Here is why nobody has succeeded at running IoT on the blockchain

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From the permissioned blockchain networks of IBM to the newly introduced Hashgraph technology, some of the largest technology and financial conglomerates have been testing the applicability and potential of blockchain with the Internet of Things (IoT) market since the beginning of 2016. Yet, with nearly $ 4 billion invested in blockchain research and development, not a single company has been able to demonstrate the successful integration of blockchain technology with IoT. In order to integrate with IoT, blockchain developers must treat each device as a unique user of the blockchain; as such, every piece of data transmitted from the IoT device is…

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Foxconn is making Sirin Labs’ $1,000 blockchain phone for cryptocurrency geeks

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Sirin Labs made the news last September when it unveiled a blockchain-powered phone and PC that would act as secure wallets for your cryptocurrency fortune. It’s now found a manufacturer in Foxconn, the Taiwanese firm that builds iPhones for Apple. The $ 999 Finney phone will let you store and shop with virtual currencies like Bitcoin, and allow you to earn tokens by sharing your mobile data connection with people around you; it also promises enhanced security thanks to its open-source Android-based Sirin OS. Bloomberg reports that a physical switch will activate coin-related services, and that users will eventually be able…

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Hold Up: What Actually Happened in Sierra Leone’s “Blockchain” Election?

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On March 7, Sierra Leone held the first presidential election using blockchain, the distributed ledger technology poised to transform our world.

At least, that’s what we were told.

That’s according to Agora, the Swiss-based blockchain startup that claimed to have facilitated the blockchain-based election.

“Sierra Leone’s 2018 presidential elections, which took place on March 7th, represents the first time in history that blockchain technology has been used in a national government election,” wrote Agora in a press release distributed on March 8. Media outlets — including TechCrunch, Quartz, and yes, Futurism  covered it accordingly.

But Sierra Leone’s election officials say that’s not what happened. The National Electoral Commission (NEC) is the “sole authority” on Sierra Leone’s public elections, and the group has gone out of its way to make it clear that it did not use blockchain in the March 7 election.

First, the NEC shared a quote from Chief Electoral Commissioner/Chairperson Mohamed Conteh via Twitter on March 18:

If that wasn’t enough, the NEC then posted this “Fast Fact” the next day:

So, what exactly happened here?

Agora obtained permission from the NEC to act as “an international observer” at 280 of roughly 11,200 polling stations. Sierra Leone election officials recorded the paper votes as they would in any other election. Then, Agora’s team recorded those same votes on its blockchain. Later, it published those results on its website.

Essentially, Agora’s involvement with the Sierra Leone election was a proof-of-concept experiment. Like: “See? We can record an election and get the same result as government officials.”

On March 20, Agora published its own official statement on Medium attempting to clear up the situation.

In it, the company first laid out the facts of its involvement with the election. Then, Agora addressed where the controversy seems to have begun: a Medium post published on March 16, two days before the NEC’s first tweeted that blockchain wasn’t involved in the country’s elections.

As Agora notes, the author of that post, Tamba Lamin, is the CTO of LAM-TECH, a tech consulting company that sponsors the Sierra Leone Open Election Data Platform (SLOEDP), a software platform designed for the collection and sharing of data about Sierra Leone elections (and apparently an Agora competitor).

In its official statement, Agora says, “Most of the media pushback we have received over the past week stems from…[SLOEDP].” The company even not-so-subtly suggests why that might be:

While we are unclear about the motivations of SLOEDP, their stated description as “an open source platform to facilitate free, fair, safe, secure and transparent elections” is directly competing or overlapping in nature with Agora’s technology. Furthermore, slides from a LAM-TECH public presentation on the website show clear conflicts of interest between our two organizations.

So, was this “controversy” surrounding Agora’s role in the Sierra Leone election simply one election-recording company looking for a chance to paint a competitor as a liar? Or was Agora overtly trying to make it seem like they were more involved than they were?

It might be a bit of both.

While most of Agora’s wording post-election leaves room for interpretation, a couple of lines sure make it seem like the company played some sort of official role beyond that of “observer”:

  • “The National Electoral Commission’s decision to work with Agora…” [March 8 press release]
  • “Sierra Leone is the first government to use blockchain in part of its election process…” [March 8 press release]
  • “[Agora is] engaged in Sierra Leone presidential elections…” [message from CEO Leonardo Gammar to Agora’s Telegram group on March 8]

Agora is now taking at least some responsibility for the misleading media coverage surrounded the Sierra Leone election. CEO Leonardo Gammar told Cointelegraph on March 29:

There was some miscommunication on our behalf, and I think we learned a lot because of it. We made a few mistakes when speaking to journalists, and when we sought to clear it up, it was all too late. We got very excited about the technology and the way in which it could help people  like a lot of companies do in the blockchain space — and I think we came on too strong for the NEC.

Gammar also said the company has hired someone to help them with its “PR game,” so that they present all future projects accurately.

If there’s one thing the blockchain space doesn’t need, it’s unwarranted hype overshadowing the technology’s true potential.

The post Hold Up: What Actually Happened in Sierra Leone’s “Blockchain” Election? appeared first on Futurism.


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Every blockchain needs a tool for auditing its smart contracts

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At the 3rd Global Blockchain Summit held in Shanghai hosted by Wanxiang Blockchain Labs, Gnosis co-founder and CTO Stefan George, Huawei executive Huang Lian Jin, Factom founder and chief architect Paul Snow, and Stellar co-founder Jed McCaleb discussed the security issues of emerging blockchain projects. In particular, they emphasized the importance of conducting audits with a large community of developers to prevent potential technical problems. The security, privacy, and scalability issues faced by blockchain are unprecedented because decentralized applications and protocols have never been tested before. As blockchain projects such as Gnosis, Factom, and Stellar, along with technology conglomerates and financial institutions,…

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Blockchain isn’t the only tech behind Bitcoin

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At the Blockchain Africa Conference held in Johannesburg, South Africa, prominent bitcoin and security expert Andreas Antonopoulos criticized banks and technology firms for treating the term “blockchain” as interchangeable with public blockchain networks – bitcoin in particular. This is highly erroneous because the blockchain is just one of many technologies that supplement the bitcoin network and allow it to function as a decentralized, distributed, and peer-to-peer financial network. The Bitcoin network consists of various solutions and cryptographic technologies, including Schnorr signatures, advanced elliptic curve applications, and ring signatures. The blockchain merely operates as a database within the Bitcoin and Ethereum blockchain networks;…

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Blockchain is the key to fair distribution of wealth in the sharing economy

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Early sharing economy enthusiasts had a clear vision for the peer-to-peer marketplace: path towards sustainability, empowerment of individuals, and new job opportunities for the disadvantaged. However, the sharing economy’s giants such as Uber and Airbnb quickly overtook the marketplace, painting a vastly different picture. While they provide convenience and efficiency, there’s a price to pay: low wages and job insecurity. As a result, we’ve seen a number of workers across the globe take it to the streets to voice their dissatisfaction with unfair work practices. And these workers are not just talking the talk; they’ve also started walking it. A…

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Alchemy-powered ICO: ‘Blockchain is good for money, but useless as technology’

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In times when initial coin offerings (ICO) are raking in billions of dollars and raising the value of your company could be as simple as adding the word “blockchain” to its name, it has become crucial to question why businesses need their own distributed ledger – and their own cryptocurrency. This is precisely the question I found asking myself when I stumbled upon Synthestech: a cold fusion research firm purportedly developing cutting-edge technology for “transmutation of cheap elements into valuable elements and isotopes,” which has raised almost $ 600,000 in its own ICO. What makes this case particularly interesting is that –…

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How blockchain will disrupt Google, Apple, Amazon, and Facebook

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In the eyes of “experts,” when it comes to blockchain, there is often no middle ground — it will either be boom or bust, nothing in between. I for one have become a big proponent of blockchain technology, especially the crypto-economics used to jumpstart powerful network effects. But with so many opinions and noise floating around, I thought it would be beneficial to take a deep dive into the ramifications of blockchain technology as it relates to today’s top tech companies. Will blockchain based alternatives unseat Google, Amazon, Facebook, and Apple? After in-depth research into the business models, here is…

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Fintech firm launches blockchain platform for legal contracts

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Internet of Agreements: A British fintech start-up is developing blockchain-powered software that is intended to revolutionise the way that small and medium-sized firms conduct legal matters.

Founded by technology entrepreneur Simon Krystman, the Smart Startup Company has launched a new contracts platform, SMRT (Smart Startup Token), powered by blockchain.

Few small businesses have the resources or understanding of blockchain technology to make use of it, said the company. As a result, it has designed SMRT to be a “vending machine for legal documents” that are then secured in the blockchain. 

The solution will eventually be incorporated into a “frictionless trade platform” for startups and SMEs, said the firm. With it, companies will be able to create important legal documents quickly and store them securely.

Users can choose from a wide range of templates covering different contractual areas, including shareholder, intellectual property, finance, and trading agreements.

Smart Startup said it chose to create a blockchain-based platform because the technology makes it “cheaper and easier” to handle sensitive business assets. 

Improving transparency

Krystman explained that blockchain software makes legal arrangements more transparent and more secure. “Established trading marketplaces could benefit enormously from our smart contracts, as buyers and sellers will have automatically enforced agreements to transfer money for goods and services,” he said.

“They also open the way for many new decentralised marketplaces, where the smart contracts are the enforcements of trade. Small businesses would be able to buy bundles of our smart contract templates to facilitate their sell/buy trades.”

He added that the platform will result in the “marriage of legal agreements with blockchain software code, supported by data science and AI”.

The company has published a white paper on the programme.

An expert team

The company is run by a team of business, finance, and legal experts, who also have expertise in areas such as AI, cryptocurrencies, entrepreneurship, business funding, intellectual property, government, and regulation, said the company.

The team is supported by a number of advisors who work across industry, government, and academia, and will be making more hires in the near future. Roles will include software developers, lawyers, and finance advisors.

Dr. Syed Kamall, a Conservative member of the European Parliament, serves as one of the company’s advisors. He said that blockchain solutions can make business and legal processes more trustworthy. 

“The technology offers some very exciting opportunities, but as legislators internationally, we must also make sure that consumers have trust in it. Blockchain and smart contracts will be a game changer for startups,” he said.  

Twelve Ronnies, an organisation that matches entrepreneurs with investors, is one of the the solution’s first adopters.  

Jake Shaw, founder of the company, said: “SMRT is the gateway to the ‘Internet of Agreements’. In the same way that the internet and social media allowed anyone to start up a business from their kitchen table, SMRT will transform the ability of small companies to transact and trade globally.”

Internet of Business says

This year has seen many of the claims made for blockchain technologies subjected to moderation and caution by a range of blockchain experts. Some have said that distributed ledger systems are inappropriate for many enterprise tasks – and even that they need to evolve past the concept of a block and a chain to be be more widely useful in the long term.

However, this would appear to be one of the purest and best-considered use cases, as a means of logging and authenticating legal documents, and enforcing the associated terms: a process that is nowhere near as time-critical as, say, retail banking transactions. We wish this innovative British startup luck.

Here are some of our recent reports that explore both the pros and the cons of blockchain systems.

Read more: IoT 101: How blockchain transforms manufacturing, supply chains

Read more: Blockchain platform for AI bots announces key partners

Read more: IoT firm deploys blockchain to transform pharmaceutical shipments

Read more: Bitcoin blockchain contains porn, say researchers. Not news, say coders

Read more: Blockchain: “not solution to 90 percent of problems”, warns expert

Read more: Blockchain: Lose the block and chain to be useful, Capacilon MD | Q&A

Read more: Opinion: Use blockchain to build a global data commons

Read more: Cryptocurrencies failing claims Bank of England. But is it right?

The post Fintech firm launches blockchain platform for legal contracts appeared first on Internet of Business.

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