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US Department of Commerce Looking To Hire Crypto Guru

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US Department of Commerce Looking To Hire Crypto Guru

U.S. Department Of Commerce Looking To Hire Crypto Guru

The United States Department of Commerce is looking to hire a computer scientist specializing in blockchain and identity management.

According to a job listing from Aug. 9, the federal agency is seeking someone with at least one year of specialized experience in developing blockchain infrastructure and conducting research into blockchain technologies, crypto ledgers and crypto contracts.

Focus on identity management and crypto tokens

The Department of Commerce’s listing hints at the future hire’s duties and responsibilities in general terms, revealing only that they will be tasked with research and development into potentially disruptive technologies at the department’s Information Technology Laboratory.

It notes that the candidate’s role will include a focus on the cybersecurity capabilities and requirements necessary for the successful implementation of emerging technologies.

Yet in its outline of the experience required of candidates, the listing indicates that identity management in connection with blockchain will apparently be of particular importance for the role.

Applicants should have experience with:

“National and global identity management programs and identity tokens” and in “standards and national and international standards bodies developing identity management, blockchain and identity token interoperability standards.”

The appointment is for a short-term vacancy — not to exceed one year — at a salary of up to $166,500.

Federal agencies step up blockchain activity

The U.S. federal government is expected to raise its blockchain spending to $123.5 million by 2022 — an over 1,000% increase as compared with the $10.7 million it spent in 2017.

In June, the U.S. National Telecommunications and Information Administration — which forms part of the Department of Commerce — reached out for feedback on blockchain policy,  as officials forecast an increasing focus on the technology in coming years.

The Department of Commerce has been responding to developments in the blockchain sector since 2016.

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EU Working Against Corporatization of AI and Blockchain With A Large Investment

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EU Working Against Corporatization of AI and Blockchain With A Large Investment
EU Working Against Corporatization of AI and Blockchain With A Large Investment

The European Union‘s announcement of a new 110 million euro fund to support research on artificial intelligence and blockchain comes at a critical time for the AI industry, when issues at the intersection of privacy, security and AI are the focus of acute attention by the government, the tech industry, and the general public. 

Blockchain technology has the promise to radically transform the way society handles data as well as how AIs are trained and taught with this data. It has the potential to create a world in which control over and reward from data and AI is distributed more broadly across various stakeholders, including the people who generate the data. 

But there are still some difficult technical problems to be solved to manifest this potential, as well as a lot of large-scale software engineering. The question isn’t whether this funding program is timely and important, the question is whether it’s anywhere near enough. In this light, the potential for the funding to be increased up to 2 billion euros in 2021 is even more interesting news. 

The AI industry in the West is currently dominated by a relatively small number of large players centered in the United States, who have gained their positions by providing users with “free” or discounted services in exchange for the relatively unfettered use of their data. By using this data to train and teach AI systems, these companies have been able to create unprecedentedly effective advertising machines, with extraordinary capabilities of using the patterns mined from personal data to influence peoples’ decisions about purchasing, political elections or anything else. These large corporations also have numerous collaborative initiatives with governments, some of which are hush-hush and unconfirmed like Google’s connections with the NSA and some of which have been exposed such as Facebook’s permissive attitude toward Cambridge Analytica, a company working specifically for right-wing political organizations within the U.S. and Great Britain. 

The Chinese AI industry looks similar, with Tencent, Alibaba, and Baidu playing the roles of Facebook, Amazon, and Google. In China, the connections between tech companies and the central government are explicit and fully acknowledged. The Chinese government loves the blockchain technology, but it views it a bit differently than the libertarian cypherpunks who founded the Western crypto movement. China is crafting an unprecedented synergy between encryption technology, distributed ledgers, and centralized guidance and monitoring of information flows. 

The Chinese model has its pros and cons but is not the path preferred by the typical citizen of North America or Western Europe — particularly the latter, where GDPR has begun to revolutionize data sovereignty in the tech ecosystem. However, there is no disputing the added efficiencies that a centralized approach brings. It seems likely that no Western company, not even Google, has aggregated the amount and diversity of data that Tencent has, which also can crunch all this data for various purposes on its huge server farms. The company also cooperates openly with the Chinese government in using their data store and AI capabilities for purposes judged to be for the common good of the nation. If the West is to go in the direction of greater data sovereignty, enabling individuals to control their data and the way it’s used by AIs — and if it wants to maintain this respect for sovereignty without falling behind in the AI race — then it will need to aggressively develop tools that allow AI to learn from data without compromising data sovereignty

The good news is that such tools exist. Multiparty computation, homomorphic encryption, and other methods allow AI tools to analyze datasets — that exist fragmented across multiple locations, owned by multiple individuals or entities — in a trustless way, without anyone needing to reveal their data to other parties. There is no fundamental reason that, right now, each individual’s data doesn’t go into a cloud-based data wallet that is controlled by their private keys, wherein the individual specifically guides the use of their data for various purposes. There is no fundamental reason that, right now, AIs are not primarily guided in their activities by the people who use them — rather than by the companies that only make it appear as though the user is in control. The main reasons why things don’t work like this currently are related to the structure of the industry. But the industry’s structure evolved the way it has partly as a function of the constraints of the underlying technology. And a relevant key constraint is that in the present state of things, tools enabling AI to respect data sovereignty are often slow to run and difficult to use. 

Image result for eu crypto

If that doesn’t sound surprising at all, perhaps that’s because basic blockchain platforms like Ethereum and Bitcoin are also currently slow to run and difficult to use, relative to centralized alternatives. Right now, for instance, one can use multiparty computation and homomorphic encryption in AI agents running in blockchain-based networks, such as many of those offered by members of the Decentralized AI Alliance (an industry organization with more than 50 members). But these tools tend to slow things down tremendously, and are thus infrequently used in practice. 

The blockchain world is hard at work making its networks more efficient and introducing new technologies achieving efficiency for particular purposes via alternative architectures (e.g., there are new approaches that offer secure messaging with decentralized validation but no replicated ledger). But there remains much work to be done. And we have to remember the size of the competition. Just as for payments and value storage, Bitcoin, Ethereum and the others are competing in terms of AI with the global banking system and all its close government alliances — and among Amazon, Microsoft, Facebook, and Google, two companies are already worth more than a trillion dollars, with the other two not far behind. Funding decentralized technology projects via initial coin offerings have dried up, and initial exchange offerings are mostly relatively small potatoes with increasing regulatory complexity. 

Venture investors are growing fearful of blockchain companies, partly due to the length of time since the last cryptocurrency boom and partly to the failure in 2018–19 of numerous corporate blockchain projects that aimed to insert early-stage, poorly scaling technologies like Ethereum into business IT environments with serious performance requirements. AI is going to be the single most important technology on the planet during the coming years and decades. Who owns, controls and guides the AI — in the stages before it becomes more autonomous and owns, controls and guides itself — is, therefore, one of the most crucial issues facing the human species. And this large, complex, multidimensional matter, in significant part, boils down to various nitty-gritty technical issues regarding the interfacing of blockchain and AI. For all these reasons, the EU putting research and development funds into AI and blockchain development is very sensible and welcomed — but one wonders if the amounts involved should be even larger. May this program be the seed of many amazing and impactful things to come!

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GERMAN BANKS COULD STORE BITCOIN AND PROVIDE CRYPTO SERVICES SOON

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GERMAN BANKS COULD STORE BITCOIN AND PROVIDE CRYPTO SERVICES SOON
GERMANY WELCOMES CRYPTOS WITH OPEN ARMS

GERMANY WELCOMES CRYPTOS WITH OPEN ARMS

Currently, financial institutions operating in Germany are not allowed to directly sell cryptocurrencies to their clients. However, this could change in the future thanks to the planned law that implements the fourth EU Money Laundering Directive. The bill already passed Germany’s federal parliament (Bundestag) and now it awaits the consensus of the 16 states.

The final version of the bill goes beyond money laundering and what was previously planned, as it proposes to allow regulated banking institutions to provide cryptocurrency services without relying on third-party custodians and special subsidiaries, as it is currently required.

The German crypto community is pleased with the new version of the bill. Sven Hildebrandt, head of consulting firm Distributed Ledger Consulting (DLC), said:

Germany is well on its way to becoming a crypto-heaven. The German legislator is playing a pioneering role in the regulation of cryptocurrency.

If the states greenlight the proposal, German citizens will be able to hold Bitcoin, Ethereum, and other digital currencies directly in banks. Also, banks will provide online banking solutions for the whole range of assets, like stocks, bonds, and cryptocurrencies. This means that crypto holders will access their funds at the touch of a button.

Interestingly, the Association of German Banks (BdB) also welcomes the new regulation. It argues that lenders are experienced at storing client assets and risk management. The new law might prevent crypto-related money laundering and allow German investors to enter the crypto space via domestic funds.

GERMAN CONSUMER EXPERTS EXPRESS WORRIES

However, not everyone is happy with the proposed bill. The consumer center of Baden-Wuerttemberg is worried that banks will engage in more aggressive sales with the new products. Financial expert Niels Nauhauser said German that banks are now targeting new customers using all means, and they might fail at notifying clients on potential risks of investing in cryptos.

Financial commentator Fabio De Masi of the Left Party warned that while banks were looking to profit from cryptocurrencies, the financial consumer protection must not be undermined.

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South Korea Progresses Bill to Provide Legal Foundation for Cryptocurrencies

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South Korea Progresses Bill to Provide Legal Foundation for Cryptocurrencies

South Korea’s National Assembly is progressing a bill that will provide a legal basis for cryptocurrencies in the country. The bill categorizes virtual currencies as digital assets and intends to bring regulatory clarity and transparency to crypto markets in South Korea, English-language newspaper Korea JoongAng Daily reports on Nov. 27.

According to the report, the bill was passed by the National Assembly’s national policy committee and still needs to be approved by the judiciary committee. If approved, the law would come into force in 2020, the report notes.

All crypto businesses will have to register with the Financial Intelligence Unit

Under the bill, all crypto-related businesses in South Korea would be required to register with the Financial Services Commission’s (FSC) Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) and report to the authority.

In order to be approved as a crypto firm in the country, crypto businesses will have to obtain an Information Security Management System certificate from the state-run Korea Internet and Security Agency, the report notes.

New bill aims to prevent money laundering and protect investors

The FSC stated that the legislation will make crypto markets more transparent and legitimize investment in digital assets. The authority stressed that the bill will require crypto-related businesses to prevent illicit practices such as money laundering.

Additionally, crypto firms will have to adopt their own monitoring systems for financial transactions in compliance with standards by the Financial Action Task Force. Those who fail to establish their own oversight systems will be penalized, the report notes.

The new bill is not the first attempt by South Korean authorities to provide an Anti-Money Laundering (AML) framework. In early 2018, South Korean regulators banned anonymous trading on crypto exchanges in line with AML and identification efforts in the country. The FSC subsequently released a set of revised AML guidelines for virtual currencies in June 2018.

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