Distributed Ledger

Russian hackers used bitcoin to fund election interference, so prepare for FUD

The indictment filed today against 12 Russians accused of, among other things, hacking the DNC and undermining Hillary Clinton’s campaign also notes that the alleged hackers paid for their nefarious deeds with bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. This unsavory application of one of tech’s current darlings will almost certainly be wielded against it by opportunists of all stripes. It is perhaps the most popular and realistic argument against cryptocurrency that it enables anonymous transactions globally and at scale, no exception made for Russian intelligence or ISIS. So the news that a prominent and controversial technology was used to fund state-sponsored cyber attacks will not be passed over by its critics. You can expect bluster on cable news and some sharp words from lawmakers, who will...

You can now trade Litecoin and Bitcoin Cash on Robinhood Crypto

Fintech startup Robinhood is expanding its cryptocurrency trading product with two new token listings. Users in selected states can now trade Litecoin and Bitcoin Cash from the app. Robinhood is currently providing one of the easiest ways to get started with cryptocurrencies. You can download the app, upload some money and buy tokens in just a few minutes. But there are a few caveats. First, Robinhood is only available in the U.S. if you want to trade stocks, ETFs and options. And if you’re interesting Robinhood Crypto more specifically, it is only available in 17 states. Robinhood also claims that there’s no fee on cryptocurrency trading. Given the liquidity of cryptocurrency exchanges, there’s always some spread. It means that if you buy one bitcoin and if you sell one bitcoin, there wil...

Brexit means blockchains, lots and lots of blockchains

Does Brexit mean blockchain? The UK government has published a whitepaper — some two years in the baking — where it sets out its fuzzy thinking in an attempt to move beyond two years of Brexit fudge by squashing its warring factions behind a compromise customs arrangement to try to live up to its promise of a “future relationship with the European Union”, i.e. without lashings of fudge. Unfortunately though, for citizen sanity, business reality, and, well, anyone not happy gambling everything on fantastically functional systems that don’t exist yet, it’s still leaning heavily on undefined technological solutions to try to make its alternative customs arrangement fly. (Or, more realistically, limp towards another accusation of magical thinking by the EU.) Instead of the current Customs Unio...

Watch all the interviews from TechCrunch Sessions: Blockchain

What a day. Yesterday, hundreds of people gathered in Zug, Switzerland for TechCrunch Sessions: Blockchain. In addition to some of the key people of the Ethereum Foundation, the team interviewed the entrepreneurs behind Binance, Coinbase, ConsenSys, CryptoKitties and many other organizations. The event was packed with interesting content. But if you couldn’t be there in person, don’t worry as you can watch everything that happened in Zug: Disclosure: I own small amounts of various cryptocurrencies.

Not just another decentralized web whitepaper?

Given all the hype and noise swirling around crypto and decentralized network projects, which runs the full gamut from scams and stupidity, to very clever and inspired ideas, the release of yet another whitepaper does not immediately set off an attention klaxon. But this whitepaper — which details a new protocol for achieving consensus within a decentralized network — is worth paying more attention to than most. MaidSafe, the team behind it, are also the literal opposite of fly-by-night crypto opportunists. They’ve been working on decentralized networking since long before the space became the hot, hyped thing it is now. Their overarching mission is to engineer an entirely decentralized Internet which bakes in privacy, security and freedom of expression by design — the ‘Safe’ in their plan...

What do AI and blockchain mean for the rule of law?

Digital services have frequently been in collision — if not out-and-out conflict — with the rule of law. But what happens when technologies such as deep learning software and self-executing code are in the driving seat of legal decisions? How can we be sure next-gen ‘legal tech’ systems are not unfairly biased against certain groups or individuals? And what skills will lawyers need to develop to be able to properly assess the quality of the justice flowing from data-driven decisions? While entrepreneurs have been eyeing traditional legal processes for some years now, with a cost-cutting gleam in their eye and the word ‘streamline‘ on their lips, this early phase of legal innovation pales in significance beside the transformative potential of AI technologies that are already pushing their a...

BotChain wants to put bot-to-bot communication on the blockchain

Increasingly we are going to be having bots conducting business on a company’s behalf. As that happens, it is going to require a trust mechanism to ensure that bot-to-bot communication is legitimate. BotChain, a new startup out of Boston wants to be the blockchain for registering bots. The new blockchain, which is built on Ethereum, is designed to register and identify bots and provide a way for companies to collaborate between bots with auditing capabilities built in. BotChain has the potential to become a standard way of sharing data between bots in a trusted way. The idea is to have an official and sanctioned place for companies to register their bots securely. As the organization describes it, “BotChain offers bot developers, enterprises, software companies, and system integrators the ...