Everyone’s crazy about CryptoKitties

(we thought it bc would change the world. instead…) There’s a new craze in the world of cryptocurrencies: kitties. A game called CryptoKitties, built on Ethereum’s blockchain, has exploded since its launch last week, with players spending thousands of dollars worth of ether (Ethereum’s currency) on digital cats. There’s a problem, though: The game is so popular that it’s clogging Ethereum’s network

Source: Everyone’s crazy about CryptoKitties

Anticipating Blockchain for Development: Data, Power and the Future – The Connectivity, Inclusion, and Inequality Group

Research on anticipated, contingent and imaginary blockchain-enabled ‘aidlands’ (Mosse 2011) is crucial now: much is at stake. What will the role of blockchain be in identity management in global contexts where population control regimes proliferate to the detriment of the many? Through multi-stakeholder ethnographic work with user communities, the development industry, technical, legal, regulatory and governmental communities, I aim to make a practical intervention in public social science, developing best practice principles or ‘infraethics’ (Floridi 2017) from concrete sociotechnical findings about the specific ways in which DLTs can empower communities in global contexts, how, and what new digital inequalities or unintended consequences arise (cf. for example the energy consumption issue with Bitcoin mining, which is currently a ‘hot’ topic). I have a hunch that working on best practice may involve pointing out when a blockchain isn’t really necessary.

Source: Anticipating Blockchain for Development: Data, Power and the Future – The Connectivity, Inclusion, and Inequality Group

Blockchain technology for social impact: opportunities and challenges ahead: Journal of Cyber Policy: Vol 0, No 0

While much has already been written about blockchain applications and prospects in the FinTech industry, little research has been done to explore blockchain technology’s user-centric paradigm in enabling various applications beyond banking. This article is an effort to contribute to that body of scholarship by exploring blockchain technology’s potential applications, and their limits, in areas that intersect with social impact, including human rights. This article explores whether blockchain technology and its core operational principles – such as decentralisation, transparency, equality and accountability – could play a role in limiting undue online surveillance, censorship and human rights abuses that are facilitated by the increasing reliance on a few entities that control access to information online. By doing so, this article aims at initiating a scholarly curiosity to understand what is possible and what is to be concerned about when it comes to the potential impact of blockchain technology on society.

Source: Blockchain technology for social impact: opportunities and challenges ahead: Journal of Cyber Policy: Vol 0, No 0

A History of Bitcoin by Usman W. Chohan :: SSRN

The meteoric rise of Bitcoin has led to heightened investment, academic, commercial, numismatic, transactional, and practitioner interest in that cryptocurrency, as well as in the growing array of such instruments worldwide. This leads to an accentuated need for an examination of the historical evolution of Bitcoin as the seminal instrument in the development of cryptocurrencies, and this discussion paper seeks to address that gap.

Source: A History of Bitcoin by Usman W. Chohan :: SSRN

Someone deleted some code in a popular cryptocurrency wallet — and as much as $365 million in ethereum is locked up | Business Insider

An estimated $US280 million ($AU365 million) worth of the cryptocurrency ethereum is now locked up after a user accidentally deleted the code necessary to access the digital wallets hosted by the company Parity Technologies.The vulnerability impacted the “multi-sig” digital wallets launched through Parity since July 20.Multi-sig wallets usually contain large sums of money since they are primarily used by startups or large groups looking to prevent any one member of the group from running off with the money.

Source: Someone deleted some code in a popular cryptocurrency wallet — and as much as $365 million in ethereum is locked up | Business Insider

P2Pmodels: Blockchain Orgs for the Collaborative Economy

P2P Models is a large research project to build Blockchain-powered organizations which are decentralized, democratic and distribute their profits, in order to boost a new type of Collaborative Economy. The project has three legs:Infrastructure: Provide a software framework to build decentralized infrastructure for Collaborative Economy organizations that do not depend on central authorities.Governance: Enable democratic-by-design models of governance for communities, whose rules are, at least partially, encoded in the software to ensure higher levels of equality.Economy: Enable value distribution models which are interoperable across organizations, improving the economic sustainability of both contributors and organizations.

Source: P2Pmodels: Blockchain Orgs for the Collaborative Economy

The environmental costs of bitcoin are not worth the candle

The recent spike in the price of bitcoin to over $7,600 has delighted cryptocurrency speculators and early investors the world over. Many consider the windfalls as vindication of their belief that bitcoin is not just an experimental currency but a viable asset class in its own right.Adding credence to that view was the decision last week by one of the world’s top derivatives exchanges, CME Group, to launch bitcoin futures in the fourth quarter of 2017.Yet there is an irony here. The further bitcoin mutates into a price-defying asset class, the less useful it becomes as a medium of exchange and, worse still, the more expensive and energy intensive it becomes to maintain. This is an awkward situation for investors who are supposedly becoming more aware of the implications for environmental, social and corporate governance (ESG) when making allocation decisions. When I recently asked a room of approximately 50 students how many had heard of bitcoin, almost all raised their hands. Asked how many had bought bitcoin, about a third of them raised their hands. But when I asked how many had used bitcoin actually to buy something, only one raised a hand.That people would prefer to hang on to their bitcoin than spend it is not surprising given its soaring value. This clingy behaviour is an instance of Gresham’s law, which states that bad money always drives out the good, and that if there are two forms of commodity money in circulation, the more valuable one will disappear as it is hoarded. But these days there are other reasons to hang on to your bitcoin. The era of costless bitcoin transactions is long gone. For some time, fees have ranged from $3 to $6 per transaction, depending on the network’s available capacity. The situation makes small, day-to-day payments from coffee purchases to bus ticket sales increasingly impractical.In energy terms, meanwhile, a recent analysis by Motherboard estimated that a single bitcoin transaction requires 215 kilowatt-hours of electricity to process. That is the equivalent of what an average American household consumes in one week.Add this energy wastage to the reputation bitcoin already has for opaque governance, cyber crime and dark market trade, and you can see how, from an ESG perspective, bitcoin proves an even more controversial investment than a holding in a developing world commodity-extracting company. In that light, CME’s plans to list bitcoin futures might not be enough to dissuade responsible investment managers from shunning the asset class in ESG-friendly indices in the long term. Remy Briand, head of ESG for index creator MSCI, says: “If we assume that consumption will continue to increase roughly in line with the bitcoin price . . . then we could end up in a situation within a few years where the electricity consumption of bitcoin mining would be equivalent to a country like the Netherlands or Switzerland.”In Mr Briand’s opinion that would make a lot of the efforts to reduce emissions in the context of the Paris Climate Agreement entirely pointless. Bitcoin enthusiasts retort that the energy consumption is justified if it amounts to less than all that of existing processors and banks combined. But for this to be true, incumbents would have to be eliminated by competitive forces — a big ask for a system which already charges well in excess of rivals, implying relative inefficiency. Moreover, for bitcoin — which is capital intensive, decentralised and opaque by design — to become more sustainable, powerful vested interests who have an incentive in keeping the system inefficient would have to be taken onAnd even if all that were possible, none of it changes the fact that if bitcoin’s primary use is for speculation rather than transaction, the energy wastage serves very little constructive social purpose at all.

Source: The environmental costs of bitcoin are not worth the candle

Blockchange

The first phase of Blockchange will seek to test the hypothesis that by applying blockchain attributes to identity management, a trusted digital ID can be created that can benefit, for instance:The estimated 1.1 billion people who are unable to prove their identity to the satisfaction of authorities and other organizations – often excluding them from property ownership, free movement, and social protection as a result;The 1.3 million refugees that are trying to relocate around the world but can’t be identified; andAll the women and girls, who disproportionately struggle to obtain IDs, often the result of barriers related to: freedom of travel, distance, financial costs, time constraints, illiteracy, lack of information and awareness, and lack of support from family members.To become smarter about the application of blockchain technologies for identity, Blockchange will initially seek to:Map, and provide a taxonomy of blockchain technologies that seeks to provide identity;Develop a primer on the potential and challenges of blockchain technologies across the identity life-cycle (such as creation; verification; authentication; and authorization);Map the actual use of identity provided through blockchain technologies for a variety of social good purposes through case studies; andCo-develop a set of (evidence-based) design principles that can guide the further development and use of blockchain for social change.

Source: Blockchange