Five Minute Blockchain Newsletter Nr. 41

Five Minute Blockchain Newsletter Nr. 41

Five Minute Blockchain

Welcome to a new edition of the TruBlo newsletter. The big news this past week was the successful merge of Ethereum. Our main question for selecting information and links: How is the field of blockchain, content and trust evolving?

Estimated reading time:

Updates this week:


PROJECT


TruBlo: Full list of 45 funded early-stage projects

We funded 45 early-stage projects, with €75K each. Selected projects will have the chance to get a second round of funding with an additional €100K. You can scroll through all projects on the website; each has a short profile.

TruBlo Funded Projects


TRUST


Ethereum Merge completed

This was a huge step for the platform. The new approach of proof-of-stake instead of proof-of-work will sharply reduce energy needs. How the change will affect the future of Ethereum remains to be seen. This week the cryptocurrency is down about 10%.

“The metaphor that I use is this idea of switching out an engine from a running car,” said Justin Drake, a researcher at the non-profit Ethereum Foundation who spoke to CoinDesk before the Merge happened.”

Coindesk


The Economist: “The future of Crypto is at stake in Ethereum’s switch”

“Proof-of-stake will require 99.9% less energy to maintain. The effect on emissions will be as though, overnight, the Netherlands had been switched off.”

The Economist ($, free registration possible to read article)


A larger number of crypto start-ups at YCombinator’s current batch

Despite the recent downturn, the newest YCombinator cohort of start-ups has 30 crypto teams. YCombinator is the top incubator program for new tech companies, with an impressive track record of large firms which started there.

TechCrunch


Microsoft Teams popularity results in new cybersecurity challenges

“…according to research released by Vectra yesterday, versions of Teams for Windows, Mac and Linux are storing authentication tokens in plain text on the underlying device. This is significant because it means attackers can gain access to authentication tokens and other information if they hack a system where Teams is installed. This vulnerability highlights that enterprises can’t afford to rely on the security of consumer-grade, public-grade communication platforms when they’re communicating sensitive information, IPs and other data.”

VentureBeat


CONTENT


Open source AI software: Stable Diffusion released

You might have heard of Dalle-E. Now there is another software able to generate images from text, and it is open source.

A week or so ago, Stable Diffusion was released, and the world went crazy, and for good reason. Stable Diffusion, if you haven’t heard, is a new AI that generates realistic images from a text prompt. You basically give it a description of the image you want, and it generates it.

Stavros.io


Apple doubles digital advertising workforce

Apple gradually takes a larger slice of global advertising revenues; the number of people working in that area at the company has by now doubled. This is not without potential controversy because Apple had introduced privacy rules reducing the ability to track users for companies like Facebook.

Financial Times


Should Apple be forced to use USB-C?

In discussions in Europe and the US, the goal is to have less “chaos” with charging ports. But not everyone agrees. If companies are forced to use a specific system, what happens to innovation in the long term? Quote from John Gruber, writing on Daring Fireball:

“Proponents of the EU’s USB-C charging port mandate speak as though bringing order out of chaos is still a problem to be solved in the mobile phone world, like it was 15 years ago. It’s not. Market forces generally work, and in the case of charging ports, they have: there are only two meaningful phone charging ports today, USB-C and Lightning. There is no chaos. There are good arguments for Apple to switch the iPhone to USB-C (high-speed data transfer, particularly for the 4K video footage iPhones have long been capable of, being at the top of the list), and good arguments against (zillions of iPhone owners with zillions of existing Lightning cables). But that should be for Apple to decide.” (Daring Fireball)

Daily Beast


Instagram fined 400 million for child privacy violations

“The Irish Data Protection Commission (DPC) fined Meta, the owner of the social network Instagram, EUR405M for what it labeled a violation of child privacy statutes under the GDPR. DPC mentioned three issues with Instagram’s privacy settings that led to the penalty:

  • Users under 17 can open business accounts.
  • Business accounts for minors still display user contact information.
  • Underage accounts are not private by default.”

Techgenix


France: Journalists sign charter towards better climate change reporting

Journalists and media professionals in France signed a charter defining guidelines for climate change reporting. This includes revisiting growth models for the media companies themselves. One of the goals is to investigate and report on real solutions.

Charte Journalisme Ecologie


BLOCKCHAIN


Binance to end support for stablecoins offers users to switch to their own

“Binance claims the move is to “enhance liquidity and capital-efficiency for users”, but the conversion and Binance’s related decision to stop trading on spot pairs involving those same stablecoins seems like an attempt to increase the status of its own stablecoin against that of rivals.” (Source: Web3isgoinggreat)

TechCrunch


Big financial firms collaborate for EDX

Several leading financial institutions in the US, including Fidelity, Schwab and Citadel, are behind a new crypto exchange called EDXM. Observers are unsure whether this is a sign of more profound interest or a delayed project coming out in crypto winter.

EDX


African Start-up “Metaverse Magna” receives funding for decentralised gaming

This February, Africa and emerging market-focused Nestcoin raised a pre-seed round to build, operate and invest in its web3 applications, including crypto content platform Breach Club and gaming guild Metaverse Magna (MVM). Nine months after its launch last December, the latter has completed a seed sale token round of $3.2 million at a $30M fully diluted valuation.

TechCrunch


UK Treasury mandates that crypto exchanges report breaches or pay fines

New rules are applied in the UK in response to the invasion of Ukraine by Russia. The goal is to cover all valuable digital assets, which results in crypto assets being part of the sanctions list. If platforms do not report breaches quickly, they face fines for such delays.

The Guardian


OTHER STORIES & SHORT LINKS


  • What is decentralised identity in blockchain? Guide. Cointelegraph
  • South Korean Officials Are Targeting Do Kwon’s Passport Bitcoin.com
  • Mailchimp bans crypto-related projects Cointelegraph
  • Adobe agrees to buy the design tool Figma for a high price of $20B Bloomberg TechMeme
  • Anonymising facial images to improve patient privacy Nature
  • YouTube Taps Machine Learning to Convert Landscape Videos to Square, Vertical Formats Variety
  • AI Isn’t Ready to Make Unsupervised Decisions Harvard Business Review

Would you happen to have any feedback or suggestions? Contact us via info@trublo.eu

Photo by Joel Henry on Unsplash

Five Minute Blockchain Newsletter Nr. 39

Five Minute Blockchain Newsletter Nr. 39

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


TRUST


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.”

WIRED


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


CONTENT


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?

Stanford University


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


BLOCKCHAIN


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.”

Big Think


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 Block


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 ($)

Related:

  • 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

The Block


Short links


  • 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

Thank You for reading. Please forward this newsletter to colleagues: Click here to subscribe.

Would you happen to have any feedback or suggestions? Contact us via info@trublo.eu

Photo by Clark Tibbs on Unsplash

 

FogBlock4Trust: How to combine global institution accreditation and distributed credential verification

FogBlock4Trust: How to combine global institution accreditation and distributed credential verification

Below is a video demo of the FogBlock4Trust project, which aims at realising a Fog-assisted Blockchain-based credential management solution to strengthen the trust and privacy of users.

Innovation: The most important novelty of FogBlock4Trust is the provision of two distinct major services within one framework, namely global institution accreditation, and distributed credential verification. Other recent proposals for credential management are inefficient, unreliable in terms of storage management and privacy AND/OR provide only one of the two services.

Use case: The FogBlock4Trust solution is planned as a global institution/provider accreditation and credential verification system. It will support the use of one-way encryption, symmetric and asymmetric encryption, digital signatures, Zero-Knowledge-Proofs, and an improved Proof-of-Signature consensus algorithm. Exploiting these methods and technologies for providing end-users with full privacy-preserving distributed accreditation and verification services is the goal of FogBlock4Trust.

Scenario: The assumed scenario for the demo is that there are issuers of online credentials, in a zero-knowledge setting. A real-world example would be a group of universities providing trustable digital copies of certifications from students to each other. Such a setting (a group of issuers, a multitude of certificates/documents, and a large number of single users who can access the system for certain tasks) can be found in a range of domains.

Demo: The 20-minute demo shows how cloud and fog computing can be enhanced with blockchain features.

Team:
Attila Kertesz, Project leader: https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Attila-Kertesz-2

Hamza Baniata, Blockchain specialisthttps://www.researchgate.net/profile/Hamza-Baniata

Tamas Pflanzner, Cloud, IoT and Web developerhttps://www.researchgate.net/profile/Tamas-Pflanzner

Settlemint: Demo & Walkthrough on March 31, 2022 – 13:00 CET

Settlemint: Demo & Walkthrough on March 31, 2022 – 13:00 CET

Settlemint, a company from Belgium, offers a low-code platform enabling any company to start projects, with simple steps and a visual overview of set-up, costs and tracking of performance. TruBlo invited Settlemint to talk about their low-code platform for fast blockchain onboarding.

Please join us on Thursday, March 31 at 13:00 CET
Zoom-Link: http://settlemint.zoom.us/j/97664560875

Settlemint is a tech start-up from Belgium, five years in business by now and a leader in this particular field. There are a number of reasons why making it easier to launch blockchain projects will meet a lot of demand.

  • Firstly, there is by now much interest in how established businesses can actually use blockchain technology, in order to enhance and extend their workflows. 
  • Secondly, there is a severe scarcity of developers who have experience with blockchain. This means that only a few companies can start exploring blockchain right now. 
  • With Settlemint it is possible to get started much fast, connect data from your current cloud and then explore the options with a variety of available blockchain protocols. Settlemint offers a cost calculator, provides a visual overview and all other needed components. 

We want to hear about the Settlemint platform and see it in action. Stefan Günther from Settlemint will provide an overview and a short presentation in our one-hour event.  

The event is organized jointly by Settlemint and TruBlo, an EU-funded project funding innovative approaches towards “trusted content on future blockchains”. https://www.trublo.eu

More info:

Short article about Settlemint on TruBlo:
https://www.trublo.eu/2022/03/17/settlemint-provides-a-faster-simpler-option-to-get-started-with-blockchain/

Settlemint homepage:
https://www.settlemint.com

 

Five Minute Blockchain – Weekly Newsletter #30

Five Minute Blockchain – Weekly Newsletter #30

Event: How to apply to TruBlo Open Call 3

Event: How to apply to TruBlo Open Call 3

Please join on February 8, 202, 11-12 am, for an info session on how to apply for TruBlo open call. TruBlo offers an opportunity to fund your early-stage idea for trustable content on future blockchains. The event is organized by Berlin Partner, in collaboration with Cluster ICT|Media|Creative Industries and the Enterprise Europe Network.

Up to €175.000 of equity-free funding per project

Target groups are researchers, innovators, developers from academia, startups, high tech companies or natural persons. Selected participants can get up to 175.000 euros for their project. The total available amount of funding is 4,2 million euros. The call will be opened January 27 and closed March 30, 2022.

TruBlo has defined two topics for selectable ideas:

  • Trust and reputation models on blockchains
  • Proof-of-validity and proof-of-location

25 examples

To see examples of projects which already got funding, please check the “funded projects” section on the TruBlo website. In total 25 projects have already received funding. Examples are a project called TrustCad, aiming to build a digital version of a land registry. Or take Moncon, who want to provide a trustable system to enable micropayments for content.

Besides the introduction to the project and the open call, you will get the chance to get some insides from a successful applicant from one of the previous calls (Mirko Ross, ASVIN GmbH). In TruBlo the company got funding for a project called D-SBOM, which will explore a digital bill of materials for IoT devices.

Even if it is a digital event we would like to have some interaction between the participants. Thus, we do offer up to seven participants the possibility to present themselves and your company within two minutes in front of the audience. If you would like to pitch your idea/project, please get in contact with the organizer February 4, 2022 the latest (first come – first serve).

Please register by February 6, 2022 on the website of Berlin Partner, who is organising the event together with TruBlo:
https://www.digital-bb.de/eventdetail/funding-opportunities-for-the-blockchain-community-trublo-project-1

The event will be held in English.