DSHR’s Blog: Bitcoin’s Lightning Network

Discussions of cryptocurrencies and other blockchain technologies are bedeviled by a nearly universal assumption that attributes that are possible to achieve in theory are guaranteed to be realized in practice. Examples include decentralization and anonymity.Back in June David Gerard asked: How good a business is running a Lightning Network node? LNBig provides 49.6% ($3.7 million in bitcoins) of the Lightning Network’s total channel liquidity funding — that just sits there, locked in the channels until they’re closed. They see 300 transactions a day, for total earnings on that $3.7 million of … $20 a month. They also spent $1000 in channel-opening fees.Even if the Lightning Network worked (which it doesn’t), and were decentralized (which it isn’t), Gerard’s point was that the transaction fees were woefully inadequate to cover the costs of running a node. Now, A Cryptoeconomic Traffic Analysis of Bitcoin’s Lightning Network by the Hungarian team of Ferenc Béres, István A. Seres, and András A. Benczúr supports Gerard’s conclusion with a detailed analysis.

Source: DSHR’s Blog: Bitcoin’s Lightning Network

Airbnb Claims Its AI Can Predict Whether Guests Are Psychopaths – Slashdot

To protect its hosts, Airbnb is now using an AI-powered tool to scan the internet for clues that a guest might not be a reliable customer. According to patent documents reviewed by the Evening Standard, the tool takes into account everything from a user’s criminal record to their social media posts to rate their likelihood of exhibiting “untrustworthy” traits — including narcissism, Machiavellianism, and even psychopathy. The background check tool is the work of Trooly, a startup Airbnb acquired in 2017. When the Evening Standard asked Airbnb to comment on the extent to which it uses Trooly’s tool, it declined. However, Airbnb’s website does note the company’s use of AI to rate potential guests: “Every Airbnb reservation is scored for risk before it’s confirmed. We use predictive analytics and machine learning to instantly evaluate hundreds of signals that help us flag and investigate suspicious activity before it happens.”

Source: Airbnb Claims Its AI Can Predict Whether Guests Are Psychopaths – Slashdot

Cloud Crypto Land by Edmund-Philipp Schuster :: SSRN

The supposed disruptive and transformational potential of blockchain or distributed ledger technology (DLT) has received widespread attention in the media, from legislators, as well as from academics across disciplines, including law, over the past few years. While much of this attention revolved around the cryptocurrency Bitcoin (and its numerous cryptocurrency offshoots), many see the real promise of blockchain technology in its potential use for organising transactions in real assets, including shares and other securities, as well as for facilitating self-executing “smart contracts”, which replace vague and imprecise natural language with precise and unambiguous computer code.

Focussing mainly on non-currency applications of blockchain technology, I present a simple legal argument that seeks to demonstrate the impossibility of a meaningful blockchain-based economic system. I argue that features present in all major legal systems mean that real assets cannot be traded on blockchain-based systems, unless design choices are made which necessarily remove all advantages the technology offers over existing solutions. The same argument is shown to apply to so-called smart contracts.

The paper further argues that there is no reason to expect legislators to change current legal principles in sufficiently dramatic fashion so as to carve out a space in which (non-currency) applications of blockchain technology can usefully be implemented, since the oft-promised potential efficiency gains supposedly stemming from the adoption of the blockchain technology are based on a flawed analysis of costs and benefits. Legal and practical obstacles therefore mean that, outside its original and circumscribed realm of cryptocurrency, blockchain technology is highly unlikely to transform economic interactions in the real world. Instead, it is argued that – depending on the specific implementation – blockchain technology is either pointless or useless for transactions in traditional assets.

Keywords: Blockchain, distributed ledger technology, smart contracts, crypto assets, cryptoassets, Ethereum, Bitcoin, DLT

Source: Cloud Crypto Land by Edmund-Philipp Schuster :: SSRN

Some Uber drivers use bogus identities and shared accounts – CNET

Uber faced a blow on Monday when London regulators refused to renew the ride-hailing company’s operating permit because of safety concerns. The biggest issue lawmakers cited was drivers using false identities as they ferried unsuspecting passengers.At least 14,000 trips were made by unauthorized drivers, according to city regulator Transport for London. The way it worked is this: A number of drivers would share one account, and whenever one of them went out to drive, they’d upload their own photo to fool passengers. The unauthorized drivers were able to pose as vetted, licensed and insured, when often they weren’t.

Source: Some Uber drivers use bogus identities and shared accounts – CNET

HSBC swaps paper records for blockchain to track $20 billion worth of assets – Reuters

HSBC aims to shift $20 billion worth of assets to a new blockchain-based custody platform by March, in one of the biggest deployments yet of the widely-hyped but still unproven technology by a global bank.

The platform, known as Digital Vault, will give investors real-time access to records of securities bought on private markets, HSBC (HSBA.L) told Reuters, and seeks to capitalize on booming interest in such investments by yield-hungry investors.

Source: HSBC swaps paper records for blockchain to track $20 billion worth of assets – Reuters

2019 CIGI-Ipsos Global Survey on Internet Security and Trust

2019 CIGI-Ipsos Global Survey Highlights 1. Social media companies were second only to cyber criminals when it came to fueling online distrust.75% say social media companies are responsible for their online distrust In the 2019 survey, social media companies emerged as the leading source of user distrust in the internet — surpassed only by cybercriminals — with 75% of those surveyed citing Facebook, Twitter and other social media platforms as contributing to their lack of trust. People from Canada and Great Britain, at 89%, were the most likely to point to social media as a source of their distrust, followed by Nigeria (88%), the United States (87%) and Australia (83%). People from Japan (49%), Tunisia (60%), Hong Kong (63%) and Korea (64%) were the least likely to do so. Almost nine in ten (88%) North Americans who distrust the Internet cited social media as responsible for their distrust, the highest proportion out of all regions surveyed. While cybercriminals, cited by 81%, remained the leading source of internet distrust, a majority in all regions (62% globally) indicated that a lack of internet security was also a significant factor — up significantly from 48% in 2018. 2. More than half of those concerned about their online privacy say they’re more concerned than they were a year ago.53% are more concerned about their online privacy than they were a year ago Eight out of 10 (78%) people surveyed were concerned about their online privacy, with over half (53%) more concerned than they were a year ago, marking the fifth year in a row that a majority of those surveyed say they feel more concerned about their online privacy than the previous year. Fewer than half (48%) believe their government does enough to safeguard their online data and personal information, with the lowest confidence levels in North America (38%) and the G-8 countries (39%). Citizens around the world are increasingly viewing their own governments as a threat to their privacy online. In fact, more people attributed their online privacy concerns to domestic governments (66%) — a majority in nearly every region surveyed — than to foreign governments (61%). While 73% said they wanted their online data and personal information to be stored in their own country, majorities in Hong Kong (62%), Indonesia (58%), Egypt (58%), India (57%), Brazil (54%), and Mexico (51%) said they wanted their online data and personal information stored outside of their country. In contrast, only 23% of North Americans, 35% of Europeans and 32% of those in G-8 countries shared this sentiment. 3. A majority admit to falling for fake news at least once — citing Facebook as the leading source — and want both governments and social media companies to take action.86% have fallen for fake news at least once 86% said they had fallen for fake news at least once, with 44% saying they sometimes or frequently did. Only 14% said they had “never” been duped by fake news. Facebook was the most commonly cited source of fake news, with 77% of Facebook users saying they had personally seen fake news there, followed by 62% of Twitter users and 74% of social media users in general. 10% of Twitter users said they had closed their Twitter account in the past year as a direct result of fake news, while 9% of Facebook users reported doing the same. One-third (35%) pointed to the United States as the country most responsible for the disruptive effect of fake news in their country, trailed significantly by Russia (12%) and China (9%). Notably, internet users in Canada (59%), Turkey (59%) and the United States itself (57%) were most likely to say that the United States is most responsible for the disruptive effect of fake news in their own country, while users in Great Britain (40%) and Poland (35%) were most likely to point to Russia, and users in Hong Kong (39%), Japan (38%) and India (29%) were most likely to blame China. A majority of internet users around the globe support all efforts that governments and internet companies could take to combat fake news, from social media and video sharing platforms deleting fake news posts and videos (85%) and accounts (84%) to the adoption of automated approaches to content removal (79%) and government censorship of online content (61%). 4. Distrust in the internet is causing people to change the way they behave online.49% say their distrust has led them to disclose less personal information online Nearly half (49%) of those surveyed said their distrust had caused them to disclose less personal information online, while 43% reported taking greater care to secure their devices and 39% said they were using the internet more selectively, among other precautions. Conversely, only a small percentage of people reported making use of more sophisticated tools — such as using more encryption (19%) or using technical tools like Tor (The Onion Router) or virtual private networks (VPNs) — to protect themselves online. 5

Source: 2019 CIGI-Ipsos Global Survey on Internet Security and Trust | Centre for International Governance Innovation

The U.S. Government Tried To Shut Down Bitcoin

Bitcoin conspiracy theorists have long suspected the U.S. government, among others, would like to shut down bitcoin.Bitcoin’s first decade has seen its price explode, making early adopters overnight millionaires, and prompting some of the world’s biggest technology companies to create their own versions of bitcoin.Now, it’s been revealed federal prosecutor-turned bitcoin and cryptocurrency expert Katie Haun was asked to look into “shutting down” bitcoin by her boss at the U.S. attorney’s office in 2012.

Source: The U.S. Government Tried To Shut Down Bitcoin

Top Trends in Blockchain Technology; inching towards Web 3.0 – Avivah Litan

In sum, the blockchain back end shouldn’t matter to users – just like the Internet’s DNS or TCP/IP protocols don’t matter to web users. All web users care about is their web-based applications. All Blockchain users need to care about is their decentralized applications.Make no mistake: The days of seamless blockchain interoperability at the ‘atomic’ level are not here yet. Nor are the days of cross chain functionality where a single smart contract can update multiple blockchain platforms using a single process. We won’t see these needed functions go mainstream for at least two years.But the good news is we are seeing some very promising developments that will help move us closer to this end state, as highlighted in our recently published Hype Cycle for Blockchain Technology 2019.source: Hype Cycle for Blockchain Technology, 2019

Source: Top Trends in Blockchain Technology; inching towards Web 3.0 – Avivah Litan

Data trusts raise questions on privacy and governance | Financial Times

When Prince Harry posted a photograph of himself and his future wife Meghan Markle in Botswana, placing a satellite collar on an elephant to track it and protect it from poachers, the royal was demonstrating new ways of combating the illegal wildlife trade.The couple’s post sought to highlight that more than 100 African elephants a day are killed for their ivory. Now, the war against poaching has another potential weapon: artificial intelligence.AI is capable of analysing different kinds of data sets and spotting significant patterns. The results can be used for the wider public good, such as improving planning in healthcare and public transport — or fighting wildlife poachers.“Audio data can be used to train algorithms to distinguish gunshots [of] those poaching wild animals [from] the gunshots [of] hunters,” says Chris Martin, a partner at law firm Pinsent Masons. Using big data, real-time alerts could be pinged to rangers to tell them which areas to focus on.Data trusts — which are separate legal entities designed to help organisations extract value from anonymised data without falling foul of privacy regulations — are being mooted as a way to allay concerns about how sensitive data is held by third parties.A pilot study on whether data trusts should be set up to share information to tackle the illegal wildlife trade was one of three initiatives by the Open Data Institute earlier this year (the ODI is a UK non-profit body that works with companies and governments “to build an open, trustworthy data ecosystem”).The study looked at whether data trusts could hold photographs from camera traps and acoustic information from a range of sources, which could be used by algorithms to create real-time alerts on poachers in protected areas.There are, however, legal questions about how to share anonymised data from governments and companies in a safe, ethical way against a backdrop of public mistrust. In the biggest scandal to date, consultancy Cambridge Analytica illicitly harvested personal data from Facebook to influence elections. In July, the US Federal Trade Commission approved a $5bn fine for the social media platform for privacy violations. Data trusts are being mooted as a way to allay concerns about how sensitive data is held by third partiesIn Los Angeles, residents have expressed concerns about the use of personal data collected from electric scooters, which is intended to help urban planning.Companies and governments tread a fine line between extracting information from data and ensuring they do not break laws such as the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) which forces any company holding personal data of an EU citizen to seek consent and delete the data on request. Individuals should not be identifiable from the data sets.These legal problems on privacy and governance were what law firm Pinsent Masons with BPE Solicitors had to contend with when advising the ODI on data trusts.The project to combat poaching looked at whether a data trust could improve the sharing of information and invoice data from researchers and governments, by monitoring documents given to border staff about species being transported across borders that can be falsified by smugglers. The data could be used to train algorithms to help border staff identify illegally traded animals.Mr Martin says setting up such a data trust could enable border officials to take photographs of a live animal and use software to check whether it is a species on which there are export restrictions.One advantage of a data trust is that it enables individuals to become trustees and have a say in how their anonymised data is used. It would allow citizens to be represented if the data trust held traffic information collected about their locality, for example.Data trusts might also encourage companies to put in data to enable them to work on projects where they have a common goal. “The big supermarkets could decide to set up a data trust to share data on, for example, tackling food waste or climate change,” Mr Martin says.Chris Reed, professor of electronic commerce at Queen Mary University of London, says data trusts are useful when multiple organisations put in data. “The sharing of data might have been subject to agreements between parties, but when you might have 100 companies putting in data you cannot have agreements covering them all. Having a data trust is a fair and safe way of doing this,” he says.Only a handful of data trusts exist. Credit card company Mastercard and IBM has formed an independent Dublin-based data trust called Truata. Connor Manning, a partner at law firm Arthur Cox, handled the corporate and trust structure documentation. He says that part of the legal complexity was designing the structure so that Mastercard was a beneficiary of the trust but the structure was not a standard company. “It is a corporate structure with a trust structure on top,” he explains.A data trust may not be the answer to every situation. Othe

Source: Data trusts raise questions on privacy and governance | Financial Times