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1  Other / Politics & Society / Clearview AI Declared Illegal In Canada Scraping Public Photos for Cops to Stalk on: February 04, 2021, 06:30:45 AM
In a world where data leaks are common should any organization be able to access everyone's photos to track them?
America's version of the Chinese Social Credit System.
Clearview AI breaking international borders to scrape images

Technology company Clearview AI’s scraping of billions of images of people from across the internet represented mass surveillance and was a clear violation of the privacy rights of Canadians.

The American company’s technology allowed law enforcement and commercial organizations to match photographs of unknown people against the company’s databank of more than three billion images, including of Canadians and children, for investigative purposes.

The investigation found Clearview had collected highly sensitive biometric information without the knowledge or consent of individuals, and that it collected, used and disclosed Canadians’ personal information for inappropriate purposes, which cannot be rendered appropriate via consent.

The Privacy Commissioner of Canada Daniel Therrien said Wednesday that Clearview AI conducts mass surveillance, a practice that is “completely unacceptable.”

“What Clearview does is mass surveillance and it is illegal,” said Therrien. “It is an affront to individuals’ privacy rights and inflicts broad-based harm on all members of society who find themselves continually in a police lineup.

Clearview argued that Canadian privacy laws do not apply to its activities because the company does not have a “real and substantial connection” to Canada, and that consent was not required because the information was publicly available.

Outsourced stalking I hope Canada wins and Americans protest as it is American jurisdiction. If they lose Clearview.Ai will make a Canadian branch to watch Americans
Five Eyes of Tech

They already have plans to expand

Clearview states their technology is not for public consumption and meant for law enforcement usage, but their marketing material encouraged users to "run wild" with their use, suggesting searching for family and friends as well as celebrities.

Clearview also indicated they were targeting private security firms and marketed to casinos through Clearview's Jessica Medeiros Garrison.
Clearview planned expansion to many countries, including Brazil, Colombia, and Nigeria, a cluster that Buzzfeed titles "authoritarian regimes" including United Arab Emirates, Qatar, and Singapore, and General Data Protection Regulation-following EU countries including Italy, Greece, and Netherlands.

2  Other / Politics & Society / Hedge Funds Pay to Lock out Retail Investors from Trading Gamestop on: January 28, 2021, 07:08:01 PM
Was checking out the news today about how Hedge funds can trade stock while retail investors on Robinhood TD Interactive Brokers were all put into a timeout
Seems like a very clear case of market manipulation as the Hedge Funds shorts are due to expire on Friday and they purposefully limited the trading in order to maximize their own pocketbooks.

From a David vs Goliath perspective, what is your interpretation of the latest debate in the Gamestop Saga?
Is it right for the major traders to suspend all users to protect a few hedge funds?

3  Other / Politics & Society / Isolated Covid Free Cities, 2 Week Hotel Lockdown to Enter Life as Normal inside on: January 26, 2021, 11:18:26 PM
Would you be willing to move to a newly built city in a pandemic country and be on a complete lockdown.

Basically, people make it a giant pain to get in the city, you have to stay on a two-week lockdown before entrance inside however once your inside people can go to restaurants watch movies play games in public and do whatever you want to do within the confines of the city.

You can have your normal life back.

To maximize freedom you can leave the confined city any time you want however any time you want back in no matter how long you left you will need to wait 2 weeks to get back in the isolated city.

Would you opt-in would you invite your friends to wait it out in there etc?
4  Bitcoin / Press / [2021-01-23] Valkyrie Digital Assets Files for Bitcoin ETF on: January 25, 2021, 03:49:34 PM
Valkyrie Digital Assets filed an application on Friday for a bitcoin exchange-traded fund (ETF), the second such filing in the last 30 days.

The Valkyrie Bitcoin Fund would be listed on the New York Stock Exchange and Coinbase Custody Trust Company, LLC, would serve as the custodian for the proposed ETF, according to Dallas-registered Valkyrie Investments, the parent of Valkyrie Digital Assets.

Leah Wald, CEO of Valkyrie Investments, told CoinDesk, “Our executive team has previously launched multiple ETFs, publicly traded funds and ETPs [exchange-traded products], including bitcoin funds.”

At the end of December, VanEck re-submitted an application to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission for a VanEck Bitcoin Trust ETF.

While an ETF is seen as advantageous because it trades on the stock market in much the same way as shares in popular companies such as Apple and Microsoft, over the years the SEC has rejected bitcoin ETF proposals due to concerns about market volatility and industry manipulation.

In October 2020, then-Chairman Jay Clayton, who many saw as lukewarm toward crypto, said the agency was still open to considering ETF proposals.

Now, with a new administration causing a changing of the guard at the SEC, it is widely hoped by crypto advocates that such an ETF will be approved in 2021. Clayton stepped down officially last month and is expected to be replaced by Gary Gensler, who is widely seen as being more pro-crypto than is his predecessor.

Also adding to optimism is this month’s departure of Dalia Blass, the director of the SEC’s division of investment management. Blass was the author of a 2018 letter within the SEC expressing concerns the bitcoin market was not large enough or liquid enough to be ready for an exchange-traded product.
This would be a first for the US
In Canada 3IQ already launched two tradable crypto stocks the question is who will win a Gensler or a Yellen
Q.BTC and Q.Eth
5  Other / Politics & Society / On Inauguration Day It Was Antifa Who Caused The Riots on: January 21, 2021, 07:57:41 AM
Anti-government and anti-fascist protesters vandalized a Democratic Party office and scuffled with police in Portland, Oregon on Wednesday, protesting the inauguration of President Joe Biden and demanding an end to police violence and imperialism.

Police said they arrested eight people on suspicion of criminal mischief, possession of a destructive device, riot and reckless burning.

Social media video showed men dressed in black, their faces covered, breaking windows and the glass door at the Democratic Party of Oregon business office, spray-painting an anarchist symbol over the party sign.

“We don’t want Biden. We want revenge for police murders, imperialist wars, and fascist massacres,” read a banner they marched under.

Before descending on the Democratic Party office, some protesters from a group of about 150 scuffled with police on bicycles, but there where no major injuries reported, police said in a statement.

Police recovered some long poles and a large knife from the crowd and dropped one smoke canister to disperse the crowd, the statement said.

The arrested suspects ranged in age from 18 to 38.

“We respect the rights to assemble and speak, but it must be done lawfully. Criminal activity is not protected speech,” police Sergeant Kevin Allen said in a video message posted on Twitter.

For months Portland had been the scene of protests by civil rights, anarchist and anti-fascist protesters who are occasionally opposed by right-wing militias and supporters of former President Donald Trump.

A Trump supporter was shot dead during one protest in August. Five days later, police shot and killed an anti-fascist protester who was wanted for that homicide.

Interesting that the riots that occurred at Biden's inauguration were from the far-left when everyone was prepared for Trump supporters
6  Bitcoin / Press / [2021-01-20] Janet Yellen suggests 'curtailing' cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin on: January 20, 2021, 09:25:44 PM
Janet Yellen suggests 'curtailing' cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin, saying they are mainly used for illegal financing

Janet Yellen, President-elect Joe Biden's nominee for treasury secretary, suggested on Tuesday that lawmakers "curtail" the use of cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin over concerns that they are "mainly" used for illegal activities.

Yellen's comments suggested the incoming Biden administration could be hostile to cryptocurrencies and ramp up regulation. Watchdogs around the world, from the European Central Bank to the UK's financial regulator, have recently expressed concerns about cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin.
Sen. Maggie Hassan asked Yellen during her confirmation hearing on Tuesday about the dangers of terrorists using cryptocurrencies.

"You're absolutely right that the technologies to accomplish this change over time, and we need to make sure that our methods for dealing with these matters, with terrorist financing, change along with changing technology," Yellen said.

"Cryptocurrencies are a particular concern. I think many are used - at least in a transaction sense - mainly for illicit financing.

"And I think we really need to examine ways in which we can curtail their use and make sure that money laundering doesn't occur through those channels."

Second Source
7  Bitcoin / Press / 2021-01-11 FinanceMagnates Bitcoin Crash Liquidates 262,344 Traders on: January 11, 2021, 02:44:54 PM
Bitcoin Crash Liquidates 262,344 Traders
Nearly $2 billion worth of long Bitcoin positions got liquidated in less than 24 hours.
Bitcoin price plunged nearly 20% in the past 24 hours as the price dip created panic among retail and institutional investors.

8  Bitcoin / Press / 2018-02-13 CSE aims to be Canada’s first blockchain platform for trade clearing on: February 15, 2018, 04:46:17 AM

Canada’s upstart exchange is applying to use the technology to provide real-time clearing and settlement of securities

The Canadian Securities Exchange, Canada’s upstart stock-trading platform, is aiming to create competition in securities clearing and settlement using blockchain technology.

The CSE plans to apply to regulators for recognition of the new clearinghouse, which aims to provide real-time clearing and settlement that would cut costs and reduce errors when compared to conventional clearing services.

The platform, using technology licensed from New York-based Fundamental Interactions Inc., would use tokenized securities called Securities Token Offerings (STOs) for both equity and debt issues, the CSE said in a release Tuesday.

“The Canadian Securities Exchange expects to be the first recognized exchange in Canada to introduce a fully developed blockchain platform for trading, clearing and settling tokenized securities,” said Richard Carleton, chief executive of the CSE.

“Our platform represents an intersection between blockchain and the capital markets that delivers on blockchain’s promise to disrupt conventional transaction and record-keeping mechanisms, thereby providing tangible benefits for market stakeholders.”

Proponents of the distributed ledger technology behind blockchain have pinpointed clearing and settlement of stocks and other securities as an area ripe for innovation because it is still heavily dependent on paperwork and transactions that can take days to settle.

9  Bitcoin / Bitcoin Discussion / Bitcoin BTM's in Airports on: May 23, 2017, 06:32:48 AM
First signs of Airport Adoption other than the recent installation at JFK, the question is will you use the machine if you were traveling and which countries are next for Airport Adoption.


Peach Aviation plans to install bitcoin ATMs at airports.
It hopes local shops will also let customers use the virtual currency.

Peach representatives say they hope the system will attract more tourists from abroad. The company plans to start accepting bitcoin payments by the end of the year.
Peach Aviation is in the same group as All Nippon Airways and Vanilla Air. Neither company currently has plans to start accepting bitcoin.

The bulk installation includes the first ever bitcoin ATM in the John F. Kennedy International Airport, the fifth busiest airport in the US.
10  Bitcoin / Press / [2017-05-22] Peach Becomes Japan's First Airline to Accept Payment in Bitcoin on: May 23, 2017, 06:23:49 AM
Peach Aviation Ltd. will become the first Japanese carrier to accept bitcoin as payment for airline tickets as the discount airline aims to attract more tourists from other parts of Asia.

The cryptocurrency can be used to book seats starting by the end of the year, Peach said in a statement in Tokyo Monday, adding a change in Japan’s law on fund settlements in April helped facilitate the move. The carrier also aims to increase tie-ups with local governments and regional companies to help spread usage of the currency, it said.

“We want to encourage visitors from overseas and the revitalization of Japan’s regions,” Shinichi Inoue, chief executive officer of Peach told reporters in Tokyo Monday. “This is a real first step in partnerships for Japan and we are aiming for more company and service tie-ups.”

Bitcoin is surging in popularity as the digital payment system that allows users anywhere in the world to transact directly without interference from intermediaries, governments, regulators or central banks. Latvian airline airBaltic announced almost three years ago that it would start accepting payment using bitcoin as it focuses on the customer.

The electronic currency surged as much as 13 percent to a record $2,187.78 on Monday, and is trading about 70 percent above the price of an ounce of gold, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. It has more than doubled its value since the beginning of the year amid global political uncertainty and increased interest in Asia. Skeptics have said that there may be a bubble in the making, as bitcoin has repeatedly broken records without showing signs of slowing.

Universal Air Travel Plan teamed up with Bitnet as a payment processing partner more than two years ago to allow it to offer the ability to accept bitcoin payments in a simplified manner to its network of more than 260 airlines, according to a statement from UATP.
Another Reason to go To Japan

Alternative Source NHK Newsline Video

Budget carrier Peach Aviation is set to become Japan's first airline to accept bitcoin as payment for tickets.

Japan lags behind some other countries in embracing the virtual currency, which is known for its low transaction fees.

(In a giant finger to Forex)
Peach Aviation plans to install bitcoin ATMs at airports.
It hopes local shops will also let customers use the virtual currency.

Peach representatives say they hope the system will attract more tourists from abroad. The company plans to start accepting bitcoin payments by the end of the year.

Peach Aviation is in the same group as All Nippon Airways and Vanilla Air. Neither company currently has plans to start accepting bitcoin.
11  Other / Politics & Society / After 146 Years, Ringling Brothers Circus Takes Its Final Bow on: May 22, 2017, 05:35:52 AM
The end of an American Icon and a part of history

The lights went up on the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey circus on Sunday evening to reveal 14 lions and tigers sitting in a circle, surrounding a man in a sparkling suit. It was a sight too implausible to seem real yet such an iconic piece of Americana that it was impossible to believe the show would not go on.

After 146 years, Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey is closing for good, responding to a prolonged slump in ticket sales that has rendered the business unsustainable, according to its operator, Feld Entertainment. On Sunday, the circus glittered, thundered and awed beneath the booms and klieg lights of Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum. That there was no tent over the final show, no striped eaves from which the daring young man on the flying trapeze could hang, felt fitting. The big top was packed up, this time forever.

Autumn Luciano stood outside, ticket in hand. “It feels a little like a funeral today, but I’m trying not to mourn it in a sad way,” said Ms. Luciano, 33, a pinup photographer who had flown in from Lansing, Mich., to see the last show. “Circus is all about being happy.”

She pulled up her sleeve to reveal a tattoo of a circus tent on her wrist. Without circuses, “we lose the ability to go and see that humans can do anything,” she said. “You go to the circus and see human beings doing insane things, but the truth is, we all have the ability to do crazy things.”

The world is losing “a place of wonder,” he said at an event a few days before the final performances. All around him, performers with thick makeup and saddened faces spoke to reporters about the circus’s demise. “It’s the last safe space,” he said. “It’s the last pure form of entertainment there is.”

“To this day, the final performance with the elephants is the hardest performance I have ever had to go through,” she said. “I had to say goodbye to elephants I’d been with since they were born. They were part of my family.”

“You can cry,” Mr. Iverson said, “after the curtain closes.”

As the show finally ended, the backstage crew members, the animal handlers, the performers’ small children and even the train engineers joined the performers on the arena floor, standing with the costumed dancers. They sang a round of “Auld Lang Syne.”

But before that, the people in the crowd rose to their feet for a prolonged ovation. The ringmaster cheered back at them, “You mean the circus isn’t antiquated?” The crowd roared. “You mean you love the circus?” he said. The noise was deafening.

A farewell and a victory to PETA

Meanwhile the attempt to remove horses from tourism and fine dining and making them a historical footnote continues.
12  Bitcoin / Bitcoin Discussion / What does the Mainstream think people purchase with Bitcoin on: May 16, 2017, 10:44:27 AM
I have seen quite a few articles about the items people purchase with Bitcoin ranging from living like kings with lifetime Reddit Gold subscriptions to Knock Mom signs so what do you think the mainstream believe people purchase Bitcoin for.
Reddit Gold Reference
US Only or Proxies (Daily Show with Trevor Noah) Knock Mom signs

Also if you see any silly items recommended on the news please do share kind of curious what pops up from the mainstream articles  Grin
13  Bitcoin / Press / [2017-05-14] Why Bitcoin’s Price Has Been Surging and Where It Could Go FromHere on: May 14, 2017, 06:22:54 AM

Bitcoin has shown amazing, and fairly steady, growth over the last year.

A single bitcoin was worth just $455 in May 2016. And even after retrenching slightly from a record Thursday high of over $1,800 per token, it has shown a stunning 286% annual return, based on prices from CoinMarketCap.

As with most assets, explaining bitcoin’s bull stampede is more art than science. Bitcoin's price is fundamentally linked to how many people use the system to send money. But it's currently mostly driven by speculators, who trade on their belief that it will become more popular in the future. Positive news on that front has been plentiful in the last three months in particular.

Globally, Bitcoin is being treated with a great deal more respect by regulators. Positive comments about blockchain by Minneapolis Federal Reserve President Neel Kashkari coincided with the latest Bitcoin price surge. Japan approved Bitcoin as a legal method of payment in early April, and Chinese regulators have made progress in squaring Bitcoin usage with that country’s tight capital controls.

... Cont in article the end was amusing
14  Other / Politics & Society / China wants 'new Silk Road' One Belt One Road project to help it dominate world on: May 14, 2017, 05:11:42 AM
President Xi Jinping will host 28 world leaders and representatives from another 70 countries to sell his hugely ambitious signature project.

The plan is to build a vast network of new trade routes across the globe, multiple high-speed rail networks to penetrate Europe, massive ports across Asia and Africa and a series of free-trade zones.

China is going to spend up to a trillion dollars on infrastructure projects and hopes to bind more than 65 countries and two thirds of the world's population to its economy.

Economists have likened the project to a modern day Marshall Plan — which helped secure the US as the world's superpower after World War II — but it's much bigger.

China's aim is to lift trade by $2.5 trillion in a decade by flooding world markets with cheap, high-quality Chinese goods.

Opinions on a China led world order / Marshall Plan versus an American one.
15  Bitcoin / Press / [2017-05-13] Massive ransomware infection hits computers in 99 countries on: May 13, 2017, 05:16:56 AM
A massive cyber-attack using tools believed to have been developed by the US National Security Agency has struck organisations around the world.
Computers in thousands of locations have been locked by a programme that demands $300 (£230) in Bitcoin.

In April hackers known as The Shadow Brokers claimed to have stolen the tools and released them online.
Microsoft released a patch for the vulnerability in March, but many systems may not have been updated.
How big is the attack?

There have been reports of infections in 99 countries, including the UK, US, China, Russia, Spain, Italy and Taiwan.

Cyber-security firm Avast said it had seen 75,000 cases of the ransomware - known as WannaCry and variants of that name - around the world.
"This is huge," said Jakub Kroustek at Avast.

Many researchers say the incidents appear to be linked, but say it may not be a coordinated attack on specific targets.

Meanwhile wallets for the digital cryptocurrency Bitcoin that were seemingly associated with the ransomware were reported to have started filling up with cash.

The UK's National Health Service (NHS) has been hit and screenshots of the WannaCry program were shared by NHS staff.

Hospitals and doctors' surgeries were forced to turn away patients and cancel appointments. One NHS worker told the BBC that patients would "almost certainly suffer" as a result.

Some reports said Russia had seen more infections than any other single country. Russia's interior ministry said it had "localised the virus" following an "attack on personal computers using Windows operating system".

16  Economy / Speculation / Bitcoin can reach 2017 USD by the end of the year ? on: May 04, 2017, 11:01:17 PM
I haven't seen any year matching parity predictions will this be the first year that the Bitcoin price will match the year dollar for dollar in USD
1 BTC = 2017 or more?

     BitStamp USD/BTC              OKCoin CNY/BTC              Kraken EUR/BTC              Kraken CAD/BTC           CoinCheck JPY/BTC
  -----------------------     -----------------------     -----------------------     -----------------------     -----------------------
   1  2017-05-03  1478.69  |   1  2017-05-02  8634.19  |   1  2017-05-03  1344.63  |   1  2017-05-03  1997.96  |   1  2017-05-03  167550.72
   2  2017-05-02  1438.93  |   2  2017-05-03  8574.42  |   2  2017-05-02  1305.04  |   2  2017-05-02  1935.75  |   2  2017-05-02  165338.23


17  Other / Politics & Society / Trump Effectively Taxing the Rich in Blue States on: April 28, 2017, 06:46:43 AM
It seems to me that contrary to what is stated by the Times Trump's Tax reform will result in positive revenue for the Federal Coffer due to a significant pullback on reductions, at the same time it's leveling the field for all states not just the ones that are reliably democrat. The states most hurt by the tax bill are the ones that voted Democrat on this bill and they also tax the most so it seems like a strategic plan and way to get sweet revenge while rewriting the tax code. While it's also giving other states an opportunity to raise their state and local taxes a bit if they want changing cash distributions.

So the question remains is Trump's Tax Plan good/bad or something else?

"There is no doubt that if you are a New York or California resident, your largest deduction, by a factor that could be as high as 10, is the state and local income tax," said tax expert Robert Willens, of New York-based Robert Willens LLC. "

About 28 percent of tax filers claim the state and local deduction each year, according to the Tax Foundation. Of those, 77 percent deduct income taxes and the rest deduct sales taxes. The deduction ends up being far more valuable in states with the highest tax burdens.

Nationwide, wealthier taxpayers benefit the most from the deduction. More than 88 percent of its benefits go to Americans who earn more than $100,000 a year, according to the Tax Foundation.

Eliminating the deduction would boost federal tax collections by $1.8 trillion over the coming 10 years, the foundation calculated last month. That's revenue that could be used to fund the administration's proposed tax cuts. The measure is part of a sweeping White House tax proposal that Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin called "massive tax reform and simplification," vowing to "unlock the economic growth that's been held back in this country."
18  Other / Off-topic / Boy with Mohawk stars in new commercial for sold-out Moschino Barbie on: November 18, 2015, 08:46:48 AM
You can't make these things up  I sense a player in the making look at that wink as he plays with those dolls  Grin

A Barbie commercial that features a boy playing with the doll for the first time ever is getting praise for challenging gender barriers.
The adorable blonde boy with a Mohawk is seen smiling and giggling with two female friends in the ad as they play with the new limited edition Moschino Barbie dolls.
'Moschino Barbie is so fierce!' he says to the camera as he holds Barbie's pursue before placing it on her arm. (Yes its Pursue daily mail did it twice lol)

As an aside some comments

They should show the boy playing with Barbie the way boys really do. Boy play with Barbie falls into three categories:

1. Do horrible things with Barbie to annoy his sister.
2. Torture and disfigure Barbie by pulling off her head, arms, and legs to annoy his sister.
3. Older boys and girls use Barbie and Ken (or another male doll, or two) to enact kinky erotic tales.

This comment seems to represent the general trend

Back when I was a kid my 12" GI Joes (not those little POS) would bang the hell out of my sister's Barbies.
Especially Skipper.
19  Economy / Economics / TransPacific Parnership Released Online on: November 06, 2015, 02:28:03 AM
This is the trade deal of trade deals so it time to talk about it, now that the full documents are released and what you think it will do for the world economy before it gets ratified in this form.

FULL Text of TPP is around 6000 Pages:

Interesting Sections in my Opinion:
Sections 11, 14 and 18 as they relate to Internet Privacy and Commerce.


EFF Highlights against Privacy:

The most shocking revelation from today’s release is how the TPP's Investment chapter defines "intellectual property" as an asset that can be subject to the investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) process. What this means is that companies could sue any of the TPP nations for introducing rules that they allege harm their right to exploit their copyright interests—such as new rights to use copyrighted works for some public interest purpose.

Now that we finally have the final text of this agreement, we'll be digging deeper into the implications of this sprawling agreement in the days and weeks to come. However, if there's one thing we can take away from this, it's that the TPP's secretive, lobbyist-controlled policymaking process has led to a deal that upholds corporate rights and interests at the direct expense of all of our digital rights.

Feel Free to add your own articles and speculation on these trade deals.
20  Bitcoin / Press / [2015-10-31] The Economist: The promise of the blockchain The trust machine on: October 30, 2015, 02:55:10 AM
Advanced Print Article:

The technology behind bitcoin could transform how the economy works

BITCOIN has a bad reputation. The decentralised digital cryptocurrency, powered by a vast computer network, is notorious for the wild fluctuations in its value, the zeal of its supporters and its degenerate uses, such as extortion, buying drugs and hiring hitmen in the online bazaars of the “dark net”.

This is unfair. The value of a bitcoin has been pretty stable, at around $250, for most of this year. Among regulators and financial institutions, scepticism has given way to enthusiasm (the European Union recently recognised it as a currency). But most unfair of all is that bitcoin’s shady image causes people to overlook the extraordinary potential of the “blockchain”, the technology that underpins it. This innovation carries a significance stretching far beyond cryptocurrency. The blockchain lets people who have no particular confidence in each other collaborate without having to go through a neutral central authority. Simply put, it is a machine for creating trust.

The blockchain food chain
To understand the power of blockchain systems, and the things they can do, it is important to distinguish between three things that are commonly muddled up, namely the bitcoin currency, the specific blockchain that underpins it and the idea of blockchains in general. A helpful analogy is with Napster, the pioneering but illegal “peer-to-peer” file-sharing service that went on line in 1999, providing free access to millions of music tracks. Napster itself was swiftly shut down, but it inspired a host of other peer-to-peer services. Many of these were also used for pirating music and films. Yet despite its dubious origins, peer-to-peer technology found legitimate uses, powering internet startups such as Skype (for telephony) and Spotify (for music streaming)—and also, as it happens, bitcoin.

The blockchain is an even more potent technology. In essence it is a shared, trusted, public ledger that everyone can inspect, but which no single user controls. The participants in a blockchain system collectively keep the ledger up to date: it can be amended only according to strict rules and by general agreement. Bitcoin’s blockchain ledger prevents double-spending and keeps track of transactions continuously. It is what makes possible a currency without a central bank.

Blockchains are also the latest example of the unexpected fruits of cryptography. Mathematical scrambling is used to boil down an original piece of information into a code, known as a hash. Any attempt to tamper with any part of the blockchain is apparent immediately—because the new hash will not match the old ones. In this way a science that keeps information secret (vital for encrypting messages and online shopping and banking) is, paradoxically, also a tool for open dealing.
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