Discerning Artificial Consciousness from Artificial Intelligence

Abstract. This paper attempts to provide a starting point for future investigations into the study of artificial consciousness by proposing a thought …

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‘Great Dictator’ Not Involved in Approving EIPs for Ethereum’s Istanbul Hard Fork

Recently, Ethereum’s core developers finalized the list of code changes for the Istanbul hard fork. Ethereum co-founder Vitalik Buterin says that “this …

Recently, Ethereum’s core developers finalized the list of code changes for the Istanbul hard fork. Ethereum co-founder Vitalik Buterin says that “this happened with *zero* involvement from The Great Dictator™.”

Vitalik made this comment on Twitter in relation to an article about the confirmation of code changes in Istanbul, Ethereum’s next major system-wide upgrade:

Reminder that this happened with *zero* involvement from The Great Dictator™

Much-needed gas repricings that add significant sustainability gains and open the door to ZKP/rollup L2 innovation.

Great work @peter_szilagyi and cohttps://t.co/I2ZKnwHVd9

— Vitalik Non-giver of Ether (@VitalikButerin) August 20, 2019

To understand why Vitalik is sarcastically referring to himself as “The Great Dictator”, we need to remember that he has often been accused by critics of Ethereum of being “in charge” of Ethereum’s development, thereby making the project far less decentralized than it might at first appear.

Perhaps, the best example of this type of attack came on 8 October 2018 when economist Dr. Nouriel Roubini referred to Vitalik as a “dictator for life” in the following tweet:

Decentralization in crypto is a myth. It is a system more centralized than North Korea: miners are centralized, exchanges are centralized, developers are centralized dictators (Buterin is “dictator for life” ) & the Gini inequality coefficient of bitcoin is worse than North Korea

— Nouriel Roubini (@Nouriel) October 8, 2018

A few days earlier, someone had asked Vitalik this question on Twitter: “@VitalklButerin any thoughts on how you will eventually detach yourself from the project?”

This is how Vitalik replied on 5 October 2018:

  • “Already in progress; watch the repos, even much of the research is being done [email protected], @drakefjustin, @icebearhww and others.”
  • “I think ethereum can absolutely survive me spontaneously combusting tomorrow at this point.”
  • “To be clear, ‘detaching”‘ meant detaching from *needing* to participate. No actual plans to disappear any time soon.”

And true to his word, possibly to avoid giving ammunition to critics of Ethereum’s governance process, Vitalik has, in the past couple of years, been mostly focusing on the research for Ethereum 2.0 (“Serenity”), which will introduce “Sharding, Proof of Stake, a new virtual machine (eWASM) and more.”

Péter Szilágyi, the core developer who is the team leader at Ethereum Foundation, had this to say about Vitalik having had zero involvement with the decisions concerning which EIPs (Ethereum Improvement Proposals) should be included in Istanbul:

I’d like to remind everyone, that “zero involvement from The Great Dictator” is not a feature. V has a brilliant mind and I’d much rather have him pinch in on ideas than keep him away due to politics. Just my 2c. https://t.co/CwBt5s9uim

— Péter Szilágyi (@peter_szilagyi) August 21, 2019

As for the Istanbul hard fork itself, according to a report by Coindesk, Ethereum’s core developers finalized the list of EIPs at a meeting held on August 15.

As per previous meetings of the group, which comprises a diverse set of Ethereum stakeholders, the plan is for Istanbul to be executed in two phases:

  • phase 1:  this consists of six EIPs; estimated to go live on the Ethereum mainnet in October;
  • phase 2: this consists of those EIPs, such as the proposal to make Ethereum more ASIC-resistant by moving to a Programmatic Proof-of-Work (ProgPOW) consensus algorithm, that need “further testing and deliberation from core developers.”

At the August 15th meeting, Szilágyi said that activation of Istanbul phase one on Ethereum testnet Ropsten, which some people wanted to happen on September 4, may need to be moved further out in the future to give the teams working on Ethereum clients (such as Parity) sufficient time to test their implementation of the agreed six EIPs before the these changes are rolled out to the testnet.

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Exclusive: A91 Partners in talks to invest in consumer-tech firm

A91 Partners, a venture capital firm floated last year by former Sequoia Capital executives, is in talks for a potential investment.

A91 Partners, a venture capital firm floated last year by former Sequoia Capital executives, is in talks for a potential investment…


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Rethinking Blockchain: Should it Have Been Written In Erlang From The Start?

Under the hood, every blockchain has a mix of different mechanisms to make it work, depending on what programmers believe is the right way to …

Tobia Lindhal asserts that Erlang is the perfect programming language—and disciplinary foundation, for building a blockchain.

T. Lindahl

Under the hood, every blockchain has a mix of different mechanisms to make it work, depending on what programmers believe is the right way to tackle problems. There’s usually no right or wrong solution—there are only better ones. Even forks—carbon copies of existing blockchains—will differ in some ways as developers pursue what they perceive are better ways to deal with scale, speed, and other aspects of distributed systems.

At the very core of blockchains is the engineers’ programming language of choice. Bitcoin was written in C++; Ethereum was written in Go, C++, and now Rust. To build smart contracts on Ethereum, there’s Solidity. Most would have heard of these languages; even casual enthusiasts would have encountered these at one point or another in their daily reads.

Yet there is one language that has been making its way into the discussion. Erlang, despite not being a household name, was actually created 33 years ago. As a matter of fact, it’s an active part of the infrastructure that powers the Internet we use today. Despite not having the same popularity as other more commonly known programming languages, Tobias Lindahl asserts that Erlang is the perfect programming language—and disciplinary foundation, for building a blockchain.

Lindahl, a 20-year Erlang veteran with a Masters of Science in Engineering Physics, spent several years doing research and work on virtual machines (VM). He’s currently part of the star-studded developer team ofæternity, alongside other programming legends—with one of Erlang’s co-creators, Robert Virding among them.

From Scratch: Engineering a Better Blockchain

According to Lindahl, Erlang and blockchain have so many commonalities that it only made sense that it be used for the core blockchain protocol when reimagined from scratch.

“Since blockchains are so heavily reliant on communication, it would have been natural to have it in Erlang in the first place,” Lindahl explained. “The language was built for building distributed systems in telecom. So, communication between nodes is very easy to implement in Erlang.”

He adds that apart from being developed for scalable global networks of nodes, the way programmers think of problems in Erlang gives them a significant advantage when tackling problems in blockchain.

“The immutability in the Erlang language is similar to the immutability of blockchains. Once something has entered the chain, it will never change. This is very similar to how you think about Erlang problems,” he said.

Why Erlang is Perfect for Building a Blockchain

It is easy to claim that one solution is better than the other—in the intensely competitive blockchain space, such claims are far too common. To support his stance, Lindahl illustrates why he believes Erlang is the best programming language for building a blockchain.

“With Erlang, you have immutability of data, so you have no destructive updates. It makes it easier to reason about programs, and even prove some things about them. It also makes it easier to test programs,” he said. He added that Erlang enables not only the massive and rapid distribution of transaction data—it allows multiple processes to run simultaneously without bumping into each other.

“It’s very easy to have a separation of concerns with Erlang. When a process is dealing with something, it doesn’t need to worry about any other process coming in and changing the state of its data. For me this is the main benefit. You have concurrency of course. You can have thousands of processes running at the same time without affecting each other—except when you explicitly want them to communicate.”

As a result, Lindahl and the developer teams at æternity are able to deploy important features seamlessly, and the blockchain is able to handle volume better. The first protocol upgrade of the æternity protocol (hard fork) proved Tobias’ claims—it was executed without a single issue.

“We use the Noise protocol for communication between nodes. It’s easy to set up separate node connections to other nodes without them interfering with each other. That’s another built-in feature of Erlang—it’s easy to manage separate connections without having to deal with semaphores or critical sections of programs,” he said.

“Implementing Noise-like protocols is much more straightforward with Erlang. It’s easy to handle the connections between different nodes because you have this separation of concerns. You can just assign one Erlang process to handle one connection to another node and this can go on and on. And you know that no other processes will interfere with this. So you don’t have to worry about the other connections.” ]

He added that Erlang enables a very resilient system, one that can scale as needed.

“In case a connection dies, another process, called a supervisor, will be notified that his connection died and you can reestablish it,” explained Lindahl. “Erlang has a lot of built-ins for dealing with error recovery and fault tolerance. So, it’s easy to have many Erlang processes running. You can more or less scale infinitely, or to be more accurate, you can scale as far as you need through Erlang. You don’t need to worry about scale and that’s one of the biggest issues in the blockchain industry today.”

Why Didn’t Others Use Erlang For Blockchain-Building?

Lindahl’s arguments are quite convincing, which leads to the question of why blockchain technology wasn’t built on Erlang from the start, and why many well-known blockchain platforms didn’t incorporate Erlang in their own solutions. “The Erlang community isn’t that big. There aren’t that many people using Erlang.”

“I don’t think there’s a fundamental reason why it wasn’t used from the beginning. Obviously, Erlang isn’t best-suited for everything. And perhaps it was the Proof-of-Work (PoW) that was the problem. You wouldn’t implement that in Erlang. That would be totally useless. It would be very slow compared to having a proper C solution or something similar.”

Blockchain: High or Low-Level?

Ultimately, Lindahl says that the distinction between high and low-level programming determines the complexity of how you build a blockchain, which subsequently affects how far you can stretch the possibilities of a platform. In the blockchain industry, this is a game-changer: it can spell a platform’s global scale success over other networks.

“I think with the high-level nature of Erlang, the way you think about problems is that you abstract. You abstract away because you have the high-level context,” Lindahl added. In low-level programming, the programmer gives instructions for every single action. In high-level programming, the programmer gives an objective—and the machine knows all the individual actions necessary to achieve that goal.

For those who are interested in learning more, Lindahl recommends scouring through æternity’sDocumentation Hub. TheirGithub repository is also a good starting point. Apart from these, a community-backed team calledDacade also created a tutorial for æternity Development (from which successful finishers get $100 in AE tokens). And for those who seriously want to get in on the action, they have an upcoming conference,æternity Universe, where developers and entrepreneurs can get answers to their questions straight from æternity’s developers and founders.

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Cardano Stages Recovery, Once More 12th Largest Crypto, IOHK Atala Initiative Announced

A new research paper on IOHK’s Atala initiative has been published. This content cites a new enterprise that is considered as a bane by divided …

The price of Cardano has reportedly staged a comeback which has propelled it back to the 12th position among the top digital assets by market capitalization. Cardano attained this status after beating TRON to retake a position it had previously held. For now, Cardano is steady and the coin’s growth rate of 10.42% has been noted when the digital asset entered a higher level.

The daily trading volume of ADA is listed as $67.063 million by CoinMarketCap. While the overall supply of ADA has reached 25,927,070,538 ADA tokens as of press time. Cardano also has a total market capitalization of $1.387 billion as of August 11. The price of ADA is now changing hands at the $0.053523 area. There is a bullish signal and it appears the brief time that the bears held is almost out. Especially now that ADA has displaced Tron and retaken its position on the charts.

The Price of ADA Hit Resistance at $0.054

For the price of ADA, we can see that was some level of resistance just before the $0.054 area. It should be recalled that Cardano executives have received criticism in the recent months for an absence of progress in the network. There haven’t been any significant reports that detail change in the near future.

RSI for ADA is Improving After Reaching the 43.41 Level

The daily RSI of the ADA/USD pair is Improving through 10 periods. The RSI pattern entered the path to improving after reaching the 43.41 position in one day. The peak points of the Oscillator, for now, has also turned from the red region to green area which shows an improvement. The Oscillator is pointing to a higher chance of the previous bearish trend switching to bullish over an extended period. The MACD pattern for the ADA/USD pair has broken through. It is beginning to look like it might soon soar over the signal pattern. All of these readings are derived from the candlestick chart of the ADA/USD pair.

About IOHK’S Atala and its Major Divisions

In other news, there is a new initiative in the ecosystem. A new research paper on IOHK’s Atala initiative has been published. This content cites a new enterprise that is considered as a bane by divided groups in the crypto community. In the end, Atala is looking to make financial dealings less difficult and more direct for the people in developing countries like Ethiopia, Mongolia and a host of others.

The workings of Atala are similar to that of the Hyperledger Fabric. Below are several key variations between both solutions:

  • Blockchain requirement is optional, no smart contract framework
  • The focus rests on the masses instead of the Fortune 500 corporations, capitalists do not hold any form of control
  • Speeding up cryptocurrency adoption
  • The inclusion of an interoperable DLT infrastructure
  • The leveraging of permissioned and permissionless systems which is paramount for use cases

There are reportedly three major divisions in the Atala model and they include:

  1. Ledger Framework
  2. Agreement Framework
  3. Data Framework

Finally, the most anticipated network in the world which is backed by a research-driven model is back on track.

Brian Lubin is a Crypto News Reporter for Smartereum. He’s well-known for his reports on the crypto markets.

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