Five Minute Blockchain – No. 45
Estimated reading time: 4 min 45 seconds
QUOTE OF THE WEEK
“We know from years of research that people will always use technologies in ways that their creators did not intend. In other sectors and industries, governments and governance bodies create rules, laws, and regulations to constrain and limit malicious or dangerous uses of potentially harmful products. But advances in artificial intelligence and algorithmic, data-centric technologies have slipped the leash and operate largely outside of those kinds of assessments and controls.”
– Janet Haven, Predictions for Journalism 2023 (Nieman Lab)
Predictions for Journalism
The above quote is from a series of articles published by Nieman Lab. Each year Nieman asks journalists about their predictions for the year. Below are links to some additional quotes and predictions relevant to the cross-section of trust/content/blockchain.
“The activist, scholar, and poet Maya Angelou famously said, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
AI couldn’t care less. Journalists will care more (Jennifer Brandel, Hearken)
“For a fact-checking effort to gain trust, the arbiters of truth cannot also be its distributors.”
Belling the cat: The rise of independent fact-checking at scale (Kavya Sukumar, Lightrock India)
“This new type of app isn’t a platform itself but instead pulls together various platform and content streams to offer a single, seamless networked experience.”
Journalism realizes the replacement for Twitter is not a new Twitter (Andrew Losowky, Vox Media)
All predictions –> Nieman Lab
Interview: Open AI founder Sam Altman talks about future products, risks for society, possible video platform
Sam Altman, the founder and CEO of Open AI, said that the current license with Microsoft is not exclusive. Last week Microsoft announced the intention to use ChatGPT, a text-generating platform released by Open AI, to create better answers on Bing in the future. Microsoft is a significant shareholder after $1 billion in the AI company last year.
The interview included questions about safety and whether new AI tools will disrupt societies – such as in education or office work. Altman said: “There are societal changes that ChatGPT is going to cause or is causing. A big one going on now is about its impact on education and academic integrity, all of that.”
In addition, Altman said that reactions are negative and positive, sometimes from the same group of people: “We hear from teachers who are understandably very nervous about the impact of this on homework. We also hear a lot from teachers like, ‘Wow, this is an unbelievable personal tutor for each kid'”.
Getty Images announces lawsuit against Stability AI over copyright infringement
Getty Images, a global provider of licensed photos, announced a lawsuit against the company behind the popular generative AI tool Stable Diffusion. The stock image company argues that the AI company processed millions of images without training the AI software without a license. The suit has been filed in London, meaning that the verdict will be made outside of the US, potentially influencing future regulation of visual and text AI tools.
Learn how to use Open Source Intelligence (OSINT)
The myriad of published texts, photos and videos available online opens the door for a new form of intelligence: OSINT stands for “Open Source Intelligence”.
It is an umbrella term for various techniques to find evidence on digital platforms. The methods are used by intelligence units as well as investigative journalists.
A typical application is to geo-locate a picture or a video. Or use small segments of such material to collect evidence of what happened in the Ukraine war in a specific town. One well-known group using OSINT is “Bellingcat“, located in the UK. The techniques can be learned. The link below leads to a four-hour, free training for the basics of OSINT.
UNHCR uses a blockchain payment platform to help Ukraine war refugees
What would be a modern way to efficiently and with accountability distribute financial aid to people displaced through war? The UNHCR uses a blockchain payment platform for this. Launched in December 2022, the solution is currently used in Ukraine.
From an article published by UNHCR: “The pilot phase of the project is designed specifically for Ukraine but can be adapted worldwide.”
The current solution uses the Stellar blockchain and distributes funds as a stablecoin equal to one US Dollar. Recipients can receive funds after installing an app on their smartphone. Cash conversion is possible in 4,500 MoneyGram locations in Ukraine or elsewhere in Europe. The statement did not say what commissions would be charged for such transactions.
Non-Crypto Applications of Blockchain discussed in Davos
Experts, politicians and top managers are talking about blockchain as a technology at this year’s gathering at the World Economic Forum in Davos. Despite the crypto crash, there are some positive views where blockchain technology is performing well.
Quote: “Despite the crypto crash, “the underlying tech has performed perfectly,” Schulman said. “The promise of a distributed ledger is that it can be faster and cheaper to settle transactions simultaneously with no middlemen. That’s an important thing.”
Others are far more critical and do not believe in any value from the blockchain for crypto or other use cases. One example is economist Nouriel Roubini, who has voiced his concerns over a blockchain. In Davos 2023, he said blockchain is a “fad” and “no more than a glorified database”. Roubini does not believe that blockchain entries can create trust without an institution verifying that the information is correct – for example, in food logistics.
- Founders Fund sold off most of its crypto venture portfolio in March 2022, well before the crash, generating a $1.8 billion return. Financial Times
- Musk’s Twitter Saw Revenue Drop 35% in Q4, Sharply Below Projections (The Information)
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Five Minute Blockchain – No. 44
Estimated reading time: 3 minutes 33 seconds
Medium starts a dedicated Mastodon instance
“Online publishing platform Medium, originally created by Twitter co-founder Evan Williams, announcedtoday that it’s embracing the open source Mastodon platform by creating its own instance to support its authors and their publications. The company said it’s launching me.dm, a Mastodon community that will offer reliable infrastructure, moderation and a short domain name to make it easier for authors to share their usernames, among other things.”
Who is speaking?
Microsoft recently announced a new AI service called VALL-E, which is focused on creating synthetic voices. Using the system, even a short recording of an original voice is sufficient to create an artificial voice which sounds almost like the original.
“… it maintains tone, timbre, a semblance of accent and even the ‘acoustic environment’, (for instance, a voice compressed into a cell phone call).”
The human ear is not easy to deceive. But with the newest services, we might see a surge in deceiving phone calls or audio recordings, opening a new field of work for dis- and misinformation investigations.
Don’t ban Chat GPT in schools – teach with it
Chat GPT poses a problem for schools: What if pupils write a prompt, get a decent answer and hand in the result as their work? Would it be cheating? Kevin Roose (@kevinroose), writing for the New York Times, suggest this:
“Instead, I believe schools should thoughtfully embrace ChatGPT as a teaching aid — one that could unlock student creativity, offer personalized tutoring, and better prepare students to work alongside A.I. systems as adults. Here’s why: The first reason not to ban ChatGPT in schools is that to be blunt, it’s not going to work. Sure, a school can block the ChatGPT website on school networks and school-owned devices. But students have phones, laptops and any number of other ways of accessing it outside of class. (Just for kicks, I asked ChatGPT how a student who was intent on using the app might evade a schoolwide ban. It came up with five answers, all totally plausible, including using a VPN to disguise the student’s web traffic.)”
The New York Times ($)
ChatGPT Tutorial and Crash Course
Would you like to learn what ChatGPT is or get some advice on how to use the (currently free) platform? Here is a link to an excellent video to get started.
YouTube Link: ChatGPT Tutorial
How to use AI art and ChatGPT to create an entire website
People are already going further. Here is a quick way to create a complete website using the tool.
YouTube Link: Create a website using ChatGPT
How to use ChatGPT to make YouTube videos
The use cases are almost without limits. This one does not create videos directly but uses ChatGPT to write scripts for videos very quickly, including a demonstration of extending initial answers through additions towards facts, etc. There is some product placement here (for a video maker), but the case is interesting.
YouTube Link: How to make a YouTube video using ChatGPT
Gemini vs Genesis: It’s complicated
One legal fight between crypto companies draws a lot of attention right now, specifically as it became more complicated today.
It is the one between Gemini and Genesis.
Summary: The two companies started a project called “Gemini Earn”. Users of Gemini could hold their crypto assets on Genesis and receive interest. Such lending projects worked as long as crypto was on the way up. But since last year, they have come under pressure when the value of crypto holdings fell. In the case of Genesis, the company started blocking any funds withdrawals in November last year. This resulted in angry demands from Gemini to give back the assets.
This week the case became much more complicated: The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) charged both companies with offering an unregistered financial service. As Genesis is now busing sued along with Gemini, this will block any payback of the crypto assets to the original owners for a long time.
- Gizmodo found that CNET has been quietly publishing articles based on ChatGPT for months, not indicating that a machine wrote the articles. LINK
- CNET explains why it uses AI writing tools like ChatGPT and promises to mark future articles written by such technologies. LINK
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Five Minute Blockchain – No. 43
Estimated reading time: 4 min 38 secs
Welcome. All the best to you for 2023 from the TruBlo consortium and the funded projects.
TruBlo aims to find new and innovative applications for “trustable content on future blockchains”. Given last year’s turmoil, “future blockchains” (a term we used from the beginning) seems the correct perspective now. There are many aspects that need to be sorted out so that the expectations and hopes towards blockchain technology can help all of us towards the next level of high quality, and now, and now, and information technology.
2023 will be the third and final year of TruBlo. We have concluded the three open calls. Now the goal is to analyse, connect and learn from the experience and findings of our 45 funded projects. Step by step, we will publish results from individual projects and the entire ecosystem of teams and ideas.
What do you expect of 2023 about trustable content and the broader use of blockchain technology? What are the key trends? Will blockchain technology make a jump forward, or will development slow down?
QUOTE OF THE WEEK
“The administration believes that the digital asset space is unregulated and thinks they can get away with anything. They are eager to plant a flag and send a message.”
– Renato Mariott, a former federal prosecutor for the Department of Justice Securities and Commodities Fraud Unit Renato Mariott, on CoinDesk TV’s “First Mover“
The debate over the TikTok ban in the US
There is considerable debate about whether TikTok, the social media app with short videos, should be banned in the US. There are two main reasons: Young users seem to be glued to their smartphones consuming entertaining, never-ending content – this observation leads to concern among parents and officials. Another factor is a deep distrust of whether TikTok, which a Chinese company has developed, uses the platform to collect data about their global, often western, audience. Because US and Chinese relations deteriorated last year, the debate about banning TikTok entirely is simmering.
Currently, Brendan Carr, commissioner for the powerful FCC (Federal Communications Commission) in the US, points to India as an example. TikTok was banned almost two years ago in India, and Carr is quoted saying that India set a “significant precedent”.
A recent step in the US was that TikTok was banned from the smartphones of people working for the House of Representatives. A reason for this step was concern over potential surveillance and data collection.
TechCrunch: “India set a significant precedent by banning TikTok, FCC commissioner says.”
Microsoft plans to use ChatGPT for better answers on Bing, resulting in a challenge to Google
Chat GPT from OpenAI, released by the end of November 2022, has created a lot of excitement regarding the capabilities of artificial intelligence. Have you already tried to let ChatGPT write a text for you? The software, currently free to use, performs various writing tasks based on user prompts, and the results are impressive.
Now ChatGPT will be used as a tool to compete with Google. According to “The Information”, Microsoft plans to release a version of its search engine Bing, which uses ChatGPT to answer user searches. The goal is to have better answers because the user’s intent might be better understood and answered this way.
Microsoft has invested one billion US-Dollars in OpenAI. Another small but interesting fact: Bing might only be the second choice in the search engine market. But it is a serious business. Microsoft generates a yearly revenue of $9 billion US Dollars in advertising. Furthermore, the market share of desktop searches for Bing has risen from around 4% to now almost 9% since 2019.
Reuters: Microsoft aims for AI-powered version of Bing
Background: ZD Net: What is ChatGPT, and why does it matter?
Apple unveils books narrated by artificial voices
“Apple has quietly launched a catalogue of books narrated by artificial intelligence in a move that may mark the beginning of the end for human narrators. The strategy marks an attempt to upend the lucrative and fast-growing audiobook market – but it also promises to intensify scrutiny over allegations of Apple’s anti-competitive behaviour.”
How generative AI might turn the open web into a Dark Forrest
How do you prove you are a human in a system where robots generate more interactions? Here is a link to a thought-provoking essay discussing the perspective of a future internet turned into a so-called “dark forest”. The “dark forest theory” describes an increasingly life-like but life-less online state. Don’t miss the great graphic that stacks the different layers of the web (open web, “cosy web” with tight spaces, dark web).
Web3 music ecosystem in 2023 – 140 companies and platforms
One big hope for creators is that blockchain technology could enable a direct channel to fans without an intermediary. Right now, this does not seem very realistic. But the technology, in theory, would allow for direct sales of NFTs – be it photos, videos or music.
How does the Web3 music landscape look right now? Click on the link to see a comprehensive overview created by Musciben & published on Twitter.
TON Network launches decentralised file-sharing platform
The Telegram Open Network (TON) was started by Telegram in 2019. Now a new offering called TON storage wants to overcome limitations in long-term storage. The core idea of TON storage is to offer financial incentives to node operators.
“Anyone can become a node operator on the TON network and receive payments from other users for hosting files — even if operating just one node”.
Additional links: TON.org
The state of blockchain consortiums in 2022
“Consortia in the blockchain domain comprise enterprises collaborating to expand their work on shared ideas and objectives. Blockchain consortia bring competitors under a common roof to solve shared problems using decentralized network solutions.”
Question: How did these collaborations evolve in the face of recent market troubles?
Thank you for reading. If you have questions or suggestions, please contact us via email@example.com.
Welcome to a new edition of the TruBlo newsletter. We aim to collect and link to the most relevant content in the field of blockchain, trust and content from the past week, with optimism for blockchain technology, but not as cheerleaders. We are an EU-funded research project supporting 45 early-stage teams working on “trusted content for future blockchains”. Please forward this newsletter to colleagues and friends if you think they would be interested in this.
Estimated reading time: 9 minutes 54 seconds (apologies, we are a bit longer this week).
Updates this week
QUOTE OF THE WEEK
“I can’t think of a field in tech that has had as much polarisation and as much useless noise as crypto. Behind all the noise, a lot of very clever people are quietly building highly complex and technical infrastructure, scaffolding and plumbing that might mean you could build billion-scale consumer services on this stuff in, say, five years.”
Source: Benedict Evans, Newsletter Nr. 457 (20.09.2022)
Projekt of the week: Enarxis – better management of EV loading stations
Enarxis project will use blockchain technology for reputation management for users of Electric vehicle (EV) loading stations, specifically in the hospitality sector.
Why in the hotel sector? Because EV loading stations have become as essential for hotel guests as WiFi was a few years ago. There are two problems: What if people reserve a station but then do not show up – but because of the reservation, the station is still blocked for use by others? Similarly, what if people load their batteries but then do not leave? Both issues will be managed with an app developed by the team behind Enarxis. The team was recently selected for an accelerator program by Visa and had earlier been funded by TruBlo.
Project profile & team members: Enarxis (EV Loader)
How Russian Disinformation targeted a US movement
A report on how state-sponsored trolls from Russia targeted a movement (the Women’s March of 2017) and its leaders in the US. The goal was to weaken the movement by attacking the leaders and sowing doubt:
“They posted as Black women critical of white feminism, conservative women who felt excluded, and men who mocked participants as hairy-legged whiners. But one message performed better with audiences than any other. It singled out an element of the Women’s March that might, at first, have seemed like a detail: Among its four co-chairs was Ms. Sarsour, a Palestinian American activist whose hijab marked her as an observant Muslim.”
A second quote helps to understand how the tactics work:
“Ladislav Bittman, who worked for the secret police in Czechoslovakia before defecting to the United States, compared Soviet disinformation programs to an evil doctor who expertly diagnoses the patient’s vulnerabilities and exploits them, “prolongs his illness and speeds him to an early grave instead of curing him.”
The New York Times ($)
Passwords: Why four random words are better than a complex phrase
Julia Angwin from The Markup shares a reminder on how to construct hard-to-crack passwords. The critical knowledge is that four random words (for example” “Sunshine Expected Today Brooklyn”) are hard to crack (because of the number of possible combinations) and easy to remember. There is no need for a complex, hard-to-remember phrase. For illustration, here is a link to an XKCD strip about this particular topic.
In her newsletter, she goes a step further and talks to Jeremi Gosny, an expert in the space of password security. They discuss how the need for safe passwords has changed. The critical advice: Make sure that you have a different password for all accounts, not the same across all your logins. The interview is interesting, and there are several relevant and recent observations in the space of individual password security.
Quote from the interview with Jeremi Gosny: “Where we find the most success as password crackers is targeting passwords that are generated by humans, because humans across the globe still tend to think alike. Despite our language and cultural differences, our brains are only capable of coming up with a finite space of patterns.”
The New York Times reports strong subscriber growth for 2. Quarter 2022
The New York Times is one of a few newspaper/news organisations that are successfully moving from the old print/advertising world to digital subscriptions. Developments are tracked worldwide in the hope of learning about potential patterns that could be applied to ailing news organisations elsewhere. The most recent update from the company is the second-quarter results for 2022. In total, 230.000 new subscriptions in one quarter mean that the goal of 10 million total subscribers could be achieved much earlier than planned.
The New York Times (Press Release)
Police at the door
In Germany, posting hate content in Germany can have direct consequences as a result of new laws.
“German authorities have brought charges for insults, threats and harassment. The police have raided homes, confiscated electronics and brought people in for questioning. Judges have enforced fines worth thousands of dollars each and, in some cases, sent offenders to jail. The threat of prosecution, they believe, will not eradicate hate online, but push some of the worst behavior back into the shadows.In doing so, they have flipped inside out what, to American ears, it means to protect free speech. The authorities in Germany argue that they are encouraging and defending free speech by providing a space where people can share opinions without fear of being attacked or abused. ‘There has to be a line you cannot cross,” said Svenja Meininghaus, a state prosecutor who attended the raid of the father’s house. “There has to be consequences.'”
The New York Times ($)
Five AR/VR trends: Free analysis of current market development
“Immersive workouts. Workplace training simulations. MeditaThere’sps in virtual reality” – these are just three scenarios which could soon define a growing market for AR (Augmented Reality) or VR (Virtual Reality). Market research CB Insights has a free 26-page study about recent trends for AR/VR, and the study is available after free registration. Salvador’sactive company so far in this field has been Meta, but now Apple seems to get ready to enter this particular market with new hardware offerings.
Instagram allows longer stories
Instagram will allow longer stories. Stories shorter than 60 seconds will no longer be broken into small segments.
“Now, when you post a Story that’s under 60 seconds in length, it won’t be broken up into segments. The company began testing the change with select users late last year and has now rolled it out to all users worldwide…The new change is a welcome addition to the app, likely for both users and viewers. Users will now be able to post uninterrupted Stories that won’t be broken up, and on the other hand, viewers will no longer have to continually tap to get through a long video that they may not actually want to see. But, the change could also be a turnoff for people who liked the simplicity of short, bite-sized Stories.”
Podcast episodes are getting shorter
Based on an analysis of 2,5 million podcasts episodes with at least 10.000 listeners, Rephonic found that:
“Over the past nine years, podcast episodes that are at least 60 minutes long have slowly but surely become less common. They made up over 20% of all podcast content in 2013, decreasing to under 17% in 2021. Why? It could be the rise of short and frequent daily news podcasts. Or perhaps as podcasting becomes increasingly accessible, it attracts more indie podcasters with less budget to spend on producing long episodes.”
- The average top-performing podcast releases a 37-minute episode every 5 days
- The top History podcasts have the longest delay between new episodes
- Fiction podcasts should record longer episodes to attract a large audience
Digital Euro legislation planned for 2023
“At a conference hosted today by the Banque de France, EU Commissioner Mairead McGuinness said that the Commission plans to propose legislation for a ‘possible’ digital euro in 2023 to enable parliament and the European Council to debate it. The digital euro work is currently in the prototyping phase, and Banque de France Governor François Villeroy de Galhau confirmed that a decision on whether to proceed would be made at the end of 2023, with a potential launch in 2026 or 2027.”
Ethereum Merge reduced global energy consumption by 0,2%
“The Ethereum merge this week slashed global energy consumption by 0.2%, Vitalik Buterin wrote in a tweet Thursday, citing a crypto researcher. The long-awaited event successfully transformed the blockchain from a proof-of-work consensus mechanism to proof-of-stake. Proponents have touted the transition for making Ethereum an almost-net-zero technology. The switch also makes gas fees, or transaction costs, lower and means the network will be able to process transactions faster.”
Argentine airline to adopt NFT technology for tickets
Airbondi, a low-fare airline from Argentina, plans to issue flight tickets as non-fungible tokens (NFTs). This means that passengers can do more with them. For example, they can sell or transfer the tickets to other persons three days before departure. The underlying technology was developed by Travel X, and the company’s website is worth a visit. The company aims to reimagine travel using blockchain tech.
Nomura and 17here’s banks have invested in FNALTY, which uses blockchain for central bank settlements
“Fnality, formerly known as the Utility Settlement Coin, tokenizes money deposited at a central bank to enable the settlement of DLT-based transactions with on-chain digital currency. It is expected to launch its first currency, the British Pound, next month as it has been formally recognized as a payments system by HM Treasury. Other planned currencies are euros, U.S. dollars, Japanese Yen and Canadian dollars.”
Bitcoin in El Salvador, one year later
Quote via “Attack of the 50 Foot Blockchain”:
- There’s almost no use of bitcoin as a currency. The official Chivo Wallet is hardly used, and they never did get it working correctly. Businesses have taken down their “we accept bitcoin” signs.
- There’s almost no use of bitcoin for remittances.
- Hundreds of millions of dollars in public funds have gone up in smoke — which is as if the US spent hundreds of billions — with nothing to show for it.
- Crypto crashed. As well as screwing over local bitcoin holders, this halved the face value of the government bitcoin reserve.
- El Salvador can’t borrow internationally. The IMF won’t talk to them while bitcoin is in place. The price of Salvadoran sovereign debt has fallen through the floor, as has El Salvador’s credit rating.
- The Bitcoin Volcano Bonds supposedly had $1.5 billion of buyer interest lined up — then Russia invaded Ukraine, and those buyers vanished.
- The ground has not been broken for Bitcoin City. I’m pretty sure it never will.
David Gerrard’s “Attack of the 50 Foot Blockchain”
Estonia approves first crypto bank after new legislation
“Striga, a bitcoin and cryptocurrency bank, became the first virtual asset service provider (VASP) to gain regulatory approval in Estonia following the country’s revamping of its digital asset legal framework, per an announcement from the Financial Intelligence Unit.”
Striga is the new name used by Lastbit, a US start-up team. The project had already introduced Mastercards in connection with crypto accounts. The team has been part of YCombinator, a start-up accelerator.
Financial Intelligence Unit (Press Release)
Is crypto a house of cards?
The Washington Post has a special about the story of crypto so far, chapter by chapter.
“Crypto is among the most urgent of current tech topics, driven by billions of cryptocurrency trades weekly — bitcoin and so many others — and a cultural stigma perhaps unseen in finance since the days of the Wall Street wolves of the 1980s. Almost since its creation, crypto has been characterized by sudden wealth creation, surprise hacks, big scams, bold promises and shattered dreams.”
The Washington Post (free content)
OTHER STORIES & SHORT LINKS
- Interpol has issued a red notice for Do Kwon, founder of failed Terraform TechCrunch
- Looking at 320 pitch decks, here’s what science tells us works best TechCrunch
- UN countries are preparing to pick a new head of the International Telecommunications Union Wired UK
- “As If Nothing Happened”: I Used Artificial Intelligence To See How Some Celebrities Would Look Today If They Were Alive Bored Panda
- Australian pilot CBDC test for eAUD to commence mid-2023 Cointelegraph
- Christie’s moves on-chain with NFT auction platform on Ethereum Cointelegraph
- How Web3 property rights can transform the digital economy Forkast
Thank You for reading. If you have questions or suggestions, please get in touch with us via firstname.lastname@example.org
Five Minute Blockchain
Welcome to a new edition of the TruBlo newsletter. We are funding 45 early-stage blockchain ideas to explore new options for “trusted content on future blockchains”. A list of all TruBlo projects is here: https://www.trublo.eu/projects/
Our main question for selecting news and links: How is the field of blockchain, content and trust evolving?
Estimated reading time: 5 min 12 secs
Updates this week:
FTC sues US data broker Kochava
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has filed a suit against Kochava, a US-based data broker.
“Kochava’s data can reveal people’s visits to reproductive health clinics, places of worship, homeless and domestic violence shelters, and addiction recovery facilities. The FTC alleges that by selling data tracking people, Kochava is enabling others to identify individuals and exposing them to threats of stigma, stalking, discrimination, job loss, and even physical violence. The FTC’s lawsuit seeks to halt Kochava’s sale of sensitive geolocation data and require the company to delete the sensitive geolocation information it has collected.”
Two-thirds of UK youth are not interested in crypto
A survey conducted by youth marketing agency Seed in May 2022 showed low interest in cryptocurrency among young people in Britain.
“Responses revealed that 66% of so-called ‘zoomers’ aged 18-24 are not interested in cryptocurrency, with 10% willing to try it but won’t prefer it over other investments. It canvassed 2,000 people during May, which was the depths of the crypto crash. Women are even less interested in crypto, with three-quarters giving it a thumbs down. In contrast, half of men are willing to give it a try.The situation for NFTs was even worse, with 70% believing non-fungible tokens (NFTs) are scams.”
Facebooks pervasive pixel
A study using technology from Mozilla reveals the extent of data collection around the world.
People buying guns with cryptocurrency leave a digital trail
Gun owners in the USA want no or minimal data registration about purchases and ownership. But buying weapons with crypto could leave an unintentional digital trail.
Sources: Netflix plans to launch ad tier in November, to be ahead of Disney+
In July, the company announced to plan for the introduction in early 2023. Now it looks like the launch will be done earlier for markets in the US, Canada, UK, France and Germany.
Google blocks TruthSocial app because of violent content
TruthSocial is a social media platform initiated by former US president Donald Trump after being banned from Twitter. Now it seems Google will not allow the app to be downloaded via the Google Play Store.
French government uses AI to detect undeclared swimming pools
In France, homeowners must declare a swimming pool for accurate property tax. Authorities are now using machine learning software to analyse aerial photos.
“The software, developed in partnership with the consulting firm Capgemini and the US digital giant Google, was tested in nine regions — Alpes-Maritimes, Var, Bouches-du-Rhône, Ardèche, Rhône, Haute-Savoie, Morbihan, Maine-et-Loire and Vendée — and revealed more than 20,000 undeclared swimming pools, according to a report by the directorate. “
Twitter tests an edit button for Tweets
A tweet can be edited for up to 30 minutes, and the edit history will be shown to users. The feature has been requested for a long time, though critics feat that the edit option might open the door to misuse.
Little kids yelling “poop” at Alexa are driving up profits for some songs
“Pecunia non olet” is a Latin proverb that means “Money does not smell”. Now, some musicians report that songs with the word “poop” are getting many plays. The assumption is that this happens because little kids yelling “poop” activate Alexa.
Helium developers propose switching to Solana
According to a blog post by the Helium Foundation, the platform wants to free up resources needed to develop and maintain its own blockchain and instead plans to switch to Solana.
“Developers behind the Helium network – a grid of medium-range wireless hotspots pitched as an alternative to hard-wired internet service – are proposing to migrate away from the project’s own blockchain onto Solana, in pursuit of faster transaction speeds, higher uptimes and more interoperability with other blockchains as key reasons. The Helium Foundation wrote in a Medium post this week that the new proposal from the Helium core developer team would improve the operational efficiency “significantly.” The proposal to move toward Solana and away from Helium’s own blockchain, officially known as HIP 70, “addresses network speed, reliability and scalability”.
Web3 is going great
Misplaced decimal allowed traders in Georgia to cash out at 100x the regular price
Coinbase tries to get its money back after discovering that in late August, Georgia traders could cash out crypto at 100 times the intended market rate. The Georgian Lari (GEL) exchange rate was 290, not 2,90. As a result, an estimated 900 traders could sell their holdings at a considerable profit. Coinbase is now seeking payback; accounts have been locked in some cases. The misplaced decimal point was not detected for seven hours.
Market analysis: The state of crypto banks in 2022
Users: From October 2021 to May 2022, Crypto.com saw its user base grow from 10M to 50M, an increase of 400%. Similarly, the number of Nexo users doubled from over 2M to over 4M from September 2021 to May 2022. Crypto lending has surged over the last two years and publicizes a vision of financial services where lenders and borrowers avoid the traditional financial firms that position themselves as the gatekeepers for loans or other products.
Company size: While some crypto banks are facing hiring headwinds, others are unperturbed amid market volatility. In June 2022, BlockFi announced a 20% layoff — the company headcount dropped from about 850 in January to about 680 by the end of July. Meanwhile, Nexo’s LinkedIn headcount has jumped nearly 60% since January 2022.
- Google and YouTube outline plans for content moderation in US midterm elections TechCrunch
- How to add DuckDuck Go Privacy Essentials to your browser ZD Net
- Web3 Domain Name Service Could Lose Its Web Address Because Programmer Who Can Renew It Sits in Jail Coindesk
- Snap appears to have axed its Web3 team as part of the social media company’s decision to restructure and cut its headcount by about 20%. Blockworks
- 62% of wallets did not sell Bitcoin for a year amid a bear market Cointelegraph
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Photo by Bernard Hermant on Unsplash
August 25, 2022• Issue No. 39
Five Minute Blockchain
Welcome to a new edition of the TruBlo newsletter. We are funding 45 early-stage blockchain ideas to explore new options for “trusted content on future blockchains”. A list of all TuBlo projects is here: https://www.trublo.eu/projects/Our main question for selecting news and links below: How is the field .of blockchain, content and trust evolving?
Updates this week:
Estimated reading time: 4 min 10 sec
Spyware use in Europe, homemade
In Greece, Thanassis Koukakis, a financial journalist, discovered spyware on his phone. This case seems to be part of a whole wave of spyware uses.
“Over the past 13 months, it has been revealed that spyware had targeted opposition leaders, journalists, lawyers and activists in France, Spain, Hungary, Poland and even staff within the European Commission, the EU’s cabinet-style government, between 2019 and 2021. The bloc has already set up an inquiry into its own use of spyware, but even as the 38-person committee works toward producing a report for early 2023, the number of new scandals is quickly mounting up.”
One key finding – the spyware was developed in Europe, not elsewhere:
“What sets the scandal in Greece apart is the company behind the spyware that was used. Until then the surveillance software in every EU scandal could be traced back to one company, the notorious NSO Group. Yet the spyware stalking Koukakis’ phone was made by Cytrox, a company founded in the small European nation of North Macedonia and acquired in 2017 by Tal Dilian—an entrepreneur who achieved notoriety for driving a high-tech surveillance van around the island of Cyprus and showing a Forbes journalist how it could hack into passing people’s phones. In that interview, Dilian said he had acquired Cytrox and absorbed the company into his intelligence company Intellexa, which is now thought to now be based in Greece. The arrival of Cytrox into Europe’s ongoing scandal shows the problem is bigger than just the NSO Group. The bloc has a thriving spyware industry of its own.”
A deep dive into the fall of Three Arrows
Long report about the founders, set-up and the reasons for the downfall of the crypto hedge fund. Apparently, “playing with money” was a big part of it, sheltered by a hybrid that the complex technology would make the blundering hard to detect.
“Bear markets in crypto tend to make any stock-market action look like child’s play. The crashes are so severe that insiders call it “crypto winter,” and the season can last years. That’s where Three Arrows Capital found itself by the middle of January 2022, and it was poorly equipped to weather it. The GBTC position ate an ever-larger hole in 3AC’s balance sheet, and much of its capital was tied up in restricted shares in smaller crypto projects. Other arbitrage opportunities had dried up. In response, Three Arrows seems to have decided to ramp up the riskiness of its investments in hopes of scoring big and getting the firm back on a solid footing. “What made them change was just overreaching for returns,” says a major lending executive. “They were probably like, ‘What if we just go long? In February, Three Arrows took one of its biggest swings yet: It put $200 million into a buzzy token called luna, which was founded by a brash, alluring South Korean developer and Stanford dropout named Do Kwon, with whom Davies and Zhu had been hanging out in Singapore.”
New York Magazine
How a small, slightly different view might grow into deep distrust
Even if views on a complex issue differ, it should be possible to find a consensus for the best solution over time. A factor in this should be the amount of available information – the more, the better. That would be an assumption based on common sense. But it might not be true at all. Instead, the abundance of information might amplify small different views into deep distrust of “the other side”.
„We show that small biases may lead to substantial and persistent divergence in both trust in information sources and beliefs about facts, with partisans on each side trusting unreliable ideologically aligned sources more than accurate neutral sources and also becoming overconfi- dent in their own judgment.”
Could the abundance of information on the web and social media overwhelms and confuses humans? And that this leads to more extreme positions instead of compromise?
Dark Patterns: Bad when used by others, but ok when used by your company?
Benedict Evans points to two articles published in The New York Times: One criticising the use of “dark patterns” on technology platforms. And other technical articles where the news organisation talks about its optimisation to gradually funnel online visitors into subscriptions.
The use of technology to funnel first-time visitors gradually towards a possible subscription is not automatically a “dark pattern”. The expression describes UI/UX layouts of websites where users have difficulty saying “no”. Such patterns are used in all kinds of applications, often leading to complaints by users who only later find out they were tricked into consent for a setting, for marketing purposes or even a subscription which can not be cancelled anymore.
But Evans has a point that often, double standards apply to the use of
The technical report about using Machine Learning to gain more subscribers does not mention such approaches. But the point is: As everyone tries to optimise the business revenue, the occurrence of tricks, cover-ups and harmful business practices will likely not go down but up. One fact from the published article: After reaching 10 million paying subscribers, the NYT aims to reach 15 million by 2027. Such ambitious growth often applies tricks to achieve such goals in time. High pressure to reach goals was a significant reason for Volkswagen’s scandal around engine emissions.
The New York Times: Stopping the manipulation machines ($)
The New York Times: How The New York Times Uses Machine Learning To Make Its Paywall Smarter
In Argentina, Crypto is more practical for many transactions than cash
A recurring doubt regarding the future of cryptocurrencies (and blockchain) is the question of practicality. Where is the practical, day-to-day use?
One country where this is different is Argentina, a country where cryptocurrencies have a growing appeal, despite the volatility.
Two main reasons: The local currency, the peso, has lost value for decades. The second problem is that banks have imposed restrictions on bank accounts. Having a bank account in another currency with a bank outside of Argentina is no real option because one would have to travel there to get the money. This is why many people in Argentina store money they have in bricks – they buy bricks when they have money and store them.
“Argentinians who use crypto are increasingly untethered from the local Argentinian economy and increasingly plugged into the global cloud economy. Crypto is providing new solutions to problems that Argentina has faced for generations, and many Argentinians are excited about its potential to make it easier and safer to make, use, and store money.”
People in El Salvador want reliable banking.
“N1co is Central America’s first neobank, thriving because El Salvador still needs basic financial inclusion.”
Rest of World
Bitcoin Depot to go public at an $885 million valuation
The company is operating a network of Bitcoin ATMs in the US.
“Founded in 2016, Bitcoin Depot claims to be the largest provider of such ATMs in North America with more than 7,000 kiosks in the region. These ATMs function by connecting with a wallet and, after a verification process, allow the user to insert fiat money to receive BTC, LTC or ETH in their wallets.”
The percentage of crypto investors did not grow in the past 12 months
According to a survey by PEW Research, the number of people dealing with crypto has remained at the same level as a year before, at roughly 16%.
(In 2020) Pew researchers asked 10,371 Americans if they have “ever invested in, traded, or used a cryptocurrency.” Some 16 percent of Americans said they had. Last month, the nonprofit asked another sample group — slightly smaller, at 6,034 Americans — the same question. And again, 16 percent said they had invested or traded in the alternate currency.
Washington Post ($)
- 64% of crypto-versed parents want crypto to be taught in schools Cointelegraph
- 72% of Russians say they never bought Bitcoin Cointelegraph
Ethereum Merge to begin September 6
The Ethereum Foundation says it will begin the Merge on September 6, split into two parts, the second running between September 10-20
- cbETH: Coinbase offers liquid staking service & token for Ethereum ahead of the Merge The Block
- Authorities in Afghanistan shut down 16 crypto exchanges in one-week Coindesk
- Revenue is a feature. Some companies can think about it later; others must figure it out earlier. Benedict Evans
- Mana: “BlackRock for the new economy” TechCrunch
- BalkanID will use AI for Identity Governance TechCrunch.
- Privado helps developers be compliant with privacy laws Forbes
- ThirdWeb raises 24 million for web3 development kit TechCrunch
- Polygon founder launches fund with $50 million for web3 investments Cointelegraph
- How traditional banks cope with digital assets Blockdata
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