The Logicoins Resort Project
On July 6, 2015, Bitcoin Magazine reported that the Factom Foundation had launched Release Candidate 1 (RC1), a crucial step for launching the Factom network. Over the ensuing 5 weeks, community developers and programmers have been testing and debugging the network in order to reach all the goals set out in Factom’s Milestone 1.
Today in a blog post, Factom has announced the launch of the Release Candidate 2 (RC2) version of the Factom Beta. Again, it is asking for developer input as it works toward its next milestone: Factom Genesis.
According to Factom’s post, RC2 includes the following:
Once Milestone 1 is achieved, funding from the software sale will be released. At this point, holders of Factoids will be able to utilize their tokens on the network and to exchange them on Cryptsy and ShapeShift.
To celebrate the network’s progress, Factom will be hosting a launch party in Austin, Texas on Tuesday, September 1, featuring speeches from Peter Kirby and Paul Snow which will be broadcast to the community, along with a Q&A on Zapchain.
Earlier this year, Tatiana Moroz caught up with Tiana Laurence, chief marketing officer at Factom, to learn more about the project.
The post Factom Launches Release Candidate 2 in Preparation for Beta appeared first on Bitcoin Magazine.
Distribution of Augur accounts worldwide – courtesy of Augur
Spreading the Word
In a conversation with Bitcoin Magazine, Sakich discussed some of the factors that have contributed to Augur’s initial appeal.
He emphasized the company’s commitment to making Augur approachable and easy to understand. They developed an entertaining animated explanatory video (featuring the voice-over talents of country star Shooter Jennings) and a user-friendly platform.
“Our platform will be designed so the user will be able to create a market and place wagers on it without even knowing about what’s going on “in the background” of the app,” said Sakich. “More than a few participants in the REP crowdsale have been impressed by how simple it has been to generate an Ether address via our sale site and purchase Reputation Tokens with bitcoin.”
Augur has also invested a lot of time and energy over the past few months spreading the word both within and outside of the Bitcoin community — with a good measure of success. Gardner admits he’s probably been to “about two dozen” events and conferences, promoting the platform in the months leading up to the crowdsale.
Augur also was a finalist in the CNBC & Singularity University’s Exponential Finance XCS Challenge — the only blockchain-related technology to make it that far. According to Sakich, the applications committee was so impressed by the technology that “they decided to put us in the ‘Breakthrough Technology’ category rather than ‘Finance.’”
Sakich pointed out that the most valuable part of being invited to the Exponential Finance conference was the opportunity to meet with “an amazingly influential and important list of attendees. …The interest we had was fantastic and it exposed us to many important people, which undoubtedly [has] helped the crowdsale performance.”
If early results of Augur’s reputation sale are any indication, the team seems to be well on that road to success
The post Token Sale Exceeds $1.7M, but Augur’s ‘Reputation’ Isn’t All About the Money appeared first on Bitcoin Magazine.
One of the strengths of Ethereum is its decentralized nature, giving it a wider, more stable base. There are Ethereum project teams in different parts of the world, including Amsterdam, Berlin, Switzerland and Brazil. (For example, Geth was deployed by the Amsterdam team while Eth was produced by the Berlin team.)
If there is a center to Ethereum, it would be in the beautiful town of Zug, Switzerland, home of the Ethereum Foundation that overseas the project’s finances, manages the funds raised in the Ether sale and determines the long-term vision and direction of Ethereum.
Stephan Tual, chief communications officer for the Ethereum project, told Bitcoin Magazine that the new executive director and board members represent a fresh start, a way to reboot the organization.
“[W]e had a very clear goal to recruit from verticals that were varied, ranging from the world of manufacturing, IoT, education, politics, health, finance and more,” he said. “Basically, anywhere where Ethereum could be embedded and make a difference.”
The new foundation executive director is Ming Chan, a Swiss-born Chinese American MIT computer science and media arts graduate, who has extensive experience working with educators, scientists and inventors to found and grow innovative new business ventures.
The new board members are Vitalik Buterin (president of the board), Lars Klawitter, Vadim Levitin, and Wayne Hennessy-Barrett.
For day-to-day decisions an “executive” consisting of Stephan Tual, Gavin Wood and Jeffrey Wilcke is in charge, with assistance from Aeron Buchanan, Jutta Steiner, Kelley Becker and Frithjof Weinert.
How’s the Launch Going So Far?
The launch so far is going far better than expected. The main Ethereum blockchain is in play and already users can access their pre-sale wallets, mine ether at the full reward rate, and use or deploy decentralized applications on the main network.
“We’re delighted with the stability of the network so far, as results have exceeded expectations and more and more developers are generating the Genesis block and joining the network,” Tual said. “Real time statistics on the network health can be viewed at https://stats.ethdev.com ”
“So far the Frontier launch has been exceptionally smooth, due in large part to our intense Olympic test phase, as well as our robust user-guides and the tutorials written by dedicated members of our community,” Ethan Wilding, resident Ethereum philosopher and co-founder of Ledger Labs told Bitcoin Magazine. “This is, however, a development release, and so a willingness to use the command line is required.”
“Most of the questions we’ve had since this launch are from general users eager to learn how to mine ether and get wallet access on the Ethereum platform using command line; we’re always happy to help,” he said. “As our platform is tested further and made even more robust, we will continue to improve upon the user-experience by introducing our graphical user-interfaces for such operations in a future release.”
Bitcoin Magazine will continue to follow this story and keep you informed on new developments.
The post New Ethereum Foundation Executive Director and Board Members Signal a Reboot for Ethereum appeared first on Bitcoin Magazine.
Ripple Labs, maintainer of the digital currency Ripple, has announced it will not continue the development of its smart contract project nearly a year after it was announced, saying the “small and nascent decentralization market” is too immature.
In a blog post, Ripple Labs CTO Stefan Thomas wrote that the company, which recently raised a $28 million funding round, has no plans to work on Codius, a platform that allows people to build distributed applications, and will instead build its own decentralized apps “manually.” He cited a lack of demand as the biggest reason why the project was closed.
“Codius is just a way to make decentralization easier,” Thomas wrote, “it’s an optimization, you don’t need it,” but “If there is demand and corresponding supply there is an obvious incentive for somebody to capitalize on this opportunity.”
Codius’ source code can be found on its Github and is free for anyone to tinker or build with.
Announced in July, 2014, Codius set out to build a platform that smart contract-distributed apps could be built on top of. Unlike decentralized Bitcoin apps, this platform would use hosting providers, like the ones that run many websites, to host the decentralized applications — not a decentralized network. The Codius project was devised to make the process of setting up your smart contract app in a hosting provider automated and streamlined.
While relying on centralized entities that require trust may not bode well with many bitcoin advocates – unlike Bitcoin’s proof-of-work system – Codius is much cheaper both in terms of computing power and electricity. (Both systems have advantages and disadvantages).
When Ripple announced the project, it said an industry like the one that was created around digital currencies would emerge around smart contracts. That vision hasn’t materialized yet, although there has been recent interest in the space with two smart contract startups having just raised multiple-million dollar funding rounds.
It did get inquiries from a “significant” number of developers and companies, but ultimately, Ripple Labs saw the low demand as not enough to justify continuing the project.
Although Codius 1.0 was released earlier this year, much remains in the way of the advancement of the smart contract platform. In order to make the process further automated and secure, hosting providers will need to verify the programs being run by these smart contracts by certifying cryptographically what code they are running.
Other challenges remain in the highly fragmented world of online standards. Codius relies on being able to automatically pay hosting providers, but without a clear Web payment standard (like Bitcoin), that is a continued challenge. Ripple Labs did say it was looking forward to completion of the work by the World Wide Web Consortium on this front. The other challenge cited by the company was differences in hosting providers’ APIs, causing problems for Codius.
Ripple Labs seems optimistic that a lot of the problems will be solved as the industry matures. The company said it will continue working on its own distributed applications (possibly for all those banks it has been partnering with recently) and advised others doing the same, or interested in doing so, to join the Codius mailing list.
The post Ripple Discontinues Smart Contract Platform Codius, Citing Small Market appeared first on Bitcoin Magazine.
In one of the more exciting developments in the Bitcoin space so far this year, noted Bitcoin angel investor and entrepreneur Roger Ver has given his blessing to a Bitcoin 2.0 application, and it’s one that some may have overlooked in the past. Truthcoin, a Bitcoin sidechain designed by Yale Department of Economics Researcher Paul Sztorc, is described as a “peer-to-peer oracle system and prediction marketplace.”
The platform is a decentralized method of bringing external data, such as the price of gold or the weather in a particular city, to the blockchain, which can then be used as the basis for complex smart contracts.
Roger Ver’s backing of Truthcoin
Ver is excited about what may become possible through the use of a working implementation of Truthcoin, and shared the following statement via email: “I really do think that decentralized prediction markets may be the most important invention since Bitcoin, and will certainly change the way our world works.”
The perpetual Bitcoin angel investor has been silently funding a C++ programmer who is building a working Truthcoin implementation using a fork of the original Bitcoin codebase. Some of this early code is now available on GitHub. Ver also shared some complimentary remarks in regard to Truthcoin Creator Paul Sztorc’s understanding of the technical challenges ahead.
“Compared to Paul, I don’t think there are many people on the planet” who could have created something like Truthcoin, Ver said. “Before meeting him, I already understood some of the benefits and exciting things that distributed prediction markets will bring to the world, so upon meeting Paul, he seemed like the right person to help make it a reality, so I agreed to get involved.”
No empty promises
Sztorc has made it a point to avoid any sort of Truthcoin crowdsale without an actual product to back the offering, and he has noted his discontent with other Bitcoin 2.0 crowdsales in the past. The Truthcoin creator plans to insist that a crowdsale does not take place until the software has been built, tested and operational for “at least three months” without any need for a hard fork.
It should be noted that anyone who wishes to place a bet on the Truthcoin network will be able to do so with their bitcoin-denominated sidechain tokens. Any crowdsale for this project would likely involve the sale of votecoins, which are used by individuals who wish to vote on the outcomes of real life events. Holders of votecoins who honestly report the outcome of an event are then rewarded with fees generated from the participants in a particular prediction market.
In addition to a possible crowdsale, the monetization model for this project also includes the expected growth in the bitcoin price for holders of the digital money.
When will Truthcoin be available?
In an email to Bitcoin Magazine, Sztorc noted that Truthcoin is currently a testnet “altcoin” with only two people running nodes. “In fact, it really isn’t much of anything yet,” he added.
The votecoin in this current setup are not intended to have any value and should be viewed in a manner similar to testnet bitcoin. Sztorc also wrote about how Truthcoin might earliest become a Bitcoin sidechain.
“What would (obviously) be really cool is if, at some point, someone from Blockstream would rip it open and graft in something to make this version a ‘testnet sidechain’ so that testnet coins could hop over,” he said.
The Truthcoin team doesn’t have the time to deal with sidechain compatibility right now, and Sztorc even mentioned it “might interfere with early testing.”
Sztorc also did not want to reveal any kind of release date as he “[doesn’t] endorse that type of forecasting.” In the past, Sztorc has poked fun at Ethereum’s Frontier release due to prediction markets at Fairlay.com that seem to indicate that the release won’t happen until after August 1. This is far off from the project’s original launch date.
The post Roger Ver Backing Prediction Market Sidechain: ‘May Be the Most Important Invention Since Bitcoin’ appeared first on Bitcoin Magazine.
Augur, a decentralized platform allowing individuals to create prediction markets on a vast array of topics, announced today that it was launching its alpha test.
“Traditionally, prediction markets have fallen short due to their need for volume in order to be valuable forecasting tools,” explained Jeremy Gardner, the Director of Operations at Augur. “Having a global, unstoppable, blockchain-based prediction markets platform means anyone in the world with internet can connect to Augur.”
However, Augur is not, itself, a prediction market. Rather, it is open-source code for a prediction markets platform. In essence, the team doesn’t actually operate the software nor does the team own it.
One of the concerns for prediction markets is that they will come under assault from the Commodities Future Trading Commission, which is very strict about new markets being launched. Other prediction markets, such as Intrade, have been forced to ban United States users from the site. Gardner doesn’t believe this will be an issue.
“We’re just writing open-source code for a [prediction market] platform. That is constitutionally protected activity,” he explained. “In addition to speaking to a former CFTC Commissioner, my lawyer and myself have spoken to one of the CFTC’s top prosecutors along with a couple of the great guys at Coin Center. What we’ll likely see is the CFTC going after market-makers like the RIAA went after torrent uploaders, not after Bram Cohen and BitTorrent.”
How Augur Works
The platform works by allowing anyone to download the client where they are then able to create a market. A market could be a scenario such as: “Will aliens come to Earth tomorrow?” The user would then set the deadline for the outcome as well as determine what the trading fees are for that specific market.
People would then bet on the likelihood that aliens were going to actually come to Earth tomorrow. In the event that no aliens came, the vast majority that likely bet against it happening would get their reward. However, if the majority of people bet that aliens wouldn’t come and then they actually did, the group that bet that they would come could wind up making a significant amount of money depending on how big the market was.
Users are able to make bets with cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin or ether. When the deadline for the outcome has come and gone, those that participate in the upcoming crowdsale will determine the outcome of the bet. These people who participated in the crowdsale will own a token referred to as REP. This token allows the holders to act as “judges” of the outcome.
In the above example, if aliens did, in fact, come to Earth, those with REP would say yes and the rewards would be allocated accordingly. The trading fees, which the market maker sets up, would then be split evenly between the market maker and the reputation users.
In an effort to raise funds to continue working on the platform, the team has deployed a live-action model for crowdfunding. All told, there will be 11 million REP software licenses, which are what allow for the completion of all markets. The founders will receive 16 percent and the Forecast Foundation will receive 4 percent. The other 80 percent will be sold to people that want to be reputation users.
In the live-action model, the amount of licenses a user gets is directly contingent on the amount of money donated in comparison to the total amount donated. If there are 8,800,000 total pieces (80 percent of the total 11,000,000 REP) and someone donates $10, they would have all 8,800,000 licenses. However, if someone else came along and also donated $10, now both parties have 4,400,000 licenses.
The idea here is that a user gets a percentage of the licenses directly correlated to the percentage that the user’s donation was in comparison to the total pot.
To encourage early buying of the licenses, Augur will give bonuses to people at the start. The schedule of the event and the bonuses are:
Users can participate with cryptocurrencies through Shapeshift.io or by purchasing bitcoin from exchanges/broker-dealers.
The Future of Augur
This open-source software is completely free for users. However, Gardner revealed that the plan is to create a for-profit product similar to the model that OpenBazaar recently announced.
“We will create a search website with for-profit [expectations],” Gardner said. “There’s also a huge amount of investor interest. Correspondingly, we’ll be raising a round for a for-profit sometime in the fall.”
For now, though, users are allowed to download the Alpha tool and start experimenting with creating markets.
The post Augur Launches Alpha Version of Prediction Market Platform appeared first on Bitcoin Magazine.
BitShares, a blockchain-based financial smart contract platform has announced the upgrade of BitShares 2.0. The platform is now built on a system known as “Graphene toolkit,” which is developed by an independent blockchain development company founded by the core developers of BitShares, called Cryptonomex Inc.
With the implementation of a new crypto-technology called SmartChains, the soon-to-be released BitShares 2.0 reportedly is set to have the “Speed of the NASDAQ,” with a new “high-performance protocol and engine, capable of handling over 100,000 transactions per second.”
To test its efficiency and capability of the technology, the BitShares team had set up a pilot blockchain with 200,000 accounts, and issued an asset to every account, which involved around a million operations/transactions. After the creation of the blockchain, the BitShares team timed the duration of reindexing the blockchain without signature verification.
According to the press release of BitShares, “A single core of a 2.6 Ghz i7 is able to validate 10,000 signatures per second. Today’s high-end servers with 36 cores (72 with hyper-threading) could easily validate 100,000 transactions per second.”
Criticisms and Improvements
Previously, BitShares received criticisms from the cryptocurrency community and blockchain developers that the slow and inefficient performance of the platform negatively affects user experience, and that the model object fails to engage real-world usage.
As a response to the suggestions, the core developers of BitShares have designed a high performance blockchain technology specifically for cryptocurrencies and smart contract transfers. According to its developers, the newly built platform is designed to confirm transactions in just one second, allowing the system to process more transactions per second than MasterCard and VISA combined.
During the beta operation of BitShares, users also indicated two major problems with the previous version of BitShares:
Incentives and Rewards
To better incentivize and reward its users, BitShares has also introduced a referral rewards program, built directly into the software. Recognizing that the value of the BitShares network is derived from its user base, the platform is set to reward its users that encourage others to join the network in an automated way.
BitShares 2.0 is set to enter a public testing period for community feedback upon its completion, which will continue until everyone in the community is satisfied with the platform.
BitShares core development team is also planning to outsource some of the platform’s operations to Cryptonomex Inc., to create a “more robust, sustainable, and fair” smart contracts platform.
The post BitShares 2.0 Plans to Adapt New SmartChains Cryptotechnology appeared first on Bitcoin Magazine.
The authors of the much-discussed Bitcoin Sidechains paper “Enabling Blockchain Innovations with Pegged Sidechains,” released in October, formed the company Blockstream to implement sidechains and accelerate innovation in digital currencies. In November, Blockstream closed a $21 million seed funding round with nearly 40 high-profile investors.
The Bitcoin Sidechains paper envisages an ecosystem of “sidechains” separate from the main Bitcoin blockchain but interoperable with it by means of two-way pegs, allowing for the transfer of assets between sidechains and the main blockchain. A sidechain can implement changes from Bitcoin Core, for example, more powerful scripting features or more watertight privacy. According to Blockstream, sidechains enable innovators to safely develop new applications without jeopardizing Bitcoin’s core code and putting billions of dollars worth of digital currency at risk.
For a readable explanation of sidechains, see “A simple explanation of Bitcoin ‘Sidechains,” by Richard Gendal Brown, executive architect for banking innovation at IBM UK. Despite the considerable interest in sidechains, the enthusiasm of developers has been so far dampened by the lack of actual implementations of sidechains.
“We’re excited to announce the release of Sidechain Elements,” says Adam Back, co-founder and president of Blockstream. “Sidechains extend Bitcoin functionality through interoperable blockchain networks and today’s open source release includes an experimental sidechain that has a number of new working capabilities. With the release of Sidechain Elements, Blockstream is moving this effort into the community.”
Sidechain Elements includes functioning code and a testing environment for working with sidechains with several components: the core network software to build an initial testing sidechain, eight new features not currently supported by Bitcoin, a basic wallet and the code for moving coins between blockchains.
Blockstream’s CTO and Bitcoin Core developer Gregory Maxwell explains Sidechain Elements in a video on the Blockstream website.
As open-source, protocol-level technology, developers can use Sidechain Elements to extend the functionality of Bitcoin and explore new applications of the Blockchain. “Although both are ultimately needed, sidechains are true innovation and value add in contrast to merely increasing the block size and kicking a larger can,” said early Bitcoin investor Trace Mayer.
“We’re inviting developers to work with us, to test and use the code for their projects, and to share their proposals and code for additional capabilities,” says Back. The new features not currently supported by Bitcoin Core include Confidential Transactions, Basic Asset Issuance, Relative Lock Time and several others.
One of the most powerful new features being explored in Elements is Confidential Transactions, a cryptographic tool to improve the privacy and security of Bitcoin. This feature keeps the amounts transferred visible only to participants in the transaction (and those they designate). A detailed explanation of Confidential Transactions by Maxwell is available here.
With Basic Asset Issuance, users can issue their own assets via newly created units that represent fungible ownership of an underlying asset type. These tokens can theoretically represent any asset including vouchers, coupons, currencies, deposits, bonds, shares, etc.
With Relative Lock Time, the consensus-enforced semantics of the sequence number field is modified to enable a signed transaction input to remain invalid for a defined period of time after confirmation of its corresponding output, for the purpose of supporting consensus-enforced transaction replacement features. This feature is also useful for efficient implementation of blockchain secured off-chain layers like the Lightning Network, where related transactions can take place instantly on “micropayment channels” off-chain, and only the final settlement is processed by the blockchain.
Blockstream will seek to provide Sidechain Elements as a base for the nearly 30 blockchain innovation initiatives that have been announced by major financial institutions in the past few months. Since the deployment of sidechains interoperable with Bitcoin requires the implementation of suitable tweaks to Bitcoin Core, Blockstream is working to draft a Bitcoin Improvement Proposal for a fully decentralized two-way peg and merge-mined sidechains.
Once fully implemented, sidechains will probably have a disruptive impact on the Bitcoin ecosystem. For example, it seems likely that the useful features of some altcoins, such as improved scripting, transaction times and privacy, could be replicated in a sidechain without losing interoperability with Bitcoin.
Image via Blockstream.
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Augur, a fully-decentralized, open-source prediction market platform based on blockchain technology, intended to revolutionize forecasting, decision-making and the manner in which information consensus is collected and aggregated, has been selected as one of the five finalists in the “Breakthrough” category at the XCS Challenge at Exponential Finance 2015.
The Singularity University and CNBC hosted the Exponential Finance 2015 conference (New York, 2-3 June), which examines how rapidly accelerating technologies such as artificial intelligence, quantum computing, crowdfunding, digital currencies, and robotics are rapidly disrupting businesses throughout the financial industry.
The Singularity University, based at Moffett Federal Airfield in California and sponsored by high-profile high-tech firms including Google, is an educational center dedicated to world-changing applications of disruptive, exponentially accelerating technologies.
Augur, a fully-decentralized, open-source prediction market platform based on blockchain technology and Ethereum, intended to revolutionize forecasting, decision making, and the manner in which information consensus is collected and aggregated, has been selected as one of the five finalists in the “Breakthrough” category at the XCS Challenge at Exponential Finance 2015.
“Singularity U traditionally highlights the most innovative and cutting edge technology and we feel Augur definitely deserves to be here,” said Augur’s Marketing Director, Tony Sakich, to CoinTelegraph. “Prediction Markets have the potential to create more accurate forecasts in so many fields that the applications could go on for a long time. The most exciting immediate application is for political polling as Augur would enable the largest consensus of models possible.”
“Harnessing the blockchain, Augur has created the first online platform for a global market of predictions,” states the Exponential Finance website. “Anybody can create a market for an event, and anyone can wager whether that event will occur or not.”
Prediction markets harness the “wisdom of the crowds” to create powerful and uncensorable forecasting engines. “This is the future of forecasting,” says the Exponential Finance announcement.
Prediction markets are speculative markets created for the purpose of making predictions. The current market price for a prediction – for example the election of a particular candidate – can be interpreted as an aggregate, crowdsourced estimate of the probability of the prediction. For example, if a prediction market security rewards a dollar if a particular candidate is elected, those who think the candidate had a 70 percent chance of being elected should be willing to pay up to 70 cents for the security.
Evidence suggests that such financial incentives make prediction markets more effective than other forecasting strategies. The Iowa Electronic Markets typically predicts elections within one percent, more accurate than polls or expert opinions. Since 1988 it has correctly predicted the outcome of every U.S. presidential election. The Foresight Exchange, one of the oldest active prediction markets, is a public, play-money market allowing individuals to sign up for free and predict the future.
Prediction markets had a moment of fame in 2003, when the Policy Analysis Market (PAM), a proposed futures exchange developed by the United States’ Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), was canceled after a wave of accusations of incentivizing terrorism, which resulted in the resignation of John Poindexter, head of the DARPA unit responsible for developing the project.
“The idea of a federal betting parlor on atrocities and terrorism is ridiculous, and it’s grotesque,” said Sen. Ron Wyden.
The PAM was inspired by the work of George Mason University economist Robin Hanson, a leading researcher in the field, co-creator of the Foresight Exchange, and author of a seminal paper on “Idea Futures,” who is now one of the Augur advisors. Hanson explains his ideas on prediction markets and Augur in a short video posted on the Augur website.
According to Hanson, real money markets such as the Iowa Electronic Markets – and Wall Street – predict election outcomes better than opinion polls. Referring to previous regulatory obstacles encountered by prediction markets such as PAM, Hanson notes that all of our familiar financial instruments: stocks, insurance, commodity futures, options were once forbidden by anti-gambling laws.
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