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Keith Comito on the benefits of blockchain tech and decentralization in longevity research

Lifespan.io President and co-founder Keith Comito was into longevity before longevity was cool.

“We started our nonprofit back in 2014,” Comito said. “Back then, few credible researchers would be caught dead saying they were working on aging. It was still kind of a scientific backwater. So, we wanted to emulate what the cancer research advocates did, starting in the ‘40s.”

He said those early advocates identified the most credible research at the time and used “old-school” fundraising approaches like telethons to crowdfund for their work. They built a grassroots movement and grew their scientific expertise. Through their efforts, defeating cancer is now an international priority with communities of millions of people crusading in the fight against this devastating disease that is closely linked to aging.

Comito said Lifespan.io is taking a similar approach but for all aging-related diseases. They’ve built a large community of people by sharing verified news about breaking developments in longevity, crowdfunding research using blockchain technology, and creating some of “the most successful YouTube collaborations in the space.”

“In 2017, I helped write the scripts for a popular series of aging videos that were the highest-viewed videos the week they came out, with 14 million views within days. That was huge to hit those numbers six years ago, and the like ratio was overwhelmingly positive.” This illustrated to the field, Keith said, that it was okay for longevity researchers to come out into the open and not be ashamed of their revolutionary and life-saving work.

Comito leverages various skills honed from a diverse background, including computer programming, biology,  and mathematics. He has invented several metaverse-adjacent technologies, developed software that has been adopted in widely-used services like HBO Now, MLB at Bat and Disney+, and even accidentally created a top-charting Chuck Norris Joke Generator as a joke back in the early days of mobile applications. Today, he’s looking at ways to bring our world into the metaverse that not only excite us but also heal our minds and bodies as well. Keith sees the future of Web3 overlapping and supporting the future of longevity while tying in other hot sectors like gaming and VR.

Shaking up science

Comito said that one area he’s spent the last few years exploring is the pure fundraising capabilities of cryptocurrency, working with organizations such as Gitcoin and Angel Protocol to brainstorm new models of crypto philanthropy to fund scientific breakthroughs. Of course, a number of “crypto heavyweights are already supporting life extension research,” he says. Vitalik Buterin, for example, has supported several longevity projects, donating crypto to causes like the SENS Research Foundation. This connection goes all the way back to the birth of cryptocurrency – through the support of early cypherpunks like Hal Finney, says Comito, who theorizes the common thread is transcending boundaries, whether financial or biological, to lead humanity to a brighter future.

The potential of blockchain technology to drive longevity research goes far beyond raising money, particularly with respect to decentralized science, or “DeSci.” “There are promising potential treatments for Alzheimer’s which lack traditional profit motives, for example, ones that can be developed with blockchain-based crowdsourcing,” he said.

Therapies like flickering lights and sounds at certain frequencies could remediate dementia. Comito himself is working on such an approach with his colleagues at Lifespan.io – aiming to launch a first-in-kind decentralized clinical trial to test non-drug interventions for Alzheimer’s disease, with the blessing of government organizations like the National Institute of Health.

“There have been very public failures on the treatment of Alzheimer’s with traditional approaches,” Comito said. “Over a trillion dollars has been spent on research, with strikingly little progress.”

He said a non-drug solution discovered by a decentralized group of people on the internet would be a “complete earthquake.” Decentralized science, powered by groups like decentralized autonomous organizations (DAOs), can also overcome issues associated with traditional research institutes. DAO governance promotes transparency and rewards productivity, aspects which can be instrumental in advancing longevity research.

“I think we tend to view organizations like the FDA and the NIH as being calcified and anti-crypto,” Comito said. “But my experience has been that leaders of such organizations actually want us to shake things up. With the help of blockchain technology, we can achieve medical advances so powerful and undeniable that existing systems will have no choice but to change.”

Crypto will power further innovation in the space

Comito acknowledges that crypto has some perception issues to overcome in the wake of the FTX collapse. However, he sees that as more of a product of the overall market. While it is true that it’s hard right now for charities to raise money, Comito is optimistic that we will see a future filled with exponential growth.

“Last year, a number of charities started dipping into crypto because the market was hot,” he said. “They’ve drunk the Kool-Aid, and now’s the time to build and find out who’s truly getting something interesting done. When the market recovers, these projects will be in great shape. We’re building tools to do something amazing in the next several years.”

Organizations like Endaoment and The Giving Block are laying the foundation for a philanthropic shift. In the longevity space, VitaDAO and the Longevity Science Foundation continue to fund cutting-edge research in the quest to help extend our lifespans and enrich our health. This could also look like crypto and blockchain technology eventually playing a role in streamlining data interactions which will have a role in facilitating longevity.

We are fast approaching a world where everyone can own their data, carrying it in their healthcare wallet. This can help eliminate bloated industry architecture that relies on paper records in so much of the world. In turn, this can accelerate opportunities for people to participate in clinical trials, reduce costs, facilitate payments to participants, limit emission-heavy travel, achieve diversity goals, and lead to more standardized data.

“Concerns have to be managed, but that is something we can do together as a crowd, which we consider a DAO of humanity,” Comito said. “Blockchain technology is not going away, and will have a key part to play in a future where all people will have sovereignty – not only over their currency and data but over their healthy lifespans as well.”


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Why The Bear Market Is A Good Thing For Blockchain Projects

Anthony Georgiades is the co-founder of Pastel Network and General Partner at Innovating Capital.

Now more than ever, the blockchain space is showcasing its impressive resilience. Despite months in a bear market in which cryptocurrency prices crashed and many projects have gone under, technological innovation and adoption by brands and consumers have both steadily increased.

Bear markets are generally considered a time for blockchain companies to build out their products and focus on the execution of their development road map. This time is no different. The projects that have doubled down and focused on product development are those that will be positioned to weather the damage incurred by the weaker market cycle and come out stronger.

During a bull market, companies tend to look for ways to capitalize on hype and maximize short-term growth. This results in a large wave of projects that are conceptualized and brought to market very quickly—often before founders have conducted sufficient market research and analysis, which is imperative to adequately identifying and addressing market gaps. Or, projects are funded before putting together fundamental technology foundations and road maps, leading to development shortcuts and ongoing production delays.

While the sheer number of blockchain companies grows astronomically, bull markets result in a high saturation of noisy platforms that lack strategic product differentiation. Furthermore, as projects look to optimize for a short window granted in the current climate, launching products too quickly increases the risk of security vulnerabilities, poor user experience and product shortcomings.

In the past two years alone, we’ve seen a massive number of vulnerabilities exploited in the blockchain space, often due to inadequate technological standards at the infrastructure level. If those projects had taken the time to ensure their infrastructure and security protocols were properly developed and tested, they may not have faced such major setbacks.

Additionally, it’s common for blockchain projects to encounter a multitude of bugs during their beta testing phase. Depending on the number of issues that arises, some projects are forced to conduct several iterations of beta testing to address all of them, which can also delay the launch, subsequently impeding the entire company road map. Once again, if companies had spent more time developing their products and stress-testing as many potential bugs as possible, many of these issues wouldn’t arise and continued delays could be avoided.

In other words, while a bear market may not seem like a good time for launching a new business or acquiring new users, the fact that it pushes Web3 companies to focus on conducting thoughtful market research, identifying long-term user needs, refining business strategies and spending time on product development has positive long-term implications for product security, user satisfaction and hitting target milestones.

High-potential, technologically sound products that address a gap in the market also have the added benefit of attracting investors and partners. Whether catching the attention of the bear market’s smaller pool of patient investors and companies looking to enter the space during that time or solidifying their pitches for the inevitable return of the bull market, blockchain companies that take the time to develop their products adequately increase their chances of coming out on top.


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Visa CEO Al Kelly Bets Big on Blockchain-Based Stablecoins, CBDCs Days Before Stepping Down

Al Kelly, the CEO of payments giant Visa, has spoken in favour of blockchain-based payments solutions that are bound to revolutionise the future of the fintech industry. Kelly has pegged his hopes on stablecoins and central bank digital currencies (CBDCs), both of which are powered by blockchains, to open newer and faster ways to facilitate day-to-day as well as hefty payments. The chief of Visa made these statements just days before he steps down from his current designation.

Visa, founded in 1958, is geared up to participate in experiments around the development and use cases of CBDCs and private stablecoins, Kelly hinted during its recently held annual stockholder meeting. “It’s very early days, but we continue to believe that stablecoins and Central Bank Digital Currencies have the potential to play a meaningful role in the payments space, and we have a number of initiatives underway,” a CoinTelegraph report quoted Kelly as saying.

While CBDCs are blockchain representations of fiat currencies, private stablecoins are digital assets that trade in the crypto market, but their values largely depend on their underlaying reserve assets such as gold or the US dollar.

The market sentiment has no effect on CBDCs, whereas stablecoins manage to latch onto the values of their reserved assets to record better prices than other cryptocurrencies.

Despite the recent slump in the crypto sector, Kelly said, Visa did not record any snags in its balance sheets. The company plans to keep exploring the crypto sector as it vouches to play its part in driving the adoption of promising next generation of payment ecosystems.

At present, several nations including India, China, and Russia among others, are working on their respective CBDCs. On the other hand, stablecoins such as USD Coin, Binance USD, Ripple, and Tether rope-in profits on days other altcoins struggle with volatility.

The company plans to keep innovating with CBDCs and stablecoins going forward.

Visa had revealed in January last year that its customers processed $2.5 billion (roughly Rs. 18,685 crore) in payments using its crypto-linked cards during the first fiscal quarter of 2022. That volume, when put into perspective, accounted for over 70 percent of all crypto-card volume, signalling an increase in the adoption of crypto payments during those months.

In December last year, Visa proposed a functionality that would enable users to make their telephone and electricity payments via self-custodial crypto wallets. This application could allow a user to setup a programmable payment instruction that can push funds automatically from one self-custodial wallet account to another at recurring intervals, eliminating the need for users to manually sign off each transaction.

The company has also launched a creator programme to help digital-age artists understand and use NFTs.

Kelly, who has served as the head honcho of Visa since 2016, is set to step down from his position in February. Ryan McInerney, the current President of Visa, will succeed Kelly as the CEO of the company.


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Binance Moved $346 Million for Seized Bitzlato Crypto Exchange, Blockchain Data Shows

Crypto giant Binance processed almost $346 million (roughly (Rs. 2,900 crore) in Bitcoin for the Bitzlato digital currency exchange, whose founder was arrested by US authorities last week for allegedly running a “money laundering engine,” blockchain data seen by Reuters show.

The Justice Department on January 18 said it charged Bitzlato’s co-founder and majority shareholder Anatoly Legkodymov, a Russian national living in China, with operating an unlicensed money exchange business that “fueled a high-tech axis of cryptocrime” by processing $700 million roughly (Rs. 5,800 crore) in illicit funds. Bitzlato had touted the laxity of its background checks on clients, the Justice Department said, adding that when the exchange did ask users for ID information, “it repeatedly allowed them to provide information belonging to “straw man” registrants.”

Binance, the world’s largest crypto exchange, was among Bitzlato’s top three counterparties by the amount of bitcoin received between May 2018 and September 2022, the US Treasury’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) said last week.

Binance was the only major crypto exchange among Bitzlato’s top counterparties, FinCEN said. It said the others to transact with Bitzlato were the Russian-language darknet drugs marketplace Hydra, a small exchange called LocalBitcoins and a crypto investment website called Finiko, which it described as “an alleged crypto Ponzi scheme based in Russia.” FinCEN did not detail the scale of the entities’ interactions with Bitzlato.

Hong Kong-registered Bitzlato was a “primary money laundering concern” related to Russian illicit finance, FinCEN added. It will ban the transmission of funds to Bitzlato by the US and other financial institutions from February 1. FinCEN said. It did not name Binance or other individual firms among those subject to the ban.

A Binance spokesperson said via email it had “provided substantial assistance” to international law enforcement to support their investigation of Bitzlato. The company is committed to “working collaboratively” with law enforcement, they added, declining to give details about its dealings with Bitzlato or the nature of its cooperation with such agencies.

Bitzlato, whose website says it has been seized by French authorities, could not be reached by Reuters. Legkodymov, has not made any public comment since his arrest in Miami last week and did not respond to emailed requests for comment.

Hydra’s operator, who was indicted in the United States, and a lawyer representing Finiko’s founder did not respond to requests to comment. Nor did Finland-based LocalBitcoins.

Reuters has no evidence that the Binance, LocalBitcoins or Finiko transactions with Bitzlato, which the Justice Department described as a “haven for criminal proceeds and funds intended for use in criminal activity,” broke any rules or laws.

However, one former US banking regulator and one former law enforcement official said Binance’s status as one of the top counterparties would focus Justice Department and US Treasury attention on Binance’s compliance checks with Bitzlato.

“I wouldn’t call it a warning shot over the bow, I would call it a guided missile,” said Ross Delston, an independent American lawyer and former banking regulator who is also an expert witness on anti-money laundering issues, referring to FinCEN’s citing of Binance and LocalBitcoins.

The Justice Department and FinCEN declined to comment.

Binance moved over 20,000 Bitcoin, worth $345.8 million roughly (Rs. 2,900 crore) at they time they were transacted, across some 205,000 transactions for Bitzlato between May 2018 and its closure last week, according to a review of previously unreported data. The figures were compiled by leading US blockchain researcher Chainalysis and seen by Reuters.

Bitcoin worth about $175 million roughly (Rs. 1,400 crore) was transferred to Binance from Bitzlato in that period, making Binance its largest receiving counterparty, the data show.

About $90 million roughly (Rs. 750 crore) of the total transfers took place after August 2021, when Binance said it would require users to submit identification to combat financial crime, according to the data from Chainalysis, which declined to comment. Such checks, Binance said in a blog last year, tackle “the funding and laundering of money from illicit activities.” Reuters could not determine whether Binance enforced its ID requirements with Bitzlato.

Darknet Market

Chainalysis, which is used by US authorities to track illicit crypto flows, had warned in February of last year that Bitzlato was high risk. In a report, Chainalysis said nearly half of Bitzlato’s transfers between 2019 and 2021 were “illicit and risky,” identifying almost $1 billion roughly (Rs. 8,200 crore) in such transactions.

The US action against Bitzlato comes as the Justice Department investigates Binance for possible money laundering and sanctions violations. Some federal prosecutors have concluded that the evidence collected justifies filing charges against executives including founder and CEO Changpeng Zhao, Reuters reported in December.

Reuters could not establish whether Binance’s dealings with Bitzlato are under review.

Binance, which does not reveal the location of its core exchange, has processed at least $10 billion (roughly Rs. 82,000 crore) in payments for criminals and companies seeking to evade US sanctions, Reuters found in a series of articles last year based on blockchain data, court and company records.

The reporting also showed that Binance intentionally kept weak anti-money laundering controls and plotted to evade regulators in the United States and elsewhere, according to former executives and company documents.

Binance disputed the articles, calling the illicit-fund calculations inaccurate and the descriptions of its compliance controls “outdated.” The exchange said last year it is “driving higher industry standards” and that it is seeking to improve its ability to detect illegal crypto activity.

Both Binance and Bitzlato were significant counterparties of the world’s largest darknet drugs marketplace Hydra. The Russian-language site was shut down by US and German authorities last year. The Justice Department said Bitzlato exchanged more than $700 million (roughly Rs. 5,700 crore) in crypto with Hydra, either directly or through intermediaries.

In an article published last June, Reuters reviewed blockchain data that showed that buyers and sellers on Hydra used Binance to make and receive crypto payments worth around $780 million (roughly Rs. 6,400 crore) between 2017 and 2022. A Binance spokesperson said at the time that the Hydra figure was “inaccurate and overblown.”

© Thomson Reuters 2023


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At World Economic Forum This Year, Panels Debated Blockchain ‘Case Studies’

And yet, that may not actually matter. While the industry did have a smaller presence, the panels that did happen were substantive. The official WEF had more panels related to crypto and crypto-adjacent topics this year than last. The speakers at the side events represented the United Nations, NASA, CERN, BlackRock, the U.S. Congress, the Ukraine Parliament and a host of other traditional heavyweights.


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Kurt Wuckert Jr. on BSV’s 35M milestone: ‘We’re already above what people think blockchain is even possible to do’

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The true power of blockchain technology is seen in its ability to scale and process large amounts of data while maintaining fees at an affordable rate.

Speaking with CoinGeek Backstage, Chief Bitcoin Historian Kurt Wuckert Jr. said numerous blockchains in the market are capable of handling transactions for hundreds of thousands up to a million per day, such as Ethereum. Wuckert was speaking on the sidelines of the Unbounded Capital Summit in New York, where he was invited to talk about blockchain’s history and the current landscape.

He quickly pointed out that none can do better than Bitcoin SV (BSV), which made headlines last September after recording 35 million transactions in a 24-hour period.

“BTC has never had a day where it’s gone over a couple hundred thousand transactions, and frankly, it can’t. … Ethereum will pretty typically do one or maybe two million transactions in a day, but that’s the wit’s end of that bandwidth,” Wuckert said.

BSV’s recent milestone translates to over 30 times more processing power than Ethereum, the biggest processing network in the blockchain space.

“We’re already orders of magnitude above what people think blockchain is even possible to do,” added Wuckert.

But the milestone is only the beginning for BSV with the integration of the IPv6, but Wuckert said not many people grasp how massive the move is just yet. A peer-to-peer network, “IPv6 is used for typically small devices to communicate across a local area network,” said Wuckert, identifying the protocol as similar to the original Bitcoin.

“In Bitcoin, you can send a transaction from one person to another, and the recipient does the broadcast to the blockchain the way the recipient’s device on an IPv6 network might send the data to the internet if necessary,” he added.

By combining the two, BSV can develop a new security model for the internet and add functionality to existing apps and services without needing multiple protocols.

“If there’s just one protocol that was used for payments and all the other stuff, it just simplifies the whole stack, and simplification means efficiency,” Wuckert noted.

Besides this synergy, Wuckert highlighted the need to fortify the ecosystem by developing its talent pool and supporting startups, which his team is doing in South Florida.

Watch: Dr. Craig Wright’s keynote speech: A Better Internet with IPv6 and BSV Blockchain

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New to Bitcoin? Check out CoinGeek’s Bitcoin for Beginners section, the ultimate resource guide to learn more about Bitcoin—as originally envisioned by Satoshi Nakamoto—and blockchain.


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Holograph New Protocol Bridges the Blockchain Gap

With rising interest in web3 and NFTs over the past few years, more creatives and companies are taking a swing at the endless endeavors that web3 and NFTs offer. A significant issue and pain point is how creators and companies are forced to choose one blockchain, and users have to go through the hassle of bridging and swapping tokens to participate in these projects. Bridging NFTs across different blockchains poses many problems for users, with the possibility of not knowing if the bridged NFT was the original, trying to find a trustworthy bridge, or having multiple copies of the token across different platforms. It also isn’t guaranteed that the internal NFT metadata stays with the digital asset, which means users could lose the token’s data stripping its value.

Holograph is an innovative way users can mint, create, and release NFTs natively across multiple blockchains. Backed by renowned creatives across music, fashion, and art like Pharrell, Diplo, Daniel Arsham, and Jen Stark to name a few, the protocol offers creators and brands more freedom to release multichain projects, instead of committing to one single blockchain. Nike, for example, runs its Swoosh NFT project on the Polygon blockchain, but its NFT partnership with RTFKT runs on Ethereum. As one company that has to run multiple projects on different blockchains, this can make it difficult for fans who have to commit to a number of platforms. Holograph eliminates the complication of projects using only one blockchain by introducing truly native multichain digital asset infrastructure integrated into the web3 ecosystem. The protocol allows digital assets created within Holograph to be minted natively and simultaneously across multiple blockchains, and they can be seamlessly bridged across different blockchains all in one interface. This gives creators and companies the resources to craft digital assets that are faster, cheaper, and more accessible.

Holograph brings a more streamlined solution to multichain NFTs without losing valuable data. With patented technology (Holographing), the protocol has an innovative contract deployer that gives non-fungible and fungible tokens the ability to connect through Ethereum Virtual Machine compatible blockchains while keeping the digital asset’s data intact, including important authenticators like the smart contract address and token ID. “There is no longer any reason to limit your business to just one blockchain network, said Jeff Gluck, CEO & Co-Founder. “Holograph unlocks maximum trading, audience, and liquidity across blockchains.For anyone releasing digital collectibles and other token projects, this is the way forward.”

Holograph is live and currently on Ethereum, Polygon, and Avalanche with more blockchains on the way. Holograph already has over 2,500 NFT collections deployed in the first two weeks since launch. For more information and the latest news about the platform follow Holograph on Twitter (@holographxyz), and to get started creating on Holograph, go to holograph.xyz.




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NITI Aayog Calls Out Indian Techies to Try Newly Launched Blockchain Module: Details

NITI Aayog, India’s government-backed think tank, has launched a blockchain module to help local developers explore the potential of the sector with experimental use-cases, trials, and errors. Indian blockchain platform 5ire along with career mentorship platform Network Capital — have been partnered by NITI Aayog as co-participants in organising this initiative. The move backs Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman’s repeated statement that while India is sceptical towards cryptocurrencies, the nation is excited to explore its underlaying blockchain tech to its potential.

The NITI Aayog, under its Atal Innovation Mission (AIM), is aiming to promote the culture of entrepreneurship amongst young Indians. Its Atal Tinkering Labs (ATL) reportedly works with over 10,000 schools across India to give students the exposure to tech trends at early ages.

The blockchain technology provides the backbone infrastructure to Web3 and many of its other elements like cryptocurrency, NFTs, and the metaverse.

Indian web creators are hence inquisitive about finding out, to what extent can blockchain be utilised in the next upcoming phase of the Internet. NITI Aayog has called out to all such developers who can benefit from this blockchain initiative.

“Blockchain is playing a crucial role in revolutionising business and redefining economies. It has the potential to unlock tremendous opportunities for the youth and this module will introduce students as young as grade six to the concepts of blockchain, which will help them in solving societal issues through its application. The module covers the basic aspects of blockchain and goes on to its case-based application in various industries,” Mission Director Chintan Vaishnav said in a statement from NITI Aayog.

India is projected to produce over five million software engineers this year. In 2022, Coinbase chief Brian Armstrong had especially made a trip to India to pitch jobs in the sector to engineers studying in top colleges and universities here.

In a bid to safeguard people dabbling in the sector, companies like CoinDCX have decided to launch awareness initiatives around the nation, to educate people around crypto and blockchain.

Proper information around these advanced technologies is the need of the hour at the time, given that blockchain itself has begun garnering attention from India’s startup as well as government communities.

The Maharashtra government, for instance, teamed-up with the Algorand blockchain in December last year, to store health data permanently and unchangeably as NFTs.

In October last year, the Firozabad police launched a new complaint forum, built on the Polygon blockchain to ensure consistency in details around the cases that would come under investigation. All details filed on the blockchain network cannot be altered or edited.

“It is only usual that a nascent technology introduces new sets of vocabulary. Blockchain is not only a complex innovation but also different from what internet users are used to. This makes the technology a bit challenging to grasp. However, it is not rocket science. As more users develop an interest in blockchain, the technology gradually unravels itself,” said NITI Aayog in a statement.


Cryptocurrency is an unregulated digital currency, not a legal tender and subject to market risks. The information provided in the article is not intended to be and does not constitute financial advice, trading advice or any other advice or recommendation of any sort offered or endorsed by NDTV. NDTV shall not be responsible for any loss arising from any investment based on any perceived recommendation, forecast or any other information contained in the article. 

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