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Meet Brock Pierce, the Presidential Candidate With Ties to Pedophiles Who Wants to End Human Trafficking

thedailybeast.com | Sep. 20, 2020.
The “Mighty Ducks” actor is running for president. He clears the air (sort of) to Tarpley Hitt about his ties to Jeffrey Epstein and more.
In the trailer for First Kid, the forgettable 1996 comedy about a Secret Service agent assigned to protect the president’s son, the title character, played by a teenage Brock Pierce, describes himself as “definitely the most powerful kid in the universe.” Now, the former child star is running to be the most powerful man in the world, as an Independent candidate for President of the United States.
Before First Kid, the Minnesota-born actor secured roles in a series of PG-rated comedies, playing a young Emilio Estevez in The Mighty Ducks, before graduating to smaller parts in movies like Problem Child 3: Junior in Love. When his screen time shrunk, Pierce retired from acting for a real executive role: co-founding the video production start-up Digital Entertainment Network (DEN) alongside businessman Marc Collins-Rector. At age 17, Pierce served as its vice president, taking in a base salary of $250,000.
DEN became “the poster child for dot-com excesses,” raising more than $60 million in seed investments and plotting a $75 million IPO. But it turned into a shorthand for something else when, in October of 1999, the three co-founders suddenly resigned. That month, a New Jersey man filed a lawsuit alleging Collins-Rector had molested him for three years beginning when he was 13 years old. The following summer, three teens filed a sexual-abuse lawsuit against Pierce, Collins-Rector, and their third co-founder, Chad Shackley. The plaintiffs later dropped their case against Pierce (he made a payment of $21,600 to one of their lawyers) and Shackley. But after a federal grand jury indicted Collins-Rector on criminal charges in 2000, the DEN founders left the country. When Interpol arrested them in 2002, they said they had confiscated “guns, machetes, and child pornography” from the trio’s beach villa in Spain.
While abroad, Pierce had pivoted to a new venture: Internet Gaming Entertainment, which sold virtual accessories in multiplayer online role-playing games to those desperate to pay, as one Wired reporter put it, “as much as $1,800 for an eight-piece suit of Skyshatter chain mail” rather than earn it in the games themselves. In 2005, a 25-year-old Pierce hired then-Goldman Sachs banker Steve Bannon—just before he would co-found Breitbart News. Two years later, after a World of Warcraft player sued the company for “diminishing” the fun of the game, Steve Bannon replaced Pierce as CEO.
Collins-Rector eventually pleaded guilty to eight charges of child enticement and registered as a sex offender. In the years that followed, Pierce waded into the gonzo economy of cryptocurrencies, where he overlapped more than once with Jeffrey Epstein, and counseled him on crypto. In that world, he founded Tether, a cryptocurrency that bills itself as a “stablecoin,” because its value is allegedly tied to the U.S. dollar, and the blockchain software company Block.one. Like his earlier businesses, Pierce’s crypto projects see-sawed between massive investments and curious deals. When Block.one announced a smart contract software called EOS.IO, the company raised $4 billion almost overnight, setting an all-time record before the product even launched. The Securities and Exchange Commission later fined the company $24 million for violating federal securities law. After John Oliver mocked the ordeal, calling Pierce a “sleepy, creepy cowboy,” Block.one fired him. Tether, meanwhile, is currently under investigation by the New York Attorney General for possible fraud.
On July 4, Pierce announced his candidacy for president. His campaign surrogates include a former Cambridge Analytica director and the singer Akon, who recently doubled down on developing an anonymously funded, $6 billion “Wakanda-like” metropolis in Senegal called Akon City. Pierce claims to be bipartisan, and from the 11 paragraphs on the “Policy” section of his website it can be hard to determine where he falls on the political spectrum. He supports legalizing marijuana and abolishing private prisons, but avoids the phrase “climate change.” He wants to end “human trafficking.” His proposal to end police brutality: body cams.
His political contributions tell a more one-sided story. Pierce’s sole Democratic contribution went to the short-lived congressional run of crypto candidate Brian Forde. The rest went to Republican campaigns like Marco Rubio, Rick Perry, John McCain, and the National Right to Life Political Action Committee. Last year alone, Pierce gave over $44,000 to the Republican National Committee and more than $55,000 to Trump’s re-election fund.
Pierce spoke to The Daily Beast from his tour bus and again over email. Those conversations have been combined and edited for clarity.
You’re announcing your presidential candidacy somewhat late, and historically, third-party candidates haven’t had the best luck with the executive office. If you don’t have a strong path to the White House, what do you want out of the race?
I announced on July 4, which I think is quite an auspicious date for an Independent candidate, hoping to bring independence to this country. There’s a lot of things that I can do. One is: I’m 39 years old. I turn 40 in November. So I’ve got time on my side. Whatever happens in this election cycle, I’m laying the groundwork for the future. The overall mission is to create a third major party—not another third party—a third major party in this country. I think that is what America needs most. George Washington in his closing address warned us about the threat of political parties. John Adams and the other founding fathers—their fear for our future was two political parties becoming dominant. And look at where we are. We were warned.
I believe, having studied systems, any time you have a system of two, what happens is those two things come together, like magnets. They come into collision, or they become polarized and become completely divided. I think we need to rise above partisan politics and find a path forward together. As Albert Einstein is quoted—I’m not sure the line came from him, but he’s quoted in many places—he said that the definition of insanity is making the same mistake or doing the same thing over and over and over again, expecting a different result. [Ed. note: Einstein never said this.] It feels like that’s what our election cycle is like. Half the country feels like they won, half the country feels like they lost, at least if they voted or participated.
Obviously, there’s another late-comer to the presidential race, and that’s Kanye West. He’s received a lot of flak for his candidacy, as he’s openly admitted to trying to siphon votes away from Joe Biden to ensure a Trump victory. Is that something you’re hoping to avoid or is that what you’re going for as well?
Oh no. This is a very serious campaign. Our campaign is very serious. You’ll notice I don’t say anything negative about either of the two major political candidates, because I think that’s one of the problems with our political system, instead of people getting on stage, talking about their visionary ideas, inspiring people, informing and educating, talking about problems, mentioning problems, talking about solutions, constructive criticism. That’s why I refuse to run a negative campaign. I am definitely not a spoiler. I’m into data, right? I’m a technologist. I’ve got digital DNA. So does most of our campaign team. We’ve got our finger on the pulse.
Most of my major Democratic contacts are really happy to see that we’re running in a red state like Wyoming. Kanye West’s home state is Wyoming. He’s not on the ballot in Wyoming I could say, in part, because he didn’t have Akon on his team. But I could also say that he probably didn’t want to be on the ballot in Wyoming because it’s a red state. He doesn’t want to take additional points in a state where he’s only running against Trump. But we’re on the ballot in Wyoming, and since we’re on the ballot in Wyoming I think it’s safe—more than safe, I think it’s evident—that we are not here to run as a spoiler for the benefit of Donald Trump.
In running for president, you’ve opened yourself up to be scrutinized from every angle going back to the beginning of your career. I wanted to ask you about your time at the Digital Entertainment Network. Can you tell me a little bit about how you started there? You became a vice president as a teenager. What were your qualifications and what was your job exactly?
Well, I was the co-founder. A lot of it was my idea. I had an idea that people would use the internet to watch videos, and we create content for the internet. The idea was basically YouTube and Hulu and Netflix. Anyone that was around in the ‘90s and has been around digital media since then, they all credit us as the creators of basically those ideas. I was just getting a message from the creator of The Vandals, the punk rock band, right before you called. He’s like, “Brock, looks like we’re going to get the Guinness Book of World Records for having created the first streaming television show.”
We did a lot of that stuff. We had 30 television shows. We had the top most prestigious institutions in the world as investors. The biggest names. High-net-worth investors like Terry Semel, who’s chairman and CEO of Warner Brothers, and became the CEO of Yahoo. I did all sorts of things. I helped sell $150,000 worth of advertising contracts to the CEOs of Pepsi and everything else. I was the face of the company, meeting all the major banks and everything else, selling the vision of what the future was.
You moved in with Marc Collins-Rector and Chad Shackley at a mansion in Encino. Was that the headquarters of the business?
All start-ups, they normally start out in your home. Because it’s just you. The company was first started out of Marc’s house, and it was probably there for the first two or three months, before the company got an office. That’s, like, how it is for all start-ups.
were later a co-defendant in the L.A. County case filed against Marc Collins-Rector for plying minors with alcohol and drugs, in order to facilitate sexual abuse. You were dropped from the case, but you settled with one of the men for $21,600. Can you explain that?
Okay, well, first of all, that’s not accurate. Two of the plaintiffs in that case asked me if I would be a plaintiff. Because I refused to be a part of the lawsuit, they chose to include me to discredit me, to make their case stronger. They also went and offered 50 percent of what they got to the house management—they went around and offered money to anyone to participate in this. They needed people to corroborate their story. Eventually, because I refused to participate in the lawsuit, they named me. Subsequently, all three of the plaintiffs apologized to me, in front of audiences, in front of many people, saying Brock never did anything. They dismissed their cases.
Remember, this is a civil thing. I’ve never been charged with a crime in my life. And the last plaintiff to have his case dismissed, he contacted his lawyer and said, “Dismiss this case against Brock. Brock never did anything. I just apologized. Dismiss his case.” And the lawyer said, “No. I won’t dismiss this case, I have all these out-of-pocket expenses, I refuse to file the paperwork unless you give me my out-of-pocket expenses.” And so the lawyer, I guess, had $21,000 in bills. So I paid his lawyer $21,000—not him, it was not a settlement. That was a payment to his lawyer for his out-of-pocket expenses. Out-of-pocket expenses so that he would file the paperwork to dismiss the case.
You’ve said the cases were unfounded, and the plaintiffs eventually apologized. But your boss, Marc Collins-Rector later pleaded guilty to eight charges of child enticement and registered as a sex offender. Were you aware of his behavior? How do you square the fact that later allegations proved to be true, but these ones were not?
Well, remember: I was 16 and 17 years old at the time? So, no. I don’t think Marc is the man they made him out to be. But Marc is not a person I would associate with today, and someone I haven’t associated with in a very long time. I was 16 and 17. I chose the wrong business partner. You live and you learn.
You’ve pointed out that you were underage when most of these allegations were said to take place. Did you ever feel like you were coerced or in over your head while working at DEN?
I mean, I was working 18 hours a day, doing things I’d never done before. It was business school. But I definitely learned a lot in building that company. We raised $88 million. We filed our [form] S-1 to go public. We were the hottest start-up in Los Angeles.
In 2000, you left the country with Marc Collins-Rector. Why did you leave? How did you spend those two years abroad?
I moved to Spain in 1999 for personal reasons. I spent those two years in Europe working on developing my businesses.
Interpol found you in 2002. The house where you were staying reportedly contained guns, machetes, and child pornography. Whose guns and child porn were those? Were you aware they were in the house, and how did those get there?
My lawyers have addressed this in 32 pages of documentation showing a complete absence of wrongdoing. Please refer to my webpage for more information.
[Ed. Note: The webpage does not mention guns, machetes, or child pornography. It does state:“It is true that when the local police arrested Collins-Rector in Spain in 2002 on an international warrant, Mr. Pierce was also taken into custody, but so was everyone at Collins-Rector’s house in Spain; and it is equally clear that Brock was promptly released, and no charges of any kind were ever filed against Brock concerning this matter.”]
What do you make of the allegations against Bryan Singer? [Ed. Note: Bryan Singer, a close friend of Collins-Rector, invested at least $50,000 in DEN. In an Atlantic article outlining Singer’s history of alleged sexual assault and statutory rape, one source claimed that at age 15, Collins-Rector abused him and introduced him to Singer, who then assaulted him in the DEN headquarters.]
I am aware of them and I support of all victims of sexual assault. I will let America’s justice system decide on Singer’s outcome.
In 2011, you spoke at the Mindshift conference supported by Jeffrey Epstein. At that point, he had already been convicted of soliciting prostitution from a minor. Why did you agree to speak?
I had never heard of Jeffrey Epstein. His name was not on the website. I was asked to speak at a conference alongside Nobel Prize winners. It was not a cryptocurrency conference, it was filled with Nobel Prize winners. I was asked to speak alongside Nobel Prize winners on the future of money. I speak at conferences historically, two to three times a week. I was like, “Nobel Prize winners? Sounds great. I’ll happily talk about the future of money with them.” I had no idea who Jeffrey Epstein was. His name was not listed anywhere on the website. Had I known what I know now? I clearly would have never spoken there. But I spoke at a conference that he cosponsored.
What’s your connection to the Clinton Global Initiative? Did you hear about it through Jeffrey Epstein?
I joined the Clinton Global Initiative as a philanthropist in 2006 and was a member for one year. My involvement with the Initiative had no connection to Jeffrey Epstein whatsoever.
You’ve launched your campaign in Minnesota, where George Floyd was killed by a police officer. How do you feel about the civil uprising against police brutality?
I’m from Minnesota. Born and raised. We just had a press conference there, announcing that we’re on the ballot. Former U.S. Senator Dean Barkley was there. So that tells you, when former U.S. Senators are endorsing the candidate, right?
[Ed. note: Barkley was never elected to the United States Senate. In November of 2002, he was appointed by then Minnesota Governor Jesse Venture to fill the seat after Sen. Paul Wellstone died in a plane crash. Barkley’s term ended on Jan. 3, 2003—two months later.]
Yes, George Floyd was murdered in Minneapolis. My vice-presidential running mate Karla Ballard and I, on our last trip to Minnesota together, went to visit the George Floyd Memorial. I believe in law and order. I believe that law and order is foundational to any functioning society. But there is no doubt in my mind that we need reform. These types of events—this is not an isolated incident. This has happened many times before. It’s time for change. We have a lot of detail around policy on this issue that we will be publishing next week. Not just high-level what we think, not just a summary, but detailed policy.
You said that you support “law and order.” What does that mean?
“Law and order” means creating a fair and just legal system where our number one priority is protecting the inalienable rights of “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness” for all people. This means reforming how our police intervene in emergency situations, abolishing private prisons that incentivize mass incarceration, and creating new educational and economic opportunities for our most vulnerable communities. I am dedicated to preventing crime by eliminating the socioeconomic conditions that encourage it.
I support accountability and transparency in government and law enforcement. Some of the key policies I support are requiring body-cams on all law enforcement officers who engage with the public, curtailing the 1033 program that provides local law enforcement agencies with access to military equipment, and abolishing private prisons. Rather than simply defund the police, my administration will take a holistic approach to heal and unite America by ending mass incarceration, police brutality, and racial injustice.
Did you attend any Black Lives Matter protests?
I support all movements aimed at ending racial injustice and inequality. I​ have not attended any Black Lives Matter protests.​ My running-mate, Karla Ballard, attended the March on Washington in support of racial justice and equality.
Your platform doesn’t mention the words “climate change.” Is there a reason for that?
I’m not sure what you mean. Our policy platform specifically references human-caused climate change and we have a plan to restabilize the climate, address environmental degradation, and ensure environmental sustainability.
[Ed. Note: As of writing the Pierce campaign’s policy platform does not specifically reference human-caused climate change.]
You’ve recently brought on Akon as a campaign surrogate. How did that happen? Tell me about that.
Akon and I have been friends for quite some time. I was one of the guys that taught him about Bitcoin. I helped make some videogames for him, I think in 2012. We were talking about Bitcoin, teaching him the ropes, back in 2013. And in 2014, we were both speaking at the Milken Global Conference, and I encouraged him to talk about how Bitcoin, Africa, changed the world. He became the biggest celebrity in the world, talking about Bitcoin at the time. I’m an adviser to his Akoin project, very interested in the work that he’s doing to build a city in Africa.
I think we need a government that’s of, for, and by the people. Akon has huge political aspirations. He obviously was a hugely successful artist. But he also discovered artists like Lady Gaga. So not only is he, himself, a great artist, but he’s also a great identifier and builder of other artists. And he’s been a great businessman, philanthropist. He’s pushing the limits of what can be done. We’re like-minded individuals in that regard. I think he’ll be running for political office one day, because he sees what I see: that we need real change, and we need a government that is of, for, and by the people.
You mentioned that you’re an adviser on Akoin. Do you have any financial investments in Akoin or Akon City?
I don’t believe so. I’d have to check. I have so much stuff. But I don’t believe that I have any economic interests in his stuff. I’d have to verify that. We’ll get back to you. I don’t believe that I have any economic interests. My interest is in helping him. He’s a visionary with big ideas that wants to help things in the world. If I can be of assistance in helping him make the world a better place, I’m all for it. I’m not motivated by money. I’m not running for office because I’m motivated by power. I’m running for office because I’m deeply, deeply concerned about our collective future.
You’ve said you’re running on a pro-technology platform. One week into your campaign last month, a New York appeals court approved the state Attorney General’s attempt to investigate the stablecoin Tether for potentially fraudulent activity. Do you think this will impact your ability to sell people on your tech entrepreneurship?
No, I think my role in Tether is as awesome as it gets. It was my idea. I put it together. But I’ve had no involvement in the company since 2015. I gave all of my equity to the other shareholders. I’ve had zero involvement in the company for almost six years. It was just my idea. I put the initial team together. But I think Tether is one of the most important innovations in the world, certainly. The idea is, I digitized the U.S. dollar. I used technology to digitize currency—existing currency. The U.S. dollar in particular. It’s doing $10 trillion a year. Ten trillion dollars a year of transactional volume. It’s probably the most important innovation in currency since the advent of fiat money. The people that took on the business and ran the business in years to come, they’ve done things I’m not proud of. I’m not sure they’ve done anything criminal. But they certainly did things differently than I would do. But it’s like, you have kids, they turn 18, they go out into the world, and sometimes you’re proud of the things they do, and sometimes you shake your head and go, “Ugh, why did you do that?” I have zero concerns as it relates to me personally. I wish they made better decisions.
What do you think the investigation will find?
I have no idea. The problem that was raised is that there was a $5 million loan between two entities and whether or not they had the right to do that, did they disclose it correctly. There’s been no accusations of, like, embezzlement or anything that bad.
[Ed. Note: The Attorney General’s press release on the investigation reads: “Our investigation has determined that the operators of the ‘Bitfinex’ trading platform, who also control the ‘tether’ virtual currency, have engaged in a cover-up to hide the apparent loss of $850 million dollars of co-mingled client and corporate funds.”]
But there’s been some disclosure things, that is the issue. No one is making any outrageous claims that these are people that have done a bunch of bad—well, on the internet, the media has said that the people behind the business may have been manipulating the price of Bitcoin, but I don’t think that has anything to do with the New York investigation. Again, I’m so not involved, and so not at risk, that I’m not even up to speed on the details.
[Ed note: A representative of the New York State Attorney General told Forbes that he “cannot confirm or deny that the investigation” includes Pierce.]
We’ve recently witnessed the rise of QAnon, the conspiracy theory that Hollywood is an evil cabal of Satanic pedophiles and Trump is the person waging war on them. You mentioned human trafficking, which has become a cause for them. What are your thoughts on that?
I’ve watched some of the content. I think it’s an interesting phenomenon. I’m an internet person, so Anonymous is obviously an organization that has been doing interesting stuff. It’s interesting. I don’t have a big—conspiracy theory stuff is—I guess I have a question for you: What do you think of all of it, since you’re the expert?
You know, I think it’s not true, but I’m not running for president. I do wonder what this politician [Georgia congressional candidate Marjorie Taylor Greene], who’s just won her primary, is going to do on day one, once she finds out there’s no satanic cabal room.
Wait, someone was running for office and won on a QAnon platform, saying that Hollywood did—say what? You’re the expert here.
She won a primary. But I want to push on if we only have a few minutes. In 2006, your gaming company IGE brought on Steve Bannon as an investor. Goldman later bought out most of your stock. Bannon eventually replaced you as CEO of Affinity. You’ve described him as your “right-hand man for, like, seven years.” How well did you know Bannon during that time?
Yes, so this is in my mid-twenties. He wasn’t an investor. He worked for me. He was my banker. He worked for me for three years as my yield guide. And then he was my CEO running the company for another four years. So I haven’t worked with Steve for a decade or so. We worked in videogame stuff and banking. He was at Goldman Sachs. He was not in the political area at the time. But he was a pretty successful banker. He set up Goldman Sachs Los Angeles. So for me, I’d say he did a pretty good job.
During your business relationship, Steve Bannon founded Breitbart News, which has pretty consistently published racist material. How do you feel about Breitbart?
I had no involvement with Breitbart News. As for how I feel about such material, I’m not pleased by any form of hate-mongering. I strongly support the equality of all Americans.
Did you have qualms about Bannon’s role in the 2016 election?
Bannon’s role in the Trump campaign got me to pay closer attention to what he was doing but that’s about it. Whenever you find out that one of your former employees has taken on a role like that, you pay attention.
Bannon served on the board of Cambridge Analytica. A staffer on your campaign, Brittany Kaiser, also served as a business director for them. What are your thoughts on their use of illicitly-obtained Facebook data for campaign promotional material?
Yes, so this will be the last question I can answer because I’ve got to be off for this 5:00 pm. But Brittany Kaiser is a friend of mine. She was the whistleblower of Cambridge Analytica. She came to me and said, “What do I do?” And I said, “Tell the truth. The truth will set you free.”
[Ed. Note: Investigations in Cambridge Analytica took place as early as Nov. 2017, when a U.K. reporter at Channel 4 News recorded their CEO boasting about using “beautiful Ukranian girls” and offers of bribes to discredit political officials. The first whistleblower was Christopher Wylie, who disclosed a cache of documents to The Guardian, published on Mar. 17, 2018. Kaiser’s confession ran five days later, after the scandal made national news. Her association with Cambridge Analytica is not mentioned anywhere on Pierce’s campaign website.]
So I’m glad that people—I’m a supporter of whistleblowers, people that see injustice in the world and something not right happening, and who put themselves in harm’s way to stand up for what they believe in. So I stand up for Brittany Kaiser.
Who do you think [anonymous inventor of Bitcoin] Satoshi Nakamoto is?
We all are Satoshi Nakamoto.
You got married at Burning Man. Have you been attending virtual Burning Man?
I’m running a presidential campaign. So, while I was there in spirit, unfortunately my schedule did not permit me to attend.
OP note: please refer to the original article for reference links within text (as I've not added them here!)
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Flatten the Curve. #49. Let's Dig into Jade Helm. AI. The Surveillance State. Internet of Things. FISA. Pentagon Preparing for Mass Civil Breakdown. What is Mob Excess Deterrent Using Silent Audio? Stay Aware and Get Ahead of the Curve.

Flatten the Curve. Part 48. Source Here
It's getting crazier day by day now, so are you following the Boy Scout motto?
On this topic, Baden-Powell says: Remember your motto, "Be Prepared." Be prepared for accidents by learning beforehand what you ought to do in the different kinds that are likely to occur. Be prepared to do that thing the moment the accident does occur. In Scouting for Boys, Baden-Powell wrote that to Be Prepared means “you are always in a state of readiness in mind and body to do your duty.”
Why should you be prepared? Because TPTB have been preparing, that’s why.
June 12, 2014: The Guardian • Pentagon preparing for mass civil breakdown. Social science is being militarised to develop 'operational tools' to target peaceful activists and protest movements Source Here
Pentagon preparing for mass civil breakdown. It seemed ludicrous back in 2014, didn't it? Inconceivable. Sure some preppers believed it, but they're always getting ready and nothing happened. Doomsday was always right around the corner, and then the next corner, and on and on. Televangelists have probably accused more politicians of being the antichrist than the number of politicians went to Epstein's Island.
But why would they be preparing for mass civil breakdown? Could it be the same reason as why the miltary is preparing for war, droughts and famines brought about by environmental collapse?
February 20, 2020: History Network • Here’s Why These Six Ancient Civilizations Mysteriously Collapsed. From the Maya to Greenland’s Vikings, check out six civilizations that seemingly disappeared without a trace. Source Here
All of these civilizations vanished because of some combination of exhausting their natural resources, drought, plauge, and the little ice age. Sound familiar? Don't tell me that the Rockefeller Foundation and BlackRock became environmentally aware out of a sense of obligation to the planet. They're setting the groundwork for what's coming down the pipe. This isn't about money anymore, this is about control and survival. Throw out the rulebook because the rules no longer apply.
Do you think the surveillance system is for your protection, or the protection of the state? Don't you think that an era of upcoming calamities will severely damage the communication networks, and thus the surveillance system? It might be prudent to consider that Starlink is being established to make the system redundant, so that they never lose track of the precious worker bees before they can be connected to the AI hive mind, right Elon? Neuralink, don't leave home without it.
But let's not forget about the wonderful world of the Internet of Things.
March 15, 2012 • More and more personal and household devices are connecting to the internet, from your television to your car navigation systems to your light switches. CIA Director David Petraeus cannot wait to spy on you through them. Earlier this month, Petraeus mused about the emergence of an "Internet of Things" -- that is, wired devices -- at a summit for In-Q-Tel, the CIA's venture capital firm. "'Transformational' is an overused word, but I do believe it properly applies to these technologies," Petraeus enthused, "particularly to their effect on clandestine tradecraft." All those new online devices are a treasure trove of data if you're a "person of interest" to the spy community. Once upon a time, spies had to place a bug in your chandelier to hear your conversation. With the rise of the "smart home," you'd be sending tagged, geolocated data that a spy agency can intercept in real time when you use the lighting app on your phone to adjust your living room's ambiance. "Items of interest will be located, identified, monitored, and remotely controlled through technologies such as radio-frequency identification, sensor networks, tiny embedded servers, and energy harvesters -- all connected to the next-generation internet using abundant, low-cost, and high-power computing," Petraeus said, "the latter now going to cloud computing, in many areas greater and greater supercomputing, and, ultimately, heading to quantum computing." Petraeus allowed that these household spy devices "change our notions of secrecy" and prompt a rethink of "our notions of identity and secrecy." All of which is true -- if convenient for a CIA director. The CIA has a lot of legal restrictions against spying on American citizens. But collecting ambient geolocation data from devices is a grayer area, especially after the 2008 carve-outs to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. Hardware manufacturers, it turns out, store a trove of geolocation data; and some legislators have grown alarmed at how easy it is for the government to track you through your phone or PlayStation. That's not the only data exploit intriguing Petraeus. He's interested in creating new online identities for his undercover spies -- and sweeping away the "digital footprints" of agents who suddenly need to vanish. "Proud parents document the arrival and growth of their future CIA officer in all forms of social media that the world can access for decades to come," Petraeus observed. "Moreover, we have to figure out how to create the digital footprint for new identities for some officers." Source Here
December 19, 2019: New York Times • THE DATA REVIEWED BY TIMES OPINION didn’t come from a telecom or giant tech company, nor did it come from a governmental surveillance operation. It originated from a location data company, one of dozens quietly collecting precise movements using software slipped onto mobile phone apps. You’ve probably never heard of most of the companies — and yet to anyone who has access to this data, your life is an open book. They can see the places you go every moment of the day, whom you meet with or spend the night with, where you pray, whether you visit a methadone clinic, a psychiatrist’s office or a massage parlor. The Times and other news organizations have reported on smartphone tracking in the past. But never with a data set so large. Even still, this file represents just a small slice of what’s collected and sold every day by the location tracking industry — surveillance so omnipresent in our digital lives that it now seems impossible for anyone to avoid. It doesn’t take much imagination to conjure the powers such always-on surveillance can provide an authoritarian regime like China’s. Within America’s own representative democracy, citizens would surely rise up in outrage if the government attempted to mandate that every person above the age of 12 carry a tracking device that revealed their location 24 hours a day. Yet, in the decade since Apple’s App Store was created, Americans have, app by app, consented to just such a system run by private companies. Now, as the decade ends, tens of millions of Americans, including many children, find themselves carrying spies in their pockets during the day and leaving them beside their beds at night — even though the corporations that control their data are far less accountable than the government would be. Source Here
The IoT should be renamed to IoTT (Internet of Tracking Things), shouldn't it. But we can't have people figure out what's really happening, can we? It's a good thing that quantum computing isn't too close, isn’t it?
April 5, 2018: Global News • (Project Maven) Over 3,000 Google employees have a signed a petition in protest against the company’s involvement with a U.S. Department of Defense artificial intelligence (AI) project that studies imagery and could eventually be used to improve drone strikes in the battlefield. Source Here
December 12, 2019 • Palantir took over Project Maven defense contract after Google backed out. Source Here
December 29, 2020: Input • Palantir exec says its work is on par with the Manhattan Project. Comparing AI to most lethal weapon in human history isn’t comforting. SourceHere
August 14, 2020: Venture: • Google researchers use quantum computing to help improve image classification. Source Here
Hmmm. Maybe Apple will be for the little guy? They have always valued privacy rights, right?
October 2, 2013: Vice News • The hacktivist group Anonymous released a video statement with an accompanying Pastebin document claiming that there are definitive links between AuthenTec, the company that developed the iPhone 5S’s fingerprint scanner, and the US government. Source Here
An apple a day helps the NSA. Or Google. Or Microsoft. Or Amazon. Take your pick from the basket, because dem Apple's are all the same. But at least we have fundamental rights, right?
Foreign agent declaration not required • No mention of foreign agent status is made in the Protect America Act of 2007. Under prior FISA rules, persons targeted for surveillance must have been declared as foreign agents before a FISA warrant would be accorded by the FISC court.
'Quasi-anti-terrorism law' for all-forms of intelligence collection • Vastly marketed by U.S. federal and military agencies as a law to prevent terror attacks, the Protect America Act was actually a law focused on the 'acquisition' of desired intelligence information, of unspecified nature. The sole requirement is geolocation outside the United States at time of Directive invocation; pursuant to Authorization or Order invocation, surveillance Directives can be undertaken towards persons targeted for intelligence information gathering. Implementation of Directives can take place inside the United States or outside the United States. No criminal or terrorism investigation of the person need be in play at time of the Directive. All that need be required is that the target be related to an official desire for intelligence information gathering for actions on part of persons involved in surveillance to be granted full immunity from U.S. criminal or civil procedures, under Section 105B(l) of the Act.
Removal of FISA Strictures from warrant authorization; warrants not required • But the most striking aspect of the Protect America Act was the notation that any information gathering did not comprise electronic surveillance. This wording had the effect of removing FISA-related strictures from Protect America Act 2007-related Directives, serving to remove a number of protections for persons targeted, and requirements for persons working for U.S. intelligence agencies.
The acquisition does not constitute electronic surveillance • The removal of the term electronic surveillance from any Protect America Act Directive implied that the FISC court approval was no longer required, as FISA warrants were no longer required. In the place of a warrant was a certification, made by U.S. intelligence officers, which was copied to the Court. In effect, the FISC became less of a court than a registry of pre-approved certifications.Certifications (in place of FISA warrants) were able to be levied ex post facto, in writing to the Court no more than 72 hours after it was made. The Attorney General was to transmit as soon as possible to the Court a sealed copy of the certification that would remain sealed unless the certification was needed to determine the legality of the acquisition.Source Here
Oh. FISA is basically a rubber stamp. And even if it the stage play wasn't pretending to follow the script, would it matter? Who could actually stop it at this point? The cat's out of the bag and Pandoras Box is open.
Controversial debates arose as the Protect America Act was published. Constitutional lawyers and civil liberties experts expressed concerns that this Act authorized massive, wide-ranging information gathering with no oversight. Whereas it placed much focus on communications, the Act allowed for information gathering of all shapes and forms. The ACLU called it the "Police America Act" – "authorized a massive surveillance dragnet", calling the blank-check oversight provisions "meaningless," and calling them a "phony court review of secret procedures."
So the surveillance state doesn't have checks and balances anymore. The state is preparing for Massive Civil Breakdown. They keep warning us about environmental collapse. Got it? Good. Let's keep on keeping on.
The District of Columbia Organic Act of 1871 created a single new district corporation governing the entire federal territory, called the District of Columbia, thus dissolving the three major political subdivisions of the District (Port of Georgetown, the City of Washington, and Washington County) and their governments. Source Here)
The first big leap in corporate personhood from holding mere property and contract rights to possessing more expansive rights was a claim that the Equal Protection Clause applied to corporations. One of the strangest twists in American constitutional law was the moment that corporations gained personhood under the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. It occurred in a case called Santa Clara County, and what was odd was that the Supreme Court did not really even decide the matter in the actual opinion. It only appeared in a footnote to the case. What we are likely to have at the conclusion of the Supreme Court term is corporations that are empowered to spend in American elections because of Bellotti and Citizens United; corporations that can make religious objections thanks to Hobby Lobby; and if Jesner turns out as badly as I predict, corporations will be able to aid and abet human rights violations abroad with impunity. Source Here
"Having a corporation would allow people to put property into a collective ownership that could be held with perpetual existence," she says. "So it wouldn't be tied to any one person's lifespan, or subject necessarily to laws regarding inheriting property." Later on, in the United States and elsewhere, the advantages of incorporation were essential to efficient and secure economic development. Unlike partnerships, the corporation continued to exist even if a partner died; there was no unanimity required to do something; shareholders could not be sued individually, only the corporation as a whole, so investors only risked as much as they put into buying shares. Source Here
The way that the Arab Bank may get away with this alleged morally troubling behavior, even though it has a New York branch, is by reasserting the basic argument that was made in Nestle USA and Kiobel II: that the federal Alien Tort Statute was not intended to apply to corporations full stop. Given other cases in this area like Mohamad v. PLO, which held the word “individual” in the Torture Victim Protection Act means a natural person and does not impose any liability against organizations, the Arab Bank’s procorporate argument may well prevail. There are multiple federal Circuit Courts which have shot down the argument that corporations are immune from suit under the Alien Tort Statute. The lone outlier is the Second Circuit, which decided in 2010 that corporations are excused from suit in Kiobel I. This is the case that was appealed to the Supreme Court and became Kiobel II. Jesner v. Arab Bank was litigated in the Second Circuit. One question in Jesner was what exactly did Kiobel II do to Kiobel I. So far in the litigation, Jesner concluded that Kiobel I and its conclusion that corporations can’t be sued in federal court using the Alien Tort Statute remained the controlling law of the Second Circuit.
There's a reason people call lawyers snakes, it's because most of them speak with forked tounges. So the corporation isn't being held liable, but the shareholders can't be held liable either. That's too insane to even be called a Catch 22. We are literally being set up to have no recourse because there isn’t anybody who can be held responsible. Why is that important when I've been talking about the surveillance state?
July 14, 2020: The Intercept • Microsoft’s police surveillance services are often opaque because the company sells little in the way of its own policing products. It instead offers an array of “general purpose” Azure cloud services, such as machine learning and predictive analytics tools like Power BI (business intelligence) and Cognitive Services, which can be used by law enforcement agencies and surveillance vendors to build their own software or solutions. A rich array of Microsoft’s cloud-based offerings is on full display with a concept called “The Connected Officer.” Microsoft situates this concept as part of the Internet of Things, or IoT, in which gadgets are connected to online servers and thus made more useful. “The Connected Officer,” Microsoft has written, will “bring IoT to policing.” With the Internet of Things, physical objects are assigned unique identifiers and transfer data over networks in an automated fashion. If a police officer draws a gun from its holster, for example, a notification can be sent over the network to alert other officers there may be danger. Real Time Crime Centers could then locate the officer on a map and monitor the situation from a command and control center. Source Here
Uhm, I guess it's really is all connected, isn’t it?
June 18, 2020: The Guardian • How Target, Google, Bank of America and Microsoft quietly fund police through private donations. More than 25 large corporations in the past three years have contributed funding to private police foundations, new report says. Source Here
Long live the Military Industrial Techno Surveillance State. If you have nothing to hide, than you have nothing to worry about. Really? Are we still believing that line? Cause it's a load of crap. If we have nothing to worry about, then why are they worried enough to be implementing surveillance systems with corresponding units on the ground? Got your attention there, didn't I?
August 19, 2019: Big Think • Though the term "Orwellian" easily applies to such a technology, Michel's illuminating reporting touches something deeper. Numerous American cities have already been surveilled using these god-like cameras, including Gorgon Stare, a camera-enabled drone that can track individuals over a 50-square kilometer radius from 20,000 feet. Here's the real rub: the feature that allows users to pinch and zoom on Instagram is similar to what WAMI allows. Anything within those 50-square kilometers is now under the microscope. If this sounds like some futuristic tech, think again: Derivations of this camera system have been tested in numerous American cities. Say there is a big public protest. With this camera you can follow thousands of protesters back to their homes. Now you have a list of the home addresses of all the people involved in a political movement. If on their way home you witness them committing some crime—breaking a traffic regulation or frequenting a location that is known to be involved in the drug trade—you can use that surveillance data against them to essentially shut them up. That's why we have laws that prevent the use of surveillance technologies because it is human instinct to abuse them. That's why we need controls. Source Here
Want to know more about the Gorgon Stare? Flatten the Curve. Part 12. Source Here
Now, I'm not sure if you remember or know any Greek Mythology, but the Gorgons were three sisters, and one sister had Snakes on her head (she wasn't a lawyer) and she turned people to stone when she looked at them.
MEDUSA (Mob Excess Deterrent Using Silent Audio) is a directed-energy non-lethal weapon designed by WaveBand Corporation in 2003-2004 for temporary personnel incapacitation. The weapon is based on the microwave auditory effect resulting in a strong sound sensation in the human head when it is subject to certain kinds of pulsed/modulated microwave radiation. The developers claimed that through the combination of pulse parameters and pulse power, it is possible to raise the auditory sensation to a “discomfort” level, deterring personnel from entering a protected perimeter or, if necessary, temporarily incapacitating particular individuals. In 2005, Sierra Nevada Corporation acquired WaveBand Corporation.
Ok. Get it? The Gorgon eye in the sky stares at you while the Medusa makes you immobile. Not good, but at least it'll just freeze you in your tracks.
July 6, 2008: Gizmodo • The Sierra Nevada Corporation claimed this week that it is ready to begin production on the MEDUSA, a damned scary ray gun that uses the "microwave audio effect" to implant sounds and perhaps even specific messages inside people's heads. Short for Mob Excess Deterrent Using Silent Audio, MEDUSA creates the audio effect with short microwave pulses. The pulses create a shockwave inside the skull that's detected by the ears, and basically makes you think you're going balls-to-the-wall batshit insane. Source Here
Uhm. And drive you insane.
July 26, 2008: Gizmodo • The MEDUSA crowd control ray gun we reported on earlier this month sounded like some pretty amazing-and downright scary-technology. Using the microwave auditory effect, the beam, in theory, would have put sounds and voice-like noises in your head, thereby driving you away from the area. Crowd control via voices in your head. Sounds cool. However, it turns out that the beam would actually kill you before any of that happy stuff started taking place, most likely by frying or cooking your brain inside your skull. Can you imagine if this thing made it out into the field? Awkward! Source Here
Annnnnnnndddddd it'll kill you.
Guys, they're prepared. They've been prepared. They're ready. Remember the Doomsday Bunkers? The military moving into Cheyenne Mountain? Deep Underground Military Bunkers? The rapid rolling out of 5G? BITCOIN and UBI so neatly inserted into our minds over the last five years? They've directly told us to have three months of supplies in our homes. 2020 isn't going to be an anomaly? It's the start of the collapse of our natural resources. Take a look on Reddit and all the posts about crazy weather. Cyanobacteria blooms killing dogs and people. Toxic Super Pollution caused by atmospheric inversions killing people. This isn’t normal, this is New Normal. And they know it. They've known it for a while. Let me show you one last thing before I wrap it up.
From the earliest Chinese dynasties to the present, the jade deposits most used were not only those of Khotan in the Western Chinese province of Xinjiang but other parts of China as well, such as Lantian, Shaanxi.
Remember, words matter. Look at Gorgon Stare and Medusa. They don't randomly grab names out of a hat, or pick them because they think it sounds dystopian. They pick words for a reason.
July 7, 2017: The Warzone • There only appears to be one official news story on this exercise at all and it's available on the website of Air Mobility Command’s Eighteenth Air Force, situated at Joint Base Charleston. At the time of writing, a google shows that there were more than a half dozen more copies on other Air Force pages, as well as number of photographs. For some reason, someone appears to have taken these offline or otherwise broken all the links. Using Google to search the Defense Video Imagery Distribution System, which is the main U.S. military's public affairs hub, brings up more broken links. Oh, and unless there's been some sort of mistake, JADE HELM actually stands for the amazingly obtuse Joint Assistance for Deployment Execution Homeland Eradication of Local Militants. A separate web search for this phrase does not turn up any other results. Source Here
Now, using an acronym that indicates training to Eradicate Local Militants seems pretty dumb. It may be used in that manner if environmental collapse triggers riots, but i don't think they would warn everyone ahead of time, do you? So I dug a little bit more.
Joint Assistant for Development and Execution (JADE) is a U.S. military system used for planning the deployment of military forces in crisis situations. The U.S. military developed this automated planning software system in order to expedite the creation of the detailed planning needed to deploy military forces for a military operation. JADE uses Artificial Intelligence (AI) technology combining user input, a knowledge base of stored plans, and suggestions by the system to provide the ability to develop large-scale and complex plans in minimal time. JADE is a knowledge-based system that uses highly structured information that takes advantage of data hierarchies. An official 2016 document approved for public release titled Human Systems Roadmap Review describes plans to create autonomous weapon systems that analyze social media and make decisions, including the use of lethal force, with minimal human involvement. This type of system is referred to as a Lethal Autonomous Weapon System (LAWS). The name "JADE" comes from the jade green color seen on the island of Oahu in Hawaii where the U.S. Pacific Command (PACOM) is headquartered.
PACOM? Why isn't that command group responsible for the South China Sea?
Formerly known as United States Pacific Command (USPACOM) since its inception, the command was renamed to U.S. Indo-Pacific Command on 30 May 2018, in recognition of the greater emphasis on South Asia, especially India.
Now doesn't it look like Jade Helm is preparing for an invasion? And possibly insurrection later. Or at the same time? Or riots over WW3? Or food riots? And start thinking about why the laws are starting to exclude corporations? Then think about the mercenaries that are being contracted out by the government.
October 17, 2018: The Carolinan • In 2016, 75 percent of American forces were private contractors. In 2017, Erik Prince, former head of Blackwater, and Stephen Feinberg, head of Dyncorp, discussed plans for contractors completely taking over U.S. operations in Afghanistan. Although ultimately unsuccessful, it remains to be seen if the current administration will change its mind. Contractors are involved in almost every military task, such as intelligence analysis, logistics and training allied soldiers. Contractors are even involved in U.S. special ops missions. This is because contractors are essentially untraceable and unaccountable. Most are born in other countries; only 33 percent are registered U.S. citizens. Private military firms don’t have to report their actions to Congress, unlike the military or intelligence agencies. They also aren’t subject to the Freedom of Information Act, so private citizens and journalists aren’t allowed to access their internal documents. There are also no international laws to regulate private military firms. It’s been proven that many contractors are involved in illegal activities. The larger multinational companies sometimes hire local subcontractors. These contractors sometimes aren’t background-checked. A 2010 investigation by the Senate found that many subcontractors were linked to murders, kidnappings, bribery and anti-coalition activities. Some subcontractors even formed their own unlicensed mercenary groups after coalition forces leave. A 2010 House investigation showed evidence that the Department of Defense had hired local warlords for security services. In 2007, Blackwater contractors massacred 17 civilians. This eventually led Blackwater to being restructured and renamed as Academi. Source Here
Military Exercises. Private Defense Firms. No oversight. And it's all coming soon. Read more at Flatten the Curve. Part 20. Upcoming war and catastrophes. Source Here
Nah. I'm just fear mongering and Doomscrolling again.
Heads up and eyes open. Talk soon.
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"The Network Effect is King" - What I have learned after 3 years in crypto (Part 3)

This post is the third post of mine on things I've learned in the 3 years I have been in crypto. So far I have only posted them in the EthFinance daily since I didn't think they were worthy of dedicated posts but I have since figured I may as well post one here and see what you all think. Links to the first two posts are at the bottom.

Here’s part 3 of my thoughts and what I have learned after 3 years in the crypto space. Enough with the embarrassing stories for now. Today I’m going to talk about one of the most fundamental rules in emerging technologies. It is very simple and goes as follows.


I cannot emphasise this enough. Coming into the crypto space I was already aware of the network effect. Just incase anyone here is unaware of the network effect, some dictionary app built into my MacBook defines the network effect as a phenomenon whereby a product or service gains additional value as more people use it. It’s why everyone uses Facebook Messenger or WhatsApp despite the incredibly invasive data tracking and despite the existence of private, secure, end to end encrypted alternatives such as Signal or Wire which are just as easy to use. Nobody wants to be “that guy” who makes their friends sign up to a new service just to stay in touch with each other (for the sake of helping people take online privacy more seriously, please be “that guy”, I will love you long time). The fact that you can join and have all of your friends already there in the app ready to interact with gives these platforms more value than other platforms which are fundamentally better.

Unsurprisingly, crypto is no different. It’s why Bitcoin is still #1. The vast majority of people in crypto have a Bitcoin wallet and most people on the street have heard of Bitcoin even if they don’t know what it is. So if your store wants to accept Bitcoin or your website wants to accept donations, Bitcoin is the most obvious go to since most people will recognise the Bitcoin logo and anyone who owns crypto will almost certainly own some Bitcoin. However, if you display an ETH address, only those who truly delved deep into crypto and understand the advantages of Ethereum will have an Ethereum wallet. Just like how only the more privacy conscious individuals will have heard of or use Signal or Wire for messaging apps.

Now here is where the network effect is important for us. As everyone in this sub should know, Ethereum is a turing complete ‘world computer’ whereas Bitcoin is strictly a payment network or digital store of value depending on who you ask. This clearly indicates that Ethereum’s potential market is much larger that Bitcoin’s since it can do what Bitcoin does and has dozens of other use cases like being a global settlement layer, tokenisation of digital and real world assets, insurance, supply chain tracking etc etc. The list goes on. Most importantly, in the field of this ‘world computer’ ultimate use case for blockchain which Ethereum is chasing after, Ethereum has by far the largest network effect.

So what will it take for one of the many Ethereum killers to flip Ethereum? If you ask me, Ethereum’s head start is so large that even if the Ethereum ecosystem were to tear itself apart over a contentious hard fork I still wouldn’t be betting on a competitor to flip Ethereum’s largest fork unless we start to see some real adoption and infrastructure such as DeFi on these ETH killer chains. Ethereum being flipped seems about as plausible as Signal flipping WhatsApp. It’s pretty much a pipe dream.

But what about Bitcoin then? Does this mean that Ethereum will never flip Bitcoin either? No, of course not. In fact, Ethereum has already flipped Bitcoin in terms of daily value transfer on the network thanks to stablecoins. As previously mentioned, Ethereum has a larger market to fill, so assuming the success of both Bitcoin and Ethereum, the flippening is almost inevitable. Like smart phones flipping basic mobile phones, it may take a while bit it will happen. It will take more time than many of us expected back in 2017.

As mentioned at the beginning, this is part 3 of a series of posts I will be making. You can find part one and part two here.
submitted by Tricky_Troll to ethtrader [link] [comments]

Crypto-Powered - The Most Promising Use-Cases of Decentralized Finance (DeFi)

Crypto-Powered - The Most Promising Use-Cases of Decentralized Finance (DeFi)
A whirlwind tour of Defi, paying close attention to protocols that we’re leveraging at Genesis Block.
https://reddit.com/link/hrrt21/video/cvjh5rrh12b51/player
This is the third post of Crypto-Powered — a new series that examines what it means for Genesis Block to be a digital bank that’s powered by crypto, blockchain, and decentralized protocols.
Last week we explored how building on legacy finance is a fool’s errand. The future of money belongs to those who build with crypto and blockchain at their core. We also started down the crypto rabbit hole, introducing Bitcoin, Ethereum, and DeFi (decentralized finance). That post is required reading if you hope to glean any value from the rest of this series.
97% of all activity on Ethereum in the last quarter has been DeFi-related. The total value sitting inside DeFi protocols is roughly $2B — double what it was a month ago. The explosive growth cannot be ignored. All signs suggest that Ethereum & DeFi are a Match Made in Heaven, and both on their way to finding strong product/market fit.
So in this post, we’re doing a whirlwind tour of DeFi. We look at specific examples and use-cases already in the wild and seeing strong growth. And we pay close attention to protocols that Genesis Block is integrating with. Alright, let’s dive in.

Stablecoins

Stablecoins are exactly what they sound like: cryptocurrencies that are stable. They are not meant to be volatile (like Bitcoin). These assets attempt to peg their price to some external reference (eg. USD or Gold). A non-volatile crypto asset can be incredibly useful for things like merchant payments, cross-border transfers, or storing wealth — becoming your own bank but without the stress of constant price volatility.
There are major governments and central banks that are experimenting with or soon launching their own stablecoins like China with their digital yuan and the US Federal Reserve with their digital dollar. There are also major corporations working in this area like JP Morgan with their JPM Coin, and of course Facebook with their Libra Project.
Stablecoin activity has grown 800% in the last year, with $290B of transaction volume (funds moving on-chain).
The most popular USD-pegged stablecoins include:
  1. Tether ($10B): It’s especially popular in Asia. It’s backed by USD in a bank account. But given their lack of transparency and past controversies, they generally aren’t trusted as much in the West.
  2. USDC ($1B): This is the most reputable USD-backed stablecoin, at least in the West. It was created by Coinbase & Circle, both well-regarded crypto companies. They’ve been very open and transparent with their audits and bank records.
  3. DAI ($189M): This is backed by other crypto assets — not USD in a bank account. This was arguably the first true DeFi protocol. The big benefit is that it’s more decentralized — it’s not controlled by any single organization. The downside is that the assets backing it can be volatile crypto assets (though it has mechanisms in place to mitigate that risk).
Other notable USD-backed stablecoins include PAX, TrueUSD, Binance USD, and Gemini Dollar.
tablecoins are playing an increasingly important role in the world of DeFi. In a way, they serve as common pipes & bridges between the various protocols.
https://preview.redd.it/v9ki2qro12b51.png?width=700&format=png&auto=webp&s=dbf591b122fc4b3d83b381389145b88e2505b51d

Lending & Borrowing

Three of the top five DeFi protocols relate to lending & borrowing. These popular lending protocols look very similar to traditional money markets. Users who want to earn interest/yield can deposit (lend) their funds into a pool of liquidity. Because it behaves similarly to traditional money markets, their funds are not locked, they can withdraw at any time. It’s highly liquid.
Borrowers can tap into this pool of liquidity and take out loans. Interest rates depend on the utilization rate of the pool — how much of the deposits in the pool have already been borrowed. Supply & demand. Thus, interest rates are variable and borrowers can pay their loans back at any time.
So, who decides how much a borrower can take? What’s the process like? Are there credit checks? How is credit-worthiness determined?
These protocols are decentralized, borderless, permissionless. The people participating in these markets are from all over the world. There is no simple way to verify identity or check credit history. So none of that happens.
Credit-worthiness is determined simply by how much crypto collateral the borrower puts into the protocol. For example, if a user wants to borrow $5k of USDC, then they’ll need to deposit $10k of BTC or ETH. The exact amount of collateral depends on the rules of the protocol — usually the more liquid the collateral asset, the more borrowing power the user can receive.
The most prominent lending protocols include Compound, Aave, Maker, and Atomic Loans. Recently, Compound has seen meteoric growth with the introduction of their COMP token — a token used to incentivize and reward participants of the protocol. There’s almost $1B in outstanding debt in the Compound protocol. Mainframe is also working on an exciting protocol in this area and the latest iteration of their white paper should be coming out soon.
There is very little economic risk to these protocols because all loans are overcollateralized.
I repeat, all loans are overcollateralized. If the value of the collateral depreciates significantly due to price volatility, there are sophisticated liquidation systems to ensure the loan always gets paid back.
https://preview.redd.it/rru5fykv12b51.png?width=700&format=png&auto=webp&s=620679dd84fca098a042051c7e7e1697be8dd259

Investments

Buying, selling, and trading crypto assets is certainly one form of investing (though not for the faint of heart). But there are now DeFi protocols to facilitate making and managing traditional-style investments.
Through DeFi, you can invest in Gold. You can invest in stocks like Amazon and Apple. You can short Tesla. You can access the S&P 500. This is done through crypto-based synthetics — which gives users exposure to assets without needing to hold or own the underlying asset. This is all possible with protocols like UMA, Synthetix, or Market protocol.
Maybe your style of investing is more passive. With PoolTogether , you can participate in a no-loss lottery.
Maybe you’re an advanced trader and want to trade options or futures. You can do that with DeFi protocols like Convexity, Futureswap, and dYdX. Maybe you live on the wild side and trade on margin or leverage, you can do that with protocols like Fulcrum, Nuo, and DDEX. Or maybe you’re a degenerate gambler and want to bet against Trump in the upcoming election, you can do that on Augur.
And there are plenty of DeFi protocols to help with crypto investing. You could use Set Protocol if you need automated trading strategies. You could use Melonport if you’re an asset manager. You could use Balancer to automatically rebalance your portfolio.
With as little as $1, people all over the world can have access to the same investment opportunities and tools that used to be reserved for only the wealthy, or those lucky enough to be born in the right country.
You can start to imagine how services like Etrade, TD Ameritrade, Schwab, and even Robinhood could be massively disrupted by a crypto-native company that builds with these types of protocols at their foundation.
https://preview.redd.it/agco8msx12b51.png?width=700&format=png&auto=webp&s=3bbb595f9ecc84758d276dbf82bc5ddd9e329ff8

Insurance

As mentioned in our previous post, there are near-infinite applications one can build on Ethereum. As a result, sometimes the code doesn’t work as expected. Bugs get through, it breaks. We’re still early in our industry. The tools, frameworks, and best practices are all still being established. Things can go wrong.
Sometimes the application just gets in a weird or bad state where funds can’t be recovered — like with what happened with Parity where $280M got frozen (yes, I lost some money in that). Sometimes, there are hackers who discover a vulnerability in the code and maliciously steal funds — like how dForce lost $25M a few months ago, or how The DAO lost $50M a few years ago. And sometimes the system works as designed, but the economic model behind it is flawed, so a clever user takes advantage of the system— like what recently happened with Balancer where they lost $500k.
There are a lot of risks when interacting with smart contracts and decentralized applications — especially for ones that haven’t stood the test of time. This is why insurance is such an important development in DeFi.
Insurance will be an essential component in helping this technology reach the masses.
Two protocols that are leading the way on DeFi insurance are Nexus Mutual and Opyn. Though they are both still just getting started, many people are already using them. And we’re excited to start working with them at Genesis Block.
https://preview.redd.it/wf1xvq3z12b51.png?width=700&format=png&auto=webp&s=70db1e9587f57d0c470a4f9f4523c216929e1876

Exchanges & Liquidity

Decentralized Exchanges (DEX) were one of the first and most developed categories in DeFi. A DEX allows a user to easily exchange one crypto asset for another crypto asset — but without needing to sign up for an account, verify identity, etc. It’s all via decentralized protocols.
Within the first 5 months of 2020, the top 7 DEX already achieved the 2019 trading volume. That was $2.5B. DeFi is fueling a lot of this growth.
https://preview.redd.it/1dwvq4e022b51.png?width=700&format=png&auto=webp&s=97a3d756f60239cd147031eb95fc2a981db55943
There are many different flavors of DEX. Some of the early ones included 0x, IDEX, and EtherDelta — all of which had a traditional order book model where buyers are matched with sellers.
Another flavor is the pooled liquidity approach where the price is determined algorithmically based on how much liquidity there is and how much the user wants to buy. This is known as an AMM (Automated Market Maker) — Uniswap and Bancor were early leaders here. Though lately, Balancer has seen incredible growth due mostly to their strong incentives for participation — similar to Compound.
There are some DEXs that are more specialized — for example, Curve and mStable focus mostly only stablecoins. Because of the proliferation of these decentralized exchanges, there are now aggregators that combine and connect the liquidity of many sources. Those include Kyber, Totle, 1Inch, and Dex.ag.
These decentralized exchanges are becoming more and more connected to DeFi because they provide an opportunity for yield and earning interest.
Users can earn passive income by supplying liquidity to these markets. It usually comes in the form of sharing transaction fee revenue (Uniswap) or token rewards (Balancer).
https://preview.redd.it/wrug6lg222b51.png?width=700&format=png&auto=webp&s=9c47a3f2e01426ca87d84b92c1e914db39ff773f

Payments

As it relates to making payments, much of the world is still stuck on plastic cards. We’re grateful to partner with Visa and launch the Genesis Block debit card… but we still don’t believe that's the future of payments. We see that as an important bridge between the past (legacy finance) and the future (crypto).
Our first post in this series shared more on why legacy finance is broken. We talked about the countless unnecessary middle-men on every card swipe (merchant, acquiring bank, processor, card network, issuing bank). We talked about the slow settlement times.
The future of payments will be much better. Yes, it’ll be from a mobile phone and the user experience will be similar to ApplePay (NFC) or WePay (QR Code).
But more importantly, the underlying assets being moved/exchanged will all be crypto — digital, permissionless, and open source.
Someone making a payment at the grocery store check-out line will be able to open up Genesis Block, use contactless tech or scan a QR code, and instantly pay for their goods. All using crypto. Likely a stablecoin. Settlement will be instant. All the middlemen getting their pound of flesh will be disintermediated. The merchant can make more and the user can spend less. Blockchain FTW!
Now let’s talk about a few projects working in this area. The xDai Burner Wallet experience was incredible at the ETHDenver event a few years ago, but that speed came at the expense of full decentralization (can it be censored or shut down?). Of course, Facebook’s Libra wants to become the new standard for global payments, but many are afraid to give Facebook that much control (newsflash: it isn’t very decentralized).
Bitcoin is decentralized… but it’s slow and volatile. There are strong projects like Lightning Network (Zap example) that are still trying to make it happen. Projects like Connext and OmiseGo are trying to help bring payments to Ethereum. The Flexa project is leveraging the gift card rails, which is a nice hack to leverage existing pipes. And if ETH 2.0 is as fast as they say it will be, then the future of payments could just be a stablecoin like DAI (a token on Ethereum).
In a way, being able to spend crypto on daily expenses is the holy grail of use-cases. It’s still early. It hasn’t yet been solved. But once we achieve this, then we can ultimately and finally say goodbye to the legacy banking & finance world. Employees can be paid in crypto. Employees can spend in crypto. It changes everything.
Legacy finance is hanging on by a thread, and it’s this use-case that they are still clinging to. Once solved, DeFi domination will be complete.
https://preview.redd.it/svft1ce422b51.png?width=700&format=png&auto=webp&s=9a6afc9e9339a3fec29ee2ae743c07c3042ea4ce

Impact on Genesis Block

At Genesis Block, we’re excited to leverage these protocols and take this incredible technology to the world. Many of these protocols are already deeply integrated with our product. In fact, many are essential. The masses won’t know (or care about) what Tether, USDC, or DAI is. They think in dollars, euros, pounds and pesos. So while the user sees their local currency in the app, the underlying technology is all leveraging stablecoins. It’s all on “crypto rails.”
https://preview.redd.it/jajzttr622b51.png?width=700&format=png&auto=webp&s=fcf55cea1216a1d2fcc3bf327858b009965f9bf8
When users deposit assets into their Genesis Block account, they expect to earn interest. They expect that money to grow. We leverage many of these low-risk lending/exchange DeFi protocols. We lend into decentralized money markets like Compound — where all loans are overcollateralized. Or we supply liquidity to AMM exchanges like Balancer. This allows us to earn interest and generate yield for our depositors. We’re the experts so our users don’t need to be.
We haven’t yet integrated with any of the insurance or investment protocols — but we certainly plan on it. Our infrastructure is built with blockchain technology at the heart and our system is extensible — we’re ready to add assets and protocols when we feel they are ready, safe, secure, and stable. Many of these protocols are still in the experimental phase. It’s still early.
At Genesis Block we’re excited to continue to be at the frontlines of this incredible, innovative, technological revolution called DeFi.
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None of these powerful DeFi protocols will be replacing Robinhood, SoFi, or Venmo anytime soon. They never will. They aren’t meant to! We’ve discussed this before, these are low-level protocols that need killer applications, like Genesis Block.
So now that we’ve gone a little deeper down the rabbit hole and we’ve done this whirlwind tour of DeFi, the natural next question is: why?
Why does any of it matter?
Most of these financial services that DeFi offers already exist in the real world. So why does it need to be on a blockchain? Why does it need to be decentralized? What new value is unlocked? Next post, we answer these important questions.
To look at more projects in DeFi, check out DeFi Prime, DeFi Pulse, or Consensys.
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Crypto-Powered: Understanding Bitcoin, Ethereum, and DeFi

Crypto-Powered: Understanding Bitcoin, Ethereum, and DeFi
Until one understands the basics of this tech, they won’t be able to grasp or appreciate the impact it has on our digital bank, Genesis Block.
https://reddit.com/link/ho4bif/video/n0euarkifu951/player
This is the second post of Crypto-Powered — a new series that examines what it means for Genesis Block to be a digital bank that’s powered by crypto, blockchain, and decentralized protocols.
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Our previous post set the stage for this series. We discussed the state of consumer finance and how the success of today’s high-flying fintech unicorns will be short-lived as long as they’re building on legacy finance — a weak foundation that is ripe for massive disruption.
Instead, the future of consumer finance belongs to those who are deeply familiar with blockchain tech & decentralized protocols, build on it as the foundation, and know how to take it to the world. Like Genesis Block.
Today we begin our journey down the crypto rabbit hole. This post will be an important introduction for those still learning about Bitcoin, Ethereum, or DeFi (Decentralized Finance). This post (and the next few) will go into greater detail about how this technology gives Genesis Block an edge, a superpower, and an unfair advantage. Let’s dive in…
https://preview.redd.it/1ugdxoqjfu951.jpg?width=650&format=pjpg&auto=webp&s=36edde1079c3cff5f6b15b8cd30e6c436626d5d8

Bitcoin: The First Cryptocurrency

There are plenty of online resources to learn about Bitcoin (Coinbase, Binance, Gemini, Naval, Alex Gladstein, Marc Andreessen, Chris Dixon). I don’t wanna spend a lot of time on that here, but let’s do a quick overview for those still getting ramped up.
Cryptocurrency is the most popular use-case of blockchain technology today. And Bitcoin was the first cryptocurrency to be invented.
Bitcoin is the most decentralized of all crypto assets today — no government, company, or third party can control or censor it.
Bitcoin has two primary features (as do most other cryptocurrencies):
  1. Send Value You can send value to anyone, anywhere in the world. Nobody can intercept, delay or stop it — not even governments or financial institutions. Unlike with traditional money transfers or bank wires, there are no layers of middlemen. This results in a process that is much more cost-efficient. Some popular use-cases include remittances and cross-border payments.
  2. Store Value With nothing but a smartphone, you can become your own bank and store your own funds. Nobody can seize your assets. The funds are digital and stored on a blockchain. Your money no longer needs to be stored at a bank, in a vault, or under your mattress. I covered a few inspiring use-cases in a previous post. They include banking the unbanked, protecting assets from government seizure, mitigating the risk of a bank run, and protection against hyperinflation (like what recently happened in Venezuela).
The fact that there are so few things one can do with Bitcoin is one of its greatest strengths.
Its design is simple, elegant, and focused. It has been 10+ years since Satoshi’s white paper and no one has been able to crack or hack the Bitcoin network. With a market cap of $170B, there is plenty of incentive to try.
https://preview.redd.it/bizndfpkfu951.png?width=800&format=png&auto=webp&s=456c53b798248e60456a65835a33c69b2fe8daf0

Public Awareness

A few negative moments in Bitcoin’s history include the collapse of Mt. Gox — which resulted in hundreds of millions of customer funds being stolen — as well as Bitcoin’s role in dark markets like Silk Road — where Bitcoin arguably found its initial userbase.
However, like most breakthrough technology, Bitcoin is neither good nor bad. It’s neutral. People can use it for good or they can use it for evil. Thankfully, it’s being used less and less for illicit activity. Criminals are starting to understand that transactions on a blockchain are public and traceable — it’s exactly the type of system they usually try to avoid. And it’s true, at this point “a lot more” crimes are actually committed with fiat than crypto.
As a result, the perception of bitcoin and cryptocurrency has been changing over the years to a more positive light.
Bitcoin has even started to enter the world of media & entertainment. It’s been mentioned in Hollywood films like Spiderman: Into the Spider-Verse and in songs from major artists like Eminem. It’s been mentioned in countless TV shows like Billions, The Simpsons, Big Bang Theory, Gray’s Anatomy, Family Guy, and more.
As covid19 has ravaged economies and central banks have been printing money, Bitcoin has caught the attention of many legendary Wall Street investors like Paul Tudor Jones, saying that Bitcoin is a great bet against inflation (reminding him of Gold in the 1970s).
Cash App already lets their 25M users buy Bitcoin. It’s rumored that PayPal and Venmo will soon let their 325M users start buying Bitcoin. Bitcoin is by far the most dominant cryptocurrency and is showing no signs of slowing down. For more than a decade it has delivered on its core use-cases — being able to send or store value.
At this point, Bitcoin has very much entered the zeitgeist of modern pop culture — at least in the West.
https://preview.redd.it/dnuwbw8mfu951.png?width=800&format=png&auto=webp&s=6f1f135e3effee4574b5167901b80ced2c972bda

Ethereum: Programmable Money

When Ethereum launched in 2015, it opened up a world of new possibilities and use-cases for crypto. With Ethereum Smart Contracts (i.e. applications), this exciting new digital money (cryptocurrency) became a lot less dumb. Developers could now build applications that go beyond the simple use-cases of “send value” & “store value.” They could program cryptocurrency to have rules, behavior, and logic to respond to different inputs. And always enforced by code. Additional reading on Ethereum from Linda Xie or Vitalik Buterin.
Because these applications are built on blockchain technology (Ethereum), they preserve many of the same characteristics as Bitcoin: no one can stop, censor or shut down these apps because they are decentralized.
One of the first major use-cases on Ethereum was the ability to mint and create your own token, your own cryptocurrency. Many companies used this as a way to fundraise from the public. This led to the 2017 ICO bubble (Initial Coin Offerings). Some tokens — and the apps/networks they powered — were fascinating and innovative. Most tokens were pointless. And many tokens were outright scams. Additional token reading from Fred Ehrsam, Balaji, and Naval.
https://reddit.com/link/ho4bif/video/b5b1jh9ofu951/player

Digital Gold Rush

Just as tokens grew in popularity in 2017–2018, so did online marketplaces where these tokens could be bought, sold, and traded. This was a fledgling asset class — the merchants selling picks, axes, and shovels were finally starting to emerge.
I had a front-row seat — both as an investor and token creator. This was the Wild West with all the frontier drama & scandal that you’d expect.
Binance — now the world’s largest crypto exchange —was launched during this time. They along with many others (especially from Asia) made it really easy for speculators, traders, and degenerate gamblers to participate in these markets. Similar to other financial markets, the goal was straightforward: buy low and sell high.
https://preview.redd.it/tytsu5jnfu951.jpg?width=600&format=pjpg&auto=webp&s=fe3425b7e4a71fa953b953f0c7f6eaff6504a0d1
That period left an embarrassing stain on our industry that we’ve still been trying to recover from. It was a period rampant with market manipulation, pump-and-dumps, and scams. To some extent, the crypto industry still suffers from that today, but it’s nothing compared to what it was then.
While the potential of getting filthy rich brought a lot of fly-by-nighters and charlatans into the industry, it also brought a lot of innovators, entrepreneurs, and builders.
The launch and growth of Ethereum has been an incredible technological breakthrough. As with past tech breakthroughs, it has led to a wave of innovation, experimentation, and development. The creativity around tokens, smart contracts, and decentralized applications has been fascinating to witness. Now a few years later, the fruits of those labors are starting to be realized.

DeFi: Decentralized Finance

So as a reminder, tokens are cryptocurrencies. Cryptocurrencies can carry value. And value is a lot like money. Because tokens are natively integrated with Ethereum, it’s been natural for developers to build applications related to financial services — things like lending, borrowing, saving, investing, payments, and insurance. In the last few years, there has been a groundswell of developer momentum building in this area of financial protocols. This segment of the industry is known as DeFi (Decentralized Finance).
https://preview.redd.it/f0sjzqspfu951.png?width=461&format=png&auto=webp&s=8e0a31bf29250fc624918fbd8514b008762f379e
In Q2 of 2020, 97% of all Ethereum activity was DeFi-related. Total DeFi transaction volume has reached $11.5B. The current value locked inside DeFi protocols is approaching $2 Billion (double from a month ago). DeFi’s meteoric growth cannot be ignored.
Most of that growth can be attributed to exciting protocols like Compound, Maker, Synthetix, Balancer, Aave, dYdX, and Uniswap. These DeFi protocols and the financial services they offer are quickly becoming some of the most popular use-cases for blockchain technology today.
https://preview.redd.it/wn3phnkqfu951.png?width=800&format=png&auto=webp&s=02f56caa6b94aa59eadd6e368ef9346ba10c7611
This impressive growth in DeFi certainly hasn’t come without growing pains. Unlike with Bitcoin, there are near-infinite applications one can develop on Ethereum. Sometimes bugs (or typos) can slip through code reviews, testing, and audits — resulting in loss of funds.
Our next post will go much deeper on DeFi.

Wrap Up

I know that for the hardcore crypto people, what we covered today is nothing new. But for those who are still getting up to speed, welcome! I hope this was helpful and that it fuels your interest to learn more.
Until you understand the basics of this technology, you won’t be able to fully appreciate the impact that it has on our new digital bank, Genesis Block. You won’t be able to understand the implications, how it relates, or how it helps.
After today’s post, some of you probably have a lot more questions. What are specific examples or use-cases of DeFi? Why does it need to be on a blockchain? What benefits does it bring to Genesis Block and our users?
In upcoming posts, we answer these questions. Today’s post was just Level 1. It set the foundation for where we’re headed next: even deeper down the crypto rabbit hole.
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Mitch McConnell's Brother-in-Law One of the Masterminds of Trump-Russia

Jim Breyer, Mitch McConnell's brother-in-law, Facilitates Russia’s Takeover of Facebook through Yuri Milner
In 2005 Jim Breyer, a partner at Accel Partners, invested $1 million of his own money into Facebook and gained a seat on the board (1).
In Feb 2009 Jim Breyer visited Russia with a number of other Silicone Valley investors. While there, Yuri Milner, a Russian tech entrepreneur who founded DST with close ties to the Kremlin, hosted a dinner to cap the entire event (2). As one Moscow source put it:
DST has the backing of the big boys at the top in the Kremlin, which is why it will go from strength to strength (5)
Milner found out Breyer liked Impressionist art and took him to Russian’s Hermitage Museum to view Matisse paintings otherwise closed off to the public. Three months later Yuri Milner’s DST invested into Facebook at a bloated value. (2)
Mr Milner dismissed suggestions that at a valuation of $10bn he overpaid for his stake in Facebook, especially given that the social networking site has yet to prove it has turned to profit. (3)
it’s seen as a desperate and rather vulgar deal on the one hand—Milner buying a small stake in Facebook, valuing the entire company at $10 billion—and, on the other, Facebook debasing itself by taking Russian money. Russian money! In fact, it seems rather like a desperate deal for both parties (in the midst of the banking crisis, Facebook has only two other bidders for this round—and none from the top VC tier) (4)
By the end of 2009, DST would own 10% of Facebook. Later revealed by the Paradise Papers, DST’s investments into Facebook were financed by the Russian government through state-owned Gazprom. That’s right, in 2009 Russia owned 10% of Facebook. (6)
Soon after, the two continued to work together on other investments. Breyer introduced Milner to Groupon, and Milner helped Breyer’s Accel invest into Spotify (7). In 2010 an Accel representative joined a gaggle of Silicon Valley investors to Russia and signed a letter promising to invest into the country (8).
  1. http://fortune.com/2011/01/11/timeline-where-facebook-got-its-funding/
  2. http://fortune.com/2010/10/04/facebooks-friend-in-russia/
  3. https://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/facebook/7753692/Facebook-is-just-the-first-step-say-Russians.html
  4. https://www.wired.com/2011/10/mf_milne
  5. https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2011/jan/04/facebook-dst-goldman-sachs
  6. https://www.theguardian.com/news/2017/nov/05/russia-funded-facebook-twitter-investments-kushner-investor
  7. https://dealbook.nytimes.com/2011/09/28/dst-global-hoping-to-grow-across-asia-puts-down-roots/
  8. http://www.ambarclub.org/executive-education/
Jim Breyer and Rupert Murdoch
Then in Nov 2010 Jim Breyer invested into Artsy.net, run by Rupert Murdoch’s then-wife, Wendi Deng, and Russia oligarch Roman Abramovich’s then-wife, Dasha Zhukova. Jared Kushner’s brother, Josh, also invested in the fledgling company (1).
At the time Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation had a joint venture with the Russian mob-linked oligarch Boris Berezovsky, called LogoVaz News Corporation, that invested in Russian media (4). It was Berezovsky’s protege close to Putin, Roman Abramovich, who tied Berezovsky to the mob.
According to the Mirror Online, Abramovich paid Berezovsky tens, and even hundreds, of millions every year for "krysha", or mafia protection. (5)
In June 2011, Rupert Murdoch ended his foray into social media by selling Myspace to Justin Timberlake (2) and elected Jim Breyer to the board of News Corp (3).
  1. https://www.businessinsider.com/what-is-cadre-and-how-to-invest-in-its-real-estate-deals-2016-6
  2. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Myspace
  3. https://web.archive.org/web/19990428071733/http://www.newscorp.com:80/
  4. https://www.bloomberg.com/profiles/companies/156126Z:RU-logovaz-news-corp
  5. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roman_Abramovich
Jim Breyer invests in Wickr with Erik Prince
In 2012 Breyer invested in a encrypted messenger app, Wickr. Other investors include Gilman Louie and Erik Prince. To understand the connection, we need to go back to 1987. Breyer, newly hired to Accel Partners, made his first investment with Louie’s video game company that owned the rights to the Soviet Union’s first video game export, Tetris (1).
Louie went off to become the founding CEO of the CIA-backed In-Q-Tel which invested in Palantir. Palantir’s founder, Peter Thiel, sat on the board of Facebook with Breyer (2)(3). On the board of In-Q-Tel is Buzzy Krongard (7), the man who helped Erik Prince’s Blackwater receive their first CIA contract, who also joined the board of Blackwater in 2007 (6).
Around that same time, 2012-2013, Prince met Vincent Tchenguiz, founder of Cambridge Analytica's parent company, SCL (8), and was introduced to Cyrus Behbehani of Glencore, one of the purchasers of Rosneft stock detailed in the Steele Dossier (9). Cyrus Behbehani sat on the board of RusAl with Christophe Charlier, who is also Chairman of the board at Renaissance Capital (10), an early investor of DST (11).
  1. https://wickr.com/wickr-raises-30m-series-b-led-by-jim-breye
  2. https://www.sfgate.com/politics/article/CIA-Asks-Silicon-Valley-s-Help-Executive-to-2904775.php
  3. https://www.iqt.org/palantir-technologies/
  4. https://www.politico.com/story/2016/08/palantir-defense-contracts-lobbyists-226969
  5. https://feraljundi.com/tag/reflex-responses-management-consultancy-llc/
  6. https://www.nytimes.com/2007/11/17/us/17brothers.html
  7. https://www.marketscreener.com/business-leaders/A-Krongard-006WHL-E/biography/
  8. https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/revealed-erik-prince-had-business-ties-with-netanyahus-disgraced-chief-of-staff-1.5627887
  9. https://medium.com/@wsiegelman/a-fresh-look-at-erik-princes-house-intelligence-committee-testimony-and-emails-with-christophe-6603f06c6568
  10. https://medium.com/@wsiegelman/a-fresh-look-at-erik-princes-house-intelligence-committee-testimony-and-emails-with-christophe-6603f06c6568
  11. https://www.vccircle.com/all-you-wanted-know-about-digital-sky-technologies/
Jim Breyer and Yuri Milner invest in Prismatic
That same year, 2012, Jim Breyer invested in Prismatic, a news aggregate app, with Yuri Milner.
Prismatic’s technology works by crawling Facebook, Twitter and the web (“anything with a URL”) to find news stories. It then uses machine learning to categorize them by Topic and Publication. Prismatic users follow these Topics and Publications, as well as Individuals and the algorithm then uses these preferences and user-activity signals to present a relevant Newsfeed. (1)
Sounds like the beginning of what could be a propaganda dissemination tool. That goes in-line with Yuri Milner’s vision of Social Media. Milner’s theory:
“Zuckerberg’s Law”: Every 12 to 18 months the amount of information being shared between people on the web doubles... Over time people will bypass more general websites such as Google in favor of sites built atop social networks where they can rely on friends’ opinions to figure out where to get the best fall handbag, how to change a smoke detector, or whether to vacation in Istanbul or Rome. “You will pick your network, and the network will filter everything for you,” Milner explained. (2)
So how does Milner intend to utilize the data gathered through social media? Let’s see what Milner did to Russia’s top social media site, VK:
In January 2014, Durov sold his 12 percent stake to Ivan Tavrin, the CEO of major Russian mobile operator Megafon, whose second-largest shareholder is Alisher Usmanov, one of Russia’s most powerful oligarchs, a man who has long been lobbying to take over VK.
Then, in April 2014, Durov stated he had sold his stake in the company and became a citizen of St Kitts and Nevis back in February after "coming under increasing pressure" from the Russian Federal Security Service to hand over personal details of users who were members of a VK group dedicated to the Euromaidan protest movement in Ukraine. (3)
The Euromaidan protest ousted the Russian-backed president of Ukraine, Viktor Yanukovych, whom Paul Manafort had worked to install. (4)
  1. https://techcrunch.com/2012/12/05/prismatic/
  2. http://fortune.com/2010/10/04/facebooks-friend-in-russia/
  3. https://cointelegraph.com/news/what-ban-russias-vkcom-is-mining-bitcoin
  4. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Viktor_Yanukovych
Facebook talks US Elections with Russia
In Oct 2012 Zuckerberg traveled to Moscow and met Dmitry Medvedev where they had a very interesting conversation:
Mr. Zuckerberg and Mr. Medvedev talked about Facebook’s role in politics, though only jokingly in reference to its importance in the American presidential campaign, according to Mr. Medvedev’s press office. (1)
While there he also visited Victor Vekselberg's Skolkovo, who’s currently under investigation by Mueller for donations to Trump (2).
As Obama’s effort to reboot diplomatic relations [with Russia] sputtered, federal officials began raising alarms about the Skolkovo Foundation’s ties to Putin.
“The foundation may be a means for the Russian government to access our nation’s sensitive or classified research, development facilities and dual-use technologies” (3)
And took time to teach Russian's how to hack Facebook friend data, the same hack used by Cambridge Analytica, Donald Trump’s campaign data firm.
In a 2012 video, Facebook's Simon Cross shows the Moscow crowd how they can "get a ton of other information" on Facebook users and their friends. "We now have an access token, so now let's make the same request again and see what happens," Cross explains (YouTube). "We've got a little bit more data, but now we can start doing really interesting stuff. We can get my friends. We can get some more information about one of my friends. Here's Connor, who you'll meet later. Say 'hello,' Connor. He's waving. And we can also get a ton of other information as well." (4)
Facebook later hired the individual who hacked Facebook and sold the data to Cambridge Analytica (5).
A month after that visit, Putin propaganda mouth-piece Konstantin Rykov, claims he began helping with Trump’s presidential aspirations (6). Days later, Trump registered “Make America Great Again” (7). The following year, Russia's Troll Factory, the Internet Research Agency, was created as was Cambridge Analytica.
  1. https://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/02/technology/zuckerberg-meets-with-medvedev-in-key-market.html
  2. https://www.adweek.com/digital/zuckerberg-russia-skolkovo/
  3. https://apnews.com/5e533f93afae4a4fa5c2f7fe80ad72ac/Sanctioned-Russian-oligarch-linked-to-Cohen-has-vast-US-ties
  4. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=heTPmGb6jdc&feature=youtu.be&t=11m54s
  5. https://www.theguardian.com/news/2018/ma18/facebook-cambridge-analytica-joseph-chancellor-gsr
  6. https://washingtonmonthly.com/2017/11/24/a-trumprussia-confession-in-plain-sight/
  7. https://trademarks.justia.com/857/83/make-america-great-85783371.html
Andrei Shleifer and Len Blavatnik
Len Blavatnik, a US-Russian oligarch currently under investigation by Mueller, graduated from Harvard in 1989 and quickly formed Renova-Invest with Viktor Vekselberg, another oligarch under Mueller’s investigation (7)(8). Since then Blavatnik has maintained close ties to the university.
In 1992, after the fall of the Soviet Union, Andrei Shleifer led a consortium of Harvard professors to assist Russia’s vice-president, Antaoly Chubais, with the privatization of Russia’s state-run assets. Scandal broke when it was revealed Shleifer, through Blavatnik’s company and with Blavatnik’s guidance, invested in the very companies he worked to privatize. (6)
Years later, Shleifer continued to fund loans to Blavatnik for Russian ventures through his hedge fund, managed by his wife, Nancy Zimmerman (9), and created the Russian Recovery Fund which bought $230 million of Russian debt from Julian Robertson’s Tiger Management (10), who’s seed fun, Tiger Global, later invested in Milner’s DST.
Len Blavatnik and Viktor Vekselberg are major investors in Rusal (11).
Schleifer is still a professor at Harvard.
  1. http://harry-lewis.blogspot.com/2014/01/some-russian-money-flows-back-to-harvard.html
  2. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leonard_Blavatnik#cite_note-Yenikeyeff-7
  3. https://abcnews.go.com/Politics/investigators-follow-flow-money-trump-wealthy-donors-russian/story?id=50100024
  4. https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2014/01/20/the-billionaires-playlist
  5. https://law.justia.com/cases/federal/appellate-courts/cafc/16-1718/16-1718-2017-03-14.html
  6. https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-04-25/tangled-rusal-ownership-thwarts-easy-end-to-sanctions-quicktake
Breyer and Harvard
On April 2013, two months after Breyer was elected to the board of Harvard (1), Len Blavatnik, donated $50 million to the school (2) and joined the Board of Dean’s Advisors (3)(4) and Harvard’s Global Advisory Council (6) alongside Breyer. The next month Breyer announced plans to step down from the board of Facebook with an intention of focusing on his latest Harvard appointment (5).
In 2016 Len Blavatnik donated over $7 million to GOP candidates, including $2.5 million to Mitch McConnell himself (7).
  1. https://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2013/02/breyer_elected/
  2. https://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2013/04/blavatnik_accelerator_donation/
  3. https://www.accessindustries.com/about/academic-boards-committees/
  4. https://www.cnbc.com/2017/07/21/delivering-alpha-2017-jim-breyer.html
  5. https://sanfrancisco.cbslocal.com/2013/04/27/facebook-board-member-jim-breyer-stepping-down/
  6. http://docplayer.net/54127503-Harvard-global-advisory-council.html
  7. https://www.dallasnews.com/opinion/commentary/2017/08/03/tangled-web-connects-russian-oligarch-money-gop-campaigns
Breyer invests in Russian Companies
In 2014 Breyer’s Accel Partners invested in Russian hotel booking site, Ostrovok, along with Yuri Milner, Esther Dyson (1), Mark Pincus, and Peter Thiel (2).
Accel Partners also invested in Avito.ru in 2012 (3) and KupiVIP.ru in 2011 (4).
  1. https://techcrunch.com/2014/06/18/ostrovok-raises-new-12m-series-c-round-to-expand-outside-russia/
  2. http://idcee.org/participants/companies/ostrovok/
  3. http://www.ewdn.com/2012/05/02/avito-ru-secures-75-million-investment-from-accel-partners-and-baring-vostok/
  4. http://www.ewdn.com/2011/04/14/leading-private-shopping-club-kupivip-ru-completes-55-m-funding/
Jim Breyer, Blackstone Group, and Saudi Arabia
In 2011 Schwarzman was named to the board of the Russian Direct Investment Fund (2), headed by Kirill Dimitriev.
In June 2016, during Trump’s presidential campaign, Jim Breyer met with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin-Salman, or MBS (8). The next month Breyer joined the board of Blackstone Group (1) alongside Stephen Schwarzman and Jacob Rothschild (3). In the past Blackstone Group had loaned Kushner Companies a combined $400 million over multiple projects (7). In the 2018 election cycle, Schwzarman donated $5 million to the pro-McConnell superPAC, Senate Majority PAC (13).
Jacob’s brother, Nat, is business partners with both Oleg Deripaska (4), Rupert Murdoch, and Dick Cheney (5). Nat is also a major investor in Glencore, one of the purchasers of Rosneft stock detailed in the Steele Dossier (6), and RusAl.
In January 2017, Breyer’s business partner at Wickr, Erik Prince, was introduced to Dimitriev by MBS’s emissary, George Nader, and the Crown Prince of the UAE (10).
On October 22, 2018, three weeks after the murder of Jamal Khashoggi, when most American investors were spooked away from Saudi Arabia, Jim Breyer showed up at an MBS-hosted Saudi business summit alongside Kirill Dimitriev of the Russian Direct Investment Fund (9). That same day, MBS pledged $20 billion for Blackstone Group's new infrastructure fund (11) to fund Elaine Chao's $1.5 trillion infrastructure plan (12). Elaine Chao, Mitch McConnells wife and Jim Breyer's sister-in-law, is Trump's Secretary of Transportation.
  1. https://www.blackstone.com/media/press-releases/article/jim-breyer-to-join-blackstone-s-board-of-directors
  2. https://rdif.ru/Eng_fullNews/53/
  3. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jacob_Rothschild,_4th_Baron_Rothschild
  4. https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/conservative/3236166/Muddy-waters-over-Oleg-Deripaska-Nat-Rothschild-and-George-Osborne.html
  5. https://www.nationofchange.org/2017/01/15/cheney-rothschild-fox-news-murdoch-drill-oil-syria-violating-international-law/
  6. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nathaniel_Philip_Rothschild
  7. https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-05-26/the-kushners-the-saudis-and-blackstone-behind-the-recent-deals
  8. https://www.thetrustedinsight.com/investment-news/saudi-prince-mohammed-met-with-20-silicon-valley-innovators-in-tech-summit-20160628142/
  9. https://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-moelis-saudi-arabia-20181023-story.html
  10. https://www.vox.com/2018/3/7/17088908/erik-prince-trump-russia-seychelles-mueller
  11. https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-10-22/how-blackstone-landed-20-billion-from-saudis-for-infrastructure
  12. https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-10-22/how-blackstone-landed-20-billion-from-saudis-for-infrastructure
  13. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/post-politics/wp/2018/07/20/big-money-is-flowing-into-the-2018-fight-for-the-senate/?noredirect=on&utm_term=.f59ac6f2ebe5
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Fortnight Tech Roundup & Discourse - IRNSS NavIC

Fortnight Tech Roundup & Discourse - IRNSS NavIC

Welcome to this week's tech round up and discourse post.

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EBay, Stripe and Mastercard drop out of Facebook’s Libra Association techcrunch
Club Factory raises $100M to expand its lifestyle e-commerce platform in India economictimes
Donald Trump joins Amazon's video game streaming platform Twitch cnn
Bill McDermott steps down as SAP’s CEO wsj
Elon Musk says that NASA is free to share all SpaceX IP with ‘anyone it wants’ gizmodo
NASA’s new Moon-bound spacesuit is safer, smarter and much more comfortable nasa.gov
Steam will soon let you play local-only multiplayer games with far off friends pcgamer
Dyson kills its electric car project and turns to solid-state batteries guardian
Amazon Music arrives on Apple TV pocket-lint
Google takes AMP to the OpenJS Foundation openjsf
Russia’s Yandex introduces an Echo Dot-style smart speaker techcrunch
Cisco hit by an internal network outage cbronline
Xage now supports hierarchical blockchains for complex implementations globenewswire
NASCAR could debut hybrids as early as 2022 thedrive
Apple pulls HKmap from App Store, the day after Chinese state media criticized its ‘unwise and reckless decision’ to approve it cnbc
Virgin Orbit plans to send cubesats to Mars as early as 2022 cnet
Call of Duty is the biggest mobile game launch ever, with 100 million downloads independent
Pinterest launches a new ‘Lite’ app for emerging markets androidpolice
Microsoft’s Your Phone app can now route calls from your Android phone to your PC blog.windows
European risk report flags 5G security challenges techcrunch
Toyota, GM, Nvidia, Bosch, Arm and others form new autonomous driving tech consortium theiet
China attacks Apple for allowing Hong Kong crowdsourced police activity app nyt
AMD’s Radeon RX 5500 is its new entry-level competitor to Nvidia’s GTX 1650 pcworld
Amazon, Walmart confront India’s slowing economy as holiday season growth stalls techcrunch
Essential reveals Project Gem smartphone with very long, unusual design engadget
Twitter admits it used two-factor phone numbers and emails for serving targeted ads help.twitter
Arm brings custom instructions to its embedded CPUs developer.arm
Sony’s next console is the PlayStation 5, arriving holidays 2020 theverge
Chinese firms Tencent, Vivo and CCTV suspend ties with the NBA over Hong Kong tweet edition.cnn
Eight Chinese tech firms placed on US Entity List for their role in human rights violations against Muslim minority groups techcrunch
Mars Curiosity Rover finds evidence of an ancient oasis on Mars earthsky
Instagram is killing its creepy stalking feature, the Following tab androidpolice
Ex-Tinder CEO files lawsuit saying sexual assault allegations against him are defamation theverge
Fire TV might not get Disney+ as Amazon and Disney clash over ads variety
Amazon introduces a Kindle for kids indiatoday
Apple’s MacOS Catalina is now available 9to5mac
Spotify gains Siri support on iOS 13, arrives on Apple TV forbes
Disney is reportedly banning Netflix ads across its entertainment TV networks theverge
Red Dead Redemption 2 is coming to PC in November rockpapershotgun
NASA shares 3D Moon data for CG artists and creators space
PayPal is the first company to drop out of the Facebook-led Libra Association economictimes
Iranian hackers targeted US 2020 campaign, says Microsoft bbc
Apple CEO Tim Cook slams Facebook’s Libra cryptocurrency as a power grab forbes
Google-backed Dunzo raises $45M to expand its hyperlocal delivery startup in India fortuneindia
NASA’s first all-electric experimental X-plane is ready for testing nasa.gov
Facebook is being leaned on by US, UK, Australia to ditch its end-to-end encryption expansion plan macrumorsInstagram launches Threads, a Close Friends chat app with auto-status wired
India’s Fyle bags $4.5M to expand its expense management platform in the US, other international markets techcrunch
Uber launches a shift-work finder app, Uber Works, starting in Chicago tnw
Redesigned Google Shopping goes live, with price tracking, Google Lens for outfits and more pcmag
Zuckerberg Plans to Sue if Elizabeth Warren Tries to Break Up Facebook gizmodo
Samsung pulls the plug on Chinese smartphone production techcrunch
Microsoft showcases an Android Surface 'phone' and dual-screen Windows Variant cnet
Microsoft’s latest Surface Laptop arrives in 13- and 15-inch models theverge
India’s NoBroker raises $50M to help people buy and rent without real estate brokers business-standard
Cybersecurity giant Comodo can’t even keep its own website secure forums.comodo
NASA awards $43.2M to Blue Origin, SpaceX and others for tech to take us to the Moon and Mars techcrunch
NASA launches a new planet-hunting telescope using a giant balloon phys.org
UPS gets FAA approval to operate an entire drone delivery airline nyt
Streamlit launches open-source machine learning application development framework techcrunch
WhatsApp tests self-destructing messages theverge
Europe’s top court says active consent is needed for tracking cookies techcrunch
SpaceX details Starship and Super Heavy in new website techcrunch
Hyundai is getting into the flying car business newatlas
Microsoft makes Windows Virtual Desktop generally available globally zdnet
Google's Project Jacquard is available on new Levi's jackets youtube
PayPal to enter China through GoPay acquisition venturebeat

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The Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System (IRNSS) recently become fully-operational and has been provided with the operational name of NavIC (Navigation with Indian Constellation). Developed by the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) with the objective of offering positioning, navigation and timing (PNT) to the users on a variety of platforms with a 24 hour x 7 day service availability under all weather conditions - in its service area with a position accuracy of < 20 m throughout India and within the region of coverage extending about 1500 km beyond. nih.gov
Having an autonomous regional satellite navigation system of one’s own offers strategic autonomy in military operations. The GPS that we have known and used all along is the satellite-based radio navigation system owned by the US government and operated by the American Air Force. During the Kargil War 20 years ago, the US refused to provide India critical information on the movement and precise location of Paki enemy troops. toi A need for an indigenous satellite navigation was felt earlier, but Kargil experience made the nation realize it's inevitability. Geopolitical needs teaches us that some countries can deny us the service in times of conflict, a way of arm twisting.
With an accuracy of <10 m on Restricted and Encrypted Service (RES) while an accuracy of <20 m on Standard Positioning Service (SPS), IRNSS will offer 2 level of services for very differing purposes. isro.gov.in \PDF]) Almost all Military and Reconnaissance applications will utilize RES while SPS will be available for civilian uses. unvienna \PDF])

The IRNSS space segment architecture consists of 3 satellites in GEO (Geostationary Orbit) at 32.5°, 83° and 131.5° East while 4 satellites in geosynchronous orbit placed at inclination of 29° with longitude crossing at 55° and 111.75° East forming an analemma. isac.gov.in Out of the 4 GSO satellites, the first sat IRNSS-1A failed in orbit due to atmoic clock malfunction. On August 31, 2017, sat IRNSS-1H was meant to replace defunct IRNSS-1A, failed to deploy due to malfunction in payload fairing mechanism. Though failures are not uncommon in space missions of even developed nations, India is not in a position where it can afford even relatively minor glitches neither financially nor in terms of reaching the higher goals it has set for itself. firstpost

IRNSS Analemma

Unlike GPS which is dependent only on L-band, NAVIC has dual frequency (S and L bands). When low frequency signal travels through atmosphere, its velocity changes due to atmospheric disturbances. US banks on atmospheric model to assess frequency error and it has to update this model from time to time to assess the exact error. In India's case, the actual delay is assessed by measuring the difference in delay of dual frequency (S and L bands). Therefore, NavIC is not dependent on any model to find the frequency error and is more accurate than GPS. toi
Studies have also shown marked improvement in GDoP (Geometric dilution of precision) values when IRNSS is used in conjunction with GPS constellation for position fix in primary coverage region of IRNSS. Hence IRNSS can be augmented with GPS to improve position accuracy in the given region. ias.ac.in

The IRNSS is being developed parallel to the GAGAN (GPS Aided GEO Augmented Satellite Navigation) program that in essence use GPS signals for navigation but after making them much more reliable for safety critical applications like in civil aviation., the ISRO SBAS (Satellite Based Augmentation System) version of an overlay system for GNSS signal corrections. earth.esa.int As of 2013, the statutory filing for frequency spectrum of Global Indian Navigational System (GINS) satellite orbits in international space, has been completed. hindubusinessline GINS is supposed to have a constellation of 24 satellites, positioned 24,000 km (14,913 mi) above Earth. wikipedia)

On Sep 24, 2019 Global mobile telephony standards body, 3GPP, gave its approval to NaVIC (Proposed jointly by Reliance Jio and ISRO). 3gpp.org \XLSX]) The approval has been given for the system’s use in Rel-16 LTE and Rel-17 5G NR specifications, paving the way for wider commercial adoption of NaVIC, allowing it to be integrated with 4G, 5G and internet of things (IoT). 3gpp.org \ZIP]) Thus, electronics companies can start designing and building integrated circuits and mass manufacture other products uniquely created to be compatible with NavIC. From what all scant information I was able to gather it seems Broadcom was first to introduce BCM47756 3gpp.org \ZIP]) chipset integrated with NavIC and Xiaomi Mi8 was the first phone to have the capabilities. insidegnss Will the introduction of indigenous satnav be another step closer towards being a global power? Comments open.
PS: Here's an interesting presentation prepared by Space Application Center that goes a little deep inside Navigation with Indian Constellation http://www.unoosa.org/documents/pdf/icg/2018/icg13/05.pdf

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And in the last, here's 19th-Century Vision of the Year 2000 by Jean-Marc Côté and other artists issued in France in 1899, 1900, 1901 and 1910. Originally in the form of paper cards enclosed in cigarette/cigar boxes and, later, as postcards, the images depicted the world as it was imagined to be like in the then distant year of 2000.
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Source: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Category:France_in_XXI_Century_(fiction))
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What is Quant Networks Blockchain Operating System, Overledger? And why are Enterprises adopting it at mass scale?

What is Quant Networks Blockchain Operating System, Overledger? And why are Enterprises adopting it at mass scale?
Overledger is the world’s first blockchain operating system (OS) that not only inter-connects blockchains but also existing enterprise platforms, applications and networks to blockchain and facilitates the creation of internet scale multi-chain applications otherwise known as mApps.
In less than 10 months since launching Overledger they have provided interoperability with the full range of DLT technologies from all the leading Enterprise Permissioned blockchains such as Hyperledger, R3’s Corda, JP Morgan’s Quorum, permissioned variants of Ethereum and Ripple (XRPL) as well as the leading Public Permissionless blockchains / DAGs such as Bitcoin, Stellar, Ethereum, IOTA and EOS as well as the most recent blockchain to get added Binance Chain. In addition, Overledger also connects to Existing Networks / Off Chain / Oracle functionality and it does all of this in a way that is hugely scalable, without imposing restrictions / requiring blockchains to fork their code and can easily integrate into existing applications / networks by just adding 3 lines of code.

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What is a blockchain Operating system?

You will be familiar with Operating systems such as Microsoft Windows, Apple Mac OS, Google’s Android etc but these are all Hardware based Operating Systems. Hardware based Operating Systems provide a platform to build and use applications that abstracts all of the complexities involved with integrating with all the hardware resources such as CPU, Memory, Storage, Mouse, Keyboard, Video etc so software can easily integrate with it. It provides interoperability between the Hardware devices and Software.
Overledger is a Blockchain Operating System, it provides a platform to build and use applications that abstracts all of the complexities involved with integrating with all the different blockchains, different OP_Codes being used, messaging formats etc as well as connecting to existing non-blockchain networks. It provides interoperability between Blockchains, Existing Networks and Software / MAPPs

How is Overledger different to other interoperability projects?

Other projects are trying to achieve interoperability by adding another blockchain on top of existing blockchains. This adds a lot of overhead, complexity, and technical risk. There are a few variants but essentially they either need to create custom connectors for each connected blockchain and / or require connected chains to fork their code to enable interoperability. An example of the process can be seen below:
User sends transaction to a multi sig contract on Blockchain A, wait for consensus to be reached on Blockchain A
A custom connector consisting of Off Chain Relay Nodes are monitoring transactions sent to the smart contract on Blockchain A. Once they see the transaction, they then sign a transaction on the Interoperability blockchain as proof the event has happened on Blockchain A.
Wait for consensus to be reached on the Interoperability Blockchain.
The DAPP running on the Interoperability Blockchain is then updated with the info about the transaction occurring on Blockchain A and then signs a transaction on the Interoperability blockchain to a multi sig contract on the Interoperability Blockchain.
Wait for consensus to be reached on the interoperability Blockchain.
A different custom connector consisting of Off Chain Relay Nodes are monitoring transactions sent to the Smart Contract on the Interoperability Blockchain which are destined for Blockchain B. Once they see the transaction, they sign a transaction on Blockchain B. Wait for consensus to be reached on Blockchain B.

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Other solutions require every connecting blockchain to fork their code and implement their Interoperability protocol. This means the same type of connector can be used instead of a custom one for every blockchain however every connected blockchain has to fork their code to implement the protocol. This enforces a lot of restrictions on what the connected blockchains can implement going forward.

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Some problems with these methods:
  • They add a lot of Overhead / Latency. Rather than just having the consensus of Blockchain A and B, you add the consensus mechanism of the Interoperability Blockchain as well.
  • Decentralisation / transaction security is reduced. If Blockchain A and Blockchain B each have 1,000 nodes validating transactions, yet the Interoperability Blockchain only has 100 nodes then you have reduced the security of the transaction from being validated by 1000 to validated by 100.
  • Security of the Interoperability Blockchain must be greater than the sum of all transactions going through it. JP Morgan transfer $6 Trillion every day, if they move that onto blockchain and need interoperability between two Permissioned blockchains that have to connect via a public Interoperability blockchain, then it would always have to be more costly to attack the blockchain than the value from stealing the funds transacted through the blockchain.
  • Imposes a lot of limitations on connected blockchains to fork their code which may mean they have to drop some existing functionality as well as prevent them from adding certain features in the future.
  • Creates a single point of failure — If the Interoperability blockchain or connector has an issue then this affects each connected blockchain.
  • It doesn’t scale and acts as a bottleneck. Not only does building complex custom connectors not scale but the Interoperability blockchain that they are forcing all transactions to go through has to be faster than the combined throughput of connected blockchains. These Interoperability blockchains have limited tps, with the most being around 200 and is a trade off between performance and decentralisation.

But some Interoperability blockchains say they are infinitely scalable?

If the interoperability blockchain is limited to say 200 tps then the idea is to just have multiple instances of the blockchain and run them in parallel, so you benefit from the aggregated tps, but just how feasible is that? Lets say you want to connect Corda (capable of 2000+ tps) to Hyperledger (capable of up to 20,000 tps with recent upgrade). (Permissioned blockchains such as Hyperledger and Corda aren’t one big blockchain like say Bitcoin or Ethereum, they have separate instances for each consortium and each is capable of those speeds). So even when you have just 1 DAPP from one consortium that wants to connect Corda to Hyperledger and use 2000 tps for their DAPP, you would need 100 instances of the Interoperability blockchain, each with their own validators (which maybe 100–200 nodes each). So, 1 DAPP would need to cover the costs for 100 instances of the blockchain and running costs for 10,000 nodes…This is just one DAPP connected to one instance of a two permissioned blockchains, which are still in the early stages. Other blockchains such as Red Belly Blockchain can achieve 440,000 tps, and this will surely increase as the technology matures. There is also the added complexity of then aggregating the results / co-coordinating between the different instances of the blockchain. Then there are the environmental concerns, the power required for all of these instances / nodes is not sustainable.

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It’s not just transactions per second of the blockchain as well, its the latency of all these added consensuses along the path to reach to the destination and not knowing whether the security of each of the hops is sufficient and can be trusted. To see examples of how this potential issue as well as others effect Cosmos you can see my article here. I recommend also reading a blog done by the CEO of Quant, Gilbert Verdian, which explains how Overledger differs here as well as detailed in the whitepaper here.

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Overledger’s approach

In 1973 Vint Cerf invented the protocol that rules them all: TCP/IP. Most people have never heard of it. But it describes the fundamental architecture of the internet, and it made possible Wi-Fi, Ethernet, LANs, the World Wide Web, e-mail, FTP, 3G/4G — as well as all of the inventions built upon those inventions.
Wired: So from the beginning, people, including yourself, had a vision of where the internet was going to go. Are you surprised, though, that at this point the IP protocol seems to beat almost anything it comes up against?Cerf: I’m not surprised at all because we designed it to do that.This was very conscious. Something we did right at the very beginning, when we were writing the specifications, we wanted to make this a future-proof protocol. And so the tactic that we used to achieve that was to say that the protocol did not know how — the packets of the internet protocol layer didn’t know how they were being carried. And they didn’t care whether it was a satellite link or mobile radio link or an optical fiber or something else.We were very, very careful to isolate that protocol layer from any detailed knowledge of how it was being carried. Plainly, the software had to know how to inject it into a radio link, or inject it into an optical fiber, or inject it into a satellite connection. But the basic protocol didn’t know how that worked.And the other thing that we did was to make sure that the network didn’t know what the packets had in them. We didn’t encrypt them to prevent it from knowing — we just didn’t make it have to know anything. It’s just a bag of bits as far as the net was concerned.We were very successful in these two design features, because every time a new kind of communications technology came along, like frame relay or asynchronous transfer mode or passive optical networking or mobile radio‚ all of these different ways of communicating could carry internet packets.We would hear people saying, ‘The internet will be replaced by X25,’ or ‘The internet will be replaced by frame relay,’ or ‘The internet will be replaced by APM,’ or ‘The internet will be replaced by add-and-drop multiplexers.’Of course, the answer is, ‘No, it won’t.’ It just runs on top of everything. And that was by design. I’m actually very proud of the fact that we thought of that and carefully designed that capability into the system.
This is the approach Quant have taken with their Blockchain OS, Overledger to solve Blockchain interoperability. Compared to other Interoperability platforms that are trying to achieve interoperability at the transaction layer by connecting two blockchains via another blockchain, these will be ultimately be made redundant once faster methods are released. Overledger is designed to be future proof by isolating the layers so it doesn’t matter whether it’s a permissioned blockchain, permissionless, DAG, Legacy network, POW, POS etc because it abstracts the transaction layer from the messaging layer and runs on top of blockchains. Just as the Internet wasn’t replaced by X25, frame relay, APM etc, Overledger is designed to be future proof as it just runs on top of the Blockchains rather than being a blockchain itself. So, if a new blockchain technology comes out that is capable of 100,000 TPS then it can easily be integrated as Overledger just runs on top of it.
Likewise, with protocols such as HTTPS, SSH etc these will also emerge for blockchains such as ZK-Snarks and other privacy implementations as well as other features made available, all will be compatible with Overledger as its just sitting on top rather than forcing their own implementation for all.
It doesn’t require blockchains to fork their code to make it compatible, it doesn’t add the overhead of adding another blockchain with another consensus mechanism (most likely multiple as it has to go through many hops). All of this adds a lot of latency and restrictions which isn’t needed. The developer can just choose which blockchains they want to connect and use the consensus mechanisms of those blockchains rather than forced to use one.
Overledger can provide truly internet scale to meet whatever the demands may be, whether that be connecting multiple red belly blockchains together with 440,000 tps it doesn’t matter as it doesn’t add its consensus mechanism and uses proven internet scale technology such as that based on Kubernetes, which is where each task is split up into a self-contained container and each task is scaled out by deploying more to meet demand. Kubernetes is what runs Google Search engine where they scale up and down billions of containers every week.
Due to this being more of a summary, I strongly recommend you read this article which goes into detail about the different layers in Overledger.

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But how does it provide the security of a blockchain if it doesn’t add its own blockchain?

This is often misunderstood by people. Overledger is not a blockchain however it still uses a blockchain for security, immutability, traceability etc, just rather than force people to use their own blockchain, it utilises the source and destination blockchains instead. The key thing to understand is the use of its patented technology TrustTag, which was made freely available to anyone with the Overledger SDK.
Please see this article which explains TrustTag in detail with examples showing how hashing / digital signatures work etc
A quick overview is if i want to send data from one blockchain to another the Overledger SDK using Trusttag will put the data through a hashing algorithm. The Hash is then included in digital signature as part of the transaction which is signed by the user’s private key and then validated through normal consensus and stored as metadata on the source blockchain. The message is then sent to the MAPP off chain. The MAPP periodically scans the blockchains and puts the received message through a hashing algorithm and compares the Hash to the one stored as metadata on the blockchain. This ensures that the message hasn’t been modified in transit, the message is encrypted and only the Hash is stored on chain so completely private, provides immutability as it was signed by the user’s private key which only they have and is stored on the blockchain for high availability and secure so that it can’t be modified, with the ability to refer back to it at any point in time.
Despite Overledger being a very secure platform, with the team having a very strong security background such as Gilbert who was chief security information officer for Vocalink (Bank of England) managing £6 trillion of payments every year and classified as national critical security (highest level you can get), ultimately you don’t need to trust Overledger. Transactions are signed and encrypted at client side, so Overledger has no way of being able to see the contents. It can’t modify any transaction as the digital signature which includes a hash of the transaction would be different so would get rejected. Transaction security isn’t reduced as it is signed at source using however many nodes the source blockchain has rather than a smaller amount of nodes with an interoperability blockchain in the middle.

Patents

The core code of Overledger is closed source and patented, one of the recent patents can be seen here, along with TrustTag and further ones are being filed. The Overledger SDK is open source and is available in Java and Javascript currently, with plans to support Pyhton and Ruby in the near future. Java and Javascript are the most popular programming languages used today.
The Blockchain connectors are also open source and this allows the community to create connectors to connect their favourite blockchain so that it can benefit from blockchain interoperability and making it available to all enterprises / developers currently utilising Overledger. Creating is currently taking around a week to implement and so far, have been added based upon client demand.

Multi Chain Applications (MAPPs)

Multi Chain Applications (MAPPs) enable an application to use multiple blockchains and interoperate between them. Treaty Contracts enable a developer to build a MAPP and then change the underlying blockchain it uses with just a quick change of couple of lines of code. This is vital for enterprises as it’s still early days in Blockchian and we don’t know which are going to be the best blockchain in the future. Overledger easily integrates into existing applications using the Overledger SDK by just adding 3 lines of code. They don’t need to completely rewrite the application like you do with the majority of other projects and all existing java / javascript apps on Windows / Mobile app stores / business applications etc can easily integrate with overledger with minimal changes in just 8 minutes.

Treaty Contracts

What Overledger will allow with Treaty contracts is to use popular programming languages such as Java and create a smart contract in Overledger that interacts with all of the connected blockchains. Even providing Smart contract functionality to blockchains that don’t support them such as Bitcoin. This means that developers don’t have to create all the smart contracts on each blockchain in all the different programming languages but instead just create them in Overledger using languages such as Java that are widely used today. If they need to use a different blockchain then it can be as easy as changing a line of code rather than having to completely rewrite the smart contracts.
Overledger isn’t a blockchain though, so how can it trusted with the smart contract? A Hash of the smart contract is published on any blockchain the MAPP developer requires and when called the smart contract is run its run through a hashing function to check that it matches the Hash value stored on the blockchain, ensuring that it has not been modified.
By running the Smart contract off chain this also increases Scalability enormously. With a blockchain all nodes have to run the smart contract one after another rather than in parallel. Not only do you get the performance benefit of not having to run the code against every single node but you can also run them in parallel to others executing smart contracts.
You can read more about Treaty Contracts here

The different versions of Overledger

Enterprise version

The current live version is the Enterprise version as that is where most of the adoption is taking place in blockchain due to permissioned blockchains being preferred until permissionless blockchains resolve the scalability, privacy and regulatory issues. Please see this article which goes into more details about Entereprise blockchain / adoption. The Enterprise version connects to permissioned blockchains as well as additional features / support suited for Enterprises.

Community version

The community version is due to be released later this year which will allow developers to benefit from creating MAPPs across permissionless blockchains. Developers can publish their MAPPs on the MAPP Store to create additional revenue streams for developers.

Where does Overledger run from? Is it Centralised?

Overledger can run from anywhere. The community version will have instances across multiple public clouds, Enterprises / developers may prefer to host the infrastructure themselves within a consortium which they can and are doing. For example SIA is the leading private Financial Network provider in Europe, it provides a dedicated high speed network which connects all the major banks, central banks, trading venues etc. SIA host Overledger within their private network so that all of those clients can access it in the confinement of their heavily regulated, secure, fast network. AUCloud / UKCLoud host Overledger in their environment to offer as a service to their clients which consist of Governments and critical national infrastructure.
For Blockchain nodes that interact with Overledger the choice is entirely up to the developer. Each member within a consortium may choose to host a node, some developers may prefer to use 3rd party hosting providers such as Infura, or Quant can also host them if they prefer, its entirely their choice.
Overledger allows for higher levels of decentralisation by storing the output across multiple blockchains so you not only benefit from the decentralisation of one blockchain but the combination of all of them. Ultimately though decentralisation is thrown around too much without many actually understanding what it means. It’s impossible to have complete decentralisation, when you sign a transaction to be added to a blockchain ultimately you still connect through a single ISP, connect through a single router, or the input into a transaction is done through a piece of software etc. What matters to be decentralised is where trust is involved. As i have mentioned before you don’t need to trust the OS, it’s just providing instructions on how to interact with the blockchains, the end user is signing the transactions / encrypting at client side. Nothing can be seen or modified with the OS. Even if somehow the transaction did get modified then it would get rejected when consensus is done as the hash / digital signature won’t match at the destination blockchain. Where the transaction actually gets put onto the blockchain is where decentralisation matters, because thats what needs to be trusted and conensus is reached and Overledger enables this to be written across multiple blockchains at the same time.

The Team

The team are very well connected with a wealth of experience at very senior roles at Global enterprises which I will include a few examples below. Gilbert Verdian the CEO was the Head of security for the payment infrastructure for the Bank of England through his CISO role with Vocalink (Mastercard)managing £6 trillion every year. This is treated by the government as critical national infrastructure which is the highest level of criticallity because its so fundamental to the security of the country. They have experience and know what it takes to run a secure financial infrastructure and meeting requirements of regulators. Gilbert was director for Cybersecurity at PWC, Security for HSBC and Ernst & Young as well as various government roles such as the CISO for the Australian NSW Health, Head of Security at the UK government for Ministry of Justice and HM Treasury in addition to being part of the committee for the European Commission, US Federal Reserve and the Bank of England.
Cecilia Harvey is the Chief Operating Officer, where she was previously a Director at HSBC in Global Banking and Markets and before that Director at Vocalink. Cecilia was also Chief Operating Officer at Citi for Markets and Securities Services Technology as well as working for Barclays, Accenture, IBM and Morgan Stanley.
Vijay Verma is the Overledger platform lead with over 15 years of developer experience in latest technologies like Java, Scala, Blockchain & enterprise technology solutions. Over the course of his career, he has worked for a number of prestigious organisations including J&J, Deutsche, HSBC, BNP Paribas, UBS Banks, HMRC and Network Rail.
Guy Dietrich, the managing director of Rockefeller Capital (manages $19 Billion in assets) has joined the board of Quant Network, and has recently personally attended meetings with the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) with Gilbert

https://preview.redd.it/1x25xg78efl31.png?width=566&format=png&auto=webp&s=abea981ff40355eed2d0e3be1ca414c5b1b8573c
As well as advisors such as Paolo Tasca, the founder and Executive Director of the Centre for Blockchain Technologies (UCL CBT) at University College Londonfounder and executive director as well as Chris Adelsbach, Managing Director at Techstars, the worldwide network that helps entrepreneurs succeed. Techstars has partners such as Amazon, Barclays, Boeing, Ford, Google, Honda, IBM, Microsoft, PWC, Sony, Target, Total, Verizon, Western Union etc.
Due to client demand they are expanding to the US to setup a similar size office where board members such as Guy Dietrich will be extremely valuable in assisting with the expansion.
https://twitter.com/gverdian/status/1151549142235340800
The most exciting part about the project though is just how much adoption there has been of the platform, from huge global enterprises, governments and cloud providers they are on track for a revenue of $10 million in their first year. I will go through these in the next article, followed by further article explaining how the Token and Treasury works.
You can also find out more info about Quant at the following:
Part One — Blockchain Fundamentals
Part Two — The Layers Of Overledger
Part Three — TrustTag and the Tokenisation of data
Part Four — Features Overledger provides to MAPPs
Part Five — Creating the Standards for Interoperability
Part Six — The Team behind Overledger and Partners
Part Seven — The QNT Token
Part Eight — Enabling Enterprise Mass Adoption
Quant Network Enabling Mass Adoption of Blockchain at a Rapid Pace
Quant Network Partner with SIA, A Game Changer for Mass Blockchain Adoption by Financial Institutions
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