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Category: blockchain

25 Oct 2020
The next Apple or Amazon will be a company built on blockchain - and it'll be based in Asia, not the US, a cryptocurrency chief says

JP Morgan Veteran Daniel Masters Explains How Blockchain Will End Commercial Banks

  • A cryptocurrency chief predicted that the next biggest company in the world will be one built on blockchain – and it will be based in Asia, not the US.
  • Crypto regulations are a lot clearer in Asia, whereas uncertainty in the United States does not help consumer confidence and discredits the overall industry, Ben Weiss, chief operating officer at CoinFlip, said.
  • “I haven’t heard any specific plans from Biden, or anyone, on Bitcoin regulation, but there needs to be sensible regulation,” Weiss said. “There needs to be regulatory clarity, because the US is losing the blockchain battle right now to a lot of different countries.”
  • He believes any presidential candidate who is pro-crypto will win the youth vote for the next 15 to 20 years. 
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

The next Apple or Amazon will be a blockchain company based in Asia, not the US, according to Ben Weiss, chief operating officer at CoinFlip, the world’s biggest Bitcoin ATM operator. 

That’s because the US still doesn’t have the regulatory clarity required for the crypto industry to grow and innovate, Weiss told Business Insider in an interview on Tuesday.

Compared to Asia, where regulations are a lot clearer, the US does not have well-defined rules that could boost confidence in digital currencies and help legitimize the crypto industry. Weiss specifically touted Singapore as the potential home to the next biggest blockchain company in the world.

After having jumped about 46% this year, Bitcoin was trading at $12,338 on Wednesday. Weiss expects the price to hit $13,500 in the near-term. The US government has basically ignored Bitcoin over the last few years, and they’re going to have to address it at some point, he said.

 

The crypto chief said regulations in the US are required not just to protect consumers, but to spur innovation as several institutional and retail investors realize the risk of not having some amount of bitcoin in their balance sheets.

But despite growing interest in the digital currency space, there is still a lot of uncertainty around the crypto industry, as US regulators and trading authorities have not issued any updated policies or guidelines ahead of the November presidential election. 

Weiss believes buying Bitcoin is one of the most political purchases an investor can make, as it’s the most democratizing and inclusive financial revolution.

Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden, who is currently ahead of President Donald Trump in the polls, has no particular stance on Bitcoin or cryptocurrencies, although he has supported financial innovation.

 

“I haven’t heard any specific plans from Biden, or anyone, on Bitcoin regulation but there needs to be sensible regulation,” Weiss said. “There needs to be regulatory clarity, because the US is losing the blockchain battle right now to a lot of different countries.”

Weiss believes any presidential candidate who is pro-crypto, whether in this election cycle or the next, will win the youth vote for the next 15 to 20 years. “I’m surprised no major presidential candidate has gotten fully behind Bitcoin yet,” he added.

Source: https://markets.businessinsider.com/currencies/news/next-big-tech-giant-blockchain-based-crypto-expert-2020-10-1029705362#

06 Oct 2020
Blockchain: The Next Great Transformational Technology Platform

Blockchain: The Next Great Transformational Technology Platform

Little did I know when I woke up on October 4, 1980, how important that day would become in my life — in more ways than one.

I was just a wide-eyed four-year-old full of excitement as my family and I prepared for game one of the World Series between my beloved Philadelphia Phillies and the Kansas City Royals. The Phillies won the Series and their first championship, and I’ve been thinking back on that memory as this year’s playoffs got underway.

Another historic event also took place 40 years ago tomorrow, though I wasn’t aware of it at the time.

About 100 miles north of me in New York City, Genentech was becoming the first biotechnology company to trade on a public stock exchange. Shares of the company, which traded under the symbol “GENE,” opened at $35. They quickly shot up to $88 before closing the wild first session at $71.25.

A double on the first day.

It was such a historic and crazy day that The Los Angeles Times referred to it as “a frenzy the likes of which hasn’t been seen on Wall Street since the go-go days of the 1960s.”

If you invested in Genentech on its opening day and held until the company was sold in 2009, you would have earned 157X your money. But those gains are nothing compared to some of the early stage biotech companies of the 1980s.

Amgen went public on June 17, 1983, for $18 per share. The stock has since gone through five stock splits and started paying dividends in 2011. Taking all that into consideration, an initial $1,000 investment into Amgen would be worth about $711,000.

That’s right, 711X your money! That turns a $10,000 investment into $7.1 million.

Today, I’m focused on another new industry that is on that same launching pad of hypergrowth and massive profits that early stage biotechs were in the 1980s. Gigantic profits have already been made, and the best is yet to come …

In some ways, this new industry could be even bigger because it’s going to affect everyone.

The way you buy everyday goods and services … buy a home … pay your taxes … even how we vote in the future.

This transformation is already underway, but the truly seismic shift — when the massive profits are made — comes as businesses, consumers, and big-money investors realize what’s going on.

Charlie Shrem and I call this “The Awakening.”

It won’t just be the biggest thing to happen to cryptocurrencies since the creation of bitcoin itself, which is the first and biggest cryptocurrency.

It will be the biggest thing since the mass adoption of the internet.

I’ve said this before but it’s critical to understanding the opportunity: Cryptocurrencies, especially altcoins, are not fantasy internet money. They are revolutionary software programs.

Over the last 10 years, the cryptocurrency industry has been defined by bitcoin. And the revolutionary technology its built on – the blockchain – has also been mostly tied to the success of bitcoin.

But people are starting to wake up to its true potential: Blockchain is the next great transformational technology platform.

Transformational technology platforms bring about a wholesale change … like when a caterpillar becomes a butterfly … or when a toddler become a teenager.

Electricity is a great example. The harnessing of electric power in the early 1900s transformed the world. It gave birth to our use of light bulbs, refrigerators, radios, televisions, telephones, air conditioners … the list goes on.

Electric power was the “platform” from which all those incredible innovations sprang to life. The world after we harnessed electricity looked totally different than the one before it.

These revolutions are rare. We saw the emergence of probably just a handful in the 20th century — electric power, the internet, even smartphones.

Each one presented colossal wealth-building opportunities.

The MORE a technology changes the world for the better, the MORE revenue it will generate, and the BIGGER the gains will be for investors.

That’s why blockchain is going to be so huge. It’s why some high-profile insiders are saying it will be bigger than the internet. It’s going to touch virtually every industry on planet Earth.

Put simply, blockchain is an ultra-safe and secure way to store information. It’s the safest way to store and transfer information ever created.

I’m talking about your financial and banking information… your personal health care information … proprietary business information … contracts … tax information … credit card payments … real estate transactions … even energy … and on and on.

All this disruption and change creates a once-in-a-lifetime financial opportunity for anyone who acts today.

Source: https://investorplace.com/2020/10/blockchain-next-great-transformational-technology-platform/

26 Sep 2020
Is The Digital Economy Green? AI, Blockchain, & Sharing Platforms

Is The Digital Economy Green? AI, Blockchain, & Sharing Platforms

Digital technologies have steadily woven themselves into the global economy, transforming the pace at which individuals are able to access and process information. According to the Bureau of Economic Analysis, the digital economy accounted for 9% of the US gross domestic product in 2018. Now the 4th largest sector in the US, digital services are rapidly expanding our energy and environmental footprint while promising broad societal benefits. For example:

Can sharing platforms help reduce food waste?
Does ride-hailing generate more greenhouse gas emissions?
How much direct energy is needed to run blockchain applications?
What benefits can artificial intelligence bring to more traditional industries?
Let’s look into the research that the Project on the Energy and Environmental Implications of the Digital Economy produced to learn more about ways the digital economy is and isn’t green, shall we?

The Project research was a way to expand the understanding of the digital and environmental nexus, to estimate the impacts of real-world applications, and to propose governance options for the sustainable adoption of digital technologies.

Environmental Law Institute Visiting Scholar David Rejeski helped launch the Project 4 years ago and noted that:

“… governments are spending only a fraction of the funding necessary to unravel the environmental impacts of our digital lives. Our society needs to develop an empirical grounding for assessing both the positive and negative impacts of information technologies, especially as they become more ubiquitous and invisible.”


A series of research papers have been released, contributing important insights to an emerging body of knowledge on 3 key technologies:

Artificial Intelligence (AI)
Blockchain
Sharing Platforms

Artificial Intelligence & the Digital Economy

The chemical industry is responding to increased energy demand and environmental performance expectations by exploring the use of emerging technologies in the manufacturing process. AI is one of these technologies, which shows great potential in reducing the energy consumption and environmental footprints of the chemical industry. Researchers determined that, although AI shows great potential in enhancing the sustainability of the chemical industry, it is challenging to quantify the benefits and impacts of AI adoptions due to the lack of system analysis methods and assessment metrics.

Quantitative understandings of the benefits of AI adoptions are critical information for policymakers and early adopters of emerging technologies, whose investments are crucial. Addressing these methods and analysis gaps is critical for improving emerging technology adoption such as AI. The authors developed a framework to aid in quantifying and assessing the environmental impacts of AI in the chemical manufacturing industry, hoping to address the dearth of studies on the topic.

Blockchain & Challenges

Corporate decisions are driven by information. Information volume — big data — is growing quickly, bringing greater organizational challenges in making sense of information necessary for managing their networks and supply chains. Blockchain technology is a disruptive information-based technology incorporating characteristics of decentralized “trustless” databases and ledgers, allowing for global-scale transactions, process disintermediation, and decentralization among supply chain entities.

Blockchain technology can support information required for timely provenance of goods and services in a secure manner that is clear and robust enough to trust, creates more effective information flow in the supply chain, and evolves a product-based economy to an information-customization economy.

Between now and 2023, the global blockchain in supply chain market is estimated to reach a total valuation of $424 million and an over 48% growth rate. This substantial market growth will occur as a significant fraction of companies seeks to benefit from blockchain technology within their supply chain and its sustainability.

The authors determined that a deeper understanding of how these blockchain solutions are to be operated and by whom must be sought. They developed several propositions suggesting important links between organizational, technological, and external concepts for blockchain adoption. They also attempted to systematically investigate and prioritize the barriers to blockchain technology adoption in sustainable supply chains from the lens of 2 groups of stakeholders: organizations and supply chains.

Image retrieved from ftc.gov

Sharing Platforms & Green Goals

A series of different research studies analyzed the degree to which sharing platforms currently work toward green goals in today’s digital economy.

  • One paper sets out feasible paths for quantifying the GHG emissions impact of ride-hailing, a service that warrants consideration as a transportation mode and emissions source distinct from automobiles generally.
  • Another paper found that electrifying ridehailing vehicles would deliver 3X to 4X faster payback, environmental benefits, and greater life cycle cost savings compared to private vehicles.
  • Although there is a small yet expanding body of research focused on frameworks for building equitable platform cooperatives, there has been little to no work thus far examining how existing platform cooperatives actually operate and govern themselves, in reality.  A third paper described how truly peer-to-peer ridesourcing services are feasible and may have stronger incentives to reduce emissions from deadheading — completing a trip without passengers.
  • Researchers who had focused on the impacts and benefits of ride-hailing platforms discussed their results during an online webinar on Ride-Hailing & the Future of Sustainable Transportation.
  • Another paper reviewed the success of a peer-to-peer food-sharing app and suggests that the sharing economy may offer powerful means for improving resource efficiency and reducing food waste. The research team concluded that gaining a better understanding of supply, demand, user behavior, and network dynamics of food sharing platforms is an important step toward answering many open questions regarding the environmental impacts of sharing activities, their potential welfare effects, and the drivers behind their adoption — or lack thereof.

Final Thoughts about the Greening of the Digital Economy

The Environmental Law Institute, in partnership with the Center for Law, Energy & the Environment at UC Berkeley, and the Yale School of the Environment, formed this Project on the Energy and Environmental Implications of the Digital Economy. Supported by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, this research is at the core of ELI’s Innovation Lab, a venture focused on supporting high impact research that can drive improved environmental governance and performance.

Sloan Foundation program director Evan Michelson said,

“Digital technologies like blockchain and artificial intelligence have enormous potential to help decarbonize the energy system and address climate change, but only if we deploy them correctly. The key question is: How do we best develop 21st century technologies in ways that help move us toward a low-carbon future? There remain many unanswered questions that need more attention from scholars and funders, but these studies are an important step in improving our understanding of these issues.”

The Innovation Lab explores breakthroughs in science, technology, and policy that promises to reshape the future of sustainability; investigates feasible governance mechanisms; and works to build interdisciplinary communities of practice. In addition to exploring the relationship between the digital economy and the environment, the Innovation Lab is advancing an understanding of a future governance role of these technologies, with a particular focus on the role of algorithmic decision making. 

Source: https://cleantechnica.com/2020/09/21/is-the-digital-economy-green-ai-blockchain-sharing-platforms/

20 Sep 2020
Blockchain-secured land entices real estate investors

Blockchain-secured land entices real estate investors

In the “real” world, real estate has historically been seen as a viable investment. Individuals and corporations usually purchase land and property either for development or to sell at a higher price in the future.

With the world becoming increasingly digitized, it appears that the trend of ascribing significant value to land and property has been spreading to the virtual scene. At the intersection of emerging tech like virtual reality and blockchain, developers, investors and hobbyists alike are creating a vibrant virtual real estate market.

While VR provides the tools to visualize these digital spaces, blockchain technology is acting as a base layer for the monetization of virtual real estate. With the fallout of the coronavirus pandemic causing a pivotal move toward more digital forms of human communication, interactive virtual worlds may provide a safe space for the preservation of numerous social constructs.

Second Life and Linden Dollars

Virtual real estate is by no means a recent phenomenon. ity simulators like SimCity have been around for decades. In 2003, a 3D virtual environment called Second Life arguably kickstarted the monetization of virtual real estate as users rushed to acquire digital land using the platform’s native currency, Linden Dollars. Second Life’s run was before the advent of Bitcoin (BTC); nevertheless, the project saw users buy, sell and lease properties, as well as run businesses on virtual land.

The platform soon declined, as other immersive and interactive virtual real estate projects emerged. However, at the height of its popularity, Anshe Chung, a “Second Lifer,” became a millionaire from selling digital real estate.

Virtual land as a commodity

With the coming of blockchain technology, VR platforms like Somnium Space and Decentraland enable users to acquire and monetize plots of virtual land. Recently, Whale — a nonfungible token vault — became the second-largest holder of virtual land in The Sandbox game.

Binance Launchpad hosted The Sandbox initial exchange offering back in August with the token sale event raising about $3 million. Binance is also an investor in the project, having bought over 4,000 Land tokens earlier in September.

Commenting on the growing popularity of virtual real estate, Joseph Madding, a marketing and PR consultant at The Sandbox, remarked that investors are becoming more open to the idea of digital land as a viable investment, telling Cointelegraph:

Virtual Real Estate is definitely becoming more popular. Over the last 10 weeks, we’ve seen over 1,000% more users interacting with our Telegram chat, Discord, Twitter and other social media platforms and have expanded our community management to match the increasing demand. In terms of virtual land as a commodity, we’ve seen our LAND that originally sold at roughly $370 resell for over $2,000 for what we would sell as a small estate. That’s astonishing and shows huge community interest for our NFTs.”

Indeed, the rush for virtual land assets is only the latest in the established trend of digital real estate selling out quickly. In March, VR world Somnium Space sold 110 Ether worth of virtual land in the first week of a planned, 10-week offering at the time.

Upon opening its platform in February, Decentraland saw users purchasing millions of dollars’ worth of digital acreage. In 2019, a portion of the “Genesis Plaza” estate in the Decentraland metaverse called Estate 331 sold for about $80,000, becoming the second-most expensive NFT of 2019.

Expanding digital property landscape

While it is common to see projects pursuing the tokenization of real-world commodities, the emerging virtual real estate space is creating a self-contained digital economy. With blockchain technology as a base-layer, these platforms can monetize digital land, enabling users to trade assets within the metaverse.

Apart from early adopters acquiring virtual land in the hopes of seeing assets appreciate over time, some individuals and organizations have been developing these assets. The process works similarly to real-world real estate development with the establishment of commercial and residential complexes, industrial zones and parks, among others.

Part of the allure driving the desire to own virtual land appears to be based on optimistic projects about the viability of VR technology. According to a study published in August, the combined VR and augmented reality market is estimated to be worth $20.9 billion by 2025, with companies in China and India expected to drive this significant growth in the next five years. Head-mounted displays are becoming increasingly popular among game developers and enthusiasts alike. With advances in 3D technology, manufacturers are becoming better at creating HMDs that deliver a more immersive and interactive VR experience.

Meanwhile, for blockchain projects, in general, scarcity plays a major role in driving value for their native tokens. As is the case with the real world, for real estate holdings to remain valuable, virtual land on these metaverses needs to be finite.

The monetization of virtual real estate also offers another tangible use case for NFTs. Digital land developers are creating malls, boutiques, shops and other retail outlets where they sell electronic merchandise like fashion items, rare cards, concert tickets, etc. For game developers, the marriage of VR and blockchain technology is creating the opportunity to enjoy “all-digital” gaming. Commenting on the benefits of fully digital environments, Madding argued:

“As a game developer, virtual real estate provides a nearly no-risk platform for publishing your games. With NFT technology, you’re not publishing on just an App Store anymore and you’ll have true ownership over the space in which you design and publish your game. As a consumer, owning LAND feels like buying any physical video game, and if you find yourself wanting to do something new, you can either design something completely new with our free tools, or you can resell the digital real estate just like you’d sell any physical copy of a game.”

Life after COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic brought about sweeping changes to human interaction, and the utilization of virtual forms of communication has taken center stage. As shutdowns continue across the world, organizations have been utilizing electronic video conference solutions for meetings. Tech giants in the United States have even issued work from home orders with reports of the practice expected to continue regardless of whether scientists come up with a vaccine for the coronavirus.

Conferences and meetups are a ubiquitous occurrence in the crypto and blockchain space. However, due to COVID-19 restrictions, it was not possible for people to physically attend many such events in 2020.

To navigate this hurdle, organizers and attendees flocked to the virtual realm, sporting creative avatars to discuss important issues in the industry. These events pushed the boundaries of electronic interaction from utilizing third-party messaging services to people interacting in a fully digital space.

According to Madding, the established social construct is becoming more open to digitization: “As the years go by, large social events like we see in Epic Games’ Fortnite may certainly be more and more common, and we hope to lead the way and see these amazing social spaces sprout up in our Metaverse.” For Artur Sychov, the founder and CEO of Somnium Space, the appeal of virtual real estate has been growing, telling Cointelegraph:

“We do see an increased interest in Somnium Land Parcels (PARCEL) because more and more people realize real use cases they can deploy and use those parcels for. Examples are talk shows, art galleries, cinemas, fitness clubs, crypto exchanges and more are already deployed inside our virtual reality world.”

As developers create more immersive and interactive virtual environments by solving issues such as display latency, it may become possible to have almost every social activity taking place in the digital space. Such solutions might even tie-in with the growing NFT marketplace for items like concert and theater tickets.

Source: https://cointelegraph.com/news/breaking-virtual-ground-blockchain-secured-land-entices-real-estate-investors

30 Aug 2020
Regulated Blockchain: A New Dawn in Technological Advancement

Regulated Blockchain: A New Dawn in Technological Advancement

There is no doubting the fact that there are massive potentials for blockchain technology to transform the world. This has been shown in every field of human endeavor.

Blockchain technology has been deployed in the medical industry, engineering, and most importantly in the financial industry. But one thing stood out, governments and a lot of investors were at best, wary of the wholesome adoption of the technology.

The reason being adduced by everybody is that blockchain is not regulated. For blockchain to be widely accepted, there will be a need for some level of assimilation with the traditional way of doing things.

Blockchain as technology came up with a true peer-to-peer borderless transfer of value and innovative ways to raise capital or invest in promising projects, but then, there are two sides to a coin. One major use the blockchain was first deployed for, was the cryptocurrency, which a lot of people have variously used as a primary exchange of value for illicit activities, you can’t also wish away the fact that many investors have been scammed off their resources through shady ICOs.

It was sweet music to the ears when Zurab Ashvil, founder and CEO of L3COS came up with the idea of the world’s first regulated blockchain-based operating system. “Without a single universal platform for governments, businesses and individuals worldwide, there is no practical solution for addressing the underlying blockchain problems that we are facing today,” Ashvil says.

With a three-layer transformation, that will enable the government to win voter trust, save money, and go green; businesses to minimize fines, globalize, and reduce operating costs; while the society will enhance democracy, ease international travels, and simplify taxes; a regulated blockchain is a gateway to our technological advancement.

What a regulated blockchain portends is that the impact the negative statements from government officials and the media along with regulatory uncertainties have been having on entrepreneurs, investors, the market, and the industry at large, will be a thing of the past.


One area where we have started seeing the positive impact and transformation in technology is the case of the digital currency. The internet was the precursor of cashless policy and internet banking all of which greatly reduced the stress people had to go through to conduct businesses.

The Chinese Government vehemently opposed cryptocurrency because it was decentralized but it’s of great relief to see that the People Bank of China (PBOC) is at the forefront of legitimizing digital currency.

As a part of a pilot program, PBOC introduced a homegrown digital currency across four cities, this is a huge leap towards actualizing the first electronic payment system by a major central bank. The Bank of England (BoE) is also toeing the footsteps of China but at a review stage as of July 2020.

Andrew Bailey, the Governor of BoE was reported to have said, “I think in a few years, we will be heading toward some sort of digital currency.”

In the U.S. too, concerted efforts are being made towards digital currency with U.S. investment bank JP Morgan being the first bank to create a digital token to help settle payments between clients in its wholesale payments business. This does not undermine the fact that the United States Federal Reserve has not made a categorical statement as to the position of the country on CBDC.

“We are supportive of crypto-currencies as long as they are properly controlled and regulated,” says Umar Farooq, JP Morgan’s head of Digital Treasury Services and Blockchain. It is on record that the bank has always maintained that the blockchain technology is of immense benefit, their only problem all along has been the inability to regulate it.

If you had expected to see a wholesome deployment of the blockchain technology even if for non-financial-related fields before now, you did not assume wrongly. What has obtained before the emergence of regulated blockchain technology is a situation where investors are treading with caution.

They are skeptical and rightly so at putting their resources into a venture that may come crashing any time as a result of the position of government officials and policymakers. The adoption of regulated blockchains like L3COS and others that will come up swiftly to compete will be based on the fact that it can automate a wide range of operations and cut bureaucratic procedures.

The automation is achieved using smart contracts. The system removes intermediaries between end clients (businesses and consumers) and central banks.

Aside from regulation, which is the primary source of concern to almost everybody that can assert an opinion about blockchain technology, one other area that has created a lot of misgivings is the environmental impact of business transactions. You can now afford to reduce the use of paper to an unprecedented minimum, thereby contributing significantly to the green world.

Cutting costs is very vital for the sustenance of your business especially when these costs arise from illegal activities you must have randomly or unwittingly done. This will become a thing of the past as the system will automatically do a compliance check for you any time you attempt an operation.

What this boils down to is that your operation will be blocked if it seems to be going against promulgated rules and regulations. Thus, the system ensures you don’t fall prey to “potholes” and saves you from getting involved in illegalities while running your business.

A regulated blockchain ensures that transactions are supervised by regulatory bodies. The fear institutions have all along harbored, can now be laid to rest.

Ordinarily, with unregulated blockchains, institutions face the risk of financial loss and also the risk of further repercussions due to the misuse of the responsibility entrusted to you. There are also financial penalties to be paid as well as reputational damage to be taken into consideration.

Now that the world has no lack of regulated blockchains, it is a very good opportunity for any government or organization that wants to lead the global blockchain marketplace to act quickly. In a short time, leaders must have emerged and the others will just have to follow suit.

Source: https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/354812

08 Jul 2020

What is Blockchain Technology?

Its been almost ten years since Satoshi Nakamoto first introduced Blockchain technology to the world in his 2008 Bitcoin Whitepaper. Since that time, these revolutionary networks have gained popularity in both the corporate and governmental sectors. This growth is easily explained when you consider that blockchain technology provides the world with some unique advantages that were previously unimaginable. Consequently, today, you can find blockchain technology in nearly every sector of the global economy.

What is Blockchain Technology?
A blockchain is a network of computers that share a distributed ledger across all network participants (nodes). This strategy is far different than say, fiat currencies that originate from a centralized authority figure. Importantly, this ledger keeps an unbroken chain of transactions since the birth of the network. This “chain” of transactions grows larger as new “blocks” of transactions are approved and added to it.

Bitcoin Whitepaper

In order to approve new transactions, each node works together with others to validate new blocks. Additionally, the nodes also validate the current state of the entire blockchain. In order for a new block of transactions to be added to the blockchain, they must receive approval from 51% of the network’s nodes. Nodes are also referred to as miners. In this manner, blockchain networks are decentralized networks that provide unmatched security to the world of digital assets.

Security via Decentralization

Decentralization is an important aspect of blockchain technology because it makes these revolutionary ledgers immutable and unalterable. In fact, since there is no centralized attack vector, hacking a blockchain is nearly impossible. The larger the blockchain network, the more secure the data on it remains.

For example, let’s look at the world’s largest blockchain, Bitcoin. Currently, the Bitcoin blockchain has over 10,000 active nodes located across the globe. This distribution means that in order for an attacker to alter even just one tiny piece of information on the blockchain, they would need to successfully hack 5,000+ computers at once.

While this task may not be impossible for the quantum computers of the future, it’s so unprofitable that it makes no sense to even attempt such a monumental task. Additionally, on top of successfully hacking 5000+ computers at once, an attacker would also need a supercomputer to recalculate the new blockchain transactions in time to introduce them into the network. It would literally be more affordable to create a new cryptocurrency from scratch.

Consensus Mechanisms

One of the reasons why blockchain networks are so secure is the integration of consensus mechanisms. Consensus mechanisms are cryptographic protocols that leverage the participants of a blockchain network in securing its data. In the case of Bitcoin, the Proof-of-Work (PoW) consensus mechanism is used.

Proof-of-Work (PoW)

The Proof-of-Work consensus mechanism was revolutionary to the world of cryptography when it was first introduced years prior by Adam Back in his Hashcash whitepaper. In the concept, Back describes the integration of a mathematical equation to the network’s security protocols. In this way, every computer can show “proof” of their work securing the network.

Miner Rewards

It’s important to understand that nodes receive a reward for their mining efforts. These rewards adjust automatically depending on the network’s difficulty and value. In the case of Bitcoin, miners originally received 50 Bitcoin for their efforts. Today, this seems like fortune, but back in 2009, Bitcoin was only worth pennies. As the value of the token rises and the network goes, the mining rewards shrink. Today, Bitcoin miners receive 6.5 BTC if they add the next block to the chain.

SHA-256

Notably, every node validates and secures the blockchain, but only one gets to add the next block of transactions to the network. To determine who the next miner is that gets to add this block, every computer competes in a mathematical race to figure out the PoW equation. In the case of Bitcoin, the equation is known as SHA-256. Importantly, the first SHA algorithm dates back to Hashcash. This early version of the equation was known as SHA-1.

Bitcoin Consensus Mechanism - SHA-256 - Blockchain Technology

Bitcoin Consensus Mechanism – SHA-256 – Blockchain Technology

Notably, the SHA-256 equation is so difficult that it’s easier and more efficient for your computer to just make random guesses rather than attempting to figure out the equation directly. The answer to the equation must begin with a predetermined amount of 0s. In the Bitcoin blockchain, the equation’s answer must start with four zeros. However, if the network’s congestion rises, so does the difficulty of these equations. This difficulty adjusts by the addition of another zero at the beginning of the required SHA-256 answer.

Similarly to traditional commodities such as gold, there are costs that are associated with the creation and introduction of these digital assets into the market. These random guesses utilize intense computational power. This power equates to real-world costs such as electricity bills. Studies have shown that securing the Bitcoin network can use more electricity than required by entire countries. Luckily, over 80% of Bitcoin’s power consumption comes from renewable sources such as solar or hydroelectric.  This cost of mining also adds measurable value to each Bitcoin.

Miners

As Bitcoin began to gain in profitability,  its network’s computing power expanded significantly. In the beginning, nodes, also known as miners, could mine for Bitcoin using nothing more than your home PC. Eventually, miners realized that graphic cards were far better at the repetitive guessing required to figure out the SHA-256 algorithm. This led to a computational race in the market.

ASIC

Eventually, large blockchain firms such as Bitmain introduced Application Specific Integrated Circuit (ASIC) miners into the equation. These purpose-built miners were thousands of times more efficient at guessing the SHA-256 algorithm than the GPUs and CPUs before them. Consequently, their introduction created a scenario in which the average miner now needed to invest thousands in mining equipment to stay relevant.

Mining Pools

Luckily, some creative minds in the field began to think of ways to level the playing field out again. They developed “mining pools.” A mining pool is a network of miners that all share computational power for the common goal of mining blockchain transactions. Importantly, mining pool participants receive a percentage of the reward based on their contributions to the network’s overall hash (computational power).

Importantly, over the last three years, there has been a push to move away from power-hungry consensus mechanisms such as PoW. This desire to secure blockchains in a more efficient manner has led to the development of some truly unique consensus mechanisms in the sector.

Proof-of-Stake (PoS)

The Proof-of-Stake mechanism does away with the difficult mathematical algorithms and instead utilizes a more psychological approach to securing the network. In a PoS blockchain, users don’t need to compete mathematically to add the next block to the blockchain. Instead, PoS users “stake” their coins via network wallets to secure the network. The way staking works is simple.

Keeping a certain amount of coins in your wallet allows you to participate in transaction validations. The more coins you stake, the more likely the chances are you get to add the next block of transactions to the network. In most PoS systems, a miner from those with the most tokens staked at the time receives the chance to add the blocks.

The advantages of a PoS consensus mechanism are immediately evident. For one, you don’t need to pour tons of resources into your network to keep it safe. Additionally, since nodes are chosen based on their amount of staked coins, there is never a scenario in which a node gains anything from validating incorrect transactions. Basically, a hacker would have to fully invest in the cryptocurrency prior to attacking the network. In this way, PoS systems create a huge deterrent to attackers.

The Future of Blockchain Technology

Blockchain technology has come a long way from its early days as a means to secure cryptocurrency networks. Today, blockchain technology has numerous uses across every type of industry imaginable. Specifically, blockchain programs have impacted the logistical, financial, and data security sectors in a major way.

Blockchain Technology Logistics

Blockchain logistical systems are more efficient and cost-effective to operate than traditional paper-based models. In fact, the immutable and unalterable nature of blockchain tech makes it ideally suited to logistical tasks. Soon, you may be able to ascertain much more information regarding the creation and delivery of your products thanks to these new-age systems emerging.

Blockchain Logistics

Blockchain Logistics via GlobalTranz

Fundraising

Blockchain technology has also altered the way in which businesses raise funds. In a traditional corporate crowdfunding strategy such as an IPO, companies must balance between cost-effectiveness and participation. The inability to process smaller transactions meant that for the longest time, companies had to turn away potential investors. Nowadays, blockchain technology enables businesses to easily automate these procedures via smart contracts.

Smart Contracts

Smart Contracts feature preprogrammed protocols that execute when they receive a certain amount of cryptocurrency sent to their address. These contracts live on the blockchain and enable remarkable functionality. For example, in the case of fundraising, a smart contract can automate processes such as the approval of investors and the distribution of funds.

Blockchain Technology Today

You can expect to see further expansion of the blockchain sector in the coming months as more governments and institutions explore its benefits. For now, the blockchain revolution is well underway.

Source: https://www.securities.io/what-is-blockchain-technology/

28 Apr 2020

MICROSOFT WANTS TO MINE CRYPTOCURRENCY USING YOUR BRAIN WAVES

Microsoft applied for an unusual new patent that would read users’ brainwaves in exchange for cryptocurrency like Bitcoin.

The patent application, which has yet to be granted, describes a system that would scan a user’s brain activity or other biological signals to make sure they completed a task, such as watching a commercial. The system would then use those signals to mine for cryptocurrency like Bitcoin, PC Magazine reports, as a way to compensate the user.

We’ve Seen Worse
The logistics for how such a transaction would occur remain hazy: the application includes details on how such a system’s software may work, but less information on how it would actually be used.But this wouldn’t be the first time a tech company tried to patent absurd technology — it’s actually a fairly common practice, even though many of the systems described in these patents never get built.

Biological Captcha
Based on what information is available, the system seems ideal for a system like Mechanical Turk, in which workers complete quick tasks — like helping train AI algorithms — for small sums of money.

The idea there, PC Mag reports, is to make the process of proving that someone actually did the work quick and painless — albeit intrusive — instead of taking up time they could spend on the next job.

Source: https://futurism.com/the-byte/microsoft-mine-cryptocurrency-using-your-brain-waves

29 Oct 2019
What's Blockchain Actually Good for, Anyway? For Now, Not Much

What’s Blockchain Actually Good for, Anyway? For Now, Not Much

Not long ago, blockchain technology was touted as a way to track tuna, bypass banks, and preserve property records. Reality has proved a much tougher challenge.

In early 2018, Amos Meiri got the kind of windfall many startup founders only dream of. Meiri’s company, Colu, develops digital currencies for cities—coupons, essentially, that encourage people to spend their money locally. The company was having some success with pilot projects in the UK and Israel, but Meiri had an idea for something bigger. He envisioned a global network of city currencies, linked together using blockchain technology. So he turned to a then-popular way to fund his idea: the initial coin offering, or ICO. Colu raised nearly $20 million selling a digital token it called CLN.

Now, Meiri is doing something unusual: Giving the money back. After a year of regulatory and technical headaches, he stopped trying to fit blockchain into his business plan. He thinks other blockchain projects will follow suit.

It’s not unusual for startup efforts to fail or pivot when the product doesn’t work or the funding runs out. But blockchain has offered a wilder ride than most new technologies. Two years ago, ICOs like Meiri’s lured billions of dollars into blockchain companies and spawned a cottage industry of pilot projects. For a while, a blockchain seemed a salve for just about any problem: Fraudulent tuna. Unreliable health records. Homelessness. Remember WhopperCoin? Burger King’s crypto-for-burgers scheme, along with thousands of other projects, has long lost its sizzle. Many were scams from the start. But even among the more legitimate enterprises, there are relatively few winners. Enter, as a recent report from Gartner put it, “blockchain fatigue.”

“What you’re seeing right now is lethargy,” says Emin Gun Sirer, a professor of computer science at Cornell and founder of Ava Labs. “The current technologies fall really short.”

Bitcoin appears to be here to stay, even if the price has recently slumped. An entire industry has been built around holding and trading digital assets like it. But attempts to build more complex applications using blockchain are hobbled by the underlying technology. Blockchains offer an immutable ledger of data without relying on a central authority—that’s core to the hype behind the technology. But the cryptographic machinery behind blockchains is notoriously slow. Early platforms, like Ethereum, which gave rise to the ICO frenzy, are far too sluggish to handle most commercial applications. For that reason, “decentralized” projects represent a tiny portion of corporate blockchain efforts, perhaps 3 percent, says Apolline Blandin, a researcher at the Cambridge Centre for Alternative Finance.

The rest take shortcuts. So-called permissioned blockchains borrow ideas and terms from Bitcoin, but cut corners in the name of speed and simplicity. They retain central entities that control the data, doing away with the central innovation of blockchains. Blandin has a name for those projects: “blockchain memes.” Hype and lavish funding fueled many such projects. But often, the same applications could be built with less-splashy technology. As the buzzwords wear off, some have begun asking, what’s the point?

When Donna Kinville, the city clerk in South Burlington, Vermont, was approached by a startup that wanted to put the city’s land records on a blockchain, she was willing to listen. “We had the reputation of being ahead of things,” she says. The company, called Propy, had raised $15 million through an ICO in 2017 and forged Vermont connections, including lobbying for blockchain-friendly state legislation.

Propy pitched blockchain as a more secure way to handle land records. “It didn’t take long for them to say that they were overzealous,” Kinville says. She worked with Propy for about a year as it designed its platform and recorded the city’s historical data on the Ethereum blockchain. Propy also recorded one sale for the city, for a parcel of empty land whose owners weren’t in much of a rush.

Last month, Propy pitched Kinville a nearly finished product. She was uninspired. The system lacked practical features she uses all the time, like a simple way to link documents. She liked the software she uses now. It was built by an established company that was just a call away, in case anything fritzed.

“I’m having a hard time understanding how blockchain is going to really positively affect my citizens,” Kinville says. “Is it the speed of the blockchain? The security? Between faxes and emails, things get done just as quickly.” The city’s data is backed up on three servers; Kinville keeps a print copy, just in case. “We Vermonters are cautious. We like paper; you can always go back to it.” She sent Propy notes on how to improve its product, but doesn’t expect to buy it.

Natalia Karayaneva, Propy’s founder, says the land records platform is being tested in another Vermont town that didn’t have a computer system. But she acknowledges that privacy issues, as well as local rules and legacy computer systems, mean blockchain isn’t always a good fit for government. Propy is now focusing on an automated platform for realtors. It also uses blockchain, but the company doesn’t always trumpet it.

“In 2017, it was enough to have blockchain technology and everyone reaches out to you,” says Karayaneva. “But now working with traditional investors, we actually avoid the word blockchain in many of our materials.”

For a while, blockchain was seen as a panacea, says Andrew Stevens, a Gartner analyst who coauthored the “blockchain fatigue” study. Stevens’ team focused on projects that touted blockchain as a way to identify fraudulent and tainted goods in supply chains. They predicted 90 percent of those projects would eventually stall. Blockchain evangelizers were finding that supply chains more complex than expected, and that blockchain offered no ready-made solutions. When it comes to mission-critical blockchain projects, “there are no deployments across any supply chains,” he says.

Read more: https://www.wired.com/story/whats-blockchain-good-for-not-much/

17 Oct 2019
Artificial Intelligence Could Be a $14 Trillion Boon to the Global Economy—If It Can Overcome These Obstacles

Artificial Intelligence Could Be a $14 Trillion Boon to the Global Economy—If It Can Overcome These Obstacles

Global growth is stalling. Trade wars are hammering manufacturers, from Shanghai to Stuttgart to Seattle. But, awful as today’s economic outlook appears, Industry 4.0 is alive and well, its most ardent backers say.

Industry 4.0 is the catch-all term for the implementation by businesses of big data, improved robotics and artificial intelligence systems. And it’s still expected to be a major driver in global growth over the next decade, and beyond. Yes, even in manufacturing.

By 2035, this A.I.-powered push will provide a $14 trillion boost to the global economy, consulting giant Accenture predicts.

That’s the assessment of Marc Carrel-Billiard, global senior managing director at Accenture Labs, who rattled off these numbers during his keynote presentation at World Summit A.I. in Amsterdam on Wednesday. By way of example, he cited research that traced the progress in one growing area of A.I.-powered automation: call centers. Five years ago, A.I. bots could successfully resolve one out every ten customer phone calls. Today, he said, it’s 60%.

Moreover, he predicted, this push to automate will not be the jobs-killer the more bearish economists out there fear.

But before technologists take a victory lap, there’s a caveat.

They’re not a threat to jobs, he says, “because these systems are not very intelligent.” AI—and its many iterations: machine learning, natural language processing, machine vision, image- and voice-recognition—is well adapted at highly specialized tasks. It does a decent job telling you what the weather will be tomorrow, or ordering movie tickets or helping you find the fastest route home during the evening commute. All manner of businesses are using A.I. increasingly on the enterprise level to make sense of the vast flows of structured and unstructured data they collect to root out inefficiencies, and save costs.

But, as Carrel-Billiard notes, A.I. still has a blind spot. It’s trained to interpret certain data sets, not infer meaning or context from a complicated world. A.I. is a specialist, not a generalist, he says. And therefore, much work is needed to make these systems truly intelligent.

Gary Marcus, professor of psychology and neural science at New York University and author of Rebooting AI, is even more frank in his assessment. He calls deep learning— the subset of A.I. that can make sense of huge amounts of data with little to no oversight from human minders—a misnomer. It’s good at narrowly focused tasks, but he questions its much-ballyhooed potential to, for example, revolutionize transportation (self-driving cars) and medicine (analyzing huge volumes of MRI scans for signs of cancerous growths). “Deep learning is no substitute for deep understanding,” he says.

“The number of radiologists who’ve been replaced by deep-learning systems?” he asks. “Zero.”


Carrel-Billiard, for one, believes that in order for A.I. systems to be truly effective they need to be designed to be accountable, transparent and free of bias—not just super-fast task rabbits. Only then will such systems reach their full potential.

On day one of the World Summit A.I., much of the early discussion was about the need to build so-called ethical A.I. systems. Marcus and Carrel-Billiard, among others, challenged the development community to build A.I. systems that are accountable, transparent and free of bias.

Unless it’s responsible, Carrel-Billiard says, “nobody will trust it, and nobody will use it.”

Source: https://fortune.com/2019/10/09/artificial-intelligence-14-trillion-boon-only-if-overcome-one-thing/

09 Oct 2019
Dubai Economic Department Joins Blockchain Business Registry

Dubai Economic Department Joins Blockchain Business Registry

In a recent development, the economic department of Dubai has joined the Unified Business Registry Platform (UBRP) built on the Blockchain platform as a Service (BPaaS).

The main goal of developing this platform is to improve the business infrastructure in Dubai. It will help license issuers in managing trade licenses and corporate registries. The Dubai government is planning to host 40 government entities on UBRP. 

The CEO of Dubai Economy’s Corporate Support Services, Abdullah Hassan, said that the UBRP is an innovative platform to uplift the Dubai Economy in its digital world. They are happy and proud to be the first blockchain-powered government in the world. According to the UAE vision 2021, the Dubai economy is looking for innovative solutions to streamline the future government. 

According to Abdullah, the BPaaS by Dubai Pulse will develop a regulation model to improve the businesses in Dubai. It will make the state a better place for citizens and companies. The two protocols of Dubai Pulse are Hyperledger Fabric and Ethereum enterprise clients. The platform provides many features to adapt new entities with their capabilities on external infrastructure. 

The CEO of Smart Dubai Government Establishment, Wesam Lootah, said that the Dubai Pulse platform is successful enough to change the capabilities of the government entities and organizations. Many government bodies are enjoying the benefits from the UBRP platform, and they are more close to the smart and digital Dubai. 

This platform provides various features like compatibility among all the protocols of blockchain, privacy & security of the organization, and Smart Contract repositories & service on demand. It helps people to accept the blockchain technology and amplify the adaptability through hybrid architecture in less ownership cost. 

This platform leads to the overall development of the Dubai Economy with its features to adapt to the blockchain. It will make people and organizations of Dubai happy and digitally smart.

Source: https://www.namecoinnews.com/dubai-economic-department-joins-blockchain-business-registry/