Crypto Currency

Hollywood Tackles Blockchain—With Not-Disastrous Results

true story is that of a 30-year-old crypto CEO, (apparently) dead of complications from Crohn’s disease while volunteering at an Indian orphanage, who leaves behind a riddle of false identities, illicit side ventures, and $100 million in missing cryptocurrency. Now there's a movie I’d pay to see.Instead, Hollywood has given us Crypto, a product of…


true story is that of a 30-year-old crypto CEO, (apparently) dead of complications from Crohn’s disease while volunteering at an Indian orphanage, who leaves behind a riddle of false identities, illicit side ventures, and $100 million in missing cryptocurrency. Now there’s a movie I’d pay to see.

Instead, Hollywood has given usCrypto,a product of headier times, when the bitcoin bubble still held air. Like many bad investments of that era, the movie hitched itself to the trending topic and prayed the trend was upward.Crypto, directed by John Stalberg Jr., had the makings of a blockbuster, with an all-star-ish cast including Kurt Russell, Alexis Bledel, and that other Hemsworth brother. It was released unceremoniously last Friday, direct-to-stream.

Beau Knapp plays Morton, a bank compliance officer whose “patriotic” adherence to money-laundering laws gets him kicked out of HQ in New York. Relocated to the local branch in his upstate hometown, Morton finds the place beset by modernity. The gentrifiers have arrived; there’s an art gallery, with an opioid-abusing proprietor. A cold snap has taken out his father’s potato farm. The liquor store owner hawks initial coin offerings, letting townies steal six-packs while he mines crypto in the storage room. (He’s pulling $500 a day.)

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Yes,Cryptois full of references to cryptocurrency. Some of them, like Bledel’s grousing about a bitcoin ATM, are even charming. But the movie isn’t really about crypto. Instead, it’s preoccupied with eulogizing the loss of hometown innocence, following a set of tired themes—drugs, crime, climate change, foreigners. (As the heroin-addled gallerist, a corrupt townie herself, puts it just before betraying her Russian mobster beau: “Life’s not simple anymore,” anywhere.) Bitcoin just serves as a handy meme to thread those social ills into the semblance of a plot.

Hollywood’s take on crypto wasn’t expected to be nuanced. What’s surprising a

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Crypto Currency

San Francisco Bans Agency Use of Facial Recognition Tech

facial recognition by city agencies, a first-of-its-kind measure that has inspired similar efforts elsewhere.Gregory Barber covers cryptocurrency, blockchain, and artificial intelligence for WIRED.San Francisco’s ban covers government agencies, including the city police and county sheriff’s department, but doesn’t affect the technology that unlocks your iPhone or cameras installed by businesses or individuals. It’s part of…

facial recognition by city agencies, a first-of-its-kind measure that has inspired similar efforts elsewhere.

Gregory Barber covers cryptocurrency, blockchain, and artificial intelligence for WIRED.

San Francisco’s ban covers government agencies, including the city police and county sheriff’s department, but doesn’t affect the technology that unlocks your iPhone or cameras installed by businesses or individuals. It’s part of a broader package of rules, introduced in January by supervisor Aaron Peskin, that will require agencies to gain approval from the board before purchasing surveillance tech and will require that they publicly disclose its intended use. In coming weeks, Oakland and Somerville, Massachusetts, are expected to consider facial-recognition bans of their own.

Facial-recognition technology has been used by law enforcement to spot fraud and identify suspects, but critics say that recent advances in AI have transformed the technology into a dangerous tool that enables real-time surveillance. Studies by researchers at MIT and Georgetown have found that the technology is less accurate at identifying people of color and could automate biases already pervasive in law enforcement. Privacy advocates see banning facial recognition as a unique opportunity to prevent the technology from getting too entrenched. “We’re doing it now before the genie gets out of the bottle,” says Brian Hofer, an attorney who heads Oakland’s Privacy Advisory Commission, which spearheaded the legislation in that city.

In San Francisco, the police department says it doesn’t currently use facial recognition, although it tested the technology on booking photos between 2013 and 2017. The Sheriff’s department, which is included under the board’s unique city-and-county authority, says it doesn’t either. “We will comply with whatever the requirements are,” says spokeswoman Nancy Crowley, adding that officers are equipped with Axon body camera

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Crypto Currency

New to Blockchain: Turning In-Game Virtual Goods into Assets

resident CryptoKitty, a cartoon cat with tiger stripes and trembling eyes, for $1.05. Since then, we haven’t seen her much. A so-called “digital collectible,” she lives a lonely life in perpetuity at an address on the Ethereum blockchain: You can look at her, but little else. Soon, though, her digital life could gain a bit…

resident CryptoKitty, a cartoon cat with tiger stripes and trembling eyes, for $1.05. Since then, we haven’t seen her much. A so-called “digital collectible,” she lives a lonely life in perpetuity at an address on the Ethereum blockchain: You can look at her, but little else. Soon, though, her digital life could gain a bit more excitement—in the hands of game developers.

Gregory Barber covers cryptocurrency, blockchain, and artificial intelligence for WIRED.

For developers, the technology that underpins Catoshi offers an intriguing twist on the economics of gaming. Virtual goods are already a $50 billion-plus annual market, making up the bulk of gaming industry revenue as players shell out for the likes of fancier virtual swords and new character outfits. But unlike a CryptoKitty, gamers don’t really own the virtual items they pay for: at the end of the day, they’re pixels that disappear when you delete the game. Companies like Andreessen Horowitz–backed Forte and Hong Kong’s Animoca, which invested in CryptoKitties last year, want to use blockchain technology to turn these ephemeral items into assets.

Kevin Chou, Forte’s CEO, previously founded Kabam, the mobile gaming company that was a pioneer of the so-called freemium model: Games that are free to download and don’t require a fancy console to play, but generate revenue by selling virtual goods. Chou’s insight was that people increasingly live their lives online, and put real value on their virtual experience. “Imagine a person who’s spending three or four hours a day playing a game and is plugged into the community, talking about what’s going on in their lives with their friends,” he says. That makes people more likely to pay for virtual items, whether to unlock new types of gameplay or simply because they look pretty. Kabam sold for nearly $1 billion in 2017, primarily to South Korea’s Netmarble.

But Chou says in-game economies have grown so complicated that developers have trouble overseeing them. As a result, they place limits. Game developers typically sell goods directly to gamers and keep a firm grip on the levers of supply and demand. There’s no mechanism for players to sell the virtual items among themselves—because they don’t actually own the things. “Right now these are basically command-and-control economies,” says Brett Seyler, Forte’s chief platform officer.

Some players find loopholes to buy and sell their in-game spoils.CounterStrike: Global Offensive, a popular multiplayer shooting game, became notorious for supporting billions of dollars in bets that use decorative virtual weapons, known as “skins,” as gambling chips to wager

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Crypto Currency

Not caring about bad news, Bitcoin goes above $6,000 for the first time this year

If you thought that the theft of 7,000 bitcoins from one of the world’s biggest crypto exchanges would stop Bitcoin’s price in its tracks, you were wrong.  On Thursday, the price of Bitcoin went above $6,000 for the first time since November last year. At the time of writing, Bitcoin is trading at $6,102.64 according…


If you thought that the theft of 7,000 bitcoins from one of the world’s biggest crypto exchanges would stop Bitcoin’s price in its tracks, you were wrong. 

On Thursday, the price of Bitcoin went above $6,000 for the first time since November last year. At the time of writing, Bitcoin is trading at $6,102.64 according to CoinMarketCap. 

The Binance hack — made worse by the company CEO Changpeng Zhao’s short-lived suggestion to change Bitcoin’s history to undo the hack — wasn’t the only recent bad news for Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies in general. In April, news broke that China is considering banning cryptocurrency mining in the country. Later that month, cryptocurrency exchange Bitfinex and stablecoin Tether were accused by the New York Attorney General of covering up an $850 million loss of customer fund

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Crypto Currency

Major U.S. retailers are now accepting Bitcoin and other cryptocurrency

Major U.S. retailers are now accepting Bitcoin and other cryptocurrency

Major U.S. retailers are now accepting Bitcoin and other cryptocurrency
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