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Blockchain

Kubernetes Demystified: Solving Service Dependencies

This series of articles explores some of the common problems enterprise customers encounter when using Kubernetes. One question frequently asked by Container Service customers is, "How do I handle dependencies between services?"

In applications, component dependencies refer to middleware services and business services. In traditional software deployment methods, application startup and stop tasks must be completed in a specific order.

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Korean Crypto Exchange Earns Key Government Cybersecurity Certification

Go PAx

South Korean cryptocurrency exchange GOPAX has become the first blockchain company to attain K-ISMS certification, the official standard in Korea for information security management systems. This is an important sign of approval by the Korean government regarding GOPAX’s cybersecurity infrastructure.

K-ISMS certification is an official domestic standard regarding the establishment, management and operation of information security systems for selected industries including server hosts, portal services and internet service providers. Based on Article 47 of the Act on Promotion of Information and Communications Network Utilization and Information Protection (“the Network Act”), the certification carries significance for the blockchain sector as it signals that blockchain companies possess the capacity to manage and operate information security systems at a level on par with much more established corporations and businesses, specifically those in the technology and financial sectors.

In an interview with Bitcoin Magazine, Myeonghun Baek, the chief information security officer (CISO) at GOPAX, explained, “K-ISMS certification is mandatory for companies above a certain level in terms of either sales or user numbers that utilize information communication networks. GOPAX is currently not at that level, and thus didn’t need to obtain certification, but we voluntarily underwent the K-ISMS audit to become certified. As there is no official operating standard for blockchain companies currently in place, GOPAX receiving K-ISMS certification is a sign that it is willing to be ahead of legislation and set an operating standard for other blockchain companies.”

The K-ISMS certification process takes place through the Korea Internet and Security Agency (KISA), which operates a team of specially trained auditors to examine the applying companies, along with a committee that evaluates the audit results.

The audit itself covers two major areas: information security management processes and information security measures. The former consists of 5 individual categories that are examined, including management responsibilities and organizational structure, and risk management and post-incident management, while the second is composed of 13 categories, such as information security policy, information security organization, external security, the categorization of information assets and information security training.

This is not GOPAX’s first step toward government compliance. Last July, the company was ISO/IEC 27001–certified, and was ultimately the first cryptocurrency exchange in the world to become so. ISO/IEC 27001 is a global information security management standard published by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC). It works as a standard used between companies on an international level, which according to Baek suggests that GOPAX meets certain standards around the globe and can thus operate on a level that ensures basic competence regarding information security management.

“For operating within the bounds of Korea, K-ISMS is still more significant because it offers tangible benefits when operating a relevant business within Korean jurisdiction, as well as discounts when applying for information security insurance and bonus points during KISA’s information security evaluations,” said Baek. “Companies looking to scale within the financial and tech sectors will eventually be required to obtain K-ISMS certification or face penalties.”

Baek mentions that under the Network Act, cryptocurrency exchanges are presently identified as “information and communications service providers” rather than financial institutions. Thus, they fall under the jurisdiction of the Korean Ministry of Science and ICT (MSIT) rather than Korea’s Financial Services Commission (FSC), but he believes this opens yet another door for GOPAX and its staff.

“It’s different from countries like Japan, where the overarching organization regarding crypto exchanges is the Financial Services Agency,” he stated. “However, the blockchain industry has been requesting the government to establish a set of rules so that the companies know what is out of bounds when it comes to operating a blockchain company.”

He continued, “While nothing official has come out in that regard, it is also up to the companies themselves to demonstrate that they can operate up to standards that are currently in place for other companies in the tech sector. By achieving K-ISMS certification, GOPAX has shown that it is capable and serious about legal compliance, and we feel this move can inspire other companies to follow suit. That would show that the companies in this sector are interested in compliance and in cooperating with the government to establish a set playing field and to operate in a transparent manner.”

This article originally appeared on Bitcoin Magazine.

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Canadian Blockchain Company Sees Opportunity in Newly Legalized Cannabis

DMG Cannabis

Like Walmart with pork from China and Maersk with shipping containers, DMG Blockchain Solutions (DMG) is hoping to be the first global supply chain company to manage cannabis products on the blockchain, initially in Canada — and then around the world.

Canada’s legalization of cannabis came into effect today on October 17, 2018, and Vancouver-based DMG Blockchain Solutions is poised to launch its platform built on the Hyperledger permissioned blockchain to provide what it calls “legal and safe” marijuana.

DMG Blockchain Solutions CEO Dan Reitzik told Bitcoin Magazine in an interview:

“The legal cannabis industry is brand new and, as such, producers, distributors, retailers and regulators are waiting for a solution and don’t have years of experience with existing technology.”

In an effort to ensure that individual information and privacy will be protected, DMG is using the Hyperledger permissioned blockchain in conjunction with its own proprietary technology.

“This is one of the reasons we have partnered with a globally known, respected and trusted technology partner, as they have the experience integrating platforms with existing systems and software,” said Reitzik.

Medical marijuana has been legal in Canada for medical purposes since 2011, and, to this end, existing cannabis regulation calls for tight licensing and compliance measures. As pot goes recreational in the country, DMG’s solutions will leverage blockchain technology to enforce and streamline these processes.

This mainly involves verifying and tracking products — anything from cannabis, including edibles, oils and other derivatives — using a combination of the blockchain’s immutable distributed ledger and monitoring hardware. Keeping tabs on the flow of products with more certainty than existing systems will make it easier for companies to demonstrate that they’re falling in line with regulatory mandates, as federal departments responsible for regulating and taxing cannabis will have access to the DMG platform.

“[Companies] have been approved by the Canadian Government to cultivate and sell product, and our intention is to have ALL industry participants on this blockchain … [the government] will want assurances that product is from legal sources (elimination of black market) and that the products are safe for consumers. This is why all stakeholders will want to participate on our blockchain — to access these markets,” Reitzik said.

Canada: Fertile Market for Growing Cannabis Demand

According to DMG, cannabis represents a $23 billion industry in Canada alone. Some reports estimate that the global cannabis market could exceed $500 billion.

“Canada is being positioned to be the global supplier of cannabis, and our blockchain platform can help enable this by way of product traceability for rapid recalls, ensuring a legal source of product, and enhancing product safety, as well as facilitating and automating legal and taxation compliance,” DMG noted in a public statement.

“Canada has set up a network of more than 100 Licensed Producers (LPs), some of which have market caps in excess of $5 billion,” claimed Reitzik.

DMG is currently in discussions with cannabis industry players, including major licensed producers, quality assurance labs, retail distributors and government regulators.

The Blockchain Prescription

DMG’s goal is to have a global platform that will provide immediate product traceability, as well as the ability to automate transactions and information flow among licensed producers, licensed distributors, regulators, retailers, shippers, and reporting and auditing systems.

To DMG, there are many clearcut benefits to using a permissioned blockchain to manage cannabis logistics.

It can integrate the licensed accreditation of producers, distributors, retailers, shippers, as well as manage reporting and auditing systems. For an industry that is still federally illegal in the neighboring U.S., such rigid control mechanisms are essential to keeping product flow within regulatory confines and preventing it from illegally jumping across the border.

Within the supply chain itself, smart contracts will detect events such as defective products and product recalls, which will allow distributors and retailers to react to issues in real time.

For all other operations, interfaces are being developed between the blockchain and traditional systems to facilitate faster and more efficient information flow. The same systems will ensure that employee and client onboarding is frictionless and fast and that cooperation between industry entities is painless and efficient.

“This global blockchain initiative is a collaboration among industry stakeholders and is being tailored to meet industry players’ specific requirements. DMG intends to onboard significant industry participants as it launches its cannabis supply chain solution,” said Reitzik.

“This project is not simply DMG building a platform, it is a collaboration between many industry participants. Just as there’s one global blockchain that manages bitcoin globally, we intend for this to be the single blockchain to manage the entire supply chain for cannabis globally,” added Reitzik.

This article originally appeared on Bitcoin Magazine.

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Safely Integrating Technologies In An Enterprise Setting With Blockchain Technology

Blockchain Grid‘Decentralisation’ is a concept that has captured the attention of the media and industries worldwide. And it’s not without good reason. Blockchain technology is poised to disrupt a slew of legacy infrastructures that are systemically plagued with problems pertaining to transparency, ownership, security and resilience. It’s traditionally been an uphill battle trying to integrate new […]

The post Safely Integrating Technologies In An Enterprise Setting With Blockchain Technology appeared first on Electronics For You.

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Most In-Demand Developers Skills for 2019

Have you already been thinking about next year’s trends in development technologies and skills needed to create the most innovative solutions? Well, we have. Our HR colleagues have been pondering what kind of new skills are needed and which way we should develop our tech pool to meet our clients’ future expectations. So, here we have come up with a short list of competencies that we think will be in high demand in the months to come!

Along with the dynamic development of new technologies, there is still a need for new hands on the IT job market. The most in-demand developers are those who possess unique knowledge and competences adapted to the current and future needs of the ever-changing market. Do you know which skills will be most favored by employers in the coming year? We invite you to read our forecasts for 2019!

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New Study Reveals an Increase in Venture Capital Investment in Blockchain Projects

New Study Reveals an Increase in Venture Capital Investment in Blockchain Projects

Traditional venture capitalist (VC) investments are leveraging the decline in initial coin offerings (ICO) as the cryptocurrency industry tries to find bearing amid regulatory shifts and losses across the crypto markets. The negative toll on ICOs has seen them drop overall to 70 percent less than their initial values, according to a new report.

Rise of VC Investment

A report released by blockchain research group Diar shows that almost $3.9 billion in investments was raised in the first three quarters of 2018 by blockchain and cryptocurrency-focused startups. This, according to the report, is 280 percent of what was raised in 2017.

Adding to the significant leap recorded, the report also indicates an increase in the number of deals — almost twice the number recorded the previous year.

Similarly, the average size of blockchain and crypto investments for 2018 is over a $1 million higher than what was recorded the previous year. Recipient companies of the 10 largest crypto and blockchain investments had a pool of funds worth over $1.3 billion in total venture capital.

This was, however, conducted through the “traditional equity investment” model that ICOs had sought to displace. According to the report, DFINITY was the sole exception, as it raised a combined $163 million from popular VC investors Andreessen Horowitz and others through the sale of its utility tokens.

VC’s sharp increase in popularity among startups seeking funding has been ascribed to the relatively low value of ICO tokens compared to their value during their respective sales. Delving further into the reason, the report states:

“The majority of tokens have dropped in price by more than 90% from their all time highs.”

ICO projects have been trailed by regulatory issues, and Diar acknowledged this as another reason for the waning popularity of token-based funding.

According to the report, “Non-equity ICOs are not only scrutinized by the regulators but the founders also have very misaligned incentives as there is no contractual obligation to deliver a product — a reality that to date seems to be the case with few launches, and even less adoption.”

The amount raised through ICOs as well as the rate of projects that successfully completed an ICO are “now approaching a one year low,” according to the research company.

The top 10 investment deals with respect to equity raised include Bitmain, R3, Circle, Ledger and Paxos.

Crypto Banks

Diar’s publication also touched on the rise of crypto banks, including the launch of Swiss-based Seba Crypto AG, which announced it was launching a regulated bank that lets customers trade fiat for digital currency. Binance also purchased a 5 percent stake in Malta-based Founders Bank, while the Litecoin Foundation partnered with TokenPay to acquire a 20 percent stake in German-based WEG Bank. Outside of these banking acquisitions, very few financial institutions have been willing to facilitate crypto operations, as Diar reports that there are only four banks in the United States and three in Europe that provide banking services.

This article originally appeared on Bitcoin Magazine.

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AT&T Dives Into Blockchain Solutions With Microsoft Azure, IBM Blockchain

AT&T Dives Into Blockchain Solutions With Microsoft Azure, IBM Blockchain

Internet and phone giant AT&T has designed a set of blockchain solutions compatible with both IBM and Microsoft technology to help customers reduce risks and costs and solve other complex business problems. The company has been piloting the program since February 2018.

In a recent blog post, the company announced, “We’re combing our edge-to-edge capabilities with blockchain technology. Our Internet of Things (IoT) solutions add automation and critical monitoring capabilities. AT&T’s consulting team can design, deploy and manage blockchain solutions.”

By working with IBM, AT&T says its solutions can record data on the IBM Blockchain Platform, which hosts numerous live networks and supports several provenance, logistics and supply chains. AT&T is also integrating its asset management operations center with the IBM Maximo Network on Blockchain and Maximo Asset Health Insights to offer safer service provider networks to infrastructure asset management firms.

In addition, AT&T is integrating with Microsoft Azure’s blockchain technology, which supports many enterprise ledger protocols including Fabric, Corda, Quorum and Ethereum, and offers varying computer network structures for both single member, multi-member and dev/test consortiums. AT&T believes its partnership with Microsoft will bring an extra layer of transparency to its growing list of supply chains.

According to Mark Wright, VP of media services and sponsorships at AT&T, further transparency is one of the company’s biggest goals.

“Who, specifically, are those tech providers [in the supply chain], and how much of a fee are they assessing to my working media dollars?” he asks. “It’s pretty murky, and thus you need technology to help you get under the hood.”

Customers that work in manufacturing, retail and healthcare will be able to utilize this new technology to both digitize and automate business processes. AT&T says they’ll have better resources to track information and manage goods from their creation until their delivery, while keeping directories up to date and secure. This can reduce potential waste, excess stock and the breach of private information.

Andy Daudelin, vice president of Alliances Business Development for AT&T Business, states, “Blockchain is far more than just bitcoin or cryptocurrency. It’s transforming the way many companies conduct business. Blockchain improves security and enables better management of transactions through complex processes. Utilizing our global network and IoT capabilities, AT&T enhances blockchain by providing edge-to-edge solutions that automate the tracking and that can even monitor the environmental conditions throughout the process.”

This isn’t AT&T’s first venture into blockchain territory. The company filed for a blockchain patent back in November 2016 for a home content delivery product that would provide content while verifying subscriptions through a distributed node network model. The server would act like a cable box while bringing further stability and security to existing systems.

This article originally appeared on Bitcoin Magazine.

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IBM/MIT Connection Science Issue Report on the Role of Blockchain in Government

IBM MIT report

On September 24, 2018, MIT Connection Science and IBM issued a 41-page joint report on the results of three roundtable discussions on the role of Blockchain in government. Authored by MIT’s technical director at the MIT Internet Trust Consortium, which is part of MIT Connection Science, Thomas Hardjono, the findings illuminated discussions held by private and public sector leaders on the blockchain’s impact for government on digital identity, payments and supply chain/provenance.The report was released in consultation with the Congressional Blockchain Caucus.

The report highlighted three repetitive themes that occurred throughout the roundtables, namely, the need for leadership and vision from the U.S. government, the need for collaboration between the industry and the government, and increased support for research and testbed deployments of blockchain technology.

Leadership and Vision From the Government

The report cites “a need for greater vision and leadership across government regarding the development for a digital-blockchain economy.” IBM’s SVP of Blockchain, Jerry Cuomo, echoed this sentiment, stating, “Blockchain is ready for government now, it’s time for government to get ready for blockchain.”

The report suggests that Arizona’s creation of a “sandbox” for companies to develop and innovate blockchain technology is an applicable model for the federal government to use. It should be noted that the report states one roundtable participant opined “that sandboxes are too late today and the U.S. Government needs to do something drastic to make up for the loss of technology leadership.”

Close Collaboration Between Industry and Government

The second recurring theme among the roundtable discussions was that “the technology industry needs to collaborate closely with all levels of government, and clearly communicate the value proposition of blockchain technology and its potential role in the future economy.”

While the report seemingly puts the onus for this collaboration on the private sector, especially when it states that the “industry needs to demonstrate real production examples of blockchain deployment across various segments of the economy,” the report also shows widespread sentiment that the U.S. government has to be educated and a willing collaborator to help the industry grow and mature.

Increased Research and Test-Bed Deployments

The report details roundtable moderators analogizing the need for government support of research and testbed deployments of blockchain technology with the the hundreds of millions of dollars of government support through DARPA (the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) that were invested in the 1970s and 1980s in research into the IP Internet.

Attendee members floated ideas of “the government establishing a commission for digital-blockchain economics and blockchain technology,” while another cited the need for interoperability and ease of use, backed by “guidelines/best practices, not legislation or onerous rules, around different ways government will interact with blockchain networks.”

Some notable private sector attendees to the roundtables on which these discussions were based: IBM, Intel, Microsoft (Decentralized Identity Foundation), Project Indy, Ripple, Joust Bank, Seagate, Risk Cooperative, Endor and Sweetbridge.

Public Sector attendees included NIST Applied Cyber Security Division, NIST Cryptographic Technology Group, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and members of the Congressional Blockchain Caucus.

This article originally appeared on Bitcoin Magazine.

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Overstock.com CEO Acquires Stake in Blockchain Land Registry Startup

Medici Land Governance

Overstock.com CEO Patrick Byrne has acquired a stake in blockchain startup, Medici Land Governance (MLG). Byrne purchased a 43 percent stake in the blockchain land registry in a private transaction.

Blockchain land registries have been getting a lot of traction around the world, as they promise a viable solution to the problem of fragmented paper records and unverifiable claims.

Medici Land Governance, the blockchain-powered property rights subsidiary of Overstock, was founded in 2018 to help people legitimize the ownership of their properties using blockchain and other technologies.

MLG is one of the portfolio companies under Medici Ventures — Overstock’s blockchain tech accelerator wing — which includes other blockchain projects such as tZero and Factom.

“Proper land governance is the crystallization of the rule of law and the foundation of a successful, prosperous and free society,” Byrne noted in the announcement.

In an interview with Bitcoin Magazine, Byrne said he believes secure land titling and property management systems have the potential to eliminate poverty across the world.

“Once individuals in emerging economies have systems in place to help them establish formal ownership of their property, they can more easily access credit and public services necessary to become a true, sustainable member of the global economy,” he said.

“Blockchain land registry systems are a large step in the goal to democratize capital, and I’m proud to be a member of the team leading that charge.”

Medici Land Governance CEO Dr. Ali El Husseini describes the investment from the Overstock CEO as a “vote of confidence” in the land registry’s “unprecedented mission.”

“Patrick Byrne’s investment comes at a pivotal time as we are coordinating staff, resources and technology at two locations separated by continents with the aid of governmental and global partners, most notably the World Bank,” he remarked. “Teams both in the African nation and the U.S. are implementing the basic infrastructure and formal digital tools to deliver land titles to holders.”

Medici Land Governance recently signed an MOU with the World Bank to create, implement and evaluate pilot programs that ensure secure land tenure for underdeveloped communities. The blockchain startup also inked a deal with the Zambian government to overhaul the current land ownership system in a bid to allow rural landowners to formalize the ownership of their estates and gain access to the financial world.

This article originally appeared on Bitcoin Magazine.

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eCash Founder David Chaum Makes Bold Promises with Elixxir Blockchain

eCash Founder David Chaum Claims Invention of World’s Fastest Blockchain

Over 30 years after creating eCash, a predecessor of bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies which spawned the Cypherpunk movement of the 1980s, Dr. David Chaum is back in the public eye with a claim of having invented “the world’s fastest cryptocurrency.”

Chaum is widely regarded as the forefather of cryptocurrencies and the wider world of cryptographic security and online privacy because of his pioneering security research work in the ’80s. His academic paper, “Blind Signatures for Untraceable Payments,” laid the groundwork for modern cryptography used in securing blockchains and cryptocurrencies. The “private key” and “public key” framework he laid out decades ago is still the basis for how cryptocurrencies are kept secured in wallets.

Birth of Elixxir

Now he claims to have invented the first blockchain in the world with the capacity to handle all the needs of consumer-scale messaging and payments. The new platform, dubbed “Elixxir,” is reportedly able to process hundreds of thousands of confidential, quantum-resistant transactions every second.

According to Chaum, the Elixxir blockchain offers faster and cheaper messaging and payment solutions than all other existing blockchains, with the ability to scale to levels current blockchains cannot dream of. While Elixxir claims to be able to handle hundreds of thousands of concurrent transactions every second with no problem, Ethereum, by comparison, is only capable of handling about 15 transactions per second.

In correspondence with Bitcoin Magazine, Chaum said the response to Elixxir has been overwhelming.

“Since our announcement, 24 hours ago, we’ve had over 600 express interest in running nodes and thousands express interest in our community. Our team is delighted and humbled by the response, and we look forward to further growing and working with our community.”

Building on the background of eCash alongside more recent cryptographic innovations, Chaum claims that Elixxir will give users the benefit of speed and scalability on the level of non-blockchain platforms like PayPal or Visa — something which, if it can deliver, promises to be a game changer for the crypto industry regarding mass adoption.

Huge Promises

According to Chaum, Elixxir succeeds at two majors things that other blockchains generally fail at. The first is that it has changed the makeup of the digital signatures used to verify ownership of cryptocurrency tokens. In his view, modern digital signatures are too much of a computational hassle, which in turn prevents blockchain platforms from scaling or achieving anything approaching the speed of non-blockchain networks. Elixxir will use one digital signature per block for each node contributing to that block.

“There’s no way we can get speed and scalability if for every transaction a server has to do a public key operation like making a signature or checking a signature. We can cheat a little bit,” Chaum remarked at the recently concluded Consensus event in Singapore.

Elixxir effectively “cheats” by carrying out public key operations “in advance,” a framework that Chaum claims has not been attempted before, and which delivers speeds that are up to 1,000 times faster than any other blockchain in existence. This, Chaum says, is a breakthrough.

When asked if his blockchain can rival some popular networks such as Lightning, Chaum said, “Elixxir can take blockchain to a new level.

“A consumer messaging and payment app with performance, privacy and capacity that consumers are used to with today’s centralized systems. But at the same time, it can be resistant to attack even at the national adversary level.”

In addition to speed, Elixxir’s cryptography “cheating” effectively future proofs the network against the specter of quantum computer attacks at a time when there is a substantial amount of debate over whether quantum computing poses a threat to blockchains.

For now, the project remains focused on transactions and is still not ready to hit the market anytime soon. Nevertheless, Chaum believes that Elixxir could eventually grow into much more than just a cryptocurrency by becoming a fixture in online security frameworks.

This article originally appeared on Bitcoin Magazine.

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Bancor Bent on Cross-Chain Liquidity With Expansion to EOS Blockchain

Two for One? Bancor Bent on Cross-Chain Liquidity With EOS Expansion

In a bid to extend the reach of its services, Bancor is opening up shop on another blockchain.

The decentralized exchange protocol is expanding to EOS, a Bancor blog post reveals. Speaking to Bitcoin Magazine, Bancor’s Director of Communications Nate Hindman said the protocol will still allow users to trade Ethereum tokens, while its newest iteration, BancorX, will introduce this functionality to Ethereum’s rival, as well.

“Bancor is not ‘switching’ to EOS. Bancor will continue to support and advance its protocol and liquidity network on the Ethereum blockchain. With the BancorX launch, we are expanding Bancor to also support the EOS blockchain.”

Bancor’s announcement offers a comparative glance at EOS’s benefits over Ethereum. These include near-instant transaction times at 1 second, zero transaction fees and no front-running risks (i.e., unlike Ethereum’s gas structure, EOS transactions are not prioritized by adjustable fees).

Reiterating tidbits of the blog post’s rationale in our conversation, Hindman also said that EOS has more than enough momentum behind it to warrant Bancor’s attention.

“Our primary motivation in choosing which platforms to support is where we think there will be developer traction. As one of the largest developers on Ethereum, it is unmistakable how much traction we’re seeing from our fellow developers on EOS. In fact, data shows that EOS transactions and users have already eclipsed Ethereum. This is likely a consequence of faster transactions and no transaction fees on EOS.”

Holding that “[some] of the most promising blockchain projects are launching on EOS,” Hindman continued to state that the Bancor team expects an influx of token projects to launch on EOS before the end of the year.

EOS: A Rising (If Contentious) Star

Recently launched, EOS has been touted by proponents as an “Ethereum-killer,” a sentiment emboldened by the beating Ethereum has taken in recent months as the market continues its tenuous downtrend. Plagued by scalability concerns, restricted development and a network bloated with useless DApps, the faster, more technically elastic EOS is primed to outpace the grandfather of tokens in the long-run, EOS fans claim.

Still, these exuberant takes don’t mean EOS isn’t without its faults, nor does it mean that Ethereum’s core developers aren’t working to neutralize the same problems its critics hone in on.

For EOS’s own baggage, the platform’s supernode structure has been criticized for being highly centralized, and the platform has also drawn flack for its year-long ICO — the source of “$4 billion in [funding]” that Bancor alluded to in a press release related to the announcement. EOS also has transaction control mechanisms in place, something that has led founder Dan Larimer to reconsider the protocol’s constitution.

Such a cyber safety net seems relevant to a protocol like Bancor, which made headlines at the end of July 2018 for a vulnerability that cost users $23.5 million. This exploited bug, though, could have cost the platform even more if not for a feature that allowed the team to freeze some $10 million in Bancor’s native token, BNT.

When asked if this mechanism, which allows block producers to reverse any transaction on the network, could be one that Bancor favors, Hindman noted “that no single block producer (BP) can reverse transactions; rather, it requires the unanimous agreement of all 21 BPs.” He also claimed that, even if BPs were to reverse a transaction, this action is hardly different from the Ethereum community seeking to reclaim funds via hard forks after incidents like the DAO hack.

Also known as supernodes, block producers are up for frequent election and reelection, and Bancor has thrown its own hat in to the ring for one of these positions, with a candidacy in LiquidEOS. Voted in and out by the EOS community, these block producers “can be removed by the EOS community at any moment if they were to abuse this distributed trust,” said Hindman.

“In general, so long as the existence and use of emergency control functions are fully transparent to the world, and users have the ability to easily fork networks if they disagree with their governance structures or execution, networks remain decentralized and censorship-resistant — a tremendous leap forward from the systems that dominate our online and offline worlds today.’

With Two Blockchains, an Opening for Cross-Chain Trades

The expansion will allow Bancor to cover more ground, opening its trading protocol to an entirely new ecosystem of tokens. Perhaps the most notable features of BancorX, then, are the cross-chain liquidity options it will open up to users.

“The EOS-based tokens listed on Bancor will soon be instantly convertible to any Ethereum-based token through the cross-chain Bancor Protocol … these conversions will occur without users having to deposit funds on an exchange and without the need for order-matching between buyers and sellers.”

On Ethereum’s network, Bancor’s protocol creates trading liquidity through token reserves, which allow users to swap between tokens via the platform’s smart contracts. In bringing this feature to EOS, Bancor hopes to fulfill “its intention to be a cross-chain liquidity protocol,” Hindman said.

Having more than EOS in its sights, Hindman hinted that the team plans to expand to other DApp platforms, as well. “Wherever dApp developers are building,” he said, “we will aim to add support. Stay tuned for more news.”

For now, however, Hindman said that Bancor is “hard at work” preparing its technology for launch on the EOS mainnet, which has “no specific go-live date yet.” When ready, the rollout will see initial support for Everipedia (IQ) , MEET.ONE (MEET), HireVibes (HVT) , Lumeos (LUME), MyCryptoBank (MCB) , Chaince (CET) , CoArt (COAT) , Prospectors Gold (PGL) , HorusPay (HORUS)  and DEOS (DEOS), and Bancor has made a call for other EOS token projects to apply for listing on the protocol.

To give developers and users a preview of the forthcoming offering, Bancor has published its open-source smart contract code for EOS on Github, and it has also released an embeddable user interface to allow users to trial the smart contract’s token conversion on the EOS testnet. These preliminary offerings come alongside a bounty program, wherein Bancor has fronted 500,000 BNT to be distributed amongst whitehats who find issues with or improve the protocol’s freshly developed code.

This article originally appeared on Bitcoin Magazine.

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New Multibank-Backed Venture to Leverage Blockchain for Commodity Trading

Ethereum Commodity Trading Platform

A new venture involving institutional heavy hitters from across banking, trading and energy sectors is tapping into the Ethereum blockchain to settle commodity trades.

Headquartered in Switzerland, the initiative called komgo SA brings together ABN AMRO, BNP Paribas, Citi, Crédit Agricole Group, Gunvor, ING, Koch Supply & Trading, Macquarie, Mercuria, MUFG Bank, Natixis, Rabobank, Shell, SGS and Société Générale.

The company has recruited team members from Easy Trading Connect 1 and Easy Trading Connect 2, two blockchain-powered pilots for trading energy and soft commodities. Seeing as the new settlement platform will be built on Ethereum, the venture has struck a development partnership with Ethereum incubator ConsenSys, as well.

“We are now entering a new era of simple and inclusive access to blockchain technology to advance stronger, more collaborative, business relationships previously out of reach. We are thrilled to see leading commodity trade finance banks and commodity houses come together to create komgo SA, which will radically simplify and accelerate trustworthiness, auditability, and accessibility to trade financing across the industry,” Joseph Lubin, co-founder of Ethereum and founder of ConsenSys, stated in the official announcement.

In digitizing the settlement process, a platform like komgo SA could streamline commodity trading, cutting through the paper-laden procedure that is required for these assets to change hands.

The venture hopes to release its two flagship products by year’s end. One of these will set standards for know-your-customer (KYC) verification for its users, wherein “the exchange of documents will be executed in an encrypted way over the blockchain on a need to know basis.” The second product will be a digital letter of credit that will allow institutions to “submit digital trade data and documents” to any bank that has onboarded the platform.

This article originally appeared on Bitcoin Magazine.

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JD.com launches China’s first blockchain business license product

The blockchain business license product will also aid the newly implemented China’s e-commerce law, which holds e-commerce platforms responsible for fake products sold on the platforms. Original Link

Briefing: ZhongAn Tech sets up China’s first blockchain-based diamond traceability alliance

Diamond traceability is the latest addition to a host of applications such as evidence verification for courts, carbon credits, and project fund management. Original Link

TIBCO NOW 2018: What’s New for Devs

Thanks to TIBCO for arranging for me to attend TIBCO NOW 2018 and for the opportunity to meet with Rob Zazueta, Global Director Digital Strategy at TIBCO. Rob was with Mashery when it was acquired by TIBCO three years ago and he’s a huge developer advocate. In fact, he organized a data challenge using Spotfire and FloGo for developers attending the user conference.

Rob believes developers learn by breaking stuff and fixing it. That’s also how they evaluate the tools they use for their jobs. Use your own data or sources, get errors, figure out why something is wrong, go back and fix it. That’s the best way to learn.

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Baidu sets up a blockchain subsidiary Dulian in Hainan

Chinese search engine giant Baidu registered a blockchain company Wednesday in China’s Hainan province. The company is mainly set to […] Original Link

PwC Global Survey: Corporate Interest in Blockchain on the Rise

PwC Survey

Big Four auditing firm PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) just released its 2018 Global Blockchain Survey, subtitled “Blockchain is here. What’s your next move?” The sweeping survey pools data from 600 technology executives from 15 territories, with 31 percent of represented companies accruing $1 billion or more in annual revenue.

Notable Findings

In perhaps its most salient insight, the survey found that 84 percent of executives questioned say “their organizations have at least some involvement with blockchain technology.”

Of those with eyes and ears on the technology, 64 percent report “having a blockchain project underway,” while another 34 percent indicat that their projects are only in the research or theoretical phase of development. For those companies that haven’t made much progress, cost, lack of knowledge to begin and lack of governance were cited as the most formidable obstacles to development.

The report goes on to state that Gartner anticipates that blockchain-focused initiatives will generate some $3 trillion in business value annually by 2030. Gartner also finds that blockchain use cases are expanding as the market matures. While 84 percent of industry projects focused on financial services in 2017, that number has fallen to 46 percent in 2018, the research company claims.

The sentiment captured with PwC’s survey reflects Gartner’s research. While most respondents find blockchain technology most ripe to disrupt the financial services industry, other sectors — including industrial products and manufacturing, energy and utilities, and healthcare — were listed as the next top industries that could benefit from the blockchain’s functionality.

Still, even with expanding use cases, PwC’s respondents are cautious and measured in their outlook. Most believe that blockchain technology still faces barriers to adoption that shouldn’t be ignored. Of these concerns, regulatory uncertainty ranked as the highest concern at 48 percent, with lack of trust among users (45 percent) and the ability to “bring the network together” (44 percent) close behind as predominant concerns.

Survey respondents also recognize the United States as a clear leader in the blockchain space, though they believe that China will usurp this position in three to five years time, as well.

This article originally appeared on Bitcoin Magazine.

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JD.com launches new blockchain open platform for enterprises

The platform “enables customers to create and adjust smart contracts on public and private enterprise clouds with ease.” Original Link

China’s Xiong’an New Area is going to use blockchain for project fund management

China’s Xiong’an New Area launched the country’s first blockchain-powered project fund management platform to fight misappropriation and interception of project money. Original Link

New Partnership Designed to Securely Track Precious Metal Trades

vNew Partnership Will Track Precious Metals Using Blockchain Technology

Financial technology firm Paxos has formed a partnership with INTL FCStone Inc’s precious metals division. The department will now be using Paxos Confirmation Service — a tool built specifically for the precious metals arena — to instantly automate daily trade confirmations and reduce human error.

Paxos seeks to unlock capital and create value with products that eliminate trade risk, while INTL FCStone provides market intelligence, post-trade services and financial services execution throughout the global financial market. The company boasts over 20,000 customers in approximately 130 different countries and is headquartered in New York City.

Chad Cascarilla is the CEO and co-founder of Paxos. Speaking with Bitcoin Magazine, he said that the precious metals industry is prone to many of the same issues one finds with traditional banking institutions.

“Many of the processes that the precious metals industry uses today to confirm and settle trades are manual and prone to human error,” he explained. “Today, confirmations, metal transfer instructions and wire instructions are sent via email, which is notoriously bad for information security. Email is rarely encrypted, and a simple keystroke error can cause an email to be sent to the wrong recipients, so information is very vulnerable.”

He further stated that the timeframe in which precious metals move or transfer is usually not quick enough. Thus, they’re often at risk of getting lost or falling into the wrong hands:

“Imagine buying something online when the seller uses eBay to negotiate a price and ship the products, but the buyer wants to pay on Venmo. When using different systems, there is no guarantee that the goods and payment will occur between the same parties and within the expected period. Now, imagine this situation for a $50 million trade for gold. This simple conundrum of ‘who pays first and who bears risk’ is a big issue for the precious metals industry.”

Using the Paxos system, INTL FCStone can match trade economics within seconds, thus eliminating several manual tasks and improving operational precision. Trades are quickly captured, and if issues ever arise, they are quickly identified and resolved.

While Paxos is known for its expertise in the blockchain arena, Seth M. Phillips, executive director of Bankchain Precious Metals, explained that blockchain technology is not what’s behind the company’s confirmation service.

“This is the first stage in a broader post-trade platform that Paxos has build for the precious metals space, and latter stages will utilize blockchain,” he said.

“This service is for confirming trades; we will be releasing products in the future that will help with further steps of post-trade processes, including settlement via blockchain.”

Cascarilla further believes Paxos’ technology will be developed to the point that it can be applied to virtually every financial space.

“Our mission is to move any asset, anywhere, in a trusted way,” he said. “We already work with many financial institutions and banks who use our solutions for crypto assets, and this is our first foray into precious metals. We have many more solutions in development for other asset classes including commodities and FX, and we hope to reduce settlement risks and achieve symmetry and synchrony in a highly fragmented world.”

He said that Paxos will be phasing the rollout of the confirmation service to around 75 counterparty pairs in the coming months.

This article originally appeared on Bitcoin Magazine.

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Is blockchain the answer to China’s vaccine woes?

As one of the most hyped technologies, blockchain has been much discussed as one of the key solutions to China’s vaccine issue. Original Link

Binance acquires mobile Ethereum wallet Trust Wallet

Crypto exchange Binance buys Trust Wallet in first acquisition deal – TechCrunch What happened: Malta-headquartered crypto exchange Binance has acquired mobile Ethereum wallet Trust Wallet in an undisclosed deal. Despite the acquisition, the Trust Wallet team will continue operating autonomously. Why it’s important: In June, Binance, the world’s largest crypto exchange, announced a $1 billion investment […] Original Link

Navigating the New Big Data

The digital economy is a ferocious force that’s fed by data. The billions of people trolling Twitter, paying bills, reading news, and binging on Netflix are creating a head-spinning amount of data that propels this industry forward. According to Forbes, 2.5 quintillion bytes of data are generated each day.

If that number fails to register as anything but an abstract abundance, you’re not alone.

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An Australian Blockchain Experiment: Tracking Global Almond Shipments

An Australian Blockchain Experiment: Tracking Global Almond Shipments

Following a successful 2016 trial of blockchain technology in an interbank open account transaction, the Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CBA) has partnered with five international and Australian companies to ship 17 tonnes of almonds from Melbourne, Australia, to Hamburg, Germany, using a new distributed ledger platform built on the Ethereum blockchain.

The Experiment

Originating in Sunraysia, the shipment made its way to Western Europe in a pioneering experiment that combined a private blockchain, smart contracts and a geotracking Internet of Things (IoT) framework to facilitate end-to-end movement of the almonds. Using the joint solution, the entire process was seamlessly tracked and verified remotely from the point of origin to delivery in real time.

Taking part in the procedure alongside the CBA were Pacific National, Olam Richards Australia Pty Ltd, OOCL Limited, Patrick Terminals and LX Group. The primary purpose of the experiment was to establish a reliable framework for digitization of the three pillars of international commerce, namely documentation, operations/logistics and finance. This was done using a custom blockchain which hosted all information regarding container location, task completion status and shipping documents.

Using the information provided by four IoT devices inside the container, transaction partners could track cargo location in real time and view real-time cargo data, such as temperature and humidity. The information was accessed through the blockchain platform, making it impervious to manipulation.

CBA Managing Director of Industrials and Logistics in Client Coverage Chris Scougall said:

“Our blockchain-enabled global trade platform experiment brought to life the idea of a modern global supply chain that is agile, efficient and transparent. We believe that blockchain can help our partners reduce the burden of administration on their businesses and enable them to deliver best-in-class services to their customers.”

In 2016, the CBA and Wells Fargo conducted the world’s first interbank open account transaction combining the application of blockchain technology, smart contracts and IoT connectivity. The transaction, which took place in partnership with Brighann Cotton involved a cotton shipment from Texas, USA, to Qingdao, China, using a private blockchain and smart contracts enabled with IoT geolocation technology.

Implementing this framework on a larger scale in the future means that international transactions can be carried out with a high level of transparency, with all parties constantly aware of the location, authentication and condition of goods in transit.

In addition to the tracking of goods and added efficiency, the blockchain-enabled supply chain also enables transaction parties to upload and access key documents required by port authorities such as the bill of lading and certificates of origin.

The CBA’s experimental blockchain platform is being built on the Ethereum protocol because of its popularity and customizable functionality. When fully set up, it will take the form of a private blockchain made up of a closed network of trusted entities.

This article originally appeared on Bitcoin Magazine.

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The Summer of Big Data Innovation 2018

It’s been a long hot summer already and that’s certainly been evident all over. Fortunately that has kept people inside coding! That must be it, because the amount of major upgrades and releases is astounding.

First up, the most major one of the decade, is the 3.1 version of Hadoop that has been released into production as Hortonworks Data Platform 3.0. This modernized version of Hadoop has turned into a cloud beast. You now have dockerization, GPU support, Tensorflow, ultra fast SQL, erasure coding for those that know three copies of your data is too much and a laundry list of upgraded components.

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To me, the ability to run dockerized workloads brings your big data platform on compute par with clouds, making it easier, faster, and more developer friendly to write big data applications. If this was it, that would be awesome. You can also write Spark applications as Docker containers, as well TensorFlow and others. My friend Amol wrote an awesome walk through of how to use Cloudbreak to spin up and run a dockerized Spark application running financial libraries.   

I installed HDP 3.0 in an OpenStack cluster running Centos 7 and it was smooth. I am running it and would like to report that it’s pretty awesome. There are upgrades to most components including Hive to 3.1, HBase to 2.0, Zeppelin to 0.8.0, Spark to 2.3.1, Ambari to 2.7.0, and Kafka to 1.0.1.

Speaking of cloud, which everyone is, Hortonworks has made hybrid cloud a real option for enterprises. This includes expanding relationships with existing cloud vendors like perennial Hortonworks partner, Microsoft. The relationship with Google is very interesting and provides more choices for companies.

What is really innovative is Cloudbreak 2.7, this lets you run multiple types of workloads on multiple clouds including Spark, Hive, and NiFi.

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Enterprises can now use an open source tool for deploying to public and/or private clouds using dynamic configuration, automated scaling, and full security with Kerberos. This upgrade really brings the features you need to make this possible today. Did I mention there were blueprints so you can easily repeat and use DevOps for your process? There are a number of useful blueprints included for Data Science with Spark and Zeppelin, EDW Analytics, and EDW ETL. You can now spin up ephemeral clusters, run some analytics, store final results to S3, and then shut down to avoid pricey cloud costs on unused VMs.

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Speaking of cloud, Hortonworks has added another open source tool to its DataPlane Service for Global Data Management, Data Steward Studio.

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DSS lets you curate, discover, and organize your data assets across multiple types and tiers of data in a hybrid environment. You can understand and audit data asset security and govern proper usage and lineage of data assets. It doesn’t matter if your data is on-premise or in one or more clouds. This is awesome. This really elevates your data lake to the most important place for your data. It is also showing off something you will notice this year, Hortonworks has upped the interfaces to be very clean, functional, modern, and UX-centric.  

You don’t think I could have an article with no mention of Apache NiFi did you? Well, it’s upgraded to 1.7.1. Along with updates to subprojects MiniFi and NiFi Registry. My recent IoT article on multiple device ingestion highlights the useful features. The killer one for NiFi registry is utilizing Git as a flow file persistence engine.

There are also some other interesting things out there including, the best-named project ever, Circus Train from Hotels.com, which is for replicating Apache Hive tables between clusters.

TensorFlow had another upgrade to 1.9, it will probably be in 2.0 before I finish this line. It’s hard to avoid Keras at this point with it’s tight integration here. Keras is also now supported by Apache MXNet. Let’s not forget about ONNX, which has even more interesting models to use.

Often overshadowed by the roller coaster ride that cryptocurrencies are experiencing, blockchain is exploding. All of the major cloud vendors are now doing something with blockchain. As I have previously published on DZone, there’s a ton of sites that you can use for working with these currencies. To learn more, see my article on BTC.

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To wrap up, I included a picture of the HDP 3.0/TensorFlow/GPU powered race car that Hortonworks had driving around this race track on the floor of Data Works Summit in San Jose in late June. I was there to do my talk on Open Computer Vision and help out with the Deep Learning Crash Course.  Most of the sessions have their videos now posted, so check them out. You can also read and download the slides here.   

Have a great summer of upgrades!

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Qtum Platform Now Available Through Amazon Web Services

Singapore-based Qtum has launched its decentralized application (DApp) development platform on Amazon Web Services (AWS). With this launch, AWS users and developers will be able to develop and launch smart contracts using an Amazon Machine Image (AMI), made up of Qtum Core, Solidity and Qmix web IDE.

Qtum is a hybrid platform, developed by the Qtum Foundation, which uses the Account Attraction Layer, an interface layer, to merge the strength of Bitcoin’s blockchain with the Ethereum Virtual Machine to build decentralized applications. Designed as a toolkit, the platform uses the proof-of-stake model to reduce the network’s computational difficulty while mitigating and solving scalability.

Speaking to Bitcoin Magazine, Qtum Foundation CIO Miguel Palencia said, “Qtum’s launch in the AWS marketplace provides an easy-to-use and powerful cloud-based solution for end users and the Enterprise. Anyone who wants to develop/build DApps on the Qtum platform or use it as a staking node will benefit from this.”

Usage

One of the benefits of using the new Qtum AMI on AWS is the ease of getting started on the blockchain without the “hassle of handling dependencies.” The platform makes it possible for anyone to run a Qtum node or use Qtum pre-installed to launch a server on its mainnet or testnet.

According to Palencia, this is what makes the Qtum technology attractive to both small and large businesses. Companies can launch the servers without “having to spend a large amount of resources on infrastructure.” The Qtum AMI is also free for AWS customers to deploy a Qtum instance (server). Users can deploy a test network on the instance to simulate a public blockchain without paying a fee.

Features

Among some of the features of the Qtum AMI is a Qmix development IDE — the development libraries and tools created for the desktop QT wallet — which launches by default. Users will also get the Qtum and Solidity compiler needed for building and executing smart contracts.

Amazon Web Services has been quite active in the blockchain space since it opened its arms to blockchain startups in 2016. Earlier this year, ConsenSys partnered with AWS to launch Kaleido, a service similar to Qtum’s, which simplifies the adoption and implementation of blockchain technology.

The difference between Qtum’s offering and Kaleido, according to Palencia, is that Qtum is not strictly for enterprise, “but for end users, as well as anyone wanting to create and build something on the Qtum blockchain.”

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Beyond the Classroom: The Rise of University Blockchain Labs

As the cryptocurrency industry matures and public interest heightens, blockchain research and educational efforts have made their way into the halls of some of the world’s leading universities. Courses on cryptocurrency finance, blockchain development and related law are developing into serious avenues of study. They’re academia’s response to a formerly stigmatized space’s debut into mainstream culture, a formal and accredited extension to the work of innovators and leaders who propelled the space forward when it was still relatively underground.

Complementing classroom offerings, university-led blockchain research and development initiatives are on the rise, as teams of professors, blockchain developers and students work to take the industry from market speculation to mainstream application.

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) features the oldest and perhaps best-known university-sponsored blockchain development lab in the world. Since 2015, the MIT Media Lab’s Digital Currency Initiative has brought together some of the space’s leading independent developers with MIT faculty to extend the development of such applications as the Lightning Network.

Halfway into 2018, some of the world’s top universities are joining MIT and vetting initiatives of their own. New in structure but by no means new to the field, Stanford’s month-old blockchain R&D lab was launched with a bit of a jumpstart. Co-directors Dan Boneh and David Mazières have three years of blockchain-focused research and academic papers to set the lab into motion. Both directors are computer science professors at Stanford and have taught courses on blockchain technology since 2015.

As these labs begin operating in the background of academia, these professors can take the work they’ve done in the classroom and work toward tangible developments. At the intersection of education and innovation, these R&D efforts show the potential and need for industry growth — and the plethora of talent that can nourish it.

They also show us that market cap and investor returns alone may be poor indicators for whether a fledgling industry is growing. These labs aren’t paying the way themselves; they’ve tapped into the pocketbooks of some of the space’s most notable entities, including the Ethereum Foundation and Ripple. Disregarding the market’s steady decline from all-time high prices this year, these big players are investing heavily in research and development for the future growth and health of the space.

Together, these funds and the labs they support are creating the infrastructure to push blockchain development through a new era of mainstream exposure to mainstream adoption.

MIT

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology has had its hand in blockchain and cryptocurrency research and development longer than most. Founded in 2015, the MIT Digital Currency Initiative (DCI) is an offshoot of the university’s Media Lab. Working alongside other universities and research centers, the lab is a collective of tech industry veterans, crypto programmers, faculty, students and research scientists. Its main R&D focuses include platform/pilot testing, research publication and open-source development for blockchain technology.

The initiative has pulled both from within MIT faculty and from without to cultivate an accomplished team. Led by Director Neha Narula, a 2016-2017 member of the World Economic Forum Global Future Council on Blockchain, and MIT Media Lab Director Joi Ito, the team features a former chief economist of the International Monetary Fund in Simon Johnson and Gary Gensler, an Obama-era Commodity and Futures Trade Commission chairman.

As one of the oldest R&D labs in the space, it also employs Bitcoin Core developers Wladimir van der Laan and Cory Fields, as well as Tadge Dryja, co-author of the Lightning Network white paper.

Dryja in particular has used his time at DCI to continue the work he and Joseph Poon started with the Lightning Network. This summer, the lab has been piloting a prototype to test the Lightning Network’s smart contract functionality. Contrary to common misconceptions, Bitcoin does house a scripting language, though it’s less flexible and more limited than those of platforms like Ethereum.

“It’s not as developer friendly because bitcoin didn’t go in that direction, but you can use it. You have to be a little creative,” said Alin Dragos, Head of Strategic Partnerships at DCI.

Working their way around Bitcoin’s scripting limitations, Dryja and Dragos have brought smart contracts to the Lightning Network. Broadcasting data for the smart contracts to the second layer, off-chain network that Lightning provides, these smart contracts can be both private and scalable, their information being stored off-chain. Only the transaction, whenever the service’s users decide to close their payment channel, will be sent to Bitcoin’s network.

This Lightning Network application is just one of the many contributions the lab has facilitated to enrich Bitcoin’s network. It has also overseen or assisted with much of Wladimir van der Lann’s work on Bitcoin Core.

In addition to its efforts with such key contributions, the initiative publishes academic papers, thought pieces and informative articles on topics from anonymity algorithms to blockchain use cases for legacy sectors, and it provides free cryptocurrency and blockchain courses on its website.

The team also attracts mainstream media and news coverage to provide input on industry-related topics. In the past, Gary Gensler has discussed token security status with the New York Times, and PBS has invited Neha Narula on to its NewsHour for a feature on Bitcoin.

Stanford

The West Coast University has offered cryptocurrency and blockchain classes for a while now, but it wasn’t until this year that the institution launched its own research initiative.

Supported with funding by the Ethereum Foundation, Protocol Labs and Polychain Capital, among others, Stanford’s Center for Blockchain Research is led by computer science professors Dan Boneh and David Mazières. The center is, in effect, the practical culmination of the academic work both professors have committed to the field since 2015.

“Our goal is to support the ecosystem,” professor Dan Boneh said in an interview with Bitcoin Magazine.

“[CBR] is a technically focused research center that is going to be developing technology to support the blockchain ecosystem. We’ve been doing that now for a while and, basically, this is giving more structure to that,” he added, emphasizing the role the center plays in building on the work the Stanford computer science department has already produced in the field.

After establishing three years’ worth of pedagogical groundwork, Boneh and Mazières spent the last year adding structure to the CBR. A physical hub for future innovation, the center solidifies the body of work the professors have published to date, and it will house more hands-on research and development going forward.

Fittingly, the vast majority of this research will be technically focused from the center’s onset.

“We’re focusing on a number of different areas, starting with cryptography, obviously. For me this has been really exciting because every time I talk to a project, I come away with new research problems to think about,” Boneh stated in the interview. “We’re also working on languages for smart contracts. We’re working on verification tools … consensus protocols.”

Like DCI, CBR is already taking the theoretical and making it functional. The lab’s smart contract brain child is already in testing, Boneh revealed in the interview, and the demo’s findings will be published in a forthcoming paper.

This paper will enrich the library of work that Boneh et al. have already produced. Keeping with Bitcoin’s ethos for open-source access, CBR and Stanford offer these articles free of charge, and they cover topics that range from consensus protocols to confidential transactions.

While research for these works comes from within Stanford, the inspiration for them — and the problems they look to solve — come from the industry’s myriad projects.

“The research work is primarily to the center, but the question is: where are the research questions coming from? The research questions are coming from the projects. So we publish papers to look for solutions.”

As these solutions and the papers positing them suggest, the center’s technical bent is obvious. Still, Boneh stressed that the center’s focus will widen as it builds out its team and resources. Joe Grundfest, a former SEC commissioner and Stanford Law professor, is CBR’s original anchor to fields outside of the realm of computer science, but he won’t be the only one down the road.

“The center is focused on computer science. The plan is actually to grow and include the broader aspects of blockchain — this is why it was important for me to have someone from the law school involved from day one. But we will have folks in economics, folks from the businesses school,” Boneh claimed.

Looking toward what’s to come, Boneh indicated that, for the near future, the center is focused on educational outreach. It’s holding an open series of summer seminars on topics like scaling and SNARKs, and it’ll be hosting the third annual Stanford Blockchain Conference from January 30 to February 1, 2019. The conference is calling for submissions until October 16, 2018.

University College London

University College London’s Centre for Blockchain Technology (CBT) is holistic in its R&D approach. In many regards, it casts its net wider than MIT or Stanford, both of which, for the time being, focus mainly on technical incubation and research.

CBT was founded in 2015 when “the crypto-space was in its early embryonic stage and not as mature as it is now,” when “no one was really aware of the real blockchain potentials,” Founder and Executive Director Paolo Tasca told Bitcoin Magazine in an interview. It was created as “an interdisciplinary group able to address at the highest levels the major technical, socio-economic and legal challenges posed by the advent of distributed ledger.”

The center’s research philosophy is built on three disciplinary tenets, namely science and technology, finance and business, and law and regulation. Spanning so many fields, it is “the largest centre on blockchain technologies in the world which counts more than one hundred research associates involved in several research projects,” according to Tasca.

Currently, the center has 60 applicants under consideration to add to its team of scholars and researchers from UCL’s mathematics, computer science, economics, science, statistics, law, psychology and energy departments.

Tasca indicated in our interview that “[every] department supporting the CBT is independent in managing its own research agenda.” Though it’s “very often,” he continued, that “blockchain-related issues can be addressed only by adopting an interdisciplinary approach. Thus, the CBT is the UCL body that provides a core team of leading blockchain scholars and facilitates these cross-departmental and often inter-university projects on blockchain-related areas.”

Such an extensive, interdisciplinary approach has given birth to a wide range of variegated research. On the CBT’s resources page are papers that span topics from network attacks to the failure of interdependent economic ecosystems, some of which appear to have only vague threads of association with blockchain technology.

Over the past two years, UCL CBT has supported projects such as a pilot for verifying academic credentials on the blockchain and a study on the crypto economy’s evolution.

Like Stanford, CBT also holds seminars and events to further foster education. In addition, the center offers its expertise by way of consulting services, a private counterpart to the public engagement the summits and seminars facilitate. It’s offered its advisory services to startups and private/public entities alike, including the Bank of Canada, Financial Conduct Authority, Banca D’Italia and the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, to name a few.

The project is funded in part “from government public grants and international grants,” Tasca revealed, including “a recent funding award … the BARAC (Blockchain for Automatic Regulation and Compliance) project which was the largest 2017 EPSRC UK grant for a blockchain project” and “the PETRAS Internet of Energy Things (P2P-IoET) [grant] for supporting peer-to-peer energy trading and demand-side management through blockchains.”

The initiative also relies on funding from the CBT industry alliance and such third party companies as Ripple, Fidelity Investments, R3, State Street and Oracle, among others.

With a stack of resources both monetary and academic, the CBT contracts its expertise out to some of the world’s leading governmental entities. Notably, Tasca said that the center has consulted with the UN’s World Food Organization on how blockchains could be used to effect transparent quality control over international food supply chains. It has also worked closely with “the EU Parliament, the U.K. government, the U.K. parliament, the Bank of England and the FCA [Financial Conduct Authority].”

In addition to government organizations, the CBT also offers support for blockchain pilots and startups, and Tasca teased that the center will soon reveal “a specific program to promote entrepreneurial ventures to advance technology innovation in the areas of IOT, AI and blockchain.”

University of Edinburgh

With funding from Charles Hoskinson and Jeremy Wood’s IOHK, the Blockchain Technology Laboratory (BLT) is working with the University of Edinburgh’s School of Informatics to advance blockchain research and innovation. BLT’s director Aggelos Kiayias and Hoskinson forged the alliance from a shared desire to address the industry’s pain points, such as the proof-of-stake consensus model, using what Kiayias calls “a first principles approach.”

In an interview, Kiayias continued to say that, while the lab’s “focus so far has been on the design of distributed ledgers protocols, their security, scalability, sustainability, performance, interoperability and economics,” it is “in the process of expanding with collaborations in the school of business, economics, math, architecture and political science.”

Other Centers of Research

The Imperial College of London has its own center dedicated to blockchain and cryptocurrency research, as well. Like its peers, the Centre for Cryptocurrency Research and Engineering publishes academic articles on its findings and hosts educational events. Recently, two of its members, professors William Knottenbelt and Dr. Zeynep Gurguc, published a report entitled “Cryptocurrencies: Overcoming Barriers to Trust and Adoption.” It touts cryptocurrency as global finance’s next logical iteration, rationalizing the reasons why the financial tool has all the markings of a digital fiat equivalent and what it will take to see comprehensive adoption.

Outside of lab-directed research, other universities and their faculty have published research and reports that have been invaluable for the industry. At the University of Austin Texas, for example, professors of finance John Griffin and Amin Shams published a lengthy report correlating Tether’s issuance with bitcoin’s meteoric price rise in 2017. The report corroborates a long-held concern within the community, as it claims that Tether was used to artificially support bitcoin’s price during its most recent bull run.

For academia’s role in blockchain research and development, in the words of Professor Boneh, “There’s real science to be done here.” And as Tadge Dryja and Wladimir van der Laan’s collaboration with MIT suggests, these scientific pursuits are often paired with and strengthened by the contributions of independent developers and those visionaries whose work predate the advent of university research in the industry.

With universities and independent researchers chipping away at the space’s challenges and limitations, such contributions are a welcomed reminder that, even in times of market downturns, there’s more to the industry than investing. Innovation cares little for speculation, and the work being undertaken at these universities bodes well for the continued growth of the technology.

For part one of our series on blockchain education, read our earlier cover story, From Chatroom to Classroom: The Evolution of Blockchain Education.

Edit note:  Contrary to a sentence included in an earlier edition of this article, MIT has offered at least 5 university level blockchain courses in the past. The incorrect sentence has been removed.

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Expanding the Practical Use of Blockchain Technology Within Insurance

The Institutes RiskBlock™ Alliance is joining forces with Accenture in a move that will see both companies expand the use of blockchain technology within the insurance sector. Accenture joins the Alliance as the lead framework architect responsible for developing a “production-grade platform” to create and implement blockchain use cases.

The Institutes RiskBlock Alliance is a consortium of industry experts who seek to advance “insurance-specific use cases via RiskBlock’s interoperable blockchain architecture.” RiskBlock was created by The Institutes, a leading and trusted insurance knowledge group committed to developing the risk management and insurance industry.

Accenture is a professional services firm that helps clients improve performance and create sustainable value, while driving innovation that enhances the way the “world works and lives.”

As lead framework architect, Accenture will be responsible for conceptualizing, designing and developing the platform that will be used by the consortium to support and execute its industry-driven use cases. They will also provide support on an ongoing basis after development for maintaining the platform as the needs change and technologies evolve.

Accenture’s global insurance lead, Michael Costonis, told Bitcoin Magazine, “Accenture is building out the blockchain framework to allow for ease of use by RiskBlock’s membership and eventually for other stakeholders within the insurance ecosystem.”

He said, “As insurers increasingly rely on partnerships to create business efficiencies and improve customer experiences, blockchain technology will be critical to holding partners accountable without first needing to establish trust.”

RiskBlock plans to serve industry policyholders and save costs by “streamlining payments, reducing fraud and improving the accuracy of customer data” using applications and tools developed via its interoperable blockchain architecture.

Christopher G. McDaniel, president of The Institutes RiskBlock Alliance, said the consortium is committed to creating insurance solutions using blockchain technology.

“Partnering with Accenture to develop real-world blockchain applications will lead to better insurance solutions and chart a clear course for effectively implementing blockchain technology throughout the insurance industry,” McDaniel said.

Earlier this year, The Institutes RiskBlock Alliance developed a blockchain-based subrogation tool that improved efficiencies in the accounting and payment areas of claim processing.

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Bringing IoT and Blockchain Applications Together to Avoid Human Error

ULedger and Fetch.ai have joined resources to tackle the problems caused by human error in today’s economy. Based in Boise, Idaho, ULedger is an international technology firm with offices in Kosovo, Italy and Austria. The company works to offer security and transparency to digital records and electronic communications, while providing indisputable third-party audit trails of electronic data to ensure transactions and related activities are recorded in real time.

Fetch.ai, based in Cambridge, United Kingdom, allows digital entities representing Internet of Things (IoT) machines to work independent of human control while maintaining transactions and financial records.

Fetch CTO Toby Simpson explained, “This is one of those rare, exciting chances to connect two complimentary pieces of technology in a way that hugely broadens the opportunities for the users of both. Fetch provides a vast digital world for ULedger’s customer data alongside its unparalleled opportunities to build and use collaborative prediction models. Fetch’s users and its networks benefit from a concrete solution to the data oracle problem — an interface between the Fetch world and the real world.”

Fetch’s integration with ULedger will allow its network to utilize real-world data from IoT-based sources in a provable manner. ULedger users will also benefit, as they’ll now have access to their data through the digital Fetch system. Both companies’ combined power could give rise to a transaction system that would allow for millions of transactions per second at virtually no cost to consumers.

Speaking with Bitcoin Magazine, ULedger CEO Josh McIver stated, “IoT has advanced leaps and bounds in the past few years. The use cases range widely. We have seen customers who rely on IoT to manage everything from quality control in manufacturing facilities to optimizing the power grid, augmenting oil and gas field-based intel, and many more use cases. With all of these use cases, it’s imperative to secure the integrity of this data so AI is making decisions on reliable source data.”

The first move of both companies will be to power the Mobility Open Blockchain Initiative (MOBI), which first emerged in Dubai in early May 2018. The organization includes major automakers and tech ventures as members (from BMW to IBM) and has plans to explore further blockchain use in the automotive industry. Studies are already underway regarding ways in which the blockchain can make global transportation safer, less expensive and more accessible.

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Edith Yeung’s top 10 blockchain trends in China at TechCrunch Hangzhou

Edith Yeung’s top 10 blockchain trends in China at TechCrunch Hangzhou · TechNode

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EOS Founder Wants to Scrap the Platform’s Constitution, Start Anew

Daniel Larmier, the founder and technical architect of EOS, has confirmed that he wants to scrap the platform’s current constitution and build a new one. Speaking on the EOSIO Gov Telegram Channel, Larimer claimed he has doubts about the company’s current on-chain governance model and called the existing constitution “unwise.”

“I have learned a lot about human nature by watching the disputes, the witch hunts, the ‘bring everything before the ECAF [EOS Core Arbitration Forum]’ mindset,” he explained.

ECAF is the company’s arbitration body. The group is tasked with making decisions regarding EOS accounts that are in violation of the platform’s constitution. However, the platform drew heavy criticism a few weeks ago after executives froze as many as seven individual EOS public keys without receiving any order to do so from the ECAF.

While Larimer believes this was done with the “noblest” of intentions, forcing users to submit to such a system can only lead to trouble and mistrust. He’s now working on a new constitution in which arbitration would be limited to simply correcting the intentions of smart contract codes. Should users wish to do so, they can employ the assistance and arbitration services of third-party contracts, but this would no longer happen by default.

“An arbitrator can render an opinion, and the parties can either comply or not and the arbitrator can indicate whether a party is in good standing … that is it,” Larimer assured. “An arbitrator should not ever have the power to take assets unless said assets were previously placed in control of the arbitrator. I don’t agree with placing all assets under the control of producers. I want to eliminate fraud at all levels, including the governance layer,” he continued.

The proposal comes just two weeks after EOS’s eagerly awaited launch, though many critics say that Larimer and his team should have seen this coming. Bitcoin developer Jameson Lopp, for example, commented on Twitter, “As if it wasn’t obvious that such positions of power wouldn’t [sic] be exploited?”

Through the current model, arbitrators can handle disputes directly, and their means of power are not clearly defined. The new constitution would only allow them to decipher between codes and their intents, though Larimer is faced with another problem. Under the constitution’s present terms, Larimer would require up to 15 percent of token holders’ approval before a constitutional revision could occur.

Those for the change would have to outnumber those against it by 10 percent. They would then have to hold this position for 30 consecutive days within a 120-day period, so even if Larimer does get his way, we’re not likely to see the emergence of a new constitution for a minimum of four months.

At press time, EOS is the fifth-largest cryptocurrency by market cap, with a $7.15 billion capitalization.

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China issues its first blockchain-based tax invoice

China issues its first blockchain-based tax invoice · TechNode

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Discovering the True Meaning of Innovation with Login Festival

Nestled well in the selection of regular ‘tech’ conferences that take place in the Baltics, Login isn’t about pitching, startups, or the latest piece of software or hardware, but more meta, and about the technology itself. Maybe this will make more sense after I explain some of my favorite talks.

Data Empathy

I feel like I have written “empathy” a lot with regards to technology recently, and this is a good sign, as our industry sorely needs it. My first talk of the conference was with the wonderfully bearded Phil Harvey speaking about how we can be more conscious with our processing, analysis, and use of data.

Phil Harvey

Phil is fundraising for a book on the subject called “Data: A Guide to Humans”, and he touched on many topics in the forthcoming book during his talk. Phil stated that technical choices are the second most important choice you make when creating a data-heavy application. Phil proposes that the steps you might take to make your data collection more ethical match those that lead to better and more efficient applications generally.

While slightly complicated to understand from a single photo, the slide below shows his central principle, which Phil calls “paradigmatic empathy” (at least I think he coined the term).

Pragmatic empathy

At the center is the core need for your data; why collect if it brings no value to you or your users? Next is the morality of collecting that data, which is somewhat dependent on your definitions (and is a whole other discussion), but I hope most humans can make a judgment call here. At the same level is the aesthetic value, which relates to the design of your data set, whether it’s well designed and thus more useful. Related to both of these circles are three ‘ologies’:

  • Ontology, or how you name and connect fields and data types.
  • Methodology, or what you do with the data.
  • Epistemology, or, as I understand it, what we should do with data.

Blockchain

As with many other conferences in the world, Login also had a lot of blockchain content, but the talk I’d like to single out as one of the most interesting and useful was from Yamila Eraso of Lacore on regulation.

While national and regional policies are slowly solidifying and mainly progressing in favor of those involved with blockchain, it’s still a confusing landscape that is often case-by-case for each project and ICO.

Counter to what is typically the case, the USA isn’t the most friendly country to start a blockchain-focused project as it’s often state-by-state and with many limitations and exceptions you need to know. Germany isn’t too bad, but it’s slow (and as a resident of Germany, this is typical of bureaucracy here), and Switzerland is more flexible but isn’t so useful for classifying your project. In the long term, Malta looks to be promising, but they are still defining their policies.

Reinventing Classics

When Dalia Ibelhauptaitė took to the stage, it was clear from her volume and presence that she had something to do with opera. She was a refreshing reminder that not all disruptive entrepreneurs are young, or working in the places you expect.

She spoke about how she had returned from many years overseas to reinvent opera in Lithuania, bringing new ideas to a staid local scene, and causing no end of controversy on the way.

She mentioned taking a chance on ideas that were ahead of their time and collaborating with people from outside of your field as advice for anyone with an idea they are passionate about.

Futurism

There was a running theme in several of the talks around how science fiction helps test ideas and ethical codes around those ideas, and Monika Bielskytė’s talk on “Designing Futures, Fiction to Reality & Back” was the summation of these themes. In her sometimes curious talk, she spoke about how similar and dystopian so many depictions of the future are. I think this is because dystopia is narratively more exciting than utopia, but it was an interesting proposition. I have also often reflected on how similar futuristic worlds are to our contemporary world, and Monika wondered the same, asking why any depiction of a futuristic up topic (e.g., Star Trek) is always so monocultural. Where are all the different genders, colors, and opinions our modern world is so passionate about arguing over in the future?

Sextech

The adage about “sex sells” holds true for Bryony Cole’s talk, as the room was standing room only, with even larger attendance than the keynotes. Unsurprisingly, sex tech is a big business, and as Bryony points out, diversity in this sector is of tantamount importance. In her talk, she undertook a quick tour through what the sex tech category currently includes, which is everything from remote intimacy and VR porn to anti-rape devices, which makes for a strange mix, and I wonder if they may separate at some point. She ended her talk with an appearance from Matt McMullen and his company’s realbotix sex robot. The talk was fascinating, covering how they make the robots, what people ask for when ordering them, and how they use them. The robots are still rudimentary at an AI level, but one of the more fascinating aspects of the whole discussion was how customers interact with their robots, and how it might not be the way you think. For example, one of the common questions to a robot is “Can the robot make me a sandwich?” showing that people are often actually looking for intimacy and a relationship of sorts, not just sex. This starts to ask questions about the future of intimacy and relationships, which to me, is where the topic gets interesting.

You can see a video I took of the conversation between Bryony, Matt and his robot below.

Technology, Creativity, and Business equals Innovation

Login was one of the many conferences I’ve attended where initially the schedule seems a bit chaotic, and with no real themes, but then slowly topics and ideas appear in talks, and by the end of the day your brain is full of a mixture of diverse ideas mixing to form newer and even more exciting ideas. Well recommended for 2016, and well, Vilnius is fantastic, so what have you go to lose?

Disclaimer: My trip to Login and Vilnius was sponsored by Telesoftas, and there will be more content from that trip soon.

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“Clouds” in a Cloudless Future

How blockchain could overcome a major stumbling block to Dropbox, ICloud and the like.

Cloud services have been growing at such a rapid pace that analysts refrain from providing even short-term forecasts. Rare estimates are understated relative to reality. For the time being, the lack of data security guarantees is a major stumbling block to “clouds.” Blockchain is the solution, the Royal Bank of Canada’s analysts conclude. Indeed! The capabilities offered by a distributed ledger are the segment’s perfect match, though still leveraged to a very limited extent. CREDITS editors find out the reasons and possible ways of closer cooperation, if any.

Investment-Drenched Clouds

Since the early 2010s, the cloud services market development has come on leaps and bounds. More and more people prefer cloud applications to hard drives and flash memory cards for their data storage.

However, accurate market analysis is hampered by the lack of a generally accepted calculation method. Every agency adheres to their own calculation approach, therefore, results differ drastically. The only thing they really have in common is that forecasts that looked overly optimistic early in the year seem to be excessively conservative by the end of the year.

In 2016, Gartner projected the “cloud” market to grow at 16% and was blamed for bias and too much optimism. And look how well that turned out. The market showed +20% growth rate! Furthermore, it was in 2016 that “price war” was launched (and is still going on), urging “clouds” to continuously lower prices. Growth rates persisted in 2017, the trends in 2018 have remained purely positive, too.

Here is another example of an erroneously modest forecast. In 2014, SAP expected 70% of IT companies to invest in cloud services in one form or another three years later. In fact, 94% of companies did by 2017. According to a forecast by Oracle CEO Mark Hurd, 80% of the IT industry’s budgets will be spent on “cloud innovation” by 2025.

“That IT transformation will have far-reaching implications. 80% of corporate data centers will be gone. These DPCs will only be kept to support legacy IT systems,” Hurd added.

Are Clouds and Blockchain Made for Each Other?

On the face of it, blockchain may seem to offer an optimal solution for cloud-based file storage. Decentralization, no option for unauthorized changes to saved files, full data encryption capabilities are not merely a technology — it all sounds like a “cloud” dream.

Recently, the Royal Bank of Canada’s analysts have published a publicly available report entitled “Crypto Currency & Blockchain Technology: A Decentralized Future — A Potential Multi-Trillion Dollar Opportunity.” The key conclusion is that cryptocurrencies are mistakenly treated as the store of value only, whereas in reality they also make the Internet more secure. For example, the blockchain-based tokens make it possible to create decentralized versions of cloud services, such as iCloud, Box, or Dropbox.

“In centralized environments, your data is owned and controlled by a third-party server,” analysts argue. “Moreover, clouds are vulnerable to hacks.” Think of 2016 when the SCO Online reported that roughly 40 million iCloud accounts had been hacked.

Analysts touched on the existing cloud characteristics, as exemplified by BOX. Overstaffing: ~ 1,500 employees. Outdated technology: Centralized data sharing. Poor security: Not-trustless. Central and encryption based, vulnerable to hacks on multiple points of potential failure. Subjective cloud management: governance through a board of directors.

Decentralized cloud can manage with a few dozens of employees. Technology security — Decentralized Storage Network — is supported by cryptography. The cloud is governed through the unbiased Consensus Protocol.

Still No Clicking, Though

However, the two extremely innovative industries — clouds and blockchain — are not friends yet. The relevant startups are scarce (hugely less than the clones of “CryptoKitties”), and the existing ones can hardly be called a success.

Why so? Igor Chugunov, CEO & Founder at CREDITS, explains:

“Conventional blockchain platforms face a number of problems that significantly hinder the handling of large data volumes. It’s not just about the number of transactions per second — there are many sides to the problem. How long it takes to process one transaction is equally important — it directly affects the storage operation speed, the ease of access to files, and the block recording time. You must admit that people would be unlikely to feel like using a “cloud” where it can take them a couple of minutes to simply rename files.”

In addition, the consensus algorithms employed on most blockchain platforms (Proof-of-Work and its modifications), as well as the algorithms for approval of the previous correct status of blockchain (Merkle Trees) are characterized by extremely low energy efficiency, high power consumption, and requirements for the computational performance of equipment, resulting in high commission rates and rendering “blockchain-based cloud” non-competitive amid the “price war” which is still pending in the market — or else the price rates for services will be too high if at least the minimum rate of return is to be reached.

Possible Solutions

Luckily, most of these problems can be avoided or at least eased to a great extent, if not remedied. This can be achieved by working on several fronts at a time. First, the file ID search algorithms now in place are faster and less costly than the habitual Merkle Trees.

“Instead, we use a transaction register where each entry consists of the block of transactions’ hash code and contains the transaction direction, the initial and final wallets, the type of debiting, the number of debiting units, the type of crediting, and the number of crediting units. This approach enables us to revolutionize the transaction processing speed and eliminate the risks of unvalidated changes to the register,” says CTO at CREDITS Eugeniy Butyaev, describing his alternative solution to the problem.

The second important front is the development of data compression methods. On the cusp of cryptocurrencies, the blockchain was a hugely “cumbersome environment” (look at the size of the Bitcoin blockchain), whereas today state-of-the-art projects allow files on the blockchain to be compressed by some 90%.

Finally, the third front is throughput improvement. However, making it meaningful for the “cloud” necessitates an increase of tens of thousands of percentage points and not tens of percentage points, like with most promising projects.

The only practical way to achieve this is “asynchronous data processing,” ensuring the largest possible number of transactions processed at the same time. It is of paramount importance to the so-called Internet of Things projects as these networks should have numerous transactions. Yet, similarly to Merkle Trees, this requires non-conventional solutions — the employment of Proof-of-Work and most of its variations is unable to procure the necessary operating speed.

How Can the “Blockchain-Based Cloud” Be Used?

CREDITS blockchain platform is among the few projects to leverage all of the above-listed approaches at the same time. It is primarily designated to create decentralized applications.

“Many projects are limited to minor improvements vs. the existing products. They find an approach like this to be more secure and at lower technical risk. Yet customers have no interest in these products — insignificant improvements do not justify the transition to a new platform. We, on the contrary, have decided to propose something really new,” Igor Chugunov explains.

Our platform will be capable of processing one million transactions per second. The processing time for one transaction is planned to be reduced to the hundredths of a second; the completion cost, almost to zero. We tested our system in March. Its alpha version has already processed a pool/block of 488,403 transactions per second during periods of peak load.

Although initially the finance industry was the primary target for CREDITS, achieved characteristics render the platform attractive in a plethora of fields. The clouds included.

“Decentralized storages can’t be hacked as they’ll have to hack all network nodes and not just one server. You will be allowed to access your information using Private Keys. File sharing is done with a Public Key. Users contributing and serving storage capacity receive tokens. And vice versa, customers spend tokens for receiving extra storage capacity,” Igor summarized, drawing on the cloud of the future.

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TechCrunch Hangzhou: Witness the rise of decentralization

TechCrunch Hangzhou: Witness the rise of decentralization · TechNode

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Blockchain startups born out of Chinaccelerator Batch 13

Blockchain startups born out of Chinaccelerator Batch 13 · TechNode

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Bitcoin Lightning Network with Jameson Lopp

Big blocks or small blocks: this is the fundamental question of Bitcoin scalability.

The argument for big blocks is also known as “on-chain scalability.” Under this strategy, each block in the append-only chain of Bitcoin transaction blocks would grow in size to be able to support lower transaction fees and higher on-chain throughput. A set of Bitcoin users who supported this idea forked Bitcoin to create Bitcoin Cash, a version of Bitcoin that has a larger block size.

The argument for small blocks asserts that scaling Bitcoin does not require a larger block size. Under this model, the scaling demands of the Bitcoin blockchain would be handled by sidechains. A sidechain is a network of person-to-person payment channels that only reconcile with the Bitcoin blockchain to checkpoint batches of transactions. These sidechains can be connected together to form the “lightning network.”

Lightning network is hard to implement. To implement a lightning network requires solving real-world distributed systems problems that are unprecedented. It’s much more complicated than deploying a blockchain with a larger block size.

In addition, opponents of lightning network suggest that this will lead to a centralized banking system being constructed on top of Bitcoin.

Opponents of lightning network fear that instead of a decentralized payments network, the world with lightning network will be a lower cost version of the present financial system, in which JP Morgan and Blockstream partner up to battle Coinbase in a centralized war for control of the unbanked.

These big blockers argue that the new banks on the lightning network will be just like the old banks–censorious of transactions and held in the domineering palms of the global financial kleptocracy.

So why bother with the lightning network approach? Why are we building this inelegant, kludgey system of off-chain, potentially centralized banking 2.0 complexity? Why not just increase the block size indefinitely and keep things simple? And even if we increased the block size today, couldn’t we still deploy lightning network in the future while appeasing the transaction volume of today?

One major reason is that growing the block size does have a cost. The bigger the block size, the more demands it places on any node that wants to maintain a record of those blocks. And if you grow the block size today, you forego the experiment of seeing whether a small block size plus lightning network could in itself handle the transaction volume of a global financial system.

The framing of “big blockers versus small blockers” is a conveniently polarized reduction of a much more granular reality. To believe that there is no subtlety between the two sides of this debate is to underestimate the number of dimensions to this argument. It’s an unfortunate side effect of rigidly programmed Twitter bots, and a political atmosphere in which your lines in the sand are demarcated by which subreddit you choose to affiliate with.

That said–my impression is that the more experienced engineers are overwhelmingly on the side of small blocks plus lightning network as the most promising approach to scaling Bitcoin. Take whatever side of the debate you want. A single line of Bitcoin core code speaks much louder than an avalanche of tweets.

In today’s episode, Jameson Lopp joins the show to explain why lightning network is an appealing engineering construct. We play the devil’s advocate and contrast lightning network with a big block approach, as well as a big block plus lightning network approach. Jameson also describes his experience working within the Ethereum ecosystem, and gives a sober explanation of some of the issues that Ethereum scalers may themselves encounter.

Sponsors

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Triplebyte is a company that connects engineers with top tech companies. We’re running an experiment and our hypothesis is that Software Engineering Daily listeners will do well above average on the quiz. Go to triplebyte.com/sedaily.

Citus is worry-free Postgres that is built to scale out. Made for SaaS and enterprises, Citus is an extension to Postgres that transforms Postgres into a distributed database. Whether you need to scale out a multi-tenant app—or are building real-time analytics dashboards that require sub-second responses—Citus makes it simple to shard Postgres. Go to citusdata.com/sedaily to learn more about how Citus can scale your Postgres database.

GoCD is a continuous delivery tool created by ThoughtWorks. It’s great to see the continued progress on GoCD with the new Kubernetes integrations–and you can check it out for yourself at gocd.org/sedaily.

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Analyse Asia 253: Why blockchain is hot again in China with John Artman

Analyse Asia 253: Why blockchain is hot again in China with John Artman · TechNode

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TechCrunch Hangzhou: How can blockchain startups outperform unicorn companies?

TechCrunch Hangzhou: How can blockchain startups outperform unicorn companies? · TechNode

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China is breeding chickens on the blockchain to improve food safety

China is breeding chickens on the blockchain to improve food safety · TechNode

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Scaling Ethereum with Raul Jordan and Preston Van Loon

Cryptocurrency infrastructure is a new form of software. Thousands of developers are submitting transactions to Bitcoin and Ethereum, and this transaction volume tests the scalability of current blockchain implementations. The bottlenecks in scalability lead to slow transaction times and high fees.

Over the last twenty years, engineers have learned how to scale databases. We’ve learned how to scale Internet applications like e-commerce stores and online games. It’s easy to forget, but there was a time when those systems didn’t perform well either.

Scaling a blockchain is different than scaling a relational database or a microservices infrastructure. Blockchains are peer-to-peer databases with an append only ledger shared by thousands of nodes. With different scalability solutions, there are tradeoffs between decentralization, scalability, and security. As an example, in Bitcoin, the core developers are working towards deployment and adoption of lightning network. Some would argue that this approach favors scalability over decentralization.

Today’s show is about scaling Ethereum. Raul Jordan and Preston Van Loon are developers who are part of Prysmatic Labs, a team building a sharding implementation for the Go Ethereum client. In this episode, we discuss Ethereum’s approaches to scaling, including sharding and Plasma.

Transcript

Transcript provided by We Edit Podcasts. Software Engineering Daily listeners can go to weeditpodcasts.com/sed to get 20% off the first two months of audio editing and transcription services. Thanks to We Edit Podcasts for partnering with SE Daily. Please click here to view this show’s transcript.

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ConsenSys is actively hiring talented software developers to help build the decentralized web. Learn more about Consensys projects and open source jobs at consensys.net/sedaily.

Azure Container Service simplifies the deployment, management and operations of Kubernetes. Check out the Azure Container Service at aka.ms/sedaily.

Airtable is hiring creative engineers who believe in the importance of open-ended platforms that empower human creativity. Check out jobs at Airtable by going to airtable.com/sedaily.

GoCD is a continuous delivery tool created by ThoughtWorks. It’s great to see the continued progress on GoCD with the new Kubernetes integrations–and you can check it out for yourself at gocd.org/sedaily.

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China’s first ever blockathon shows blockchain is a global endeavor

China’s first ever blockathon shows blockchain is a global endeavor · TechNode

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Blockchain conference in China gets Mao lookalike on stage and hilarity ensues

Blockchain conference in China gets Mao lookalike on stage and hilarity ensues · TechNode

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Distributed Business Accelerator Launches to Cultivate Blockchain Startups

As part of New York Blockchain Week, Distributed Business Accelerator (DBA) publicly launched their global blockchain accelerator community designed to cultivate an ecosystem of blockchain startups.

The CEO of the project is Tom Tao, formerly of IBM and Chainbase Accelerator. In opening remarks, Tao gave his outlook on the industry and extrapolated on where he saw DBA adding value to the blockchain ecosystem, noting that “for startups, obtaining resources and attention quickly is one of the critical factors to attain success.”

Tao laid out the goals of DBA which include equipping promising blockchain startups with all the tools necessary to accelerate their growth, giving them access to an incubator in which they can develop their product and helping them to plan out business strategies to deliver that product to the world.

He also touched on current issues which seem to be creating a general environment that leaves individual blockchain ecosystems too isolated. He considers the trend of short-term token trading and speculation, combined with early adopter incentive structures which stimulate that speculation, to be concerning. Both practices lead to early speculators earning more than real builders and entrepreneurs. He also finds airdrop methods to be inefficient, for the most part.

Offering an alternative and combating some of these entrenched difficulties are goals DBA hopes to achieve through its network and incentive structure. To that end, DBA will generate a token for incentivizing community participation. There will be no ICO.

Part of that community structure will also include blockchain-based voting. Community members (voters), vetted and hand-picked advisors (project consultants), investor teams and entrepreneurs who submit projects will make up its organic structural pieces.

The engaged community is meant to be collaborative with each piece adding its own value. Token rewards are delivered to members who participate in the creation of value through activities such as identity registration, referrals and voting on submitted projects. Community members are KYC’d to protect the integrity of the processes. Projects nominated by the community are screened by the accelerator, while the centralized investment team makes final decisions on investment. The system is then able to reward the community nominators and supporters through tokens based on the final investment decision for the project.

Projects currently in the ecosystem include decentralized storage product Genaro and risk-management platform DRC.

Initial advisors to the ecosystem include Qtum founder Patrick Dai, Factom founder David Johnston, and Singapore Management University professor David Lee.

Factom’s Johnston also spoke at the event from the perspective of Factom’s experience in the marketplace and where he saw DBA adding value, particularly the incentive structure that will encourage industry investors and community members to work collaboratively, publicly and transparently, in contrast to the system of secretive deals that exists currently.

The next month will see the launch of the DBA mobile app and the first community votes on projects.

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Next-gen technologies need a use case to have an impact: JD CTO Zhang Chen

Next-gen technologies need application scenarios to have impacts: JD CTO Zhang Chen

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Æternity Launches Starfleet Incubator for Blockchain Innovation

Æternity, a “blockchain 3.0” platform for scalable smart contracts interfacing with real world data, founded by “Godfather of Ethereum” Yanislav Malahov, is announcing the launch of æternity Starfleet, a series of incubator and accelerator programs to support the global blockchain ecosystem by building a network of innovators, investors and industry enthusiasts.

“Today’s launch is the culmination of months of extensive research and preparation and underlines our commitment to be the enablers of innovation, strengthening the already thriving blockchain community worldwide,” said Malahov in a statement. “We are confident that these incubator programs will accelerate the adoption of blockchain technology globally and support projects that share our vision for a future built on powerful, user-friendly decentralized applications.”

Malahov founded æternity in 2016. The æternity technology platform is an open-source, blockchain-based distributed computing platform, based on decentralized cryptographic P2P technology and designed for productivity, transparent governance and global scalability.

While the æternity platform, described in its white paper, is under development, there are proof-of-concept implementations, written in Erlang.

Æternity Starfleet will work in partnership with Software University (SoftUni), an organization based in Sofia, Bulgaria, focused on software development education and networking. “I expect this program will contribute greatly to the blockchain startup ecosystem,” said Hristo Tenchev, founder of SoftUni. “With a significant concentration of technical talent and entrepreneurs, a blockchain-focused incubator program is exactly what the current ecosystem needs.”

Æternity Ventures, based in Sofia, Bulgaria, will be in charge of the business side of æternity’s global incubator and accelerator programs.

“The primary force behind any new technology is the people who believe in its potential; therefore, it is paramount that blockchain’s major players create a collaborative space for projects to grow and prosper while supporting the development of innovative projects through robust accelerator and incubator programs,” Nikola Stojanow, æternity’s CBDO and CEO of æternity Ventures, said in conversation with Bitcoin Magazine.

“Blockchain education is still in its infancy, much like the overall blockchain space,” continued Stojanow. “A mainstream blockchain revolution hinges on a constantly expanding global community of developers and blockchain enthusiasts. In order to allow the blockchain space to evolve and grow, it must be presented as more than just a buzzword, with real-life use cases being showcased that people can relate to, we believe the incubator and accelerator programs will enable the next-generation of blockchain projects to reach mainstream adoption.”

Æternity Starfleet will support global projects from their seed stage and provide them with up to $250,000 in funding and access to Starfleet coworking spaces.

The first Starfleet program, which will start on June 11, 2018, with four weeks of intensive training and mentoring in Sofia, Bulgaria, is now accepting applications. At the end of every program, each team will be given the opportunity to present their project to an audience of investors, thought leaders and blockchain experts. Future programs will be also offered in coworking spaces in Vaduz, Liechtenstein; Berlin, Germany; and Zagreb, Croatia, with online options as well.

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Master Data Belongs on the Blockchain

It’s easy to think of large organizations as centralized and monolithic, but the reality is often the opposite. For banking, healthcare, transportation, energy, manufacturing, and other sectors, the trend is decentralized locations and teams managing local data. But it’s a trend that comes with the potential for chaos — especially for master data, where accuracy, security, and conformity are essential.

Building Master Data Management capabilities on the blockchain offers the benefits of traditional MDM while also taking advantage of powerful new paradigms for flexibility, consensus, and embedded analytics.

Let’s look at the details.

Master Data Management (MDM) depends on creating consensus truth for the enterprise. If Hospital A merges with Hospital B, their big stores of master data need to merge, as well. It’s critical that the process reliably matches patient records when it should, while carefully avoiding false matches. Real lives can depend on the accuracy of the master data matching process.

Traditionally, matching has meant linking the records within the two different databases, based on identifiers like Social Security Number, date of birth, drivers’ license information, and so on. The MDM system could write the linkage information to a central database accessible from different locations. But having a single copy of the linkage data in a single location has meant that admins need to take special care to ensure that the data is highly available and secure. Private blockchain networks (also called permissioned networks) offer an intriguing alternative.

A New Role for Blockchain

What started as a digital ledger for assets and currency is expanding into new realms. Over time, large enterprises will adopt distributed ledger models to record and manage biographic and biometric data. For example, imagine hospitals, banks, and governments all wanting to maintain their master data on the blockchain. But those organizations will need ways to match and link that data across private networks.

Consider Hospital A and Hospital B. If they each maintain their patients’ records, how will they combine those records in the event of a merger?

The hospitals could first create a business network using the blockchain technology. That offers an advantage because data sharing then happens on the blockchain network as opposed to being centralized. Once the teams create the network and begin sharing data on the network, sophisticated algorithms kick in to perform matching and linking — and the linking information is also stored natively on the blockchain.

Teams could also choose whether each node should maintain its own copy of the linkage information on the ledger. If not, the node can simply consume the linkage information that’s maintained elsewhere on the network. That option keeps transaction activity from swamping any nodes that might have less compute power or connectivity while helping to ensure that the linkage data is stored redundantly across multiple nodes.

Hopefully, the hospital example helps paint a compelling picture of the potential advantages of MDM on the blockchain, but the gains don’t stop there. Consider…

  • Data reconciliation: When every participating business unit is part of the blockchain network, there’s no longer a need to move data between the business units. With traditional MDM, data movement can consume an enormous amount of time and energy.
  • Cost and trust: Maintaining a central infrastructure is expensive and prone to security compromise. With the blockchain system, transactions aren’t committed without the consensus of the whole system.
  • Organizational efficiency: The blockchain eliminates the need for complex reconciliation between different nodes, whether the nodes are branch banks, health clinics, distribution centers, or other peers in the system.
  • Disintermediation: Eliminates central intermediaries and reduces the fear of arbitrage within the ecosystem.
  • Transparency: Enables audit trails to be established for assets and transactions, minimizing disputes.

Looking Forward

Like all big data, master data offers important opportunities for machine learning analytics. Obviously, embedded analytics of anonymized master data can yield powerful insights, but machine learning can also play a role further upstream. Innovative firms will find ways to apply machine learning to the matching process itself to ensure even higher confidence for the linkages between records.

Ultimately, the goal is to make Master Data Management as easy and intuitive as possible. New tools will give non-technical users across industries the ability to manage master data flexibly, efficiently, securely — and with perfect confidence.

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