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Jeff Garzik Develops Cryptocurrency Designed to Last Forever

Jeff Garzik, one of the earliest developers of Bitcoin who participated in Bitcoin development between 2010 and 2015, has created and is launching a cryptocurrency named Metronome. The motto of Metronome is “The Built-to-Last Cryptocurrency”, and indeed it is specifically designed to survive as long as blockchains exist.

Metronome is designed for cross-blockchain portability. A user can decide to transfer their Metronome from one blockchain to another. For example, a user can have their Metronome on the Ethereum blockchain and transfer it to the Bitcoin blockchain. The user removes their tokens from the Metronome supply on the origin blockchain and receives a proof of exit Merkle receipt. This receipt is then used to activate the Metronome smart contract on the destination blockchain.

Essentially, users can choose the best blockchain to keep their Metronome on. Currently, the most secure and popular blockchains are Bitcoin and Ethereum, so those are the blockchains that most Metronome users will probably choose. In the far future, Bitcoin and Ethereum may become obsolete, but Metronome would keep on going since users can simply migrate to the new optimal blockchain.

The cross-blockchain portability technology that Metronome has put into operational use might be essential when quantum computers become a threat in the future. As things are now, the Bitcoin blockchain is theorized to inevitably be compromised by quantum attacks. But if a Metronome-esque protocol is adopted, perhaps Bitcoin can be moved to a quantum blockchain.

A one-week Metronome initial coin offering (ICO) is ongoing as of this writing. It uses the Dutch Auction technique where prices descend with time until a buyer is found. The price started at ETH 2 per Metronome – over USD 1,000 – but is declining continuously until it reaches prices less than a penny or is sold out.

The developers chose the Dutch Auction technique to hinder whales from purchasing all the Metronome, so that everyone gets a fair shot at purchasing coins.

 

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Nvidia to Develop Blockchain Prototype for Smart Digital Marketing

Chipmaker Nvidia has joined hands with AI startup Ubex to use artificial intelligence and blockchain technology to develop a smart digital marketing platform.

Nvidia accepted Ubex into its inception program at the beginning of this month saying its intention was to help neural networks present online ads more efficiently.

Ubex noted that the current advertisement techniques on websites were inefficient mainly due to the high cost of data access. As per the sources, the prototype uses artificial intelligence and the blockchain in data access so that clients can access specific data sets without paying for additional data. This enables businesses to target their digital ads to potential customers appropriately.

A Ubex representative termed the newly forged partnership as a unique opportunity to eliminate middlemen in the data industry. The soaring cost of data is prohibitive for most companies to engage in effective digital advertising.

Artem Chestnov, the founder of Ubex, said the main reasons for using blockchain technology is because of its transparency aspect in each and every transaction. Data stored in the distributed system is unalterable, cannot be manipulated and open for access to the general public.

He continued to say that the immense amount of information at the Ubex platform will be analyzed by AI, adding that its prototype would be able to access various data sources ranging from government data, marketing data and mobile network data.

Alluding to the difficulty of learning neural network, Chestnov remained optimistic about effective functioning of AI datasets: ”Training an AI requires a lot of effort. The blockchain base will allow us to attract thousands of sources of information that will be used to enrich our AI’s database and make it faster, smarter, stronger and more efficient.”

 

Image Source: Pixabay – JacekAbramowicz

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Malta Banker Association Chair Says Crypto Will Make Banks Obsolete

Marcel Cassar, chairman of the Malta Bankers Association (MBA), has told The Malta Independent that cryptocurrencies may pose a significant threat to banks, possibly making them obsolete.

He suggested that the threat to banking of mainstream cryptocurrency adoption was because “their traditional role as main payment intermediary for funds and currency transmission will become challenged, if not obsolete”.

It is hardly surprising that such comments would originate from a banker in Malta given its current place in the crypto space. Malta has become increasingly appealing to Bitcoin companies conducting business there due to the island’s positive spin on blockchain technology and its open-minded approach to regulation linked to a strong economy. It also boasts the largest cryptocurrency trading volume in the world, according to Morgan Stanley.

Add to this Prime Minister of Malta Joseph Muscat’s recent plans to re-establish several cryptocurrency businesses in his country’s jurisdiction and it is clear that the country is preparing for a future with cryptocurrency. Malta already has pro-blockchain legislation and existing regulations around cryptocurrency, making this announcement an outreach for more cryptocurrency companies to locate in the Mediterranean country.

Cassar sees these technologies as positive for banking in the sense of blockchain offering unbridled and irrefutable authenticity to transactions and documentation, himself describing the benefits as “undisputed”, but sees any major significant changes by banks as still quite distant.

His comments that banks may well be made obsolete as the new technology really takes hold don’t extend to fiat currency. Some banks, he says, are filling a gap and profiting by just simply limiting their involvement to advice to customers regarding ICOs and custody services.

Independent.com refers to many banks’ current lack in innovation and energy in getting on board with the new tech, pointing to ex-Citigroup boss Walter B Wriston who in 1981 commented:

“The belief that a market is yours by some divine right is an old dream. Companies that fail to change become tombstones in the corporate graveyard.”

 

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Mathematician Trailblazing for Bitcoin Privacy with “Scriptless Scripts”

Mathematician Andrew Poelstra is working on a system whereby Bitcoin users will be able to enjoy increased privacy.

Poelstra feels that companies have now become completely intrusive, delving into to the lives of users who wish for a certain degree of anonymity as they use the blockchain; data is shared and sold on with no benefit whatsoever to the owner. Cases in point being Facebook and Instagram, to name just two of the numerous companies in cyberspace sharing unowned data.

Polestra has been looking at the trails that such data leaves as it winds its way through cyberspace, as he feels this is the key to his passionate research:

“Those trails that no one thinks about, I wish that they weren’t there… I would hope I’m not leaving one and I would hope that no one that I love is leaving one. That’s who I’m working for.”

Speaking during a panel at CoinDesk’s Consensus 2018 conference, he suggested that it was others that he was concerned about, friends and family, and why he had taken up the challenge of coming up with a solution he calls “scriptless scripts”.

He suggested that crypto project ‘MimbleWimble’, with its heightened scalability and privacy advantages, could be superseded with something far more effective, offering enhanced privacy to users. Scriptless scripts could improve the privacy of Bitcoin Lightning Network payments, no longer needing “to publish to the world all the details of your payment channels”.

Polestra says that a new technology pioneered by Bitcoin developer Pieter Wuille with support from himself and requiring Schnorr signatures is very close to being released. However, to make the technology totally functional in helping to reduce cyber trails and enhance privacy it will need to be linked to other technology.

Such technology, he suggested, might include Greg Maxwell’s Taproot which would add privacy to the extent that people so people wouldn’t be able to tell the difference between on-chain and Lightning’s off-chain transactions, making all Bitcoin transactions look the same.

Another privacy issue that Polestra has been working on, such as confidentiality, has led him to a way of shielding user balances called “bulletproofs”. These decrease the size of confidential transaction tech, further enhancing the ability to hide user balances.

There are still improvements clearly needed to enhance and ultimately solve Bitcoin privacy issues, such as shielding sender and receiver information, which is still traceable, and that at present has no solution.

Developers continue to look at these issues in order to make the blockchain a “trail-less” environment, but this keen young mathematician has already made significant inroads.

 

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Crypto Could Break Internet: Is the Bank for International Settlements Mistaken?

The Bank for International Settlements (BIS) has released a paper titled ‘Cryptocurrencies: looking beyond the hype’., in which it lists scaling concerns over widespread adoption of cryptocurrencies, including possibly bringing “the internet to a halt” due to the tremendous amount of data that would be transferred by millions of users downloading swollen blockchains.

Essentially, BIS concludes that blockchains might work well for relatively small transaction frequencies but if they become a primary means for payments globally, then blockchain sizes would quickly grow to terabytes, using up too much internet bandwidth. The paper believes that if cryptocurrency processed as many transactions as other retail payment systems like Visa and MasterCard, then the blockchain would be too big to store in a smartphone within days, too big for a personal computer within weeks, and too big for a server within months.

BIS foresees that only supercomputers would be able to download and process the entire blockchain, but even then users would be transferring so much data and using so much bandwidth that it could congest the internet.

It appears to be an exaggeration, considering that the entire Bitcoin blockchain is 170 GB, and this includes all of the transactions over the last nine years since Bitcoin launched in 2009. This is easily downloadable by a personal computer.

Even so, the paper does not seem to recognize, however, that users do not necessarily need to use full node clients that download the entire blockchains, with lightweight clients such as simplified payment verification (SPV) wallets sufficient to perform transactions. It also does not consider second-layer networks currently in development, such as Bitcoin’s Lightning Network that would take transactions off-chain, possibly surpassing Visa’s transactional speed and capacity, without the data bloat.

BIS brought up other downsides, saying cryptocurrency is slow and consumes lots of energy. Again, this is not necessarily true, and it appears that some data used by BIS is outdated, leaving out recent scaling developments in major cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin and Ethereum.

Despite the mostly negative content of the report, BIS said the underlying blockchain-based distributed ledger technology showed promise for other applications like cross-border payments and faster settlement execution via smart contracts.

 

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Kerala Using Blockchain to Drive Food Supply Chain in India’s Deep South

The state of Kerala, in India’s extreme south, is adopting blockchain in order to update and streamline its food supply chain to customers.

The blockchain is increasingly aiding food production and the flow of food from growth to table around the world, with new concepts appearing almost weekly. Raja Ramachandran, CEO for ripe.io, a company currently developing blockchain for the food industry, says that blockchain’s recent popularity is because it is trustworthy and verifiable.

“The blockchain is really this fabric and code automation that binds all that together, and more importantly asks each of the participants to effectively provide a consensus that the claim or assertion is true… If someone certifies something, you typically rely on a third party. Now, the entire supply chain can self-certify because it’s looking to agree with each other.”

Kerala’s latest project wants to offer customers this level of stability to its food supply chain. The Kerala Development and Innovation Strategic Council (K-DISC) will now be ensuring that goods now include RFID tags and the use of IoT devices to monitor transportation and delivery, primarily of milk vegetables and fish.

Kerala will now be monitoring milk being delivered to millions across the state on a daily basis in fully refrigerated trucks using RFID tags and IoT equipment. All components of the milk supply chain will be strictly monitored and recorded on the blockchain.

Fish will now be receiving similar attention with farms linked to geo-coded imaging, enabling real-time monitoring following catch-to-table verification systems on the blockchain.

The Kerala government is looking to extend the success of these projects and says it is considering to branch into farming crop insurance, in order to enable faster, smart claims of farming crop losses. Kerala also has its own educational program run from regional capital Thiruvananthapuram, where students can learn about how to utilize blockchain in the health and banking sectors.

 

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Universities Getting Clever with New Blockchain Courses

Despite Bitcoin’s current downturn, universities are increasingly opening up educational projects for blockchain technology reports Econotimes, with the number of universities and educational facilities running blockchain and cryptocurrency courses growing as financial markets expand and absorb more blockchain-related products.

There are now many opportunities for blockchain developers but clearly not enough skilled technicians to fill these gaps. Toptal, a marketplace for hiring tech talent, has recorded a 700% increase in demand for blockchain developers since January 2017. These positions can be well paid. According to Jerry Cuomo, VP of IBM’s blockchain technologies division, the best blockchain developers can command a salary above USD 250,000.

There are have been some early starters; institutions offering courses in digital information systems, the blockchain, and cryptocurrency. In the US, the Northeastern University College of Engineering in Boston and George Mason University in Virginia run courses in blockchain technology as part of other advanced educational postgraduate Science programs.  The University of Cape Town now offers a cryptocurrency and fintech elective module as part of its wider Data Science Masters program.

In Scotland, the University of Sterling – as part of its Financial Technology Masters program, offers participants a primer to blockchain technology, which includes cryptocurrencies, decentralized applications, smart contracts, and applications and case studies.

What is changing now is the way in which blockchain hard forks and other cryptocurrency specifics are taking the technology in directions which also require new specialized skills.

Professor David Yermack from NYC Stern School of Business was an early teacher of blockchain and crypto tech on the university’s MBA program suggests business schools will have to update their curricula due to the rapid rate in which the markets are moving. His current class has doubled over the past year and lessons are conducted at a larger auditorium because of the recent surge of student applications.

In the UK, Garrick Hileman, a research associate and lecturer at the University of Cambridge and the first to develop a blockchain graduate course, said other departments including finance and law are now jumping on the blockchain educational bandwagon. “It wouldn’t surprise me to see some turf wars break out over who owns the blockchain curriculum at business schools,” comments Hileman.

Blockchain training and education is needed in many sectors now and is not simply limited to IT and finance. Even cattle farming has branched into the new tech. Take Bonita Carlson of Persson cattle Ranch in Wyoming who’s trying to create a worldwide-link-of-cattle supply chain, so that electronically tagged cattle can be on an immutable ledger verifying their free-range farming credentials.

From farming to health, the need for more blockchain specialists is clearly on the rise., and it appears that universities are now catching up with the market’s surge of new uses for the burgeoning tech across all sectors.

 

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Blockchain Jobs are Number One In US – Upworks Skills Index

The number one position on Upworks US skills index is now blockchain expertise, making these the most sought-after positions for with current employers, writes Forbes.

The Upworks index is a strong indicator of the rising need within the US professional’s employment market for employees with blockchain experience and also is a gauge which indicates that blockchain has arrived and it is clearly not going away any time soon. According to Burning Glass Technologies, there were more than 5,743 jobs posted needing blockchain skills in the last 12 months.

As Bitcoin News has reported, multinationals such as IBM and Samsung have shown the world the value of the new technologies by embracing blockchain wholeheartedly. Companies such as Walmart are updating their supply chains and state governments in the US are increasingly turning to the technology to streamline government departments and state law.

What kind of blockchain related positions become available very much depends on demand. Blockchain developers, or engineers are top of the tree, being in high demand due to these positions highly technical nature. The whole process of developing a blockchain platform very much relies on the expertise that these professionals can bring to the project.

Blockchain project managers and designers are also in demand. The manager is responsible for tying technical aspects of the blockchain to the company’s actual business requirements. The job calls on standard management skills that might have been earned in other industries, using this ability to communicate to customers who may not have the tech skills nor vocabulary, but while still having the technical know-how themselves to communicate with staff.

One aspect of the tech that is becoming increasingly important, and perhaps is illustrated quite graphically by the recent Italian court case involving BitGrail, is the need for companies to employ a blockchain attorney or legal consultant in order to tackle the legal ramifications of using blockchain.

It is likely that the need for these professionals will swell over the next two years as blockchain takes on a more mainstream profile across sectors. Bernard Marr, writing in Forbes, suggests, “Blockchain has become what the “cloud” was in the mid-2000s, poised to be the most highly talked about technology and one that offers tremendous professional opportunity.”

 

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Japanese Village on Honchu Launches Own Cryptocurrency

The village of Nishiawakura in Japan is to launch its own cryptocurrency through a coin offering launched by the local government, making it the first of its kind in the Asian country.

Nishiawakura is a village located in Aida District, Okayama Prefecture, which is located in the southern part of Japan’s Honshu island. The prefecture is largely known for its rural landscapes, feudal castles and art museums. As of October 2016, the village has an estimated population of 1,437.

The idea of the village launching an ICO has come about so that Japan can create its own self-maintaining social environments using blockchain, so that small centers like Nishiawakura can secure its own financing resources and upfront development.

The village coin, Nishiawakura Coin (NAC) will enable villagers to become involved in municipal decision making and even voting. A village statement read:

“We plan to advance according to the revised fund settlement law…in line with the self-regulation rules on the management and finance by the Japan Virtual Currency Exchange Industry Association.”

This industry association was established in April and consists of 16 government-approved crypto exchanges. The revised fund settlement law went into effect in Japan last year, legalizing crypto as a means of payment.

The village began considering the idea at the end of 2017 when it announced it had found a blockchain provider for the enterprise and that it wouldn’t be Ethereum or WAVES.

The nearest to a blockchain town outside of Japan appears to be the Swiss town of Zug although, unlike Nishiawakura, it hasn’t gone as far as creating its own cryptocurrency. The entire Zug ecosystem promotes innovation and provides opportunities that other cities and countries lack. The town uses Bitcoin as payment for city fees and Bitcoin payments up to CHF 200 (Swiss francs), immediately converting all Bitcoin payments into Swiss fiat currency to minimize risk. Its latest project is to test voting on the blockchain.

 

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Cycle Your Way to Bitcoin With the Latest TOBA Crypto Mining Pushbike

UK company specializing in the manufacture of electric bicycles has come up with the novel idea of creating the world’s first e-bike that mines cryptocurrency, writes Cycling Industry News

The company 50cycles has come up with the TOBA series cryptocurrency mining electric bicycle which will earn users cryptocurrency as they ride, generating ‘LoyalCoin’ at a rate of around £20 worth to every 1,000 miles ridden.

After furious pedalling users will be able to cash in coins in a number of outlets and trade for major digital tokens, many of which are accepted on the manufacturers website, Founder, and CEO of 50cycles, Scott Snaith claimed, “This is not only the first electric bike of its kind, but it will also be the first product ever to be tokenised and which issues reward for use.”

Snaith said that he was inspired by electric bikes being popularised in Japan and has basically adapted that idea to new technologies such as blockchain. He added, “we have always been a company that moves ahead of the times by embracing the latest technology.”

“Just like we saw the potential in electric bikes in Tokyo 15 years ago, we now see the promise and future in blockchain technology, cryptocurrency, and product tokenization.”

He sees the project as an environmentally friendly concept as well as a crypto generating social environment rewarding those devoted to green transportation. By allowing discounts to those buying a TOBA using cryptocurrency, everyone wins.

Customer will be able to monitor their pedal power through a mobile app, monitoring their LoyalCoin token count as they go, and each bike will have its own owner’s digital key

There have been a few reports of both companies and individuals finding ingenious ways to cut through the enormous use of power needed for crypto mining, such as the QC 1-Crypto heater which at a glance with its minimalist looks and shiny walnut top looks every bit like a home appliance, but actually it’s heating the users room using processors that are churning out Bitcoin whilst one sleeps, writes Co.design.

Alabama IT worker Lee, gave up his graphics card that he was using for Bitcoin mining for his bathtub, reports Motherboard. This turned out to be a much better tool for the job. By using ambient air pulled into a system to cool his ASICs and heated air pushed through a water-to-air intercooler pumped through from his bathtub, he generated enough computer heated water to keep his mining habits up to par.

The only problem was, he generated bathwater of 122F/50C, so fearing for the life of his pets he decided to halt his bathtub mining activities.

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