Friday 2nd October

BITCOIN

bitcoin_logo_small-150x150

1 Bitcoin = $238

By shifting trust to the Organism, Bitcoin rewrites 1,000-year-old trust assumptions in value relationships. That’s what private chains lack. – Jeff Garzik

 

Those Crazy Libertarians

Greg Slepak: One thing I’ve learned during my visit to NYC is that about half the people interested in Bitcoin (the finance world) actively hate it. Case in point: Consensus 2015 ticket prices high to “keep out the crazy libertarians” (that’s an approximate quote). Those “crazy libertarians” are inventing these technologies, try to be a little less rude.

Steve Dekorte: Curious how “those crazy” libertarians were half a decade ahead in tech and made better market predictions than big finance.

 

The Two Big Opportunities for Bitcoin

1) Developing Countries

  • Poor financial infrastructure
  • Capital controls

2) Cross-Border Applications

  • Remittances
  • The way stock dividends and bond coupons are paid across borders

When you market bitcoin you don’t want to market it to individuals, because every individual will tell you “the people I do business with, the people I know, they don’t use bitcoin”. So you need to market to groups in a really focused manner. – Nick Szabo

 

Closing the Loop: Australian Organic Farm Creates a Local Bitcoin Economy Among Farmers

Budafoods is building a bitcoin trade cycle (see The Greek Financial Mess; and Some Ways Bitcoin Might Help by Nick Szabo for more on bitcon trade cycles).

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Budafoods , a certified organic farm and food supplier located in the Sunshine Coast Hinterland, Queensland, Australia, is attempting to create a closed bitcoin economy among farmers and to encourage its partners, supporting businesses and community to accept bitcoin.

Budafoods is not converting the bitcoin it accepts to fiat money.

“In Australia, a surplus of bitcoins wouldn’t be an issue as we currently have a great service available here called Living Room of Satoshi that allows us to make bill payments and electronic transfers to almost any bank account in Australia using bitcoins. We’ve been using this service on a number of occasions already with the largest purchases so far having been for chicken feed and for mobile electric fencing,” Burgunder told Bitcoin Magazine.

As computer scientist and cryptographer Nick Szabo stated before, suppliers, businesses and customers must all accept and use bitcoin for it to be effective in an economy. Szabo calls this concept a complete closed cycle: store => supplier = workers => store. – Joseph Young

 

 

ALTCOINS

Onename Migrates from Namecoin to Bitcoin

Since earlier this year, we have been planning to migrate our blockchain ID registration service from Namecoin to Bitcoin.

When working with Namecoin, we faced several challenges that Bitcoin helps us overcome.

With a merge-mined cryptocurrency like Namecoin, the security of the blockchain is typically a subset of the “main chain.” We noticed in late 2014 that a single mining pool consistently had more than 51% of the hashing power on Namecoin while having significantly less of the hashing power on Bitcoin.

Recently, the situation has been even worse with a single mining pool controlling over 60% of Namecoin’s hashrate. If this pool were to attack the network, it could reorganize the blockchain, censor name registrations, deny updates, and squat names as they expire.

The Namecoin community has known about this for some time but there is little to nothing that they can do about it. We’ve actually seen Discus Fish controlling up to 75% mining power in a particular week.

Namecoin deserves full credit for originally solving naming on a blockchain. But after considering all of the above factors, it was an easy decision to move our blockchain ID registration system from Namecoin to Bitcoin.

In general, after our experience with running the production network we strongly believe that decentralized applications and services need to be on the largest, most secure blockchain. Currently, there is no other blockchain that even comes close to Bitcoin in terms of these security requirements. – Onename

 

Emerging Market Currencies are Collapsing

  • China capital flight hits record high as yuan plunges
  • Mexico peso slumps to record low on global growth worries
  • Brazilian real at all-time low against dollar
  • Argentina’s unofficial peso currency rate hits an all-time low
  • S.Africa’s rand falls to all-time low as China woes hit emerging markets
  • Turkey’s lira sinks to record low against dollar
  • Sri Lankan rupee hits record low on importer dollar demand
  • Indian rupee depreciates to record low

Asian currencies had their biggest quarterly loss since the global financial crisis, having been battered by China’s surprise devaluation of the yuan and the prospect of a U.S. interest-rate increase.

Malaysia’s ringgit led the rout with a 14 percent slide as oil prices retreated and Prime Minister Najib Razak was caught up in a corruption investigation.

Indonesia’s rupiah weakened 9 percent against the dollar this quarter and Thailand’s baht dropped 6.9 percent, its worst performance since 2000. – Lilian Karunungan

 

 

MARKETS

Emerging Market Stock Allocations at All-Time Low

Investors have cut their emerging market stock allocations to an all-time low and raised cash balances to levels seen during the 2008 crisis as risk appetite has evaporated, a Bank of America Merrill Lynch (BAML) survey showed. – Claire Milhench

 

 

COMPANIES / PROJECTS / PRODUCTS

The 21 Bitcoin Computer

  • The 21 Bitcoin Computer is the first computer with native hardware and software support for the Bitcoin Protocol.
  • Buy digital goods with the constant stream of bitcoin mined by a 21 Bitcoin Chip
  • Sell anything to anyone for bitcoin with the built-in 21 Micropayments Server
  • Easily build Bitcoin-payable apps, services, and devices

I’m just unreasonably excited about this amazing new Bitcoin product from our company 21! – Marc Andreessen

The 21 computer is a matter of convenience and ease for getting involved with bitcoin by bundling everything into hardware. Demian Brener

The goal: flick on a new paid internet service like you turn on a new lightbulb. No ads, no signup. – Balaji S. Srinivasan

Thanks to 21.co, Bitcoin could take a big step toward becoming the Internet’s monetary lingua franca. Brian Patrick Eha

 

The 21 Bitcoin Computer is a small, bare bones, Linux-based piece of hardware in which the bitcoin protocol is a feature of the operating system. Any products or services built with it – games or music or any online content – would have bitcoin built in as a component.

“I’m very excited about it,” said Ben Horowitz, a co-founder of Andreessen Horowitz, which led the startup’s funding earlier this year. “The thing that’s completely missing that I think would make the Internet better would be machine-to-machine payments. It’s just amazingly hard to do right now.”

The 21 computer is aimed at developers rather than consumers, and is part of the company’s wider goal of turning bitcoin into an Internet protocol, a common language shared between connected devices. – Paul Vigna

$399.99

You can order the 21 Bitcoin Computer here and it will ship on November 15, 2015.- 21.co

 

 

Stash: Open Transactions Based Financial Cryptography

Stash Co-Founder and CTO Chris Odom claims that their software “solves the Mt.Gox problem” by eliminating the need to store user funds.

“Services running our software will be incapable of stealing or losing customer funds,” said Odom, “because they will never receive nor store those funds in the first place.”

We will begin releasing products in Q4. – Stash Inc

Stash Money

Stash was founded by Chris Odom, creator of Open-Transactions and co-founder of Monetas, and Cliff Baltzley, the founder of Hushmail.

The software they’re developing integrates Open-Transactions with Bitcoin to add a multisig pools layer, allowing users to retain 100% control over their funds even while transacting off-blockchain.

That’s in contrast with existing services who take possession of user funds in order to provide advanced functionality such as bid/ask exchange, versus Stash’s software, which is able to provide such advanced functionality without a server taking possession of the user’s funds.

User funds are stored in a Stash Pool, allowing all transactions to occur “off-blockchain” using Open Transactions unforgeable receipts. Users themselves maintain all of the wallet’s functionality even if the user is offline and also while funds are locked safely in the multisig pool.

Stash wants to make the need for trust obsolete in the crypto and FinTech environment. Odom and Baltzley grew tired of seeing the hacks, scams and thefts in the Bitcoin space. The team realized that all of the services within the cryptocurrency environment share one similar problem: holding user funds.

Stash technology eliminates the need for a man in the middle and they want their business actions to create a new “normal” in the Bitcoin industry. – Jamie Redman

 

Virtual Reality Startup Jaunt Raises $65mill from Giant Media Firms

The investment is among the largest funding rounds in virtual reality and brings Jaunt’s funding to about $100 million.

Google Inc. and several venture funds last year invested $542 million in augmented-reality firm Magic Leap Inc., and virtual-reality-headset maker Oculus VR raised $75 million in 2013 before Facebook Inc purchased the company for $2 billion last year. Jaunt declined to disclose its valuation.

Jaunt helps create and distribute live-action virtual-reality content, which differs from the computer-generated content that has fueled the rise of virtual-reality gaming. Jaunt, with about 60 employees, leases to filmmakers a spherical 24-lens camera for thousands of dollars a day and then stitches the different lenses’ footage into a single image.

Jaunt also hosts and distributes virtual-reality content, including a Paul McCartney concert and a video produced for VF Corp’s North Face that makes viewers feel as if they’re base jumping into a Utah canyon.

“I find virtual reality to be the most compelling new visual medium to come onto the entertainment landscape in my lifetime,” said Rick Hess, the 50-year-old head of Evolution Media. “It’s going to open an entirely new monetization market for the industry.”

The technology faces its mainstream moment over the next year as several virtual-reality headsets are released to the public, from Sony Corp, HTC Corp, and Facebook Inc.’s Oculus unit, among others. While those companies’ devices run off computers or game consoles, Samsung Electronics Co.  this year released a $200 headset that holds a smartphone as a screen. Google also sells a $20 cardboard headset for smartphones. – Jack Nicas

 

Personal Genome Test Will Sell at $250

The next decade will be the most exciting in the history of biological sciences. – Craig Venter

A company formed by genome pioneer Craig Venter will offer clients of a South Africa-based insurance company whole exome sequencing – sequencing all protein-making genes in the human genome – at a price that marks yet another dramatic decline in the cost of gene sequencing.

Venter’s company, Human Longevity Inc, will provide the tests at a cost of $250 each through a special incentive program offered by Discovery Ltd, an insurer with clients in South Africa and the United Kingdom.

Venter, the U.S. scientist who raced the U.S. government to map the human genome 15 years ago for a cost of $100,000, said the $250 price point per whole exome marks a new low in the price of gene sequencing.

Clients who choose screening will receive a comprehensive report detailing their risks for specific diseases and potential strategies to modify those risks. “It’s our goal to really make this (sequencing) available to broad populations,” he said in a telephone interview.

The multiyear deal gives Discovery’s clients access to low-cost whole exome sequencing, tests that look only at the protein-making segments of DNA known as exons, which represent 2 percent of the genome but account for 85 percent of disease-causing mutations.

The deal also covers testing for whole genome and cancer genome sequencing services. Financial terms were not disclosed.

Until recently, whole genome sequencing – which maps all of an individual’s 20,500 genes – was prohibitively expensive, costing about $20,000 just five years ago. As of last year, the average cost of whole genome sequencing fell to $1,500. – Julie Steenhuysen

 

 

LEARNING / EDUCATION

Boom in Private Coding Schools Amid Growing Demand for Tech Skills

Sabastian Belser is a former human-resources worker who learned programming languages like Ruby on Rails during a three-month course that he hopes will prepare him for a career in coding.

“It’s a pretty dramatic transition from HR to Web development, but one that I’m excited about,” said Mr. Belser, 26, who graduated from the program in mid-September and is currently looking for a job in programming.

His crash course in coding happened at General Assembly, a five-year-old education startup training workers in software programming and other technical skills increasingly in demand by employers.

To continue fueling its expansion, the New York-based company has raised a $70 million round of funding from investors.

The company now offers classes in 14 cities, from San Francisco to Sydney, and has helped more than 240,000 students learn new skills. It says more than 99% of them seeking new jobs have succeeded in doing so within six months of completing a course.

General Assembly charges $10,000 to $12,000 for full-time, 12-week classes and $3,000 to $4,000 for part-time courses. It expects 15,000 students to go through the courses this year.

The startup has raised a total of $110 million from investors. – Douglas Macmillan

 

Employers Increasingly Recognizing Udacity’s Nanodegrees

Economists and technologists agree that in the future, just about everyone’s job will involve more technology. During the last few years, many local and online schools have popped up to teach people how to code. They offer a vast range of prices and techniques. Some, like Codecademy, are free, while others can cost thousands or even tens of thousands of dollars. Some offer more personalized coaching, while others leave students to figure things out on their own.

Now Udacity, a four-year-old online teaching start-up, believes that after years of trial and error, it has hit on a model of vocational training that can be scaled up to teach millions of people technical skills.

Udacity’s founder, Sebastian Thrun, a specialist in artificial intelligence at Stanford University who once ran Google X, the search company’s advanced projects division, said that the “nanodegree” program that the firm created last year will result in vastly lower education costs and wider accessibility. Early data suggests the program is efficient and reliably results in new jobs.

The nanodegree works like this:

Last year, Udacity partnered with technology companies to create online courses geared toward teaching a set of discrete, highly prized technical skills — including mobile programming, data analysis and web development.

Students who complete these courses are awarded the nanodegree, a credential that Udacity has worked with Google, AT&T and other companies to turn into a new form of workplace certification.

A year after the program’s start, the company has 10,000 students enrolled in its nanodegree courses, and the number is growing by a third every month.

Udacity charges $200 a month for the courses (students can take as little or as much time as they want to finish). When they successfully complete a course, Udacity gives back half the tuition.

The company says that a typical student will earn a nanodegree in about five months — in other words, for around $500. – Farhad Manjoo

 

 

PRIVACY / SECURITY / INTERNET

BIP-47: Reusable Payment codes

FoneBTC: BIP70? BIP47 is the most import privacy development of the past 6 months.

Keonne Rodriguez: Very excited about BIP 47. Justus Ranvier has done the community a great service with this BIP. Would love to see an implementation.

Samourai Wallet: Implentation coming in 3-4 months if all goes well. We’re a small self funded team 🙂

—————————–

Payment codes are a technique for creating permanent Bitcoin addresses that can be reused and publicly associated with a real-life identity without creating a loss of financial privacy.

They are similar to stealth addresses, but involve a different set of trade-offs and features that may make them more practical.

You can publicize your payment code in the same way that you can publicize your email address. Even if everyone knows your payment code, nobody can monitor the blockchain to see how many payments you have received or which transactions are yours. – Justus Ranvier

 

Thailand Considers Introducing Its Own China-Style Internet Firewall

A proposal to unify all internet gateways in Thailand into one single entity has been approved in the cabinet meeting and earmarked as “urgent.”

“The single gateway will be a tool to control inappropriate websites and the inbound of information and news from overseas to Thailand,” a report from the latest cabinet meeting last Thursday wrote. “The organizations must inspect the related laws. If there is a necessity to issue new laws, then they must proceed in order for ICT to urgently set up a single gateway.”

“Instead of having many hubs, we will just have one. It will be easier to deal with [cybercrime].”

NBTC Deputy Chairman Setthapong said CAT, the state-owned and largest telecom in Thailand, will act as the single door to all internet gateways in Thailand when it’s ready. – Prae Sakaowan

At least seven websites connected to the government were forced offline in a protest organized on social media website Facebook against the plan to channel internet content through one gateway, from about 10 now.

The gateway proposal has fueled fears of a clampdown on free speech. – CNBC

 

Britain’s Internet Spying System Worse than the US

There was a simple aim at the heart of the top-secret program: Record the website browsing habits of “every visible user on the Internet.”

Before long, billions of digital records about ordinary people’s online activities were being stored every day. Among them were details cataloging visits to porn, social media and news websites, search engines, chat forums, and blogs.

The mass surveillance operation — code-named KARMA POLICE — was launched by British spies about seven years ago without any public debate or scrutiny. It was just one part of a giant global Internet spying apparatus built by the United Kingdom’s electronic eavesdropping agency, Government Communications Headquarters, or GCHQ.

One system builds profiles showing people’s web browsing histories. Another analyzes instant messenger communications, emails, Skype calls, text messages, cell phone locations, and social media interactions. Separate programs were built to keep tabs on “suspicious” Google searches and usage of Google Maps.

As of 2012, GCHQ was storing about 50 billion metadata records about online communications and Web browsing activity every day, with plans in place to boost capacity to 100 billion daily by the end of that year. The agency, under cover of secrecy, was working to create what it said would soon be the biggest government surveillance system anywhere in the world.

The system was designed to provide the agency with “either (a) a web browsing profile for every visible user on the Internet, or (b) a user profile for every visible website on the Internet.”

The scope of GCHQ’s surveillance powers explain in part why Snowden told The Guardian in June 2013 that U.K. surveillance is “worse than the U.S.” In an interview with Der Spiegel in July 2013, Snowden added that British Internet cables were “radioactive” and joked: “Even the Queen’s selfies to the pool boy get logged.”

In recent years, the biggest barrier to GCHQ’s mass collection of data does not appear to have come in the form of legal or policy restrictions. Rather, it is the increased use of encryption technology that protects the privacy of communications that has posed the biggest potential hindrance to the agency’s activities.

“The spread of encryption … threatens our ability to do effective target discovery/development,” says a top-secret report co-authored by an official from the British agency and an NSA employee in 2011.

“Pertinent metadata events will be locked within the encrypted channels and difficult, if not impossible, to prise out,” the report says, adding that the agencies were working on a plan that would “(hopefully) allow our Internet Exploitation strategy to prevail.” – Ryan Gallagher

 

 

THE SINGULARITY

Manufacturing spencer cooper Flickr


Rise of the Machines: The Industrial Internet of Things is Taking Shape

Fortunes will be made acquiring analogue manufacturers and digitizing them. Comparable to Russian privatization. – Pierre Rochard

—————————————–

Beyond smart watches and FitBits, forward-thinking businesses are applying the concept of IoT to complex, psychical machinery, like jet engines and locomotives, to unleash unexpected growth opportunities and fuel innovation.

Combined with data analytics, companies can leverage the industrial IoT to impact the economy, the job market and the future; and it has the potential to add $15 trillion to the global economy in 2030, according to Accenture.

The first iteration of the IoT saw users quickly adopting wearable devices to track everything from nutritional intake and sleep patterns to calories burned and steps taken. Following suit, businesses began to look at how they could use data from connected sensors to optimize how they functioned.

Now they are taking this a step further and applying these insights to bigger machines equipped with data-gathering sensors. This new movement, the industrial IoT, is accelerating the connection of objects with humans and also with other objects to reveal deep insights.

Now, small sensors on pieces of complex machinery can emit data about performance status that can then be used to adjust scheduled maintenance. With this data, teams can predict maintenance failures, proactively prevent them and ultimately reduce down time.

This approach has also been applied to resource allocation and energy management. Equipped with sensors on onshore and offshore oil pumps, companies can minimize lost production and save massive amounts of money. – Stefan Groschupf

 

Stem Cell Therapy Will be Available Within Five Years

Revolutionary stem cell therapy could end the suffering of millions of arthritis patients within as few as five years. Preliminary findings of a trial of the treatment show that within days patients experienced a dramatic reduction in pain.

Sufferers’ own stem cells were injected into their knees resulting in significantly increased joint function.

Study leader Professor Frank Barry said: “It is incredibly exciting. It is our strong belief that stem cell treatment will offer hope for millions of people.”

Osteoarthritis affects 14 per cent of over 25s and a third of all pensioners. It causes severe and chronic pain, joint stiffness and loss of function.

Currently there is no drug, medical intervention or therapy that alters its progression and many patients have to take painkillers constantly and ultimately need total joint replacement surgery. – Lucy Johnston

 

Anti-Aging Drug: First Step Toward Boosting Immune System, Delaying Aging

The medication, which is a version of the drug known as rapamycin, proved to boost seniors’ immune systems with regard to flu vaccine responses by 20 percent. The study was published in Science Translational Medicine.

Rapamycin belongs to a group of drugs called mTOR inhibitors, which have been shown in previous studies to work as anti-aging agents.

As people age, mTOR’s genetic pathways seem to have a negative effect, even though they support healthy growth in children (this goes for all mammals). So, using rapamycin to inhibit the mTOR genetic pathway could, in theory, delay aging. In a 2013 study, for example, researchers discovered that rapamycin worked to increase both “mean and maximum life spans” in mice.

However, this is the first time that researchers are studying rapamycin’s effect in humans. While more research is needed to better gauge whether rapamycin can extend a human lifespan like it does in mice, the study shows that it boosts older people’s immune systems, particularly against the flu, which can be especially dangerous to elderly.

For the study, older participants who received the experimental dose of rapamycin had 20 percent more antibodies in response to the flu vaccine than people who didn’t get rapamycin. In addition, rapamycin decreased the amount of white blood cells that are typically linked to aging and immune decline. – Lecia Bushak

 

Scientists Hope to Restore Sight in the Blind Next Year

It sounds completely crazy: as early as next year, using gene therapy scientists hope to restore sight in the blind by giving their eyes additional “light sensors.”

We’re not talking about bionic eyes: instead of implantable electronics, scientists are turning to a protein called channelrhodopsin-2. The protein comes from the lowly green algae, which uses it to seek out sunlight for photosynthesis.

In 2006, Dr. Zhou Hua Pan, a researcher at Wayne State University, decided to stick the protein into mice that were genetically engineered for photoreceptor degeneration. It worked on the first try; in less than three months after a single treatment, the mice passed every vision test the scientists could throw at them.

“It worked perfectly, even in the very beginning,” Pan told Wired. “That was basically just really, really lucky.”

Pan’s success did not escape the notice of the biotech industry.

In 2009, RetroSense Therapeutics, a startup located a short drive away from Wayne State, leased the eye-wiring tech from Pan in a bid to bring it to human trials. Last month, the FDA gave its nod of approval: as early as this fall, the company will start installing channelrhodopsin-2 into the retinas of 15 patients blinded by retinitis pigmentosa through gene therapy. The therapy may be a game changer. – Shelly Fan

 

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