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Quoted: “Ethereum will also be a decentralised exchange system, but with one big distinction. While Bitcoin allows transactions, Ethereum aims to offer a system by which arbitrary messages can be passed to the blockchain. More to the point, these messages can contain code, written in a Turing-complete scripting language native to Ethereum. In simple terms, Ethereum claims to allow users to write entire programs and have the blockchain execute them on the creator’s behalf. Crucially, Turing-completeness means that in theory any program that could be made to run on a computer should run in Ethereum.” And, quoted: “As a more concrete use-case, Ethereum could be utilised to create smart contracts, pieces of code that once deployed become autonomous agents in their own right, executing pre-programmed instructions. An example could be escrow services, which automatically release funds to a seller once a buyer verifies that they have received the agreed products.”

Read Part One of this Series here » Ethereum — Bitcoin 2.0? And, What Is Ethereum.

Read Part Two of this Series here » Ethereum — Opportunities and Challenges.

Read Part Three of this Series here » Ethereum — A Summary.

Quoted: “Bitcoin technology offers a fundamentally different approach to vote collection with its decentralized and automated secure protocol. It solves the problems of both paper ballot and electronic voting machines, enabling a cost effective, efficient, open system that is easily audited by both individual voters and the entire community. Bitcoin technology can enable a system where every voter can verify that their vote was counted, see votes for different candidates/issues cast in real time, and be sure that there is no fraud or manipulation by election workers.”

Read the article here »


woman thinking in from of password graphic

Passwords are a pain. We choose simple words that are easy to remember, but equally easy for hackers to guess.

Yet we still forget them. And they also get stolen with alarming frequency.

The reported theft of 1.2 billion email passwords by Russian hackers earlier this month was just the latest in a long string of major password security breaches that have led some people to wonder if the use of passwords should be abandoned.

But what are the alternatives?

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Quoted: “The Factom team suggested that its proposal could be leveraged to execute some of the crypto 2.0 functionalities that are beginning to take shape on the market today. These include creating trustless audit chains, property title chains, record keeping for sensitive personal, medical and corporate materials, and public accountability mechanisms.

During the AMA, the Factom president was asked how the technology could be leveraged to shape the average person’s daily life.”

Kirby responded:

“Factom creates permanent records that can’t be changed later. In a Factom world, there’s no more robo-signing scandals. In a Factom world, there are no more missing voting records. In a Factom world, you know where every dollar of government money was spent. Basically, the whole world is made up of record keeping and, as a consumer, you’re at the mercy of the fragmented systems that run these records.”

» Read the article here »

» Visit Factom here »

Preamble: Bitcoin 1.0 is currency — the deployment of cryptocurrencies in applications related to cash such as currency transfer, remittance, and digital payment systems. Bitcoin 2.0 is contracts — the whole slate of economic, market, and financial applications using the blockchain that are more extensive than simple cash transactions like stocks, bonds, futures, loans, mortgages, titles, smart property, and smart contracts

Bitcoin 3.0 is blockchain applications beyond currency, finance, and markets, particularly in the areas of government, health, science, literacy, culture, and art.

Read the article here »

Julian Assange’s 2014 book When Google Met WikiLeaks consists of essays authored by Assange and, more significantly, the transcript of a discussion between Assange and Google’s Eric Schmidt and Jared Cohen.
As should be of greatest interest to technology enthusiasts, we revisit some of the uplifting ideas from Assange’s philosophy that I picked out from among the otherwise dystopian high-tech future predicted in Cypherpunks (2012). Assange sees the Internet as “transitioning from an apathetic communications medium into a demos – a people” defined by shared culture, values and aspirations (p. 10). This idea, in particular, I can identify with.
Assange’s description of how digital communication is “non-linear” and compromises traditional power relations is excellent. He notes that relations defined by physical resources and technology (unlike information), however, continue to be static (p. 67). I highlight this as important for the following reason. It profoundly strengthens the hypothesis that state power will also eventually recede and collapse in the physical world, with the spread of personal factories and personal enhancement technologies (analogous to personal computers) like 3-d printers and synthetic life-forms, as explained in my own techno-liberation thesis and in the work of theorists like Yannick Rumpala.
When Google Met Wikileaks tells, better than any other text, the story of the clash of philosophies between Google and WikiLeaks – despite Google’s Eric Schmidt assuring Assange that he is “sympathetic to you, obviously”. Specifically, Assange draws our attention to the worryingly close relationship between Google and the militarized US police state in the post-9/11 era. Fittingly, large portions of the book (p. 10–16, 205–220) are devoted to giving Assange’s account of the now exposed world-molesting US regime’s war on WikiLeaks and its cowardly attempts to stifle transparency and accountability.
The publication of When Google Met WikiLeaks is really a reaction to Google chairman Eric Schmidt’s 2013 book The New Digital Age (2013), co-authored with Google Ideas director Jared Cohen. Unfortunately, I have not studied that book, although I intend to pen a fitting enough review for it in due course to follow on from this review. It is safe to say that Assange’s own review in the New York Times in 2013 was quite crushing enough. However, nothing could be more devastating to its pro-US thesis than the revelations of widespread illegal domestic spying exposed by Edward Snowden, which shook the US and the entire world shortly after The New Digital Age’s very release.
Assange’s review of The New Digital Age is reprinted in his book (p. 53–60). In it, he describes how Schmidt and Cohen are in fact little better than State Department cronies (p. 22–25, 32, 37–42), who first met in Iraq and were “excited that consumer technology was transforming a society flattened by United States military occupation”. In turn, Assange’s review flattens both of these apologists and their feeble pretense to be liberating the world, tearing their book apart as a “love song” to a regime, which deliberately ignores the regime’s own disgraceful record of human rights abuses and tries to conflate US aggression with free market forces (p. 201–203).
Cohen and Schmidt, Assange tells us, are hypocrites, feigning concerns about authoritarian abuses that they secretly knew to be happening in their own country with Google’s full knowledge and collaboration, yet did nothing about (p. 58, 203). Assange describes the book, authored by Google’s best, as a shoddily researched, sycophantic dance of affection for US foreign policy, mocking the parade of praise it received from some of the greatest villains and war criminals still at large today, from Madeleine Albright to Tony Blair. The authors, Assange claims, are hardly sympathetic to the democratic internet, as they “insinuate that politically motivated direct action on the internet lies on the terrorist spectrum” (p. 200).
As with Cypherpunks, most of Assange’s book consists of a transcript based on a recording that can be found at WikiLeaks, and in drafting this review I listened to the recording rather than reading the transcript in the book. The conversation moves in what I thought to be three stages, the first addressing how WikiLeaks operates and the kind of politically beneficial journalism promoted by WikiLeaks. The second stage of the conversation addresses the good that WikiLeaks believes it has achieved politically, with Assange claiming credit for a series of events that led to the Arab Spring and key government resignations.
When we get to the third stage of the conversation, something of a clash becomes evident between the Google chairman and WikiLeaks editor-in-chief, as Schmidt and Cohen begin to posit hypothetical scenarios in which WikiLeaks could potentially cause harm. The disagreement evident in this part of the discussion is apparently shown in Schmidt and Cohen’s book: they alleged that “Assange, specifically” (or any other editor) lacks sufficient moral authority to decide what to publish. Instead, we find special pleading from Schmidt and Cohen for the state: while regime control over information in other countries is bad, US regime control over information is good (p. 196).
According to the special pleading of Google’s top executives, only one regime – the US government and its secret military courts – has sufficient moral authority to make decisions about whether a disclosure is harmful or not. Assange points out that Google’s brightest seem eager to avoid explaining why this one regime should have such privilege, and others should not. He writes that Schmidt and Cohen “will tell you that open-mindedness is a virtue, but all perspectives that challenge the exceptionalist drive at the heart of American foreign policy will remain invisible to them” (p. 35).
Assange makes a compelling argument that Google is not immune to the coercive power of the state in which it operates. We need to stop mindlessly chanting “Google is different. Google is visionary. Google is the future. Google is more than just a company. Google gives back to the community. Google is a force for good” (p. 36). It’s time to tell it how it is, and Assange knows just how to say it.
Google is becoming a force for bad, and is little different from any other massive corporation led by ageing cronies of the narrow-minded state that has perpetrated the worst outrages against the open and democratic internet. Google “Ideas” are myopic, close-minded, and nationalist (p. 26), and the corporate-state cronies who think them up have no intention to reduce the number of murdered journalists, torture chambers and rape rooms in the world or criticize the regime under which they live. Google’s politics are about keeping things exactly as they are, and there is nothing progressive about that vision.
To conclude with what was perhaps the strongest point in the book, Assange quotes NYT columnist Tom Friedman. We are warned by Friedman as early as 1999 that Silicon Valley is led less now by the mercurial “hidden hand” of the market than the “hidden fist” of the US state. Assange argues, further, that the close relations between Silicon Valley and the regime in Washington indicate Silicon Valley is now like a “velvet glove” on the “hidden fist” of the regime (p. 43). Similarly, Assange warns those of us of a libertarian persuasion that the danger posed by the state has two horns – one government, the other corporate – and that limiting our attacks to one of them means getting gored on the other. Despite its positive public image, Google’s (and possibly also Facebook’s) ties with the US state for the purpose of monitoring the US pubic deserve a strong public backlash.

By — Wired
Original illustration: Getty
Encryption is hard. When NSA leaker Edward Snowden wanted to communicate with journalist Glenn Greenwald via encrypted email, Greenwald couldn’t figure out the venerable crypto program PGP even after Snowden made a 12-minute tutorial video.

Nadim Kobeissi wants to bulldoze that steep learning curve. At the HOPE hacker conference in New York later this month he’ll release a beta version of an all-purpose file encryption program called miniLock, a free and open-source browser plugin designed to let even Luddites encrypt and decrypt files with practically uncrackable cryptographic protection in seconds.

“The tagline is that this is file encryption that does more with less,” says Kobeissi, a 23-year old coder, activist and security consultant. “It’s super simple, approachable, and it’s almost impossible to be confused using it.”

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