1 Bitcoin = $627
The Current State of Bitcoin
- BTC price is up > 150% in last year *in USD terms.*
- Blocks are ~75% full.
- Recent median fees are in range of 7 cents/tx.
- Bitcoin has more than tripled in the last year against the British Pound. – Saifedean Ammous
- July 2010 people could not imagine bitcoin $1. October 2016 people can’t imagine it being $10,000. – Minajati
- Want to be rich? buy bitcoin. Want to make the world better? buy bitcoin. Want to fuck elites? buy bitcoin. Want a safe haven? buy bitcoin. – Paul
Bitwage Reports Dramatic Growth, While Expanding Services
- Bitwage reports dramatic growth, launches payment-based reputation system, adds seven more currencies.
Founded in 2013, bitcoin payroll and international wage payment service, Bitwage, offers fast and low-cost payroll services, distributed in fiat currencies and bitcoin. The company currently has over 6,000 registered users.
Bitwage Payroll service allows employees, freelancers, and contractors globally to receive wages from any U.S. employer and get paid in their local currencies.
Google, AirBnB, Facebook, Uber, the World Health Organization, Upwork, GE and United Nations Food & Agriculture Organization all have employees that use Bitwage to receive their wages.
Bitwage has to date processed over $7.9 million in payroll transactions, over $1 million of which was in the month of August alone. “This is a really exciting moment for us here at Bitwage,” founder and president Jonathan Chester said.
“In just one year, we went from performing the number of transactions we had fulfilled in one year to just one month.” – Luke Parker
Bitcoin Startups Want in on $500 Billion Remittance Market
- Bitcoin-powered transactions now account for 20% of the remittances flowing between South Korea and the Philippines each year.
At just over six years old, Seoul-based KakaoTalk has more than 170 million registered users on its flagship chat app, and enjoys nearly 93% market penetration in South Korea.
But when the $2.9 billion company made its first-ever overseas investment this spring, it was a surprising one: a 40% stake in Satoshi Citadel Industries (SCI), a Manila-based Bitcoin startup with no connection to messaging.
The decision is puzzling, unless you know something about how money moves between the Philippines and South Korea. While there are only 60,000 migrant Filipinos working in South Korea—far fewer than in neighboring Japan—they collectively send home more than $231 million in personal funds each year.
That works out to about $300 per person, 50% higher than the global average.
A few large players tend to facilitate these payments, and the lack of competition in certain markets (including the Philippines-South Korea corridor) can make costs prohibitive. Enter Kakaotalk, one of a growing crop of companies aiming for a cheaper alternative.
Worldwide, 230 million people send $500 billion in remittances each year, primarily using firms like Western Union, Moneygram, and RIA, which together control 1.1 million retail locations and account for more than 25% of the world’s annual remittance volume.
The nascent industry has spawned at least three new players in the past year—Payphil, Sentbe, and SCI—and more established Bitcoin exchanges like Korbit and Coinplug are also entering the market.
They seem to be having an impact—that $12 charge on a $200 transfer is more like $6 with Bitcoin.
Insiders estimate that Bitcoin-powered transactions now account for 20% of the remittances flowing between South Korea and the Philippines each year. – Luis Buenaventura
Bitcoin Remittance Firm Rebit.ph Discusses Korea-Philippines Corridor
- There are a lot of restrictions and capital controls when it comes to taking Korean Fiat out of the country, therefore there is a demand for an alternative and is probably why it is out most successful corridor so far.
- We are only talking about the KR-PH remittance corridor which is ~200M usd annually. The US-PH corridor, which we havent tapped at all, is 10 Billion dollars. Total remittances annually to the PH is almost $30 billion.
The claim that Bitcoin startups have captured 20% of the ~$200 Million Korea-Philippines remittance market has caused a lot of skepticism.
Is it really so hard to believe?
Since 2013, we have been at the forefront of the Rebittance business with our flagship product Rebit.ph. In the process of figuring out the best way to do our business and not just survive, but thrive, we came up with what is now our current business model – use bitcoin as the settlement rail between two business entities across borders. Most of our senders and receivers don’t even know they are using bitcoin.
The Philippines’ received almost thirty billion dollars in remittances last year. The KR-PH corridor is a “measly” >1% of that, or somewhere in the $200 Million range.
Is it possible that we, after almost three years of doing this business, along with our partners and even our competitors/clones, are doing $40 Million in volume annually? Yes, of course. It only takes 10,000 customers sending the average $300/month to hit $36M annually. There are at least 60,000 Filipinos in South Korea, so this is not too difficult to imagine.
Add the fact that some businesses use the service to settle payroll and do other B2B services, and the number does not seem so large anymore. There are also other external factors in play, like currency restrictions in South Korea for example. There are also two or three major players (including us) in this market, so there is twice or thrice the effort to grow the industry as a whole.
Personally, you could call me a Bitcoin purist. I really believe in it, that it is a game changer, that it will be as disruptive in Finance and governance as the Web was to publishing and telecommunications. I sincerely hope one day we won’t need to exchange bitcoin to fiat. But as a fintech startup, a business trying to survive in a cutthroat industry, we needed to be nimble and adaptable. This is why we are doing what we are doing now – we are addressing a problem with a solution that we came up with on the go as we grew our business, and so far, it has been working very well. Hopefully, we are creating a gateway for people to discover Bitcoin. – Godfreee
New All Time High as Bitcoin Hashrate Crosses 2 Exahash/s
- Bitcoin’s hash rate is on pace to triple this year. – Jameson Lopp
- Bitcoin is practically the only production system running at exa-<anything> scale. …the power of well-aligned incentives. – Dan McArdle
Monero Price Falls 10% After Oasis Exit Scam
The darknet marketplace (DNM) Oasis has gone offline, and many believe the administrators left with the escrow holdings. This includes a rumored 150 BTC and some Monero (XMR) as well.
During the time Oasis went offline, the dark web’s AlphaBay, Hansa and Dream also went down for short periods.
All these marketplaces minus Oasis have since come back online. – Jamie Redman
Billionaires Using Swiss Military Bunkers to Store Their Wealth in Gold
A maze of tunnels leads to the vaults.
Demand for gold storage has risen since the 2008 financial crisis. Many of the wealthy see owning gold as a hedge against the insecurity of banks and a reasonable investment at a time when markets are volatile and bank accounts and low-risk bonds pay almost no yield.
It may also be a way to avoid the increasing scrutiny of tax authorities. In high-profile cases, U.S., French, and German prosecutors have gone after citizens of those countries with undeclared Swiss bank accounts.
Swiss storage operations such as these don’t have the same obligation that Swiss banks do to report suspicious transactions to federal regulators. Americans aren’t required under the U.S. Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act to declare gold stored outside financial institutions.
Of the roughly 1,000 former military bunkers still in existence across Switzerland, a few hundred have been sold in recent years, and about 10 are now storage sites holding gold as well as computer data, according to the Swiss defense department. – Hugo Miller
PRIVACY / SECURITY / INTERNET
The Cypherpunk Revolution
- Brilliant History: A magnum opus on the colorful personalities that shaped public key cryptography over the years. – Jon Matonis
How the tech vanguard turned public-key cryptography into one of the most potent political ideas of the 21st century.
A truly revolutionary technology was unleashed for widespread public use in June 1991: asymmetric encryption, also known as public-key cryptography.
Many of early cryptographers had been exposed to a powerful streak of American culture: civil libertarianism with its deep-seated distrust of the federal government — or of any government.
The NSA’s hysterical reaction to basic crypto scholarship amplified hostility toward government in the emerging computer underground of the 1980s. So it was no coincidence that Bay Area cryptographers unearthed what would become one of the most potent political ideas of the early 21st century.
For the libertarian minded, crypto anarchy meant that “men with guns” could not be brought in to interfere with transactions that all participants mutually agreed on. No longer would they be able to trace and find those who refused to declare income or deal in illegal goods. The state, in short, would lose a good deal of its coercive power.
If financial transactions became untraceable, enforcing taxation would be impossible. “One thing is for sure,” Tim May told Kevin Kelly of the Whole Earth Review, “long-term, this stuff nukes tax collection.”
In September 1992, a few crypto pioneers decided to take their meetings from a Palo Alto office into cyberspace and organize themselves in a mailing list. People were just beginning to use e-mail accounts, so an email list seemed the best and most open way to network the group.
Fiction stoked the cypherpunk movement’s ideas. On the list, as well as in articles and FAQs, Tim May recommended to “read the sources.”
The recommended sources were novels — namely, George Orwell’s “1984,” John Brunner’s “The Shockwave Rider,” Ayn Rand’s “Atlas Shrugged,” and especially Vernor Vinge’s “True Names.” In fact, Vinge’s work is referenced about 20 times in the “Cyphernomicon,” a sprawling 300 page log that is perhaps the closest thing the movement has to a canonical document, organized as an appropriately messy and never-ending list of frequently asked questions.
The only nonfiction source recommended in the document was David Chaum’s classic 1985 article “Security without Identification.”
From the start, cypherpunk was about getting stuff done, not just debate and organization for debate and organization’s sake. “Cypherpunks write code,” was the mantra.
Eric Hughes and Hal Finney wrote the first such remailers in 1992, in the programming languages Perl and C. By 1996, several dozen remailing machines would be operational. They had many uses. It became possible, for instance, to publish sensitive information simply by emailing it to a publicly accessible email list, because nobody could trace the email back to its sender.
In this way the remailers were used to “liberate” ciphers that had not been published before, to spill a few government secrets, and to reveal secrets of the Church of Scientology. Crypto anarchy spread. Soon, local chapters popped up in London, Boston, and Washington.
By the end of the decade, crypto anarchy had a mixed record of success. Yet the ideology of crypto anarchy would become spectacularly successful.
Sometime in 1999, Tim May looked back on the momentous changes of the previous two decades:
The full-blown, immersive virtual reality of ‘True Names’ may still be far off, but the technologies of cryptography, digital signatures, remailers, message pools, and data havens make many of the most important aspects of ‘True Names’ realizable today, now, on the Net.
The Sovereign Individual
In 1997, Simon & Schuster, one of the big New York publishing houses, published “The Sovereign Individual.”
It was a strange book, full of apocalyptic yet optimistic predictions. The two authors, inspired by the political philosophy of cypherpunk, left out the jargon and the arcane crypto discussions, yet kept the boldness: cyberspace was about to kill the nation-state, they argued.
“As ever more economic activity is drawn into cyberspace, the value of the state’s monopoly power within borders will shrink,” Rees-Mogg and Davidson predicted. “Bandwidth is destined to trump the territorial state.”
Echoing May and the cypherpunks, they argued that the state’s threats of coercion would simply be ineffective online, shielded by strong crypto. “The virtual reality of cyberspace,” they wrote, “will be as far beyond the reach of bullies as imagination can take it.”
Individuals would no longer need, or tolerate, sovereign states above them. The age of violence was over. The individual would now become the sovereign, effectively taking over from the state.
Soon, most of the world’s commerce would be absorbed “into cyberspace,” a novel realm where the governments of old would have “no more dominion” than they exercised over the bottom of the sea or indeed the solar system’s outer planets. “In cyberspace, the threats of physical violence that have been the alpha and omega of politics since time immemorial will vanish.”
One big reason for this coming revolution was digital money. “Cybercash” would slash the state’s ability to control its citizens. In the near future, any commercial transaction would happen over the “World Wide Web,” paid for in untraceable digital cash. Taxation would become difficult, if not impossible, thus cutting the state back to size, if not destroying it entirely. “Cyberspace is the ultimate off-shore jurisdiction. An economy with no taxes. Bermuda in the sky with diamonds.”
The authors didn’t use the phrase “sovereign individual” as mere slogan. “One bizarre genius” could achieve the same impact in cyberwar as a nation-state, they argued confidently. The Pentagon was no more powerful than some teenage whiz kid. Technology had truly leveled the playing field in future confrontations: “The meek and the mighty will meet on equal terms.”
The consequences were profound: “Nation-states will have to be reconfigured to reduce their vulnerability to computer viruses, logic bombs, infected wires, and trapdoor programs that could be monitored by the U.S. National Security Agency, or some teenage hackers,” Rees-Mogg and Davidson predicted.
Bitcoin is the Embodiment of a Decades Old Cypherpunk Vision
Crypto-anarchy is the idea that people can govern and organize themselves without governments, by using the tools of cryptography, cryptocurrencies and other means of decentralization.
Bitcoin enables the unregulated exchange of value on a global scale, which is something we didn’t have before and will have profound impact on a society. People will start doing things that they couldn’t do before, and organize themselves in novel communities and structures. I think there will a big restructuring of society. Governments, banks, and even other corporations as we know them will dissolve or change in a profound way. – Martin Sip
With these tools, we can build a more effective, a more free and a more voluntary society. We can, for example, have access to fully decentralized anonymous cryptomarkets with stronger reputation and escrow services, where everything is 30 to 50 percent cheaper than in the markets regulated and taxed by governments.
And we don’t even need the acceptance of a majority of people or politicians. Human nature — the fact that people primarily prefer to suit their individual needs — can ensure that no one will be willing to pay government tax in the virtual internet world. Crypto-anarchists can demonstrate how the current political systems based on coercion — taxes — could collapse.
Crypto-anarchy cannot be stopped now. It’s here and people have to cope with that. – Pavol Luptak
It’s Not Just Deutsche. European Banking is Utterly Broken
All eyes are naturally focused on the specific problems of Deutsche Bank, but Deutsche is in truth no more than the canary in the coal mine.
Much the same disease as afflicts Continental banks also applies to British counterparts, including Royal Bank of Scotland, Barclays and even Lloyds. – Jeremy Warner
- First Drug to Use Nobel Prize Winning RNA Interference Set for FDA Approval
- Alnylam Pharmaceuticals (ALNY:NASDAQ) is a biopharmaceutical company focused on the discovery, development and commercialization of RNA interference therapeutics for genetically defined diseases.
The story of RNAi begins with the nematode. In the early 1990s, a handful of researchers studied how genes were expressed in these small roundworms — and found that they could manipulate that process by interfering with the worms’ RNA. A seminal paper published in Nature by scientists Andrew Fire and Craig Mello showed that roundworm genes could be silenced.
And that had stunning implications for medicine.
Many diseases are caused by the buildup of proteins that are misshapen or don’t work properly. Conventional drugs often aim to cleanse these proteins from the body. RNAi therapies, by contrast, could in theory shut down production of the dysfunctional proteins altogether — by silencing the gene that carries the coding to make them.
Excited, researchers began trying to control genes in mammalian cells the way Fire and Mello had done in roundworms. That code was finally cracked in 2001, and biotech startups began working furiously to turn RNAi into drugs.
These days RNAi is starting to pick up steam again, a decade after the underlying science was awarded the Nobel.
Where there were dozens of companies pursuing RNAi, nowadays there are just a handful. But big drug makers are tiptoeing back into the field: Amgen just struck a deal worth up to $647 million with Arrowhead Pharmaceuticals to explore RNAi therapeutics in cardiovascular diseases.
And after more than $1 billion in research, Alnylam has finally reached late-stage human trials on an RNAi drug for a rare, life-threatening disease that results from the buildup of misfolded proteins.
CEO John Maraganore is so confident the drug will win approval from the Food and Drug Administration in the next year or so that the company recently broke ground on a huge manufacturing facility south of Boston. The company also has a slew of other drugs in the pipeline, addressing everything from rare bleeding disorders to high cholesterol. – Meghana Keshavan
COMPANIES / PROJECTS / PRODUCTS
Crowdfunding Platform for Science Research
This may be the future of science funding (opposed to using force to extract money). – Brett Hall
ProDrone: Dual Robot Arm Drone
Can’t stop watching this clip of a drone with arms. Can carry 10kg. – Anna Jackman
Samsung Acquires AI firm Viv Labs, run by Siri co-creator
Samsung said in a statement it plans to integrate the San Jose-based company’s AI platform, called Viv, into the Galaxy smartphones and expand voice-assistant services to home appliances and wearable technology devices.
Technology firms are locked in an increasingly heated race to make AI good enough to let consumers interact with their devices more naturally, especially via voice.
“Viv brings in a very unique technology to allow us to have an open system where any third-party service and content providers (can) add their services to our devices’ interfaces,” Rhee In-jong, Samsung‘s executive vice president, told Reuters in an interview.
The executive said Samsung needs to “really revolutionise” how its devices operate, moving towards using voice rather than simply touch. “We can’t innovate using only in-house technology,” Rhee said.
Viv chief executive and co-founder Dag Kittlaus, a Siri co-creator, and other top managers at the firm will continue managing the business independently following the acquisition. Rhee told Reuters Samsung will continue to look for acquisitions to bolster its AI and other software capabilities, without naming any targets. – Se Young Lee
LEARNING / KNOWLEDGE
School Destroys Curiosity
Government forces a vast majority of American kids into a cookie-cutter manufacturing plant (called “schools”).
The inputs are young, innocent, curious, creative and unique kids. The output is a homogenized group that can’t wait to leave because they’ve learned to hate learning with a passion. Many will never read a book again in their entire life.
The kids have been also been drilled for 18 years to (a) always defer to and revere “authority” (b) follow orders, and (c) embrace statism. We all know that the “great” presidents are those who snuffed away the greatest amount of individual liberty. – Chris Rossini
Bitcoin Regulations Force Poloneix to Suspend Operations in New Hampshire
It’s obvious to computer literate men that companies can move jurisdiction like the wind moves over the earth.
They are lucky Poloniex didn’t move to Hong Kong which is far better than any US jurisdiction for Bitcoin. – Beautyon
Food Prices Plummet As Production Gets Much More Sophisticated
In a startling development, almost unheard of outside a recession, food prices have fallen for nine straight months in the U.S.
It’s the longest streak of food deflation since 1960 — with the exception of 2009, when the financial crisis was winding down.
“The severity of what we’re seeing is completely unprecedented,” said Scott Mushkin, an analyst at Wolfe Research who has studied grocery prices around the country for more than ten years.
“We’ve never seen deflation this sharp.” – Craig Giammona
Venture Capitalist Marc Andreessen: AI Will Change the World
I was really skeptical at first. It’s not widely known, but there was an AI bubble in the 1980s where there were a whole bunch of venture-backed companies that got funded and they basically all blew up and torched all the capital.
We feel like we’re seeing something different now. The really big change was the ImageNet competition in 2012. In 2012, computers became better than people at recognizing objects in images. This is an actual competition where they’ve calibrated how to measure this. Part of the breakthrough on ImageNet was the sheer size of databases you could train the algorithm against.
Basically what we’ve seen in the last four years is breakthrough after breakthrough after breakthrough.
First was the breakthrough in recognizing objects in still images. There are corresponding breakthroughs happening right now in recognizing objects in videos — entirely new kinds of video classification. If you can do video recognition you can do realtime video, which means you can do autonomy. – Marc Andreessen
Google’s DeepMind Achieves Speech-Generation Breakthrough
DeepMind system generates soundwaves to mimic human voices
Performed 50 percent better than existing technology
- Here are some samples so you can listen and compare: https://deepmind.com/blog/wavenet-generative-model-raw-audio/
Google’s DeepMind unit, which is working to develop super-intelligent computers, has created a system for machine-generated speech that it says outperforms existing technology by 50 percent.
U.K.-based DeepMind, which Google acquired for about 400 million pounds ($533 million) in 2014, developed an artificial intelligence called WaveNet that can mimic human speech by learning how to form the individual sound waves a human voice creates, it said in a blog post Friday.
In blind tests for U.S. English and Mandarin Chinese, human listeners found WaveNet-generated speech sounded more natural than that created with any of Google’s existing text-to-speech programs, which are based on different technologies. WaveNet still underperformed recordings of actual human speech.
Tech companies are likely to pay close attention to DeepMind’s breakthrough. Speech is becoming an increasingly important way humans interact with everything from mobile phones to cars. Amazon.com Inc., Apple Inc., Microsoft Inc. and Alphabet Inc.’s Google have all invested in personal digital assistants that primarily interact with users through speech.
Mark Bennett, the international director of Google Play, which sells Android apps, told an Android developer conference in London last week that 20 percent of mobile searches using Google are made by voice, not written text.
And while researchers have made great strides in getting computers to understand spoken language, their ability to talk back in ways that seem fully human has lagged. – Jeremy Kahn
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