Ethereum

Here’s Ethereum, which the Economist mentioned in the “Bitcoin’s future” article I posted earlier.  Ethereum is a project that describes itself as “a platform and a programming language that … can be used to codify, decentralize, secure and trade just about anything: voting, domain names, financial exchanges, crowdfunding, company governance, contracts and agreements of most kind, intellectual property, and even smart property thanks to hardware integration.” It uses the concept of the blockchain as a decentralized ledger for all manner of transactions.

Here’s the whitepaper. It discusses related approaches (colored coins, metacoins) and details what they think Ethereum will look like. I haven’t read the whole paper.

Economist: Money from nothing

This Economist article, Money from nothing, discusses whether Bitcoin can be understood as money. Money is defined as follows:

Economists reckon money is anything that serves three main functions. It must be a “medium of exchange”, which can reliably be swapped for goods and services. It should be a stable store of value, enabling users to tuck some away and come back later to find its purchasing power more or less intact. And it should function as a unit of account: a statistical yardstick against which value in an economy is measured. The American dollar meets all three conditions. Bitcoin has some way to go.

Here’s how they reckon Bitcoin stacks up against that definition:

  1. “Bitcoin does best as a medium of exchange, thanks to its clever technical design… The combination of functionality and user interest means that people are finding it easier to swap coins for both goods and services and for other currencies. This rising credibility as a medium of exchange supports Bitcoin values.”
  2. “… Bitcoin is not exactly a stable store of value. It is technically equipped to do the job: coins saved in an encrypted wallet on a hard drive can be retrieved for later use in purchases. But the currency’s worth is prone to wild gyrations.”
  3. “Volatile values could prevent Bitcoin from ever establishing itself as a medium of account. Even the few retailers who accept Bitcoin use other currencies as their principal accounting unit. … until Bitcoin values are less volatile relative to the currencies that now dominate real economies, users are unlikely to change their monetary frame of reference.”

The article also discusses how Bitcoin’s inflexibility on the control of the money supply (encoding the money supply decisions into the protocol rather than trusting them to government fiat) will be unpopular with governments that have become accustomed to using the money supply as a tool, and unpopular with societies that have come to expect and rely on slow inflation.

There is also this Economist blog commentary on the article: Bitcoin: New money. The commentary touches on three interesting bits:

  1. Control of the money supply, and modest inflation, are vital to avoid economic shocks and collapses. By the article’s reckoning, these tools serve as shock absorbers to lessen the impact of major economic events.
  2. Bitcoin/cryptocurrency will need reputable banks and exchanges, combined with guarantee schemes to limit the risk of systemic disruption caused by the failure of one or more large actors (i.e. Mt. Gox) or very large bank heists (Mt. Gox, again).
  3. The Bitcoin protocol should be modified to permit control of the money supply, instead of setting a fixed cap on the total possible number of Bitcoins.

Economist: Bitcoin’s future

This Economist article, Bitcoin’s future: Hidden flipside, talks about BitCoin as a platform, rather than a currency. Here’s a great quote:

Some want ownership of devices–a car, say–to be represented by a Bitcoin, or a tiny fraction of it. The car would work only when turned on with a key that includes the Bitcoin token. This would make managing ownership of and access to physical assets much easier: the token could be sold or rented out temporarily, enabling flexible peer-to-peer car-rental schemes. Such “smart property” would turn the blockchain into a global registry of ownership in physical assets.

All that may sound like science fiction, but a growing number of startups are working on bringing such applications to market. Coloured Coins and Mastercoin will soon release software that enables trade in other financial assets, including stocks and bonds. The most ambitious project is Ethereum: it will launch a new blockchain, similar but unrelated to Bitcoin, with a programming language to encode financial instruments and other contracts.

Again, the focus is on use of the blockchain technology, either by large/reputable entities, or for non-Bitcoin purposes. The most interesting is Ethereum, which sounds like a manifestation of Lanier’s “formal financial expression” scheme (encoding financial instruments and contracts in code rather than words).

Gamification and Incentives

Team is Hanbyul, Myriam, Surya, and Vitor.

 We are covering 1.Metacurrency  2. Play at work 

This is original google docs, easier to read :  https://docs.google.com/a/nyu.edu/document/d/1X4ifuWVBfsrHVd8ubBOpunFPvcbxNSOjpQGK5O_leU0/edit

Metacurrency

All of us can’t make dollars, but all of us are making values.

– Money is not representing value,  is one dimensional, not saying about real values.

ex. 5$ literally means nothing.

5$ eggs means fancy eggs.

5$ organic eggs means organic fancy eggs.

5$ organic large brown cage free eggs, we need so many words to describe the things that we want. because price itself doesn’t say anything.

-currency should be ‘current-see’, current of values.

ex. Detachment of value from  money can be found in college system. College degree itself is value. To get that, the college has system to make sure student’s participants in the classes. (grades from class, and kinds of classes they are getting)

– movement about ‘making money better’ : money itself is just wrong measurement of values. *

-currency is social DNA we embody our agreement for how we interact. Is it working for us?

 

– It is about creating symbols to make currency visible,

ex.current currency system has a lot of words make itself visible, such as dollar, stock, mortgage..

– metacurrency lacks of words, to make it self concrete yet.*

*As Arthur says, if language that people use matter, this is much easier approach because people are already familiar with all those words being used in ‘better money movement’.

 

*This part is making vicious cycle. I really love the idea where metacurrency starts from, but it is really hard to imagine something that can alternate whole currency system that we are living. To do this, people need strong words to provoke their imagination, but now metacurrency doesn’t seem to have that elevator pitch.

 

Sys admins control the computing platform and everyone else just gets the access privileges granted by their admins.

 

http://flowplace.webnode.com/

http://metacurrency.org/sites/metacurrency.org/files/docs/Design_for_a_Meta_Currency_Platform.pdf

Meta Currency Platform

 

The meta-currency project is about defining an approach to creating a currency network.

 

The main concerns that the project is trying to tackle.

 

  • Simultaneous deployment of multiple currencies of arbitrary design that cover the whole range of

  • wealth acknowledgement (tradable, measurable & acknowledgeable)

  • Separation of concerns: end-user interaction, security, data-integrity, identity, programming

  • languages, state-keeping, etc.

  • Unification through smart-edge, dumb-center network.

  • Full decentralization for robustness, resiliency and maximum sovereignty.

  • Easy integration of legacy systems and approaches

  • Structural support for the “Intrinsic Data Integrity” paradigm.

 

It uses TCP/IP and HTTP as a reference for how to creat a decentralised network and even though a lot of the design elements between them are very similar there are some fundamental differences.

The Meta Currency Protocol (MCP) is not a “transfer” protocol for games specified in some format like SGFL. It’s not about sending games specified in SGFL around a network (that will happen with regular old HTTP). Rather it’s about using games that have been defined in SGFL (or other formats) to interpret plays, i.e. update game state.

 

MCP can act as the conduit between players who want to play games, and the engines that hold game states. But, just as HTTP was co-developed with HTML as a base use-case; co-developed with MCP is a “game format” for representing possible games which, like HTML, is similarly designed to play well in the network context.

 

Here are the main differences between the two

 

HTTP

MCP

Arbitrary resources between resource provider and consumer.

Allows game players to make plays in arbitrary games

Scheme of URIs (built on top of domain names and IP addresses) to manifest network endpoints

Meta-currency Identifier or MCI (built on top of URIs) to manifest network endpoints

Major usefulness came because a general purpose data format, HTML, was co-developed with the protocol.

Co-developed with MCP is a the Simple Game Format Language (SGFL) which provides a jumping off point for immediate development of highly interoperable agreement structures

Enables resource availability

Enables ‘making play in games’

GET, POST

Play, Your-turn, add-player

Data protection

Intrinsic Data Integrity

Assumptions made by MCP

 

1) Identity: MCP assumes that determination of the “true” identity of players will be an ever evolving process, so it does not build in identity into its addressing scheme.

2) Location: MCP does not assume that players are directly accessible on the Internet. They may be behind telephones, carrier pigeons, etc, thus an MCP address is always considered a proxy for some other service that handles interaction with the “true” player, thus there is

a layer of MCP addresses that are abstract and mapped onto internet addresses for use on the Internet.

3) Sovereignty: the MCP addressing scheme is designed around “inverted hierarchies”, which allow for mutual sovereignty between individuals and groups.

Security Concerns

Inherently decentralised structure lends itself to security.

 

Git is a good example of a decentralised strucure for sharing common data.

With git you can’t alter something without adding a completely new commit which records your signature. If you tried to make a sneaky unsigned change to existing data, it would longer match with the signatures attached to it. This makes it safe for people to change to the Linux kernel and yet ensures they cannot introduce flaws or security holes because it will break the signed data patterns you can allow people to have a completely authoritative copy  of their own transaction history. This data could be specifically shared with the parties of each transaction, or shared with third party notaries or auditors, or possibly open to public review

 

Flow Place

is an attempt to gamify meta currency. This is conceptual model rather than applying real mcp model, making imaginary community space mainly based on the trade economic strategy. Their play link is broken, but we can assume that it is giving mmorpg-ish space for people, users are making assets based on their intentions and actions. After action is done, asset is gone, but the value they made is remained. Those values can be expressed in various kind of currencies, users are encouraged to create currency and join the currency of others.

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Play At Work

How Games Inspire Breakthrough Thinking

Adam Pennenberg is a professor of journalism at New York University. He is also the assistant director at NYU’s business and economic program. In his book “Play At Work”, he looks into how games have evolved from being exclusively targeted towards children and geeks to pretty much targeting everyone else. Games have branched out and are now part of our social lives. The book is divided into three main parts:

 

– Part 1: Gameful Design: From social games likes Facebook games, Bogost’s Cow Clicker, to Angry Birds, to fostering our inclination to play to organize massive numbers of people to solve big problems.

– Part 2: Serious Play: Games that try to solve serious issues. Health consicous games, games that aim at modifying human behavior for the better, games in the educational system.

– Part 3: Games At Work: Integration of game like mechanics and dynamics to improve business processes, customer experience, and the workplace.

– Noteworthy examples and points

  • Game Designers are exploiting people’s compulsions like they would to lab rats. Bogost railed against social media games – the makers of these games build compulsion into them. They not only waste the time we spend playing them but also the time we spend away from them (worry & dread).

 

  • Bogost’s Cow Clicker — “A facebook game about facebook games” –  started out as a parody game, but was even more successful than Bogost’s previous games. It was such a hit, that when he decided to kill the game, he killed all cows, and despite that, people kept clicking where the cow used to be.

 

  • “Angry Birds” —  When the slingshot goes off, the bird doesn’t fly off with the speed of a missile. Instead, the arc is slow before the bird really gets to the target. That creates anticipation in the mind of the player, as well as increases dopamine levels, making the game more exciting than it would’ve been otherwise. On the other end of the game, the pig’s house slowly crumbles, and the pig dies relatively slowly too, which messes with our short term memory and gives us more satisfaction at each winning shot.

 

  • “A game is a closed (there are boundaries to the system), formal system that engages players in structured conflict, and revolves in an unequal outcome.” Jesse Schell

  • 10 points – Schell:

 

– Games are voluntary.

– Games have goals. (that includes shooting down attacking planes or racking up the   highest score)

– Games have conflict

– Games have clear rules

– Games can be won or lost

– Games are interactive

– Games are challenging

– Games espouse their own internal values.

– Games engage players

– Games are closed, formal systems.

  • Game Mechanics:

 

1- A player performs an action

2- The action results in an effect

3- The player receives feedback

4- Armed with additional knowledge, the player performs more actions.

  • Jesse Schell’s DICE 2010 speech (Design, Innovate, Communicate, Entertain)

http://www.g4tv.com/videos/44277/dice-2010-design-outside-the-box-presentation/

Jesse Schell presents an exaggerated yet possible outcome of over-gamification. He talks of a world where taking the bus to work will earn you government point that will be deducted from your taxes, a world where we get rewarded for our consumption, where our data is not for sale.

  1. REMtertainment.

  2. Digital Tatoos, human billboards.

  3. Government Bus.

  4. Talking objects – Cornflake Box, Toothbrush, Coca Cola Can.

  • Google uses a currency called Goobles to regulate the usage of server resources, which can be easily used up within the company. Goobles can also be employed for knowledge asset purposes as employees can use them to bet on market predictions.

  • Microsoft also implements games to train employees and boost productivity and morale within the company. Their consumers also get to play games as they learn to use the features of Microsoft Office.

  • Repair tech specialists at Canon use a drag and drop computer simulation to assemble parts onto a virtual copy system.

Japanese engineers at Lexus use a sophisticated computer simulation software for testing the safety of their vehicles.

  • Target uses game design to help cashiers improve their average speed per transaction. The interface of this technology is included on cash register screens. According to the company, 88% of transactions regularly meet appropriate speed standards. Employees are motivated to enhance their efficiency since scores have an impact on their salaries and promotions.

  • Fold It: Participants come up with different ways to fold proteins. The results are then scored and by scientists to see which ones have the potential to create the strongest impact in real life situations.

 

  • Galaxy Zoo: Players collaborate to classify astronomical objects like planets, stars, and solar systems. When the game was first designed, it was estimated that it would take a year to classify a million objects. But in fact it took a day to classify 50 million objects.

 

  • Eye Wire: MIT developed this game to enable participants to map retinal connections and collate information to help scientists learn more about visual perception.

 

  • Ancient Lives: Players help to decode ancient texts from Egypt.

 

  • Whale FM  Oceanologists listen to sounds made by orcas and match them to similar sounding calls.

Neoreactionaries and feminists

This is by NO means intended to be a primary conversation, because I think it’s a bit tangential. And it delves deep into some pretty shitty areas of the internet. But I thought I’d write down my personal thoughts about the communist implications of bitcoin.

1. Bitcoin is a cryptocurrency that challenges state authority, because it assumes its own authority to mint money. That primary idea of cryptocurrencies is really important.

2. Bitcoin is also most consistently available to computer geeks, most of whom, at least in America, seem to be male and generally white, perhaps privileged.

3. Bitcoin has not permeated lower socioeconomic communities of color.

4. If a revolution in currency only helps bring entitlements back to those who thought they deserved them in the first place (nationalist, fascist, neo-reactionaries), then what is revolution?

How does this affect our views of money? If the lack of access to capital is one of the primary downfalls of capitalism, then, what, if anything, does bitcoin do to change this? Or is it just an implementation issue?

I’m sorry if this is an annoying post. Please understand I think that anything challenging state power in a democratic fashion is important, and, most likely, will gain traction because it is used by those who already had power. This is fine and I’m not criticizing that at all.

Here are some relevant screenshots:
Screen Shot 2014-03-13 at 2.33.13 PM

Screen Shot 2014-03-13 at 2.33.27 PM
from this neoreactionary site

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Screen Shot 2014-03-13 at 2.32.46 PM

Bitcoin and the Block Chain

What is Bitcoin trying to be?

With the creator of Bitcoin, Satoshi Nakamoto, supposedly having been found in California these last weeks, it came up a lot in our discussions as a group where the concept for Bitcoin came from and where it is today. This prompted us to take a closer look at his original paper and better understand what his vision for Bitcoin was. According to the original white paper by Satoshi Nakamoto, Bitcoin is intended to provide a safe mechanism for internet-based payment that doesn’t rely on a centralized trust authority. Nakamoto articulates three problems with the current way we complete online transactions: transactions are reversible; small, causal transactions are impossible because of fees; and they rely on trusting a central third party. While these complaints are not completely apolitical, I find it interesting that Nakamoto seems less interested in providing a substitute for centralized currency at large, and more with finding a viable alternative to how we conduct financial transactions on the internet (the two are obviously connected, but not the same).

Continue reading Bitcoin and the Block Chain

Doomsday Cults, Bitcoin, Trusted Identities

I’m reading The Doomsday Cult of Bitcoin. Quote:

These may seem like isolated incidents, but together, they add up to a massive, damning breach of trust. I don’t doubt, as Nobel laureate Robert Shiller put it last week, that “something good can arise from [Bitcoin’s] innovations.” But Bitcoin itself will never recover from these initial pratfalls. Partly this is because lawmakers and regulators, spooked by early hype and the Mt. Gox disaster, are never going to afford Bitcoin services the kind of autonomy they’d need in order to flourish. Partly it’s because there are conceptual problems with the Bitcoin architecture itself. And partly it’s because Bitcoin’s anarchic roots are too fringe to draw in the masses.

The opinions in this article loosely fit my own opinion of the prospects of Bitcoin: Bitcoin will be a proving ground for the basic cryptocurrency infrastructure, but it wasn’t built with the governments’ or the banks’ interests at heart, so it is likely to fail. However, I will not be surprised to see it replaced with a similar cryptocurrency that is built by the governments and/or banks–one that uses the lessons of Bitcoin but replaces Bitcoin’s anarchic agenda with a pro-government and pro-bank agenda. The government will want a single electronic ledger with all users strongly authenticated–how else would taxation, regulation, or surveillance be possible? But the banks will want to preserve some of the obscurity and anonymity features for their own purposes. It’s interesting to think about how a government-blessed cryptocurrency would interoperate with the White House’s new National Strategy For Trusted Identities In Cyberspace.