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Scaling Bitcoin 2017: Science Is Central in Stanford (and the Politics Ignored)

November 8, 2017 jody 0

Stanford University hosted the fourth edition of the Scaling Bitcoin conference over the weekend of November 4–5: “Scaling Bitcoin 2017: Scaling the Edge.”The annual conference, sometimes referred to as a “workshop,” has in its short history grown into somewhat of an institute within the Bitcoin space. It aims to be the main stage for Bitcoin’s technical and academic communities, with little room for commercial interests — and perhaps even less for the “scaling drama” that has grown to be the norm online.“This is the place where we want to focus on engineering, not politics,” said Anton Yemelyanov, this year’s planning committee chair, as he introduced the event on Saturday morning. “We want everyone to have objective discussions from an engineering standpoint.”Scaling Bitcoin Within the Scaling DebateScaling Bitcoin has a short but potent history.The first two conferences were hastily organized one after the other in the second half of 2015, both in direct response to the new-at-the-time block size limit dispute and a looming hard fork through Bitcoin XT. The Montreal edition, the first of the two conferences, was instrumental in bringing together Bitcoin’s technical community, which had up until that point mostly communicated through chat channels and mailing lists. And the second edition in Hong Kong introduced Bitcoin’s mostly Chinese mining community onto the stage for the first time, quite literally. Faced with a contentious hard fork, the events were instrumental in building community among developers and across continents.And the conferences proved pivotal in averting the crisis — at least temporarily. Hong Kong saw the introduction of Segregated Witness, presented by Blockstream engineer and major Bitcoin Core contributor Dr. Pieter Wuille. This innovation was included as a centerpiece in Bitcoin’s scaling roadmap, proposed by Blockstream CTO and Bitcoin Core maintainer Gregory Maxwell right after the conference, and was endorsed by large parts of the Bitcoin ecosystem. It finally activated on the Bitcoin network this summer.Now, two years and three Scaling Bitcoin conferences after the Montreal edition, another controversial hard fork looms. BTC1 — maintained by former Bitcoin Core contributor and Bloq CEO Jeff Garzik — is scheduled to hard fork next week as per the New York Agreement in order to double Bitcoin’s block weight limit — an effort dubbed “SegWit2x.”Yet, this upcoming hard fork did not demand much attention in Stanford. Apart from subtle remarks buried throughout some of the talks, the topic of SegWit2x was almost completely absent from the Scaling Bitcoin program. Illustratively, Bobby Lee, CEO of BTCC and one of the few outspoken SegWit2x proponents on stage, even refused to take any questions on the hard fork after his invited talk — instead focusing on Bitcoin’s meteoric price rise over the past years.The Talks and the ScienceScaling Bitcoin instead continued on the path set out last year at the third event, hosted in Milan. With a broader scope than scaling alone, privacy and fungibility were prominent topics, while smart contracts, fees, mining and more were part of the program as well.Perhaps the biggest innovations presented throughout the weekend, at least within the realm of features that could feasibly be implemented on Bitcoin without rigorous protocol changes, were presented by some of the veterans (by now) in the space.Tadge Dryja, co-author of the lightning network white paper and currently employed by the MIT Digital Currency Initiative, presented “Discreet Log Contracts.” If the math checks out like he thinks it does, these could effectively realize trustless oracle systems, arguably offering a superior (being simpler) alternative to the bulk of advanced smart contracts. Put bluntly, some think these kinds of solutions could make resource-intensive systems like Ethereum obsolete.Along similar conceptual lines, Blockstream mathematician Andrew Poelstra presented “scriptless scripts.” Utilizing clever cryptography — specifically, signature aggregation — smart contracts could be anchored into a basic blockchain without needing to embed the entire smart contract code itself. Originally designed for the Mimblewimble protocol, the concept could be leveraged by Bitcoin, too.And speaking of veterans in the space, Nick Szabo — partnered with (among others) Bloomberg contributor Elaine Ou — presented his proposal to broadcast Bitcoin transactions over radio waves. Not so subtly referencing China’s recent crackdown on Bitcoin, the two detailed how Bitcoin could travel around the globe (and over the great firewall of China) without so much as needing an internet connection.When the topic of Bitcoin’s block size limit — the “original” scaling issue that spawned the conferences — came up at all, it was mostly in the context of propagation speed. Perhaps no coincidence, the two most relevant presentations on this topic were based on work by some of the people involved with previous hard fork attempts. The Bitcoin Unlimited team presented their test results on the “Gigablock” network, which they believe safely supports blocks that exceed current limits by several orders of magnitude. And UMass Amherst professor Brian Levine presented the “Graphene” block propagation protocol, co-designed by Bitcoin’s former lead developer Gavin Andresen.To the extent that next week’s hard fork was discussed, Anthony Towns’s presentation probably came closest. Towns detailed how support for future protocol changes could be cleverly determined through market dynamics. Though, while interesting, this type of solution will not be ready in time for the SegWit2x hard fork.The Hard Forks and the PoliticsIndeed, in contrast to some of the previous events, a sense of urgency was mostly absent in Stanford.This could be in part because most of Bitcoin’s technical community has by now roughly settled on a path forward — and SegWit2x is no part of it. Similarly, the question is not so much whether Bitcoin will scale predominantly through second layers; for them, at least, it will. Rather, topics of research now focus on how these second-layer technologies can be optimized for performance, privacy and more.Additionally, as a somewhat loosely organized volunteer effort, the team overseeing the conferences consists of slightly varying people from one event to the next. And resulting from a difference in vision for the 2017 edition, some of the earlier organizers as well as a segment of Bitcoin’s technical community were absent for this round.Perhaps as a result, the sense of community building typical for some of the previous events was not as prominent in Stanford. And the question of how to deal with a looming contentious hard fork was a more central topic at the similar but more informal Breaking Bitcoin conference in Paris several weeks ago. In little over two years, Scaling Bitcoin instead transformed from what is best described as an emergency summit to something perhaps more akin to a regular academic conference — even though an emergency summit would not have seemed entirely inappropriate at this point in time.For a complete overview and videos of all presentations, visit scalingbitcoin.com. (Or follow this link for transcripts.)The post Scaling Bitcoin 2017: Science Is Central in Stanford (and the Politics Ignored) appeared first on Bitcoin Magazine.

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Bitcoin Price Analysis: Bitcoin’s All-Time High Tests a Historic Reversal Point

November 7, 2017 jody 0

For months on end, BTC-USD had a strong bullish rally that has been well confined between both a linear ascending channel and (on a macro scale) a parabolic curve:Figure 1: BTC-USD, 1-Day Candles, Linear and Parabolic TrendlinesAfter a very strong, bullish rally, bitcoin managed to settle on a new all-time high in the $7,500s. This price peak bounced right off the upper linear ascending trendline shown in Figure 1. Historically, every time bitcoin has touched the upper ascending trendline, the market has gone through a corrective phase and entered into a relatively strong bearish reversal. At the time of this article, bitcoin is currently testing key, macro support of the lower $7,000 price range:Figure 2: BTC-USD, 1-Hour Candles, Macro SupportThe 23% Fibonacci support has been a point of interest in the market’s history and will prove to be strong support. BTC-USD has attempted to break this support level a couple of times already and we are currently making a third test. A break below this level of support could send the price down to the 38% retracement values and test the $6,700 prices. However, if we look at the previous price action (the red circle) that brought the price upward, we don’t see any consolidation or support in the market’s history. This tells us that the 38% price level most likely won’t prove to be significant support during a potential move downward and we can expect to find stronger support in lower values around the $6,400–$6,500 prices.Historically, during correction periods, bitcoin has retraced 50–61% of the initial bull run:Figure 3: BTC-USD, 12-Hour Candles, Retracement TrendThe 50–61% retracement trend has formed a very nice, consistent ascending trendline for the lower support values. Unfortunately in this case, a retracement to the lower trendline would shove us outside the parabolic envelope described in the last bitcoin market analysis. On a macro level, if we do continue on a macro retracement to the 50–61% retracement values, we will likely find support on the lower parabolic curve in the $5,300s. Overall, bitcoin appears to be experiencing a slow bleed and will likely continue until some buying pressure picks up on the market. In general, the bullish pressure is somewhat exhausted, and if there is a resumption of an uptrend, we will likely see support and bullish continuation off the 23% retracement and $6,500 values outlined in Figure 3.Right now, bitcoin is in a precarious situation because it’s sitting just above support at the $7,000 level and doesn’t appear to have any interest in climbing back up just yet. Keep an eye on this support level and watch for a rise in volume on the next test of support. If we break this support level, it’s likely to continue downward for several hundred dollars before finding support once again.Summary:Bitcoin topped out its all-time high at the upper boundary of a macro, linear trendline.Historically, a test of this trendline has prompted a market correction — it is likely that this trend will continue.We are testing key support at the $7,000 price level and a move below this support will signal a continuation of the down trend.Trading and investing in digital assets like bitcoin and ether is highly speculative and comes with many risks. This analysis is for informational purposes and should not be considered investment advice. Statements and financial information on Bitcoin Magazine and BTC Media related sites do not necessarily reflect the opinion of BTC Media and should not be construed as an endorsement or recommendation to buy, sell or hold. Past performance is not necessarily indicative of future results.The post Bitcoin Price Analysis: Bitcoin’s All-Time High Tests a Historic Reversal Point appeared first on Bitcoin Magazine.

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NextBlock CEO Alex Tapscott Cancels Plans to Go Public and Will Return Money to Investors

November 7, 2017 jody 0

Alex Tapscott, CEO of NextBlock Global, a venture capital company investing in blockchain technologies, announced in a press release yesterday that he is canceling their plans to go public through a reverse takeover (RTO) of Nobelium Tech Corp., a company listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange (TSX). Tapscott said the young company had “stumbled” in falsely listing some crypto and blockchain experts as members of the firm’s advisory board. He is currently talking to NextBlock investors to work out how to return their original investments and to “rebuild the trust of those [they] have disappointed.”NextBlock Global raised $20 million in their initial oversubscribed fundraising in July 2017 and had hoped to raise $100 million in the public offering. They planned to invest in digital currencies, blockchain hosting platforms and blockchain-based applications.CIBC and investment bank Canaccord Genuity (a former employer of Tapscott’s) were underwriters on the deal, but CIBC pulled its support from the young venture capital firm amid the allegations. According to BNN, clients of CIBC received an email saying, “CIBC has withdrawn as an agent from the NextBlock Global Limited private placement.” CIBC was not available for comment.Sources have told BNN that Canaccord Genuity remained in the deal.An article in Forbes last week detailed complaints from Kathryn Haun, Vinny Lingham, Dmitry Buterin and Karen Gifford that Tapscott had circulated an investor deck that incorrectly listed them as members of the NextBlock advisory board.Dmitry Buterin, co-founder of Blockgeeks and father of Ethereum co-founder Vitalik Buterin, was included in at least one draft of the investor deck. He told Bitcoin Magazine in a recent interview what had happened. He recounted:“It’s pretty simple. Alex asked me to be an advisor, I declined. Then I got a deck forwarded to me which listed me as an advisor. It was forwarded to me by investors who received it from Alex.”Buterin said he had met with Tapscott to let him know he wouldn’t be on the advisory board:“We had a meeting and I was not convinced that they have the right resources to pull this off.”When Is an Advisory Board Not an Advisory Board?A thread on Twitter about NextBlock recently included some comments about how advisory boards have become routine and are often used as window dressing for making ICO pitches and, therefore, they aren’t really “advising” as such.One user commented that likely only 50 to 60 percent of advisory boards are legitimate anymore, and put the NextBlock situation in a different light, implying that it’s become common practice to dress up a proposal with photos of known experts.Amber D. Scott, CEO of Outlier Solutions, told Bitcoin Magazine that she gets several requests a week to sit on ICO advisory boards. Scott explained that the conversation often goes like this:ICO rep: “We saw you speak at an event and would love to add you as an advisor.” Scott: “I’ve looked at your website/white paper and I’m not sure where you need compliance advice. Could you please elaborate on that?”ICO rep: “You don’t actually have to do anything. We’ll just put your picture and bio on the website. You have a great name in the community.”Andreas Antonopoulos, well-known author of “Mastering Bitcoin,” says on his website that he does not accept invitations to sit on advisory boards and that he will not discuss projects publicly if he does work as an advisor.Vitalik Buterin has also had to make it clear several times on Twitter that he is not an advisor for a number of firms that have touted his advice.What could have been a major scandal for both the Tapscotts (father Don and son Alex) has been averted by this move, but how much long-term damage both NextBlock and the Blockchain Research Institute will sustain to their reputation remains to be seen.The father-son Tapscott team co-founded the Toronto-based think tank Blockchain Research Institute, and co-authored the book “Blockchain Revolution: How the Technology Behind Bitcoin Is Changing Money, Business and the World,” which has been translated into more than 20 languages.The Blockchain Research Institute is holding a Members Summit this week in Toronto. Members of the think tank include CIBC, Microsoft, IBM, Fujitsu, Accenture, Tencent, Bell, Nasdaq, FedEx, Interac and the Governments of Canada and Ontario.The post NextBlock CEO Alex Tapscott Cancels Plans to Go Public and Will Return Money to Investors appeared first on Bitcoin Magazine.

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Introducing a Programming Language so Simple, It “Fits on a T-shirt”

November 3, 2017 jody 0

Blockstream is introducing Simplicity, a new programming language for blockchain-based smart contracts, intended for inclusion in Blockstream’s sidechains and eventually in Bitcoin. The new language was presented by its creator, Russell O’Connor, Infrastructure Tech Developer at Blockstream, at the ACM SIGSAC Workshop on Programming Languages and Analysis for Security (PLAS 2017).”Simplicity is a blockchain programming language that is so simple, it fits on a t-shirt,” O’Connor told Bitcoin Magazine. “It is critical that smart contracts behave in ways that all participants expect, and applying formal verification to Simplicity allows us to achieve that.”Simplicity is still a Blockstream Research & Development project, but there’s potential for its use in Blockstream products in the future, according to the company’s announcement.“Simplicity is flexible enough that I anticipate many new, domain-specific, languages will generate Simplicity, and this will give users the freedom to generate smart contracts using the tools that most suit their needs,” added O’Connor.O’Connor’s paper, titled “Simplicity: A New Language for Blockchains,” presents Simplicity as “a new programming language, designed to be used for cryptocurrencies and blockchain applications, which aims to improve upon existing cryptocurrency languages, such as Bitcoin Script and Ethereum’s EVM [virtual machine], while avoiding some of the problems they face.”Bitcoin script is limited by design and unsuitable for complex smart contracts that need more than a small set of simple templates to perform tasks like digital signature verification. Ethereum, on the other hand, includes a more expressive and flexible, Turing-complete programming language, which allows for arbitrarily complex smart-contracts in principle. But, in practice, Ethereum doesn’t support static analysis to pre-determine the computing resources that a program will require and, thus, filter out too costly contracts and infinite loops. Therefore, pre-paid “gas” fees are lost when an Ethereum program “runs out of gas.” The simpler Bitcoin scripting, which supports static analysis, doesn’t present similar issues.In a post to the bitcoin-dev mailing list, O’Connor proposed Simplicity as an alternative to Bitcoin Script, noting that static analysis is important for both node operators and for Simplicity program designers.“Static analysis is a technique that provides a universal algorithm to determine how much any Simplicity program will cost to run before you stake your money on it,” O’Connor told Bitcoin Magazine.Simplicity can be seen as a more flexible alternative to Bitcoin scripting, not Turing-complete but expressive enough to build useful smart contracts for blockchain applications, or as an alternative to Ethereum, which will support static analysis and other desirable features including improved safety, formal semantics, and Merkelized Abstract Syntax Trees (MASTs). While Simplicity is intended as a low-level language for smart contracts, O’Connor envisages the possibility of compiling programs written in higher-level languages (like Ethereum’s Solidity) to Simplicity.“Ivy and the Σ-State Authentication Language are existing programming language development efforts that may be suitable for being compiled to Simplicity,” notes O’Connor in the paper. “For the time being, generating Simplicity with our [Haskell] and [Coq] libraries is possible.”The next step in Simplicity’s development will be a bare-bones SDK (Software Developer Kit) that will include formal semantics and correctness proofs in Coq, a Haskell implementation for constructing Simplicity programs and a C interpreter for Simplicity. Then, the new language will be ready for initial deployment in the Elements project, Blockstream’s open-source codebase for sidechains, so that developers can start experimenting with the code.But, as O’Connor stated on bitcoin-dev, “Only after extensive vetting would it be suitable to consider Simplicity for inclusion in Bitcoin.”The post Introducing a Programming Language so Simple, It “Fits on a T-shirt” appeared first on Bitcoin Magazine.

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Funding the Blockchain Future of the Digital Media Industry

November 3, 2017 jody 0

BTC Media, the largest media group in the blockchain and cryptocurrency space, announced the launch of BTC Labs, a venture studio focusing on launching and incubating blockchain applications for the digital media industry on September 25, 2017.  BTC Labs, in turn, introduced Storyboard Ventures, a venture financing arm of the organization, seeded with $2 million to fund forward-thinking and promising media projects. According to BTC Media, Storyboard Ventures will be vigorously searching for those entrepreneurs who are “building use cases that leverage decentralization to disrupt longstanding inefficiencies” within the digital media industry.“The internet drastically altered how we consume and distribute information, but the media industry has failed to adapt its underlying business model,” Jeremy Kandah, Storyboard Venture’s Portfolio Manager, said in a statement. “Blockchain technology is revolutionizing the way that digital information is transacted, creating a host of new monetization models and connecting content creators directly with consumers. Storyboard Ventures will support the projects and pioneers shaping this media landscape of the future.”On November 1, 2017, BTC Labs announced their second project, the MAD Network, a decentralized ecosystem for the ad tech industry designed to return lost value to advertisers and publishers. The MAD Network will become the programmatic advertising platform within BTC Labs’ decentralized media suite, a collection of blockchain-based tools for the media industry. BTC Labs is working closely with the MAD Network to develop its technical architecture, as well as advising them on their upcoming token sale, which will take place on November 30th, 2017.“The MAD Network is one example of the suite of decentralized media applications that BTC Labs will support through research, development and funding,” Tyler Evans, CEO of BTC Labs, said to Bitcoin Magazine. “It is a perfect use case for distributed ledger technology because it takes the value that is traditionally captured by middlemen and brokers in the digital advertising ecosystem and instead, redistributes that value to the stakeholders in the network.”“BTC Labs has been instrumental in the development of the MAD Network,” Adam Helfgott, Project Lead at the MAD Network, said. “We’ve been able to leverage their breadth of expertise and knowledge in the blockchain space to help formulate our development plan and go-to-market strategy.”The first project backed by the venture studio was Po.et, a protocol utilizing and implementing blockchain technology and timestamped metadata to accelerate solutions for the publishing industry. BTC Labs developed the core architecture behind Po.et and helped guide the organization through a successful token sale process. As Bitcoin Magazine is a brand of BTC Media, all content of the publication is verified via Po.et.Blockchain technology has allowed for increased innovation, resulting in more equitable ways of sharing data and exchangin value. These new benefits of blockchain technology can be also implemented within the media industry to tackle numerous issues, including intellectual property registration, content monetization, licensing, ticketing and ad-tech. BTC Labs will focus on both the blockchain and media industries with an aim to support disruptive, open-sourced and decentralized networks. It recognizes that, in a decentralized network, every stakeholder can retain the fair value of their work. Thus, the innovation studio will develop decentralized networks to empower not just content creators but also brands and consumers.Disclaimer: BTC Inc. is the parent company of BTC Media and Bitcoin Magazine.The post Funding the Blockchain Future of the Digital Media Industry appeared first on Bitcoin Magazine.

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Confideal’s Crusade to Harness the Power of Smart Contracts

November 2, 2017 jody 0

<br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br />In his book “Down The Rabbit Hole: Discover The Power of Blockchain,” author Tim Lea<br />highlights the evolution of smart contracts and their use ensuing from the<br />blockchain. <br /><br />“The term smart contract was first coined by a<br />computer scientist Nick Szabo,” Lea writes. “In his 1996 article in the<br />magazine Extrophy, he broadly described a smart contract as the<br />ability to bring refined legal practices of contract law to the e-commerce<br />protocols between strangers and the internet.” <br /><br />In their most basic form, smart contracts are<br />self-executing contracts that function within mutually agreed upon terms<br />between two or more parties. These agreements, which are written into lines of<br />computer code, exist as part of a distributed, decentralized blockchain network facilitating the<br />automatic execution of contractual terms with no further involvement from any<br />of the parties involved, including external third-party intermediaries. <br /><br />This disruptive approach runs counter to the prevailing tradition of<br />drafting and enforcing deals through involvement with external players like<br />banks, lawyers and escrows. This practice is both time consuming and costly,<br />especially in cases involving overseas deals. While smart contract<br />technology helps to overcome these and other administrative and legal<br />roadblocks, a complex set of programming skills are required to draft<br />blockchain-based digital contracts. <br /><br />Enter Confideal<br /><br />One company that’s making major inroads in this new<br />age of smart contracts is Confideal, a platform for<br />managing and enforcing smart contracts. Based in Ireland, a hub for crypto<br />adoption in Europe, Confideal is forging a path toward the removal of barriers<br />to digital transactions throughout the world. The company champions<br />transparency, opening up essential business tools to those without legal or<br />coding skills. <br /><br />“Confideal is a service designed for a wide audience<br />from individuals to business owners, and available for everyone,” said Petr Belousov, Confideal’s founder and<br />CEO.<br />“Our ultimate goal is mass adoption of blockchain among real sector businesses worldwide.”<br /><br />Because Confideal’s data is encrypted and<br />protected by the Ethereum blockchain, the immutability of the agreement terms<br />is assured. In addition, Confideal offers the following value propositions:  <br /><br />•    <br />An internal arbitration module with top-rated arbiters<br />and unbiased ratings. Arbiters selected to resolve a dispute on the Confideal<br />platform are either a qualified third-party legal firm or a professional.<br /><br />•    <br />A smart contract management option that provides<br />full control over transactions (e. g. close deals, end them, set up fines and<br />down payments).<br /><br />•    <br />Cryptocurrencies are utilized to eliminate all<br />payment barriers. No need for intermediaries which results in lower costs. <br /><br />With the groundbreaking advancements of blockchain<br />technology, Confideal is on a<br />steady path to bridge the gap between the smaller circle of computer<br />programmers and coders who understand the inner workings of the technology and<br />the larger population of average, everyday users. With efforts to move smart<br />contracts toward mainstream adoption, efficient models of user interface become<br />vital. With Confideal’s efforts as a visual smart contract builder, it’s clear<br />that momentum in this space is heading in the right direction. Of course,<br />Confideal is not only about the builder itself. The three main features of<br />Confideal are: smart contracts, built-in arbitration, and CDL tokens. There are<br />tons of projects out there that offer only one feature and often they don’t<br />even have a ready to use product. Confideal, on the other hand, does have a<br />product and the project created a complete ecosystem that comes together into a<br />harmonious product. The built-in arbitration module is used in case of a dispute and basically it means that a<br />third party arbitrator will help you resolve or mediate the dispute. <br /><br />Confideal’s initial coin offering (ICO) will commence on November 2,<br />2017, under the token name “Confideal” or “CDL.” The total supply of CDL tokens<br />will be 100,000,000 with a price breakdown of 1,000 CDL to 1 ETH. The total<br />supply will never increase and no additional tokens will ever be released. <br /><br />CDL tokens are the internal, native currency for the Confideal<br />platform. For all transactions made in CDL, 1 percent of the contract fee is<br />exempted. Moreover, token users can participate in voting for arbiters. <br /><br />Of the total ICO supply, 74 percent of the tokens will be sold via the<br />ICO. The remainder will be distributed as follows: 6 percent were sold during<br />the pre-ICO; 10 percent have been set aside for the team behind the platform; 4<br />percent for promotional activities; 4 percent for advisors; and 2 percent for a<br />bounty campaign. <br /><br />“Following our ICO, we have a detailed roadmap<br />planned for developing the product,” Belousov said. “It includes the launch<br />of the arbitration module, API and widget, implementation of multiple smart<br />contract templates for various purposes, multi-language support, integration<br />with other technologies and blockchains. It is with this that we are excited<br />about the future of smart contracts.” You can reach out for more on Confideal through Telegram.Note: Trading and investing in digital assets is speculative. Based on the shifting business and regulatory environment of such a new industry, this content should not be considered investment or legal advice.<br /><br />The post Confideal’s Crusade to Harness the Power of Smart Contracts appeared first on Bitcoin Magazine.

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Qchain Charts New Native Advertising Roadmap

November 1, 2017 jody 0

Today’s native advertising world, where a publication’s editorial content is paid for by an advertiser to promote their product or service is fraught with challenges threatening the ad industry. Due in part to the growing dominance of digital media giants like Facebook, Google, and Amazon, display advertising conversions continue to experience a decline. This trend has spurred efforts to find new solutions for navigating the prevailing advertising ecosystem in a scalable, trustworthy and secure way. A viable solution in the blockchain? This nascent technology, which undergirds Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, is certainly garnering attention in the ad tech industry. In the past 18 months, companies like MadHive, Basic Attention Token (BAT) and adChain have come to market employing blockchain protocols to applications in the digital advertising supply chain. One creative approach to solving problems in the ad tech supply chain is an application being developed on the Ethereum and NEM blockchains by Qchain. The open source platform will use blockchain technology to facilitates transactional engagement between advertisers and content publishers, while being mediated and arbitrated by hosts. Akin to Google AdSense Network, Qchain is targeting a three-pronged approach (advertiser, publisher, and host) with an emphasis on a proof-of-interaction transaction verification system. What makes Qchain unique as opposed to other adtech blockchain startups is its ability to subtly shift the digital advertising model in a way that’s more favorable to advertisers. User experience and ease-of-use has therefore emerged as a top priority in the company’s development amid an environment of advertisers and publishers who are traditionally fairly conservative when it comes to change.  As in the case of BAT, Qchain aims to focus more on conversions versus rewarding users for their attention. Amid its growing involvement in the intersection between blockchain technology and advertising, Qchain champions the notion that Ethereum and NEM are the two most promising enterprise-centric blockchain hubs currently in development. The former allows for ease in development of decentralized smart contracts; the latter skillfully delivers the Proof-of-Importance (POI) algorithm and the EigenTrust++ reputation system to encourage transactions. Users therefore will have maximum choice at their disposal, opting for the blockchain that most accurately suits their needs. The infrastructural foundation of Qchain consists of four main elements: the advertiser section, the publisher section, the host section and the marketplace. A user can serve as both an advertiser and publisher. Qchain’s multidisciplinary beginnings“The members of the team and I are curious about the world, and a wide variety of academic subjects,” said CEO Wally Xie about Qchain’s ambitious direction. “Therefore we like to go where there are complex problems to solve.” Xie has long been fascinated by complex systems, and therefore saw blockchains are also an extension of that. At the National Institutes of Health, he  worked on using neural networks to simulate and replicate human brain behavior. Now at the University of California Irvine he is  working on comparing complicated mathematical climate models using Bayesian statistics. “Brains and climate are complex systems, and so are blockchains,” says Xie.After a few years of following the blockchain industry and its meteoric climb, Xie saw the “third generation” of crypto enthusiasts as well as the concept of tokenization as paths to opening up more opportunities for blockchain technology’s application. At the end of last year, he started brainstorming business and technical problems that could be solved by decentralization and transparency. While daydreaming in class one day in early 2017 (he’s currently pursuing a PhD in Mathematical Biology at UC Irvine), Xie began comparing blockchain technology with what he had learned working for the social media management firm Sprout Social. Xie realized that blockchains could make payouts and transactions in advertising and marketing cheaper and more convenient. He believes that the transparency of blockchain technology makes it easier to spot ad fraud post-hoc, harder to get away with things like SSP arbitrage, and improves the bargaining power of advertisers and publishers in the digital advertising ecosystem. He also appreciates that it allows an easy way to transfer funds directly between advertisers and publishers without a central deposit. “Of course, my views have gotten more nuanced,” admitted Xie. “I have learned that there are parties in the digital advertising ecosystem that do not want transparency. I am also of the opinion that the decline of standard web display advertising and anemic conversion rates of ads was a far larger problem than ad fraud in digital advertising.” The first digital marketplace for native advertisingAs their  roadmap states, Qchain has recently launched a demo for Qchain Native Direct Buy, the first piece of the platform. This part of the application will focus on creating a marketplace enabling simple and easy transactions of native ad units between content publishers and advertisers. Xie said, “Native advertising buys are being conducted in an inefficient manner right now. Content publishers have large, unwieldy sales teams and have to do a lot of cold calls. Advertisers have to search for publishers and individually contact them to shop for native ads via phone, email or in-person meetings; they do not have convenient means of seeing available native ad units for sale in one place.” Here is where Native Direct Buy comes in. Qchain aims to help solve these problems by providing a singular and accessible marketplace for advertisers and content publishers, such as BuzzFeed and Vox, to efficiently transact in native ad units. Blockchain technology, Xie pointed out, contributes to this idea by allowing advertisers to directly pay content publishers through cryptocurrency and potentially future tokenized fiat accounts, rather than going through a centralized deposit system. Additionally, Xie suggested that a Native Direct Buy on the blockchain is more feasible to execute in the short term than a prototypical ad exchange based on blockchain scaling problems that cannot handle high transaction volume.Xie said that the company is also in the process of developing their second application, Qchain Surveys, which will provide an enterprise paid survey service for marketers, pollsters and academics to inform their research. “We will add applications in the future as we see fit to fill out the platform and fulfill our aims of building an entire end-to-end ecosystem for digital marketers and advertisers to run their whole workflow on blockchain technology,” Xie pointed out. Qchain also has taken the rare step of developing a ready-to-employ, fully tested platform in advance of their ICO campaign – an approach that runs counter to most blockchain projects whose white paper/website only campaigns have given the ICO scene a bit of a black mark. Xie concludes: “We want to be an example of a sustainable, ethical company that grew from a legally compliant ICO. We want to make the sponsored content sales process more convenient and easy for content publishers, so that they can spend more time working on projects that also are not sponsored and satisfy their journalistic responsibilities.” The post Qchain Charts New Native Advertising Roadmap appeared first on Bitcoin Magazine.

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Robomed Network Unleashes Linkages Between Healthcare Patients and Providers

November 1, 2017 jody 0

<br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br />The global healthcare<br />market is vast and complex, with equity funding to digital health companies<br />having reached $5.8 billion so far this year. Within this space, myriad models<br />of healthcare delivery are being employed as breakthrough technologies are introduced. <br /><br /> <br /><br />A concept that’s gaining<br />increased attention is the “patient-oriented medical network.” In this model, patients can manage and control their healthcare data<br />through a mobile electronic medical record (EMR) — information they’re able to<br />grant their doctors access to when requested.   <br /><br /> <br /><br />This mode of value-based<br />physician-to-patient engagement is designed to impact care quality, cost and<br />patient access across an entire healthcare continuum. One company that’s making<br />a mark in this area is an innovative global digital platform known as Robomed<br />Network. <br /><br /> <br /><br />Robomed<br />is introducing a solution that allows the medical industry to replace the old,<br />prevailing ways of managing healthcare processes with new ones designed to<br />boost efficiency, effectiveness and transparency. This is achieved through the<br />elimination of non-value-added processes and clinical errors. <br /><br />Robomed<br />Network is comprised of 23 clinics across the world. Through the use of this<br />ecosystem, patients around the globe have access to bureaucracy-free,<br />affordable and quality medical care targeted to their specific needs. <br /><br />What drives all of this is<br />a medical network managed by a blockchain token, designed to provide the most<br />effective medical care. Robomed serves as the linkage point between health<br />service providers and patients, all tied to a smart contract built on top of<br />the Ethereum platform.<br /><br />“Robomed’s<br />blockchain is designed to constantly expand available capacity for<br />record-keeping, transactions tracking and accumulation of a diverse database of<br />medical knowledge and clinical pathways applied to treating a numerous range of<br />medical cases,” said Robomed Network co-founder Philipp Mironovich. “We believe<br />that the scope of medical services rendered to patients is bound to grow with<br />the processes for obtaining these services streamlined.”<br /><br />As a part of the Robomed<br />Network, participating in-network clinics utilize what is known as “Robomed<br />EНR,” a process-automation system geared for medical centers, which includes<br />unified medical data storage and health management tools. Its primary purpose<br />is to integrate all participating clinics into a single information space,<br />allowing various service providers to quickly interact without bureaucratic,<br />financial or legal barriers. <br /><br /> <br /><br />This<br />bridge between the patients seeking quality medical care and access to it is a<br />smart contact. This interactive digital mechanism allows patients to obtain<br />access to a chain of healthcare providers committed to delivering the best<br />medical care consistent with the digital clinical guidelines registered in<br />Robomed Network. <br /><br />These<br />clinical guidelines are adopted via a constantly updated, competitive and<br />transparent voting process involving the medical and patient community. The<br />goal here is to utilize a diverse set of healthcare treatments and high<br />standards to fulfill patients’ expectations.<br /><br />Robomed<br />Network issues its own tokens to drive the smart contract engagement between<br />healthcare providers and patients. This elevates service value by granting<br />token owners full accomplishment of clinical guidelines for cases. <br /><br />Patients<br />engage with the Robomed Network via Robomed Mobile or Robomed Web. The<br />proprietary smart contract technology provides a unique opportunity to create a<br />single system of coordinates with clinical outcomes as a reference point. <br /><br />Given<br />the possibilities and examples of using the Ethereum blockchain platform, the<br />Robomed Network team is excited about this decentralized, cross-border<br />ecosystem of healthcare providers they’ve created, based on an open smart<br />contract and cryptocurrency.<br /><br />Robomed’s<br />history goes a couple of years back, to when co-founders Mironovich and Ivan<br />Devyatkov decided to combine their expertise from the IT and healthcare<br />sectors. Mironovich had been involved in the startup of several hospitals, and<br />Devyatkov was involved in scaling up the second-biggest healthcare laboratory<br />player in Russia. This is how the basic version of Robomed EHR emerged. <br /><br />“Robomed’s<br />mission is to provide equal healthcare to the world,” said Mironovich. “This<br />means that Robomed aims toward constantly improving the effectiveness and<br />efficiency of healthcare services across its global platform.”Note: Trading and investing in digital assets is speculative. Based on the shifting business and regulatory environment of such a new industry, this content should not be considered investment or legal advice.<br /><br />The post Robomed Network Unleashes Linkages Between Healthcare Patients and Providers appeared first on Bitcoin Magazine.

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Creating a Blockchain-Based Network of Interoperable Artificial Intelligences

November 1, 2017 jody 0

Artificial Intelligence (AI) startup SingularityNET, recently covered by Wired as “the most tech-hype idea of the year,” wants to democratize AI research and facilitate the emergence of human-level AI on a decentralized, open-source platform.SingularityNET operates on a belief that the benefits of AI should not be dominated by any small set of powerful institutions but should be shared by all. A key goal of SingularityNET is to ensure the technology is benevolent according to human standards, and the network is being designed to incentivize and reward beneficial players. The startup is developing interoperability standards for AIs, which could radically improve the process of discovering and coordinating AI services, while allowing developers to easily monetize AI technology.SingularityNET positions itself both as a critical mediator across all future AI developments, as well as a hub for free and open AI technologies owned by the crowd, where anyone can acquire or monetize AI services. Blockchain-based smart contracts will be central to SingularityNET operations, allowing users to combine multiple AI technologies to create custom AI stacks. The initial implementation of SingularityNET will be built on Ethereum, with smart contracts written in Solidity.“AI is currently very fragmented and narrowly trained,” Simone Giacomelli, founder of Vulpem and co-founder of SingularityNET, told Bitcoin Magazine. “Blockchain technology and smart contracts make economic collaboration over the internet easier than ever before, aligning incentives mechanisms for different AIs to be optimized as one. SingularityNET leverages this collaborative power to make AI work together.”SingularityNET is the brainchild of AI researcher Ben Goertzel and robotics designer David Hanson, founder of Hanson Robotics. The robot Sophia, developed by Hanson Robotics, attracted media attention when it was recently granted citizenship in Saudi Arabia. While the SingularityNET project is still partly in stealth mode, it has been presented at recent blockchain events, including Wired’s Nextfest in Italy, SWITCH Singapore and the World Blockchain Forum in London.At the recent Ethereal Summit in San Francisco, Goertzel showcased Sophia to demonstrate the power of AI and the potential of incorporating AI and blockchain technology to create a decentralized, open-source, blockchain-powered AI network that operates like, and can be thought of as, a thinking brain.While on the SingularityNET roadshow, Goertzel is taking time from his busy schedule to write a series of posts on SingularityNET. “SingularityNET is intended as a platform in which an AGI [Artificial General Intelligence] can emerge from the combination of multiple humans and multiple human-created software programs, possessing varying degrees of general intelligence on their own,” Goertzel told Bitcoin Magazine. “It doesn’t eliminate the need for fundamental algorithmic work on AGI reasoning and learning and memory, but it provides a context in which such algorithmic work can have a rapid, transformative impact.”Goertzel makes a distinction between narrow AI and Artificial General Intelligence (AGI). While narrow AI programs are finding applications in a growing range of industries, they are not effectively integrated into overall AGI systems with general-purpose intelligence like that of humans. Therefore, Goertzel is persuaded that the next big step in the evolution of AI is going to be the transition from AI to AGI. SingularityNET wants to support this transition with an open market in which various AI algorithms can cooperate and form new patterns of emergent intelligence.“The actual design that has been formulated is a quite practical system that is being implemented in quality software code and will serve real corporate customers and become a large and lucrative business,” continued Goertzel. “But at the deepest level, the underlying philosophical and emotional motivations David Hanson and I had for creating SingularityNET, are transhumanist ones.”Goertzel and Hanson are, in fact, among the leading advocates of transhumanism, defined as the prospect of using advanced technology to radically change, hopefully for the better, the human condition. Enabling transhumanist technologies would include life extension, uploading human minds to futuristic supercomputers, and sentient AGI way smarter than humans, which is the target of SingularityNET. In his 2010 book A Cosmist Manifesto, which blends transhumanist technology and enlightened spirituality, Goertzel proposed a practical philosophy able to inform the next phases of human history and transhumanist evolution.Ultimately, Goertzel wants to create “a massively transhuman, overwhelmingly beneficial Ubermind” that evolves and grows continuously out of human mind and culture. “One way to achieve this would be to via brain-computer interfacing — and this is going to happen,” Goertzel told Bitcoin Magazine. “Of course the computer portion of cyborgs made with brain-computer interfaces will jack into this emerging AGI society, economy and culture as well, and then we will get a supermind.”“This emerging supermind, as it grows, will provide ways for people to earn a living and sometimes even generate tremendous wealth, as part of its growth process,” concluded Goertzel. “And it will donate parts of its resources to the common good of all humans, including underprivileged ones, as a way of helping drive its growth forward toward its objectives of joy, growth and choice.”Goertzel shared with Bitcoin Magazine parts of the draft SingularityNET white paper, a living document still under tight wraps.“A blockchain-based framework designed to serve the needs of AI agents as they interact with each other and with external customers can enable the emergence of a collective intelligence,” notes the draft white paper. “The use of cryptocurrency and blockchain for AI services provides a number of advantages. It allows AI agents to exchange work and subcontract with a high degree of flexibility, and also enables AI-based microservices to be offered to any customer via easily accessible APIs (enabled by smart contracts under the hood).”Goertzel, Hanson and the SingularityNET team want to balance long-term visionary thinking with practical market needs and business concerns. In their view, the platform could enable AIs to learn from each other and collaborate, which would be one of the biggest breakthroughs ever in the evolution of AI, causing a subsequent impact on the global AI market, which is projected to grow from $233.8 billion in 2017 to $3.1 trillion in 2025.“From day one, SingularityNET will offer AI agents,” continues the white paper. “The open design of the network, and the economic incentives, should then encourage additional AI developers to add their own AI nodes via the SingularityNET API.” While many nodes will run on powerful supercomputers in the cloud, others will be embedded in Internet of Things (IoT) devices, and humanoid robots like Sophia will be supplied with on-board SingularityNET nodes. The upcoming SingularityNET token, details of which haven’t been disclosed yet, will play a central role in the network’s operations.The project is about to launch an Initial Coin Offering (ICO) to fund the full development of its platform, to be fully deployed in 2018. “This ICO will allow us to start with a bang,” said Goertzel. “We’ll be competing with Google and Facebook…so having a war chest would allow us to take on them more easily.”The post Creating a Blockchain-Based Network of Interoperable Artificial Intelligences appeared first on Bitcoin Magazine.

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Setting Bitcoin’s Price Mechanism: CME Group to Launch BTC Futures

October 31, 2017 jody 0

On the anniversary of the publication of Satoshi Nakamoto’s Bitcoin white paper, the price of Bitcoin reached a new all-time high, following the news that CME Group, one of the world’s largest derivatives exchanges, will launch a Bitcoin futures product on November 14, 2017.Futures or derivatives in general are understood by their relationship to risk. They are investment products that can be bought and sold in the future based on being pinned to a fixed price through a contractual agreement. Basing futures off another fixed price allows investors to avoid financial risk or assume it for profit during price fluctuations.Like most futures, CME’s Bitcoin futures product will be cash-settled, based on the CME CF Bitcoin Reference Rate (BRR). According to CME, the BRR is a standardized reference rate, which — along with a bitcoin spot price index, the CME CF Bitcoin Real Time Index (BRTI) — “accelerat[es] the professionalization of bitcoin trading.” Like most other financial institutions exploring cryptocurrency, CME is launching a Bitcoin futures product to both satisfy client interests and investigate the rewards of testing blockchain technology’s “transparency, price discovery and risk transfer capabilities,” as noted by Group Chairman and Chief Executive Terry Duffy.The BRR and BRTI are two tools that have become consistent and reliable price references for bitcoin globally. The BRR has been calculated and published by CME and Crypto Facilities Ltd. since November 2016. Designed according to the IOSCO Principles of Financial Benchmarks, the BRR computes price by compiling and calculating data from a number of Bitcoin exchanges including Bitstamp, GDAX, itBit and Kraken.The implications of this Bitcoin futures product launch are far-reaching. It signifies both mainstream network adoption and a reduction in price volatility. As an investment product, it can readily fit into the stock portfolio of a traditional investor.The post Setting Bitcoin’s Price Mechanism: CME Group to Launch BTC Futures appeared first on Bitcoin Magazine.

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