- Maciej Ceglowski on Our Internet — If you haven’t already read this because someone pushed it into your hands, read it now. If these vast databases are valuable enough, it doesn’t matter who they belong to. The government will always find a way to query them. Who pays for the servers is just an implementation detail.
- Design Changes Possible With Robot Cars (Brad Templeton) — While a nice windshield may be good for visibility for forward-facing passengers, there is no need to have a large unobstructed view for safety. The windshield can be reinforced with bars, for example, allowing it to be much stronger in the case of impacts, notably impacts with animals. Other than for passenger comfort, the windshield barely has to be there at all. On behalf of everyone who has ever driven in Australia at dusk … I for one welcome our new robot chauffeurs. (via The Atlantic)
- Bitcoin Set to Overtake Paypal Transaction Volumes — “In the next one or two years, Bitcoin can surpass the dollar transaction volumes of other established payment companies including Discover, and even American Express, MasterCard, and Visa,” said SmartMetric CEO Chaya Hendrick. (via Hamish McEwan)
- 1 in 5 Americans Has Their Physical Environment on the Internet (Quartz) — One in five adult American internet users already has a device at home that connects the physical environment to the internet, according to a Forrester Research report (paywall) out last week.
ENTRIES TAGGED "bitcoin"
Targeted Breakage, Driverless Cars, BitCoin Bigness, and IoT Approaching
When the mining subsidies end, will the bitcoin network centralize into a bank?
Radar has a backchannel, and sometimes we have interesting conversations on it. Mike Loukides and I recently had a long chat about bitcoin. Both of us were thinking out loud and learning as we went along, and on re-reading the thread I’m astonished by our advanced level of ignorance. I would like to publish it because it hints at just how hard it is to understand the bitcoin network. The founding papers that describe the system leave a lot of implementation to the imagination, and the level of mis(dis?)information around the web is staggering. It’s no small thing to get the basics right. But beyond the basics, the bitcoin network has that property of an inside-out onion, where the harder you look, the more (and bigger slices of) complexity you find.
Anyway, we’re not going to publish it. I don’t mind looking stupid, but I don’t want to look that stupid — also, the comments would be torture.
However, some of the things we were wondering about are worth wondering about publicly. Especially this: what happens when the mining subsidies end? Will transaction fees pick up the slack? I think ultimately the answer is yes, but maybe not in the way a lot of people expect. Read more…
PHP++, Planning, BitCoin, and Concurrency
- Hack — PHP with types, generics, collections, lambdas. From Facebook.
- Solve Hard Things Early — Build great habits around communication and decision-making when everyone still knows each other well.
- Marginally Useful (Paul Ford) — The last two decades have suggested a post-scarcity economy, where infinite copies of attractive digital things have a price approaching $0. Maybe that was merely a passing moment that we will look back upon with wonder once limited coins enforce scarcity—once the owner of a piece of digital art can look upon it with satisfaction and know with total, cryptographic certainty that because he paid for it, it belongs to him and no one else.
- Go Pipelines and Cancellation — Go’s fascinating me, as an example of a language designed for concurrency and syntactic familiarity.
Parallel Programming, Malignant Computation, Politicised GDS, and Data Stream Toolkit
- Is Parallel Programming Hard? And, If So, What Can You Do About It? — book by Paul E. McKenney, on single-machine multi-CPU parallel programming.
- Malignant Computation — The bitcoin mining network would work just as well if it had far less computation devoted to it. Bitcoins would be mined at exactly the same rate if 1/2 or 1/4 of the computational resources were devoted. This means that bitcoin has incentivized a tremendous amount of computational busy work.
- GDS Becomes Political (Computer Weekly) — She [Opposition MP] said that digital should not be about imposing a way of working on the public sector – Labour is not fond of the “digital by default” mantra – but about supporting public service delivery. [...] “When this government decided upon the digitalisation of this [online job search] service they apparently did not take into account those with poor literacy skills, mental health issues or learning difficulties – who, as most people would have predicted, make up a higher-than-average proportion of the unemployed.”
- streamtools (Github) — a graphical toolkit for dealing with streams of data. Streamtools makes it easy to explore, analyse, modify and learn from streams of data. (via OpenNews)
The MtGox bitcoin exchange failure illustrates exactly how capitalism should work.
This post originally appeared on Andreas Antonopoulos’ personal biographical site; it is republished here with permission.
In the free market, failure is always an option. The United States has one of the world’s most vibrant entrepreneurial cultures, where millions of people start small businesses, create new products and invent new technology. Part of the startup culture is the idea of failing fast, failing cheap and failing toward success by learning the lessons taught by failure. Cultures that punish even minor failure in business with shame, exclusion and stigma are far less likely to foster entrepreneurs because they prevent experimentation by making it too risky.
Recently, the US has been infected by the “failure is not an option” mantra, a toxic hubristic fallacy, disguised as a truism, which promotes the idea that risk can be removed from life; that 100% security and 100% control are possible, even desirable. Those who attempt to remove the possibility of failure, to de-risk financial systems, end up creating the probability of spectacular failure. By removing the option to fail cheap and fail fast, they instead concentrate risk and ensure we will fail hard, fail expensively, and fail across the board.
- Where Do All The Women Go? — Inclusion of at least one woman among the conveners increased the proportion of female speakers by 72% compared with those convened by men alone.
- The Ultimate Electronics Hobbyists Guide to Shenzhen — by OSCON legend and Kiwi Foo alum, Jon Oxer.
- Bitcoin’s Uncomfortable Similarity to Some Shady Episodes in Financial History (Casey Research) — Bitcoin itself need serious work if it is to find a place in that movement long term. It lacks community governance, certification, accountability, regulatory tension, and insurance—all of which are necessary for a currency to be successful in the long run. (via Jim Stogdill)
Vanishing Money, Car Hackery, Data Literacy Course, and Cheaper CI
- The Programming Error That Cost Mt Gox 2609 Bitcoins — in the unforgiving world of crypto-currency, it’s easy to miscode and vanish your money.
- Ford Invites Open-Source Community to Tinker Away — One example: Nelson has re-tasked the motor from a Microsoft Xbox 360 game controller to create an OpenXC shift knob that vibrates to signal gear shifts in a standard-transmission Mustang. The 3D-printed prototype shift knob uses Ford’s OpenXC research platform to link devices to the car via Bluetooth, and shares vehicle data from the on-board diagnostics port. Nelson has tested his prototype in a Ford Mustang Shelby GT500 that vibrates at the optimal time to shift.
- Making Sense of Data — Google online course on data literacy.
- Cost-Efficient Continuous Integration at Mozilla — CI on a big project can imply hundreds if not thousands of VMs on Amazon spinning up to handle compiles and tests. This blog post talks about Mozilla’s efforts to reduce its CI-induced spend without reducing the effectiveness of its CI practices.
MtGox Go Boom, Flappy Bird, Air Hockey Hack, and Robo Lab
- Bitcoin Markets Down — value of bitcoins plunges as market uncertain after largest bitcoin exchange goes insolvent after losing over 750k bitcoins because they didn’t update their software after a flaw was discovered in the signing of transactions.
- Flappy Bird for the Commodore 64 — the 1980s games platform meets the 2014 game. cf the machine learning hack where the flappy bird learns to play the game successfully.
- Air Hockey Robot — awesome hack.
- Run 30 Lab Tests on Only One Drop of Blood — automated lab processing to remove the human error in centrifuging, timing, etc. that added to variability of results.
Over time, crypto-currency networks such as bitcoin will get stronger
If a crook gets access to the credit card or wire transfer networks, it’s a disaster. That’s because, as I explained in my recent article about security models, these traditional financial networks achieve trust by excluding bad actors through access control. Effective access control requires exclusivity and strict vetting, only a small carefully vetted group of “trusted actors” are granted control.
Bitcoin and other crypto-currencies based on the blockchain invention are different. Trust is based on computation, not access control. On the bitcoin network you trust math so everyone can have access. That also means that there will be bad actors, arguably just as there are on access control networks, and nuisance attacks. Fortunately, these types of attacks cannot affect the distributed asset ledger, the blockchain, because to achieve the level of trust to write into the ledger you must apply enormous distributed computation. The root of trust is in the majority of computing power, not individual actors or any central authority.