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Blockchain , cryptocurrencies , bitcoin and distributed ledger technology concept..Block chain , network connect icons and earth furnished by NASA.

Is Bitcoin Just a Flash in the Pan? Peter Thiel Responds

He reveals that PayPal started out as a libertarian project to free money from central control but that proved harder than anticipated

In this fourth and final episode based on his talk at COSM 2019, Peter Thiel — who founded PayPal in part to help break up currency monopolies — offers some thoughts on cryptocurrencies’ future. In the earlier episodes of his discussion at COSM 1919 with philosopher of technology George Gilder, top venture capitalist Peter Thiel offered Three Contrarian Ideas: 1.Big Tech, as it operates today, is communist. 2. Big Tech is also slowing down. And 3. Learning today has almost nothing to do with the so-called educational system. Now, about the future of cryptos: This portion begins at 27:21 min. A partial transcript and notes, Show Notes, and Additional Resources follow. George Gilder: Peter, you started PayPal, in part to…

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Gold bitcoin on dark background

COSM Speaker Peter Thiel: The Failures and “Self-Hatred” of Big Tech

Listen to maverick entrepreneur Peter Thiel’s talk from last year’s COSM conference. Thiel discusses his views of artificial intelligence, Big Tech’s monopoly, China, and the future of technology with legendary tech guru George Gilder. You can register now to hear Peter Thiel and George Gilder at this year’s COSM conference in November. Show Notes 00:50 | Introducing Peter Thiel 01:12…

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man hand bitcoin

Using Benford’s Law to Detect Bitcoin Manipulation

Market prices are not invariably equal to intrinsic values

For a while, there was a popular belief among finance professors that the stock market is “efficient” in the sense that stock prices are always correct — the prices that an all-knowing God would set. Thus, investors can buy any stock, even a randomly selected stock, and be confident that they are paying a fair price. This belief was based on seemingly overwhelming evidence that changes in stock prices are difficult to predict. Efficient market enthusiasts argued that if stock prices are always correct, taking into account all currently available information, then any changes in stock prices must be due to new information which, by definition, is impossible to predict. Therefore, the evidence that changes in stock prices are hard to…

Sad african american guy holding golden bitcoin

June Crypto Mayhem: A Tough Month for Cryptocurrencies

What has caused the dramatic drops in Bitcoin, Dogecoin, Etherium, and NFT values?

The month of June has been tough on the world of cryptocurrencies, with the past week being especially harsh. It is difficult to pin down a single, specific cause behind the pullback, as a variety of new and nagging concerns about the viability of cryptocurrencies continue to mount. As for the price action, Bitcoin dropped like a rock down below $30k this past week, less than half of what its high in the last year has been. The meme cryptocurrency Dogecoin lost over 60% of its value, down to $0.24 from a high of $0.72 earlier this year. Etherium has been cut in half, as have many other cryptocurrencies. The NFT market, whose enthusiasm has ridden on the back of…

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Huge smoke clouds on sky background

Cloud Computing? There’s a Lot of Smoke in Those Clouds

Big Tech creates many environment issues that we do not often hear about, the way we hear about coal mines and landfills

When we think about environment problems, we naturally imagine huge smokestacks turning the sky dark and coating the trees with soot. But glitzy high tech stuff like cloud computing and cryptocurrency use a lot of energy too. Cloud computing, where we use computing resources via the internet without installing and maintaining them, is a huge energy hog we never see: The music video for “Despacito” set an Internet record in April 2018 when it became the first video to hit five billion views on YouTube. In the process, “Despacito” reached a less celebrated milestone: it burned as much energy as 40,000 U.S. homes use in a year. Naomi Xu Elegant, “The Internet Cloud Has a Dirty Secret” at Fortune (September…

Logical Diagrams
Making business plan. Businessperson drawing diagrams. Many graphs and hand drawn diagrams.

Why Impractical Things Like Philosophy Are Actually Quite Useful

Chaitin argues that the human spirit is capable of doing both practical things and impractical things which may have practical consequences later

In last week’s podcast,, “The Chaitin Interview V: Chaitin’s Number,” Walter Bradley Center director Robert J. Marks continued his conversation with mathematician Gregory Chaitin, best known for Chaitin’s unknowable number. Last time, they looked at how Chaitin’s unknowable number relates to computer pioneer Alan Turing’s vexing halting problem in computer science. This time, they look at the way pure mathematics has a way of being highly practical: It creates a basis for new understanding, leading to technical breakthroughs: This portion begins at 09:50 min. A partial transcript, Show Notes, and Additional Resources follow. Gregory Chaitin: There are always going to be a few of us who like to do practical things. That’s part of my personality too, but there’s also,…

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Abstract virtual binary code illustration on blurry modern office building background. Big data and coding concept. Multiexposure

The Chaitin Interview V: Chaitin’s Number

Listen in as Robert J. Marks picks the mind of Professor Gregory Chaitin about Chaitin’s number – a number that has been called “mystical and magical”. How does this number work? Why do some people call it “Chaitin’s constant”? What is the usefulness of philosophizing in mathematics? Show Notes 00:27 | Introducing Gregory Chaitin and Chaitin’s number 01:32 | Chaitin’s…

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Businessman gives the bitcoin man.selective focus.block chain Technology concept.War of bitcoin,Digital currency.

The Startling Energy Costs of Bitcoin

As Bitcoin gains credibility, power consumption worries grow

Most people are aware of the rising price of Bitcoin. Despite the fact that most people are unaware of how to transact in it, and few merchants take it as a form of currency, Bitcoin is becoming an increasingly popular investment. As interest in Bitcoin grows, a few people are starting to take notice of the startling energy costs associated with Bitcoin transactions. As Mind Matters has been pointing out for years, the energy costs associated with having a “trustless” system such as Bitcoin is immense, with Bitcoin transactions generally costing 400,000 times as much energy as a single transaction on the Visa network. According to the BBC, the Bitcoin network – which, again, very few people are regularly transacting in – now consumes more energy than the…

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denim jean production

In China, Forced Uyghur Labor Produces Many Fashionable Products

Industries such as fashion and solar panels rely heavily on supplies from detention centers and concentration camps in China

China has been called the “world’s factory.” American companies like Apple, may assemble their tech in the U.S., but the parts are made elsewhere, including Xinjiang, China (Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region). Industries such as fashion and solar panels also rely heavily on Xinjiang for their supply lines. Reports from the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI) and the Center for Strategic and International Studies in the U.S., as well as testimonials from Uyghurs, show that many such factories in Xinjiang involve the forced labor of Uyghurs in what are called “vocational training schools.” These vocational training schools are more appropriately described as detention centers. In many cases, they are essentially concentration camps. Many Uyghurs are also sent from Xinjiang to other…

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ethereum Crypto currency was found in the treasure box

Ethereum Is a Better Long Run Bet Than Bitcoin, Researchers Say

Cryptocurrencies in general are starting to be seen as part of a balanced portfolio

In an article featuring recent science research into the cryptocurrency market, Ross Pomeroy offers some researchers’ perspective on why Ethereum tends to be more stable than Bitcoin: Ethereum might be a better long-term investment than Bitcoin. The cryptocurrency Ethereum ranks second to Bitcoin in terms of popularity, yet two studies have shown that tends to be more stable and a better “safe-haven” investment during difficult economic times. As a team of researchers from Singapore wrote in the journal PLoS ONE, “Although both Bitcoin and Ethereum are digital tokens that serve as decentralised currency based on blockchain technology, there are crucial differences between them. While Bitcoin has positioned itself as an alternative monetary system in the financial market, Ethereum has mostly…

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Crypto currency background with various of shiny silver and golden physical cryptocurrencies symbol coins, Bitcoin, Ethereum, Litecoin, zcash, ripple

What If Many People Ditched Government Currencies for Bitcoin?

Are cryptocurrencies our best bet for a fair global currency system?

Picture a world racked by economic issues like coronavirus, where people begin ditching government (fiat) currencies for Bitcoin. Small changes are are underway: The chief economist did not mention that a growing number of jurisdictions are already embracing bitcoin for tax payments. For example, the canton of Zug in Switzerland announced that it will start accepting bitcoin for tax payments this year. Several other local governments in Switzerland have made a similar announcement, such as Zermatt. Recently, the mayor of Miami said that he is working on allowing payments for city services in bitcoin. Furthermore, a growing number of stores are accepting bitcoin payments. Payments giant Paypal, for example, is planning to allow people to use cryptocurrency to pay for…

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Golden bitcoin coin in fire flame, water splashes and lightning. Bitcoin Gold blockchain hard fork concept. Cryptocurrency symbol in storm illustration with peer to peer network background.

Bitcoin: What’s Good, What’s Bad and What’s the Future?

Bitcoins are currently bouncing in the range of $30,000 to $40,000 each

Bitcoin has been having quite the wild ride over the last several months, and especially the last several weeks. During 2020, the price of a single bitcoin dipped below $5,000, then soared past $20,000 in December. It is currently bouncing in the range of $30,000 to $40,000.So what is the attraction of the digital currency Bitcoin? Why is the value of a bitcoin so high and what are people doing with it? To begin with, keep in mind that a “single bitcoin” is a bit of a misnomer. While a single bitcoin is indeed expensive, coins can be split. The smallest unit in Bitcoin is known as a satoshi, which is 0.00000001 bitcoin. While the quoted price is always given…

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Colorful quantum world fractal

“Spooky Action at a Distance” Makes Sense—in the Quantum World

Einstein never liked quantum mechanics but each transistor in your cell phone is a quantum device

In last week’s podcast, “Enrique Blair on quantum computing,” Walter Bradley Center director Robert J. Marks talks with fellow computer engineer Enrique Blair about why quantum mechanics is so strange. The discussion turned to why Albert Einstein, a brilliant but orderly mathematical thinker, did not really like quantum mechanics at all and what we should learn from that: https://episodes.castos.com/mindmatters/Mind-Matters-110-Enrique-Blair.mp3 The discussion of Einstein and “spooky action at a distance” (his way of describing quantum particles’ behavior) starts at approximately 27:45. The Show Notes and transcript follow. Excerpts from the transcript: Robert J. Marks: Albert Einstein didn’t like quantum mechanics or certain aspects of quantum mechanics. Dd he die thinking that quantum mechanics was a fluke? Enrique Blair (pictured): That’s an…

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Black diagonal chain, a blockchain concept, double

Can Blockchain Help Ensure Fraud Free Voting?

Could blockchain have prevented the current controversy around voter fraud in the recent U.S. election?

In Wednesday’s meeting between Donald Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani and Republican senators from the Pennsylvania legislature about potential voter fraud in the state, one state senator suggested blockchain as a potential cure for the type of voter fraud being alleged. A company called VOATZ has the technology to do this and was mentioned by name. Blockchain is the secret sauce that keeps bitcoin working. Each new bitcoin transaction is encrypted as a new link in the chain, which is distributed to numerous sites. If anyone tries to change a link in the blockchain, everyone who stores the bitcoin blockchain knows it, so the fraud is detected and removed. The beauty of blockchain is that trust is assured among people who…

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Blockchain technology. Information blocks in digital space. Decentralized global network. Cyberspace data protection. 3D illustration with elements of a binary code

While the West Hesitates, China Is Moving to Blockchain

Life After Google by George Gilder, advocating blockchain, became a best seller in China and received a social sciences award

In this week’s podcast, “George Gilder on blockchain and carbon computing,” tech philosopher George Gilder and computer engineer Robert J. Marks, our Walter Bradley Center director, continued their discussion of the impact of artificial intelligence (AI). This time, they focused on the future of blockchain, of quantum computing, and carbon computing.What difference will they make? Quite a lot it seems. Today, we will look at what happens when blockchain goes global. You can download Gilder’s new book, Gaming AI, for free here. The three earlier episodes and transcripts in this series are also linked below. And so now… https://episodes.castos.com/mindmatters/Mind-Matters-108-George-Gilder.mp3 Gilder and Marks discussed both the huge surge of interest in blockchain in China and the central weakness of Bitcoin, whose…

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bitcoin wallet and currency

George Gilder on Blockchain and Carbon Computing

George Gilder and Robert J. Marks discuss blockchain, Bitcoin, quantum and carbon computing, and George Gilder’s new book Gaming AI: Why AI Can’t Think but Can Transform Jobs (which you can get for free here). Show Notes 00:26 | Introducing George Gilder 01:00 | Blockchain 07:57 | Facial recognition 10:30 | Bitcoin 15:04 | Quantum computing 18:16 | Carbon computing…

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Crypto currency background with various of shiny silver and golden physical cryptocurrencies symbol coins, Bitcoin, Ethereum, Litecoin, zcash, ripple

Has COVID-19 Helped or Harmed Crypto and Blockchain?

Cryptocurrencies rebounded after an initial slump earlier this year

The recently aired discussion at COSM about the future of bitcoin and other privately minted cryptocurrencies took place last October, before COVID-19 was much thought of in the Western world. Catching up, the cryptos and blockchain had a rough ride earlier this year but they have stabilized recently. In February, as the pandemic sent markets scurrying, things were looking grim for the cryptos: During the last week, the spread of the coronavirus has been all over the news; the virus, which had remained well-contained in China, spread throughout South Korea, Iran, Italy, and is now reaching its fingers into other parts of Europe. The New York Times reported on Thursday that “the signs were everywhere…that the epidemic shaking much of…

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Worried doctors and medical researchers on conference meeting, discussing possible solutions for resolving a world health crisis. Health and medical care concept. Selective focus.

Computers Excel at Finding Temporary Patterns

Which contributes to the replication crisis in science

The scientific method calls for the rigorous testing of plausible theories, ideally through randomized controlled trials. For example, a study of a COVID-19 vaccine might give the vaccine to 10,000 randomly selected people and a placebo to another 10,000, and compare the infection rates for the two groups. If the difference in the infection rates is too improbable to be explained by chance, then the difference is deemed statistically significant. How improbable? In the 1920s, the great British statistician, Sir Ronald Fisher , said that he favored a 5 percent threshold. So 5 percent became the Holy Grail. Unfortunately, the establishment of a 5 percent hurdle for statistical significance has had the perverse effect of encouraging researchers to do whatever…

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Twitter handle with care

What’s the Main Thing We Should Learn from the Big Twitter Hack?

Yes, Twitter got control of its platform back but not before its credibility in security matters was significantly weakened

As we reported at the time, on July 15, hackers gained control of a number of Twitter “Blue Checkmark” accounts. Twitter hands out Blue Checkmarks to accounts that exert heavy influence and have verified identities. That status permits many parody accounts to operate without generating confusion over who is really tweeting, the account or the parody. In any case, on Twitter, the Blue Checkmarks have quite a bit of power. They get access to analytics on their posts so they can measure (and manipulate) their engagement with their followers. Many influencers look for “Blue Checkmark” status to see if an account is worth engaging with. Twitter even allows the “Blue Checkmarks” to filter their conversations so as to limit them…

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Check mark on shield, Security, safe, privacy or other Security concept background, Data Protection Concept, Technology Background

Hackers Seize Popular Twitter Accounts for Giant Bitcoin Scam

Scammers have gained access to a number of high-profile Twitter accounts, including those of Warren Buffett, Bill Gates, Kanye West, and Elon Musk

Today, hackers gained control of a number of Twitter accounts, and used them to scam people out of their Bitcoin money. As we have reported before, the security within Bitcoin actually seems to facilitate scams. In the current ripoff, scammers have gained access to a number of high-profile Twitter accounts, including those of Warren Buffett, Bill Gates, Kanye West, and Elon Musk. Their usual line is that they are seeking matching donations to a good cause. So if the user sends Bitcoin to a certain wallet address, the high-profile Twitter account will send a matching donation. However, the wallet address (and the promised match) are both frauds, and the money goes straight into the scammers’ pockets. It is unclear how…