Governing a decentralized internet without votes

When we think of democracy, we generally think of voting: the people are polled, the people decide. But voting is zero-sum: it has winners and losers. There are other models of governance that can make claim to democratic legitimacy that produce wins for everyone. Read the rest

Attacks that unmask anonymous blockchain transactions can be used against everyone who ever relied on the defective technique

In An Empirical Analysis of Traceability in the Monero Blockchain, a group of eminent computer scientists analyze a longstanding privacy defect in the Monero cryptocurrency, and reveal a new, subtle flaw, both of which can be used to potentially reveal the details of transactions and identify their parties. Read the rest

Seasteading meets the shock doctrine in Puerto Rico, where ethnic cleansing precedes Going Galt

Naomi Klein's l(ooooo)ongread in The Intercept about the state of play in Puerto Rico is the comprehensive summary of the post-Maria fuckery and hope that has gripped America's colonial laboratory, the place where taxation without representation, austerity, chemical weapons, new drugs, and new agribusiness techniques get trialed before the rest of America are subjected to them. Read the rest

People are stashing irrevocable child porn links, dox, copyright infringement, and leaked state secrets in the blockchain

By design, data placed in the blockchain is visible to everyone in the world and can never be removed; everyone who mines bitcoin makes a copy of the blockchain, and so any illegal content stashed in the blockchain ends up on the computers of every miner. Read the rest

Browser plugin replaces the word "blockchain" with "multiple copies of a giant Excel spreadsheet"

Cynthia Lee, inspired by a tongue-in-cheek request by Christopher Mims, created a Chrome browser extension that replaces the word "blockchain" with the phrase "mulitple copies of a giant Excel spreadsheet."

WHAT: This is a Chrome browser extension that can help readers contextualize news stories with hype about blockchain technology, by reminding you that blockchain is, in essense, a giant Excel spreadsheet.

WHY: For fun.

The results:

Read the rest

Atari joins blockchain mania

Atari is launching its own cryptocurrency, because of course it is.

The company’s Paris-listed stock rose as much as 111% between February 4 and February 15. The company says it is investing in a “crypto platform” that will use its own digital currency, the “Atari Token.” It can be used to – you guessed it – play video games.

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Your early darknet drug buys are preserved forever in the blockchain, waiting to be connected to your real identity

Blockchain transactions are recorded forever and indelibly, and that means that all the Bitcoin transactions on early Tor hidden service marketplaces like Silk Road are on permanent, public display; because many people who made these transactions later went on to link those Bitcoin wallets with their real identities, those early deals are now permanently associated with their public, identifiable selves. Read the rest

App to record sexual consent in the blockchain will be used to discredit sexual assault survivors

LegalFling is a Dutch app that's supposed to protect partners in sexual liaisons from miscommunication by recording both parties' consent to sexual activity in an indelible, public blockchain entry. Read the rest

Bitcoin's high valuation has ruined it as a medium of exchange

Technological limitations in the design of the Bitcoin system means that the network only processes about seven transactions per second, unless you pay someone with a lot of compute-power to log your transaction, currently at the rate of about $20/transaction. Read the rest

SEC to scrutinize public companies getting overnight bitcoin makeovers to cash in on cryptocurrency hype

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission today pledged to aggressively scrutinize publicly-traded companies that suddenly change their name or their business model to try to profit from the nutty hype surrounding cryptocurrency. SEC Chairman Jay Clayton threw this wet towel on the blockchain bubble Monday. Read the rest

Iced tea company stock soars after renaming itself "Long Blockchain"

The Long Island Iced Tea Corporation, aptly-named, is now the "Long Blockchain Corporation". The stock market was so pleased by the change of name that its stock price tripled. The company will continue to make iced tea beverages, but it's sure it'll figure out something with blockchains, the technical process used by Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies as a public ledger to ensure the trustworthiness of private transactions.

The new blockchain efforts are only in their "preliminary stages," the press release says, and will likely involve investing or forming partnerships with other companies. One potential partner is providing "blockchain infrastructure for the financial services industry." Another is building a "new smart contract platform for building decentralized applications."

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The crooked Secret Service agent who stole Silk Road bitcoins did it again after pleading guilty

Shaun Bridges is the disgraced ex-Secret Service Agent who pleaded guilty to stealing bitcoin from online drug dealers while he was investigating the Silk Road; he's serving a 71-month sentence and has just had two years added to it after he pleaded guilty to stealing more bitcoin after his guilty plea, while he was out on bail Read the rest

Bitmarks: using blockchain and human-readable keys to protect indie hardware businesses from fraud

Legendary hardware hacker Andrew "bunnie" Huang (previously) has an open-source hardware company called Chibitronics; anyone can make their own version of a Chibitronics product, because Bunnie is convinced that his versions will be better and cheaper than theirs. Read the rest

Wu-Tang Clan's Ghostface Killah launching cryptocurrency

Dennis Coles, aka Ghostface Killah of the Wu-Tang Clan, has co-founded a cryptocurrency company called Cream Capital. The name comes from the Wu-Tang Clan's 1993 jam C.R.E.A.M. ("Cash Rules Everything Around Me.") Apparently, the company now holds the trademark on the phrase "Crypto Rules Everything Around Me." Cream Capital is planning an initial coin offering on November 11 to raise $30 million. Apparently those tokens can be traded for Ether on the Etherium blockchain.

"Ghostface Killah is a longtime business partner of ours," Cream Capital co-founder/CEO Brett Wesbrook told Pigeons & Planes. "I personally connected with him during a Reddit AMA on /r/hiphopheads last year when he was seeking tech-inclined people to work with in future technology focused projects. Dennis is a very forward thinking person and has a keen interest in emerging technologies. It's hard to ignore blockchain tech today even when you're a busy, touring hip hop artist.

"He doesn't have any technical background with cryptocurrencies. However, remember that Wu-Tang is for the children. He is very focused on what the youth and millennials are interested in. He is a very solid businessman and has surrounded himself with bright individuals with a hunger for bring new, groundbreaking technologies to market...

"His work capacity will be laying out a framework for which cryptocurrencies are more familiar to everyday people." Read the rest

Burger King launches cryptocurrency in Russia

Burger King launched its own cryptocurrency, WhopperCoin, in Russian markets. Managed by blockchain startup Waves, WhopperCoin is essentially a blockchain-based loyalty rewards program. A customer receives one WhopperCoin for each ruble they spend on whoppers. A free Whopper can be had for 1,700 WhopperCoins. From the BBC News:

Ivan Shestov, head of external communications at Burger King Russia, said the scheme turned the Whopper into an "investment vehicle"...

"I don't imagine McDonald's will be quick to allow someone to pay for a Big Mac with their whoppercoins," (said Dr Garrick Hileman, research fellow at the Cambridge Centre for Alternative Finance). "Burger King's competitors are more likely to accept an independent crypto-currency like bitcoin."

Read the rest

A new, dubious "smart" cryptocurrency for prostitution

"Lust" is an initial coin offering based on the Ethereum blockchain platform, designed for prostitutes and their customers to exchange money for sexual services. Read the rest

An important, lyrical, critical book about the future of "Smart Cities"

Adam Greenfield's new book Radical Technologies: The Design of Everyday Life (previously) has scored an outstanding review from The Guardian's Steven Poole, who calls it "a landmark primer and spur to more informed and effective opposition" to "the pitiless libertarianism towards which all [Smart Cities] developments seem to lean." Read the rest

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