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Yes, Mr. Robinson, We Can Go To The Stars

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Aurora, the new science fiction novel of Kim Stanley Robinson, is a totally awesome masterpiece that will keep you glued to the book until you finish reading. Yet, Robinson’s grim views on the possibility of interstellar colonization seem overly pessimistic.

In the 2012 Nebula Award Winner 2312, Kim Stanley Robinson portrays a future solar system teeming with human life on the planets, terraformed asteroids and space habitats. In Aurora, Robinson goes to the stars. The story starts in a large multi-generation starship with more than two thousand colonists en route to Tau Ceti at one tenth of the speed of light, then moves to Aurora, an Earth-like moon in the Tau Ceti system.

Aurora is a fascinating story of interstellar colonization, with touching stories of real people in a centuries-long space adventure, dazzling portraits of interstellar propulsion and orbital dynamics, and a quantum computer slowly waking up to sentience. The only alien life form is a nasty micro-organism.

The Hard Problem Is Biology

Aurora, by KIm Stanley Robinson“There are a lot of people, even powerful, influential people, who seem to think that the goal of humanity is to spread itself,” said Robinson in an interview with Space.com. “I want this book to make people think really hard about – maybe there’s only one planet where humanity can do well, and we’re already on it.”

The problem isn’t interstellar propulsion – that can be solved. The hard problem is biology. Robinson argues that a multi-generation starship, small and light enough to be accelerated at a significant fraction of the speed of light, would be too small to include a viable ecosystem able to support the astronauts for hundreds of years, and would inevitably fail.

“The bottom line is the biomes you can propel at the speeds needed to cross such great distances are too small to hold viable ecologies,” explains one of the main characters.

OK, that problem can be solved with hibernation or faster propulsion. But another problem will emerge at destination.

“What’s funny is anyone thinking it would work in the first place. I mean it’s obvious any new place is going to be either alive or dead,” complains another character.

If it’s alive it’s going to be poisonous.

Dead planets could be terraformed, but not quickly enough for the colonists to survive hundreds of years in small ecosystems (back to square one) waiting for the planet to be fully terraformed.

Only a true Earth twin not yet occupied by life would allow this plan to work, and these may exist somewhere, the galaxy after all is big, but they are too far away from us.

The novel gives some space to the point of view of the enthusiasts of interstellar colonization. “It’s an evolutionary urge, a biological imperative, something like reproduction itself,” they say. “Possibly it may resemble something like a dandelion or a thistle releasing its seeds to the winds, so that most of the seeds will float away and die. But a certain percentage will take hold and grow.”

But, of course, the colonists don’t want to be expendable dandelion seeds, and the writer gives much more space to their point of view.

Aurora will force all “space cadets” who think colonizing the stars is our destiny (I am one of them) to think hard and face some unpleasant facts. Robinson will also annoy some “Singularity” enthusiasts, because he expects only mildly futurist scenarios for the next centuries, with better technology but no Singularity.

I am ready to concede that future technologies might arrive much slower than today’s radical futurists predict. I am also ready to concede that biology is very powerful, much more powerful than our current technology, and a fight against biology would be a fight that we would lose, today and in the foreseeable future.

Solutions – Nanotechnology, Uploaded Space Colonists

But I still find the Aurora scenario too grim and excessively pessimistic to the point of inconsistency. For example, the colonists have powerful nanotechnology that can print nearly everything from atoms and molecules found in the environment. That presupposes the ability to analyze and manipulate matter at molecular scales, and I find it strange that the colonists are unable to use their nanotechnology to fight the alien pathogen on Aurora.

The semi-sentient quantum computer that calls itself just “ship,” perhaps fully sentient at the end of the book, represents another possibility to solve the problems raised by Robinson. Combined advances in artificial intelligence (AI), robotics, and neurotechnology might someday permit “mind uploading” – the transfer of a human personality to a robotic body or computer system. Then, future interstellar missions could be crewed by uploads – software minds. A crew of human uploads implemented in solid-state electronic circuitry would not require air, water, food, medical care, or radiation shielding, and would resist alien pathogens.

Images from Orbit Books and Wikimedia Commons.

Important: Never invest (trade with) money you can't afford to comfortably lose. Always do your own research and due diligence before placing a trade. Read our Terms & Conditions here. Trade recommendations and analysis are written by our analysts which might have different opinions. Read my 6 Golden Steps to Financial Freedom here. Best regards, Jonas Borchgrevink.

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Giulio Prisco is a freelance writer specialized in science, technology, business and future studies.




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28 Comments

28 Comments

  1. Keith Wiley

    July 21, 2015 at 6:42 am

    I published an article on this very same point just today in fact: http://ieet.org/index.php/IEET/more/wiley20150720

    • Giulio Prisco

      July 21, 2015 at 9:41 am

      Hi Keith, good article! I disagree with “The most likely solution to the Fermi Paradox is that technological species are extremely rare – We are all but alone in the galaxy,” there are many other “solutions” based on ultra-advanced aliens that only communicate with their peers using means that we don’t understand yet, and have a small footprint on the observable universe – like a civilization of uploads that travel by radiation beams instead of spaceships.

      • Keith Wiley

        July 21, 2015 at 2:04 pm

        Like I said at the bottom of the article, that is a much shorter version of a longer version of the same paper, one whose length much more thoroughly defends the various claims. In addition, that particular claim claim is defended at great length in my other writings, especially my 2011 paper, which are cited from the article above.

        One of the best responses to practically all ETI-optimistic solutions to the Fermi Paradox is the “problem of exclusivity”, i.e., that in order to resolve the paradox they must apply to essentially all intelligent species, no exceptions allowed. But again, this is jus a one sentence explanation. My other papers give the same topic tens of pages of treatment.

        Thanks anyway though. I’m glad you liked the overall article. With the recent boost in SETI funding, maybe we’ll find something after all.

        Cheers!

  2. Simon Spiegel

    July 21, 2015 at 11:37 am

    I think this article misses the novel’s point to some degree. Despite all the hard SF trappings I don’t think think SKR’s argument is ultimately a technical but an ethical (or political) one: That we have to take care of Earth because it cannot be replaced. Space has no solution for our problems. Even if a generation starship would succeed, it still wouldn’t help us here on Earth because we couldn’t just move the whole of mankind to another planet.

    • Giulio Prisco

      July 21, 2015 at 1:39 pm

      Hi Simon. I disagree, because if Robinson only wanted to say that we have to take good care of the Earth, he wouldn’t have needed to portray interstellar colonization as basically infeasible. I read the novel as a cultural missile launched by a great writer and targeted at the enthusiatic “space cadets.” Therefore, though I enjoyed Aurora a lot and appreciate some of the author’s arguments, I think it’s important to note that other arguments are not very consistent.

      • Simon Spiegel

        July 21, 2015 at 1:59 pm

        I didn’t say that this what the only thing KSR wanted to say, but I think it is an important aspect, and one which is more important to him than speculating on the possibilities of uploading people. But ultimately, I just find your “solutions” on how we can get to other stars not very convincing. I’m not saying that uploading personalities will never be possible, but it would need a much bigger technological jump in technology than anything else in the novel (and it would, ultimately made the whole concept of a generation starship moot). That said, I agree that there is a certain inconsistency in the novel in terms of technological development. For a society several hundred years in the future, it feels very contemporary, the only two big advances are the AI and the printers. Most other stuff doesn’t feel sf-like at all (which is actually a good thing).

        • Giulio Prisco

          July 21, 2015 at 2:12 pm

          I also appreciate Robinson’s sober view of the rate of technology advancement in the next few centuries, and I think his conservative scenario might be closer to future reality than the over-optimistic predictions of some Singularity enthusiasts.

          But I think it’s important to bear in mind that what is very difficult today may become much easier tomorrow. We shouldn’t mistake what is very difficult to achieve today and in the foreseeable future for what is impossible in-principle, because that would be a logical mistake.

          • Simon Spiegel

            July 21, 2015 at 9:00 pm

            I completely agree that we cannot predict the future. But this doesn’t mean that any kind of non-existing fantasy technology becomes a viable option. At the moment, the uploading of minds is about as plausible as the possibility of traveling faster than light. It’s currently completely out of our reach and therefore not something we can speculate about in a meaningful way.

          • Giulio Prisco

            July 22, 2015 at 5:04 am

            Not so. Traveling faster light is impossible in-principle because it’s against physical law as we understand it today. Mind uploading is a very hard engineering challenge, but not impossible in-principle. So at this moment both traveling faster than light and mind uploading are out of our reach and likely to remain so in the foreseeable future, but they belong to two very different categories – impossible and difficult.

            Perhaps someday new physics will bring FTL back into the realm of difficult but not impossible.

          • Simon Spiegel

            July 22, 2015 at 5:30 am

            I think you still miss the point – arguing that the colonization is a viable option by referring to a technology which is not even on the horizon just isn’t very convincing. And whether something is impossible by principle or just practical means isn’t really that important in this case; I can just argue that it might be possible that we one day discover new principles. It remains the same: We talk about things we have no firm knowledge about, so any guess is as good as the other.

          • Giulio Prisco

            July 22, 2015 at 3:17 pm

            Exactly! Positive guesses are just as good as negative guesses. So let’s just go out there and find out.

          • Simon Spiegel

            July 22, 2015 at 3:24 pm

            No, they’re actually not. Saying that something is not possible at the moment, has much more weight in a discussion like this than saying it might be possible one day. The latter is a non-falsifiable statement and as such pretty worthless.

          • Giulio Prisco

            July 22, 2015 at 3:34 pm

            OK. Then any project to create radical positive change in technology, politics, culture, and society, is worthless because it’s impossible to realize at the moment. Is that what you are saying? If so, I disagree.

            Note that only a few decades ago a majority of people and “experts” would have dismissed things like self-driving cars, social acceptance of gay marriage, and basic income, as “evidently” impossible.

          • Simon Spiegel

            July 22, 2015 at 4:34 pm

            I guess that depends on what you mean by project. If you mean anything related to decisions which have impact on the present or the very near future – for example political decisions –, I would indeed say that it’s not wise to take things into account which are currently out of reach. If a city planner twenty years ago had decided to design cities based on the premise that people would soon use self-driving cars that would have been pretty dumb. It would have been equally pointless to start a business specialized on gay marriages twenty years ago. But this all really beside the point you originally made. What you’re doing in the case of AURORA is weighing non-existent sf technology against science which is more or less established. That’s just a pointless exercise. I can postulate any kind of technological miracle, this doesn’t refute what we know today. If you want really want to prove KSR wrong, you cannot just change the game.

          • Giulio Prisco

            July 23, 2015 at 5:27 am

            Simon, I agree with the first part of your comment, but we aren’t planning a project here, let alone a project related to urgent decisions. We are discussing fine literature and the long term prospect of interstellar colonization.

          • Simon Spiegel

            July 23, 2015 at 7:55 am

            You were mentioning projects … But anyway, the problem is there is little to discuss since nothing tangible exists. So you believe that we will one day be able to upload our minds and that this would be a way around all the problems AURORA deals with. Ok, that’s what you believe, fine. And now what? There’s simply not enough substance to actually have a meaningful discussion.

          • Giulio Prisco

            July 23, 2015 at 8:14 am

            Re “not enough substance to actually have a meaningful discussion” – man, I would agree if we were preparing NASA’s budget request for next year, but we are discussing science fiction! Speculation is what science fiction is all about.

          • Simon Spiegel

            July 23, 2015 at 8:21 am

            Ok, do speculate. I still don’t know what there is more to say than that you believe that uploading minds will one day make interstellar travel possible.

          • Giulio Prisco

            July 23, 2015 at 8:36 am

            Not much more to say than that indeed. We will have to agree to disagree until the operational feasibility (or infeasibility) of human mind uploading to computers is demonstrated. Some promising baby steps are ongoing, but the road ahead is long.

          • Simon Spiegel

            July 23, 2015 at 8:45 am

            I’m not even disagreeing on the possibility of uploading minds. Maybe we will one day be able to do it, who knows? I’m only disagreeing that your believe is in an adequate response to the argument developed in AURORA and that it can lead to a productive discussion on the feasibility of interstellar travel.

      • David MW

        July 21, 2015 at 7:32 pm

        Simon is correct and this review / response is missing the point. It is an allegory. It’s not primarily a novel about interstellar colonization, just as the Mars Trilogy isn’t primarily about the colonization of Mars. KSR’s work tends to use such stories to reflect on current social and environmental dilemmas.

    • AlanHK

      July 29, 2015 at 3:47 pm

      Of course colonising another planet won’t save earth. But it might save the human race if we nuke ourselves, which is always going to be the biggest threat to our survival.

      You heard the same argument in the 60s: why go to the Moon when we have so many poor/hungry/etc. here?
      Ignoring the fact that 100 times as much was spent on a futile war in Vietnam than NASA cost. There are plenty of stupid and destructive things we waste resources on we should economise on first.

      If we sent out 100 ships and only two resulted in a viable colony, that would almost guarantee our survival

      So in the novel Aurora, I was rooting for the “stayers”. The “backers” who ran back to earth betrayed humanity and threw away the huge investment the race made to send them there. They won’t live to see earth anyway. If they don’t want their descendants to die in a failed colony, they can choose not to have children.
      .

  3. kurt9

    July 21, 2015 at 2:53 pm

    I read “2312”. Unlike some of his previous stuff that I thought was tediously boring, “2312” was actually quite good. However, there were totalitarian overtones in the novel I found to be quite creepy. Robinson clearly does not like the pioneering ” let’s go out on our own” mentality that is the cultural backbone of, at least, the western part of the U.S. In the novel, some of the characters talked about how if was a bod thing that the space colonies (these are hollowed out asteroids that are very common in the novel) became politically independent of Earth. It was this totalitarian mentality as expressed in the novel that I found quite creepy and repellent. Otherwise, it was a good novel.

    I usually do not like Robinson’s novels. Not because of the politics but because they tend to be tediously boring (“Antarctica” is a good example of this) and I am not able to finish the novel.

    • Giulio Prisco

      July 21, 2015 at 3:11 pm

      Try Galileo’s Dream, and also The Years of Rice and Salt.

      • kurt9

        July 21, 2015 at 3:18 pm

        I read “Years of Rice and Salt”. It is an intriguing idea. But i still thought the story was boring.

  4. kurt9

    July 21, 2015 at 3:10 pm

    The biomeme issue is real. Our bodies are comprised as much of independent bacteria, networking with each other, as human cells. However, creating a sustainable biomeme is not insurmountable. Submariners on the “trident boats” stay under for up to 6 months at a time with no deleterious effects. A submerged submarine is essentially cut off from the outside ecology in terms of the biomeme. Probably the same is true for the Antarctic research stations as well. Biomeme engineering is necessary for space colonization.

    Unless we have breakthrough propulsion (Mach effect wormholes, etc.) we will not be going to the stars for several centuries to come and the solar system wide industrial infrastructure is developed. As such time, the O’niell style space colonies would slowly migrate outwards to the stars. By then, the biomeme technology will be long-established technology.

    I do think KSR is correct, that if we find life on another planet, particularly complex life, that it will likely be poisonous to us. We will have to bio-engineer ourselves to live in such an alien environment (which should be relatively easy with 24th century medicine). Indeed, the biomemes that comprise the space colonies in our solar system are likely to be completely synthetic, based on synthetic biology.

  5. JonnyHilly

    July 27, 2015 at 10:06 pm

    Seems like a silly premise to me… If you know your ship will not be big enough to sustain an eco system indefinitely… then don’t build it and don’t go, until you can build a big enough ship…. then you go. You’d probably also have your bio in a bottle (Genesis device) figured out before you even leave, (tested on Mars, Venus or Europa or wherever) otherwise what is the point?

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Decentralization

Cache Me If You Can: Crypto Trading, Decentralized

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Spot exchanges, over-the-counter/OTC trading desks, and futures contracts would likely rank amongst the most popular methods for trading cryptocurrencies between two or more parties.

Despite their popularity though, most of these trading venues utilise centralised infrastructure in at least one area of their operations.

When combined with the endemic security threats which crypto trading services regularly face: centralized fundamental functions are a considerable threat to users who value the privacy of their transactions.

“A Peer-to-Peer Electronic Cash System”

Cryptocurrency is still a burgeoning industry, with the number of ICOs and market investment having increased by several multiples even just over the past eight months when compared to the whole of 2017.

Despite this: concerning conventions have already established themselves that challenge the original vision prescribed by Satoshi Nakamoto for Bitcoin.

The enigmatic Satoshi Nakamoto became a legend upon publication of his seminal cryptocurrency white-paper entitled ‘Bitcoin: A Peer-to-Peer Electronic Cash System’ (and if you haven’t read it, you really should!).

Since then, the document has served as an conceptual blueprint which has been referenced by a great number of subsequent altcoins: evident by the widespread implementation of Bitcoin’s core mechanics. An example of this is has come to be known as cryptocurrency mining, or the ‘Proof of Work’ consensus algorithm.

P2P vs  P2intermediary2P?

Peer-to-peer (P2P) denotes transactions that are made between two parties without the need for an intermediary to facilitate or authorise the trade.

Mike Orcutt, associate editor at the MIT Technology Review wrote in April 2018 that:

“The whole point of using a blockchain is to let people—in particular, people who don’t trust one another—share valuable data in a secure, tamperproof way…

“One supposed security guarantee of a blockchain system is ‘decentralization.’ If copies of the blockchain are kept on a large and widely distributed network of nodes, there’s no one weak point to attack, and it’s hard for anyone to build up enough computing power to subvert the network”

Whilst this is true for many blockchains and their associated blocks for decentralized cryptocurrencies: most middle-man’ who process trades and transaction utilise a centralised system known as an ‘order book’ upon which future transaction and trade values are calculated.

In June 2009, mere months after Nakamoto’s Bitcoin paper was released to the world, a cross-departmental team from Stanford University published a related and highly recommended investigation into the contemporary status of the order-book.

The authors state that:

“most markets are order-driven, where any market participant is free to provide liquidity by submitting a buy or sell order. Submitted orders are amalgamated by price to create a limit order book. The[re is a] rule driven execution of orders in these limit order books and [also] extensive data that is available for order driven markets.”

With  a centralised order-boook; all the data pertaining to transactions: such as receiver and sender addresses, value of tokens, and dates could be all-but-publicly accessible in the case of a hack or successful unwanted intrusion.

Peer-to-Peer Trading: What Can Be Done?

One solution which we have seen numerous examples of are organisations which claim to be ‘decentralized exchanges’.

On the 9th of August 2018, for example, well-known yet controversial ex-China based cryptocurrency exchange Binance launched a pre-alpha build of their highly anticipated decentralized exchange which they call ‘DEX’.

Conversely, Binance has been subject to more than their fair share of negative press and public feedback as of late and earning trust for their future projects will be no easy feat. They have to contend with hackers, pundits, and a 5.9/10 ranking on Trustpilot.

Another notable release comes from blockchain development platform Stratis, a competitor to Ethereum’s ‘platform for platforms’ and ranked in 50th place on CoinMarketCap as of writing.

The ‘Breeze Wallet with Breeze Privacy Protocol’ launched on the 1st August 2018, and it is a means of facilitating pure peer-to-peer, user-to-user, fully decentralized transactions. As a result, Breeze hopes to introduce centralized intermediaries to the realm of obsolescence, by way of a token-tumbling protocol called ‘TumbleBit’.

If you know of any more projects which have been making recent progress – please let us know in the comments section!

Featured image courtesy of Shutterstock.

Important: Never invest (trade with) money you can't afford to comfortably lose. Always do your own research and due diligence before placing a trade. Read our Terms & Conditions here. Trade recommendations and analysis are written by our analysts which might have different opinions. Read my 6 Golden Steps to Financial Freedom here. Best regards, Jonas Borchgrevink.

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Op-Ed

Disrupting the Cloud: ANKR Network

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Since the creation of bitcoin and the introduction of the “Proof of Work” (POW) algorithm, many have been concerned about the vast use of computing power and energy and their negative side effects. Currently, cloud computing is projected to be a trillion dollar market, yet it is monopolized by some of the largest tech conglomerates in the world. Only giants in the likes of Amazon Web Services and Google Cloud can afford the high human capital cost and upfront server costs to run a successful cloud operation that spans the globe. However, the aforementioned companies tend to charge the customer with a higher margin of cost.

New developments in blockchain technology aim to resolve these issues by improving the efficiency and effectiveness of cloud computing. Being an innovative solution to this computing and consumer problem, Ankr Network brings the benefits of decentralization to cloud computing and balances value between buyers and sellers via crypto economics, Oracle service and distributed computing.

Ankr Network

Ankr Network is an innovative platform, which aims to create a resource-efficient blockchain architecture for a distributed cloud computing system and an easy-to-use infrastructure for the building of business applications. Ankr is the first cloud computing solution to leverage both blockchain and trusted hardware of Intel SGXs. The SGX hardware will allow developers of applications to protect data from unauthorized access and modification and preserve the confidentiality and integrity of information.

Technical solutions include:

  • Consensus Algorithm Proof of Useful Work (PoUW)
  • Platform for distributed cloud computing (DCC)
  • Oracle integrated service
  • Structural support for sidechains

The consensus looks like this:

Anrk upgrades mining with its consensus “Proof of Useful Work” (PoUW), which provides a sustainable block structure. Specifically, PoUW directs power and computing capacity which was used on hashes in POW algorithms such as bitcoin for processing tasks provided by businesses and consumers on the blockchain. Therefore, one can say Ankr upgrades mining to a higher level, allowing equipment holders to receive a financial incentive for block creation and real-world tasks processing.

To explain this better, consider the following: the golden standard algorithm is one where the nodes on the blockchain require:

1) That tasks performed to solve problems is actually quantifiable work;

2) That the processing of these tasks provides some form of value to any party on the network

The Ankr Network appears capable of achieving this gold standard. Alternatively, existing POW in networks such as bitcoin and Ethereum only achieve the first point – nodes use computing power and energy to prove that work was done (but such amount of work is wasted without any utility).

Ankr solves this key technical limitation in bitcoin and Ethereum by including a second point in its consensus algorithm, thus making all the work done by nodes directed on the processing of tasks that could bring added value utility to the network participants.

Ethereum processes all smart contracts on one chain in a serial sequence, which bottlenecks throughput and dramatically reduces the usability, especially when there are large contracts with complicated data on the chain. Plasma is a protocol to solve the scalability issue by building a tree structure of blockchains, where various application chains (Child or Plasma Chains) are connected to a single root chain (Main Chain). Plasma chains can allow applications to handle their specific smart contracts transactions on side chains, thus balancing potential overload of the network.

The efficiency of the main chain can be significantly improved by offloading a number of transactions from the main chain to Plasma chains, especially if proper incentives are given to Plasma operators. Currently, Oracle solutions exist separately from the blockchain framework and are limited in compatibility. Ankr proposes a user-friendly universal AP (application programming interface) I for each child chain to connect to off-chain entities. Existing business can build decentralized autonomous applications on the child chain with powerful computing power and native data feed service provided by the main chain.

 

The Native Oracle (NOS) service provides an authenticated data feed by using both cryptographic primitives and a trusted execution environment (TEE). Thanks to a standardized API for transferring data from existing data sources like websites, NOS allows customers to simplify business in the real world. Basically, this means that blockchain can allow integrating smart contract execution with data sources through a protected gateway.

Intel SGX

Intel SGX (Software Guard Extensions) is a new set of instructions that permits execution of an application inside a hardware enclave, which protects the application’s integrity and confidentiality against certain forms of hardware and software attacks, including hostile operating systems. This lowers entry barriers for miners and provides security and privacy.

Distributed Cloud Computing (DCC) Platform

As internet technology advances, massive amounts of data including text, audio, video, etc. have been created. However, most of this data is neither organized nor relevant to each other. Processing the data in a serial sequence (traditional blockchain) becomes less and less resource efficient and can’t be tolerated by the rapid velocity of business development.

Ankr overcomes these shortcomings through its DDC platform, which enables P2P transactions. Miners will provide their computing power to support the blockchain, as well as sending surplus power for cloud computing calculations.

A P2P network allows application owners and individual users (i.e., requesters) to rent computing power from other users (suppliers). Currently, the cloud computing resources in popular blockchain networks such as bitcoin or Ethereum are exclusively controlled by the centralized cloud service providers and are subject to rigid operation models. A decentralized cloud computing platform can incorporate a blockchain-based payment system, which can allow for direct payment among operators (requesters), sellers (suppliers) and software developers.

Now, we will cover what other projects in this field are doing in comparison to Ankr as a reference project.

Golem

Users of Golem are only incentivized for cloud computing and Golem is using third party computing containers like Docker.

SONM

This project is very similar to Golem, but with a different application field. Golem is focused on rendering, but SONM is focused on the adoption of existing architectures (currently server hosting).

IExec

This project is also similar to Golem and SONM, but its application focus is decentralized cloud computing in specific research applications.

In comparison with the projects above, users of Ankr have different incentives that come from mining, transaction (or smart contract) and cloud computing. Also, Ankr does not use third party platforms for computational power; instead, it uses the computing power of miners.

In my opinion, an additional limitation of Golem, SONM, and IExec is that they have based their development on traditional computing architectures, which are used in data centers, thus limiting their potential computing power and scope of tasks. The reason lies in the fact that data center architecture is working on one technical parameter, which is not optimal for distributed computing where the topology of each device changes frequently and will result in a costly overhead in data transfer and decrease the stability of the network. Ankr technology allows bypassing such limitations, which results in a wider applicability and scope of their network.

Overall, if the Ankr network team can create a network that uses PoUW to reach consensus by applying all the computational energy to useful use and not wasting it, then cloud computing services as Amazon Web, Google Cloud and Microsoft Azure are likely to face serious competition soon.

Featured image courtesy of Shutterstock.

Important: Never invest (trade with) money you can't afford to comfortably lose. Always do your own research and due diligence before placing a trade. Read our Terms & Conditions here. Trade recommendations and analysis are written by our analysts which might have different opinions. Read my 6 Golden Steps to Financial Freedom here. Best regards, Jonas Borchgrevink.

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4.9 stars on average, based on 9 rated postsVladislav Semjonov has a legal and financial background. He has been involved in crypto space since early 2017 in both ICO advising positions in several ICO consultancy firms, and as an ICO analyst for VC. He began contributing for Hacked.com in April 2017.




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Op-Ed

Our Review of the MJAC CryptoCompare Summit in London, UK (13 June 2018)

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Disclaimer: This was my first attendance at such an event since beginning my career as a professional and independent cryptocurrency and /or blockchain journalist.

 I am not affiliated with the event organisers nor do I know them personally, and the same goes for all organisations in attendance as of the time of writing.

[official photographs here]

Earlier this month, I attended the ‘MJAC CryptoCompare Blockchain Summit’ and concluded that the best approach would be to cover the event in a candid matter.

There weren’t any scandals or controversies to speak of. What we mean by this is that this piece intends to cover the greatest pros and cons of the event, in hindsight (which was organised and executed by CryptoCompare in collaboration with MJAC).

First off, MJAC (AKA InvestorsHub) is an organisation that you aren’t likely to have heard of. They are the events and conferences arm of ADVFN, a prominent financial services organisation. Many of the same people responsible for the successful ‘Marijuana Annual Conference’ were also behind the conference in question, hence the acronym ‘MJAC’.

Many of you should be fully aware of CryptoCompare. They are arguably one of the most utilised data resources for up-to-date and historical data on market trends, respective per-coin values, and overall trade volume.

Location and Venue

The days proceedings took place at a venue called ‘Old Billingsgate’.

It’s a listed building which features a combination of historical architecture with modern internal fittings and is located close to Monument tube station. Its name derives from the nearby historic Old Billingsgate Market area.

The choice of venue couldn’t have been much better thanks in part to the location’s iconic and unobstructed view across the Thames River: including the Tower of London in clear sight, plus The Shard being mostly-visible nearby.

Old Billingsgate benefits from being highly accessible to attendees and participants due to its central location, however this is where the positive words I have for the venue start to run dry.

The aesthetic was great, and photographs show a busy yet not overpopulated show floor. The show started with a similar number as represented for most of the day, but later in the day the floor became packed and somewhat claustrophobic.

This atmosphere wasn’t helped by the fact that the space here felt both condensed and underutilised at the same time, with all the stalls leaving small hallways to brush past other visitors.

Conversely, over half of the two stories of open areas in the venue were dedicated to two theatre spaces, one large and one small. These rooms were well arranged and hosted all the one-day summit’s speakers and panelists.

Speeches and Panels

Speakers and individual panel attendees of course were responsible for many of the day’s highlights, as well as the presence of a combination of established and up-and-coming companies/ICOs.

Vitaly Kedyk (Executive Director of CEX.IO) and Claire Wells (Director of Legal & Business Affairs for EMEA at Circle) were two of the events strongest performers, whilst other notable speakers & panellists included representatives from CoinFloor, Ripple, BlockEx, and Coinbase – to name a few.

Unfortunately, not all panellists seemed to be ideal matches for such discussions. A couple that I attended, for example, featured a combination of experts whose interactions were often close to non-existent with each other. What’s more, top participants were easily distinguished by their contribution of valuable insights and answers than their peers in some circumstances.

Organisation and execution of the event overall is something to be lauded. Every speech and panel I saw started and finished with perfect timing, suggesting a great approach to planning. There was also a great atmosphere amongst participants and all I spoke to.

Success or Failure?

The qualification and quantification of any event’s success or failure should arguably be defined in several ways. Cryptocurrency is still growing as an industry (despite what the market tracking values may indicate), which gives us less of a general standard against which to measure them.

One way we can still utilise though, is to measure its performance in hindsight and considering the organisers’ own stated ambitions / agenda.

“The pace of development in the crypto space has rapidly picked up in the past year and it Is now more important than ever to gather the top thought leaders to showcase progress and discuss challenges. MJAC will give customers, investors, and regulators a chance to glimpse into the future direction of this exciting new industry.”Charles Hayter, CryptoCompare.

This quote was taken from the first page of a complimentary guide that was available to all attendees.

It came along with a free book (‘CryptoAssets’ by Chris Burniske and Jack Tatar), which is honestly not bad as a beginners and intermediate level guide aimed primarily at non-technical crypto enthusiasts.

For all intents and purposes, the organisation achieved their stated goal to a degree, however the sequel had better be much more impressive to excuse the lack of experience on British soil (one of the largest crypto economies in Europe, and arguably one of if not the financial capital).

A Relative Conclusion

The second and final way (that we will discuss here) you can measure such an event is through comparison to other events, which are popping up around the world as well as within London alone despite market indicators.

One of these is the similarly titled ‘Blockchain Summit London 2018’. It is set to be a much larger event: boasting approximately 2,500 attendees and over 150 speakers.

It also costs approximately £400 for the two-day event and is set in the well-known Olympia venue in Kensington, West London. Taking place just a couple of weeks after the MJAC CryptoCompare conference.

MJAC CryptoCompare Blockchain Summit was the first event held by these event organisers about cryptocurrency in London. On that end: it is not entirely fair to consider it an equal comparison with this rival, especially when tickets were the relatively low price of £100.

Despite this I can’t help but admit that I was perhaps expecting more from this ‘summit’, if not a little too much.

7/10

Featured image courtesy of Shutterstock.

Important: Never invest (trade with) money you can't afford to comfortably lose. Always do your own research and due diligence before placing a trade. Read our Terms & Conditions here. Trade recommendations and analysis are written by our analysts which might have different opinions. Read my 6 Golden Steps to Financial Freedom here. Best regards, Jonas Borchgrevink.

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