3 Years of Weekly Global Research

BITCOIN

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October 21st 2013 (Link)

1 Bitcoin = $182

 

October 21st 2016

1 Bitcoin = $630

 


 

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
  • The smallest act like buying a drink with Bitcoin is a hammer that chips away at the enemy’s power –Beautyon, April 2015

 

One of the Most Important Tools for Human Freedom Ever Conceived.

The Bitcoin network is probably one of the most valuable and consequential technologies currently on the planet. Some of us realized this a few years ago. Others are realizing it now. Many more will realize it in the future.

The Bitcoin network is, fundamentally, a ledger of title controlled by no man. Ponder that for a moment. The transmission of value and ownership has thus just been severed from the State, not by impotent voting, but by the technological achievement of man.

The Bitcoin network is an utterly revolutionary technology. It separates money from the state, in a way that gold, unfortunately, has been unable to do.

When fully understood, Bitcoin should bring tears to the eyes of anyone who fights against the tyranny and ignorance of coercive governments and their monetary witch doctors. This is why thousands of people around the world have dedicated their lives to this campaign. We are carrying out this experiment without anyone’s permission. We’ll either fail, or change the world in a way that was inconceivable before this technology existed.

This is not theory – it’s actually working for millions of dollars of payments every day. We’ve moved beyond the Mises textbook. We’re running in the open market – Erik Voorhees, Dec 2013

 

There is No Way That National Monies Can Survive

Whenever I use Bitcoin, the reality strikes me. There is no way that national monies can survive the competition. The future is so clear.

Pulling money away from the State, or at least diminishing the monopoly that governments around the world have on money is going to unleash productivity and innovation like we’ve never seen before. – Jeffrey A Tucker, February 2014

 

Hoarding

Bitcoin is poised for exponential growth, so the opportunity costs of not being involved to the highest personal degree possible are incalculable.

Yet merchants, investment peddlers, and other hoarders have been able to convince countless bitcoiners to part with their future riches, despite the obvious downsides given you have a long enough time horizon to see the coming post-fiat world. They’ll tell you spending is vital, that Bitcoin 2.0 will be even better if only you give them some of your Bitcoin 0.9, or that your bitcoins are worth only $475 a piece. They’ll tell you this with a straight face, the wringing of their hands unseen across the Internet.

Bitcoin is exciting. Looking at a static wallet file and balance is not. Instead of holding and forgetting, many bitcoiners choose to “put that money to use,” and endless crypto-peddlers are ready to snatch your bitcoins up. They’ll offer you mining contracts, present their plans for a hedge fund, or entice you into investing in a Bitcoin company. Today, the most popular investment vehicle for bitcoiners are Bitcoin 2.0 schemes, ranging from Mastercoin to Ethereum.

Long term investors should use Bitcoin as their unit of account and every single investment should be compared to the expected returns of Bitcoin.

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If hyperbitcoinization occurs, Bitcoin holders will see their purchasing power increase by orders of magnitude. Bitcoiners should think twice before throwing away even a couple millibits towards a project “just to see where it goes.”

A running joke in the community is how expensive the two pizzas Laszlo bought were. We joke about a million dollar pizza, and hyperbitcoinization has not even occurred yet. I praise Laszlo for his entrepreneurial use of a new technology, but I do not wish for myself or others to be a Laszlo.

My friends and I joke about starving due to the intense deflation, but I can’t say I don’t look back and wish I had skipped a couple lunches in the crappy dorm cafeteria to buy $10 bitcoins when I had the chance.

Hyperbitcoinization will not be a force to trifle with. Even a marginal bitcoin holding right now will constitute a very significant majority of a bitcoiner’s portfolio. Once it happens, there is no going back. One day, your Bitcoin balance will likely never see the decimal point move to the right again. – Michael Goldstein, September 2014

 

Price

There is not a neuron in my brain that believes the price in 5 years time is going to be as ridiculously low as it is now ($327). I’m all euphoria at this moment, seriously. – bitcoin.txt, October 2014

 

An Incorruptible Foundation for an Economy

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

* It will be the most globally liquid and trusted asset in history – Pierre Rochard

If you’ve read the financial news headlines recently, you’d swear that each central bank governor could make it rain from the heavens on command, that each of these shamans in suits had the privileged ear of God.

There’s no Governor of Bitcoin, no CEO, and no High Chancellor of the monetary supply. There’s simply the math. Ding-ding-ding mine the blocks. Every 10 minutes on average. That’s it, that’s all.

No one’s inflating Bitcoin unpredictably, no one’s trying to “surprise markets” by changing its interest rates, and no one can scratch Bitcoin’s back during its election campaign to buy political favours later. This is entirely the point: Bitcoin’s an incorruptible foundation for an economy – Pete Dushenski, January 2015

 

The Technical Doubts Have Evaporated, Now Fear is Setting In.

First they said Bitcoin was a Ponzi Scheme, then they said it was only for “techies” then they said it was a bubble, then they said some other nonsense about it.

Now, no one says any of those things, and they are onto the next iteration of their FUD; for example, the transaction rate is “not fast enough”. They have conceded that Bitcoin works exactly as specified, and are running out of novel attacks.

The rumblings of complete capitulation are starting to be written, and its a distinct pleasure to read them – Beautyon, April 2015

 

The Greatest Generational Opportunity

I think bitcoin is one of the greatest mispriced assets I’ve seen in my career. I am extremely bullish on bitcoin.

Given the investment capital and human capital dynamics pouring into this ecosystem, I believe bitcoin is one of the greatest generational opportunities for investors and entrepreneurs.

The easiest way for people to invest in this ecosystem is by simply buying bitcoin — which I like to characterize as a tracking stock representing this exciting, new frontier in technology, and well beyond. – Matthew Roszak, August 2015

 

The World’s Strongest Currency in 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, and 2015

SG Kinsman, December 2015

 

Bitcoin Market Cap Hits $12 Billion, Nears $13.8 Billion All-Time High

Over the past year while everyone was worrying about the death of Bitcoin, it was quietly & steadily growing stronger. – Michael Goldstein, June 2016

 

2016: World’s Best Performing Currency

Bitcoin up 44% So Far in 2016 – Blocklink.info, October 2016

 

 

MINING

The Formidable Bitcoin Network

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At 5 petahashes (in November 2013) the bitcoin network was already the world’s most powerful computer network (256 times faster than the top 500 supercomputers combined)

It hit 100 petahashes of processing power on 5th June 2014.

As of 28th August 2014, the bitcoin network has reached 220 petahashes

The network is over 400 times more powerful than 1 year ago

Bitcoin has existed for 5 years and 9 months. The network has grown more in the last 3 months than it did in its first 5 years and 6 months of existence  – Lee Banfield, August 28th 2014

*As of December 31st 2014 the bitcoin network stands at a staggering 313 petahashes

 

If Google Mined Bitcoin

All of Google today would represent less than 1% of mining. The sheer degree of what is happening in mining hasn’t been appreciated in the press.

If we assume there are 10 million Google servers and each of these servers is running. You can multiply that through and you get about one petahash.

If they turned off all their data centers and pointed them at bitcoin, they’d be less than 1% of the network – Balaji S. Srinivasan, April 2015

 

All-Time High

  • Bitcoin has added more computational power to securing its network in the past 2 weeks than it had in total 18 months ago. – Jameson Lopp, December 2015
  • The Bitcoin hashrate reached an all-time high of 905 petahash in December 2015, almost triple December 2014’s 313 petahash.

 

The Exahash Era

Hashrate cracked the 1 Exahash benchmark (2.5x power increase since August 2015!)

This is the first time in history that the hashrate has crossed the one quintillion or exahash per second benchmark. – Avi Mizrahi, January 2016

 

New All-Time High as Bitcoin Hashrate Crosses 2 Exahash/s

  • Bitcoin is practically the only production system running at exa-<anything> scale. …the power of well-aligned incentives. – Dan McArdle, September 2016

Sajtos Baconos, September 2016

 

 

ALTCOINS

US Dollar: The Race Between Technological Deflation and the Printing Press

Why don’t steady productivity increases lead to lower prices?

They should, but are constantly outrun by money supply increases. – FreeDumb Fighter! November 2015

The Federal Reserve right now is trying to ward off technological deflation by having a target 2% inflation rate a year.

Yet economists I have read peg technological deflation at around 3% to 4% a year presently.

When nanotechnology really takes off and prices plummet 75-80% and technological deflation goes from 4% to 10% and then possibly 20% a year or more what is the FED going to do?

Will we have a race between technological deflation and the “printing press?” A fight between two exponential functions-the singularity versus exponential inflation and debt! It’s absurd!

You can’t stop the acceleration of the fall in prices set off by the law of exponential returns by a tsunami of inflation and debt like they have been doing for the last 100 years.

The Welfare state and its old failed neo-Fabian ideas are done. Rumpelstiltskin economics, the art of spinning worthless paper into a currency that is forever losing its value is over – C. James Townsend, June 2015

 

July 2016 Report: The Most Legitimate Altcoins

The Dominant Anonymous Coin

Litecoin may be minimally useful as a backup blockchain, but it would make more sense for the number 2 digital currency in the world to be an anonymous coin.

A strong, dominant anonymous coin taking the number 2 spot with litecoin 3rd would seem like a sane world.

Privacy improvements in digital currencies are needed and although I’d prefer it to see it happen in bitcoin, I don’t mind seeing separate currencies working on it too.

Spending bitcoin through mixers is still the most popular way to pay for products on dark markets, but altcoins are accepted on some sites.

At the moment Dash is the most dominant anonymous coin by market cap, and Monero is the most technically advanced.

CryptoNote is an open-source technology that allows the creation of supposedly anonymous cryptocurrencies.

CryptoNote coins are generally regarded as the most advanced in the privacy area.

In July 2014 Bytecoin was number 1 ($8.2mill market cap), almost double the value of 2nd place Monero ($4.4mill market cap).

Over the last couple of years Monero has performed very well compared to the premined Bytecoin scam and is now the number 1 CryptoNote coin with a market cap of $19mill compared to Bytecoin’s $7.4mill.

Unfortunately there are suspicions of scams surrounding many of the CryptoNote coins (although not Monero).

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. – Sunday 26th July 2015

Monero was forked from Bytecoin. Unlike most CryptoNote coins it was not premined.

Monero is a slightly inflationary currency (below 1%, eventually settling at 0.37%). This is low enough to not be a major concern (and the rate of loss of the currency will probably offset the slight inflation)

Technical innovations include Monero’s invention of RingCT, which allows for Greg Maxwell’s Confidential Transactions scheme to work with Monero’s ring signatures, effectively hiding all amounts in Monero transactions.

I probably should get around to finally buying some Monero. xmr.to is a pretty clever service.

We’re going to find out the hard way that Bitcoin will get outcompeted by currencies like Monero and Zerocash if we don’t act to get better anonymity and privacy into Bitcoin itself – Peter Todd

 

Monero has many flaws and limitations compared to bitcoin like lack of network effect and relative security disadvantages. However, it is the number 1 ranked legitimate anonymous coin in the world.

SUGGESTED PORTFOLIO ALLOCATION

Bitcoin 99%
Monero 1%

It really is all about Bitcoin. It’s just phenomenal compared to the alternatives. The opportunity cost of investing in something else is so high.

Monero is a worthy small addition as the most advanced privacy altcoin. Also, look to add a very small amount of Litecoin (smaller than Monero) when the price is historically low.

Lee Banfield, July 2016 Report: The Most Legitimate Altcoins

 

 

September 2016: Monero Market Cap Surges Above $100mill

  • More than 20x increase in value year-to-date

Image result for monero

It’s been obvious for almost two years that Monero should be a top-5 coin. – Dan McArdle

From what I’ve seen, Monero is the only altcoin with real privacy improvements. – Kyle Torpey

My view on Monero: does offer better privacy, built on some real dev work. Concerns: scalability, security, actual demand, competition. I like that it’s a POW algo. – Tuur Demeester

 

 

PRIVACY / SECURITY / INTERNET

PGP: Trust, Integrity, Diligence

“No decrypt available for this PGP encrypted message.”

– TOP SECRET / COMINT / REL TO USA, AUS

* Documents leaked by whistleblower Edward Snowden have suggested that there are types of hardened cryptography – including the open-source GPG, based on Phil Zimmermann’s Pretty Good Privacy – which when used properly are immune to attack – Gareth Halfacree

* That GPG works was one of the most powerful Snowden revelations – Michael Goldstein, The Satoshi Nakamoto Institute

* Use PGP whenever you can. Use it for boring things. Use it to encrypt guacamole recipes. Make the NSA’s life hard – Eva

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In case you wanted to know why so many are opposed to you using GPG, it’s because it actually works.

Get it now: Please To PGP (Guide for Linux, OS X, Windows).

All the belly-aching about GPG for the past decade was either motivated by laziness or government/corporate psyop.

Set aside all the excuses, all the disinfo, all the ego, and maximize your use of PGP in 2015. Just do it. Message me if you need help.

Using PGP is not about ~ muh government ~ or ~ privacy ~. It’s about the virtues of trust, integrity, and diligence (Meditations on Cypherpunk Nightmares)

Pierre Rochard

WikiLeaks is going through the roof over Google, alleging the search company of violating the constitutional rights of its members after complying with an overbroad government request for the email content and all related information of three WikiLeaks staff – Nicole Arce

Any journalist using Gmail without GPG is incompetent. Any journalist involved in any way with Wikileaks using Gmail without GPG is insane – Beautyon

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Internet serfing starts with not using GPG.

Modal internet serfer: votes for Obama and doesn’t use GPG, then complains about mass surveillance by governments and corporations.

“I will defend to the death your right to free speech, but using GPG is much too complicated for me sorry.” – Internet serfer

“I’m a bitcoin expert, but I have no idea how to use GPG, that’s way too complicated.” – Internet serfer

Pierre Rochard

 

China Launches World’s 1st Quantum Communications Satellite. It’s a Big Deal.

  • The Satellite tests out quantum (and quantum-computer-resistant) encryption.
  • Initial results are encouraging. A quantum channel has been well established between the ­satellite and ground stations.
  • “Quantum teleportation” operates outside of space and time because the connection between entangled pairs exceeds the normal speed limit for information: the speed of light.
  • The University of Vienna’s Mr. Zeilinger said the satellite puts China and the field of quantum mechanics on the verge of a significant technological breakthrough. “In the long run, there is a good chance that this will replace our current communications technology. I see no basic reason why it won’t happen.” – Josh Chin, August 2016

No biggie. It’s just a quantum satellite the Chinese plan to use for teleporting information in mathematical subspace using Einstein’s “spooky action at a distance.” That distance being 1,200 kilometers.

The satellite is the first of an intended global system of 20 such satellites in China’s QUESS (“Quantum Experiments at Space Scale”) program. The point of the project is to create uncrackable encryption keys.

Hopes for the project are pinned on two quantum concepts: superposition and quantum entanglement (“spooky action”).

Superposition refers to the idea that quantum particles can be in multiple states at the same time.

You can think of it in simple terms, like being both on and off at the same time, or up and down at the same time. But it’s actually even odder, because quantum particles can behave like waves, meaning they exist in all sorts of shapes at once.

It’s only when a quantum particle is observed that it stabilizes into one single state. This would be handy for an encryption key — if it were intercepted, and thus observed, it would no longer be in superposition and the owners of the key would know it had been compromised.

In quantum entanglement two particles form a single superposition together.

This means that their states are interlocked as if they’re a single entity: Changing the state of one simultaneously changes the state of the other. This exchange of information is called “quantum teleportation.”

Physicists know how to create pairs of entangled photons, sub-atomic light particles, and have observed them operating in sync between two of the Canary Islands. – Robby Berman, August 2016

Image result for quantum entanglement

Initial results from the quantum satellite that China sent into space are encouraging, the project’s chief scientist said.

A quantum channel had been well established between the ­satellite and ground stations, Pan Jianwei, the nation’s leading ­expert in quantum physics, said at a technology exhibition in Hong Kong.

China had been exploring the military and commercial applications of quantum technology, and successful tests of the satellite ­system would pave the way for the construction of large quantum communication networks, he said.

Pan said his team had successfully passed photons, or particles of light, between the satellite and ground stations in Tibet and Xinjiang province.

The plan is to eventually send a quantum cryptographic key via the satellite from Beijing to Vienna to demonstrate that the technology can be used for unhackable communication.

The Industrial and Commercial Bank of China would be one of the first outsiders to try the network, Pan said.

Quantum communication is said to be hack-free because anyone who attempts to measure or clone particles will destroy their original quantum states.

China is not the only country trying to blaze a trail in quantum communication and improve data security. A team in Singapore is planning to launch devices into space that can entangle photons and in turn enable the city state to build a secure fibre-optic communication network. – Viola Zhou, September 2016

 

 

MARKETS

Valuations

It’s very hard for us to have any meaningful conversation about appropriate equity valuations in a world of long-term zero interest rates – Sam Altman, September 2014

 

Deflation

$13 trillion of negative yielding debt and Amazon is selling a tablet for $33.

I was promised a hyperinflationary apocalypse.

Morgan Housel, July 2016

 

Bloomberg Commodity Index

Commodities are down again. The Bloomberg Commodity Index is at the lowest level since June 1999.

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Jeroen Blokland, December 2015

 

 

COMPANIES / PROJECTS / PRODUCTS

The Decentralized Movement

BitcoinUberLyftAirbnb, etc… We will look back at this time in history as the effective beginning of the decentralized movement – Luke Stokes, April 2014

 

Open Source Distributed Systems

The smartest 1% are creating open-source, distributed systems of resistance to render the state irrelevant through technology and encryption – Roger Ver, September 2014

 

Censorship Resistant Marketplaces

If a system wants to be censorship resistant it has to have two very important qualities.

1) Decentralize the Locus of Control: If your organization has a headquarters, a CEO, a bank account, then men with guns can show up, they can shut it down or they can co-opt it.

2) Protect the Participants: You can do this with anonymity networks like Tor.

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If you can trade guns and drugs on dark markets, you can trade more pedestrian items. Censorship resistant dark markets can circumvent capital controls for industries that are not explicitly prohibited.

There are at least two important elements of that:

1) Tax avoidance: Taxes make everything extremely expensive because they are multi-tiered (supplier taxes, transportation taxes, sales taxes, property taxes, payroll taxes, social security taxes, health care taxes)

2) Go beyond trade barriers: Restrictions on what goods we can sell, to whom, where we can send them, how we can send them, etc.

Circumvention of capital controls is the killer feature of dark market places that is going to drive more and more industries into the dark market. I don’t mean all the companies that currently exist are going to be trading over Open Bazaar. Maybe Amazon or Overstock never wishes to do that, but more and more of the industry will go into these dark market places and eventually replace some of these old companies.

I am anticipating, in addition to a technological singularity, we will also see a private property singularity, where technology allows us to circumvent state regulations.

As this happens, economic growth is going to get faster and faster and faster, it’s going to accelerate until the point where it’s going to be very difficult to predict what the market place will look like a year from now, and then a month from now, and then a week from now…

This technology gives us anonymous exchange on market places and anonymous money (using something like dark wallet). Politicians will not like this but they will be powerless to stop it.

The world 10-20 years from now, because of these mechanisms, is going to be so unrecognizable to us that it’s going to blow our minds.

It’s partly to do with technology, but it’s got a lot to do with economic liberation as well. The story of the Silk Road is a blueprint for economic global liberation –Kristov Atlas, July 2014

 

OpenBazaar Celebrates 100,000 Downloads

  • High-level roadmap for OpenBazaar can be found here.

Founder and programmer Brian Hoffman told Bitcoin Magazine the platform has been downloaded 100,000 times. “Looking at what is available on the marketplace, it’s a very strange mix of products and services,” Hoffman said.

“We are seeing legal and illegal goods pop up. The legal goods are selling better than expected.

Go to the profile of OpenBazaar

Despite all the emphasis on the ecommerce functions of OpenBazaar, the site in many ways operates like a social media platform.

“It’s a true marketplace,” Hoffman said. “When we designed it, we wanted it to be very social. I think that is an important part of the future. People are already using platforms to sell, like Instagram, Twitter or Facebook. We don’t want to build a social network, but we wanted to add the social features we think would be beneficial to the OB community.” The open-source project hopes to expand that in the future.

“We want people to engage with their brand,” Hoffman said. “So if we have a really popular store on OB, in the future we will be able to blast out updates to followers along with coupon codes and notices of who is following you. Things like that, we will expand as we go.”

OB intends to grow the community throughout the remainder of the year, turning now to OB1 ‒ the project’s own store on the platform, and the reason it earlier landed $1 million in venture capital.  According to Hoffman, that project might offer additional services to the OB ecosystem, such as search functions. – Justin O’ Connell, May 2016

 

ProDrone: Dual Robot Arm Drone

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Can’t stop watching this clip of a drone with arms. Can carry 10kg. – Anna Jackman, September 2016

  • Full ProDrone Video (Link)

 

Tesla Unleashes Self-Driving Capabilities

Tesla’s use of an over-the-air update to create self-driving cars is one of the most important things ever to happen in technology.

Think of the foresight required. Hardware sensors had to be built years in advance to accommodate the future software. Think of the boldness. Establish facts on the ground – everywhere. Ship the future so fast they can’t ban it. The Network outruns the State.

There will be rearguard actions. Some states may try to ban it. Cross a border, car turns dumb. The future: now a geographical patchwork.

But on balance, Tesla has set a new precedent for permissionless innovation. And it can be applied to many other verticals outside cars. – Balaji S. Srinivasan, October 2015

I never thought I’d see autonomous automobiles driving on the freeways.

It wasn’t many years ago [they] put out a request to see who could build a car that could go across the Mojave Desert to Las Vegas from a place in Southern California, and several engineering teams across the country set out to do this. Nobody got more than about 300 yards before there was a problem.

Two years later, they made the full 25-mile trip across this desert track, which I thought was a huge achievement, and from that it was just a blink before they were driving on the freeways.” – Gordon Moore, October 2015

 

Tesla Autopilot Prevents a 45mph Head-On Collision

Was travelling a little under 45 mph. There was some rain, but roads were pretty dry. I was watching stopped traffic to my right.

I did not touch the brake. Car did all the work. Sadly no audio, because I had an Uber passenger and Washington has strict privacy laws about recording conversations.

 

 

“The Falcon Has Landed”

 

 

After SpaceX Makes History, Musk Talks About a City on Mars

“This may one day be looked back upon as the day that the Space Age really began, because it showed that you can return a stage for reuse without a huge standing army of technicians to do it—unlike the shuttle,” Charles Lurio, who writes a space newsletter wrote Monday evening after the launch and landing.

For Musk, whose main goal is the colonization of Mars, the landing shows that the technology to reuse powerful rockets is real.

“I think it really quite dramatically improves my confidence that a city on Mars is possible,” he said on a call with reporters Monday evening. “That’s what all this is about.” – Christian Davenport, December 2015

 

 

LEARNING / KNOWLEDGE

Learning in Augmented Reality

The future of learning, if this new Magic Leap video is any indication, is mighty interesting. –Subrahmanyam KVJ, October 2015

 

 

 

THE SINGULARITY

The Singularity is Here: World GDP in Trillions

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From Nick Bostrom’s Book Superintelligence

 

Incredible Things Are Happening

Each year is more exciting than the last in the research areas I’m involved in. AI, Robotics, Longevity, Biology… all over the place we’re just seeing new things happening year after year.

The number of breakthrough reports in longevity research in the last few months is incredible. This last year everyone is using CRISPR all of a sudden for gene editing. We see that you’re now able to make mice live much longer than they otherwise would have simply by making them flush out old senescent cells. There’s incredible things happening all around. – Ben Goertzel, February 2016

 

Tech Moguls Declare Era of Artificial Intelligence

  • What we’ve seen in the last four years is breakthrough after breakthrough after breakthrough. – Marc Andreeseen
  • The Dream Is Finally Arriving. This Is What It Was All Leading Up To. – Bill Gates

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos predicted a profound impact on society over the next 20 years.

“It’s really early but I think we’re on the edge of a golden era. It’s going to be so exciting to see what happens,” he said.

Amazon has been working on artificial intelligence for at least four years and now has 1,000 employees working on Alexa, the company’s voice-based smart assistant software system, he said.

Big tech companies including Amazon have an edge at present because they have access to large amounts of data but hundreds of AI startups will hatch in the next few years, he said.

IBM CEO Ginni Rometty said the company has been working on artificial technology, which she calls a cognitive system, since 2005 when it started developing its Watson supercomputer. “I would say in five years, there’s no doubt in my mind that cognitive AI will impact every decision made” from healthcare to education to financial services, Rometty said. – Liana B. Baker, June 2016

 

Google’s AI Takes Historic Match Against Go Champ

  • Machines have conquered the last games. Now comes the real world

Google’s artificially intelligent Go-playing computer system has claimed victory in its historic match with Korean grandmaster Lee Sedol after winning a third straight game in this best-of-five series.

Go is exponentially more complex than chess and requires an added level of intuition—at least among humans. This makes the win a major milestone for AI—a moment whose meaning extends well beyond a single game.

Just two years ago, most experts believed that another decade would pass before a machine could claim this prize. But then researchers at DeepMind—a London AI lab acquired by Google—changed the equation using two increasingly powerful forms of machine learning, technologies that allow machines to learn largely on their own.

The machine learning techniques at the heart of AlphaGo already drive so many services inside the Internet giant—helping to identify faces in photos, recognize commands spoken into smartphones, choose Internet search results, and much more. They could also potentially reinvent everything from scientific research to robotics

The machine plays like no human ever would—quite literally.

Using what are called deep neural networks—vast networks of hardware and software that mimic the web of neurons in the human brain—AlphaGo initially learned the game by analyzing thousands of moves from real live Go grandmasters. But then, using a sister technology called reinforcement learning, it reached a new level by playing game after game against itself, coming to recognize moves that give it the highest probability of winning.

The result is a machine that often makes the most inhuman of moves.

This happened in Game Two—in a very big way. With its 19th move, AlphaGo made a play that shocked just about everyone, including both the commentators and Lee Sedol, who needed nearly fifteen minutes to choose a response. The commentators couldn’t even begin to evaluate AlphaGo’s move, but it proved effective. Three hours later, AlphaGo had won the match.

This week’s match is so meaningful because this ancient pastime is so complex. As Google likes to say of Go: there are more possible positions on the board than atoms in a universe.

Just a few days earlier, most in the Go community were sure this wasn’t possible. But these wins were decisive. Machines have conquered the last games. Now comes the real world. – Cade Metz, March 2016

 

Artificial Intelligence: BabyX

  • “I was not expecting this for another 10 years” – Nathanael Ries

BabyX is a project for the creation of a virtual animated baby that learns and reacts like a human baby.

It uses the computer’s cameras for “seeing” and microphones to “listen” as the inputs.

The computer uses Artificial intelligence algorithms for BabyX’s “learning” and interpretation of the inputs (voice and image) to understand the situation.

The result is a virtual toddler that can learn to read, recognize objects and “understand.”

The output is the baby’s face that can “speak” and express its mood by facial expressions (such as smile and show embarrassment). – Wikipedia

 

Simple OpenCog Inference via Hanson Robot

  • We’re undertaking a serious effort to build a thinking machine.

No challenge today is more important than creating Artificial General Intelligence (AGI), with broad capabilities at the human level and ultimately beyond.

OpenCog is an open-source software project aimed at directly confronting the AGI challenge, using mathematical and biological inspiration and professional software engineering techniques.

OpenCog is an ambitious project with many challenges. We are however confident that our design and software is capable of human preschool-level intelligence after years — not decades — of sustained effort along our roadmap.  After that, progress will become increasingly rapid. – opencog.org

This demo showcases aspects of some recently completed systems integration — the Hanson Robotics HEAD software framework controlling robot Han Hanson, and OpenCog’s Probabilistic Logic Networks inference engine connected to OpenCog’s English language comprehension and generation pipelines. – Ben Goertzel, August 2016

 

Google Turns on DeepMind AI, Cuts Cooling Energy Bill by 40%

  • This alone probably pays for the Deepmind acquisition. Shows how far below Pareto optimal limits even Google was. – Balaji S. Srinivasan
  • The electricity consumption of data centers is on a pace to account for 12 percent of global electricity consumption by 2017. – Dan Heilman

Google Uses AI To Cool Data Centers and Slash Electricity Use

  • DeepMind controls about 120 variables in the data centers. The fans and the cooling systems and so on, and windows and other things. They were pretty astounded. – Demis Hassabis, DeepMind Co-Founder
  • I don’t think most grasp the significance of this. Oil companies have similar systems they pay billions trying to optimize. – iandanforth
  • It’s all about optimization. It can be used in supply logistics, shipping logistics and dynamic pricing in addition to keeping an industrial area at the right temperature. We’ll be seeing AI being applied to a lot more areas. – Dave Schubmehl
  • Honestly, I’m skeptical a generalized AI will go fully conscious in my lifetime. But these specialized AI? These things are going to start changing our lives over the next ten years in unimaginable ways. The energy savings alone is incredible. – tendimensions

The amount of energy consumed by big data centers has always been a headache for tech companies.

Keeping the servers cool as they crunch numbers is such a challenge that Facebook even built one of its facilities on the edge of the Arctic Circle.

Well, Google has a different solution to this problem: putting its DeepMind artificial intelligence unit in charge and using AI to manage power usage in parts of its data centers.

The results of this experiment? A 40 percent reduction in the amount of electricity needed for cooling, which Google describes as a “phenomenal step forward.”

A typical day of testing, including when machine learning recommendations were turned on, and when they were turned off.

The AI worked out the most efficient methods of cooling by analyzing data from sensors among the server racks, including information on things like temperatures and pump speeds.

DeepMind’s engineers say the next step is identify where new data is needed to calculate further efficiencies, and to deploy sensors in those areas.

And the company won’t stop with Google’s data centers. “Because the algorithm is a general-purpose framework to understand complex dynamics, we plan to apply this to other challenges in the data centre environment and beyond in the coming months,” said DeepMind in a blog post.

“Possible applications of this technology include improving power plant conversion efficiency […], reducing semiconductor manufacturing energy and water usage, or helping manufacturing facilities increase throughput.” – James Vincent

 

Artificial Intelligence Better Than Humans at Cancer Detection

  • Machines are now better than humans at detecting cancer both in pictures and in free text documents. What’s next? – Sprezzaturian, April 2016
  • Japanese doctors have, for the first time in history, used artificial intelligence to detect a type of leukemia. – Jolene Creighton, August 2016

 

Things Are Progressing So Amazingly Fast

If I compare AI to what it was like when I first learned about it in 1971 or 1972 when I was a kid, it’s astounding what we can do now.

Self-driving cars on the streets, every game no matter how hard has master level AI players, major funds are trading billions of dollars using AIs, diseases diagnosed by editing genomes according to patterns determined by AIs.

It’s incredible. I look at the news everyday and it reads like science fiction did when I was a kid. – Ben Goertzel, July 2016

 

Calculations Per Second Per $100

I used to say that this is the most important graph in all the technology business.

I’m now of the opinion that this is the most important graph ever graphed. – Steve Jurvetson, DFJ Venture Capital, September 2014

 

 

Science‘s 2015 Breakthrough of the Year is CRISPR

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The genome-editing method called CRISPR has matured into a molecular marvel that much of the world—not just biologists—has noticed, which is why it has been selected Science‘s 2015 Breakthrough of the Year.

CRISPR has appeared in Breakthrough sections twice before, in 2012 and 2013, each time as a runner-up in combination with other genome-editing techniques. But this is the year it broke away from the pack, revealing its true power in a series of spectacular achievements.

Two striking examples—the creation of a long-sought “gene drive” that could eliminate pests or the diseases they carry, and the first deliberate editing of the DNA of human embryos—debuted to headlines and concern.

Each announcement roiled the science policy world. The embryo work (done in China with nonviable embryos from a fertility clinic) even prompted an international summit this month to discuss human gene editing.

The summit confronted a newly plausible prospect: altering human sperm, eggs, or early embryos to correct disease genes or offer “enhancements.”  – John Travis, December 2015

 

Aging Research Picks Up Speed

It’s an exciting time to be working in aging research. New findings are coming thick and fast, and although eliminating the process in humans is still some way away, studies regularly confirm what some have suspected for decades: that the mechanisms of aging can be treated.

“It’s an amazingly gratifying field to be part of,” says biomedical gerontologist Aubrey de Grey, chief science officer and founder of SENS Research Foundation, the leading organisation tackling ageing. “It moves on almost every week at the moment.”

At the start of February, for example, a study was published that had hugely significant findings for the field.

“There was a big announcement in Nature showing that if you eliminate a certain type of cell from mice, then they live quite a bit longer,” says de Grey. “Even if you do that elimination rather late; in other words when they’re already in middle age.”

For those following the field, this was exciting news, but for de Grey, it was concrete proof that ageing can be combated.

“That’s the kind of thing that I’ve been promoting for a long time, and it’s been coming but it’s been pretty tricky to actually demonstrate directly. This was really completely unequivocal proof of concept,” he says. “So of course it motivates lots of work to identify ways to do the same thing in human beings. These kinds of things are happening all the time now.” – Lucy Ingham, March 2016

 

In Ten Years How Will Technological Advancements Enable Radical Life Extension?

I think that in the next 10 years we’re likely to hit a tipping point that I have historically called “robust mouse-rejuvenation”. I think it’s more like 6-8 years at this point, to be honest.

I believe that we’re going to reach a point where we have mice in the laboratory and we extend their lives by a sufficient magnitude and by appropriate means, so the scientific community will begin to believe strongly that we’ve cracked this; that it’s only a matter of time before we bring ageing under comprehensive medical control for human beings as well.

Once the scientific community, the acknowledged, expert, credentialed scientific community, has a consensus, that’s when my job will be done, because literally the following day Oprah Winfrey will be saying, “Well, if it’s possible and it’s only a matter of time then let’s make it as little time as possible”. Then, the day after that, it will be impossible to get elected unless you have a manifesto commitment to actually have a war on aging, right now. – Aubrey de Grey, September 2015

 

The Exponential Growth of Solar Energy

“Wind and solar are crushing fossil fuels” I stick by my claim, 20-25 years to near unlimited, near free energy:Wind and Solar are Crushing Fossil Fuels. – Mike Cannon-Brookes

Clean energy investment broke new records in 2015 and is now seeing twice as much global funding as fossil fuels.

One reason is that renewable energy is becoming ever cheaper to produce. Recent solar and wind auctions in Mexico and Morocco ended with winning bids from companies that promised to produce electricity at the cheapest rate, from any source, anywhere in the world, said Michael Liebreich, chairman of the advisory board for Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF).

“We’re in a low-cost-of-oil environment for the foreseeable future,” Liebreich said during his keynote address at the BNEF Summit in New York on Tuesday. “Did that stop renewable energy investment? Not at all.”

The cost of solar power has fallen to 1/150th of its level in the 1970s, while the total amount of installed solar has soared 115,000-fold.

Source: BNEF

What’s more, the price of batteries to store solar power when the sun isn’t shining is falling in a similarly stunning arc.

Just since 2000, the amount of global electricity produced by solar power has doubled seven times over. – Tom Randall, April 2016

 

Is The Singularity Near?

The answer is yes, depending on what you mean by near, but it may well be within our lifetimes – Marvin Minsky, “The Father of AI”

 

How Soon?

Will I live to see it? I’m middle aged. Maybe I won’t.

But on the time scale of human history, whether this happens in 30 years or this happens in 200 years…  200 years is 1/1,000th of the time there has been human beings. It’s a drop of water in the ocean. It isn’t important. On the scale of historical events, this is about to happen – Perry Metzger, July 2013

 

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