Real of Fake News: Did the NSA Help Develop Bitcoin?

June 15, 2018

Here in Harrod’s Creek, one can buy corn meal and squirrel meat using the barter method. Put that quart jar of moonshine on the counter and pick up your vittles. No digital currency here.

Therefore, the assertion in “The NSA Helped to Invent Bitcoin, Founder of World’s Second Largest Cryptocurrency Ethereum Claims” puzzles the Beyond Search and DarkCyber research team. The source is impeccable: The UK tabloid Metro.

We learned:

Vitalik Buterin, the Russian-born creator of Ethereum, suggested the National Security Agency (NSA) was involved in the development of the virtual currency.

With Amazon on the Ethereum bandwagon, we think that currency and transaction platform is worth monitoring.

But did a US government agency create Bitcoin? Metro reports:

Earlier this year, it was reported that a boss of the Russian cybersecurity firm Kaspersky made a similar claim. ‘Bitcoin is a project of American intelligence agencies, which was designed to provide quick funding for US, British and Canadian intelligence activities in different countries,’ she said, according to Sputnik News. ‘[The technology] is privatized just like the Internet, GPS and TOR. In fact, it is dollar 2.0. Its rate is controlled by the owners of exchanges.’

We’ll stick to old fashioned currencies and the staple one of our contract workers manufactures in another hollow. White lightning can change one’s perception of reality. A reporter, for example, hot on the trail of Satoshi Nakamoto might have taken a slurp.

Stephen E Arnold, June 15, 2018

Coveo Positions Itself to Fend off Enemies

June 4, 2018

Coveo, one of the numerous players in the race for AI supremacy, took a massive leap forward recently. By securing some substantial investments, the company is poised to make a big splash in the field. However, we are not certain money is the answer to all their concerns, after reading a recent press release on their site, “Coveo Announces $100 Million Investment Led By Evergreen Coast Capital.”

According to the story:

Coveo, a recognized leader in AI-powered insight, recommendations and search engines, has secured a $100 million investment from Elliott Management for a 27% stake in the company. The investment was led by Elliott’s Menlo Park, California-based private equity affiliate, Evergreen Coast Capital.”

Nice work if you can get it, to be sure. However, we will be curious whether or not this money makes much of a dent in the market. For instance, competition like Elastic have been gaining ground and Algolia are actually acquiring other companies in an effort to better position themselves. Keep an eye on this fight, because we suspect the company that comes out on top will begin making a major impact on our daily lives through their AI offerings.

One final thought: Will Coveo and companies like Attivio and LucidWorks be able to generate sufficient revenue to pay off the investors and generate a sustainable revenue stream? From our vantage point 45 minutes from Churchill Downs where gambling is a way of life, we think the odds are long, very long.

Perhaps a larger company will buy one of these three firms, allowing the senior managers to have a big payday and retire. Dassault Systèmes, Hewlett Packard, IBM, and Oracle have expensive search stallions in their stable. We assume there will be other prospects if the revenue race stumbles.

Patrick Roland, June 1, 2018

Alphabet Google Races to a Trillion

May 30, 2018

Short honk: I read “Microsoft Just Surpassed Alphabet’s Market Cap for the First Time in 3 years and the Race to Become the First Trillion Dollar Company Is Heating Up.” The source is one which does quite a few MBA arabesques with nifty “flip it around” spins.

It’s no secret that the egos of the folks who run companies trying to hit the trillion dollar bull’s eye are competitive “aw, shucks” people.

The write up reports, with what I thought was glee:

Microsoft just surpassed Google’s parent company Alphabet in market value, clocking in at the end of Tuesday’s regular trading session with a market cap of $753 billion. Alphabet’s end of day market value was $739 billion.

You don’t catch the glee? Too bad.

For me here in rural Kentucky, pondering the sights and sounds of the local old folks’ home, I noted something different.

In order to pump up the bucks, Alphabet Google may have to turn the dials on its revenue machine. My hypothesis is that Alphabet Google will revisit the “diffusion” of ads in order to deplete advertisers’ accounts in the quest for clicks. My hunch is that some of the sites still getting money from Adsense might note a shift as well. Plus, there are the monetization opportunities subscriptions provide.

If smaller sites dependent on Google for revenue are negatively affected, those sites may go away. That means Alphabet Google spells major accounts. Is this another variation of the have-have nots social pattern?

I think the GOOG can hit a trillion, but there may be some road kill on that fast lane to big bucks. Then there is the problem of the race leaders. I need a bite of an Apple.

Stephen E Arnold, May 30, 2018

Tuesday DIY Cryptocurrency Marks An Industry Change

May 13, 2018

Bitcoin and Blockchain and the world of cryptocurrency that they represent has become an omnipresent part of the financial conversation over the last twelve years. However, there is a huge potential for upheaval via the little known aspect of creating cryptocurrency from scratch. However, it’s not such a secret thanks to a recent LifeHacker story, “How to Create Your Own Cryptocurrency.”

According to the story:

“[Y]ou can fork an existing blockchain by taking the open-source code found on Github—Litecoin, for example—making a few changes, and launching a new blockchain with a new name (like Garlicoin). Again, this requires you to understand the code so you know what to modify and why.’

If average users can suddenly make their own cryptocurrency, the results would be like citizens freely printing dollar bills in their garage. The market would collapse. This, on top of other news that the second largest cryptocurrency, Ethereum, might have been formed on the basis of an illegal securities trade, is a dark sign. The downside of this revolution is that now bad things are happening in the shadows, and there is no way to pump the brakes. We are more than a little skeptical about the cryptocurrency market right now.

Patrick Roland, May 13, 2018

Distasteful Content and Digital Currency: A Love Match

May 10, 2018

Porn Site Leads Way in Cryptocurrency Acceptance

While it sounds like a surprise at first, a partnership between pornography site PornHub and cryptocurrency upstart, Verge, is a perfect pair. Increased privacy, especially when credit card statements are sent home at the end of every month, has an indelible appeal to porn customers. We learned about this interesting development from a recent article in Digital Trends, “Want to Hide Your PornHub Subscription? Pay with Virtual Verge Currency.”

According to the story:

“History has proven that the adult entertainment industry plays a critical role in adoption for innovative technology. We saw that with VHS, Beta Max, credit card payment icons and, most recently, VR goggles. We expect to see widespread adoption of crypto and blockchain in short order.”

This is a really interesting point and one worth thinking on for a moment. However, there’s also a serious risk to being the first person to set a trend. For one, how much do most customers know about Verge? A little digging shows that they had been hacked less than a month before this Pornhub announcement. Security is probably the number one concern of anyone getting into cryptocurrency. While this partnership with Verge and Pornhub makes perfect sense, it’s still a little early in the relationship for us to give it much of a blessing.

Patrick Roland, May 10, 2018

Digital Currency Has a Wide Reach

April 23, 2018

Beyond Search was under the impression that financing for certain types of activities related to anti-establishment activities has been handled informally. For example, in some countries, informal money transfer systems operate. The practice is sometimes spelled hawala.

The idea is not a new one. Trust among those perceived to be in a particular extended family or social, political, or religious group helps ensure that money moves from Point A to Point B. The system is not digital, but it has been durable, existing for centuries.

Crypto currency like Bitcoin have been gaining a foothold as legitimate forms of financial transaction over the last several years. However, one of the richest areas in the world, The Middle East, has long been aware of the alternatives to bank regulated money.

For some individuals, certain beliefs have prohibited some Islamic investors from using crypto currency, though that may change according to a recent Economic Times story, “Crypto Currency Traders Use Old Gold to Lure Islamic Investors.”

According to the story, “OneGram, is issuing a gold-backed crypto currency — part of efforts to convince Muslims that investing in crypto currencies complies with their faith. We learned:

“But because they are products of financial engineering and objects of speculation, crypto currencies sit uneasily with Islam. Sharia principles, in addition to banning interest payments, emphasize real economic activity based on physical assets and frown on pure monetary speculation.”

The Islamic world may not have to wait long. Recently a 22-page research paper was released that declared Bitcoin is compliant with Sharia Law and therefore acceptable in the Islamic religion. We are not ready to fully buy into this, since the story appeared on Bitcoin’s own Web site. However, if this is true, it could mean another massive surge in investors as the crypto currency gains more and more momentum.

As Reuters reported, Iran is taking action with regard to digital currency. “Iran Central Bank Bans Crypto Currency Dealings” states:

 Iran’s central bank has banned the country’s banks from dealing in cryptocurrencies, including Bitcoin, over money-laundering concerns.

If barriers to crypto currency are erected, how will money move? Perhaps the old fashioned way?

For more information, learn more about CyberOSINT (the Dark Web) here or the Dark Web Notebook at www.xenky.com/darkwebnotebook. We cover some of these topics in our weekly video news program DarkCyber. The video is available on the Beyond Search Web site here and on Vimeo by searching “Arnold DarkCyber.”

Patrick Roland, April 23, 2018

MailChimp Swings Away from Cryptocurrency

April 19, 2018

Marketing automation platform MailChimp has made some customers very unhappy with a recent decision. Future Society declares, “MailChimp is Shutting Down ICO and Blockchain-Related Emails, and People Are Freaking Out.” Though one user charged the company with exercising “centralized capricious power,” MailChimp points to its (updated) Acceptable Use Policy, which does prohibit processing cryptocurrency transactions across their platform. Writer Foster Kamer tells us:

“We asked a few more questions about how MailChimp can actually delineate between emails from people involved in the shilling and profiteering of blockchain and ICOs versus people having news-related discussions of blockchain and ICOs (because, LOL, in the current moment, most non-algorithmic humans have a justifiably tough time distinguishing between the two). We’ll update here if they respond. In the meantime, it’ll be a hell of a lot of fun to watch (1) which companies follow MailChimp’s lead, (2) which companies capitalize off of the fact that they nixed this entire segment of people from their platform and go all in on blockchain, sweeping ’em up in MailChimp’s place, and (3) watching all of blockchain and ICO Twitter collectively lose their minds about feeling censored and repressed.”

Kamer has little sympathy for those objecting to MailChimp’s move, and points out they are free to take their email marketing needs to another business. We wonder, though, whether this action signifies a trend. Founded in 2001, MailChimp is based in Atlanta, and they happen to be hiring for several positions as of this writing.

Cynthia Murrell, April 19, 2018

IBM and Investor Patience

April 18, 2018

Why have investors apparently lost patience with IBM?

Many reasons. We suggest that Watson and its smart software hyperbole may be contributing factors. To cite one example:

It appears Watson is like a Barbie doll. Barbie is notorious for her numerous careers and varied skilled set from working on the space shuttle to expert fashionista to a school teacher. Watson has a similar career trajectory, simply inject glitter and pink into its motherboard. Watson has now entered the VR/AR game word, says The Next Web in the article, “IBM And Unity Are Teaming Up To Bring Watson’s AI To VR And AR Games.”

IBM and Unity have teamed up to bring Watson’s AI capabilities to the popular gaming engine. Unity is mostly known for Pokemon Go and Star Trek Bridge Crew, but now developers will be able to download the IBM Watson Unity SDK for free. The IBM Watson Unity SDK gives users free access to Watson’s AI suite. The biggest problem with Unity based games is that other than Pokemon Go and Star Trek Bridge Crew most of them have not broken into the mainstream, but Watson’s AI suite could change that.

The potential Watson’s AI brings to Unity goes beyond basic augmented and virtual reality gaming:

“…practicing surgeon could stay immersed in a surgery simulator by using voice control. It’s an immersion breaker for a user to have to turn and either wait for menu popups or stop what they’re doing and grab a game pad to access menus and change ‘tools’ during an exercise.With Watson on board the same hypothetical surgery simulator would function much more like the real world. The user could simply say “Hand me a sponge” and the game engine could process that command using Watson’s speech processing ability.Watson’s voice recognition, speech-to-text, and image recognition features make for a promising addition to the Unity game engine and will, hopefully, propel VR/AR into the mainstream.”

Will this type of assertion get IBM back in the good graces of stakeholders? Watson might or could deliver better games, but revenue, not marketing, is the measure of success.

No success, no patience.

Whitney Grace, April 18, 2018

Google Does Not Buy Kentucky

March 28, 2018

Short honk: I read “MAP: A Look at Google’s Growing Empire.”

image

Google seems to like the Left Coast and the Right Coast. Bankrupt-loving Illinois makes the list along with Iowa, Texas, and ski country. But nothing in Kentucky. I assume the Commonwealth needs more than a morally questionable university, bourbon, horse racing, Kentucky Fried Chicken, and a couple of riverboats.

Stephen E Arnold, March 28, 2018

Short Honk: Publishers Are Financially Aware, Well, Sort Of

March 11, 2018

I assume that “Hedge Fund Alden Siphoned 100s of Millions from Newspapers in Scheme to Gamble on Other Investments, Suit Says” is accurate.  If not, the write up underscores the state of “real” journalism. If the article is accurate, it underscores the state of “real” news business expertise. Interesting.

Stephen E Arnold, March 11, 2018

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