“There will be in the next generation or so a pharmacological method of making people love their servitude and producing dictatorship without tears, so to speak, producing a kind of painless concentration camp for entire societies so that people will in fact have their liberties taken away from them but will rather enjoy it.”

― Aldous Huxley

Public key encryption has given people a way to communicate privately without being monitored by governemts or organizations.

In fact, with the use of encryption in sending messages, exchanging cryptocurrencies and using certain tools a person can hide his own identity. This includes a person´s location and everythng down to any type of contents or conversations.

Encryption has created a way to have a pretty good layer of anonymity (not 100%) online. This gives another advantage to question authority by enabling and autonomous way of doing things in a private manner.

Our successes and failures lie in how we deal with the inevitable conflicts that come our way. Most people operate by trying to avoid conflict by running away from it or manipulating others. They are not aware of what is going on: they just want to get away with it, and this makes the situation worse in the long run.

 

The Future Shape of Things

Sebastian Friebel, Former parliamentary adviser to the German Bundestag. Many people have recognised these tendencies and rightly resist them. It is also very likely that in the coming months and years, more and more citizens will come to realise that their freedom and prosperity are under serious threat.

It is equally likely that this realisation will lead to widespread protests against government and the power of the global mega-corporations. If this should happen, I appeal to all soldiers and policemen not to forget to whose protection you have actually committed your services. Remember that a state that serves only the interests of a profit-oriented minority is also a threat to your freedom and that of your families. It is no coincidence that the concentration of wealth in the hands of the few is increasing unchecked, while at the same time leaving the general population with less and less and making them ever more dependent.

The media and politicians are already desperately trying to present protests against all these developments as coming from the extreme right. They do not even shy away from brazen misrepresentations, as their coverage of the protests against the corona measures impressively demonstrates. Should my report reach a wider audience, I too will certainly also be put in the corner of the right-wing extremists, conspiracy theorists or citizens nostalgic for the German Reich. This would not matter to me, because it is only a matter of time before citizens will see through this hateful propaganda against divergent opinions. In the end, the good will and genuine solidarity of the people will assert themselves. I have no doubt about that.

https://lockdownsceptics.org/the-future-shape-of-things/

The Creature from the Jekyll Island

The magnitude by which reality deviates from the accepted myth is so great that, for most people, it simply is beyond credibility. Anyone carrying this message is immediately suspected of paranoia. Who will listen to a mad-man?

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/G._Edward_Griffin#The_Creature_from_Jekyll_Island

Where does money come from? Where does it go? Who makes it? The money magicians’ secrets are unveiled. Here is a close look at their mirrors and smoke machines, the pulleys, cogs, and wheels that create the grand illusion called money.

The Creature from Jekyll Island by G. Edward Griffin

How To Make A Mint: The Cryptography of Anonymous Electronic Cash

NSA paper on electronic cash, 1996: “How To Make A Mint: The Cryptography of Anonymous Electronic Cash”. Electronic payment systems come in many forms including digital checks, debit cards, credit cards, and stored value cards. The usual security features for such systems are privacy (protection from eavesdropping), authenticity (provides user identification and message integrity), and nonrepudiation (prevention of later denying having performed a transaction).

The type of electronic payment system focused on in this paper is electronic cash. As the name implies, electronic cash is an attempt to construct an electronic payment system modelled after our paper cash system. Paper cash has such features as being: portable (easily carried), recognizable (as legal tender) hence readily acceptable, transferable (without involvement of the financial network), untraceable (no record of where money is spent), anonymous (no record of who spent the money) and has the ability to make “change.” The designers of electronic cash focused on preserving the features of untraceability and anonymity. Thus, electronic cash is defined to be an electronic payment system that provides, in addition to the above security features, the properties of user anonymity and payment untraceability..

https://groups.csail.mit.edu/mac/classes/6.805/articles/money/nsamint/nsamint.htm

Blockchain: The fusion of a Database with a Network

To some, the blockchain architecture is a breakthrough because it constitutes the first large-scale fusion of a database with a network.

The Networked Database

Frst we had isolated databases, then we created the internet to connect databases to the network, and with the blockchain we are essentially merging both concepts in a completely secured and reliable way.

So at the basis of everything we have a peer-to-peer network of nodes who all run a special piece of software that can store data, run some transactions to update the data, and connect with its peers to download and spread new data.

One of the breakthroughs of Bitcoin was the ability for the database and the consensus to stay consistent, even as nodes join and leave the network, without requiring those nodes to authenticate in any way.

All you need to do to join the network is to install the wallet client on your machine, let it synchronize its local database copy and start creating transactions and downloading new blocks as they are created.

Getting into the net

Now to run a fully secure node, you actually need to download a full copy of the database first, which can take days, and is a major barrier to entry for most people.

That’s why it is also possible – although way less robust and secure – to create an account on a website running a remote node storing your wallet in a remote database, and creating transactions on your behalf.

That’s what most exchange marketplaces like Coinbase or Kraken allow you to do. But they are mostly proxies for currency transactions. They don’t deal with smart contracts and more sophisticated business transactions.

There are also browser plug-ins that allow you to link your browser with a remote wallet, like Metamask for Chrome.

On the other end of the security spectrum, you also have the possibility to use hardware wallets like the ones offered by LedgerWallet, or pure cold storage by printing your wallet information on paper and storing it in a physical safe.

The wallet is the key

The main point to remember here is that, contrary to a centralized system, in a blockchain your wallet is your only key to joining the network. So if you lose your wallet or you store it online and somebody steals it there, you essentially lose access to your balance and your transactions.

Once you join the network the next vital element is the distributed ledger. And again, the only way to make fully secured transactions is to first download a full verified copy of the entire ledger.

With this, you can trace all transactions and all blocks, all the way to the genesis block, and make sure that transactions you create are going to be based on the right version of the truth.

Truth is consistency

This truth is essentially a series of blocks, chained with one another and containing lists of ordered transactions. The integrity and validity of those blocks of transactions is guaranteed by a series of cryptographic mechanisms.

But the one thing to know is that, once those proofs are established, it becomes extremely costly to go back in history and change one transaction in the past.

If you want to do that, then you have to compute again the block in which the transaction is stored, along with all the subsequent blocks to catch up with the rest of the network, the cost of which increases exponentially with each added block.

We call this property transaction finality. In the case of an open blockchain, it is never absolute, but breaking it requires what is called a 51% attack.

In other words, one mining node, or one organization controlling a set of mining nodes, would need to have more than half of the entire network’s power to be faster than the rest of the network in creating fraudulent transactions and blocks.

The consensus algorithm

Which brings us to another key element of the blockchain: the consensus algorithm. Simple user nodes don’t need to participate in the consensus algorithm. This mechanism, which is implemented by the mining process, can be disabled in most software clients, but if you do enable that feature and start participating in the mining process, then you take part in the consensus algorithm.

The most widespread form of consensus algorithm right now is of type proof-of-work (PoW). That’s what both Bitcoin and Ethereum blockchain implementations are using for now, and that involves contributing power in the form of computing capacity, measured as hash rate.

Most proof-of-work algorithms actually work, but the more processing power you can contribute, the higher the probability of your machine solving the consensus puzzle, and finding the next block to be appended to the blockchain ledger.

In other words, you can see this consensus algorithm as a game process to choose who is going to be the next node to decide how the network history is going to evolve.

It is a very clever mechanism as it doesn’t require any central point to choose a winner, and it mitigates potential race conditions, which means several nodes finding puzzle solutions almost simultaneously and spreading them across the network competitively.

This consensus algorithm also uses a combination of cryptographic mechanisms to do its work in an indisputable and immutable fashion. This adds a built-in trust mechanism to the blockchain that is incredibly valuable when you’re dealing with valuable transactions such as currency transfers or any kind of smart-contract-worthy business transactions.

Put differently, this consensus algorithm, once proven and accepted, essentially has the potential to replace a multiplicity of human processes to check and verify the validity of business transactions, which gives it all its disintermediation power.

Scalability as a weakness

One last important point about consensus algorithms is that, although Bitcoin and Ethereum chose to use some variant of a proof-of-work algorithm, those are starting to show their limits in terms of scalability and energy efficiency.

Indeed, they tend to get slower and slower as networks grow, and they consume more and more useless electricity and computing hardware, which is regarded more and more negatively in this world of climate change. That’s precisely why alternatives are being researched, the most promising of which is probably proof-of-stake.

The mathematic specifics are complex but in its most generic definition, you can see it as a way to come up to a consensus based on betting money instead of hardware and electricity to increase your chances to win the mining competition.

Ethereum is currently working on a future switch to a proof-of-stake consensus algorithm to replace is current proof-of-work one. this work-in-progress is codenamed Casper, and it should be deployed sometime in the future.

Lets talk about Solidity

It’s about 2 years since I don’t code a dapp and it’s time to recapitulate about the whole concept. Here are some notes and thoughts about Solidity.

Solidity itself is a simple language as a programming language

Solidity is a high-level language for ETH contracts. It makes it much easier for human to code, understand and then compile the code into the EVM so the ETH network can read it in a way the computer can understand. It’s a purposefully slimmed down, loosely typed language with a syntax similar to ECMAScript (JS).

Compilers such as Solidity is a compiler code into IBM code which is uploaded into the BC in the form of a transaction. Then anyone can execute it later on ETH BC.

Some basic ideas

– A OO Programming Language to Generate Smart Contracts.
– It helps developers in writing smart contracts which gets converted into byte code, which further gets executed in Ethereum Blockchain.
– Initially proposed in August 2014 by Gavin Wood.
– It has similarities to JavaScript and C (check the functions below)
– Program language of ETH BC and other competing platforms.
– Solidity is first converted into byte code and then gets executed in the EVM
– With Solidity developers can develop self enforcement applications.
– Solidity supports inheritance, libraries and a complex user-defined type which make it possible to create contracts for voting, crowdfunding, blind options, multisize wallets and many more.
– Runs in ETH BC and other BCs.
– Dapps: application that implement SELF ENFORCING business logic in the smart contracts.

Solidity to build smart contracts on top of Ethereum

Once the contract code is in the EVM (ETH Virtual Machine, the network) it needs people to interact with reality because there are no connections, otherwise its isolated. The reason is that anything that executes in the EVM needs to be deterministic. You can’t generate random numbers easily inside the EVM: it requires an outside interaction.

The contract object is the highest level we have in Solidity (class). Contracts expose some number of functions.

Functions and the issue with  security

Contracts are easy to WRITE. But difficult to write SECURELY. Specially when you are dealing with funds. Many functions let someone to hack it and manipulate it circularly which makes them unsafe.

Public functions are callable by anybody e.g. want anybody who has X coin to check how many of them do they have in their wallet. Anyone can call it!.

=> Public functions are sort of the exposed API, exposed to the world. Things that you allow outside actors to interact with your contract.

Internal functions: only callable from inside the program so you only let other functions and not outsiders to use them.

Hashing real stuff

Hashing real pictures (not QR codes) is a very tricky and interesting problem; similar to the one Google uses for ‘similar images’ search. This algorithm its called “Locality-sensitive hashing”.

https://stackoverflow.com/questions/998662/what-is-image-hashing-used-for

Perceptual hashing is the use of an algorithm that produces a snippet or fingerprint of various forms of multimedia.[1][2] Perceptual hash functions are analogous if features are similar, whereas cryptographic hashing relies on the avalanche effect of a small change in input value creating a drastic change in output value.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Locality-sensitive_hashing

Obfuscation vs Encryption

Obfuscation is similar to encryption but doesn´t require a ‘secret’ to understand. Encryption is reversible but a ‘secret’ is required to do so.

Obfuscation is similar to encryption but doesn´t require a ‘secret’ to understand. Encryption is reversible but a ‘secret’ is required to do so.

Obfuscation generally involves removing clues from information (whitespace, etc.) to make something difficult to read. It provides no real or true level of security like that of encryption.

Encryption can follow several models, one of which is the ‘secret’ method, called Private Key Encryption, where both parties have a secret. Public key encryption uses a shared one-way key to encrypt and a private recipient key to decrypt. With public key only the recipient needs to have the secret.

The 3 Focus Mantra

This is a good framework to help entrepreneurs to make sense of the chaos and uncertainty. The 3 focus mantra.

🎯 Focus on who you really are, how to strengthen your skills to create amazing stuff, and make the world a better place. This is related to purpose and coaching.

🎯 Focus on developing ONE single product with one price targeted to a single niche. This is about product management.

🎯 Focus on opening one stable sales channel for this niche and use one single key metric to measure progress. This is related to demand generation.

Every time you are not focused you waste time and energy, which are the really scarce and valuable resources; not money.

Distribution and Branding are Everything

The 6 degrees of separation is a myth: great product fail because they never find their way in front of the public eye.

Distribution is everything, branding is everything. Get your name out there, whatever it takes. The best distribution is of course word of mouth, which is why your initial pricing doesn’t really matter.

The most powerful growing products to 3 things at once: they make you look smart to the people you invite, they give real value to you when the people you invite joins, and they give real value to the people you’ve invited once they sign in.

AI and the Selfish Gene

Epigenetics theories of Larmarck applied to AI and predictive behaviour in humans. Evolution does not serve individuals but genes propagation (Dawkins ‘selfish genes’).

Use personal data as DNA that is transfered from individual to individual in a world where individuals are just the ‘interfaces’ for genes to learn and spread across the world.

Google´s The Selfish Ledger:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QDVVo14A_fo

Evolution is about getting our genes to the next generation, It has no investment in our happiness, or even in the long term survival of our species.

See also The Selfish Gene.

For more information about epigenetics its also interesting latest study from D.Chopra: Meditation and Your Genes: Groundbreaking Study by Deepak Chopra & Top Scientists.

 

The 20- Interview Rule for B2B Startups

Before you write a single line of code, formulate a business plan, or take some other kind of leap, interview 20 real potential customers. Not your friends or people you know. They have real potential buyers: and they have to be 20 of them.

You need the first five interviews just to truly understand the white space and the current opportunity. Make another five to confirm your pattern recognition.

And use interviews 11-20 to nail the pitch and hone your thesis. This will filter the ‘nice to haves’ from the ‘must haves’ in your pitch so you can dig on what is really x10 better.

When you are solving business problems (not consumer problems) research matters.

(From “From Impossible to Inevitable”).

From Rigid to Fluent Product Management

Early startups at the end of XX century adopted engineering procedures similar to those of big companies: long development cycles, product launches, detailed business plans, goals, etc.

This business school approach ended in failure almost always. Losers blindly execute a rigid product management and introduction methodology, trusting everything to the vision and the funding.

Successful product management happens when one team reports to one leader. That leader manages the information loop from customers back to product development, and back out to customers in a continuous flow.

The Advantage of Chatbots in Marketing

The key advantage of chatbots is that they are ready to interact with potential customers 24/7. They can answer any question in a jiffy – be its square footage, leasing terms, or any other topic of interest for real estate domain.

Moreover, based on user preferences, a chatbot can make personalized offerings. All in all, real-estate chatbots are very effective at engaging visitors and generating higher lead conversions.

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