Tuesday 9th June

BITCOIN

bitcoin_logo_flat_coin_star_bl_by_carbonism-d3h7bxh

1 Bitcoin = $230

 

The Only Way to Freedom is Through Its Practice Here and Now

Every single transaction that takes place outside the nexus of state control is a victory for those individuals taking part in the transaction – The Dread Pirate Roberts, 2012

 

Use Bitcoin Out of Principle

The government derives its power to do all the objectionable things it does from the monetary system. Fiat currency can be created in any quantity by the government at any time and at zero cost.

Given the government’s ability to create money instantly at zero cost, tax collection today is mostly about social engineering. Paying taxes maintains the illusion that fiat money is scarce and therefore valuable. Yet with every additional trillion dollars that it snaps into existence, the government enriches itself while eroding the purchasing power of savers who treat the dollar as an article of faith.

The fiat story never has a happy ending. Nobody is going to end (or audit) the Fed, but cryptocurrencies enable us to largely ignore it. That is truly liberating – David Montgomery

 

How Change Happens. And Why It Often Doesn’t

Our intuition tells us that technology, social norms, movements and ideas just move forward through time, as if forward progress is a river and those things are on a raft gliding through. We so associate the passage of time with progress that we use the term “the future” to refer to a better, more advanced version of our present world.

In reality, if a more advanced future does happen, it’s because that future was willed into our lives by a few brave people.

The present isn’t welcoming of an advanced future because the present is run by a thick canopy made up of the ideas, norms, and technologies of the past. There’ll be incremental tweaks and slight iterations on proven-to-work concepts, which may seem to us like moving into the future, but it’s really just a polishing up of the past.

When the real change arrives, you know you’re seeing it. It’s a distinct and exhilarating feeling when you witness a disrupting innovator ram its way through the canopy. That’s how a new, revolutionary technology always feels. Our modern world became as advanced as it is not by floating up an inevitable advancement river, but because of a collection of moments over time when a person or company has done something that makes everyone’s jaws drop.

But those world-changing moments don’t just smoothly glide into the world: these leaps into the future usually have to jam themselves through the canopy and then battle to keep themselves there. The past, which likes to loiter casually in our present world, hates when a piece of the future bursts onto the scene, because that exposes the past for being what it really is—the past. – Tim Urban

 

Amazon Loses $2.6 Billion a Year to Credit Card Fees

One company that Roger Ver thinks has a lot of potential to benefit from Bitcoin is Amazon, which endures an annual struggle to turn a profit, and spends around $2.6 billion a year on credit card processing fees.

Ver asserts that if Amazon switched to using Bitcoin, it could cancel out that spending and in doing so, double its annual profit.

“I want to point out to you that if Amazon adopts Bitcoin, it won’t just be Amazon,” he adds. “If the entire world adopts Bitcoin each Bitcoin will be worth hundreds of thousands of dollars.” – Katie Collins

 

 

MARKETS

Overstock to Issue a Bond on the Bitcoin Blockchain

Patrick Byrne, an outspoken crusader for this type of technology, is intent on being the first to offer what’s called a cryptosecurity.

Overseen by cryptographic algorithms, such a market would potentially be more transparent, more reliable, and more secure that then existing system. “There are all kinds of ways to rig the market,” Byrne tells WIRED. “We want to make it un-rig-able.”

According to Overstock’s Wall Street circular, the company plans to offer a $25,000,000 Top Line Income Generation Rights Certificate, or “TIGRcub.” This bond will be issued as 25 one-million-dollar digital tokens, and the company says these will trade over what’s known as an alternative trading system, or ATS.

Though the company would like to raise the full $25 million from investors, he says, it could issue a bond for less than that total just to get it out the door.

Byrne sees it as a step towards a public stock market driven by blockchain-like technology—a replacement for the types of systems that run the NASDAQ and New York stock exchanges. This can serve as a proof-of-concept for Overstock’s push towards a blockchain-based public stock market – Cade Metz

 

 

COMPANIES / PROJECTS / PRODUCTS

TransferWise Now Moves Over £500m a Month

Earlier this year TransferWise received $58m in a series C funding round led by US venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz. The investment valued the company at $1 billion.

TransferWise international money transfers are 90% cheaper. Banks charge around 5% in hidden fees. People on TransferWise pay 0.5%.

TransferWise co-founder Taavet Hinrikus said “We transfer tens of millions of customer money everyday and we have approximately two per cent UK market share of the international money transfer business. This figure is only going to grow as customers become fed up with the traditional banking sector and look for fairer alternatives like TransferWise”.

TransferWise

 

The Tesla Model 3: Mission Accomplished in 2017 for Tesla?

Tesla’s end goal, and the company’s official mission, “to accelerate the advent of sustainable transport by bringing compelling mass market electric cars to market as soon as possible.”

Step 1: High-priced, low-volume car for the super rich. Come out with the expensive first product, but make the car so fancy that it’s worth that price—i.e. just make it a legit Ferrari competitor and then it’s okay to charge over $100,000 for it.

Step 2: Mid-priced, mid-volume car for the pretty rich. Use the profits from Step 1 to develop the Step 2 car. It would still be expensive, but more like a $75,000 Mercedes or BMW competitor instead of Ferrari.

Step 3: Low-priced, high-volume car for the masses. Use the profits from Step 2 to develop a $35,000-ish car that, after the government’s $7,500 EV tax credit and the savings on gas, would be affordable to the middle class.

pyramid2

Tesla seems to only have one issue left:

Who the hell can afford a $75,000 car? 

It’s a rule of thumb in the car world that every $5,000 decrease in car price approximately doubles the number of buyers who can afford the car.

So if Tesla can somehow come out with a stellar EV for about $35,000 less than the Model S, it would double the buyer pool 7 times, or multiply it by 125-fold. Which would now mean most people could afford it.

So Step 3 is what this is all about. Step 3 is why Tesla exists and if Tesla ends up changing the world, it’ll be because of Step 3.

That car is the Model 3, and it’s coming out in 2017. Supposedly. And it’ll cost $35,000—$27,500 after the tax credit, and after taking gas savings into account, under $20,000. Supposedly.

It’s the Model 3 that will turn the industry on its head. You may not know much about Tesla today—or particularly care—but I’m pretty sure everyone will know about the Model 3 soon. Maybe that’s why Musk refuses to do any advertising—because he knows that when the Model 3 comes out, he won’t have to. – Tim Urban

 

The Tesla Gigafactory

hero-compressor

It’s a $5 billion lithium-ion battery factory, currently being built in Nevada. The factory will be self-sufficient, powered entirely by on-site solar, wind, and geothermal energy, and it will employ 6,500 people.

Right now, the world’s combined annual output of lithium-ion batteries is 30GWh—mostly for use in laptops and mobile phones. The Gigafactory will make more than that each year, which means it will more than double the total lithium-ion batteries made each year globally.

By both doubling the world supply of lithium-ion batteries and by continuing to innovate with battery technology, Tesla’s work at the Gigafactory will make batteries a lot cheaper. Musk says the price of the battery should go down by at least 30%. – Tim Urban

 

The Fossil Fuel Era

Both Musk, through his US-leading solar panel installation company, SolarCity, and Tesla, with their new product, the Powerwall stationary battery, are leading the way. People don’t quite realize it yet, but as of this moment, a family or business has the option to individually move themselves into the sustainable future.

Using products made by SolarCity and Tesla alone, you can today live in a home and drive a car that are both powered by a solar panel-connected battery and live entirely on sunlight.

Musk and his companies have made a little yellow brick road right out of the Fossil Fuel Era for anyone who wants to leave. And if modern technology can allow individual people, businesses, or even whole cities to live without fossil fuels, it hints that the only era any of us has ever known might be soon coming to an end – Tim Urban

 

 

PRIVACY / SECURITY / INTERNET

The USA Freedom Act

Because if we call it exactly the opposite of what it really is you fucking idiots won’t figure it out – red pill economist

Literally nothing the government says about mass surveillance is credible. Every public relations gambit to make it look like “something is being done” is aimed at deterring us from taking responsibility and acting for ourselves. Don’t be fooled by political theater.

Mass surveillance programs are built in secret and they operate in secret. Remember that what little we know is due to an act of treason (as defined by the government of course).

And it’s only the NSA we know something about since that’s what Snowden had access to. The CIA, FBI, DEA, DHS, INR, DIA,NGA, NRO and other agencies have their own surveillance programs.

Any NSA policy change will be publicly heralded by politicians as a great victory while other programs silently spring up or continue operating under different code names or different agencies – David Montgomery

 

The Greatest Weapon of Oppression in the History of Man

The government’s motives are reflected in its symbols. Here’s a sampling:

* The NSA bird holds a key to unlock everything that is not public – in other words, what is private is the government’s business. Know It All. Collect It All. Exploit It All.

* The Earth-sucking octopus represents one of a fleet of NROL surveillance satellites.

Total Information Awareness is a program set up years ago that had the same agenda as the dystopian film Minority Report: arrest people before they commit a crime. The sinister inspiration for the Total Information Awareness logo is echoed on the one dollar bill, which features the all-seeing eye of God.

Symbols of mass surveillance 

mass surveillance symbols

Understanding the motives helps us see every justification of mass surveillance for what it really is – a veiled threat: If they don’t do it, terrorists will kill you. Terrorism, the mortal danger to civilization which kills fewer people than autoerotic asphyxiation, bathtub falls, toddlers, and lightning.

Mass surveillance equals perpetual uncertainty. No matter how honest and benevolent you consider the current American government, no one knows what laws a future regime will impose.

The highest profile shills for mass surveillance are the usual suspects: politicians and mega-corporation execs who have the most to gain. Former U.S. Senate majority leader Trent Lott: “What are people worried about? What is the problem? Are you doing something you’re not supposed to?”

I was in Amsterdam when the Snowden story broke. CNN was non-stop asking politicians and pundits, “Is Edward Snowden a traitor?” Those who said he betrayed America also said something else: Mass surveillance is only an issue if you’re a criminal. If you’ve got nothing to hide then you’ve got nothing to fear.

To apologists of mass surveillance, what did Anne Frank have to hide?

Walking from Anne Frank’s Secret Annex into CNN’s nothing-to-hide mass surveillance chorus provided a rare moment of clarity in my life. Her father’s disclosure a decade earlier of a single piece of data, their religion, destroyed his family. The disclosure was a legal requirement to be issued a passport.

Otto Frank never would have disclosed his family’s religion had he known it would lead to the murder of his loved ones a decade later. His family would have fled Germany and attempted to illegally immigrate elsewhere, as millions have done throughout history.

After examining the Frank family passports in the Secret Annex, it later struck me how much more information is extracted by the US census and annual American Community Survey. Where were you born? Are you “Black, African Am., or Negro?” Are you Pakistani? Latino? Are you unemployed? What is your profession? How much money do you make? Do you own or rent? How much do you spend on utilities? Who lives with you? Do you have children? How well do you speak English? Do you speak another language at home? What is your marriage status? Have you been divorced? Where did you go to school? Have you been employed by the U.S. military? Which wars did you fight in? And on it goes…

Living under mass surveillance is living with a noose around your neck. 

Millions of Americans today are caged and millions more are on probation or parole. The “land of the free” is the most imprisoned nation in the world on both a total and per capita basis. The prison-industrial complex is booming.  New prisons are being built every day. Prosecution isn’t a constraint either since only a handful of cases see a trial.

You can’t know what circumstances will cause you to hang. History is loaded with never-saw-that-coming catastrophes. The 20th century alone is an inconceivable horror – 262 million corpses engulfed in various government wars and genocides. That’s equivalent to every single adult living in America today suddenly perishing.

All the nightmare regimes of the past that kids study in school predate the era of computerized mass surveillance. The ability to lock down people’s lives instantly… to track them, analyze them, trap them, financially paralyze them, impersonate them, frame them, and apprehend them is unprecedented.

Governments always seek to control the governed, but mass surveillance is the most powerful weapon of control ever devised. Because of its novelty, invisibility, and deep complexity, many people can’t comprehend its implications and therefore don’t defend against it.

Mass surveillance is a silent, invisible weapon. The only time you’ll actually feel immediate danger is when it’s too late – David Montgomery

 

 

PLACES

Thailand

The impressive range of businesses accepting bitcoin in Thailand includes:

* Masumi Spa, Chiangmai Orchard Hotel – Chiang Mai

* Chitbeer – Bangkok

* Eat Me Restaurant – Bangkok

* Soi’Keb – Bangkok

* Sway Urban Eatery – Bangkok

* The Smokin’ Pug BBQ & Blues Bar – Bangkok

* Wolff’s Jazz Bar and Restaurant – Bangkok

Check out these and many other great merchants who service Thailand – coins.co.th

 

Shenzhen

Just like it is impossible to make another Silicon Valley somewhere else, although everyone tries – after spending four days in Shenzhen, I’m convinced that it’s impossible to reproduce this ecosystem anywhere else. Even if US has the manufacturing capacity, key parts of the knowledge ecosystem currently exist only in Shenzhen.

Both Shenzhen and Silicon Valley have a “critical mass” that attracts more and more people, resources and knowledge, but also they are both living ecosystems full of diversity and a work ethic and experience base that any region will have difficulty bootstrapping.

I do believe that other regions have regional advantages – Boston might be able to compete with Silicon Valley on hardware and bioengineering. Latin America and regions of Africa may be able compete with Shenzhen on access to certain resources and markets.

However, I believe that Shenzhen, like Silicon Valley, has become such a “complete” ecosystem that we’re more likely to be successful building networks to connect with Shenzhen than to compete with it head on

Joi Ito, Director of MIT Media Lab

*35 years ago, Shenzhen was a fishing village. Now it’s the top manufacturing center for high-tech products.

The mutant urban marvel that is Shenzhen, a southern Chinese city has become not only a global mass market electronics manufacturing juggernaut, but also a place where tiny startups flock to incubate their products and get them to market as quickly and inexpensively as possible.

Thirty years ago, Shenzhen was a relatively small fishing village and border town. But then it was designated as the first of China’s Special Economic Zones, a “reform and opening” policy that prescribed little interference from the communist government, allowing Shenzhen to practice market capitalism.

The result is a booming, modern south China city unlike any other — an international port, a marketplace and manufacturing center targeted at the electronics industry, and increasingly, a magnet for makers, innovators, and startups.

Shenzhen’s proximity to Hong Kong (a major source of the city’s investment capital), right across the Shenzhen River, also make it an ideal location for making things happen.

“The world’s tech incubator,” “Silicon Valley for hardware,” “the electronics capital of the world,” “mecca for makers,” “‘easy’ China,” “a sprawling electronics ecosystem,” and “the Digi-Key catalog meets Blade Runner” — these are just some of the ways that Shenzhen has been characterized.

If you’ve spent any time in maker circles, you’ve undoubtedly heard of Shenzhen and how it’s apparently some sort of Shangri-La for hardware startups.

If you’re serious about taking any type of consumer electronics product to market — robots, microcontroller-based projects, mobile phones, laptops, internet appliances, 3D printers, etc. — there is only one city where you need to be.

So, what’s it actually like to take up residence in Shenzhen? Ian Lesnet from Dangerous Prototypes, who also runs Hacker Camp Shenzhen, paints a very enticing picture.

“It’s a very young, vibrant city,” he says. “There are many outdoor barbecue places, street food, markets, and an active street life. People are super friendly, like the way everyone tells you when they go somewhere new, except here, it’s for real. Walking down the street, people yell ‘Hello, how are you?’ in their best English, and I give my best ‘Hen hao! Ni ne?’ in return.

Most shops stay open until midnight. Clubs and street barbecue go all night. You can kick back at a barbecue joint and play Liar’s Dice with the locals, many of whom are part of the supply chain that feeds Huaqiangbei.”

“Shenzhen is a place to be right now,” Lesnet says. “We’re here while it’s all happening, while it matters. It’s not a fading star trying to win back its luster. It’s not a city trying to break through to ‘be something.’ Shenzhen is that place right now” – Gareth Branwyn

 

Beijing

One morning recently I went to the coffee shop at the end of my central Beijing alley for a superb latte, where the owner teasingly chastised me, as he has before, for paying with cash like some peasant rather than with my mobile phone through the WeChat Wallet service – James Palmer

 

 

THE SINGULARITY

Moore’s Law Marches On: Breakthrough Puts 10-Nanometer Chips Within Reach by 2017

A Japanese research consortium has achieved a breakthrough in chipmaking technology that could boost semiconductor performance while significantly reducing production time.

The consortium, called the EUVL Infrastructure Development Center, or Eidec, has developed a highly sensitive resist for use in extreme ultraviolet (EUV) lithography, a cutting-edge method for producing semiconductors.

The new material will reduce lithographic exposure time and allow chips to be produced 10 times faster than with conventional EUV technology.

The breakthrough also has major implications for chip performance.

Chips in the 7-10 nanometer class would boast a 100-300% increase in processing capacity over conventional chips. This would allow people to use their smartphones to send and receive 4K video, which has a resolution four times greater than full high-definition.

The capacity of memory card could also be significantly increased, with just one SD card capable of storing several terabytes of data.

The consortium plans to advance its EUV research in cooperation with Intel, Samsung Electronics, and the world’s largest chip foundry, Taiwan Semiconductor Mfg., or TSMC.

These chipmakers are looking to use EUV lithography to mass-produce 10-nanometer-class chips by 2017 and 7-nanometer-class chips by 2019 – Kotaro Hosokawa and Masahide Kimura

 

Ray Kurzweil to Release New Book in 18 Months Titled “The Singularity is Nearer”

Appearing via a telepresence robot, Ray Kurzweil took the stage at the Exponential Finance conference to address questions posed by CNBC’s Bob Pisani.

During the discussion on the future of computing and whether Moore’s law was truly in jeopardy, Kurzweil took the opportunity to announce a sequel to The Singularity Is Near aptly titled The Singularity Is Nearer, planned for release in 18 months which will include updated charts.

It’s likely that the text will also aim to showcase his prediction track record, akin to a report [PDF] he released in 2010 titled “How My predictions Are Faring.”

He also explained that his team is utilizing numerous AI techniques to deal with language and learning, and in the process, collaborating with Google’s DeepMind, the recently acquired startup that developed a neural network that learned how to play video games successfully.

“Mastering intelligence is so difficult that we need to throw everything we have at it. I think we are very much on schedule to achieve human levels of intelligence by 2029.”

David J. Hill

 

Kurzweil on the Danger of AI: I’m Not Sure Where Musk is Coming From

Kurzweil’s hopeful yet cautious point of view on artificial intelligence stands in contrast to Elon Musk, who caused a stir last year when he tweeted, “Worth reading Superintelligence by Bostrom. We need to be super careful with AI. Potentially more dangerous than nukes.”

In Bostrom’s book, he proposes scenarios in which humans suffer an untimely end due to artificial intelligence simply trying to fulfill its goals.

Troubled by the attention this tweet attracted, Kurzweil wanted to set the record straight:

“I’m not sure where Musk is coming from. He’s a major investor in artificial intelligence. He was saying that we could have superintelligence in 5 years. That’s a very radical position—I don’t know any practitioners who believe that.”

He continued, “We have these emerging existential risks and we also have emerging, so far, effective ways of dealing with it…I think this concern will die down as we see more and more positive benefits of artificial intelligence and gain more confidence that we can control it.”

“We are going to directly merge with it, we are going to become the AIs,” he stated, adding, “We’ve always used our technology to extend our reach…That’s the nature of being human, to transcend our limitations, and there’s always been dangers.”

Close to the end of the interview, Kurzweil offered a simple reason why he’s optimistic about AI: we have no other choice lest we accept a scenario in which a totalitarian government controls AI. He stated it simply: “The best way to keep [artificial intelligence] safe is in fact widely distributed, which is what we are seeing in the world today.” – David J. Hill

 

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Follow me on Twitter @leebanfield1

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