By Elizabeth Zima December 19, 2017
Horrified by reports that the Russians might have hacked voting machines and the fact that one county lost a high number of voter records in 2016, New York Assemblyman Clyde Vanel introduced four bills this past week to prevent this from ever happening in the state.
“In 2016, Kings County lost 120,000 voter records,” Vanel said. “I felt we needed to secure and safeguard our election system. I wondered if blockchain (technology) was the solution.”
According to blog post written by Vanel, blockchain technology is “a continuously growing list of records, called blocks, which are linked and secured using cryptography. Each block of information contains a pointer to the previous block of information that represents a transaction of data. By design, these blockchains are resistant to the modification of the data. Additionally, this information can be used on a distributed ledger that is managed by a peer-to-peer network that makes it virtually impossible to hack.”
Because the uses of blockchain technology are largely untested in government records keeping, Vanel introduced three bills to study the technology and the effects it would have on securing voting records, election results and government record storage. Another bill would create a digital currency taskforce to analyze the impact of cryptocurrencies on New York financial markets.
A fourth bill would amend the state’s technology law to include a definition of blockchain technology, smart contracts and provide a legal understanding for digital signatures stored on a blockchain.
“We can’t be too quick to regulate (blockchain), we need to understand it first,” and how it might enhance “record keeping in government,” he said.
More at: 4 Blockchain Bills Introduced in New York State Assembly – CPA Practice Advisor
By Christopher Burger December 15, 2017
Digital payments, smart contracts, and data-backed task automation technologies are driving Germany’s energy transformation.
Blockchain is a distributed, digital transaction technology that allows for securely storing data and executing smart contracts in peer-to-peer networks (Swan, 2015, p. IX). This is potentially disruptive, as trusted intermediaries could become obsolete.
Banks and, more generally, the financial sector were the first ones to become aware of the technology via the cryptocurrency Bitcoin, which operates on the basis of Blockchain. But with the recently added possibility to conduct smart contracts via a platform called Ethereum, Blockchain has gained increasing attention outside the financial sector. Conferences on Blockchain-based cryptocurrency Bitcoin are flourishing, startup competitions are held to spot the Blockchain equivalent of Amazon and Uber, and venture capital so far has raised $1.1bn to scale business models of the future (Weusecoins.com, 2016).
Meanwhile, another major disruption is occurring in the energy sector. Germany’s energy transformation, or Energiewende, is seen as a role model for the move toward a carbon-neutral energy supply. The process of reshaping the German energy system had already started in the 1990s, when it was decided to expand the share of power generation from largely carbon-neutral – albeit intermittent – renewable energies. In 2011, the German government decided to phase out its nuclear power fleet by 2022, which accelerated the transition.
More at: Blockchain and smart contracts: Pioneers of the energy frontier – International Business Times
By Jared Polites December 13, 2017
In case you thought 2017 couldn’t get any weirder, the world is now obsessed with virtual cats. CryptoKitties is a virtual game that allows players to collect and breed digital cats. In the game’s short lifespan (it launched on November 28th) it has already drawn interest from players across the globe. Many users are drawn to the game because it is completely personalized.
The “cats” an individual breeds or collects are uniquely their own and cannot be cloned by other users. When users breed their own cats they can add distinctive colors, facial features, or backgrounds to distinguish their cats from other users’ on the marketplace. Once a cat has been bred, its creator can sell it on the marketplace. As of December 11th, 2017, these virtual cats had generated an estimated $12 million in sales.
Although the trading of virtual cats might seem like a silly, fleeting trend, the transactional aspect may have long-term implications. What really sets CryptoKitties apart from other addictive online games is its Ethereum foundation. The marketplace, developed by AxiomZen, was built on Ethereum’s blockchain ledger, and users buy and sell cats on the protocol using Ethereum’s proprietary token, Ether.
CryptoKitties has quickly become the most popular smart contract on Ethereum, and as of December 10th, 2017, the marketplace accounted for almost 15% of Ethereum’s total network transactions.
More at: What CryptoKitties Reveals About Ethereum Scalability Issues – CryptoCoinsNews
It’s like Beanie Babies, but somehow even weirder.
By Daniel Oberhaus December 4, 2017
In October, I tried my hand at an early version of CryptoKitties, a game in which players breed digital cats on the Ethereum blockchain by executing smart contracts. At the time, it seemed would be a fun (and short-lived) way to introduce newbies to the way smart contracts work on the Ethereum network.
But when CryptoKitties was officially released on October 28, it unexpectedly became a multi-million dollar digital kitten mill—perhaps the strongest ever confirmation that a fool and their Ethereum are easily parted.
At the time of writing, CryptoKitties is the busiest smart contract on the blockchain, accounting for a little over 11 percent of all network traffic.
As TechCrunch put it, “we now have people using Ether, an asset with arguably little tangible utility to purchase an asset with unarguably zero tangible utility.” Still, CryptoKitties is the closest thing to a “killer app” to be released so far on the Ethereum network, which has mostly been used to fund sketchy multi-million dollar investment rounds for applications that don’t exist.
Read More: I Bred ‘Crypto Kitties’ on the Ethereum Blockchain
Over the weekend, over $2.5 million (about 6,200 ether) passed through this smart contract as a result of people breeding, buying and selling these digital kittens.
More at: 11% of Traffic on the Ethereum Blockchain Is Being Used to Breed Digital Cats – Motherboard
By Michael Cross December 1, 2017
Technology to predict the outcome of disputes has ‘now very definitely arrived’, the head of the High Court has said in a speech forecasting the spread of online dispute resolution and ‘smart contracts’ based on blockchain encryption.
Speaking in Frankfurt, Sir Geoffrey Vos, chancellor of the High Court, said that digital ledgers, smart contracts and artificial intelligence are bringing about ‘nothing short of a major revolution’. But he dismissed suggestions that smart contracts – whose terms are executed automatically with tamper-proof encrypted code – will not require a foundation in law.
cannot have 3 trillion contracts per year globally without expecting some of them to give rise to a dispute,’ he said. ‘We need to ensure that our judges are sufficiently educated in the legal basis of them, and in the computer code that underlies them, so that we can deal with these disputes and help to shape the legal environment in which these revolutionary developments will occur. We cannot just pretend that nothing is happening.’
Vos was bullish about the adoption of technology to forecast the outcome of disputes – and thus to inform decisions on whether to litigate. ‘This has been pioneered in the US, but has now very definitely arrived in Europe,’ he said. ‘My own view is that it is very useful for big business, because it can identify the most likely outcomes of uncertain litigation.’
More at: Judges will need to learn about computer code to handle disputes, Vos predicts – Law Society Gazette
By Jasmine Ye Han
If blockchain, the technology behind cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, takes off, it could move peer-to-peer “employment” to the next level, making it easier for workers and clients to exchange money and credentialing information without a middleman.
The traditional idea of a nine-to-five office job is already being challenged by the increasing number of Americans who are taking up freelancing for companies like Uber, TaskRabbit and Upwork. About 36 percent of the U.S. workforce is freelancing, according to a recent survey by Upwork and Freelancers Union. Even more, 47 percent of millennials report they are freelancing.
The survey predicts that by 2027, the majority of the U.S. workforce will be freelancing. Sources interviewed by Bloomberg Law say blockchain technology will accelerate the change.
More at: Gigs Gone Wild: Could Blockchain Make Freelancing the Norm? – Bloomberg BNA
By Brian Straight November 30, 2017
One of the common questions surrounding blockchain is how it will be utilized in the supply chain. Many people assume smart contracts, transparency and quicker payments will be early uses. For Rana Basu, founder and president of Consurgo, that discussion is ongoing on a daily basis.
“As we commercialize it, what blockchain is giving us is a way to sign off on a contract,” he told members attending the recent Blockchain in Transport Alliance (BiTA) meeting in Atlanta. “That fingerprint is the legal validity on the blockchain.”
Consurgo built an oil and gas consortium based in Geneva that includes BP, Shell, Vitol, Glencore, Mercuria, Trafigura, Koch Supply and Trading and three global banks. That consortium joined forces to work on reducing friction in oil logistics. Consurgo is now working to implement emerging technologies such as blockchain into the oilfield logistics sector through an organizational readiness toolkit to enable enterprise adoption.
More at: How a smart contract works in oilfield applications — FreightWaves