237


The “Blockchain Not Bitcoin” Fad

Antonis Polemitis: My guess is most people in this bucket have never actually used a Bitcoin wallet directly. Look, everything about Bitcoin is WORSE than a normal database except for the ‘permissionless’ part.

Pierre Rochard: Bitcoin as a currency will be largest use case, by orders of magnitude. It will be the most globally liquid and trusted asset in history.

Beautyon: It will be interesting to see what these anti Liberty, anti Bitcoin people will come up with next. They’re very creative in their objections. There is not much else for them to object to. NASDAQ is on the Blockchain, $600M poured into Bitcoin startups. What say you now, DERP?


Bitcoin Investment Trust (GBTC)

Barry Silbert’s GBTC had spent the week trading at roughly twice its implict value with shares representing 0.1 BTC opening today’s trading at $45, implying a price of $450 per Bitcoin.

This price disconnect from more established Bitcoin-Fiat exchanges suggests a lack of sell side market liquidity capable of handling larger orders.

Buying GBTC would require a substantial bullish outlook for Bitcoin relative to the dollar, disinterest in actually possessing Bitcoin, and substantial fiat currency reserves that could not be reasonably invested into Bitcoin in any other way. At press time GBTC is trading at $38 per share – Bingo Boingo


Cross-Border Payments

In 2014, cross-border payments totaled $22 trillion, the largest of the cross-border money flow markets and approximately 50x the size of the second-largest cross-border money flow market, remittances.

Other cross-border money flow markets include eCommerce payments, dividend payouts, and pension/benefit payments.

For commerce to occur globally and (more or less) securely, the intermediaries compromising the legacy cross-border payments system (correspondent banks, SWIFT, etc.) have been heretofore necessary. Until now, there has been no other way to conduct global and secure commerce. This is no longer the case following the advent of Bitcoin.

Bitcoin does everything the legacy payments middle-men individually do — better, faster, cheaper – Pantera Capital


MoIP (Money over Internet Protocol)

Like how VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) disrupted cross-border telephony, Bitcoin will bring huge savings and improved service in cross-border payments.

Bitcoin will do to payments what VoIP did to telephony. Technically, we could call Bitcoin “MoIP”, or “Money over Internet Protocol”. Bitcoin has revolutionized how consumers move money to each other and is just beginning to have an impact on business-to-business payments. Just as VoIP became popular with SMBs through cost savings and simplicity, Bitcoin will do the same through cost savings, speed, and transparency.

TCP/IP created the internet backbone. SMTP, electronic mail. Https brought us the World Wide Web. Bitcoin is the protocol for money.

The one thing that’s missing, but that will soon be developed, is a reliable e-cash, a method whereby on the Internet you can transfer funds from A to B, without A knowing B or B knowing A.” — Milton Friedman, 1999



Block Size

Virtually unknown outside the Bitcoin community, a debate is raging about whether or not to increase the maximum size of Bitcoin blocks. At first sight this might seem like a technical decision for the developers to make and indeed it’s largely being treated that way. In reality, it has far-reaching consequences for the Bitcoin ecosystem as it is the first truly contentious decision the Bitcoin community has faced.

Most of the time, protocol changes are purely technical decisions. They might be deployed to increase the network’s efficiency or prevent potential attacks, so no one has a specific reason to oppose them beyond the general risk of making changes which may introduce new bugs or cause incompatible clients to diverge. But the block size debate is different.

At a high level, Bitcoin will likely evolve in different directions depending on whether the block size limit remains fixed or is increased. With a fixed block size, transactions will become increasingly expensive because space for transactions on the block chain will become scarce. That means the Bitcoin network may be limited, directly handling only a few types of transactions such as settlement transactions between financial intermediaries. Transactions representing everyday purchases (“buying coffee with Bitcoin”) will get pushed off the main network into “side chains” or off-chain payment channels.

The block size debate is the first time in Bitcoin’s history that a change is being contemplated that will steer the ship in one of two (or more) very different directions – Arvind Narayanan




Inside 21’s Plans

Secretive bitcoin startup 21 Inc has performed tests illustrating how its technology could enable machine-to-machine bitcoin transactions as part of a company overview created during the fundraising of its $75m Series C.

In its pitch, 21 Inc, then still operating under original moniker 21e6, showcased both slides and video that demonstrate how bitcoin could be used to facilitate real-time marketplaces for Internet bandwidth. Using three proxy users, a Vimeo demonstration (now removed) outlines how a service can parcel out its download capacity through the use of bitcoin payments.

A narrator explains:

“Tomorrow, perhaps it would be possible for clients to send bitcoin to get bandwidth. That is to say, different clients could send bitcoin to the server to indicate their need for that resource.”

Overall, the 80-page overview suggests 21 was, at the time of its apparent fall 2014 preparation, seeking to become one of the bitcoin network’s largest transaction processors, a microtransactions protocol layer for the Internet and a mining pool branded as a social networking platform.

The cornerstone of the strategy as presented would have been the release of consumer products that would turn power from wall sockets into bitcoin through the widespread dissemination of bitcoin mining chips.

When reached for comment, representatives from 21 suggested that information presented was “outdated” and did not paint an accurate picture of how the company would ultimately seek to go to market.

The slides lay out a plan hinging on embedding 21’s custom-made ‘BitSplit’ mining chips into everyday tech products such as USB chargers, PCs, routers, game consoles, phone chargers and direct chipsets at no cost to the hardware producers. The document suggests 21 had a working demo of its BitSplit chip at the time it was prepared.

According to the overview, the BitSplit chip’s key innovation was intended to be a hardcoded bitcoin wallet address that would give the user 25% of mining proceeds, with the remaining 75% going to 21.

The document suggests 21 had sought to build 20,000-server, 26-megawatt datacenters to serve as the center of a mining pool that could ensure block rewards.

As an example of the potential power of its pool, 21’s mining operations generated approximately 5,700 BTC in 2013 and 69,000 BTC the following year, according to the document – Pete Rizzo


Intel Bitcoin Mining Chips

21 indicated it had been processing bitcoin transactions with what it called the “only chip” built at computing giant Intel’s foundry, touting close relationship with US computing giant Intel.

Intel factories, the documents suggested, were responsible for at least two generations of 21 bitcoin mining chips, a 0.57 w/GH 22nm FinFET chip (codenamed CyrusOne) and a 0.22 w/GH 22nm chip (codenamed Brownfield).

Though Intel has so far kept its relationship with 21 quiet, the bitcoin startup took the opposite approach in its company overview, which included a screenshot of an email allegedly from Intel CEO Brian Krzanich. Dated 5th September, the email finds Krzanich informing Pauker and investor Marc Andreessen of his opinion on a proposal to distribute bitcoin mining chips in consumer electronic devices.

“We are taking your suggestion very seriously and if Intel was to ubiquitously apply mining to the majority of our chips, it is a significant event and will impact the landscape,” general manager of the New Business Group at Intel Corporation Jerry R Bautista remarked in an email with Pauker – Pete Rizzo




Bitcoin Blockchain Gets Nasdaq Test

Photo published for A Bitcoin Technology Gets Nasdaq Test

The world’s second largest exchange will be running a surprisingly forward-thinking pilot program. Nasdaq’s platform will trade shares by trading bitcoins. This is not blockchain-technology standing alone, this is Bitcoin being used by Wall Street – Peter Van Valkenburgh

NASDAQ knows that the security of the Blockchain make it a perfect way to distribute and control shares. Starting from scratch is stuipd.”Bitcoin based Colored Coins” That is what NASDAQ is using. Why do these words choke in the throats of “Blockchain not Bitcoin” pundits? – Beautyon

Utilizing the blockchain is a natural digital evolution for managing physical securities, Bob Greifeld, Nadaq CEO

I wonder where they got this idea? #medici – Patrick Byrne


Nasdaq announced it would begin to leverage the colored coin protocol Open Assets to “expand and enhance the equity management capabilities offered by its Nasdaq Private Market platform.

According to Nasdaq CEO Bob Greifeld, the distributed ledger function of the blockchain will “modernize, streamline and secure typically cumbersome administrative functions, and will simplify the overwhelming challenges private companies face with manual ledger record-keeping.”

Nasdaq joins the blockchain-integrated securities exchange market field just a few weeks after Overstock’s Medici Project filed S-3 forms with the Securities and Exchange Commission, outlining its intention to issue new stocks or securities, including the potential to issue digital securities – Christie Harkin




Dark Net Markets Continue to Grow at Strong Rates

Dark Net markets have grown over 37 percent in product listings in the last year despite sweeping police actions and the constant threat of multimillion-dollar thefts looming large.

The most enduring institution on the Dark Net is Agora. Founded in December 2014, amid the rubbled of of Silk Road’s fall, Agora now accounts for 37 percent of all Dark Net product listings.

This is the fourth straight year of strong growth among major black markets even as the biggest and most famous markets—like Silk Road,Evolution, Silk Road 2.0—are left for the history books.

At this time last year, the Dark Net markets, which are only accessible through the Tor network, had just crossed the 50,000 product threshold. That’s up from around 18,000 products in October 2013, when federal agents seized Silk Road and arrested its founder, Ross Ulbricht.

Over 68,738 products are listed across 10 major black markets; two thirds of the inventories are drugs – Patrick Howell O’Neill


Honduras to Build Land Title Registry on the Bitcoin Blockchain

Mystery of Capital in action for the digital age! Implications Huge! – George Kikvadze


One of the poorest countries in the Americas, has agreed to use a Texas-based company to build a permanent and secure land title record system using the underlying technology behind bitcoin

Factom, a U.S. blockchain technology company based in Austin, Texas, will provide the service to the government of Honduras.

“In the past, Honduras has struggled with land title fraud,” said Kirby. “The country’s database was basically hacked. So bureaucrats could get in there and they could get themselves beachfront properties.”

Kirby said Factom started negotiations in January. The pilot project should be completed by the end of the year, with the goal of eventually putting all of the government’s land titles on the blockchain, he added – Reuters


Mirror (Global, Peer to Peer Trading)

As I had conversations with the programmers and entrepreneurs who are most deeply involved in Bitcoin, I encountered a quiet but widely held belief that much of the most convincing evidence pointed to a reclusive American man of Hungarian descent named Nick Szabo.

In the beginning of 2014, Mr. Szabo joined Vaurum, a Bitcoin start-up based in Palo Alto, Calif., that was operating in stealth mode and that aimed to build a better Bitcoin exchange. After his arrival, Mr. Szabo helped reorient the company to take advantage of the Bitcoin software’s capability for so-called smart contracts, which enable self-executing financial transactions, according to people briefed on the company’s operations who spoke on condition of anonymity.

After Mr. Szabo led the company in a new direction, it was renamed Mirror, and it recently raised $12.5 million from several prominent venture capitalists, these people said. The company declined to comment for this article.

Mr. Szabo’s role at Vaurum has been kept a secret because of his desire for privacy, and he left in late 2014 after becoming nervous about public exposure, according to the people briefed on the company’s operations. While he was still there, though, the array of arcane skills and knowledge at his command led several colleagues to conclude that Mr. Szabo was most likely involved in the creation of Bitcoin, even if he didn’t do it all himself.

Potential employees were drawn to Vaurum when they heard that Mr. Szabo worked there, people who interviewed at the company said. They wanted to work alongside the person they suspected could be Satoshi Nakamoto — or who at least participated in Bitcoin’s invention. – Nathaniel Popper


The Lily Camera

Dave Morin: One of our favorite Slow Ventures companies just came out of stealth. This drone is pure magic. Never seen anything like it:

Michael Robertson: Soon anyone can take those sweeping aerial shots or track a moving figure from the sky with next generation drones.

Michael Dempsey: At $519 pre-order, pricing is also pretty incredible. Looks great!



Google’s Self-Driving Cars

With humans now at the wheel, more that 30,000 people die annually in auto collisions in the U.S. That’s a staggering number. People will accept an unacceptable status quo and be concerned about the things that are new – Bryant Walker Smith


It’s hard to know what’s really going on out on the streets unless you’re doing miles and miles of driving every day.

And that’s exactly what we’ve been doing with our fleet of 20+ self-driving vehicles and team of safety drivers, who’ve driven 1.7 million miles (manually and autonomously combined).

The cars have self-driven nearly a million of those miles, and we’re now averaging around 10,000 self-driven miles a week (a bit less than a typical American driver logs in a year), mostly on city streets.

Over the 6 years since we started the project, we’ve been involved in 11 minor accidents (light damage, no injuries) during those 1.7 million miles of autonomous and manual driving with our safety drivers behind the wheel, and not once was the self-driving car the cause of the accident – Chris Urmson, Director of Google’s Self-Driving Car Program




Laptop Search and Seizure Ruled Unreasonable

A federal court has ruled that the search of a traveling businessman’s laptop in 2013 was unreasonable and violated his privacy.

This ruling hampers President Obama’s treatment of laptops as containers that can be searched without a warrant and without time limits in the name of national security. It’s been argued that the Fourth Amendment doesn’t protect people crossing into the U.S. against unreasonable search and seizures – Ashley Carman




Jetpacks are Here and They Were Beautifully Shot in Dubai

Dubai already seems pretty futuristic on the ground, but what’s it like in the air? As you’ll soon see, it’s almost like another planet. Yves Rossy (aka Jetman) and “protégé” Vince Reffet recently flew over the extravagant city in jetpacks, and their view was every bit as strange as you’d expect. The Burj Khalifa tower (above) resembles a sci-fi super weapon, while the artificial Palm Jumeirah archipelago sticks out from the coastline like a sore thumb – Jon Fingas


Silicon Valley

Andy Weissman, a partner at New York’s Union Square Ventures, noted that venture in the Valley is a perfect embodiment of the capitalist dynamic that the economist Joseph Schumpeter called “creative destruction.”

Some Silicon Valley V.C.s believe that these values would have greater sway if their community left America behind: Balaji Srinivasan, until recently a general partner at a16z and now the chairman of one of its Bitcoin companies, has called for the “ultimate exit.”

Arguing that the United States is as fossilized as Microsoft, and that the Valley has become stronger than Boston, New York, Los Angeles, and Washington, D.C., combined, Srinivasan believes that its denizens should “build an opt-in society, ultimately outside the U.S., run by technology.” – Tad Friend


Crypto Valley

Xapo has officially relocated its corporate headquarters to Zurich, Switzerland, citing the country’s long history of neutrality and stability.

The bitcoin services and security firm said the transition was put in motion three months ago at the request of customers, and that now, Xapo’s operations in Palo Alto are in the process of being reduced.

Casares told CoinDesk: “This is not to facilitate crime, this is to protect privacy. There are some customers that will bring more balances if we do this and there are some customers who have said we will work with you if you do this.”

Casares said that previous attempts by the company to associate with Switzerland were perhaps not enough to encourage these customers. Xapo moved its deep cold storage vault servers to an unspecified location in the European nation in January, but continued to face pressure from customers for more privacy guarantees, Casares said.

“We decided to do what they had been asking us to do for a while, move our main company to Switzerland and benefit from the safeguards,” Casares explained – Pete Rizzo




Gordon Moore Predicts 10 More Years for Moore’s Law

“The fact that something’s gone on for 50 years is truly amazing, but no exponential can go on forever,” Moore said.

“Five to 10 years is reasonably clear,” Moore said in response to Friedman’s question as to how much longer the prediction might remain accurate. “And then it looks like you hit an insurmountable barrier, but that’s been the case for the past 30 years.”

That “insurmountable barrier” is the fact that by 2025, the size of transistors will be brushing up very closely to the scale of mere atoms should Moore’s Law remain operative. Intel is currently making 14-nanometer computer chips. The current 18-24 month cadence of IC element shrinks means transistors should be scaling at around 1nm in a decade’s time—and for perspective, a nanometer is only about 10 times the diameter of a helium atom.

At this tiny, tiny scale, quantum strangeness becomes an issue. Electricity starts to work differently and the proximity of elements to each other creates a major problem of leakage, where there start to be diminishing returns on the energy pumped into a chip to flip its transistors on and off.

But as Moore noted, over the years, there have been several such “unsolvable” problems which supposedly spelled doom for his prediction. And each time, teams of smart and dedicated researchers and engineers have devised solutions to keep Moore’s Law ticking through incredible innovations like CMOS, silicon straining, VLSI, immersion lithography, high-k dielectrics, and most recently, FinFET or tri-gate “3D” transistor process technology – Damon Poeter


The Coming Graphene Revolution

We are on the brink of a revolution that will completely change the way we use every-day products like cars, clothes, light bulbs, and even water. Leading the way is a fascinating material called graphene.

Graphene is a thin sheet of carbon atoms — the same element in diamonds and coal — and was the first two-dimensional substance ever created, meaning it’s one-atom thick, or about one million times thinner than a human hair.

Despite its miniscule size, graphene has a grand portfolio of wondrous properties. For instance, it’s 1,000 times stronger than steel, yet 1,000 times lighter than paper. And it’s significantly more electrically conductive than silicon, the substance we use in computer circuits.

Graphene’s Potential:

* Faster, Cheaper Computers

* Super Fast, Efficient Batteries

* Foldable, Flexible Electronics

* Durable Bionics

Jessica Orwig 


Demis Hassabis: DeepMind is the Apollo Program for AI

Artificial intelligence (AI) pioneer Demis Hassabis has revealed his ambitions for DeepMind and explained why the AI startup “joined forces” with Google in 2014.

Speaking at a recent Google ZeitgeistMinds event, Hassabis said that DeepMind had set itself up as the Apollo Programme for AI – referencing NASA’s efforts to put a man on the moon – with its primary mission being to “solve intelligence and use it to solve everything else” through general-purpose learning machines.

“The idea behind DeepMind was really to create a kind of Apollo Programme mission for AI,” Hassabis said. “Now at DeepMind we have over 100 research scientists – 100 PhDs – top people in their machine learning fields and neuroscience fields working on solving AI.”

Earlier this year DeepMind published details of the first ever AI system capable of learning tasks independently – Anthony Cuthbertson


Baidu’s AI Supercomputer Beats Google at Image Recognition

Chinese search giant Baidu says it has invented a powerful supercomputer that brings new muscle to an artificial-intelligence technique giving software more power to understand speech, images, and written language.

The new computer, called Minwa and located in Beijing, has 72 powerful processors and 144 graphics processors, known as GPUs. Late Monday, Baidu released a paper claiming that the computer had been used to train machine-learning software that set a new record for recognizing images, beating a previous mark set by Google.

“Our company is now leading the race in computer intelligence,” said Ren Wu, a Baidu scientist working on the project, speaking at the Embedded Vision Summit on Tuesday.

Minwa’s computational power would probably put it among the 300 most powerful computers in the world if it weren’t specialized for deep learning, said Wu. “I think this is the fastest supercomputer dedicated to deep learning,” he said. “We have great power in our hands—much greater than our competitors.” – Tom Simonite


Disruption of Healthcare

By 2025, existing healthcare institutions will be crushed as new business models with better and more efficient care emerge.

Thousands of startups, as well as today’s data giants (Google, Apple, Microsoft, SAP, IBM, etc.) will all enter this lucrative $3.8 trillion healthcare industry with new business models that dematerialize, demonetize and democratize today’s bureaucratic and inefficient system.

Biometric sensing (wearables) and AI will make each of us the CEOs of our own health. Large-scale genomic sequencing and machine learning will allow us to understand the root cause of cancer, heart disease and neurodegenerative disease and what to do about it. Robotic surgeons can carry out an autonomous surgical procedure perfectly (every time) for pennies on the dollar. Each of us will be able to regrow a heart, liver, lung or kidney when we need it, instead of waiting for the donor to die – Peter Diamandis


50% of Your Body Can Now be Replaced with Bionics

We not only have bionic limbs for replacement parts for paraplegics and quadriplegics, but we’re starting to get exoskeletons, strap on braces. There are now ankle braces and knee braces for the elderly that put energy back in the system.

Our brain evolved in such a way that getting old was something that happened, there was nothing we could do about it, and the number one complaint about getting old is a loss of mobility. So we now have technology that is taking that away. It’s here today, and it’s only getting better because they’re all on exponential growth curves.

So what’s interesting to me about the transformation from science fiction to science fact is less about the whizz bang technologies, and more about the fact that we’re starting to fuck with really deep evolutionary adapted systems. We’re starting to really poke into what it means to be human at a really really really deep level, and it’s going to start getting interesting – Steven Kotler


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