- Princeton Bitcoin Book (PDF) — The Coursera course accompanying this book had 30,000 students in its first version, and it was a success based on engagement and end-of-course feedback. Large introduction to Bitcoin from Princeton. (via Cory Doctorow)
- A Quartet of Complementary Brain Books (Vaughan Bell) — The books have been chosen to complement each other and the idea is that if you read all four, you should have a solid grounding in modern cognitive neuroscience and beyond.
- NIST Report on Post-Quantum Cryptography (PDF) — in case you missed it, “post-quantum crypto” is “existing crypto relies on how hard it is to find the prime factors of large numbers, of which we suspect quantum computers may make a mockery. Wut to do?” The goal of post-quantum cryptography (also called quantum-resistant cryptography) is to develop cryptographic systems that are secure against both quantum and classical computers, and can interoperate with existing communications protocols and networks.
- Amazon Lumberyard — a free, cross-platform, 3D game engine for you to create the highest-quality games, connect your games to the vast compute and storage of the AWS Cloud, and engage fans on Twitch. From Amazon.
The O'Reilly Radar Podcast: Steve Omohundro on AI, cryptocurrencies, and ensuring a safe future for humanity.
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I met up with Possibility Research president Steve Omohundro at our Bitcoin & the Blockchain Radar Summit to talk about an interesting intersection: artificial intelligence (AI) and blockchain/cryptocurrency technologies. This Radar Podcast episode features our discussion about the role cryptocurrency and blockchain technologies will play in the future of AI, Omohundro’s Self Aware Systems project that aims to ensure intelligent technologies are beneficial for humanity, and his work on the Pebble cryptocurrency.
Synthesizing AI and crypto-technologies
Bitcoin piqued Omohundro’s interest from the very start, but his excitement built as he started realizing the disruptive potential of the technology beyond currency — especially the potential for smart contracts. He began seeing ways the technology will intersect with artificial intelligence, the area of focus for much of his work:
I’m very excited about what’s happening with the cryptocurrencies, particularly Ethereum. I would say Ethereum is the most advanced of the smart contracting ideas, and there’s just a flurry of insights, and people are coming up every week with, ‘Oh we could use it to do this.’ We could have totally autonomous corporations running on the blockchain that copy what Uber does, but much more cheaply. It’s like, ‘Whoa what would that do?’
I think we’re in a period of exploration and excitement in that field, and it’s going to merge with the AI systems because programs running on the blockchain have to connect to the real world. You need to have sensors and actuators that are intelligent, have knowledge about the world, in order to integrate them with the smart contracts on the blockchain. I see a synthesis of AI and cryptocurrencies and crypto-technologies and smart contracts. I see them all coming together in the next couple of years.
Widespread blockchain adoption requires understanding between developers and domain experts.
Editor’s note: this post is part of our investigation into the future of money. The full video compilation from our first event, Bitcoin & the Blockchain, is now available.
The vision for bitcoin and the blockchain is unabashedly optimistic, though already it is being realized. More and more technologists, venture capitalists, financial institutions, and even regulators are seeing its long-term potential to transform industries, from financial services to data management to the Internet of Things. In the medium term, there remain hurdles to overcome before blockchain technology can offer sufficiently compelling solutions for the complex financial and technological world we live in, but there is progress to date — and it’s promising.
Blockchain-based remittance vehicles offered by Coins.ph, BitPagos, and BitPesa, though early stage, aim to take a chunk of the $450 billion remittance industry by offering speedier, more efficient, and cheaper alternatives to traditional solutions. BitPay offers bitcoin/fiat payment processing for merchants as well as bank integration. Increasingly, private investors are diversifying their portfolios by purchasing bitcoin alongside traditional assets. Most recently, Coinbase even received funding from a group of blue-chip investors, including the New York Stock Exchange, and launched its own exchange, signaling both greater acceptance by the financial services industry as well as confidence in its future value. Ripple Labs has taken a very different approach with its protocol, permitting the decentralized transmission of practically any currency type — cryptographic or fiat — like an SMTP for money, and circumventing traditional payment networks. And to this end, it’s already inked agreements with Cross River Bank (New Jersey), CBW Bank (Kansas), and Fidor Bank (Germany), with more on the horizon. Read more…