Quarterly Roundup – Q1 2017

BITCOIN

bitcoin_logo_small-150x150

1 Bitcoin = $1,076

 

New All-Time High Market Cap Set at $21.9 Billion

On Friday 10th March, the bitcoin price soared to a new all-time high of $1,350 on the Bitstamp Price Index (BPI).

A frenetic 15-minute trading period saw price soar to $1,350, gaining over 13% in value. Correction quickly ensued, with price falling toward $1,250. – Samburaj Das

 

March 2016

One year ago bitcoin = $408. – Chris Burniske

 

Bitcoin vs The World’s Best Hedge Funds

If you’d invested 1 BTC in the worlds best performing hedge funds a year ago today, you would have less than 1 BTC today. – JonnyBitcoin

 

Compensation

Owning Bitcoin is like having real time compensation for Banking fraud and government ineptness. – renegadeinvestoruk

 

Bitcoin Price Doubling Time = 170 days

Start date: 17/07/2010

Sart date price: $0.05

Today’s price: $1,076

Doubling time in days: 170

Predicted price Dec 31, 2019: $65,156

docs.google.com/spreadsheets

 

Spot the Bitcoin Regulation Backfire

Allen Scott

 

LocalBitcoins Records Global All-Time High

Bitcoin trading value on prominent peer-to-peer trading platform LocalBitcoins has reached a new all-time high globally, spurred on by soaring activity among traders in China.

According to data from Coin.Dance, volume for last week soared beyond $24 million in bitcoin transactions.

Compared to the trading week this time last year, the value of bitcoin trading has more than doubled globally. – Samburaj Das

 

 

MINING

Hashrate is Exploding, Hits 4 Exahash for First Time Ever

One year ago Bitcoin Hash Rate was ~1.2 EHs vs 4 EHs today.

All-time high for network difficulty reached.

blockchain.info/charts

 

China’s Sichuan Province Becoming Bitcoin Mining Capital of the World

Mabian county, Sichuan China

It turns out Sichuan province, a southwestern region of China nestled between the Himalayas and Yungui plateau, best known for its flaming spicy food, is becoming the capital of the nation’s, and possibly the world’s bitcoin mining industry.

Bitcoin mines have moved to the mountainous areas of Sichuan to take advantage of its cheap electricity, low population density and moderate climate.

Since 2015, over 30% of China’s Bitcoin mining machines were purchased in Sichuan province, the highest among any place in China, according to articles published by the National Business Daily.

Given that around 70% of the global Bitcoin computational power is concentrated in China, Sichuan is emerging as the bitcoin production capital of the world.

Sichuan’s Mabian Yi Autonomous County, a small town with a population of just 215,000, is home to nearly 10,000 bitcoin mining machines that run 24/7 to “dig out” the virtual currency.

Another county, Kangding (or Dardo in Tibetan), known throughout China for its natural beauty, has become a major Bitcoin mine hub as well. Over 20 Bitcoin mining companies have settled in the 100,000-person town. To meet demand, a major Bitcoin machine retailer has put one of its two global repair stations in the county.

Kangding, a historical gateway from China to Tibet.

Most Bitcoin mining companies are set up next to electricity plants to save costs, as electricity expenses take up around 60% to 70% of Bitcoin mining operations.

Sichuan is home to numerous hydroelectric power plants, with some of them producing too much electricity during summer months. As a result, that power cost in the province is sometimes the lowest in China.

Companies are finding other ways to lower costs. Aside from Sichuan, Bitcoin miners have been seeking even more remote locations with cheaper or free electricity to operate, such as Xinjiang, Ningxia, Inner Mongolia and many western provinces in China. – Nina Xiang

 

 

ALTCOINS

New All-Time High for Altcoins

Altcoin market cap = $8.2 billion

Bitcoin market cap 1 year ago = $6.3 billion

coinmarketcap.com

 

Highest Ever Volume

One billion dollars traded in the crypto markets past 24 hrs (bitcoin, ethereum, dash, Zcash) – Erik Voorhees

 

Gold

“Just keep stacking, one day it will all collapse” is depressing. Bitcoin is active. – Ansel Linder

 

 

MARKETS

It’s probably smart to be an owner of Artificial Intelligence.

At this stage, the easiest way to become an owner is to buy shares on the stock market of the companies most prominently involved and likely to succeed.

goog

I laugh when people say tech is a bubble. The establishment is the bubble.

Who’s around in 2025 – Google or the EU?

Balaji S. Srinivasan

Of the public companies heavily involved, the one that stands out head and shoulders above the others is Google.

Google snaps up every machine-learning or robotics company it likes the look of. They have supposedly the greatest Artificial Intelligence Lab in the world. They even managed to convince the neural network godfather Geoffrey Hinton to join them.

Google never pays a dividend or does stock buybacks because they aggressively reinvest cash into long-term projects such as DeepMind who they bought for $400mill (a bargain in hindsight). Founder Demis Hassibis describes it as “the Manhattan Project of AI” with hundreds of the best minds working on it.

The scope of their focus is breathtaking and they are clearly the front-runners to make major breakthroughs or even develop General AI.

 

nvidia

Nvidia are also a very exciting company with massive demand for their products.

The shares are worth picking up because if they do hold on to their position as the best chips to use for AI over the next few years their sales and opportunities to expand into other interesting areas are going to be staggering.

If We Were a Hedge Fund We’d Put All Our Money Into Nvidia

– Marc Andreessen

 

For somebody who wants general exposure to AI, but doesn’t want to pick a winner, investing across a basket of shares by building a portfolio of the best stocks is a good idea.

The Global X Robotics & Artificial Intelligence Thematic ETF is an actively managed AI fund with a management fee of 0.68%. It trades under the stock symbol “BOTZ”.

The 10 biggest positions in this portfolio are:

  1. Mitsubishi Electic Corp
  2. Fanuc Corp
  3. ABB
  4. Keyence Corp
  5. SMC Corp
  6. Intuitive Surgical
  7. Yaskawa Electric Corp
  8. Omron Corp
  9. Trimble Navigation Ltd
  10. Mobileye.

 

Personally, I think the 10 stocks below would make a better AI fund.

  1. Google (GOOGL:NASDAQ) – $846 per share – $582 billion marketcap
  2. Nvidia (NVDA:NASDAQ) – $107 – $56 bill
  3. Tesla (TSLA:NASDAQ) – $272 – $42 bill
  4. IBM (IBM:US) – $181 – $171 bill
  5. Microsoft (MSFT:US) – $65 – $499 bill
  6. Samsung (005930:KS) – 1.9 million KRW – $259 bill
  7. Amazon (AMZN:NASDAQ) – $845 – $404 bill
  8. AMD (AMD:US) – $13 – $12 bill
  9. Facebook (FB:NASDAQ) $134 – $387 bill
  10. Baidu (BIDU:NASDAQ) – $185 – $65 bill

 

OTHER INVESTMENT IDEAS THAT MAKE SENSE IN AN AI WORLD

Short WTI Crude Oil (Currently $53 per barrel)

Short the Bloomberg Commodity Index (Currently at 88)

Short the First Trust NASDAQ Global Auto Index Fund (Currently at 36)

Exploring Opportunities in Artificial Intelligence – Lee Banfield, February 19th 2017

 

 

PRIVACY / SECURITY / INTERNET

Global Internet Speeds Up Massively as New Undersea Cables Go Online

Global average connection speed now 7 Mbps

Vietnam (8.3 Mbps) & Indonesia (6.7 Mbps) 4x faster than a few years ago

Akamai State of the Internet Q4 2016 Report

 

Carriers in the US Targeting 2020 for Widespread 5G launch

Image result for 5g

It’s an ambitious timeline—5G brings with it new antennas, new devices, and new applications for wireless data.

“Where you saw a growth in 4G was around data-centric, smartphone-centric use cases,” says Rob Topol, a general manager for Intel’s 5G business. “We’re looking beyond the smartphone for 5G.”

In particular, that means categories like automotive, virtual reality, drones, and more should reap its benefits first.

On the hardware side, both Intel and Qualcomm have introduced 5G modems, as well as other pieces of infrastructure to support the various trials that will be rolling out this year. – Wired

 

 

COMPANIES / PROJECTS / PRODUCTS

SpaceX Cargo to Mars Mission Moved to 2020 Window

This new schedule means:

  • Red Dragon 1 | June 2020
  • Red Dragon 2 & 3 | August 2022
  • ITS uncrewed Mars mission | September 2024
  • ITS crewed Mars mission | November 2026

Keep in mind that these dates are based on Earth-Mars transfer windows. These windows are open for multiple weeks, so you can give or take 1 month (or more, depending on how flexible SpaceX’s rockets are).

Of course sending people to Mars is extremely hard, so I wouldn’t bet on SpaceX sending humans to Mars in 2026. – Casioner

 

TensorFlow: Open-Source Machine Learning

Jeff Dean says TensorFlow just passed Linux to become #15 most starred Github repo

12k+ commits, 500+ contributors

Frank Chen

 

Youtube Auto-Generates Subtitles for 1 Billion+ Videos at Near Human Error Rate

  • AI brings 50% gain in accuracy

Key to the success of this endeavor was improving our speech recognition, machine learning algorithms, and expanding our training data.

All together, those technological efforts have resulted in a 50 percent leap in accuracy for automatic captions in English, which is getting us closer and closer to human transcription error rates. – Youtube

 

Google DeepMind in AI Talks With National Grid to Reduce UK Energy Use

Image result for Google DeepMind in AI Talks With National Grid to Reduce UK Energy Use

Demis Hassabis, co-founder and CEO of DeepMind, hopes that the UK’s energy usage could be reduced by as much as 10 percent, just through AI-led optimisation.

A rigorous investigation by a DeepMind AI may uncover solutions that the grid’s human operators have never considered. One thing’s for certain: a system as large as the UK grid has millions of inefficiencies.

The UK generated around 330 terrawatt-hours (TWh) of energy in 2014, at a cost of tens of billions of pounds—so a 10 percent reduction could be pretty significant, both in terms of money spent and carbon dioxide produced.

Last year DeepMind performed a similar analysis on Google’s data centres, apparently netting a 15 percent reduction in electricity usage.

“Because that’s worked so well we’re obviously expanding that capability around Google, but we’d like to look at doing it at National Grid-scale,” Hassabis said to the FT. – Sebastian Anthony

 

 

PLACES

Okinawa, Japan

People there have the longest life expectancy and the most centenarians.

Life expectancy drops from 82 to 65 years when Okinawans live in Brazil. – Dr. Eric Verdin

 

 

THE SINGULARITY

Creating Human-Level AI: How and When

There’s general agreement that we’re close to the hardware requirements of strong AI.

We’ll be at the human brain of 10^14 calculations per second for $1,000 in the early 2020s.

Ray Kurzweil

 

New AI Speech Recognition Record Set

Image result for AI Speech Recognition Record

  • AI error rate 5.5% vs. Human error rate 5.1%

IBM has edged past Microsoft in its latest speech-recognition test, achieving a word error rate of 5.5 percent.

That error rate does match the roughly one in 20 words that humans miss when listening to a conversation, and puts IBM ahead of Microsoft’s recent best of 5.9 percent recorded in October, which beat IBM’s top performance in 2016 of 6.9 percent.

Microsoft argued that it had reached “human parity” when announcing its 5.9 percent word error rate, but IBM says its new study proves Microsoft’s celebration was premature.

That’s why IBM principal research scientist George Saon says, “We’re not popping the champagne yet.”

“As part of our process in reaching today’s milestone, we determined human parity is actually lower than what anyone has yet achieved — at 5.1 percent,” Saon said.

“While our breakthrough of 5.5 percent is a big one, this discovery of human parity at 5.1 percent proved to us we have a way to go before we can claim technology is on par with humans.” – Liam Tung

 

AI Beats World’s Top Poker Players

  • CMU just made history: AI beats top humans at Texas Hold’em poker. A stunning accomplishment, comparable to Deep Blue & AlphaGo! – Andrew Ng

Tuomas Sandholm and Noam Brown, the computer scientists at Carnegie Mellon who built Libratus, celebrated the win as the first time that a computer has beaten top poker players at a variant of unlimited Texas hold’em, the world’s most prominent poker game.

“No limit hold’em is the game you see in tournaments, and it has the reputation of being more of an art than a science,” said Adam Kucharski, author of The Perfect Bet: How Science and Math Are Taking the Luck Out of Gambling. “There was the idea that this game would be safer for much longer from these machines.”

Go has been described as the Mount Everest of board games. It is far more complex than chess or many other games. However, it is less of a challenge than poker.

This is another example of how in narrow focused domains AI is starting to take over from humans: reading mammograms, transcribing Chinese, beating human pilots in dogfights… the list increases almost weekly. – Toby Walsh

 

We Are Seeing Unprecedented Progress

At present, we are seeing unprecedented progress in solving tough problems that defied our best efforts for half a century.

Speech recognition is now very good and rapidly getting better.

The ability to recognize objects in images has taken huge strides forward and I think computers will soon be able to understand what is going on in videos.

Ten years ago, most people in AI would have been very confident that there was no hope of doing machine translation using neural nets that have to get all their linguistic knowledge from the raw training data. But that is now the approach that works best and it has just halved the gap in quality between machine translations and human translations.

Every week, deep neural nets succeed at new and commercially significant tasks.

We have seen an amazing flowering of the basic deep learning techniques introduced 20 or more years ago. This flowering includes better types of neuron, better architectures,  better ways of making the learning work in very deep nets and better ways of getting neural networks to focus on the relevant parts of the input.

Deep learning is now attracting large numbers of very smart people and huge resources, and I see no reason why this flowering should not continue for many more years. – Geoff Hinton

 

How Will Artificial Intelligence Affect Your Life

Jeff Dean

 

Quantum Computers Advancing Much Faster Than Expected

  • Development of a quantum computer, if practical, would mark a leap forward in computing capability far greater than that from the abacus to a modern day supercomputer, with performance gains in the billion-fold realm and beyond. – Margaret Rouse

In January 2015 I wrote an article that explored how the rate at which engineering advances were being announced would have a profound and largely unexpected impact on the timeline for the development of Quantum Computers and Quantum Technologies in general.

In the 20 months or so since I wrote that article, a great deal has happened, and even my most optimistic and unrealistic sounding projections have proven to be far too cautious. There have been so many announcements about Quantum Computing and Quantum Technologies that it is sometimes hard to keep with developments.

A startling series of engineering advances and the slow realisation that large corporations have been allocating serious resources to this sector has meant that a quantum computer is no longer seen as belonging on the pages of a science fiction novel.

Image result for qubits

With the benefit of hindsight I still think the single most important major seismic shift in the sector in the recent past occurred when Google took the initiative with investing in, and backing the John Martinis’ team in 2014.

A direct result of that move and the enormous investment that has been put behind their effort was the disclosure that Google believe they will achieve “quantum supremacy” within a year. The best analysis of Google’s amazing journey thus far is revealed (in my view) in this New Scientist article.

When quantum computers emerge into common usage (and it is now only a question of when, not if), the machines will benefit from developments in quantum mechanics that span the post second world war period.

Despite this, the vast majority of us are blissfully unaware of these developments that have been described as having an influence on human kind that will ultimately rival that of the industrial revolution. Perhaps Arkwright’s machine and Stephenson’s engine were equally remote from people’s everyday lives when they were first unveiled.

This is an exciting time, to say the least, for anyone with an interest in the sector from a commercial or academic standpoint. For those of us who have been involved in the sector for a while, the past 18 months or so have become a bit of haze. We try to get used to a certain reality, and another set of circumstances then becomes available. – Ilyas Khan

 

Life Extension: Predicting the Order of Arrival of the First Rejuvenation Therapies

The first rejuvenation therapies to work well enough to merit the name will be based on the SENS vision: that aging is at root caused by a few classes of accumulated cell and tissue damage, and biotechnologies that either repair that damage or render it irrelevant will as a result produce rejuvenation.

Until very recently, no medical technology could achieve this goal, and few research groups were even aiming for that outcome.

We are in the midst of a grand transition, however, in which the research and development community is finally turning its attention to the causes of aging, understanding that this is the only way to effectively treat and cure age-related disease.

The therapies of the future will be very different from the therapies of the past. The full rejuvenation toolkit of the next few decades will consist of a range of different treatments, each targeting a different type of molecular damage in cells and tissues.

Image result for sens research foundation

Below is the likely order of arrival of some of these therapies, based on what is presently going on in research, funding, and for-profit development.

This is an update to a similar post written four years ago, now become somewhat dated given recent advances in the field. Circumstances change, and considerable progress has been made in some lines of research and development.

———————————————–

1) Clearance of Senescent Cells

The most likely therapy to arrive first.

 

2) Immune System Destruction and Restoration

There are a number of approaches very close to practical realization

 

3) Clearance of the First Few Types of Amyloid

These types of rejuvenation therapy already exist in the sense of prototypes and trial treatments. Likely to soon be available via medical tourism.

 

4) Clearance of Glucosepane Cross-Links

Four years ago, the situation for glucosepane clearance looked pretty bleak. Now the road is open to anyone who wants to try their hand at drug discovery. That is now underway in the Spiegel Lab, among others, and I’d hope to see the first potential drug candidates emerge at some point in the next couple of years.

 

5) Thymic Rejuvenation to Increase the Supply of Immune Cells

This is one of a number of regenerative approaches that is on the verge, just waiting for someone to start a company or join the final two dots together and get moving.

 

6) Mitochondrial Repair

Halfway there is probably a target reached by 2020 or so at the present pace.

 

7) A Robust Cure for Cancer

We’ve all been educated to think of cancer as the greatest challenge for medical science, the problem to be solved last of all.

Nonetheless, a more rapid arrival of a generally applicable cure for cancer looks to be the likely course of events, as the basis for a treatment that can in principle put a halt to all cancer at all stages of development is currently in the earliest stages of development.

 

8) Reversing Stem Cell Aging

This seems at the present time like a long-term prospect, despite the high levels of funding for this line of medical research and development.

 

9) Clearance of Other Amyloids, Aggregates, and Sundry Lysosomal Garbage

There is a huge amount of work to accomplish because there are many targets to address, and with few exceptions, such as amyloid-β, it is unclear which of the targets are the most important.

They will all have to be addressed, in some order, but there are only so many researchers and only so much funding.

Reason, Predicting the Order of Arrival of the First Rejuvenation Therapies

 

 

Therapies for the Clearance of Senescent Cells are Imminent

It didn’t take much of a crystal ball four years ago to put senescent cell clearance in first place, the most likely therapy to arrive first.

All of the pieces of the puzzle were largely in place at that time: the demonstration of benefits in mice; potential means of clearance; interested research groups. Only comparatively minor details needed filling in.

Four years later no crystal ball is required at all, given that Everon Biosciences, Oisin Biotechnologies, SIWA Therapeutics, and UNITY Biotechnology are all forging ahead with various different approaches to the selective destruction of senescent cells.

No doubt many groups within established Big Pharma entities are also taking a stab at this, more quietly, and with less press attention. UNITY Biotechnology has raised more than $100 million to date, demonstrating that there is broad enthusiasm for this approach to the treatment of aging and age-related disease.

With the additional attention and funding for this field, more methods of selective cell destruction have been established, and there is now a greater and more detailed understanding of the ways in which senescent cells cause harm, contributing to the aging process.

Image result for senescent cells aging

Senolytic drugs that induce apoptosis have been discovered; senescent cells are primed to enter the programmed cell death process of apoptosis, and so a small nudge to all cells via a drug treatment kills many senescent cells but very few normal cells.

Researchers have established that senescent cells exist in the immune system, and may be important in immune aging. Similarly, the immune cells involved in the progression of atherosclerosis are also senescent, and removing them slows the progression of that condition.

Other research has shown that removing senescent cells from the lungs restores lost tissue elasticity and improves lung function.

Beyond these specific details, senescent cells clearly contribute to chronic inflammation in aging, and that drives the progression of near all common age-related conditions. The less inflammation the better.

These effects are caused by the signals secreted by senescent cells: that their harm is based on signaling explains how a small number of these cells, perhaps 1% by number in an aged organ, can cause such widespread havoc. – Reason, Predicting the Order of Arrival of the First Rejuvenation Therapies

 

Put Some Funds Aside for Treatment to Clear Senescent Cells

The bad behavior of senescent cells in large numbers eventually kills us. What is to be done about this?

The most straightforward approach is to develop targeted cell killing therapies that destroy senescent cells while leaving normal cells alone.

Groups like Oisin Biotechnologies are working on programmable gene therapies and other approaches that should prove more effective than the output of the traditional drug discovery pipeline.

This will all cascade into the clinic over the course of the next decade, starting a year or two from now, and given the benefits we should all be putting some funds aside for our own treatment when it becomes available at a reasonable price. – Reason

 

Quercetin: A Supplement That Studies Suggest Can Remove Senescent Cells

Senescent cells are simply cells that have become damaged or have reached their maximum number of divisions. Normally these cells are shut down by a kind of self destruct program inside the cell, ready to be disposed of by the immune system.

However as the immune system ages, it stops clearing house properly, leaving many of these senescent cells in place. This would not be such a big deal, but senescent cells actually send out toxic inflammatory signals that block tissue regeneration.

Removing senescent cells from the body helps the body to clear out the junk it struggles with as we age, and optimise its natural repair functions.

The name of compounds that can remove senescent cells are known as Senolytics.

Image result for Quercetin

Quercetin, one of the compounds that some studies suggest can remove senescent cells, is naturally found in apples and other fruits and vegetables. It can be obtained cheaply as a dietary supplement with an effective and safe dosage.

What science is doing now is investigating why these natural substances help your body maintain balance, and finding ways to improve upon this.

Some will be entering human clinical trials in the near future so answers should not be too far behind.

Companies like Unity Biotech, Oisin Biotechnology and Cellage are busy developing improved versions of these first pass therapies to make them even more effective and safe. – Steve Hill

 

Growing Vindication For De Grey’s SENS Approach After Years of Hostility

Aubrey de Grey published a reasonable roadmap 10+ years ago (Escape Velocity: Why the Prospect of Extreme Human Life Extension Matters Now). Life extension also like Bitcoin in that those who don’t understand the tech tend to be most hostile.

De Grey was out there early & taking the hits, with concrete proposals. Respect due for moving the conversation.

Balaji S. Srinivasan

It is reasonable to say that 10 or 11 years ago Aubrey de Grey was seen as being an outsider and on the fringe but his theories have become more mainstream.

In fact the evidence points strongly to him having been very much on the right track from the start.

A typical example is the removal of senescent cells which is one of the cornerstones of the SENS theory see Destroying worn-out cells makes mice live longer

Also see also the video below.

The MitoSENS team at the SENS Research Foundation are presently in the lead among the few groups working on the project of copying mitochondrial genes into the cell nucleus to protect them from the damage of aging.Reason

I have followed Aubrey de Grey among others in this field pretty much since the start but Aubrey’s role was crucial because he has raised the profile of anti aging research.

I am sure we will look back in 30 years and say “that de Grey guy was right” I also believe there will never be a single magic pill that cures aging but there doesn’t need to be because the incremental gains year on year will mean that many alive now will ride the wave because their life expectancy will be increasing faster than 12 months per year.

Once that stage is reached we won’t have actually cured aging but the result will be essentially the same because each year our appointment with the Grim Reaper will be moving further and further away rather than edging ever closer.

I share Aubrey’s opinion that aging is essentially no different to any other disease and like all diseases is ultimately treatable given the resources. We cannot afford to sit back and accept it. Everyone in history has lived and died but it is a mistake to view aging as a fact of life set in stone when science has progressed to the level where we have a pretty good chance of bringing under a decisive level of clinical control within 25 years or maybe less.

Personally I donate to the SENS Foundation see SRF Home | SENS Research Foundation which I think is the best route to assist in bringing the date closer. – Johnty Andersen

 

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