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  • ClaytonB's Avatar
    Today, 06:39 PM
    IMO, namecoin is the single most undervalued coin out there (namecoin.org). If I can scare up a little spare cash, I'm going to buy some.
    2 replies | 56 view(s)
  • ClaytonB's Avatar
    Today, 11:14 AM
    I read the Alpha Zero paper and I've watched some of these AlphaZero chess videos: An AI researcher throws some cold water on the Alpha Zero news here (Medium). The author's points are methodological and I shared many of the same concerns after reading Alpha Zero's paper. The 1-minute-per-move rule was especially concerning because time-management is one of the key skills of advanced chess play which chess engines have mastered with difficulty. Stockfish's creator Tord Romstad is quoted in the article, "a lot of effort has been put into making Stockfish identify critical points in the game and decide when to spend some extra time on a move." Anyway, Alpha Zero is definitely a novel development in AI and Deep Mind deserves props for their work. But this is definitely not the last chapter of the story. Erratum: Title should read "AI researcher throws cold water on AlphaZero chess news"
    0 replies | 66 view(s)
  • ClaytonB's Avatar
    12-13-2017, 06:20 PM
    Bitcoin is not anonymous "out of the box". However, Bitcoin is compatible with strong anonymity. Here are a few measures that can be applied to use Bitcoin with strong anonymity: - Acquire bitcoins directly from a private party in exchange for cash, gold or another anonymous asset. - Sweep your Bitcoins from a non-anonymous wallet (the wallet that was used to receive coins from an exchange, for example) into another wallet. If you take steps to preserve your physical anonymity (concealing your IP address, for example), no one can prove that the bitcoins in the sweep wallet belong to you. This will not protect you from the proverbial $5 wrench attack and it won't prevent the IRS from just seizing all your other assets on the presumption of guilt. But then, you are liable to both of these attacks even in the case that you have actually transmitted the bitcoins to someone else - user beware! - Use a coin mixing service. Coin mixing services can provide a measure of anonymity/deniability. This is a similar concept to money laundering but it's different in two ways. First, the mixing is publicly visible (the government does not even need to get a warrant to track it) and, second, bitcoins can be mixed much more thoroughly at lower cost than bank-based ML methods. So, this is a great service but you have to understand the drawbacks. Because the blockchain is publicly visible, using a coin mixing service is like walking into a business on Main Street with the sign out front: "Money Laundering Services, Here". If the FBI already knows how much cash you have in your satchel (perhaps they've seized your computer and can see your wallet addresses, even if they cannot access the coins in them), no matter how well they are mixed, they will be able to deduce how much you should be getting on the output and demand that you fork it over (perhaps in exchange for leniency). - Broadcast your Bitcoin transactions through a web portal (e.g. here), accessed through Tor.
    15 replies | 279 view(s)
  • ClaytonB's Avatar
    12-12-2017, 05:02 PM
    This claim is a bit hyper-ventilated. Alpha Zero has illustrated that search across extremely large spaces with well-defined outcomes (good, bad, unsure) and moderately complex rule-sets is an easy computational problem. This is a novel result and Deep Mind deserves props for their work, but this is hardly as shocking as some are making it out. Animal brains, including the human brain, already do this kind of thing, so this is precisely the kind of thing we were trying to recreate in computers. Even though Alpha Zero is being touted as "alien", Deep Mind has pointed out that Alpha Zero doesn't think like a machine, so that's really what we have long wanted to see computers do - think in a "non-computer" way. Sure, it doesn't think like humans, but why should it? Alpha Zero has no conception of the idea of a horse or a knight - we have applied these labels to the chess pieces as an act of human imagination and these illustrative labels play an integral role in holding our interest in the game. As world champion Emmanuel Lasker noted in one of his books on chess - when two competitors sit down to play serious chess, it is no longer a game in the children's sense, it is a fight that is fought on the terrain of the board, instead of physically with fists or soldiers. Alpha Zero does not know what a fight is, nor why anyone would be interested in fighting, what a sport is, or why anyone would be interested in fighting for sport. Alpha Zero will be better suited for accelerating scientific research where we can rapidly automate experiments. Scientific experiments have well-defined outcomes and these outcomes can be used to guide search in an unbiased way across the immense space of all possible explorations, in search for the properties we are seeking. This could be everything from searching for new polymers, searching for new drugs, simulating (predicting) protein-folding, discovering exotic physical properties such as those exhibited by meta-materials, and so on. Running a city or continent has no well-defined outcome (good, bad, indifferent). Alpha Zero will not be able to directly help with this kind of thing.
    5 replies | 111 view(s)
  • ClaytonB's Avatar
    12-10-2017, 10:24 AM
    Talk about a creepy cult mindset...
    8 replies | 161 view(s)
  • ClaytonB's Avatar
    12-10-2017, 12:03 AM
    Lucifer (Vertigo), #18 - the setting is Hell, one of the damned (a boy-toy of one of the top demons, a woman named Lys) is being given a tour of a machine used to collect and extract the pain of the tortured souls of Hell:
    1 replies | 699 view(s)
  • ClaytonB's Avatar
    12-09-2017, 11:29 PM
    Such sentiments are inherently collectivist. There are people living in conditions of squalor in the US. Are we supposed to believe they have all simply chosen "the path less traveled?" Almost all Americans are educated from the youngest ages in government-run schools where conformity and automatic deference to authority are the only virtues that are instilled. Are we supposed to believe that the average American has made an informed and independent assessment of the objective conditions he accepts, that the American life is really and truly voluntary? Etienne de la Boetie wrote of human servility around five centuries ago: It's so far past the point of absurdity that words fail me. The devaluation of the dollar since 1913 is not just an arithmetical abstraction, it is a real plundering of wealth over a period stretching for more than a century. Americans worked to produce savings. The US government, assisted by the Federal reserve, steadily siphoned away those savings though inflation. John Maynard Keynes said of inflation, "Lenin is said to have declared that the best way to destroy the Capitalistic System was to debauch the currency. . . Lenin was certainly right. There is no subtler, no surer means of overturning the existing basis of society than to debauch the currency. The process engages all the hidden forces of economic law on the side of destruction, and does it in a manner which not one man in a million can diagnose."
    36 replies | 467 view(s)
  • ClaytonB's Avatar
    12-09-2017, 08:30 PM
    Great video explaining the importance of Lightning Network. Highly recommend for non-technical audience:
    0 replies | 100 view(s)
  • ClaytonB's Avatar
    12-09-2017, 08:27 PM
    ^This. Bitcoin is a creature of the fiat monetary system, that is, no one would have built/used Bitcoin had they not felt the need to escape the outrageous devaluation and stifling regulation of the fiat monetary system. The fiat monetary spokespeople keep informing us that "inflation is quite low" but our wallets say otherwise. In short, the establishment and its money-printing bankers are lying about the costs of doing business in the economic funhouse they've built for themselves and their buddies - for outsiders, the costs are prohibitive.
    36 replies | 467 view(s)
  • ClaytonB's Avatar
    12-09-2017, 01:53 PM
    That's missing the point. If the government cannot ban Bitcoin, then Bitcoin may just replace USD/EUR whether the government likes it or not. Sure, Leviathan can keep everyone with a mortgage or a small-business in line with threats of audit, seizure, time-behind-bars etc. But unless the State can stop the informal economy, it may take over by de facto means rather than de jure. When enough people do business in Bitcoin without snitching themselves out to the State about it, it won't matter whose name is on the house, its use will go to the people who can actually afford it based on their real economic purchasing power. Perhaps Mom & Pop will stay away from owning Bitcoin and keep their name on the house out of fear of being punished for transitioning out of fiat - but they'll still have to rent the house out to people with Bitcoin so they can afford to put food on the table and keep the lights on when that devaluated SSI just doesn't cut it anymore. One can dream...
    42 replies | 910 view(s)
  • ClaytonB's Avatar
    12-08-2017, 11:50 PM
    Note that they've outlawed many other things that are still readily available, like street drugs. How's that whole "outlawing" thing working out?
    42 replies | 910 view(s)
  • ClaytonB's Avatar
    12-06-2017, 08:58 PM
    AlphaGo: Beats top human players in the world at Go, a feat most leading AI researchers still thought 10 years away AlphaGo Zero: Beats AlphaGo at Go without ever learning from a human during training; 100% self-taught Alpha Zero: Beats AlphaGo Zero at Go, leading chess software at chess, etc. Whoa.
    0 replies | 73 view(s)
  • ClaytonB's Avatar
    12-05-2017, 08:38 PM
    (sorry, I couldn't resist!)
    1 replies | 102 view(s)
  • ClaytonB's Avatar
    12-05-2017, 08:35 PM
    Wow, TIL that not 100% of all money spent by the US federal government is completely wasted. Seriously, I'm impressed that you managed to identify a single, obviously socially beneficial government operation. That $1.7bn SEC budget has hopefully prevented $15m of scam victims.
    2 replies | 128 view(s)
  • ClaytonB's Avatar
    12-05-2017, 08:25 PM
    Yes, but the only people that really file taxes on the cash paid to the babysitter and the cash earned during the garage sale are people with tons of other assets that they can't afford to put at risk over a trivial non-compliance with tax diktat. Most of the people who stand to benefit the most from Bitcoin either are not in the US at all (e.g. Venezuelans) or are US persons with few or no assets for the IRS to seize. Unless you have assets to seize or owe an astronomical amount of taxes, the IRS is more or less powerless against you. Yes, the tyrants who wrote the tax code really meant that they can throw you in prison for years over some small amount of unpaid taxes. No, that's not actually going to happen because there are other, more pressing matters that beltway-critters need to expend their "political capital" on. In short, the informal economy is going to go right ahead trading real goods in Bitcoin no matter what the IRS or anybody else thinks about it. This invokes one of the laws of power - it's better to change the rules you can't enforce than to let the masses flaunt your rules. I think the IRS wants to see whether they can tax Bitcoin, so I think they're going to hold the line on "any Bitcoin exchange is a taxable event" rule, for now. But if they can't find a way to tax it and people are just openly flaunting IRS tax rules, the IRS will be damn fools not to change their guidance accordingly. But then, the government is filled to the brim with damn fools.
    32 replies | 1128 view(s)
  • ClaytonB's Avatar
    12-04-2017, 09:26 PM
    The US government has already classified Bitcoin as taxable property. What this means is that when you convert out of Bitcoins back into USD, you owe taxes on the capital gains (if any). You could also write off losses, if applicable. The reaction from the Bitcoin community (the people that actually use it) was a shoulder-shrug. Why? Because they have no intentions of ever moving back into USD. Bitcoin is a digital currency. This means you do not need to convert it into USD to pay for things, you can just pay directly with it. If anything, the tax rules are only going to add momentum to Bitcoin's growth as more and more people choose to "make the plunge". It's like leaving the US and refusing to pay your "exit taxes". The US government can't actually enforce the tax it levies on you but it can snarl, "Don't ever come back to the US!" Most expats respond, "Don't threaten me with a good time!" The government's theoretical power to outlaw things and its actual power to outlaw things are completely separate - just look at the drug war. Using drugs can land you with a lengthy jail sentence. Yet, somehow, untold billions of drugs flow into and through this country. I don't use drugs but I could be in possession of just about any illegal drug I like within 15 minutes from typing this sentence. So, I say let them make Bitcoin illegal... I expect nothing better from the clowns running our country into the ground. Lionizing the State is dangerous. The State wields an unbelievable amount of power - particularly unbelievable given its incompetence and obvious lack of true legitimacy. But the State is not something that deserves fear. Fear God. The State is comprised of a bunch of Keystone Cops laboring under massive delusions of grandeur. They're nincompoops, the butt of jokes everywhere in the world, the shame of our country on the global stage. If you (generic) are thinking about trying out Bitcoin, just buy a small amount, like $100, to get the feel for it. Even in the worst-case scenario that you decide to cash out, report it and pay taxes on any gains, you're looking at one extra line item on your taxes, hardly a reason to hesitate getting involved. And, of course, you can just hold onto that $100 of Bitcoin for as long as you like, deferring the need to file anything about it on your taxes. No one should feel afraid to try out a new technology for fear of the Big Bad Government.
    32 replies | 1128 view(s)
  • ClaytonB's Avatar
    12-03-2017, 10:57 PM
    Bitcoin is not completely anonymous out-of-the-box. But it's pretty anonymous. You'd have to be a pretty big fish or be up to something fairly illegal to have a serious reason to worry. Even basic anonymity measures will suffice for 90% of people. But there are strong anonymity features available for the determined. You can switch your Bitcoin over to Zcash which provides unconditionally anonymous transactions. There are some technological downsides to Zcash, however. If you set up a Lightning Network on Bitcoin, you can transact off-chain, meaning, nobody but the parties involved in the LN channel can see that the transaction is even occurring. Also, work is being done on a novel form of cryptography, called "Bulletproofs", that will allow you to transact on-chain without revealing the amounts involved in the transaction. This would allow Zcash-style anonymity on the blockchain. One of the easiest ways to identify a transaction is by its amount... even separate transactions that sum to a given amount can identify it... decades ago, the authorities developed technologies for anti-money laundering that can detect these anonymity leaks, so concealing amounts is paramount for unconditional anonymity. The Bitcoin network can be accessed through a Tor tunnel, providing another level of anonymity (transport anonymity). So, yeah, it's not untraceable out-of-the-box, but the technology is capable of achieving a higher level of anonymity than cash or gold can - with physical currency you must meet the person you are transacting with, face-to-face, not so with cryptocurrency.
    32 replies | 1128 view(s)
  • ClaytonB's Avatar
    12-03-2017, 09:10 PM
    FTFY
    32 replies | 1128 view(s)
  • ClaytonB's Avatar
    12-03-2017, 09:08 PM
    The easiest way depends on how you like to do things. You can buy cryptocurrencies with cash, credit card, bank account, barter, chain-swap, and other methods. So, there are lots of ways to buy crypto. What's "best" depends on what you're looking to do. It's important to understand that cryptocurrencies are like cash. If you buy Bitcoin and store it in a wallet on your phone, and lose the phone, you've lost the Bitcoin. The same is true for ETH or LTC. There is risk in holding your own crypto but also security - nobody can steal your coins away from you. Even if they steal your phone, they still cannot get your coins. If you make backups, you will still have your coins. Some people buy cryptocurrency and leave the keys with an exchange (this is called an "online wallet" or "web wallet"). When an exchange collapses or if there is a hardfork or some other conditions, you can lose your coins with no way to get recompense. Before storing your coins with a third-party, such as coinbase or blockchain.info, understand the risks involved and assess whether this is the use-model you had in mind. In my opinion, most people with web wallets would be better off storing their assets in a regular bank.
    6 replies | 275 view(s)
  • ClaytonB's Avatar
    12-03-2017, 06:19 PM
    I assume that it's about business costs and not about trust. I mean, you use ETH because ETH is low-trust, instead of fiat because fiat is funny-money. But the rest of the value-prop in using smart-contracts would then be (I am guessing) that they are able to lower business costs this way. But then you need to build that web service, staff it, maintain its front-end and back-end, etc. etc. With an ETH smart-contract, all you need is some kind of web front-end (for info and customer support) and then an ETH back-end. Again, I'm just guessing here, I don't know what the actual business model is from the armchair. This is the Bitcoin view (kind of... BTC also has smart-contracts, they're just not as smart as ETH smart-contracts can be). Bitcoin is all about moving assets from one ledger to another, with a few extra enhancements added on top. ETH is more of the long-range view, IMO. What happens when we start building AI-based business management that can plan business operations more efficiently than any human being, including a system that is "mostly autonomous" with occasional human intervention? We're going to want an ETH-like system for this kind of futuristic business. People keep calling DAOs scams but there's no necessary reason why a DAO is a scam. It might be a scam, but it could also be an ingenious piece of engineering that wipes out an entire business sector and replaces it with a few hundred lines of well-crafted code.
    42 replies | 910 view(s)
  • ClaytonB's Avatar
    12-03-2017, 02:17 PM
    This is my theory of what happened: You contributed to a mining pool and you were awarded X bitcoins. These bitcoins are sitting in an address that would have paid to your wallet if the tx had gotten confirmed (back in 2013/2014), but it did not. Unless the owners of the mining pool have time-limits on redeeming your bitcoins from the payment address, they're probably still there. So you can get them by one of the two following methods: - Resubmit the original tx as-is; assuming it has the correct signature on it, the coins will get moved to your wallet when the tx goes through; if the tx fees are too low (quite possible for 2013/2014 era tx's), it may get stuck in the mempool - Find out the paying address(es) (the inputs to your tx's) and look them up on the blockchain to see if they're still funded. If they are, contact the mining pool and ask them to resubmit the tx from their end, you can show them the tx's you have to show that they paid you back in 2013/2014 you just never received the payment (i.e. you can use the signed tx as a receipt, effectively). Hopefully, they respond and help you out.
    45 replies | 1299 view(s)
  • ClaytonB's Avatar
    12-03-2017, 12:28 PM
    But I did address this point. The business (moderate trust) in this case is whoever is authorized to input the flight data into the smart-contract. Note that nobody's compelling you to trust this entity, even if you hold ETH! This is in contrast to fiat money, where you are compelled to trust the banking system (and you are guaranteed to be screwed over if you are stupid enough to do that). We trust businesses with our assets on a regular basis. When you allow a valet to park your car, you are trusting that the business has hired someone competent and that there is insurance in case there is damage to the vehicle, etc. Almost everyone trusts their employer to follow through on paying them for the last pay period. For some people, that is an entire month's wages! We have no problem doing this because we make the gut calculation that the people we are trusting have so much more to lose from trying to screw us over than they stand to gain from screwing us over that it's in their own self-interest to play by the rules. This is precisely why we categorize these kinds of relationships as "low trust" or "moderate trust" - they are not trustless because it is possible for you to be screwed over, yet, there's no self-interested reason for anybody to screw anybody else over, so such situations must arise extremely rarely.
    42 replies | 910 view(s)
  • ClaytonB's Avatar
    12-03-2017, 10:33 AM
    Bitcoin's principles are here. Notice the section titled "Low Trust". Bitcoin/Ethereum/etc. are not trustless. They are low trust, relative to the fiat money system. So, the goal is not and never has been trustless because trustless is not in the achievable set of properties. Let's break it down graphically: --> --> versus --> -->
    42 replies | 910 view(s)
  • ClaytonB's Avatar
    12-02-2017, 08:44 PM
    I agree with much of what Chollet has said here. The only asterisk I would add is that we cannot rule out arbitrarily large "hockey-sticks" in the growth of AI at any given point. During such a period (say, right after a major breakthrough) it might seem that AI has transcended human intelligence and completely left us in the dust. But I think that, eventually, we will catch up with it because we will be able to track along with progress in AI by enhancing our own abilities. Think of it like consulting a chess engine to play against a chess engine. This has been tried and even though chess engines are unconditionally stronger than any human player, when a human player works with a chess engine against another chess engine, the human+computer team is stronger. So, the real dangers of AI lie in the distortions that can be made about what AI actually can and cannot do.
    6 replies | 217 view(s)
  • ClaytonB's Avatar
    12-02-2017, 08:06 PM
    My field is computer engineering. My amateur interests include AI, especially AI based on a field of computability theory that provides an algorithm for general-purpose agency (AIXI). The average person does not understand AI. Most AI experts do not understand general-purpose AI. On the one hand, I see the damage of exaggerating the dangers of AI. But when it comes to the political uses of AI, I think that people do not realize just how dangerous this is. "Let's bring back eugenics, but this time with AI." "Let's implement Minority Report... but with AI." "Let's ask the AI whether should be allowed/prohibited." On and on. The other thing that the average person does not understand about AI is how uncannily accurate it can be. This is not to say "the AI can read your mind" but that the AI can sometimes come disturbingly close to guessing your thoughts and creating that impression. Combined with well-known techniques from mind-control/psych research for heightening suggestibility, you could convince large swathes of the public that you have invented "mind-control/mind-reading AI technology." This is like the Wizard of Oz... but with AI. And then there are robots... and people who want to treat robots as though they are human beings... *sigh - we're in for one wild ride over the next couple decades...
    11 replies | 342 view(s)
  • ClaytonB's Avatar
    12-02-2017, 05:20 PM
    No, I mean, you hand a guy who owns Bitcoin some cash, and he sends you Bitcoin. "Here, Joe, here's $300. Let me know when you've sent the bitcoins and I'll check my phone." This is the power of Bitcoin, that it can be used just as easily in face-to-face or remote transactions. You're taking my quote out of context. In context, what I'm saying is that if your bitcoins are secure (you haven't done something stupid or put them in an exchange or gotten hacked or _______), then they cannot be stolen. Even rubber-hose methods cannot allow someone to steal your bitcoins as long as you maintain some dummy addresses to give away for this situation. "Give us the bitcoins or we'll beat you!" "OK, here's my keys, blah blah blah" (to yourself): "Enjoy that $100 of throw-away coins, suckers, my actual stash is somewhere else that I'm never going to tell you."
    32 replies | 1128 view(s)
  • ClaytonB's Avatar
    12-02-2017, 03:44 PM
    Good video. Dr. Paul and the host make some good points about cryptocurrency but their admitted lack of understanding does limit the validity of their criticisms. 1) Dr. Paul mentions that when he asks how people buy cryptocurrency, they say with a credit card - this is not anonymous, therefore, the government can chase you down, tax you etc. It is not necessary to use a credit card to buy cryptocurrency. You can buy Bitcoins with straight cash and there are local sellers that do this. Recent headlines aside, this practice will doubtless continue. Also, once you have purchased cryptocurrency (with a credit card) you can use a mixing service (like CoinJoin) to anonymize your assets. In addition - a point that is often overlooked - all you really have to do is sweep the initial purchase of coins into a new address generated from a "brain wallet". Now, the government has no way to prove that you actually own these coins anymore. "I'm sorry, I paid the coins to some guy in exchange for services rendered and he moved them to that address - it's not mine." In other words, cryptocurrency gives you a feature that no physical commodity can emulate: unconditional deniability. With deniability, you no longer need strong anonymity. There are also new cryptocoins, specifically Zcash, that enable unconditionally anonymous on-chain transactions. This kind of anonymity is actually stronger than physical anonymity. To pay you a gold coin, I must see you face-to-face which means I could betray you. Not so with an anonymous cryptocoin. The transaction is anonymous on-chain and you and I can remain completely anonymous to each other, as well, removing the possibility of betraying one another to the authorities.
    32 replies | 1128 view(s)
  • ClaytonB's Avatar
    12-02-2017, 02:54 PM
    A step in the right direction. What we really need is for somebody to develop a cellphone that can operate like a peer-to-peer network, no cell towers needed. This is not impossible, it just requires the right hardware. The FCC would try to shut it down, of course, but cryptocurrency offers the possibility for rogue funding and development of paradigm-busting technologies. "It is better to ask forgiveness than permission." An open-source hardware smartphone would be great, too, so that way you can have some confidence that your Bitcoin app isn't having the wallet private key swiped by some Russian hacker that found an undocumented back-door in your smartphone that lets the NSA peek on your activities. *writes letter* "Dear Santa, ..." :p
    4 replies | 143 view(s)
  • ClaytonB's Avatar
    12-02-2017, 12:03 PM
    How?? That's like saying "if the government decides to eradicate the Internet, they will." ZZZzzzzz oh, was somebody talking? The government is not the boogeyman. It's made up of people and people are... people. Scare-mongering only promotes servility.
    42 replies | 910 view(s)
  • ClaytonB's Avatar
    12-02-2017, 11:54 AM
    Signatures. Just use an OP_CHECKSIG or OP_CHECKMULTISIG. This is how hashlocks work - it's not enough to have the secret key for the hashlock because then a peer could steal the locked funds. Rather, to unlock the funds requires the secret key and a correct signature. Nonsense. If you can trust real value on the chain, you can trust the timestamps on the chain. Of course, that's because the time-resolution of Bitcoin blocks is extremely low. If you need to timestamp something to within an accuracy of a few hours, however, Bitcoin is an ideal solution and there are already services doing this.
    42 replies | 910 view(s)
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