Jul 122017
 

What is Ethereum?

Steven Heap/123RF

By Will Nicol — Posted on July 4, 2017 6:30 am

If you follow tech or financial news, you’ve probably seen the name “Ethereum” popping up over the last couple years, often in connection with bitcoin. Ethereum is a rising star in the world of cryptocurrencies, entirely digital forms of currency that grew in popularity after the creation of bitcoin by a person or group calling themselves Satoshi Nakamoto in 2009. Demand for Ethereum is so high that it may even be driving up the price of graphics cards, as miners try to generate as much currency as they can. What is Ethereum exactly, and what does it mean for the future of cryptocurrency (and maybe society)? Here’s the rundown.

To start — what is a cryptocurrency?

People often refer to Ethereum as a cryptocurrency, but that isn’t precisely true. It is a platform that allows individuals to conduct transactions and draw up contracts, using a currency called “ether.” To understand what distinguishes Ethereum from a cryptocurrency like bitcoin, it helps to understand what a cryptocurrency is, as well as the concept of a blockchain.

A cryptocurrency is a form of digital currency created through encryption. A cryptocurrency has no physical form — like a banknote or coin — and it is not issued by a central bank or governmental authority. Units of cryptocurrency exist as data on the internet, and are created and managed through something called a blockchain.

A blockchain is essentially a digital ledger, shared amongst any number of computers. When transactions occur, they are recorded in blocks; in order for these blocks to go into the ledger, they must be validated by a certain number of computers on the blockchain network. Crucially, the ledger exists, in the same form, for everyone on the network. Anyone can can look at to see a complete history of every transaction that has occurred, and any changes would be visible to everyone.

The individuals who validate the transactions — which they do by having their computers solve complex computational problems — are called miners. Mining is a surprisingly intense activity, as our guide explains, that requires powerful hardware and a lot of planning. As a reward for their help in validating blocks, miners are given rewards. This is typically a specific cryptocurrency; Bitcoin miners receive bitcoin, while Ethereum miners receive ether.

When you send someone an amount of cryptocurrency, a digital signature is created to authenticate the transaction. Your public key is essentially your “address.” When someone sends you funds, they send it to your public key. When you send funds, you use your private key, which is essentially the password that grants you access to your funds, and a transaction message to create a digital signature. Miners use this signature to verify the transaction, and a new signature will be generated for every individual transaction, so the transaction can’t be repeated.

Why is this important?

Digital transactions have, historically, required third parties, such as banks, to authorize or validate the transaction. This is because money, when digital, is essentially a file, which could be copied and reused. But these more traditional intermediaries typically don’t work for free. Banks and other authorities require individuals to play in their sandbox, and pay whatever fees they demand.

Cryptocurrencies are all about skirting around financial institutions and authorities, but they still need some way to track when and how currency moves through transactions, so as to avoid problems like double spending. The currency would be useless if anyone could just create copies of their units.

Blockchains allow for peer-to-peer transactions, with no need for a third party to participate. They are inherently secure; if any data in the block were changed, computers on the network would need to revalidate it, discouraging tampering. In theory, cryptocurrencies are safe from seizure by authorities. Because they are stored nowhere in particular, and can only be accessed by a person with the private key, it would be incredibly difficult for even a government to seize them.

The broad strokes of a blockchain apply to Ethereum just as they do to bitcoin, but the two products have different goals. As mentioned, bitcoin is strictly a digital currency, designed to function as a means of payment. Ethereum takes a grander approach; it functions as a platform through which people can use ether tokens to create and run applications and, more importantly, smart contracts.

Ethereum focuses on “smart contracts”

What is a smart contract? It is a contract written in code, which the creator(s) upload to the blockchain. Any time one of these contracts is executed, every node on the network runs it, uploaded to the blockchain; thus, it is stored in the public ledger, theoretically tamper-proof.

Smart contracts are essentially structured as If-then statements; when certain conditions are met, the program carries out the terms of the contract.

As an example, say you want to rent a car from a service that uses Ethereum. A smart contract is generated, stipulating that if you send the required amount of funds, then the service will send you a digital key to unlock the car. The process is is carried out on the blockchain, so when you send the ether tokens, everyone on the network can see that you did so. Likewise, when the rental service sends you the key to unlock the car, everyone will see it. In this scenario, the contract might state that if the service does not send you the key, the tokens are refunded.

Since every computer on the network is keeping track of this transaction through the digital ledger, there is no way to tamper with it; if someone altered the details of the contract, every copy of the digital ledger would note this.

Every program on Ethereum will use a distinct amount of processing power, and since the program must be run by the nodes, it is important to keep superfluous activity to a minimum. This is why every contract and program on Ethereum is given a cost in “gas.” Gas is a measurement of how much processing power the program will require, and the higher the gas requirement, the more ether tokens the user will need to spend.

One of the commonly cited advantages of smart contracts is that there is no need for “middlemen” like lawyers or notaries. In theory, this means that you can carry out transactions without the waiting times inherent to paper filings, and without paying fees to whomever would typically oversee such a transaction. This is particularly important for people living in countries where the legal system is corrupt, or woefully inefficient.

Of course, the automation means that, if something goes wrong — if, for example, there is a bug in the code of the smart contract — the blockchain will still carry out the terms of the contract, which could be problematic.

A scandal involving The DAO — a decentralized autonomous organization — serves as a case study in how smart contracts can go wrong. The DAO was essentially a leaderless investment fund; members invested ether, gaining tokens that allowed them to vote on how to invest the DAO’s funds. As CoinDesk explains, the DAO was built through a series of smart contracts.

However, a vulnerability in the DAO’s code allowed one user to funnel millions of dollars worth of ether into a child DAO. A writer for Forbes compares the process to embezzlement, but notes that, because the DAO’s contract allowed for it to happen, it was not illegal; the user was working within the confines of the code.

What does it mean for the future?

In its short time in the spotlight, Ethereum has cast an enormous shadow. It is trading at around $300 as of June 28, 2017, and has grown by around 3600 percent in 2017, according to Business Insider. The platform has already attracted massive corporations like JP Morgan Chase and Microsoft, who are among the more notable members of the Enterprise Ethereum Alliance, which aims to provide “Resources for businesses to learn about Ethereum and leverage this groundbreaking technology to address specific industry use cases.”

That bodes well for Ethereum’s usage in the business world, but true believers see the platform as something more than a tool for corporation; they see it as a way to decentralize the internet, and make it more democratic.

In an interview with Wired, Ethereum creator Vitalik Buterin lays out his view of how Ethereum will disrupt the traditional power structures of the world:

“I think a large part of the consequence is necessarily going to be disempowering some of these centralized players to some extent. Because ultimately power is a zero sum game. And if you talk about empowering the little guy, as much as you want to couch it in flowery terminology that makes it sound fluffy and good, you are necessarily disempowering the big guy. And personally I say screw the big guy. They have enough money already.”

Smart contracts could free individuals from the constraints of the legal system and big business. However, technology enthusiasts often promise such utopian futures; in reality, just as social media has helped the spread of fake news, Ethereum and the automated, decentralized internet it seeks may have unintended consequences, as the DAO hacking indicates. Like other cryptocurrencies, ether is prone to wild fluctuations. While Ethereum has been riding high in 2017 for the most part, it suffered a flash crash in June, a drop which some think may have been exacerbated by false rumors of Buterin’s death. Whether Ethereum is sturdy enough to survive long term, or an ephemeral trend, remains up in the air.

Mike Prettyman Chief Information Officer Green Fire Engineered Reclamation Member GreenFire DAO Whatsapp only Phone: 1-602-315-1571 Skype: mike.prettyman Website: http://greenfirefunding.com email: greenfirereclamation@gmail.com

Jul 052017
 

Central Bank of China

In Brief

China's central bank has developed its own cryptocurrency, which is now being tested. Cryptocurrencies have the potential to not only benefit China, but the rest of the world, due to their basis in blockchain.

Benefits of Digital Currency

China’s central bank — the People’s Bank of China — has developed a prototype of a cryptocurrency that it could end up in circulation in the near future. It would be introduced alongside the China’s primary currency the renminbi (also called the yuan). China will be simulating possible scenarios and running mock transactions using the cryptocurrency with some commercial Chinese banks.  Click to View Full Infographic The potential benefits of developing a digital currency are significant, particularly in China. First, it would decrease the cost of transactions, and therefore make financial services more accessible, which would be a big help to the millions of people in the country who are unconnected to conventional banks. Second, as it would be supported by blockchain, it has the potential to decrease the rates of fraud and counterfeiting, which would be of service to the government’s attempts to reduce corruption — a key concern. Third, it would make the currency easier to obtain, which would increase the rate of international transactions, allowing for more trades and faster economic growth.

The Rise of Cryptocurrencies

Since Bitcoin’s humble beginnings back in 2009 (when it was only valued at around 0.0007 USD) the digital currency, and the very idea of cryptocurrencies in fact, has grown monumentally. The total market cap of cryptocurrencies on April 1st of this year was over $25 Billion. A single Bitcoin is now worth more than $2,500. Now many national economies, as China’s plan shows, are considering the idea of developing their own variant. Although China’s experimental approach to simulate a self-developed cryptocurrency’s usage is the first of its kind, other countries and institutions have made strides in that direction as well. The Deputy of Russia’s central bank has emphatically stated that “regulators of all countries agree that it’s time to develop national cryptocurrencies.” Over 260,000 stores in Japan will begin accepting Bitcoin as legal tender this summer, and big banks like Santander have announced plans to develop their own version. Cryptocurrencies have the potential of revolutionizing not only the business world, but many methods of transaction. There has already been talk of using cryptocurrencies to administer Universal Basic Incomes due to their traceability, as well as for the delivery of human aid; the potential for which was demonstrated by a recent experiment to help refugees in Jordan by the UN.

  Source: China Becomes First Country in the World to Test a National Cryptocurrency

Mike Prettyman Chief Information Officer Green Fire Engineered Reclamation Member GreenFire DAO Whatsapp only Phone: 1-602-315-1571 Skype: mike.prettyman Website: http://greenfirefunding.com email: greenfirereclamation@gmail.com

Jul 042017
 

Some Central Banks Are Exploring the Use of Cryptocurrencies

By

Alexandria Arnold June 28, 2017, 11:18 AM CST

In a world were financial transactions are largely electronic, central banks are exploring the idea of using virtual currencies, even as cyberattacks and price swings dominate the headlines.

"The central bank digital currency would be like a paper bill except digital," Dartmouth College economics professor Andrew Levin said in an interview on Bloomberg Television. For example, "it would be representing a U.S. dollar, but it would be basically free to use."

 

 
Dartmouth’s Levin tells Bloomberg TV why central banks are exploring the move to digital currencies.
Source: Bloomberg

Whereas credit cards charge transaction fees and interest, and paper currencies can be costly to process, digital currencies could be a "real benefit" to small businesses and consumers, Levin said.

Central banks from across Europe and Asia are looking into virtual currencies. In March, Vietnam’s central bank said it was "seriously" studying the possibility of using bitcoin. The People’s Bank of China has run trials of its prototype cryptocurrency, and the Danish central bank is considering minting e-krone. But Federal Reserve Board Governor Jerome Powell said in March the U.S. central bank is not considering a digital currency.

For a replay of the inaugural Bitcoin Facebook Live show launched yesterday.

Skeptics have questioned whether one of the key features of cryptocurrencies — their decentralized nature — makes them a good fit for central banks. But in a recent proposal published by Levin and Rutgers University economics professor Michael Bordo, the pair said central banks could provide a secure store of value in their own digital currency.

"In contrast to bitcoin, the value of the central bank’s digital currency would be fixed in nominal terms," Levin and Bordo wrote. "Moreover, the central bank’s digital currency could be implemented using an account-based system, thereby avoiding the resource-consuming ‘mining’ operations involved in generating virtual currencies like bitcoin."

Source: Some Central Banks Are Exploring the Use of Cryptocurrencies – Bloomberg

Mike Prettyman Chief Information Officer Green Fire Engineered Reclamation Member GreenFire DAO Whatsapp only Phone: 1-602-315-1571 Skype: mike.prettyman Website: http://greenfirefunding.com email: greenfirereclamation@gmail.com

Jun 232017
 

Why connecting all the Blockchains is the final step for mass adoption of Cryptocurrencies

Dr. Julian Hosp, 16 Jun 2017 – Development, Opinion, Protocol

Dr. Julian Hosp is the co-founder and CVO of TenX, a Singapore based FintechCompany that makes any Blockchain asset spendable instantly by offering a debit card payment system to its users on the frontend and by connecting any Blockchain at the backend.

Since the start of Bitcoin in January 2009, we have seen the introduction of a multitude of blockchains across all kinds of areas and financial markets. Today we can count hundreds of public blockchains that amount to a total market cap of almost 100 Billion dollars, excluding many more private blockchain installations.

Last year we saw the emergence of precious metal backed tokens, derivatives, entirely new asset classes representing entire ecosystems, and even ETF tokens to invest into other blockchain assets. One such example is Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs) or token sales that are gaining in popularity. The World Economic Forum is even going as far as predicting that 10% of the global GDP will be stored on the blockchain in less than 10 years. In terms of today’s global GDP that would be $7.8 trillion.

Here a challenge arises: If we as a community do not find a way to connect blockchains, these 7.8 trillion dollars will be dispersed in such a way, that its true value is a lot lower. So what is the solution? The solution is one that we have seen in a similar way being executed around 30 years ago already:

Before the invention of the TCP/IP protocol the Internet was also dispersed in many local networks, so-called Intranets. These provided local efficiency over the more traditional point-to-point communication (such as letter, fax, telephone calls). The real breakthrough only came in 1973, when different Intranet networks realized that they could use a unifying Internetwork protocol to communicate among each other, thereby extending reach by compatibility even more.

With the requirements for an Intranet to join the so called Internet dropping to the bare minimum, it became possible to add almost any Intranet, no matter how basic or sophisticated their characteristics were.

The initial adoption by users was relatively slow, as the services offered at the beginning were limited. There was one major factor however, that eventually sped it up significantly. The same providers that were already offering mail, FAX and phone services, could now add Internet services to their portfolio giving them extra revenue streams. User adoption came easily, as a trust basis between the customers and these services providers was already established for years or even decades. Early adopters started, the late adopters followed.

Today the Internet spans across the entire world and information that used to be accessible only locally is now accessible from anywhere, even from the moon. Information is stored by servers all over the world while routers create the backbone. Internet service providers (ISP) give the average end-user easy and quick access to this vast database of information by opening a communication channel to their customers and to other ISPs, servers and routers.

Once the average user accesses the Internet through his or her communication channel with the ISP in order to gain information from the Internet, the user does not have to worry about how the information is retrieved exactly. All she has to do, is to type in the destination from where she wants to retrieve the information (URL). The ISP, to which she has the communication channel to, does not know the exact path to the destination either. However, through the TCP/IP protocol, the request is routed through from one communication channel to another using routers, servers or ISPs, who then either know the location or continue the process.

The important point is, neither one of them has to know the entire way. All they have to do, is to trust the TCP/IP protocol, which has the task of delivering packets from the source host to the destination host, solely based on the IP addresses in the packet headers. Its routing function enables internetworking, and essentially establishes the Internet.

How does this translate into connecting blockchains? What if there was a way to connect literally any blockchain, without creating a new larger blockchain, like some companies have suggested. Creating a new blockchain would be like a large intranet, that all the other intranet would have to trust. It would be way more difficult to convince everyone. It is easier to leave everyone on their blockchain/intranet and just connect them.

With that in mind, I therefore suggested a Cryptographically-secure Off-chain Multi-asset Instant Transaction network (COMIT) at the end of 2016 and wrote a white paper on that: www.comit.network.

What does such a network look like? Just like in the Internet, we need a stable and trustworthy backbone. In our opinion any large blockchain provides exactly that. It can be any blockchain, because just like on the Internet, different modalities will be interconnected (For example: the initial Internet never foresaw mobile app messaging services, but these have been implemented without any problems). The same will be true for COMIT, where any new blockchain can be connected to an existing one through the use of the COMIT Routing Protocol (CRP).

A user today, who is using crypto-currencies, currently has to wait minutes if not hours before a transaction is accepted by the counterparty. With the adoption of payment channels, such as the Lightning Network, Raiden or many others, such users can transfer assets instantly from person A to person B. If person B then opens another payment channel to person C, person A can also transfer assets to person C via B instantaneously, as long as person B provides enough liquidity. In theory there can be an infinite chain of participants in between person A and C, as long as they all provide enough liquidity. Again, such transactions are immediate without person A needing to know which route the assets took to end up at person C. She can trust this system as the routing protocol ensures its correctness, plus the cryptographically secured payment channels, which will be described in the next chapter, ensures flawless functionality.

What we end up with, are cryptographically-secured instant payments off-blockchain that can even be transferred from one asset to another via hashed time-lock contracts (those will also be described in the next chapter). In order for this network to have enough liquidity (in the example above person B needs to provide enough liquidity to enable a transaction between person A and person C), we introduce the concept of Liquidity Providers (LP). LPs can be seen or understood as hubs or nodes in the COMIT network, that create payment channels to users, other LPs and businesses. They are a core part in COMIT. Just like servers, routers and ISPs are to the internet.

Adoption of this system will be seamless, fast and will bring great benefits to all of its participants, just like the Internet did. Some of the benefits of COMIT include:, but are not limited to:

  • Open source infrastructure
  • True instant, frictionless and cheap payments for users all over the world
  • True global access without limitations to any asset or business process connected to a blockchain
  • Cryptographically secure trustless global transactions network
  • Amazing new business opportunities for companies
  • New recurring revenue streams for banks and other liquidity providers
  • Rapid adoption based on existing networks build with new cheap and secure infrastructure

We have already checked and over 95% of all the blockchains (especially the large important ones can) can be connected. In the next article I will discuss in great detail what the 3 requirements are for such a system to work and how it looks from a technical perspective. With COMIT our vision for the world seems to become reality: Sending money as cheap and seamless as sending a WhatsApp message.

Source: Why connecting all the Blockchains is the final step for mass adoption of Cryptocurrencies » Brave New Coin

Waste Not Want Not
Mike Prettyman
Chief Information Officer
Green Fire Engineered Reclamation
Member GreenFire DAO

Whatsapp only Phone:    1-602-315-1571 
Skype: mike.prettyman

Mike Prettyman Chief Information Officer Green Fire Engineered Reclamation Member GreenFire DAO Whatsapp only Phone: 1-602-315-1571 Skype: mike.prettyman Website: http://greenfirefunding.com email: greenfirereclamation@gmail.com

Jun 212017
 

3 Struggles that Only People who are Truly Awake Will Understand

MARCH 28, 2016 BY 

3 Struggles that Only People who are Truly Awake Will Understand

One Topic I Read About In My Personal Life A Lot Is The Concept Of Being “Awake”. I’m Not Talking About Literally Not Being Asleep, I’m Talking About Being Awake To The World Around You.

Wakefulness is a combination of mindfulness, consciousness, and awareness on a very deep and often spiritual level. Imagine walking around with your eyes open in a world full of people with their eyes clenched shut. That’s honestly what it feels like. The more I study, meditate, and really search my soul – the more I realize that this mentality isn’t the norm. No matter how much I wish it was. If you’re like me and consider yourself to be awake in a world full of people with their blinders secured tightly to their heads, then you’ll understand the following struggles just as much as I do.

Seeing The Forest For The Trees

Of all of the aspects of wakefulness that I struggle with, this notion is #1 on my list, and the entire reason for me writing this post. You’ve heard the cliché of people “missing the forest for the trees”, meaning that when you look so intently at that one tree – you don’t notice that you’re surrounded by them. If you’re truly awake, or at least well on your way to being awake, you see the forest from an aerial view. You see the connections between people and actions in ways that other people don’t understand. A big part of wakefulness to me is understanding people and human nature in general. Intuition has a lot to do with it, but studying psychology, spirituality, and the human mind

Intuition has a lot to do with it, but studying psychology, spirituality, and the human mind has given me a different perspective. I have always wanted to know what makes people tick outside of the actual physiological components. That’s why I write a lot about emotional intelligence; because I think it is the first step in being awake. If you consider yourself to be emotionally intelligent, then you understand how many people are emotionally ignorant. This is where the forest and trees come in…

As someone who is awake, you see the actions of people and understand why they do them. For me, it is seeing the underlying reasons for people’s actions. Perfect example: I have a friend who is passive aggressive to a fault. But when he gets behind the wheel of a car, he turns into a road rage machine. Not because the people around him are really driving badly – but because there is a wall of metal and glass around him that prevents others from hearing him express himself. All of those frustrations that get bottled up throughout the day, get unleashed as a torrent of ranting and cursing that would make a sailor blush. And for what? Nothing really. It doesn’t solve any of the issues that have been bottled up. Hell, it doesn’t even address them. Now, I know that there has got to be a pressure valve somewhere, in all of us. Seeing this behavior, I know exactly what is going on but never bring it up, which brings me to my next point:

People Don’t Want To Hear The Truth

Most people are completely comfortable with their blinders. Thos blinders provide a sense of safety and security. One of the hardest things people can do is focus their gaze inward. The general consensus seems to be that if you’re looking for answers to the way that you are, that something must be wrong with you. Nothing could be farther from the truth. That’s like saying that you are exploring a coral reef because there is something wrong with it. The human psyche is fascinating, and there is nothing more fulfilling than exploring your own. Again, there is a very strong parallel here to emotional intelligence. There is a difference in knowing what you feel and knowing why you feel it.

When you have this understanding of the human psyche, even on a basic level, you see those “forest and trees” connections. For people who choose not to see those connections, the last thing in the world that they want to do is hear about them, let alone understand them. People take evaluations of their actions and emotions as criticism. If you say, “you do (this) because you do/feel (this),” people get the notion that you are psychoanalyzing them. They don’t want to focus that microscope on themselves because they are afraid of what they might find. Tearing apart your own psyche and peeling back the layers of how your mind works and why isn’t a comfortable process. No matter how fulfilling it is in the end. So, then you find yourself understanding the thoughts and actions of the people around you better than they understand them themselves. That’s when the hard part comes in:

No matter how fulfilling it is in the end. So, then you find yourself understanding the thoughts and actions of the people around you better than they understand them themselves. That’s when the hard part comes in:

The Fear Of Expression, And The Consequence Of That Fear

Knowing that people don’t seek the same enlightenment for themselves that you seek in yourself leads to a condition where you want to express yourself about someone’s actions, but you fear the defensive nature that comes with it. Have you ever tried to tell someone that their behavior is a result of an emotional condition that they don’t care to understand? It’s like telling an alcoholic that they drink too much. SO in an effort to avoid those defensive repercussions, you end up biting your tongue, which only leaves your blood in your mouth.

There are so many situations in my everyday life where I see the underlying emotional connections to people’s actions and choose not to say anything about them, that the end result is nothing but stress. Stress, for me, often manifests itself physically, so the more stressed out I am – the worse I feel. I just want to snap, and yell at people to stop projecting their emotional ignorance in the form of finger-pointing and deflection, and address their own issues. But…I simply don’t. I reflect on how their actions make me feel, and I ruminate on the things I wish I could say, and I’m the one that ends up absorbing it. For instance, have you’ve ever been around a coworker that treats you like crap because of some other aspect of their lives outside of work?

You worry that if you point out that you aren’t the problem – they are, there could be repercussions from you expressing yourself. So you end up in a terrible work environment, fully aware of why this person treats you the way they do, knowing it’s not your fault, and afraid to do anything about it. That’s a very general example of wakefulness, but the reality of it is universal. The struggle is all too real.

BY 

Jun 202017
 

More than 5 billion people – or two-thirds of the world's population – now have a mobile phone connection

You can watch the number increase in real time

By  on Jun 19, 2017, 10:00 AM

gsma

How many people do you know that don't own a cell phone? For the majority of us, that number will be very small, if not zero. Not too surprising considering that 5 billion people around the world – or two-thirds of the earth’s population – now have a mobile phone connection.

The data comes from GSMA Intelligence, the research unit of the GSMA trade body that represents the interests of mobile operators worldwide. Its real-time tracker shows that the number of unique mobile subscribers has now passed the 5-million-person milestone, representing year-on-year growth of almost 5 percent.

The site also shows the number of mobile connections around the world. This figure is considerably higher as many people use more than one SIM card, and it includes machine-to-machine connections, of which there are around 400 million.

It’s taken four years for another billion people to acquire a mobile phone connection. Back in 2003, there were just one billion unique mobile subscribers across the globe. GSMA director Mats Granryd called reaching the milestone a “tremendous achievement for an industry that is only a few decades old.”

“Today, mobile is a truly global platform, delivering connectivity and, perhaps more importantly, social and economic opportunities to citizens in all corners of the world,” said Granryd.

Over half of all mobile subscribers, 2.7 billion, are located in the Asia-Pacific Region. When it comes to individual countries’ mobile markets, China sits at the top with 1 billion subscribers, while India is second with 730 million. It is in Europe, however, where phone penetration is at its highest, with 86 percent of citizens subscribed to a mobile service. The US has the second-highest subscriber penetration at 80 percent.

By the end of this decade, GSMA predicts that the number of unique phone subscribers will reach 5.7 billion – around three-quarters of the earth’s population – with India responsible for the largest share of this growth.

Jun 192017
 

How Filipino children and adults risk their lives to eke out a pathetic living recycling waste

Living among rotting rubbish, smoke-filled air and polluted water, these are the men, women and children who spend their lives scouring for recyclable treasures in a garbage-filled abyss – just so they can survive.

Each day, as hundreds of truckloads of bags of waste are chucked onto the rubbish site in Paranaque, south of Manilia, the Philippines, gangs of so-called 'scavengers' rummage frantically to try and retrieve items they can sell for cash.

Living in utter poverty, and employed for around $4 a day, these rubbish pickers are exposed every day to hazardous waste, such as used needles, as well as infectious diseases, including E coli, salmonella and pathogens that cause hepatitis and tetanus.

And this is a scene which is played out on dozens of landfill sites across the world, as those living in extreme poverty try and make ends meet. 

Now a set of eye-opening photos which convey the heat, stench and noise in which these pickers are forced to work have been released, to coincide with UN World Environment Day. 

Celebrated every year on 5 June, and run by the United National Environment Programme, the day is a call for global awareness on protecting the environment. This year's theme – Small Islands and Climate Change – is marked by the slogan: 'Raise Your Voice Not The Sea Level'.

According to the UN, people living in urban areas around the world generate 1.3 billion tonnes of waste per year and this will increase to 2.2 billion tonnes by 2025 – unless something is done to change it. 

 
An elderly woman looks for recyclables at a garbage dump during UN World Environment Day in, Paranaque, south of Manila, Philippines

An elderly woman looks for recyclable items at a garbage dump in Paranaque, south of Manila, Philippines – but this is a sight witness in landfills and rubbish tips across the world, as those living in poverty try desperately to earn a living

 
 
Two boys sit on top of a slope at a garbage dump

So-called trash pickers and their families live amid rotting garbage so they can spend their days fishing valuable pieces items from a vast garbage tip, to sell on the streets themselves, or to hand over to those who employ them – in return for a meagre salary

 
 
The photos have been released to mark UN World Environment Day

The eye-opening photos, which show the conditions in which these people work, have been released to mark UN World Environment Day, which takes place on June 5

 
 
 
The recycling pickers cover their mouths as dust from the truck spreads across the site

The recycling pickers breathe smoke-filled air, wash and cook in polluted water and constantly have to fight off the dust and pollution which is created when lorries dump the precious rubbish onto the site

 
 
A plane flies overhead as Filipinos look for recyclables at a garbage dump - a sight seen in many countries across the world

What is deemed as rubbish to most is seen a treasure to these Filipinos, who work to look through the items for as little as $4 a day

 
 
With thin gloves for protection, the so-called scavengers scrabble among the piles of rubbish to try and retrieve something for their day's work

With just thin gloves for protection the so-called scavengers scrabble among the piles of rubbish – which include used syringes – to try and retrieve something for their day's work

 
 
A young girl carries two bags as she looks through the rubbish dump

A young girl carries two bags as she looks through the rubbish dump. With many having no access to a school, there seems to be no limit as to when these children start work on the rubbish sites

 
 
The young girl clambers bare-footed over the piles of rubbish, which are rife with needles, shards of glass and other sharp objects

A young girl is seen walking with bare feet over the piles of rubbish, which are rife with needles, shards of glass and other sharp objects – which frequently cause the workers injury or disease

 
 
The man searches through a mountain of rubbish to find anything which might make him a buck

The workers might have to search through mountains of rubbish before they strike lucky to find one piece of recyclable 'gold'. The UN says the contribution of the world's small island nations, such as the Philippines, towards global emission of greenhouse gases is less than 1 per cent

 
 
Young children are brought up living in this environment

Young children are brought up living in this environment and are exposed daily to infectious diseases and hazardous waste

 
 
Children look for recyclables at a garbage dump

E coli, salmonella and pathogens that cause hepatitis and tetanus are common ailments in these communities. These are not places where rubbish is left to rot, but are instead a source of potential fortune

 
 
It might be hard work - but they can still find something to smile about. Children play along a slope at the garbage dump

But the children can still find something to smile about, as they push each other down the rubbish slopes as a break from their hard work

 
 
Children play along a slope at a garbage dump during World Environment Day

These families are among the poorest in their country and have limited education. It means they will have no skills to make a better life for themselves or their families

 
 
Filipinos look for recyclables at a garbage dump during World Environment Day

There is also the danger of unstable piles of rubbish collapsing on the workers as they scurry among the garbage, which has led to fatalities in other landfill sites

 
 
These workers live amid rotting garbage, breathe smoke filled air, wash and cook in polluted water

The waste can be agricultural, industrial, medical or domestic, bringing with it a huge range of dangers for the rubbish pickers

 
 
A plane

These piles of rubbish, which arrive among a torrent of grey, smoke and dirt, are one person's rubbish and another person's treasure

Presented by: Mike Prettyman
CIO GreenFire Engineered Reclamtion
Member: GreenFire DAO

Join with me to save these "Children of the Landfill" http://markethive.com/mikeprettyman 

 

Jun 192017
 

A group of US lawmakers wants to see cryptocurrency holdings declared at the nation's border – and advocates of the tech are pushing back.

Bitcoin value continues to fluctuate, price fails to go beyond year's ...

Introduced last month, the Combating Money Laundering, Terrorist Financing and Counterfeiting Act of 2017 – which is actually the third iteration of a bill that debuted in 2011 – would bring a range of digital currency services under federal scrutiny, including those that provide transaction mixing services.

Yet, the provision that has attracted the particular ire of cryptocurrency advocates – especially those who prefer a regulation-light environment – is one that would make such holdings subject to disclosure requirements at US customs checkpoints. This means if a person trying to enter the country has more than $10,000 worth of bitcoin in their possession, under the proposed legal change, they would need to inform the relevant authorities.

Such requirements are already in place for payment methods like cash. But given the rising public profile of cryptocurrencies like bitcoin, coupled with the perception among policymakers that they could be used to fund terrorist activities, is driving legislative efforts like the bill currently under consideration.

One observer, Joe Ciccolo of Canada-based BitAML, remarked that cryptocurrency has become the "new face in an old debate", going on to say that policymakers and law enforcement officials have long sought to expand the definition of what constitutes a "monetary instrument".

Ciccolo told CoinDesk:

"Earlier this decade, we saw a push to include 'prepaid access' such as gift cards. Law enforcement went so far as to pursue card readers to scan prepaid access devices for their balance. Now that digital currencies have gained traction, they've been included in the same conversation. As in the past, I suspect there will be strong opposition from across the financial services community."

Perianne Boring, president of the Chamber of Digital Commerce, a blockchain trade advocacy organization, said the legislation is "not necessary" given the existence of regulations from the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN), which require exchanges services to register as money transmission businesses and adhere to federal reporting requirements.

"While we encourage thoughtful and meaningful study of the prevention of cross-border financial crime, the storage of virtual currency carries different and complex considerations than those attributable to prepaid access," she told CoinDesk.

Asset grab

It's clear from the response that the frustration toward the measure isn't going anywhere. That anger surfaced in earnest over the past week or so in social media postings and fiery blog entries about the move.

One of the points of concern is a policy called 'civil asset forfeiture'. In the US, law enforcement officials have faced strong opposition to the rules, by which assets, particularly cash, can be seized if they are suspected of being connected to criminal activity. Proponents say it deters money laundering and – controversially – provides a funding means for police forces in the US.

Under the proposed bill, cryptocurrencies would be included in that definition, subject to confiscation by border agents.

The practice has drawn fire in recent years over instances in which innocent people have their funds taken from them, triggering legal processes that can play out for months or longer before any money is returned.

In one high-profile example in 2015, a US man had $16,000 in cash taken from him while he tried to relocate to Hollywood despite the fact that he wasn't suspected of a specific crime. And data published earlier this month by the Chicago Tribune illustrated how the policy tends to target lower-income residents who, if anything, are guilty of crimes of lower severity, if at all.

Investor and writer Simon Black, who pens the Sovereign Man blog, took aim at this aspect of the bill by declaring that, in the eyes of the US government, "bitcoin is evil" and should be up for grabs by border agents.

"So, theoretically if you leave the US with more than $10,000 in bitcoin or ether, you'd have to confess this fact to the authorities or otherwise face the aforementioned penalties, ie prison time, civil asset forfeiture, etc," Black wrote.

"HOORAY FREEDOM!" he added.

Fighting on

Thus far, the bill hasn’t advanced significantly since being introduced last month, public records show. On 25th May, the measure was referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee for further consideration.

At press time, representatives for Senators Chuck Grassley and Diane Feinstein hadn't responded to CoinDesk requests for comment. The bill is also being sponsored by Senators John Cornyn and Sheldon Whitehouse, constituting a group of two Republicans and two Democrats.

But at least one person is moving to wage a war against the bill’s provisions: Theo Chino, who as profiled by CoinDesk last November, has waged a persistent campaign against the New York State Department of Financial Services BitLicense regulatory framework.

He told CoinDesk in an email that he has set up a webpage with the relevant contact information for the senators who are sponsoring the bill. Chino himself has been reaching out to offices in an effort to educate lawmakers on what he described as "misunderstandings of the technology".

"This 'over-criminalization' of bitcoin, based on common misunderstandings of the technology and its economic nature should be worrisome to the bitcoin and technology communities," he told CoinDesk.

The two main advocacy groups in Washington, DC – the Chamber of Digital Commerce and Coin Center – are said to be in contact with the relevant Congressional offices. Though it declined to comment on this story, Coin Center indicated on Twitter that it's reaching out amid the furor.

"We are aware of S 1241, are in touch with the relevant folks in Congress, and will post an analysis soon," executive director Jerry Brito wrote on Twitter.

Chino – who in an email called the bill a "sham" – spoke to the grassroots effort taking place, and said that he’s still reaching out to people who have posted on Reddit as part of a broader bid to get constituents to contact the senators involved.

"One call from a constituent has so much impact," he said.

Jun 172017
 

By Joshua Althauser
https://cointelegraph.com/news/there-will-be-no-bubble-for-bitcoin-and-ethereum-heres-why

There Will Be No Bubble for Bitcoin and Ethereum, Here's Why

Tech entrepreneur Mark Cuban has recently stated that Bitcoin is facing a bubble. However, Daniel M. Harrison, the CEO of DMH&CO and managing partner of Monkey Capital, reveals that such a thing is impossible due to the market-influencing capabilities of Bitcoin and Ethereum.

Market bipolarity

The main factor that makes a digital bubble impossible is market bipolarity. For many people, market bipolarity is confusing but it can be distilled in a few important and understandable viewpoints. Apparently, market bipolarity is directly affected by George Soros’ “theory of reflexivity.”

According to George Soros, market conditions are not influenced by equilibrium. Rather, they are “reflexive” due to the synchronization of two functions: cognitive and manipulative function. The cognitive function is a neutral thinking base – this is where economic participants assess facts for what they are.

The manipulative function, on the other hand, turns one fact (or a couple of facts) in order to gain an advantage. Once the cognitive mind is affected by the manipulative mind, the neutrality will be “painted” in a different light it becomes a manipulated fact.

Therefore, markets reflect the view and perspective of participants, not the full scope of economics.

The situation can be represented in two ways:

  • Manipulative Cognitive = Reflexive
  • Manipulative + Cognitive = Equilibrium

The aforementioned equations show that a manipulative thinking pattern is the usual baseline and not a cognitive function. This shows the reflexive nature of all markets one of the clear indicators that Bitcoin and Ethereum are far from experiencing a digital bubble.

Artificial vs. Natural

More importantly, Ethereum and Bitcoin markets are influenced by two thinkers: artificial and natural. Artificial pertains to the Blockchain AI and natural is all about human intervention. Many experts think that Blockchain is adopting an "economic mindset."

If markets with manipulative and cognitive participants are suddenly annexed, it will always result in reflexivity or positive feedback loops. In this case, digital markets are bound by reflexivity or states of reflexivity. This is a self-perpetuating situation that can go on for many years.

It’s also important to know that artificial thinkers are the “igniters” of self-perpetuating reflexivity. With AI (Blockchain), digital markets will continue to thrive, leading to fluctuating values of Bitcoin and Ethereum. Market bipolarity will always be constant.

Through market bipolarity, any episode of a digital bubble is canceled out. The whole Blockchain system will never return to its “roots” but it will continue evolving. Price valuations, on the other hand, may remain grounded and directed by economic factors.

Innovation or its application in various sectors is also another important factor that shapes Blockchain technology’s tenacity and ability to survive a “bubble.”

Jun 172017
 

It's been called the 'next oil'. In the coming decades, the supply of water has the potential to influence geopolitics, diplomacy and even conflict.

  • By Bryan Lufkin 16 June 2017

Ecopol Project - Portland State University: Water Wars

The 2008 James Bond film Quantum of Solace pits 007 against an evil criminal syndicate bent on global domination. Sounds par for the course… but this particular network of baddies isn’t using lasers or missiles to cause havoc.

Grand Challenges

In this special series, Future Now takes a close look at the biggest, most important issues we face in the 21st Century.

For two months, we'll bring you insight from leading scientists, technologists, entrepreneurs and influencers to help you make sense of the challenges we face in today's rapidly evolving world.

No, the Quantum organisation has a uniquely dastardly plan: seizing control of Bolivia’s water supply.

While the evil syndicate’s role in the film might not be entirely realistic, this piece of fiction does raise a scenario that is worth considering seriously: what would happen if a country’s water supply was cut off? What would be the global fallout?

Think about it: sure, we need water to survive. But it also fuels a country’s commerce, trade, innovation and economic success. This has been the case for time immemorial, from the Nile in Ancient Egypt to the Amazon in the Brazilian rainforest.

While bodies of water typically help form natural borders of countries, several nations tend to share access to rivers or lakes – the Nile runs through nearly a dozen countries alone, for example. Given how conflict-prone humankind is, it’s surprising there haven't been more dust-ups of a “hydro-political” nature.

 

Water politics

Bodies of water have always formed natural boundaries between countries, forcing people to figure out ways to share water peaceably. (Credit: Getty Images)

 

Experts agree: if there was no access to water, there would be no world peace. That’s why one of the grand challenges of the next few decades could be maintaining this ultra-sensitive stasis of water management. In the 21st Century, freshwater supplies are drying up, climate change is raising sea levels and altering borders, explosive population growth is straining world resources, and global hyper-nationalism is testing diplomatic relations. Meanwhile, water demand is expected to go up 55% between 2000 and 2050. In the coming century, in terms of its value as a global resource, it’s been described as “the next oil."

So what can we do to guarantee global access to water – and thus global peace?

World peace hinges on hydro-politics

Water’s role in shaping politics goes back centuries. “In the ancient world, large bodies of water formed natural boundaries for people and nations,” says Zenia Tata, executive director of global development and international expansion at XPrize, an organisation that’s holding a worldwide competition for innovative water management solutions. “But today’s geopolitical landscape looks very different,” and access to water remains paramount.

Experts agree: if there was no access to water, there would be no world peace

In many areas of the world, bodies of water run through several countries or brush up against many countries’ borders. That’s where something called "riparian water rights" come into play.

In the case of a river, upstream countries – where the river originates – enjoy inherent power and leverage over the downstream countries. These kinds of riparian hotspots abound. And they’re often in places that are already fraught.

In the Middle East, the Jordan River basin is the primary water source for many regions, including Jordan, Palestine, and Israel, regions of long-standing political tensions. In Syria, meanwhile, the worst drought in close to a millennium has been partly blamed for the country’s generation-defining civil war and radicalisation that led to the formation of so-called Islamic State.

Egypt and Ethiopia have sparred over development of water from the River Nile for centuries: the iconic river originates in Ethiopia but ends in Egypt, which sets up an inherently combative relationship. In 2015, Egypt and Ethiopia put enough differences aside to construct the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam on the river, which is Africa’s largest dam and is due to open in July. The countries also signed a deal that strives to ensure fair river access.

Tata points to many developed or emerging markets that have had similar challenges: “Take the example of Malaysia’s 99-year deal with Singapore, giving them paid access to fresh water from the Johor River,” Tata says. “Singapore is arguably one of the most progressive nations on our planet, but without sufficient fresh water resources within its boundaries, all industry, trade, commerce and culture would all stand still."

The answer might lie in how countries with more food and water export those supplies to other countries

According to the Pacific Institute, a California-based water resource information nonprofit, there have been dozens of water-related conflicts worldwide from 2000BC to present day.

So how do we make sure everyone gets enough water – and thus keep relative world peace in the 21st Century? The real answer won’t lie in countries controlling others’ water supply in what’s been dubbed so-called "water wars" – rather, the answer might lie in how countries with more food and water export those supplies to other countries.

 

Water politics

Droughts and climate change will make water-fuelled diplomacy a crucial exercise in the 21st Century. (Credit: Getty Images)

 

Divvying up water supplies

While there have been many “water-related” conflicts over the millennia, there have actually been very few in terms of sending water over national boundaries.

There are three main issues when it comes to water in the 21st Century, says Aaron Wolf. He’s a professor of geography at Oregon State University who specialises in water resource management and environmental policy.

The first issue is the most obvious: water scarcity. A lack of safe, reliable water kills as many people worldwide as malaria and HIV/Aids, he says.

The second issue is the political implications of that scarcity. For example, in Syria, that history-making drought drove more people to cities, saw rising food prices, and exacerbated tensions in the country that already existed. They ended up with “climate refugees”, who travel to other countries to seek places that have better water availability, which may in turn stoke the flames of political tension.

The third main issue – and perhaps the most underreported, experts say – is that trans-boundary flow of water. In other words: water moving between countries. And that’s where those riparian rights come into play.

But here’s the twist – that third part of the puzzle, the hydro-politics, is actually the part to be most optimistic about, says Wolf, since there have been so few violent skirmishes over transboundary water flows.

 

Water politics

Countries with a water surplus export "virtual water" around the world – water embedded in products like wheat and meat. (Credit: Getty Images)

 

The grand challenge: building hydro-diplomacy

Despite alarmist headlines about “water wars”, the 21st Century is still offering up no shortage of new and unique threats that complicate hydro-diplomacy more than ever before.

Population explosions, especially in Asia and Africa, strain resources. Increasing global temperatures have led to some bodies of water drying up. And rising nationalism worldwide may stymie diplomatic efforts across the board.

While water presents obvious potential conflict, it could also accelerate global cooperation

So that’s why at Oregon State University, Wolf helps organise the Program in Water Conflict Management – where they try to identify where hydro-diplomatic tensions are going to rise in the next three to five years. For example, Afghanistan is an upstream country to many nations in the region, and is trying to use that advantage to develop its economy. For a country that’s been subjected to decade upon decade of war and upheaval, the political power of water sources like the Kabul River could be a boon.

That’s why there’s growing academic desire for an increased awareness of not just hydro-politics, but hydro-diplomacy – that while water presents obvious potential conflict, it could also accelerate global cooperation.

“We’re building the next generation of hydro-diplomats,” says Wolf.

A solution? Pay farmers more

But amid all these changes in the aqua political landscape, experts urge us to remember that not all water exists in rivers and lakes and even oceans.

There’s water in the soil – the soil that farmers use to grow vegetables, crops and feed for livestock. And the water from that soil is transferred into these products – whether it is wheat or beef – ­before they get shipped from water-surplus nations to deficient ones. This is known as “virtual water”,­ a phrase coined by John Anthony Allan at King’s College London, whose specialities include water issues, policy and agriculture. "Virtual water" is going to play a huge role in the 21st Century.

 

Water politics

Governments stay in power by subsidising farmers' livelihoods, and water-deficient countries gladly import the under-priced food. (Credit: Getty Images)

 

If you include virtual water in the picture, farmers are managing much of the water in the supply chain. And in countries that are water deficient, that imported embedded water is integral. In Europe alone, 40% of this "virtual water" comes from outside the continent.

Here’s the problem: farmers are underpaid for the critical role in that transaction. And by the time the food reaches the destination country, its politicians use subsidies to keep food prices low. The reason? Politicians want to maintain peace among their people – they want their citizens to live under the assumption that they’ll be able go to the store and expect food on the shelves.

160 countries depend on imported food – and the water needed to make it

“Governments go to great lengths to make sure there is enough affordable food on the market,” Allan says. “There are forces in places that will bring the prices down – there’s pressure to keep food cheap."

For water-surplus countries like the United States or Canada, they sell these products to more water-deficient countries at a low price. Over 60% of the around 220 countries in the world are major food importers. In other words, 160 countries depend on imported food – and the water needed to make it.

“The world is at peace because we have virtual water trade,” says Allan. “It’s solved silently. Revealing virtual water trade as a solution is something that politicians don’t want to do because they want to appear as they’re managing their country well.”

But in reality, the water that goes into the country's food is being brought in from elsewhere. That’s why hydro-diplomacy is one of the great unsung heroes in maintaining global stability that you never hear about.

It’s also why water’s next big challenge isn’t just making sure it’s judiciously and peaceably managed between nations to accommodate the world’s ever-burgeoning population. It’s about helping farmers who live in nations that have lots of water do their jobs successfully, and manage that water and how it’s distributed to drier places.

Of course countries need low-priced food, especially in places with lower income citizens. But the public needs to know that imports, exports, and hydro-diplomacy are what really keep countries with imbalanced water sources in balance. In our globalised, 21st Century world, it's not just about where countries fall along the flow of a river. It's about working together to share Earth's most vital resource.

So while a James Bond-scale water hostage situation isn’t exactly realistic – there’s nothing unrealistic about needing to maintain worldwide access to water. Even as we use it to slake our thirst and grow our crops, the political power of water shouldn’t be forgotten. It's been around for millennia, and it's not going anywhere.

 —

Bryan Lufkin is the editor of Future Now. Follow him on Twitter @bryan_lufkin.

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Mike Prettyman
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http://childrenofthelandfill.earth