Monthly Archive: October 2017

Launching a Cryptocurrency “Token Generation Event” (aka an ICO)

Ethereal ICO panel

On October 27, 2017, disruptors in the cryptocurrency field gathered at the San Francisco Ethereal SummitSponsored by ConsenSys, the summit provided a diverse mix of panels and workshops that demystified the “initial coin offering” (ICO) or “token generation event.”


Side note: Vernacular is key. Referring to a token launch as an ICO is so “September.” The process is now referred to as a “token generation event.”


At the “How to Launch a Token” panel, token generation event veterans Galia Benartzi (co-founder of Bancor Protocol), Matt Liston (CSO at Gnosis) and Piotr Janiuk (co-founder and CTO of the Golem Project) guided Ethereal participants through a hypothetical: founding a hat company and funding the development through a token. Here are some of the key points that they discussed.

Step 1: Determine if the token model fits for the new company

Imagine the whole process backward: What layer does the company involve — application, platform or protocol? Design the decentralized concept first and then discern if a token is necessary.

Criteria:

  • Is the project based on a decentralized model? If not, equity funding is a viable option –– no need for a token.

  • What is the token’s utility within the network? How are customers involved in the network? For example, is the token facilitating and incentivizing collaboration between the community in the network? If so, tokens (similar to shares and equity in a normal company) are a great way to distribute participation among stakeholders.

Tokens work best when fueling network effects around ideas –– when there are benefits to being an early adapter/stakeholder.

Step 2: Find a strong legal team and a favorable regulatory environment

Regulation in the cryptocurrency space is in its infancy and varies greatly around the world.

Criteria:

  • Find a competent lawyer with an understanding of the space that can give risk parameters. It is important to minimize risk for the project.

  • Select a government that defines clear boundaries and has a forward-thinking mentality.

Although blockchains and cryptocurrency promise decentralized disruption to all industries, anarchy would be unfavorable to all. All companies must comply with the law.

Step 3:  Work on the prototype phase

Establish a white paper, set up the concept on the testnet and prove the concept.

Criteria:

  • White paper: describe your network, protocol and model. White papers should strike the proper balance between being math-heavy and marketing-heavy. The goal is for users and stakeholders to understand exactly what the network is doing.

  • Prove that your concept works and expose its source code. Everything should be 100 percent transparent to the public.

  • Trustless (trust forced through code) and transparent networks are critical to long-term success. Secure and validate data by rewarding “oracles,” people who provide trustworthy answers and validate that events did in fact occur. On the flip side, penalize those who lie to the network.

Trust and transparency are paramount for any company that is considering funding its development with a token.

Step 4: Connect with the community

Generating interest for the token and setting the foundation for strong community support before finally launching a token generation event to the public is crucial.

Criteria:

  • Develop a public-relation strategy. Share as much as possible. Post videos, host AMAs, etc. This process can be grueling, but it is necessary to establish a global presence and field questions.

  • Prepare for a fast-paced environment. Communication builds authenticity and credibility with supporters around the world.

  • Listen to outside perspectives and criticisms.

Because token generation events allow for decentralized methods of funding, the company’s diligence process should be decentralized to match.

Tokens generation events are complicated and don’t work for every business type. However, they unlock a new economic driver: permissionless venture capital.

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Op Ed: Slovenia Primed to Become a Blockchain Haven

Op Ed: Slovenia Primed to Become a Blockchain Haven

The prime minister of Slovenia’s speech in support of blockchain technology this week has solidified the country’s position as the leading blockchain destination in the European Union and a key player in the regulatory field.

“After the difficult ordeal of the economic crisis … we are coming back to life, we are growing again, and we are finding that we are creating numerous success stories, which inspire us but also obligate us,” said Prime Minister Miro Cerar. “We have emerged from the crisis stronger. I believe that using blockchain technology, you too will contribute to the writing of a new Slovenian success story.”

The first clear signal that the government was prepared to make some serious moves was during July’s Blockchain Meetup Slovenia 2017, which hosted more than 300 blockchain enthusiasts. Since then, Slovenia has made significant strides in its efforts to become the EU’s key blockchain-friendly destination.

Prime Minister Miro Cerar’s recognition of Slovenia’s blockchain community as involving some of the globally leading developers and entrepreneurs shows the willingness of politicians and regulators at the highest level to understand these opportunities and act quickly. Indeed, five months mean little in the typical context of government and regulation.

Step by step, the distributed economy is becoming a true alternative to centralized systems. The new and ever-arising services are boundless, and go far beyond Bitcoin and into the fields of banking, insurance, new models of creating and sharing content, and more. This globally connected ecosystem already has a market valuation in excess of 140 billion ($163 billion USD).

At the core of a decentralized future is the persistent issue of blockchain regulation. Historically, the law has struggled to keep up with revolutionary technology. As Slovenia’s president, Borut Pahor, also emphasized this week, the age-old question for regulators remains: How can we protect citizens without stifling technological innovation? This is a particularly important question for the country from which the most significant EU blockchain companies originate, including ICONOMI, Cofound.it and Bitstamp, and the country with the highest market capitalization per capita of blockchain projects. We believe that self-regulation, education and raising awareness are important steps toward a safe and innovative business environment.

To address regulatory challenges, Cofound.it, together with blockchain legal specialist Nejc Novak, founder of law firm Novak Rutar, has spent the past five months working intensively with a diverse range of stakeholders, including the Cabinet of the Prime Minister, the Securities Agency, the Financial Administration, the Office for Money Laundering Prevention, the Central Bank, the Ministry of Public Administration and the Ministry of Finance, to clarify a number of key legal uncertainties. As a result, Cofound.it, in partnership with Rutar, is now able to provide robust legal advice to blockchain projects so that entrepreneurs can focus on their products and their user communities, rather than on accounting, compliance and other operational issues.

Slovenian entrepreneurs were early movers in the blockchain industry, and Slovenian blockchain specialists are well-placed to facilitate a workable legal framework for national, European and even global blockchain regulation. Today, Ljubljana is a vibrant market of developers, advisers, investors and savvy businesspeople with some of the most in-depth knowledge and understanding of blockchain technology in the world.

The Slovenian blockchain community is already making leaps and bounds toward a regulatory framework. DataFund, a personal data management solution, will launch later this year in partnership with Cofound.it. This local project is a first example of blockchain utilization and in compliance with the EU General Data Protection Regulation.

The prime minister’s acknowledgment of Slovenia’s advancements in blockchain technology is a welcome move toward wider policy discussions within a rapidly expanding industry. By making some wise and future-focused strategic decisions, Slovenia is already well on its way to becoming one of the most desirable destinations for global blockchain startups.

This is a guest post by Zenel Batagelj, Co-Founder and Head of Team Strategy at Cofound.it. The views expressed are his own and do not necessarily reflect those of BTC Media or Bitcoin Magazine.

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Creating a Blockchain-Based Network of Interoperable Artificial Intelligences

Creating a Blockchain-Based Network of Interoperable Artificial Intelligences

Artificial Intelligence (AI) startup SingularityNET, recently covered by Wired as “the most tech-hype idea of the year,” wants to democratize AI research and facilitate the emergence of human-level AI on a decentralized, open-source platform.

SingularityNET operates on a belief that the benefits of AI should not be dominated by any small set of powerful institutions but should be shared by all. A key goal of SingularityNET is to ensure the technology is benevolent according to human standards, and the network is being designed to incentivize and reward beneficial players. The startup is developing interoperability standards for AIs, which could radically improve the process of discovering and coordinating AI services, while allowing developers to easily monetize AI technology.

SingularityNET positions itself both as a critical mediator across all future AI developments, as well as a hub for free and open AI technologies owned by the crowd, where anyone can acquire or monetize AI services.

Blockchain-based smart contracts will be central to SingularityNET operations, allowing users to combine multiple AI technologies to create custom AI stacks. The initial implementation of SingularityNET will be built on Ethereum, with smart contracts written in Solidity.

“AI is currently very fragmented and narrowly trained,” Simone Giacomelli, founder of Vulpem and co-founder of SingularityNET, told Bitcoin Magazine. “Blockchain technology and smart contracts make economic collaboration over the internet easier than ever before, aligning incentives mechanisms for different AIs to be optimized as one. SingularityNET leverages this collaborative power to make AI work together.”

SingularityNET is the brainchild of AI researcher Ben Goertzel and robotics designer David Hanson, founder of Hanson Robotics. The robot Sophia, developed by Hanson Robotics, attracted media attention when it was recently granted citizenship in Saudi Arabia.

While the SingularityNET project is still partly in stealth mode, it has been presented at recent blockchain events, including Wired’s Nextfest in Italy, SWITCH Singapore and the World Blockchain Forum in London.

At the recent Ethereal Summit in San Francisco, Goertzel showcased Sophia to demonstrate the power of AI and the potential of incorporating AI and blockchain technology to create a decentralized, open-source, blockchain-powered AI network that operates like, and can be thought of as, a thinking brain.

While on the SingularityNET roadshow, Goertzel is taking time from his busy schedule to write a series of posts on SingularityNET.

“SingularityNET is intended as a platform in which an AGI [Artificial General Intelligence] can emerge from the combination of multiple humans and multiple human-created software programs, possessing varying degrees of general intelligence on their own,” Goertzel told Bitcoin Magazine. “It doesn’t eliminate the need for fundamental algorithmic work on AGI reasoning and learning and memory, but it provides a context in which such algorithmic work can have a rapid, transformative impact.”

Goertzel makes a distinction between narrow AI and Artificial General Intelligence (AGI). While narrow AI programs are finding applications in a growing range of industries, they are not effectively integrated into overall AGI systems with general-purpose intelligence like that of humans. Therefore, Goertzel is persuaded that the next big step in the evolution of AI is going to be the transition from AI to AGI. SingularityNET wants to support this transition with an open market in which various AI algorithms can cooperate and form new patterns of emergent intelligence.

“The actual design that has been formulated is a quite practical system that is being implemented in quality software code and will serve real corporate customers and become a large and lucrative business,” continued Goertzel. “But at the deepest level, the underlying philosophical and emotional motivations David Hanson and I had for creating SingularityNET, are transhumanist ones.”

Goertzel and Hanson are, in fact, among the leading advocates of transhumanism, defined as the prospect of using advanced technology to radically change, hopefully for the better, the human condition. Enabling transhumanist technologies would include life extension, uploading human minds to futuristic supercomputers, and sentient AGI way smarter than humans, which is the target of SingularityNET.

In his 2010 book A Cosmist Manifesto, which blends transhumanist technology and enlightened spirituality, Goertzel proposed a practical philosophy able to inform the next phases of human history and transhumanist evolution.

Ultimately, Goertzel wants to create “a massively transhuman, overwhelmingly beneficial Ubermind” that evolves and grows continuously out of human mind and culture.

“One way to achieve this would be to via brain-computer interfacing — and this is going to happen,” Goertzel told Bitcoin Magazine. “Of course the computer portion of cyborgs made with brain-computer interfaces will jack into this emerging AGI society, economy and culture as well, and then we will get a supermind.”

“This emerging supermind, as it grows, will provide ways for people to earn a living and sometimes even generate tremendous wealth, as part of its growth process,” concluded Goertzel. “And it will donate parts of its resources to the common good of all humans, including underprivileged ones, as a way of helping drive its growth forward toward its objectives of joy, growth and choice.”

Goertzel shared with Bitcoin Magazine parts of the draft SingularityNET white paper, a living document still under tight wraps.

“A blockchain-based framework designed to serve the needs of AI agents as they interact with each other and with external customers can enable the emergence of a collective intelligence,” notes the draft white paper. “The use of cryptocurrency and blockchain for AI services provides a number of advantages. It allows AI agents to exchange work and subcontract with a high degree of flexibility, and also enables AI-based microservices to be offered to any customer via easily accessible APIs (enabled by smart contracts under the hood).”

Goertzel, Hanson and the SingularityNET team want to balance long-term visionary thinking with practical market needs and business concerns. In their view, the platform could enable AIs to learn from each other and collaborate, which would be one of the biggest breakthroughs ever in the evolution of AI, causing a subsequent impact on the global AI market, which is projected to grow from $233.8 billion in 2017 to $3.1 trillion in 2025.

“From day one, SingularityNET will offer AI agents,” continues the white paper. “The open design of the network, and the economic incentives, should then encourage additional AI developers to add their own AI nodes via the SingularityNET API.”

While many nodes will run on powerful supercomputers in the cloud, others will be embedded in Internet of Things (IoT) devices, and humanoid robots like Sophia will be supplied with on-board SingularityNET nodes. The upcoming SingularityNET token, details of which haven’t been disclosed yet, will play a central role in the network’s operations.

The project is about to launch an Initial Coin Offering (ICO) to fund the full development of its platform, to be fully deployed in 2018. “This ICO will allow us to start with a bang,” said Goertzel. “We’ll be competing with Google and Facebook…so having a war chest would allow us to take on them more easily.”

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Ethereum Hitting $1,000 May Take Several Years

At the beginning of July, Luis Cuende, co-founder of Aragon, said that while Ethereum’s value will remain around $260 in […]

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Qchain Charts New Native Advertising Roadmap

Todays native advertising world, where a publication’s editorial content is paid for by an advertiser to promote their product or service is fraught with challenges threatening the ad industry. Due in part to the growing dominance of digital media g…

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Robomed Network Unleashes Linkages Between Healthcare Patients and Providers

nnnnnnnnnThe global healthcarenmarket is vast and complex, with equity funding to digital health companiesnhaving reached $5.8 billion so far this year. Within this space, myriad modelsnof healthcare delivery are being employed as breakthrough techn…

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These International Bitcoin Communities Are Rejecting SegWit2x

The hard fork part of the New York Agreement is scheduled to take place within about two weeks. This incompatible protocol rule change is set to increase Bitcoins block weight limit, to allow for more transactions on the network if everyone adopts …

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