July 2015

BITCOIN

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1 Bitcoin = $285

People will understand that a currency beyond political manipulation is immensely valuable –Datavetaren

 

Transactions Per Day Double

The # of transactions per day on the Bitcoin network has nearly doubled in the last year, from ~60K/day in June ’14 to ~120K/day in June ’15 – Sam Rosenblum

 

Bitcoin’s Mere Existence is Incredible

bitcoin_logo_flat_coin_star_bl_by_carbonism-d3h7bxh

Is it possible to develop a heartfelt and deep affection for a string of 1s and 0s? This is how I feel about Bitcoin right now. I’m just so proud of this little tool, an implausible techno-monetary creation that, only 6 years ago, just a handful of people believed could work. Today, it is emerging as a safe haven currency for the entire world.

Keep in mind that hardly anyone believed that it would be possible to invent a new global currency built entirely of code, outside the banking structure, backed by no physical assets or government promises, with no capital investment, no big names behind it, and no institutional backing.

And yet there it was on that beautiful day, like a tiny sprout emerging from the ground as an indication that this little thing was alive and could grow.

And grow it has! Nothing annoys me more than when people talk as if Bitcoin has been a disappointment because it is still below its exchange-rate high of 18 months ago. That it has any value at all is amazing. That it ever obtained dollar parity is almost miraculous. And that it has become a safe haven for a world in monetary chains is nothing short of awesome.

It is once against strutting its stuff with the news of the Greek meltdown, the pressure on the euro, and the tumbling stock market in China. All this economic upheaval around the world used to cause a flight to the heavy yellow metal. But in the last 30 days, gold has fallen. Indeed, the price seems almost entirely industrialized and nonmonetary at this point — quite a change after 6,000 years as the embodiment of sound money and a hedge against uncertainty.

As Andreas Antonopolous has said, there is no longer any question of whether money in the future will be digital. It is a question of whether money will be a tool used by the state or whether it will belong to the people.

That Bitcoin introduced this option to us should earn our respect and gratitude. Never let it be said that there is no way out. No system is so locked down as to leave no escape – Jeffrey Tucker

 

Bitcoin Trends in the First Half of 2015

It’s already past the halfway mark in 2015 and we thought it would be a good time to provide an overview of the trends that we’re seeing in Bitcoin this year. While the price is down 9% YTD (as of July 13), it’s up over 213% over a two year time frame. 

If you look below the surface it is clear that Bitcoin had a strong first half and is making great strides as digital money for people around the world and a payment network for innovation – Coinbase

 

Number of Wallets

People around the world are increasingly adopting bitcoin as digital money. There are now somewhere between 5 and 10 million bitcoin wallet holders around the world, with 2.4M users and 3.1M wallets on Coinbase.

 

Demographics

47% of Coinbase wallet holders are now from countries outside the US. Hong Kong, Tunisia, Philippines, Romania and Algeria were the countries that experienced the most user growth in the first half of 2015.

 

Developer Interest

The developer ecosystem in Bitcoin has also grown significantly in the first half of 2015. There are now more than 7,000 applications built by developers on Coinbase and we’ve seen a number of apps gain significant traction with Coinbase users thus far this year, including ChangeTip, Lawnmower, and Zapchain.

As of June 30, there were 6,109 Github repositories referencing Bitcoin. By comparison, there were 2,318 repositories referencing Paypal.

 

What to Expect for the Second Half of 2015 and Beyond

As global events that highlight the restrictions of closed banking systems and insecure data security practices (e.g. the Greece debt crisis and recent United States Office of Personnel Management data breach) continue to occur, we believe that bitcoin is likely to be adopted by more people looking for digital money that is global, secure, and inclusive.

Moreover, as talented developers build payments applications that enable behaviors that weren’t possible before a decentralized, global payments platform existed, it’s likely that Bitcoin as a payment network for innovation will continue to flourish as well.

 

 

MINING

All Time High

The Bitcoin mining difficulty continues to hit its stride with today’s change seeing the difficulty rise to an all time high of 52,278,304,846.

This represents an increase of 2.35% over July 11th’s difficulty. – cazalla

 

The Bitcoin Network vs. The World’s Largest Supercomputer

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Chris Dixon: The world’s largest (known) supercomputer is China’s Tianhe-2. 80,000 processors. 33,000,000,000,000,000 calcs/sec.

Alan Vazquez: Can it break Bitcoin?

Dan McAdrdle: No, Bitcoin network does ~375,000,000,000,000,000 *hashes*/sec, each of which is many thousands of individual calcs.

Chris Dixon: Yeah I think bitcoin is now >4 zettaflop

Ray Yousesef: How cute… Tianhe is only 142,024 times slower than the bitcoin network…

 

 

ALTCOINS

Monero vs. Dash

DREADz: If you were to buy $100 of one anon coin would you choose Dash or Monero or another I’m not aware of?

Peter Todd: Without a doubt I’d choose Monero over Dash – the latter is snakeoil, the former genuine crypto.

 

 

MARKETS

Shanghai / Shenzhen Stock Exchange

Shanghai Stock Exchange -30%, Bitcoin +30%

George Samman: Shanghai and Shenzen have been in freefall in recent weeks despite actions by the People’s Bank of China (PBOC) to reassure investors. This has resulted in over US$3.9 trillion in wealth destruction. To put this in perspective, that is bigger than the entire French stock market (CAC).

Przemyslaw Baginski: If all that capital (est. $3.3 tn) migrated from china->bitcoin, each btc would be worth ~$250 000.

Shanghai Composite

 

 

COMPANIES / PROJECTS / PRODUCTS

OpenBazaar Plans November Launch

Now that several of the core devs (myself included) have formed a company and received funding, we’re changing our approach to development. We won’t be doing incremental releases every few months, but instead put out a larger version 1 release later this year.

Since we have limited time and resources, we’re dedicating it all towards making the new release something incredible. – Sam Patterson, OpenBazaar Operations Lead

The plan to concentrate on one major release allows the developers to completely rework critical components to the system, including the networking, Distributed Hash Table (DHT), and User Interface (UI).

The prototype UI has received some major changes, as demonstrated during the release presentation, and can be tested on GitHub. The design is much improved from the previous Beta.

Authorities won’t be able to snoop in due to the strong encryption used for messaging (Bitmessage), signing contracts (PGP), and digital currency. Authorities can’t request data related to activities that happen on the platform, as there is none being collected on a central server.

The standalone company OB1, incorporated in Virginia, is currently the projects most complete third party provider. Pitched by Brian Hoffman as a value added service business built on top of OpenBazaar framework, OB1 will initially be focusing on 3 core aspects:

  • Hosting Solutions: A store running 24/7 would benefit from the uptime and scalability of being hosted in the cloud. OB1 is working with cloud server provider Digital Ocean, to provide an easy to use third party solution.

  • Arbitration Services: The company wants to provide standard contracts, that are legally enforceable in court, especially for higher end trades including real estate. They aim to provide a legal framework and different contract types for different needs, goods, and services.

  • Buyer Protection: OB1 is targeting opportunities in providing escrow services, as well as insurance for buyers and sellers.

Nicola Minichiello

 

BitMesh

bitmesh

I’m interested in the right-now practical uses that Manuel Araoz demonstrated with Streamium, or Bitmesh (using payment channels). Bitmesh uses bitcoin micropayments to share Wifi in a mesh network. Amazing, have been waiting for this! – Andreas Antonopoulos

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For users to connect to the BitMesh network, they will first connect their devices to a BitMesh WiFI connection nearby.

After they find a signal, they can instantly connect to BitMesh WiFi and start using it, and pay only for what they have used at the end of their usage with bitcoin. – Joseph Young

 

MinION MkI Genome Sequencer

Biology is being reduced in cost at 5 or 6 x the speed of Moore’s Law. It’s coming faster than the internet.

MinION MkI genome sequencer

$1,000

In 2003 it cost $2.5 billion to sequence the human genome.

Last month Oxford Nanopore came up with an amazing device, a $1,000 gene sequencer that was deployed in Africa to look for mutations in ebola.

So we’ve gone from billions of dollars in 2003 to a $1,000 hand-held USB gene encoder – Joi Ito

 

 

PRIVACY / SECURITY / INTERNET

Global Average Internet Speed Surges 30% Year-over-Year to 5 Mbps

Akamai Releases Q1 2015 State of the Internet Report

“We saw generally positive results across all of the key metrics during the first quarter of 2015,” said David Belson, editor of the report. “The increase in global broadband speeds demonstrates an ongoing commitment to higher standards.

* South Korea still leads with an average connection speed of 23.6 Mbps

* Thailand has the 4th fastest peak mobile connection speed in the world, one of just four countries averaging over 100 Mbps.

Akamai State of the Internet Report

 

 

PLACES

Japan

Japan’s population is so old that elderly workers are getting robot exoskeletons.

Tokyo’s Haneda Airport has partnered with robotics company Cyberdyne to equip its staff with robotic exoskeletons that can assist with the grueling practice of lifting luggage.

Normally, those duties would be assigned to younger staff members. But Japan is running out of those. A country with one of the highest rates of people living past their 100th birthday has stopped having kids almost altogether.

The new apparatus, known as HAL for Labor Support, sits on the user’s waist and picks up bioelectric signals from his or her muscles to aid movement – Chris Weller

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

 

 

THE SINGULARITY

An Asymptote Toward Zero

Commodity Prices 140 Years

“As ephemeralization escalates we can do more and more with less and less until we can do almost anything with practically nothing” – Buckminster Fuller

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Over time the cost per fixed technological function will decrease. If that function persists long enough its costs begin to approach (but never reach) zero. In the goodness of time any particular technological function will exist as if it were free.

This seems to be true for almost anything we make: basic things like food stuffs and materials (often called commodities), and complicated stuff like appliances, as well as services and intangibles. The costs of all these (per fixed unit) has been dropping over time, particularly since the industrial revolution.

According to a 2002 paper published by the International Monetary Fund (“The Long-Run Behavior of Commodity Prices” by Paul Cashin and C. John McDermott, PDF), “there has been a downward trend in real commodity prices of about 1 percent per year over the last 140 years.” For a century and  half prices have been headed toward zero.

While it will keep heading toward zero, the curve follows a mathematical pattern. Assuming the functions remain the same the price will never reach its limit of the absolutely free. Instead it steadily creeps closer and closer to the limit, in an infinite series of narrowing gaps. This pattern of paralleling the limit but never crossing it is called approaching the asymptote. The price here is not zero, but effectively zero. In the vernacular it is known as “too cheap to meter”  — too close to zero to even keep track of.

Orthodox economics teaches that every producer is trying to maximize price but will “minimize the maximum” in response to competition. The more “perfect” the competition, the stronger the drive to lower prices.

The major inventions in the last 20 years have been vast improvements in communication and market mechanisms, which have accelerated the ‘perfection” of the market. Innovations such as easy reverse auctions, ubiquitous small-price auctions, searchable discounts, price aggregators, outsourcing clearinghouses, real time quotes, instant always on connection – all conditions that squeeze fluff out of the system all along the creation chain and push prices downward relentlessly. In this flat world there’s no harbor from the natural pressure toward free.

Eternal expensive scarcity is unnatural and unsustainable, while the abundant free is the ideal home for all things created. The technium conspires to guide manufactured items toward the free, where they can unleash their maximum good. The free, not the costly, is the true home of technology. – Kevin Kelly

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The US economy: a tug of war between Moore’s Law (hyperdeflation) and federal subsidies (price inflation)

* Technology: disruption, automation, and an exponential drop in prices.

* Policy: bailout, subsidies, and continually rising prices.

Balaji S. Srinivasan

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Wikipedia: free

EdX: free

Codecademy: free

Twitter: free

Google Search: free

Coursera/Khan Academy: free

Learn something new everyday, $0.

Mohammed Al Saqqaf

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* Bloomberg Commodity Price Index near 14-yr low – BCOM Quote

* Whatever isn’t deflationary deserves to die – Urban Future (2.1)

 

 

 

The Singularity Draws Ever Closer: China’s Hunger for Robots Marks Significant Shift

China’s emergence as automation hub contradicts assumptions about robots, global economy.

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Having devoured many of the world’s factory jobs, China is now handing them over to robots.

China already ranks as the world’s largest market for robotic machines. Sales last year grew 54% from a year earlier, and the boom shows every sign of increasing. China is projected to have more installed industrial robots than any other country by next year, according to the International Federation of Robotics.

“We think of [the Chinese as] producing cheap widgets,” but that is not what they’re focused on, said Adams Nager, an economic research analyst at the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation in Washington, D.C.

The International Federation of Robotics estimates about 225,000 industrial robots were sold world-wide last year—a record number and up 27% from the year before. Robot sales grew in all the major markets, with over half the growth in Asia. But China is the rising star, with about 56,000 robots sold there in 2014.

“China has explosive growth [in robots],” said Henrik Christensen, head of Georgia Institute of Technology’s robotics lab, adding that all the world’s biggest automation companies are rushing to build factories there to supply demand for new machines.

Terry Hannon, chief business development and strategy officer for Adept Technology Inc., a U.S. robotics maker based near Silicon Valley, said he was startled to see 400 new domestic robotics makers at a Chinese trade show last year.  Among those jumping in: Hon Hai Precision Industry Co.—better known as Foxconn—which has announced plans to build and install thousands of robots to assemble Apple Inc. iPhones and other products – Timothy Aeppel & Mark Magnier

 

IBM is Training Watson to be a Cancer Specialist

The idea is to use Watson’s increasingly sophisticated artificial intelligence to find personalized treatments for every cancer patient, by comparing disease and treatment histories, genetic data, scans and symptoms against the vast universe of medical knowledge.

Such precision targeting is possible to a limited extent, but it can take weeks of dedicated sleuthing by a team of researchers. Watson would be able to make this type of treatment recommendation in mere minutes.

The IBM program is one of several new aggressive health-care projects that aim to sift through the huge pools of data created by people’s records and daily routines and then identify patterns and connections to predict needs.

Instead of having to find specialists in a different city, photocopy and send all the patient’s files to them, and spend countless hours researching the medical literature, a doctor could simply consult Watson, she said.

Rob Merkel, who leads IBM Watson’s health group, said the company estimates that a single person will generate 1 million gigabytes of health-related data across a lifetime. That’s as much data as in 300 million books.

“You are deep into a realm where no human being could ever make sense of this information,” Merkel said. That’s where Watson comes in to create a “collective intelligence model between machine and man.”

“We’re not advocating that Watson replace physicians,” he explained. “We are advocating that Watson does a lot of reading on behalf of physicians and provides them with timely insights.”

In 2011, IBM announced that Watson had learned as much as a second-year medical student. Since then it’s graduated and has been doing residencies at some of the nation’s top cancer centers. In late September, Watson achieved another training milestone: It began its first fellowship in a specialty — leukemia — at MD Anderson.

Koichi Takahashi, at the top of last year’s class of fellows and recently appointed an assistant professor, said he’s been impressed so far. Watson’s ability to synthesize a patient’s history is “amazing,” Takahashi said. “He beats me.” – Ariana Eunjung Cha

 

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Follow me on Twitter @leebanfield1

Bitcoin: 1Jwh6nZiASJf4d3hNytjxqiimWBmEJvJ4S

Bitmessage: BM-2cXjeAykLT7gbjzNHZFnCxdawvyryyb4Nf

 

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