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.

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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."

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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

Linux worm turns Raspberry Pis into cryptocurrency mining bots

Linux.MulDrop.14 is a Linux worm that seeks out networked Raspberry Pi systems with default root passwords; after taking them over and ZMap and sshpass, it begins mining an unspecified cryptocurrency, creating riches for the malware's author and handing you the power-bill. Read the rest

Beaker: a decentralized, peer-to-peer web browser that lets you create and fork websites

Beaker is a project from Dat, a "grant-funded, open-source, decentralized data sharing tool." It's a browser that lets you easily create websites using Markdown, or fork any existing website to make it suit your needs, and then share those sites peer-to-peer, without the need for servers in the middle. Read the rest

Blockchain meets virtual reality

Institute for the Future (where David and I are research directors) has a Blockchain Futures Lab blog. Today, Kathi Vian of IFTF presents a scenario involving a "bottom-up distributed toolset for aggregating large groups of people with similar interests, needs, and values into civic affinity groups."

This virtual city council is not simply passive profiling, however. You can interact with others to explore the issues with people who are a lot like you, a little like you, or very different from you. These interactions create the opportunities to develop more nuanced affinities with large numbers of people.

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Amazon is just Walmart on digital drugs: Douglas Rushkoff on a sustainable economy

I'm a research director at Institute for the Future, and I interviewed author Douglas Rushkoff about his latest book, Throwing Rocks at the Google Bus: How Growth Became the Enemy of Prosperity. It's a terrific look at the way the current system of wealth creation is rigged against everyone but the financial gatekeepers at the top of the food chain. More importantly, he offers some great suggestions for ways to make the system more fair for everybody.

As you approach whatever it is you’re doing, you have to think “do I want to be like a traditional corporation, a shareholder owned corporation, where the object of the game is to earn and extract enough money from this business, so my grandchildren can inherit enough cash to live their lives? Or do I want to create a business that’s healthy and sustainable enough that it can generate revenue and opportunities for my grandchildren who hopefully will want to join that business?” The latter is the sort of approach that creates a business that wants to befriend communities. It’s your name on the thing. You don’t want people to hate you the way they hate Uber because that’s you, that’s your kids, that’s your family name, that’s your legacy. You have such a different relationship to it that you start to think of your neighborhood as a legacy and the planet as a legacy and your grandchildren as a legacy and your workers as a legacy. That is who you are. It’s so much more integral than this fractious and abstracted business landscape that we’re seeing die today.

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Understand the blockchain in two minutes

You’ve heard of bitcoin. It’s a form of digital cash you can send to anyone, even a complete stranger. You may not have heard about bitcoin's digital ledger, called the blockchain, tracks and validates bitcoin transactions. Blockchain technology has enormous potential beyond bitcoin to automate every type of online transaction that requires a degree of trust. In this short video, produced by Institute for the Future (where I am a research director), Olivia Olson (the voice of Marceline the Vampire Queen in Adventure Time) explains how blockchain technology can be used to launch companies that are entirely run by algorithms, make self-driving cars safer, help people manage and protect their online identities, and track the billions of devices on the Internet of Things. Read the rest

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