Five Minute Blockchain – No. 57
Estimated reading time: 3 mins 42 seconds
Quote of the Week
Science Fiction writer Ted Chiang in an interview with the Financial Times: What could be a better word to describe “artificial intelligence”?
Chiang’s main objection, a writerly one, is with the words we choose to describe all this. Anthropomorphic language such as “learn”, “understand”, “know” and personal pronouns such as “I” that AI engineers and journalists project on to chatbots such as ChatGPT create an illusion. This hasty shorthand pushes all of us, he says — even those intimately familiar with how these systems work — towards seeing sparks of sentience in AI tools, where there are none.
“There was an exchange on Twitter a while back where someone said, ‘What is artificial intelligence?’ And someone else said, ‘A poor choice of words in 1954’,” he says. “And, you know, they’re right. I think that if we had chosen a different phrase for it, back in the ’50s, we might have avoided a lot of the confusion that we’re having now.”
So if he had to invent a term, what would it be? His answer is instant: applied statistics.
“Platforms have given up on 2020 lies”
Spreaders of misinformation get their accounts re-activated for several reasons. This looks problematic from the outside because wrong statements and views will be amplified again. In other news: Twitter is currently negotiating with Google Cloud services; in principle, they want to change a contract. This, though, will affect all kinds of services Twitter uses, for example, to avoid spam or other malicious content.
Management versus users: The big fight over at Reddit
These days thousands of Reddit communities are not reachable. Their administrators, all volunteers, have taken the communities “private”.
The reason for the move is that Reddit plans to charge for the use of its API. The changes were announced in April and will become effective by June 30, 2023.
Before usage of the API was free, which led to the creation of some successful apps, providing access to Reddit users using mobile phones.
Those apps, one example being Apollo, will now stop working. Based on preliminary calculations, they would have to pay up to $20 million per year to Reddit. On the other side, the company says that the external apps are not helping to make any money (e.g., through advertising) and that they even cost money, based on the need to maintain the API and other parts of the software.
Though users’ protests are loud and clear, it is unlikely that the API charges will change. The main reason is that Reddit is preparing for an IPO.
Swift explores blockchain interoperability to remove friction from tokenised asset settlement
Swift, the global financial transactions network, aims to overcome the fragmentation of multiple blockchains, specifically for institutional investors.
“In capital markets, there’s a growing view that blockchain technology has the potential to generate efficiencies, reduce costs and open up opportunities for some parts of the industry. For example, private markets have historically been dependent on legacy systems and processes, which add costs and deter investment. By rationalising operations and settlement processes, blockchain could attract more investors into the private markets and ultimately increase liquidity.”
Swift Press Release
Venture company Andreessen Horowitz opens crypto-focused office in London
The move is partially understood as a reaction after the U.S. Securities & Exchange Commission (SEC) sued Binance and Coinbase in the U.S. The expectation is that in London, where many financial institutions have headquarters, regulatory clarity for crypto assets might be achieved faster than in the U.S. This could lead to start-ups and even established companies in the crypto market moving to the U.K.
Quote from Axios: “If they can get regulatory clarity soon in the U.K., I think you’ll see U.S. companies move there and new companies start there,” says Chris Dixon, who founded and leads Andreessen Horowitz’s crypto practice (known as a16z crypto).
$43 million funding for Gensyn, a blockchain-based marketplace for compute power
London-based Gensyn, a blockchain-based marketplace protocol connecting compute power buyers and sellers, announced a $43 million Series A fundraising today.
A16z Crypto led the round alongside CoinFund, Canonical Crypto, Protocol Labs, Eden Block, Maven 11 and various angel investors.
- Robin Hood to delist Solana, Cardano & Polygon tokens after SEC describes them as securities (Web3isjustgoinggreat)
- Former SEC Chairman Jay Clayton on Enforcement Actions: Crypto Should Be Treated With ‘Nuance’ (Bitcoin.com)
- Binance Labs and FunPlus lead a $6.6 million investment in Fusionist – the platform has a community of 800,000 people. (The Block)
- Tencent backs Aave’s decentralised social networking protocol, Lens (Ledger Insights)
Thank you for reading. If you have questions or suggestions, please get in touch with us via firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photo by Nick Fewings on Unsplash
Five Minute Blockchain – No. 55
Estimated reading time: 7 min 55 seconds
QUOTE OF THE WEEK:
Transparency and safety: European Parliament preparing a set of rules for AI and surveillance technology
In the past, rulings and regulations for new technologies lagged, sometimes for years. But with Artificial Intelligence (AI), things seem to move faster. Last week two committees of the European Parliament adopted a draft of far-ranging rules for the use of AI and surveillance technology.
Once approved, these could become the “world’s first rules on Artificial Intelligence”. The rules include the right to complain about AI systems and provide a handle for system changes. Another element is the proposed ban on “biometric surveillance, emotion recognition, predictive policing AI systems.”
In a press release, European Parliament said the goal is to ensure a human-centric and ethical development of AI in Europe.
“MEPs aim to ensure that AI systems are overseen by people, are safe, transparent, traceable, non-discriminatory, and environmentally friendly.”
“AI systems with an unacceptable level of risk to people’s safety would be strictly prohibited, including systems that deploy subliminal or purposefully manipulative techniques, exploit people’s vulnerabilities or are used for social scoring (classifying people based on their social behaviour, socio-economic status, personal characteristics).”
Below is a list of technologies and practices which would be banned under the future EU rules:
- “Real-time” remote biometric identification systems in publicly accessible spaces;
- “Post” remote biometric identification systems, with the only exception of law enforcement for the prosecution of serious crimes and only after judicial authorization;
- Biometric categorisation systems using sensitive characteristics (e.g. gender, race, ethnicity, citizenship status, religion, political orientation);
- Predictive policing systems (based on profiling, location or past criminal behaviour);
- Emotion recognition systems in law enforcement, border management, workplace, and educational institutions; and
- Indiscriminate scraping of biometric data from social media or CCTV footage to create facial recognition databases (violating human rights and right to privacy).
European Parliament Press Release
Google deploys pass keys
Google is extending the roll-out of pass keys to all Google accounts. This is part of a broader move away from hackable/often insecure “12345” passwords, with similar pushes towards more security expected from Apple, Microsoft and others.
From a Google Press Release:
“Passkeys are a new way to sign in to apps and websites. They’re both easier to use and more secure than passwords, so users no longer need to rely on the names of pets, birthdays or the infamous “password123.” Instead, passkeys let users sign in to apps and sites the same way they unlock their devices: with a fingerprint, a face scan or a screen lock PIN. And, unlike passwords, passkeys are resistant to online attacks like phishing, making them more secure than things like SMS one-time codes.”
Conference: Future of AI
On 29 June 2023, Horizon Europe research projects AI4media, AI4Trust, TITAN and vera.ai – in cooperation with the European Commission – host a one-day event focusing on various facets of Artificial Intelligence and the disinformation landscape. Full title: Meet the Future of AI: Countering Sophisticated & Advanced Disinformation.
Media company Vice files for bankruptcy
The media start-up was once valued at $5,7bn but had recently seen less revenue from digital advertising. The company websites will keep operating until a buyer is found.
“Investments from media titans like Disney and shrewd financial investors like TPG, which spent hundreds of millions of dollars, will be rendered worthless by the bankruptcy, cementing Vice’s status among the most notable bad bets in the media industry.”
The New York Times ($)
Employees at Microsoft like the new training videos as much as a Netflix series
Training videos are usually dull – you must watch them, but it is not easy. Someone or a team at Microsoft has found a better way: Training videos that are so interesting and well-done that people like to see them.
The series is called “Trust Code” and is now in its 7th season. The main character is played by an aspiring actor named Devin Badoo- a star, at least among many of the 220.000 Microsoft workers:
“For employees at most companies, sitting through training videos every year is about as welcome as a toothache. “Trust Code,” with its recurring characters and end-of-season cliffhangers, is redefining the genre. Since launching in 2017, it has inspired watch parties, viral memes and T-shirts with Mr. Badoo’s image.”
The Wall Street Journal
Last week Google had its big annual developer conference and launched several significant updates for AI technology in the search platform.
Here are three links to get you a quick update here:
Google shows AI features coming to Search, including an AI-powered “snapshot” that summarizes search results with links to sites “corroborating” the information
Google makes Bard available in English in 180 countries and territories, promises AI image generation from Adobe and integration with services like Instacart
Google launched a dedicated Labs page where users can sign up to test Google’s early ideas for features and products, including Search and Workspace AI tools.
Nearly half of YouTube views in the US are on TVs
YouTube is growing. There is a new generation of content creators, resulting in a constant flow of exciting video content for almost any interest and niche. The audience has noticed YouTube is on its way as an even bigger competitor to traditional TV.
“Internal data indicate that close to 45% of overall YouTube viewing in the U.S. today is happening on TV screens”.
Blockchain Large Language Models
How to use blockchain as a tool for intrusion detection:
“This paper presents a dynamic, real-time approach to detecting anomalous blockchain transactions. The proposed tool, BlockGPT, generates tracing representations of blockchain activity and trains from scratch a large language model to act as a real-time Intrusion Detection System.”
The Crypto Trash Moat
A big question: To what extent are crypto platforms used for crime?
There can only be estimates: “Any conversation about crypto and crime needs to disclose that, according to the folks with the data, less than 1% of total crypto transactions can be tied to illicit use – at least that’s what Chainalysis reports.”
What is going on a lot in crypto and elsewhere are “confidence games”, where criminals lure people into paying for something (often as an investment) and then trick them out of their money.
In 2022 the US Department of Justice named cybersecurity expert Eun Young Choi as the first director of the “National Cryptocurrency Enforcement Team (NCET)”. The department seems to focus on “smaller issues” like social media scams, fraudsters and darknet misuse”.
Instead of major headline-drawing scandals like FTX and 3AC, Choi’s department seems primarily focused on relatively smaller issues like social media scammers, darknet misuse and online fraudsters – an activity that’s rarely discussed openly but which exists as a sort of background hum for anyone spending time on Crypto Twitter and Discord. (Paul Dylan-Ennis, a frequent contributor to CoinDesk, calls this crypto’s “trash moat …)”
The amounts of money the NCET and other US departments are securing are substantial:
While scams like these often only damage a single victim at a time, it can still be big money. NCET, along with other agencies, booked upwards of $112,000,000 from busting six such U.S.-based scams. The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) estimates $3.31 billion was stolen from people in 2022 through investment fraud, with crypto-related scams accounting for more than a third (~$2.57 billion) of that figure. Worse than just money lost, the proliferation of confidence games – which require bad actors to cultivate long-term relationships and build trust with their marks – has tainted crypto’s reputation.
Thank you for reading. If you have questions or suggestions, please get in touch with us via email@example.com.
Five Minute Blockchain – No. 53
Estimated reading time: 7 min 14 sec
A weekly update from TruBlo –> https://www.trublo.eu
QUOTES OF THE WEEK:
Too much content about Web3 platforms, tools and stats. Not enough about artists.
@musicben_eth (Twitter User)
“We’re at a tipping point where AI is going to break trust in what you see and hear — anddemocracies can’t survive when people don’t agree on facts. You have to have a baseline of understanding of facts”
Dana Rao, Adobe’s general counsel and chief trust officer (TechCrunch)
Policy update for Open AI Codex will affect research papers
Scientists need access to machine learning (ML) models to conduct research. One of the access points is Codex, by OpenAI, which is not open source.
On Monday, OpenAI announced that it would discontinue support for Codex by Thursday. Hundreds of academic papers would no longer be reproducible: independent researchers would not be able to assess their validity and build on their results.
AI Snake Oil
Who is Shou Zi Chew, the TikTok CEO?
This Thursday, the boss of TikTok will be at a hearing in the US, where politicians want to decide about a potential ban on TikTok, mainly based on security concerns.
The 40-year-old CEO has worked at Goldman Sachs, studied in the US and manages TikTop from an office in Singapur. The “Wall Street Journal” has a profile of the executive.
TikTok argues that the company would never share user data with Chinese authorities, and there is little trust in this claim in the US, Europe, and India.
Wall Street Journal
Blacklight – a real-time website privacy inspector
On the pages of The Markup, you can access a tool to check the privacy settings on any website, including your own. Service is free.
The new Luddites
Between 1811 and 1816, English workers repeatedly destroyed new machines, specifically in cotton and woollen mills, because the new technology threatened their jobs. They were called “Luddites“.
Now there is a new group, not as violent as their predecessors, but with a similar opinion about new technologies. In New York, a group has formed the “The Luddite Club”. They promote “self-liberation from social media and technology”. Part of that is to evade smartphones by using flip phones from the 90s, meeting in person, and to read from physical books.
According to a survey “68.6% of people say that screen time has had a negative effect on their mental health, while one in three admitted it had a detrimental effect on their work or personal lives. In response to this, we’re seeing the emergence of a new movement of people, groups and brands who are questioning technology’s unchecked impact on our lives, with many championing a return to tactile, physical, off-line experiences.”
Wunderman Thompson: The New Luddites
You can’t make this up
The new AI platforms are the big topic in early 2023. How can the new options be used? What are the shortcomings? What are the dangers to jobs, society and for truth and trust?
Here is a quick run-down of exciting headlines this week:
- RightWingGPT is an AI model trained on conservative political viewpoints. Its creator thinks that ChatGPT has a “left-leaning bias. (New York Times, $)
- Canva, the design platform, introduces AI-based tools to simplify creating images or presentations by writing prompts. The Australian company, founded in 2012, has around 125 million users, with revenue of $1,6B annually. (Forbes).
- GitHub has announced Copilot X, which means AI support for developers. OpenAI GPT-4 is used to facilitate coding tasks. (Bloomberg)
- News Publishers want their share. An alliance of media companies are discussing how to demand a percentage of the revenue from Microsoft, Google and other AI platforms for using their content to train the AI software. (Wall Street Journal)
- Character.AI faces legal troubles for allowing users to make and share chatbots of famous people or fictional movies, or comic characters such as Yoda or Harry Potter. (Bloomberg)
- Ubisoft has launched an AI tool called Ghostwriter to assist video game developers with writing in-game dialogue. (Kotaku)
- First Batch ID (FID) is a decentralised identity to personalise a user’s news feed. (Gravitates)
Google and Microsoft plan to enhance office software with AI magic
AI software might change how work is done for millions of jobs by offering new options for typical office tasks, such as writing an e-mail or a marketing message. Both Google and Microsoft are in a race to deploy such features:
In a replay of last month’s dueling chatbot launches by the tech giants, Alphabet touted a “magic wand” for its popular Google Docs software that can draft a marketing blog, training plan or other text, then revise its tone at users’ discretion, a company official demonstrated to reporters.
Alphabet announced that the AI software could summarise messages in Gmail, craft slide presentations, personalise customer outreach and take meeting notes.
Meanwhile, Microsoft organised an event to discuss how it is “reinventing productivity with AI”. Like Google, the company plans to connect AI options to Word, Powerpoint and Excel.
It can be expected that there will be a debate about the amount of AI-generated content for a while. Still, with such deep integration into everyday life, most people might get accustomed to using AI to speed up the completion of standard office tasks.
Reuters /via Yahoo
Glaze aims to prevent AI crawlers from stealing art
A free tool called Glaze, developed by a team from the University of Chicago, seeks to help artists to prevent AI from copying their art.
“…the (beta) app works by adding almost imperceptible ‘perturbations’ to each artwork it’s applied to — changes that are designed to interfere with AI models’ ability to read data on artistic style — and make it harder for generative AI technology to mimic the style of the artwork and its artist. Instead systems are tricked into outputting other public styles far removed from the original artwork”.
Blockchain technology used for refugee aid programs in Ukraine
The UN refugee program is among the pioneers of using blockchain technology for aid programs, specifically for transferring financial aid to refugees. The agency had already used similar technology to support refugees in Jordan in 2018, but with a different setup.
In Ukraine, the UNHCR works with the Stellar Development Foundation, a nonprofit alongside the money transfer company MoneyGram. A fourth organisation involved is Circle Internet Financial, the issuer of USDC stablecoin.
“For now, the stablecoin program in Ukraine is being piloted on a microscopic scale, with fewer than 100 participants in the cities of Kyiv, Lviv, and Vinnytsia. The UNHCR is preparing to expand the initiative to up to 5,000 wallets by April, but this would still represent only a fraction of the number of Ukrainians displaced by the war.”
Distributed technology and digital wallets can solve several challenges, such as handling and distributing large amounts of cash.
UNHCR Press Release (December 2022)
US authorities send notice to Coinbase
Coinbase and Tron received SEC notices that the exchanges might have violated US securities laws by selling securities. Coinbase said that the warning does not mean any changes to current offerings. (CNBC)
“Brian Armstrong, the co-founder and CEO of crypto exchange Coinbase, has compared the United States Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to “soccer refs” in a game of pickleball, criticizing U.S. regulators for not being able to “agree on the rules” of “this new game.”” (Cointelegraph)
SEC sues Tron-founder and eight celebrities
Meanwhile, the SEC sued Justin Sun, the founder of Tron, for selling unregistered securities, market manipulation, and fraud. Also, eight celebrities are charged for promoting crypto assets without disclosing that they were paid for it. (SEC Press Release)(Coindesk)
Luxembourg recognises bill for DLT-based securities
Last week the Luxembourg parliament adopted a bill that recognizes DLT-based securities as collateral. It also expands the definition of financial instruments to include those issued under the EU’s DLT Pilot Regime, which comes into force later this month.
- “A Moody’s report said municipalities could save money and improve transparency using blockchain technology. The firm added that doing so comes with potential risks, namely cyber attacks and volatility.” (The Block)
- “South Korea cranks up pressure to extradite Do Kwon, founder of failed Terra-Luna stablecoin”. (Forkast)
- In Nigeria: “A youth-led online movement propelled an outsider candidate into the political mainstream.” (Wired UK)
- On the launch of Microsoft Loop, which is partially similar to Notion: “If you create software that gains traction in work environments, it’s inevitable that Microsoft is going to follow.” (Daring Fireball) (The Verge)
- Status of Neobanks in Europe -profits, outlook (Tech.eu)
- Flying Sheep Studios announced that the Cologne-based studio had received $1.2 million from a German ministry for “Star Life”, a social massively multiplayer online (MMO) game. (Venture Beat)
- Chainalysis breaks down how scammers adapt during the bear market (Cointelegraph)
- Ponzi 2.0: “An investment fund announces a $16 million investment in an Estonian startup. But there’s a problem — the startup doesn’t exist, and the funding didn’t happen.” (Tech.eu)
Thank you for reading. If you have questions or suggestions, please contact us via firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photo by Mahdis Mousavi on Unsplash
Since the beginning of the SportChain project, when it all started as an idea, huge progress has been made. This progress consists of several individual milestones that have been achieved and are further explained below. SportChain is a two-phase project and is currently approaching the end of phase one.
At the beginning of the project, we started with market research to determine the issues and needs of the sports and related industries to figure out where to place SportChain within this landscape. In this market research, the sports and associated industries, such as the betting and insurance companies, were involved.
Identified Business Opportunities
Through our market research and its results, we identified business opportunities. These opportunities supported us when designing the architecture and where the focus of SportChain should be directed.
Designed an Architecture
We have designed a SportChain architecture that drastically enhances the state-of-the-art digital processes within the sports industry. Also, we added features to increase data security, privacy, and trust in the sports data. The figure below shows the high-level architecture.
Figure 1: SportChain high-level architectural view including actors, components and main interaction flows
Implemented a Proof-of-Concept
Part of phase one was also the implementation of a proof-of-concept of the SportChain design. The most relevant parts are the SportChain portal, the integration with VIDwallet, and the integration with VIDcredentials studio.
The SportChain portal is the heart of SportChain. It offers the user interface between the users and the SportChain services. For instance, this portal will use team managers, league officials, notaries, and data reputation and analytics consumers. SportChain portal allows team managers to manage the team credentials, such as creating, issuing, or revoking player credentials. League officials use the SportChain portal to manage the league by issuing credentials for team managers and notaries and are also able to create matches and enter sports data that are being notarized by a dedicated notary afterwards. Last but not least, the portal offers a data catalogue that data consumers can use to search for data sets and statistical operations that will be performed on notarized data.
Figure 2: SportChain portal’s landing page with the different login options
VIDwallet is an SSI identity wallet developed by Validated ID. This identity wallet has been integrated into SportChain so that the actors can identify and authenticate themselves towards SportChain and also store and manage their digital identity data within their domain to ensure data security and privacy.
VIDcredentials Studio integration
VIDcredentials studio is a tool for credential issuers that provides a rich user interface with an advanced user experience. This tool is developed by Validated ID and has been adopted and integrated into SportChain, adding additional functionality to SpotChain. For instance, player credentials, special achievement credentials, or role credentials such as notaries or team managers can be issued and managed through this integrated tool.
So far, exciting results have been achieved, but the journey for SportChain does not end here. Instead, the SportChain team is planning further to develop the platform, not only the basic functionality but also by implementing new exciting features. These planned features are detailed below in a short outlook.
Notarization Data Anchored on Blockchain
As data notarization is the process defined where a trustworthy party with special permissions, a so-called notary, verifies data and notarizes that these data are correct. This process can be performed in analogue and also in a digital way.
SportChain enables the data notarization of sports data, which have been entered by a league official. The notary verifies these data and confirms their correctness. In SportChain, the notarization process is based on hashing the data set that is being notarized, followed by timestamping and electronically signing these notarization data. This way, a verifier can verify if a specific data set has been notarized and also when this notarization was performed. As a new feature, SportChain plans to anchor these notarization data on a blockchain, in particular, on the Alastria blockchain. The benefit of having these data on the blockchain follows the general benefits of blockchains, such as transparency, immutability, decentralized and improved security. This new and exciting feature is planned to be implemented in phase two of SportChain.
Data Analytics Based on Notarized Data
Data analytics, reputation systems and forecasting systems (also known as Artificial Intelligence) have been hyped in recent years. This is because these methods offer enormous potential when applied correctly.
SportChain offers a data catalogue consisting of available data sets and data processing methods such as data analytics, data reputations and forecasting. All of these data processing methods use as input data only the notarized sports data. This way, the authenticity and integrity of these data are ensured, which elevates the trust in the calculated results. SportChain plans to implement data analytics such as various statistics and a basic reputation system that utilizes notarized input data stored on the Alastria blockchain. The reputation data could be used by a recruiting team to support their decision-making process. The benefit is the increased trust based on the ensured
properties data authenticity and integrity. This feature is planned to be released in phase two.
Contact SportChain: Please click on this link to the project page, including an overview of the team members.
SportChain Project Page (TruBlo)
Screenshots & visuals: Sportchain
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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