… passed House Bill 70, which relaxed securities regulations and money transmission laws for certain tokens offered via an initial coin offering (ICO) in …
The state legislature of the American state of Wyoming has reportedly passed two new house bills that aim to foster a regulatory environment conducive to cryptocurrency and blockchain innovation. The developments were reported by the president of the Wyoming Blockchain Coalition, Caitlin Long, in two tweets posted Jan. 10 and Jan. 11.
To press time, only the status of one of the bills — House Bill 62 — has been updated on Wyoming’s state legislature page, showing it passed 8-1 and has since been placed on general file. The official status of the second bill — House Bill 57 — has yet to be updated, with the last update on Jan. 8. Long’s tweet today, Jan. 11, reports that Bill 57 passed unanimously.
Entitled “Wyoming Utility Token Act-property amendments,” Bill 62 is significant in establishing a new asset class, defining “open blockchain tokens with specified consumptive characteristics [as] intangible personal property.” The definition notably means that said tokens do not require an exemption from federal securities laws. The bill clarifies that:
“The open blockchain tokens governed by this act do not constitute securities because a person who is sold a consumptive open blockchain token cannot receive a cash payment or share of profits from a developer or business, but will instead receive a fixed amount of consumable services, content or property.”
Bill 57 is entitled “Financial technology sandbox,” and pertains to the creation of a fintech regulatory “sandbox” — a supervised and flexible testing environment that provides waivers for certain statutes and rules that would otherwise hamper innovation. Its establishment reportedly aims to foster a welcoming business environment for the developers of new financial products and services, and thereby attract fintech talent to the state.
A separate house bill regarding the exemption of virtual currencies from the Wyoming Money Transmitter Act was passed by the Wyoming state legislature last March, as well as a house bill exempting virtual currencies from state property taxation in February. A slew of further pro-crypto and blockchain senate and house bills have already been passed into Wyoming law.
Caitlin Long has previously remarked on the unfolding regulation of cryptocurrencies in the U.S. at both a federal and state level. She argues that the definition of utility tokens as a new asset class is significant in bringing them under the purview of state legislators, rather than national agencies such as the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), the Commodities and Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) and the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN).
… film to be fully blockchain-funded and distributed, slotting nicely into the libertarian ideals Satoshi Nakamoto had for his world-changing technology.
A brand new movie, telling the story of blockchain, is set for release this week…
Blockchain is coming to Hollywood with a new film by a familiar face. Trust Machine: The Story of Blockchain is the first feature film to be fully blockchain-funded and distributed, slotting nicely into the libertarian ideals Satoshi Nakamoto had for his world-changing technology.
The director is 80s actor-turned-documentary maker Alex Winter. He is probably best known for his starring roles in Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure, the subsequent Bogus Journey and his part in 1987 vampire teen flick The Lost Boys.
In the intervening years Winter turned to directing, bringing out factual films looking inside controversial stories like the offshore banking scandal of The Panama Papers and then-Presidential candidate Donald J. Trump.
Trust Machine is slated as a followup to Winter’s 2015’s documentary Deep Web, which delved into the vast success of the illicit dark web marketplace Silk Road, the (relatively) untraceable cryptocurrencies used to pay for drugs, stolen credit cards and guns, and how the FBI, Europol and Chinese intelligence struggled to police these hidden black markets.
Celebrated hacker and cyberpunk activist Lauri Love appears on screen to open the story: “With the internet, we’re not really the users, we’re not really the customers, we are the product. But blockchain says, ‘There’s another way.’”
The film spans both developing nations and more advanced societies, looking at the likely true impact of blockchain to disrupt every sector from payment systems to food supply chains.
Under the microscope are expert venture capitalist Bill Tai from the world of high net wealth management, volunteers at a UN food programme in Jordan where every item donated is recorded on a blockchain, and the millions of “unbanked” people in Kenya and Venezuela who can’t access traditional bank accounts.
What’s clear is that this won’t be a central bank-funded hit job, nor a wide-eyed puff piece for Bitcoin.
Winter is positive about the impact of blockchain on the world, telling Salon: “Naysayers have two groups: one says all of it is BS, and a scam, and a fraud, and then a slightly more nuanced group says a lot of it is scams, but the verifiable ledgers are a natural evolution of the internet. Some folks believe blockchain will save the universe. I don’t agree with the group that thinks its bullshit. They are uneducated.”
Looking to the future? Winters believes blockchain, or a more advanced version of it will be used “under the hood, like https, which drives the web”. As our experts have suggested, he believes it will be used in a back-end way such that people will not even know they are using blockchain. Could it decentralise power away from governments, and really change the world?
“If it happens, it will be slow. Some will be blunt and disruptive like Uber, I don’t see a revolution imminent that will compensate artists, or mirror banks and governments. Too much of that is based on greed and power dynamics that aren’t going to change overnight.”
Trust Machine: The Story of Blockchain is released in the US on 26th October 2018.
Beyond the blockchain, fans only have to wait two more years for the return of the dopey Californian rockers Wyld Stallyns when Bill and Ted Face the Music in the long-awaited third part of his most famous series. 2020’s looking better already.
Blockchain 101: Ledger to HyperLedger. Blockchain, cryptography and cryptocurrencies maybe the terms which you might have heard and may seem …
Blockchain, cryptography and cryptocurrencies maybe the terms which you might have heard and may seem to be daunting at first to anyone.
However in this article, you’ll learn from scratch of how a blockchain network evolves with all the burden of security and trust left to the advanced cryptography.
Without putting much emphasis on the word to word definitions of these things, let’s get started straightaway. You’ll get to know about the real meaning of a lot of things along the way.
Suppose you have three friends — Alan, Bill and Steve. All four of you do transactions frequently. But since you live in different cities, it is not possible to pay in cash immediately. So we come up with an idea of creating and maintaining a LEDGER.
All the transactions performed will be added to the ledger.
A transaction will have the payee name, reciever’s name and the amount of money to be paid.
Now suppose you people meet once in a month. The person who has to pay more than he recieves, puts the difference into the pot. The person who has to recieve can take the required amount from the pot. This way we can easily solve the problem of not being able to pay immediately.
This ledger would be in one place and available for everyone to see, that is, it would be centralized and public.
Taking the above example — Alan has to pay 50$, Bill pays 100$. So there would be 150$ in the pot to take.
You get 50$ while you have to pay 25$ so you will pick up 50$-25$ = 25$ from the pot. Steve will pick up 125$.
Therefore, you all settled the balance easily using the ledger system.
Anyone can add a line to the ledger.
This means that Bill might add a line to the ledger like Steve owes Bill 300$ without even Steve approving of it.
You might think that there should be a way so that Steve can approve or disapprove a transaction made on his name. And yes you’re right.
We can think of using digital signatures to authorize every transaction made.
You can’t sign on a digital ledger just like you do on papers. Therefore you might think of using a unique pattern of binary digits which would represent your signature.
Your signature on paper with a pen is a bit difficult to exactly copy. But the above signature that we used is nothing but a simple pattern of numbers which can be easily copied.
Bill, being a clever person, initiates a transaction of recieving 100$ from Steve.
Steve approves it with a digital signature. However, now Bill can copy the signature of Steve as many times as he wants and generate fake transactions.
LOOPHOLE: Anyone can copy the pattern of binary numbers to create as many fake transactions as required.
Alan comes up with an idea for implementing a public key encryption system for digital signatures. I would like to discuss the Public Key Encryption sytem in very brief. A lot of complicated maths is involved in actually implementing this but that isn’t a concern.
Public Key Encryption System
Each one of you will have a private key as well as a public key.
As the names suggest, your public key will be available for all to see while the private key has to be kept a secret.
These private and public keys would be used to uniquely generate a digital signature and also verify that. Let’s see how,
Your secret key is required along with the message to generate your digital signature.
The Signature function will take two inputs for now — The Transaction Message and Your Secret Key. It will spit out a 256 bit long digital signature to be attached with the transaction.
A Verification function will take three inputs, the message, signature and your public key and tell if the signature is valid or not.
Now that the digital signature requires the private key of a person and the message, one cannot simply multiple transactions as digital signatures would be different for each message.
But there’s still a loophole left to be covered.
Suppose Steve approves the transaction of 100$ to be payed to Bill. Bill can copy the same message as many times as he like because the message and the payer keys are the same.
The solution to this problem is to attach a unique ID with every message and make it as an input to the Signature as well as the Verify funciton.
Protocol created until now:
Anyone can add lines to the ledger
Settle up with real money each month.
Only Signed Transactions would be considered valid.
A huge problem of trust issue is solved with the public key cryptography signatures and indexing of transactions.
What if a person promises to pay more money than he actually has and goes on adding transactions and doesn’t actually show up when real money is to be exchanged.
Give everyone a fixed amount of money
Let’s suppose that 200 bucks are distributed to everyone at the start. So now we just have to check that no one spends more than that.
The situation of someone spending more than he has can be caught easily if a running balance is maintained for each person.
Like in this situation the last transaction made by Bill is invalid because he has already spent 200 bucks and didn’t recieve anything. So as his balance has become 0$, he can’t send more than that.
Did you notice the fact that since a virtual kind of currency has been distributed to everyone, we do not require actual money to perform transactions now. We have set up our own virtual currency which people can use to perform transactions. Let’s call our new currency Ledger Dollars.
Anyone of you can exchange your Ledger Dollars with some other person in exchange of real currencies like USD, GBP, etc. for any amount. The exchange rate will be decided by the market itself but that is a topic for a different article of how the BTC-USD and other rates are decided.
Starting from a simple ledger, you have now reached a stage where you’ve created your own virtual currency. To make it sound fancier, you can call it a cryptocurrency.
I had mentioned two words: Cryptocurrency and Decentralised. We have taken care of what a cryptocurrency is, now we should look at the second aspect called Decentralisation.
Our ledger is still kept in one centralised location. You have to trust the authority who is maintaining the ledger and there’s also a chance of the database getting corrupt and all transactions become null and void.
Trust on the authorities, big organisations and companies can backfire if the company loses your data in a big blunder, or someone managing the database is paid to modify some data. These things are not uncommon and have been happening in various sectors since a long time. Decentralisation however appears to be the correct answer for this.
The basic philosophy of decentralisation is to let everyone connected in the network keep his/her own copy of the ledger instead of mainting one central ledger. Whenever a new transaction is made, it should be broadcasted to everyone’s ledger so that everyone is updated.
A new problem arises with this setup, how can you believe that the transaction that your system recieved is the same as everyone else has recieved. Not only this, but we also have to keep the track of everyone’s current balance.
The solution to this problem is the very fundamental basic of how a decentralised ledger system will work.
Trust the ledger with the most amount of Computational Work put into it.
To actually understand what Computational Work is, let’s understand a little bit about Hash Functions.
A Hash Function is a mathematical function which returns a very random digest or a number. Hash function applied on the same message will generate the same output. There is no way to get the original message by somehow decrypting the digest.
Even a small change in the message changes the digest drastically.
One such example of a hash function used widely is the SHA256 function which returns a 256 bit number.
A 256 bit pattern can represent 2²⁵⁶ different possible messages. To give you an idea of how difficult it is to extract the original message : Breaking a symmetric 256-bit key by brute force requires 2¹²⁸ times more computational power than a 128-bit key. Fifty supercomputers that could check a billion billion (1018) AES keys per second (if such a device could ever be made) would, in theory, require about 3×10⁵¹ years to exhaust the 256-bit key space.
But how does this SHA256 help you solve the problem of computational work required?
Remember that we have already taken care of verifying all the transactions, now the problem is that we have to make sure everyone keeps the updated and correct version of the ledger.
To make the transactions secure and make them immutable we’ll start by bundling up a few transactions into a block.
Each block to be added to everyone’s ledger should contain a proof of work or computational work attached with it.
PROOF OF WORK
To consider a block valid, a number must be added at the end of the block. Suppose, the hash of the function along with the appended number must start with 40 zeroes for a block to be considered valid and broadcasted to everyone.
As discussed earlier, it is very difficult to guess the number with which this pattern can be achieved. This requires the system to try billions of numbers so that the hash of the block starts with 40 zeroes. This number will be the proof of work which will be intrinsically tied to the block and this will make it secure and permanent.
You’ll later understand the importance of achieving a specific pattern of hash digest for a block to be considered valid.
Now since the transactions in a block are in a specific order, the blocks also must be in an order. This is achieved by arranging them in a chain like structure. One block should also contain the hash of the previous block with it. The hash for this block will also depend upon the hash of previous block and this the whole chain behind it.
If we try to change the order of the blocks or even a bit of a transaction of block, a domino effect forces every hash and blocks to change which is impossible. You’ll have to do all the work again for each block to find numbers for finding specific patterns. The electricity and computational power is astronomical.
Therefore, now that we have created blocks which are arranged in a chain like structure and are decentralised structure. We have finally created our DECENTRALISED BLOCKCHAIN.
If you remember, I mentioned that the systemhas to try billions of numbers.
Actually this is done by people called Blockchain Miners. Blockchain miners listen to the transactions, bundle them up and try to find the specific pattern. A lot of their monetary and time resources are wasted upon trying to find the all important number. In return of their work, they get incentives/block reward transactions for each block they successfully mine.
Thousands of blockchain miners are out there with their powerful GPUs and machines playing a kind of a lottery.
The lottery is : The one who guesses the number for a block first gets the reward for it.
A transaction for paying cryptocurrency to the miner is automatically appended with the block. No one actually pays that money. Thus, new bitcoin currency is generated with each block mined. This block would be broadcasted to all the people on the blockchain network.
WHAT IF YOU HEAR TWO DIFFERENT BROADCASTS?
You should always trust the chain with more amount of computational work attached with it. If they are same, wait for some more broadcasts and then go with the longer chain.
To see if this system is secure, we’ll see what happens when one tries to create fraudulent transactions and how the dependency on computational work actually solves the problem.
CREATING FRAUDULENT BLOCKS
Let’s suppose Alan broadcasts fake blocks to your ledger. He’ll have to mine the blocks containing fraudulent transactions quickly than other miners. This is very difficult but let’s suppose it’s possible.
To keep that fraudulent transaction in place, Alan will have to keep mining quicker than others so that you always trust Alan’s broadcasts. Going by statistics, Alan will have to own more than 50% of World’s computing resources so that one transaction stays.
Therefore, creating frauds and fake transactions is almost impossible and this makes blockchain network the safest method of keeping records.
The records which are decentralised, immutable and cannot be destroyed.
This article goes through the concepts of decentralization, mining, and blockchain on a high level to give fledgling cryptocurrency enthusiasts a down-to-earth understanding of what Bitcoin is, and…
What do coal mines, peers, A-6, and lightning storms have to do with Bitcoin? Well, nothing. But if that’s what you were wondering, then you really need to start with this guide. Also, it’s spelled ASICs, not A-6.
If you’re already familiar enough with Bitcoin and want to get into the world of trading, take a look at my article 0 to Pro Crypto Trader.
This article goes through the concepts of decentralization, mining, and blockchain on a high level to give fledgling cryptocurrency enthusiasts a down-to-earth understanding of what Bitcoin is, and why the technology and concepts are considered highly impactful to the global economy.
WTF Is Decentralization
To start to understand Bitcoin, you have to first understand decentralization, because that’s one of the primary value propositions of Bitcoin. Traditionally, when you spend money, the receipt of your transaction has to be recorded somewhere. In this way, banks and credit card companies can keep track of what, where, when and why you spend. The place that it’s recorded is referred to as the ledger. But just as important as recording onto the ledger is maintaining the legitimacy of the ledger. To clarify that, let’s take an analogy.
Bill and Rebecca are finalists in a spelling bee. There is one judge. There are 999 audience members. Each contestant earns a point every time he or she spells correctly. That information is recorded on the judge’s ledger. Currently, the score is tied at 26 to 26. Here are a few scenarios that could happen to make the contest unfair:
Malicious Scenario 1: A bathroom/stretch break in the middle of the competition. The judge leaves along with Bill and Jane and the rest of the audience. But someone from the audience sneaks over to the judge’s table when everyone’s gone and adds a few points to Bill’s score. The judge returns and doesn’t notice, but now the score says 30 to 26.
Malicious Scenario 2: The judge’s daughter is Rebecca. Because he wants to improve her chances to get into a super awesome educational institution, he decides to add in a few points to Rebecca’s score.
Malicious Scenario 3: The judge decides that spelling alone is not impressive enough. He wants them to start singing the letters. Bill is a worse singer than Rebecca so he now has a huge disadvantage.
In an ideal world, the audience members and the contestants trust the judge, and the judge never does anything malicious. But even if he intends to preserve the full integrity of the contest, Malicious Scenario 1can still happen and is outside of his control. Enter Decentralization with its flowing superhero cape.
With decentralization, anyone can get a copy of the ledger. And anyone can be responsible for updating the ledger. It is no longer a single entity or group that controls it.
In a decentralized spelling bee, instead of the judge recording every time Rebecca gets a point, the entire audience races to write down the point scored, what word it was scored on, and what time it was. There are some extra rules involved in Bitcoin’s decentralization world that we’ll touch on, but for the sake of simplicity in this analogy, we’ll ignore those rules for now. Now, looking back at the three scenarios, we can see how decentralization can counter them.
For scenario 1, if one person decides to make some changes, he would have a much harder time doing so because he has to update most of the audiences’ ledgers; if he only updates his own or a few, the other audience members can quickly call bullsh*t, as only 3 of the 1,000 records (999 audience members and 1 judge) of the spelling bee scores show Bill with an extra 3 points.
Scenario 2 follows a similar logic in that the judge himself has no more power than the audience members, and changing his own score would mean that he has 999 audience members with a different score record; i.e., the judge himself would become an audience member.
With Scenario 3, as the judge is now an audience member, he can’t just make up arbitrary rules to tip the scales of the contest. The rules would be the fair rules unless the majority of audience members agree that certain aspects of the contest need changing.
WTF Is Mining (and Blockchain)
With Bitcoin, the audience members from the Spelling Bee scenario would be referred to as miners.
There is a total of 21 million Bitcoin that can possibly be in existence. Out of that 21 million, there are 16.8 million in circulating supply at the time of writing. This means 4.2 million are still not available; in order to make those remaining bitcoin available, miners must successfully mine blocks. Every time a block is successfully mined, the miner who mined it gets 12.5 Bitcoin. But what is mining?
Forget what people describe mining as. They’ll say things like “ASICs, Graphics Cards, Complex Algorithms, Hashrate” and other terms to obfuscate the fact that they’re just as confused as you.
Mining is just writing a chunk (i.e., a block) of transactions and then broadcasting that block of transactions to all of the other miners as quickly as possible (don’t worry, if you don’t know what that means, we’ll revisit the spelling bee analogy again to paint this picture). This is important because new transactions are happening all the time, and we all want transactions to complete as quickly as possible (who wants to wait 5 hours at a cash register just for their VISA card swipe to return APPROVED? This leads to another problem with Bitcoin’s blockchain that is solved by the Lightning Network but I won’t get into it in this explanation as it is a whole other story in itself).
Miners are able to broadcast this information to other miners because they have software installed on their computers that lets them to talk with one another in a network (i.e., a chain). Hence, it’s called a Blockchain.
If your computer is the first the broadcast the updated block of transactions, a verification process begins — other miners would look at their own ledger, compare it with yours, and if it looks the same, then nothing sneaky is going on and they will agree to use your most-updated ledger moving forward. If something is off with your ledger, then it won’t be verified and the entire blockchain network will wait for the next miner to present an updated block. Once verification is over, everyone’s ledger is updated with the new block included in it, and the whole process starts over again.
Looking back at the spelling bee analogy, the transactions would be the score points, and a block could be a set of 10 scores. One block could say “okay this round, Bill got 4 points and Rebecca got 6, and here are the individual receipts for each point: blah blah blah”, then another block would read “okay this round, Bill got 7 points and Rebecca got 3, and here are the individual receipts for each point: blah blah blah.”
Every time the first audience member writes down the complete new block, he would stand up and shout to the rest of the audience, “Take a look at my ledger!” Other members come by and take a look, and cross-reference their own ledgers. Once everyone agrees that the first audience member is right, they’ll all copy down his or her updated block into their ledger and then continue the game’s next ten rounds. You can probably imagine why updates occur in blocks — you don’t have to stop the game and get in agreement every round, which slows the entire game down. There are other reasons, too, that I won’t get into.
Just as easy as it is to be an audience member, it’s easy to become a miner. It’s made simple to allow anyone to participate and view the ledger, although the race to be the fastest miner is much more challenging. Miners want to be the fastest and the ones to update the ledger because it comes with rewards: a successful mine (aka, being the first to push out the new block and get verified) currently gives the miner 12.5 Bitcoins (this number will change in time). Mining is where the remaining 4.2 million Bitcoins will come from.
The incentive for speed means that miners are buying out very high-performance computers to do all the transaction recording. So while you can still get in on the Bitcoin Blockchain, view the ledger and take a crack at mining, chances are even your Macbook Pro is no match against professional miners’ machines when it comes to making it to the finish line first. ASICs are expensive, specialized computers designed for specific tasks such as mining Bitcoin. Eventually, once all Bitcoins are mined, miners will theoretically continue to be incentivized to mine because transaction fees will still be rewarded (transaction fees are the fees that users pay when they conduct a bitcoin transaction, similar to credit card fees that places like restaurants must pay to accept credit cards).
Governments and Regulators Hate It! Find Out Why!
Well, the reality is, the majority of governments have not made indications that they hate it; instead, they are trying to regulate it. News tends to exaggerate, and once it hits the eyes and ears of readers/viewers, it’s just a game of telephone, and by the time you’re hearing it, what started off as “South Korea wants to tax cryptocurrency gains” becomes “North Korea is going to launch a bitcoin-powered missile at Hawaii.”
Although regulation sounds terrible, it’s a much-needed step in the right direction for cryptocurrency. While altruistic, letting people run free with this new economy is not the best idea, because everyone brings in habits of the old world such as capitalism (not saying capitalism is bad as a whole, just saying that it comes with its own set of values including greed), and try to find ways to game the ecosystem in order to make a quick buck at the expense of others.
Start Getting Your Hands on Bitcoin
This article isn’t intended to make you an expert on Blockchain, but I hope it gives you enough information to at least wrap your head around a concept that’s still arguably quite obfuscated. Bitcoin is not a super complex beast that only the most technical quantum computer scientists can possibly get a grasp on. If you’ve understood the concepts presented in this article, then you’re on the right track to becoming an informed (potential) investor.
So now you know what decentralization, mining, and blockchain are, and are probably thinking about the potential possibilities and how it’s a potential paradigm to the financial system. If you’re excited to actually start buying Bitcoin, take a look at my write up on 0 to Pro Crypto Trader.
Duke Energy spokeswoman Sally Thelen said they are getting calls from customers upset about higher than normal energy bills. She says the reason for those higher bills is higher energy usage during that bitterly cold weather. But Thelen says most customers aren’t seeing bills that are double the …
CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) –
FOX19 NOW viewers have been taking to Twitter to complain about sky-high Duke Energy bills. One viewer claims bills are double what they typically are.
Duke Energy spokeswoman Sally Thelen said they are getting calls from customers upset about higher than normal energy bills. She says the reason for those higher bills is higher energy usage during that bitterly cold weather.
But Thelen says most customers aren’t seeing bills that are double the normal amount — Duke data shows customers’ natural gas usage from the period of Dec. 15 to Jan. 15 was about 31 percent higher than a year ago.
Depending on your billing cycle and usage, that could mean higher bills for January, February or both.
Thelen suggests customers turn their thermostats to the lowest comfortable setting during a cold snap. She also says Duke’s budget billing program could help make those bills more predictable.
And if you’ve got a smart meter, it’s easy to keep an eye on your usage so you aren’t surprised by a bigger bill.
If there’s just no way you can pay your bill, Duke does offer a program called “Heat Share,” in conjunction with the Salvation Army. It does provide one-time assistance if you qualify. Click or tap here to learn more.