In a digital world that capitalizes on fake news, it’s frightening to think how easy it is for us take every sentence we read on the internet as dogma. In a printed publication, it’s much more complicated to pass fake news, or “alternative facts.” But the internet, with centralizing powers like Facebook and Google redirecting our attention only to things we want to see, read and hear, has a completely different agenda. Their agenda is to keep us clicking, and that creates a market for fake authors to tell bogus stories and spread false information to the masses.
Decentraland is a virtual world. Think Minecraft or Second Life, but decentralized, user-owned, and built for the virtual reality era. The 3-D objects are passed peer-to-peer using the Interplanetary File System, making the world resilient against network attacks and centralized control. Ownership of the virtual land is tokenized on the Ethereum blockchain, so that owning tokens gives you edit-access to build whatever you like in your little patch of cyberspace.
I tend to adopt a very skeptical stance when it comes to projects involving ICOs, but as one of my few (and first) ERC20 token investments, Golem has always held a place in my heart. Its dedicated team are working hard to create a decentralised computing platform, where users can rent out their unused CPU/GPU cycles to users wishing to perform complex tasks, using the native token, GNT, as currency. As it stands, the first iteration (dubbed “Brass Golem”) will focus on CGI rendering.
I had the pleasure of Skyping with Julian Zawistowski recently, the founder of the project and an advisor for OmiseGo, to interview him on the latest developments.
MB: So let’s dive right in: what’s been happening on the development side?
JZ: We’ve spent a lot of time assessing our limitations, mainly because we’re at the bleeding edge of the technology and still trying to find out what we can and cannot do with the available resources. We will be releasing a new roadmap on Tuesday, as the initial one in the whitepaper has seen some significant delay.
MB: What can you tell me about this new roadmap?
JZ: As mentioned, we will be bringing it out on Tuesday. We’ll announce some other features then, but I can tell you that it will provide a much more specific plan − we will be rolling out a series of testnets for the Alpha, and releasing a new way to track our progress. We are a team that care greatly about transparency, and we’ve had some issues with the accuracy of GitHub’s progress tracker, so we also intend on using Trello for clearer communication on the development front as a more accurate visual representation.
MB: You’ve been open to collaboration with other projects before − any more you’d like to work with down the line?
JZ: I think that crypto, as a whole, should be more collaborative as a community. I like to think of startups using established technology as building on a plot of land. We don’t have that. We’re faced with a crater in place of that land, and we need to figure out how we’re going to fill it. It’s such a new area, and we all need to make sure that we’re getting the basement level right before any real progress can be made.
I like IPFS, and would like to see some sort of integration eventually, but we’d first like to get Brass released before focusing on such ventures.
MB: Are you at all worried about being a named dev and thus potentially being held legally liable for any illicit uses of Golem?
JZ: That’s always a risk with software. We are dedicated to making Golem safe for all users. And, in fact, one of the most important features of decentralized systems is censorship resistance. For good and for bad we believe this property is crucial for preserving our freedom and advancing technologies. Golem is open-source and publically auditable. We’d expect that this status would mitigate a large amount of that liability.
MB: One current aspect that some take issue with is the ability of a ‘renter’ to ‘peek’ at what it is that they are processing. On one hand, it makes sense that they should have the prerogative to ensure they’re not devoting resources to the rendering of blueprints for a superweapon, but it does exclude those wishing to compute sensitive data. It is a complicated issue to remedy, but do you think, in the future, that the data being computed could be encrypted to a degree to appeal to a wider market?
JZ: This is a great question. The goal of Golem is to calculate tasks as segments and that ensures that most of the data is hidden for a single user. Other layers of security sandboxing make it harder to be human readable. We believe that with professional providers on the network and a way to identify them (in the future), this problem will be similar to the confidentiality of public cloud services. It is also worth noting, that for many use cases, value (business or scientific) is generated by processing non-sensitive or public data.
MB: The theoretical applications for the network as it scales are truly limitless. Where do you see Golem in ten years? Do you see it replacing the centralised cloud-based systems like AWS that we have nowadays?
JZ: The dream is to have Golem operating on a system level − competing with legacy OS. In the shorter term, however, by the time we’ve released our final iteration, we hope to have a platform that can support applications from machine learning to the processing of huge amounts of data for scientific research.
Golem is aiming to be at the center of a paradigm shift whereby the entire IT infrastructure will be reorganised. That’s not to say it will replace legacy services like AWS or other centralised platforms. Rather, Golem and similar decentralised initiatives will help them evolve. I can imagine that these hubs currently interfacing directly with customers will one day be subsumed into a larger network and become backend (but still large) providers in a decentralised network.
Block Con Day 2, held at Santa Monica’s Museum of Flying on Wednesday, October 11, was packed with just as many household blockchain names as Day 1.
While everyone in the cryptosphere is talking about the world’s unbanked and underbanked, there also appears to be significant blockchain applications for the world’s uninsured and uncared for – in both developed and developing countries.
One Russian blockchain startup, Robomed, intends to use blockchain technology to create a consumer-facing medical network targeting inefficiencies and red tape that hinders the healthcare industry today.
Healthcare is the biggest elephant in the room for most developed countries – namely the US. According to Fortune, the US “spends more on healthcare than any other economically comparable country” and consistently sees a mediocre return on their investment. In addition, the exorbitant levels of spending are reflected in healthcare pricing for the individual: an MRI in the US costs four times as much as it does in France. Why?
One word: inefficiency.
In the US, the only healthcare providers that are significantly cheaper than the rest are Medicare and Medicaid, which are both heavily subsidized by government, and consequently beat out the inefficiency through brute force. The average American does not benefit from such programs either, with Medicare only being applicable to those 65 or older, or with significant disabilities.
There’s no incentive for a health industry that’s already so profitable to the providers to innovate. Consumers have no choice but to buy-in to essential services at incredibly high prices. Unlike decision-making when it comes to buying that brand new fridge from Home Depot – healthcare pricing isn’t elastic. Meaning that when you’re told the price of that life-saving surgery, you either cough up the cash or suffer the consequences.
All industries, from construction to food, are looking into how blockchain technology can help optimize processes and increase efficiency – how is Robomed intending to do the same to healthcare? The team from Russia aim to optimize healthcare through a value-oriented approach to medical services that operates through smart contracts.
The defining factor around the Robomed Network is that they are a B2C initiative targeting the average layman – the very demographic that has been entirely disenfranchised from representation in modern healthcare.
Sentiment is one thing, but how does Robomed’s platform intend to help the disenfranchised?
Apparently, they already are. The one-page executive summary boasts that prior to tokenization, Robomed already have 3 software products developed, 20 clinics connected, 1.7 million clients in their database and 2900 clinical guidelines digitized.
Of course, when a blockchain startup is seeking external investment, it’s important to remove any kind of abstraction and perform a qualitative analysis. In Robomed’s case, what function does the smart contract serve in relation to the platform they are developing? CEO of the Robomed Network project, Philipp Mrionovich answers:
“Smart contract in our ecosystem represents medical negotiations between patients and doctors from clinic. The patient does not acquire something unknown but concrete health results. The smart contract consists from a set of clinical recommendations for the treatment where every disease implicates a concrete list of actions”
Next, what does the Robomed token, the RBM, actually do? Where does it derive its value from to incentivize investors to buy-in? The RBM token’s stated utility is two-fold:
From the whitepaper, p. 4.
In effect, the value of the RBM token hinges around the size of the Robomed Network ecosystem – or the team’s ability to assimilate and integrate both consumers (patients) and sellers (clinics and doctors) onto it. If the team can build a consumer-facing system that successfully innovates on current iterations of healthcare, then this is arguably 3/4ths of the battle.
The Robomed presale is running from October 25th to November 15th, with the value of each RBM token varying between 0.000284 to 0.000426 ETH, pending the bonus issuance at the time and date of purchase.
In Crypto Insider’s discussion with the Robomed team, it was stated that the best place to get detailed queries answered on the platform was on their Telegram channel. It’s pleasing to see that Robomed is one of the ICOs that has moved away from the easily-phishable Slack channel.
Time will tell how Robomed’s developments go. But based on the concept alone, the team is hitting a major pain point in the healthcare industry.
The 2008 financial crisis has left an extremely bitter taste in the mouths of investors. In fact, the crisis is often prefixed with the adjective “global”, because the bursting of the 2008 credit bubble truly was a global phenomenon. It seemed like no one was safe–American and European banks were saddled with debt, financed by other global institutions. Even the innocent homeowner was rocked, coupled with retirement account balances being cut in half.
As debt piled up and home prices skyrocketed, investors were all too eager to gobble up whatever returns were thrown at them. Debt grew rapidly as prices continued to go up. It was too good to be true–until it was.
There are a variety of reasons why the 2008 financial crisis happened as it did, the primary reason being an obsession with debt. And while many are too quick to point the finger at big banks and greedy traders, there is truth to the statement that the crisis wouldn’t have happened, or at least been as bad, if there weren’t such a preponderance of complex trading mechanisms–derivatives like swaps, as an example. Long gone are the days of trading vanilla stocks, bonds, and commodities.
Cryptocurrency investors are at a similar crossroads–referring not to the supposed bitcoin bubble, but in terms of the products offered. As their price continues to rise, many are working on developing new ways to invest their cryptocurrency. Many cryptocurrency traders are aware of the heights to which the coins have soared, causing them to pause in light of increasing volatility. They rightly desire diversification and alternative investing methods.
In the wake of these desires, some blockchain companies are working on developing platforms that function similar to traditional brokerage and banking services. These platforms will enable cryptocurrencies to manage risk, not just assets.
What cryptocurrency investing strategies are most common today?
Year to date, Bitcoin is up approximately 320%. Those who bought Bitcoin at the beginning of 2016 would be sitting on some pretty nice capital gains. The rapid run up in cryptocurrency prices has led many to follow a simple buy and hold strategy with digital coins. Rather than try and predict future movements, these investors have been able to watch their positions soar in value.
Some have taken a more active approach to investing in Bitcoin. Rather than hold a position for a long time, traders try to predict movements in prices. Their goal is to buy low and sell high, and repeat the process frequently to achieve maximum gains.
Another investment strategy is to trade derivatives contracts like crypto options and futures. These can be used to hedge existing positions, or to make bets on the future movements of the currency. These contracts allow investors to use leverage to amplify their gains. Traders must be well educated when trading these contracts, however, because in some cases, the downside risk is unlimited.
What is looming on the horizon for cryptocurrency investors?
Within the cryptocurrency sphere there has been a big push to make digital coins more accessible to the masses. This fundamental premise is in large part what led to the Bitcoin hardfork in August. One mainstream fund company, ProShares, recently filed for long and short Bitcoin ETFs. It seems that more and more, cryptocurrencies are moving into the traditional finance sector.
Several companies are at the forefront in welcoming this change. They see the benefits of a decentralized blockchain system while at the same time utilizing the benefits of traditional brokerage and banking services.
These companies are in the process of creating traditional brokerage systems that can house user assets, i.e. their wallets and coins. Through blockchain brokerages within these platforms, like Cryptopay, investors can reduce exposure, possibly into traditional asset classes like stocks, bonds, and fiat currency.
This will add diversification to a portfolio, lowering risk over the long term. The services will allow users to buy these assets using crypto coins. Rather than converting from Bitcoin to USD and then purchasing stock through a firm like Schwab or Fidelity, investors can purchase stock directly from the blockchain platform.
Blockchain companies are also realizing the benefit of offering bank services to cryptocurrency holders. They plan to provide their clients’ payment accounts with an international banking account number along with their personal name, but the accounts will still be funded by cryptocurrencies. The hybrid account will act similar to a traditional bank account, able to process payments and make transfers in cryptocoins.
Some oppose the integration of blockchain technology into mainstream life. Others see the benefits and are hoping to capitalize on an opportunistic branch of a still evolving market. Cryptopay have already made a tremendous impact in this way, offering traditional products like crypto wallets and digital debits cards while simultaneously building brokerage and banking platforms. Furthermore, the company is currently conducting its ICO which will last through November 30, as well as a general call for partners which will also continue throughout the ICO period.
As blockchain technology and cryptocurrencies increase in popularity, adaptive solutions will continue to grow in demand. As more and more desire to bridge blockchain technology with everyday life, companies that can anticipate trends will be able to revolutionize the way the world works.
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Bitcoin is potentially on the verge of gaining mass adoption, at least in the developed world. However, many would argue the major value proposition of cryptocurrencies is in developing countries. This is where financial institutions and general infrastructure are lacking, failing to facilitate economic participation in the country’s unbanked and underbanked demographics.
Hacking and cyber-attacks are an issue more than ever.
Almost everywhere you turn in the papers, you read about a hacking event against some major corporation.
As hackers continue to make inroads into most security platforms, and costs for services like DDoS mitigation and CDN hosting continue to increase, it seems that the internet world is in need a of a new and better solution, and blockchain may be the answer.
Yes, in blockchain we’ll trust when it comes to the future of cyber security.
One very effective hacking process is called a distributed denial-of-service (DDoS). During a DDoS attack, a pool of compromised computer systems attack a single server or network. The compromised source machines inundate the victim with requests and packets which eventually overwhelm the processor. The ensuing shut down results in a denial of service to legitimate consumers.
Traditional software platforms for stopping DDoS attacks are often unable to cope with the massive amount of data since, after one system is breached, others will follow quickly. Traditional DDoS platforms are forced to control the massive data stream from an increasing number of machines and therefore often get overwhelmed.
Additionally, CDN services can be very costly and often glitchy. Traditional systems are limited in their approach and feasibility, and can be incredibly expensive, depending on service quality.
Most services provide companies with location-specific servers globally, in order for access to the site from any machine can be relative quick. These traditional platforms can be extremely costly because of today’s data-rich website expectations, since such services charge per GB. Large web traffic can cost companies millions in hours.
Blockchain technology is creating a new way to stop DDoS attacks, while at the same time changing the way CDN services are offered. This is being done through decentralization – or the process of moving information onto many participating machines within a connected database environment.
There’s no question that blockchain technology is disrupting industries, and the next one might be cyber.
Gladius, a blockchain-based cyber security platform operating out of the US, is preparing to offer this type of decentralized system. The aim is to pool unused bandwidth among participants, creating a decentralized CDN and DDoS mitigation system.
The company will use underutilized bandwidth to end DDoS attacks and accelerate websites. In other words, users will be able to rent out their bandwidth, get paid for it and help protect and accelerate websites.
Gladius uses the most important aspects of traditional DDoS protection software—bandwidth and data management–while providing superior protection and CDN services at more reasonable rates.
Gladius has created specialized distributed platforms that serve dual functions.
First, protection is offered from DDoS attacks by functioning as a marketplace that provides the creation of programs suited to individual needs. Then, Gladius allows users to monetize their unused bandwidth to create massive bandwidth pools that are more than capable of handling the flood of requests and traffic that mark a DDoS hack.
In contrast to traditional platforms, Gladius provides direct contact with end users and internal developers meaning that those wanting protection can have customized security developed and managed within the platform.
Furthermore, since Gladius’ desktop app lets participants rent their unused bandwidth, rewarding them with Gladius tokens, users can pay these tokens for protection–or can instead begin to develop their own personal bandwidth pool. Blockchain technology means that every transaction within the ecosystem is a public record. Consumers can know immediately whether their purchase is fair.
Finally, Gladius allows users to see their web traffic real time. The source, volume, and speed of all data is displayed and can be analyzed. In this way, content can be easily controlled.
The substantial number of consumers monetizing unused bandwidth within the platform allows the company to create CDN services through the network. Without the centralized hub, costs are far more aggressive and affordable.
Further, decentralization means objective pricing and simple interaction between buyer and seller in both service platforms. In traditional DDoS and CDN services, centralized corporations charge huge fees to keep their services maintained and functioning. These companies must maintain processors, storage, and bandwidth, and so they pass those high costs on to consumers along with profit margins rolled in. And even with these costs, results are spotty at best.
With a decentralized platform, though, costs can be distributed and services tailor made for each customer. Complete accountability creates a genuinely fair, free market platform for CDN services. Gladius’ sale launches officially on November 1st (presale is happening now) and will continue up to a month, depending on the first round results. The platform beta is scheduled to release Q1 2018, and the full release is scheduled for Q3 2018.