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Tuesday, April 24, 2018

The Basics Of Bitcoin

Great article by Ezekiel de Jong 

After my recent attendance as a guest speaker at Dubai's Block-chain Innovation & Investment Summit, Hong Kong's Token 2049 & a handful of other amazing events. I found myself being asked by investors & new comers the same questions quite often.

Here are some of the insights and knowledge I have had the pleasure to learn since 2012. Some of this knowledge was learnt the hard way, some was mentored to me by pioneers of this age and some is my own discoveries made over 6 years and counting in the digital currency & block-chain technology sector.
The ultimate ELI5 guide on Bitcoin: how does it works and how we can make a profit from it.

What is Bitcoin?

Imagine a currency that can be minted by anyone, using a mechanism that provides a reliable way to control your production and assures you’re not minting counterfeit coins.

Imagine a currency that can be used worldwide, without any restrictions, and it’s worth the same regardless of the region you are.

Imagine a currency that is completely secure, that cannot be scraped, counterfeit or stolen.

Better: imagine a currency that you can use as a secret savings account, that nobody can confiscate, steal or even know it exists.

Bitcoin is a decentralized, secure and valuable cryptocurrency which is used by more and more people. 

It’s a cryptocurrency; that is, a currency that is virtual (there are no physical coins) and secured by robust encryption algorithms that even the Pentagon cannot crack. 

It’s decentralized because there’s no central authority minting bitcoins; any person with a powerful enough computer can do it. 

It’s secure because nobody can steal bitcoins from your accounts (except if you are careless). 

It’s valuable because bitcoin is a reference for other alternative cryptocurrencies like Ethereum, Litecoin and so; alternative cryptocurrencies (also known as altcoins) are like ripoffs, which are attractive (or not) due to innovative features or its reduced transaction fees).

All the bitcoins in existence are stored in a virtual structure called the blockchain

Blockchain is public ledger that keeps all the accounting, for all the people holding bitcoins. You can check that ledger, but you cannot alter it in any way.

What is a blockchain?



In a nutshell: it’s a public ledger that holds all the entries needed to keep the bitcoin accounting up to date. To put it easy: imagine a real-life ledger. It has pages and pages of listings: Tommy spent $ 2 in a coffee, Vicky sent Tommy $ 500 for a consulting job, Nathalie received $ 100 from George, etc. Every page in that real life ledger is a block in a blockchain: a block contains data; that is, entries in a ledger. 

Apparently, is not that simple (there are metadata and other information) but for our purpose, that’s not important.

Pages in our blockchain are glued together by some metadata: a hash points to the prior block, just like the numbers printed in a real-life ledger assures anyone that no page is missing. 

Also, every block in the blockchain is validated by all the computers involved, in a scenario known as reaching consensus. Every computer minting bitcoins is helping to create new blocks (pages in our ledger), and, thus, validating and securing all the entries on that block (or page). Securing the blockchain (and receiving bitcoins in exchange for the effort) is what is called mining.

Mining bitcoins

In the early times of bitcoin, mining was done with a simple home computer, but nowadays you need a powerful cloud of computers, a mining rig, to profit from it. Millions are competing with each other to obtain part of the mining rewards for each block, so, to make things fair, all the computers in the network reach a consensus: raise the mining difficulty to very high values.

While it can seem unfair for people with just an average computer, this is what makes bitcoin the strongest cryptocurrency: nobody can just try and hack random accounts and steal their bitcoins. That’s almost impossible, and, to do that, you need to invest far more money that you’ll be able to steal.

You can still mine bitcoins using just your computer, but that will not be profitable at all: you can join a mining pool and add your computing power to thousands of other people to earn a small portion of the rewards. You’ll get a tiny fraction of an already small fraction, but you’ll be contributing to secure the bitcoin blockchain.

Bitcoin value

What makes something desirable and valuable? Imagine a block of solid gold, or a case full of diamonds. Both objects are valuable due their scarcity, and desirable due to its durability and stability over long periods of time.

Bitcoin is something relatively new. Some people doesn’t even know about its existence, yet many people want to own some. That’s because, regardless of its age, bitcoin is already seen as a commodity —just like silver, gold or diamonds.

Of course, there are some ripples in our golden lake. Volatility, for starters. Bitcoin’s price isn’t stable yet, and it’s subject to speculation, fear, uncertainty about its future and veiled threats about bans and heavy regulations.

And that’s the part that seasoned speculators love most: fear can be profitable. FUD can be profitable.

Profiting from Bitcoin

Speculators are people that keeps only one universal truth in mind: buy low, sell high. They buy at bid prices and sell at ask prices. As bitcoin usually doesn’t fluctuate so much during a trading day, and it has a great volume, making a profit buying and selling bitcoin isn’t that hard to achieve. You only need to follow some guidelines:

Be refractory to gurus and experts spreading FUD

FUD can be your best ally, but also your kryptonite. All the FUD spread by journalists and mass media must be taken cum grano salis, and always be used for your own benefit. If there’s a rumor about bitcoin being banned in some country, don’t panic: it’s almost always a ruse to lower the price so big actors can but larger volumes at a discount. Join (and enjoy) the party!

Never panic: bitcoin isn’t going to disappear or sink overnight. It can happen —and will happen eventually—, but it will not be today, tomorrow or the next month. You’ll see that coming.

Be prepared for long periods of sunken prices: a bearish market (i. e. a market that’s afraid enough that only a small fraction of people are brave enough to buy) isn’t rare, and you must be prepared for that. Always treat your investments in bitcoin (and any other crypto for that matter) like a hobby, and not like an actual income. You cannot predict when the markets will turn bearish or bullish; therefore, you cannot predict when you will be able to sell and obtain a profit. It can be weeks or even months until that happens. Again: don’t panic.

Repeat every morning: buy low, sell high: the only way to make a profit in volatile markets is repeating it like a mantra. There’s no way to teach you how to spot when a given commodity is low and when is high; we can talk about candlestick charts, OHLC charts, trends and SAR analysis, but it will be worthless if you haven’t a trained gut. Candlestick charts are invaluable, but they are just half of what you need to go out and succeed in a wild market like these.

In a nutshell

Bitcoin is a relatively new commodity, one that you cannot touch or hold in your hands, but you cannot just steal either. It’s stored on a blockchain, that is a virtual ledger stored out there, in the cloud. People can make a profit out of it in two ways: mining it (doing a hard, blue-collar job, with a fixed payment) or speculating with it (a white collar job if you ask, but with a fairly high risk involved, and high profits awaiting for those brave enough to give it a try).

So what is 5G? Who are the leaders? What does it mean for jobs?




They say that  5G wireless business is worth $500 billion and millions of new jobs.

China and South Korea are the leaders in laying out the infrastructure for 5G - with Huawei at the forefront. 

So what does 5G do?

2G delivered text,  3G the internet,  4G brought video, but 5G provides high speeds and a whole new transmission system and dimension.

5G systems support 1000 more devices per meter than 4G, using higher frequencies and secondary antennae to relay signals. It eliminates the transmission inconsistencies and slowdowns caused by buildings, mountains, and crowds.
 
By 2020, it is predicted that the average American and Aussie and European will own and use some 30 internet connected devices and 76% of data traffic will be streaming video. 

There will be 50 billion connected devices worldwide. These can range from existing technology, such as smartphones, tablets and smart watches, to fridges, cars, augmented reality specs and even smart clothes.
 
Some of these will require significant data to be shifted back and forth, while others might just need tiny packets of information sent and received. 

The 5G system itself will understand and recognize this and allocate bandwidth respectively, thereby not putting unnecessary strain on individual connection points.
 
5G will provide unbelievably fast broadband speeds, but more importantly it will have enough capacity to perform every function needed without loss of speed or connection, no matter how many people are connected simultaneously.
 
5G will run on a new "high-spectrum band", which uses higher frequency signals than 4G. The new band will be much less congested, which will be vital for use with the Internet of Things. However signals won't travel as far, so it will need more access points positioned closer together.
 
Larger cells will be used in the same way as they are now, with broad coverage, but urban areas, will be covered by multiple smaller cells, fitted in light poles, on the roofs of shops and homes, and even inside bricks in new buildings. Each of these will ensure that the connection will be regulated and seemingly standard across the board.
 
Algorithms will know how fast a device is travelling, so can adapt which cell it is connected to. For example, a connected car might require connection to a macro-cell in order to maintain its connection without having to re-establish continuously over distance, while a smartphone can connect to smaller cells with less area coverage as the next cell can be picked up easily and automatically in enough time to prevent the user noticing.
 
But you don’t just revolutionize global connectivity overnight.  You have to build massive networks of antennae for internet providers. 
 
4G boosted domestic GDP by $100 billion and led to an 84% increase in wireless-industry employment. 

Companies in data-intensive industries like self-driving cars, IoT, and blockchain will migrate to areas with5G to stay competitive.
 
We look forward to playing a part with Huawei in making Australia 5G ready
 

Sunday, April 22, 2018

The key Areas where AI is focussing on




Where does your texhnology, app, project fit in?

5 Attributes you need to look at when building an AI model or App - to claim an R and D tax rebate



major issue in claiming an R and D tax deduction is to mapping the language that the government defines as r and d to your project

  1. What is the science?
  2. What is the technical risk?
  3. Is it innovative? 
  4. What testing have you done? 

And the list goes on 

The reality is that most software projects and ongoing developments of software and apps should be defined as R and D . It all about the interpretation and justification - and the key is to be able to document and justify your project as an r and d one....because I believe that anything can be justified, and the intention is that the government wants to encourage companies to continue to innovate - 

Because innovation is the food for growth! 

Everyone is talking AI and machine learning..... is an app just a microcosm of a larger machine learning AI model? 

So, what makes AI or an app useful?  It’s all about how data in the model is used.

An AI model is a way of looking at data - as data changes, the AI model nnneds to adapt accordingly - 

An AI system needs to be built with five attributes in mind says Dinesh Nirmal - vice president of analytics development at IBM. 

1. Managed

The AI and machine learning model needs to have  thoughtful, durable, and transparent infrastructure. 

That starts with identifying the data pipelines and correcting issues with bad or missing data. There needs to be a methodology of integrating  data governance and version control for models. The version of each model — and their might be thousands of them concurrently needs to clearly  indicates its inputs - 

where the data came from needs to be known 

2. Resilient

Being fluid means accepting that models will fall out of sync. That “drift” can happen quickly or slowly depending on what’s changing in the real world. Regression testing needs to be done on a regular basis. .

Accuracy thresholds need to be defined and and automatic alerts to let you know when the model need attention. 

Will you need to retrain the model on old data, acquire new data, or re-engineer your features from scratch? The answer depends on the data and the model.

Before trying to find the problem, one needs to look at defining the problem.

3. Performance 

The AI model needs to compute the transactions in milliseconds, not minutes, to gain a competitive advantage and make the system work. 

Optimum performance is key 

The AI model needs to run fast and error-free regardless of where you deploy it on premises , or in the cloud.

4. Measurable

The results and outputs need to be clearly measured and have adequate reports. 

When starting the project , visualize how you are going to report what you’re learning and how it changes.

What you can measure you can manage - think about how you can easily report on short , medium and long term goals 

Some Kpis 

  1. improvements in data access and data volume,
  2. improvements in model accuracy, and ultimately
  3. improvements to the bottom line.

5. Continuous

The AI model needs to change and continuously learn as the world changes. The Ai model needs to be continuously evaluated and retrained to adapt to a changing world. 

Jupyter and Zeppelin notebooks that can plug into processes for scheduling evaluations and retrain models are useful tools to use 

You will gain an understanding of absorbing  the advantages and limitations of the algorithms, languages, datasets, and tools that are being used. 

Fluid AI demands continuous improvement for data, tools, and systems, but also continuous improvement from the team. 

Data science is a journey. Pay attention to these five attributes and you’ll bring focus to each moment and force yourself to find clarity about the future.

The data will never sit still, but would you really want it any other way?


Monday, April 16, 2018

Facial recognition to track citizens. A MUST read!

The Bob Pritchard Column

In just 2 years, there will be 570 million surveillance cameras — that's nearly one camera for every two citizens.  At the same time, China is a building a national database that will recognize any citizen within three seconds. Thanks to a large population and minimum privacy laws, police and private companies have led the way in developing surveillance technology that is now being used to track travel, shopping, crime, and even toilet paper usage.
 
 
These are some of the ways people's faces are being used for surveillance:
  • One of the most common facial recognition programs is Face++ which is used to manage entry everywhere from Beijing's train stations to Alibaba's office building.
  • Alibaba has also developed its own systems that will soon be used in Shanghai's metro to identify commuters via their face and voice
  • Facial recognition cameras are installed at intersections to take pictures of people crossing roads or offending traffic rules.
  • Railway police already use facial recognition sunglasses that can identify travelers within 100 milliseconds. Since their introduction earlier this year, they've been used to identify a number of criminals.
  • A number of provinces photograph jaywalkers and, after its matched to a police database, post the photo, ID number and home address on public screens. Offenders can spend 20 minutes helping a traffic officer or pay a $3 fine to have the image removed.
  • College entrance exams across the country use facial and fingerprint recognition to ensure test takers are the real students.
  • After a spate of kidnappings, some childcare centers only unlock doors to faces registered in its system. One kindergarten has more than 200 security cameras as well as a police station on campus.
  • Even toilet paper dispensers use the technology, limiting each person to 2 feet of paper every nine minutes. Apparently a number of patrons kept stealing from public bathrooms.
  • KFC store uses "Smile to Pay" technology.
  • Customers can also use facial recognition to pay for purchases at unmanned convenience stores
  • Alibaba has a chain of cashless stores called Hema. Shoppers use their face and phone number to approve payments from their Alipay account.
  • Customers of China Merchants Bank scan their faces instead of their bank cards at some 1,000 ATMs.
  • Xiaozhu, the Airbnb of China, has smart locks that open after scanning renters' faces
  • A car vending machine by Alibaba's Tmall even uses state-of-the-art recognition technology.
  • Insurance firm Taikang verifies the identities of customers by their face
  • Police in Chongqing use surveillance software and in the first 40 days, it identified 69 criminals
  • SenseTime's software tracks customers as they move around a department store.
  • Xinjiang has more than 40,000 surveillance cameras used to track and monitor the Uyghur ethnic minority.
  • To enter the Hotan bazaar in Xinjiang, shoppers must have their face scanned and cross-referenced to their national identification card.
  • Even petrol stations in Xinjiang require drivers be identified by facial recognition cameras before filling up.
  • In other areas of China, police use hand-held systems to recognize faces.
  • Police in Kashgar now have smartphones that scan faces and match with IDs
  • China’s Police have an SUV with a 360-degree camera that can scan every face within 200 feet while driving up to 75mph. The driver is alerted to any database match.
Anyone still think we are winning the technology race?

AI device for diabetic eye problems approved by FDA


IDx-DR can diagnose diabetic retinopathy, the most common cause of vision loss among the more than 30 million Americans living with diabetes  
The US Food and Drug Administration has approved an artificial intelligence diagnostic device that doesn’t need a specialized doctor to interpret the results. The software program, called IDx-DR, detects a form of eye disease called diabetic retinopathy by looking at photos of the retina.

Diabetic retinopathy (although rare)  is the most common vision complication for more than 30 million Americans living  with diabetes 

Photos are taken by a retinal camera of the patient’s retina are uploaded to IDx-DR  and an algorithm analyzes the images to determine whether the patient has the disease , where too much blood sugar damages the blood vessels in the back of the eye. 

In one clinical trial that used more than 900 images, IDx-DR correctly detected retinopathy about 87 percent of the time, and could correctly identify those who didn’t have the disease about 90 percent of the time. 

The software is unique because it’s autonomous and there’s “not a specialist looking over the shoulder of [this] algorithm,”

 IDx-DR founder Michael Abràmoff told Science News. “It makes the clinical decision on its own.” This means that the technology can be used by a nurse or doctor who’s not an eye specialist, making diagnosis more accessible. 

The benefit..... over 30 million patients wouldn’t need to wait for an eye specialist to be available to get a diagnosis...

There will always be a need for a specialist to check and be responsible when the diagnosis is wrong - but that specialist can be a technician that can check lots - creating other jobs 

Now that the FDA has cleared IDx-DR, it might lead the way to a new slew of autonomous diagnostic tests and the trade-offs they bring. Such as Googles  DeepMind which is using  AI to spot eye disease