Visions of crypto-utopia look increasingly distant

Leo Zhang

By Leo Zhang

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Editor's note

As excitement continues to recede from the cryptocurrency bull market, the real work begins for teams pursuing blockchain integrations. New entrants to the industry are slowly discovering the true nature of crypto-scams: that many of the most talked-about cryptocurrency networks can't actually accomplish basic tasks for which they were designed.

Forget abstract ideological issues about decentralization--we're talking about technology which is broken now, and piling on more technical debt each day. This week, software engineer Andreas Brekken attempts to demonstrate a simple IOTA transaction from scratch, documenting the absurd errors and dependencies he encounters along the way.

This week's news recap

Monday: After a year-long bull market in digital coins, SEC and CFTC seem ready to regulate
Tuesday: Ledger wallet vulnerability instigates wider discussion about computer security
Wednesday: Legacy fintech starting to make Bitcoin look good
Thursday: City of Berkeley, CA is considering an ICO
Friday: Sia vs. Bitmain controversy begs the question: Do ASIC miners destroy networks?

Further readings this week

Inside North Korea's hacker army
(Bloomberg, by Sam Kim)

"North Korea’s hacking prowess is almost as feared globally as its nuclear arsenal. Last May the country was responsible for an internet scourge called WannaCry, which for a few days infected and encrypted computers around the world, demanding that organizations pay ransom in Bitcoin to unlock their data."

Chinese police add facial-recognition glasses to surveillance arsenal
(WSJ, by Josh Chin)

"China is already a global leader in deploying cutting-edge surveillance technologies based on artificial intelligence. The mobile devices could expand the reach of that surveillance, allowing authorities to peer into places that fixed cameras aren’t scanning, and to respond more quickly."

The house that spied on me
(Gizmodo, by Kashmir Hill and Surya Mattu)

"I soon discovered that the only thing worse than getting a bad night’s sleep is to subsequently get a report from my bed telling me I got a low score and 'missed my sleep goal.' Thanks, smart bed, but I know that already. I feel like shit."

The war over the value of personal data
(Commincations of the ACM, by Logan Kuglar)

"In some cases, companies and consumers agree on the value of data and transact in kind. But even when they do, turning consumer data into dollars can be difficult. The real value of data may actually lie in its aggregation. Tech titans are looking to learn about millions of people at once, not individuals, and they value data that has been analyzed in aggregate to deliver insights that can be monetized, rather than a muddle of machine-generated data that hasn't been assessed."

Risk parity derangement syndrome
(AQR, by Cliff Asness)

"To be clear, it’s not unreasonable to think that strategies that target volatility in a long-biased portfolio are likely to sell into the higher market volatility that often coincides with market losses. Nor is it unreasonable to think that strategies that explicitly follow trends are likely to sell into bear markets (that’s kind of obvious)."

Open source project trends for 2018
(Github, by telliott27)

"From frameworks to data visualizations across more than 25 million repositories, you were busy in 2017—and the activity is picking up even more this year. With 2018 well underway, we're using contributor, visitor, and star activity to identify some trends in open source projects for the year ahead."

Simplicity-a new language for blockchains-BPASE'18
(Stanford Cyber Initiative)

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