Despite The Crypto Crash, Bitcoin Still Has a Bright Future

You might call it the cable that changed history. In the mid-19th century there were various attempts to lay cables across the Atlantic Ocean between Britain (Ireland) and the US.

It took several failures, numerous bankruptcies and over ten years before they got it right. But eventually they did and on July 27 1866 Queen Victoria broadcast a message to US President Johnson…

Money is a form of communication technology

Here’s what the first transatlantic cable said:

Osborne, July 27, 1866 

To the President of the United States, Washington 

The Queen congratulates the President on the successful completion of an undertaking which she hopes may serve as an additional bond of Union between the United States and England.

Johnson replied:

Executive Mansion Washington, July 30, 1866 

To Her Majesty the Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland 

The President of the United States acknowledges with profound gratification the receipt of Her Majesty’s despatch and cordially reciprocates the hope that the cable which now unites the Eastern and Western hemispheres may serve to strengthen and perpetuate peace and amity between the governments of England and the Republic of the United States.

To send a message by ship could take ten days or more; now it was a matter of minutes. So somebody came up with the slogan “two weeks to two minutes”.

Transmission speeds improved rapidly; Morse code became words and it was soon possible to send multiple messages at once. By the end of the 19th century, Britain, France, Germany and the US were all linked by cable.

Personal, commercial and political relations were altered for all time.  Back then gold was money, of course, as were paper notes representing gold. You couldn’t send gold down the cable, however, nor paper. But you could send a promise.

And, within a fortnight of Queen Victoria’s message, that’s what two parties who trusted each other did. An exchange rate between the dollar and the pound was agreed and then published in the New York Times on 10 August. That is why, to this day, GBP/USD exchange rate is known as “cable”.

My purpose with this story is to illustrate a point: what is money, but a form of communication?

Look at a £20 note (if you still use them) and you will see the words “I promise to pay the bearer”.  Of course, promises disappear; gold doesn’t. The two are quite different forms of money: one is belief, the other is real.

Nevertheless, since the dawn of civilisation, we have been using promissory money. In Ancient Mesopotamia, people used mud tokens, representing sheep or barley, baked inside clay balls to log debts owed. They found it more efficient to draw pictures of the tokens in the mud for the same purpose, which is how the first system of writing developed.

In Ancient China, people recorded their debts on bits of leather; after the invention of printing they started using paper. Today the promises are recorded and exchanged between trusted third parties on computers.

Millions, probably billions, of promises are sent across the internet every second, transferring as quick as words, probably quicker. Not only does (promissory) money evolve with communication technology, it is often the spur, the impetus for communication technology to evolve.

Now bitcoin, with its blockchain, obviates the need for trusted third parties altogether – that is one of many reasons it is so special. Here is a money communication network backed instead by mathematical proof and the most powerful and resilient computer network ever known to man: the trusted third party is the blockchain.

Why would you not want to own a share of such a breakthrough technology? That, effectively, is what owning some bitcoin is – owning shares in a new monetary technology. And it’s not like they are doing any roll backs.

Money has evolved like language

I want to explore this idea of money as communication further.  It’s often said (by me at least) when considering politicians: look at what they do, not at what they say. What we do says more about us than what we say – what we do with our money says even more.

And what we do with our money communicates value, not just between buyer and seller, but across the economy. What is the price of this thing? What is its value? The answer is constantly being sent and received, digested and acted upon; and so does the economy constantly, incrementally evolve and develop with each new signal: the how, why and when, of what needs producing and where.

Money, then, is like a language, constantly evolving and changing. Nobody is really in charge – it wasn’t really planned, it has just constantly evolved. The architects of fiat money did not plan what we have today, they just used it to get out of a tight fiscal spot – extenuating circumstances at the time.

Similarly, nobody planned the language we speak today. Language is hard to plan and regulate, try as many have over the years – and still do. The English we speak today is a long way from the English of Chaucer, Shakespeare or Dickens. There are probably fewer words; certainly fewer tenses. Grammar is simpler. Yet English is far more widely spoken. The network has grown.

Mandarin may have three or four times more native speakers, but English is more widely spoken. There may well come a time when everybody in the world speaks it. It is the dominant linguistic network.

Meanwhile, other languages fade away. Cornish has gone. Few now speak Welsh or Gaelic. The local dialects of France and Italy are disappearing. Similarly, there are no doubt a plethora of African, Asian and American languages that are on the way out, if they haven’t already gone.

The question to ask is this: how scalable is the language? English has the potential to become the default language of the world. Despite having more native speakers, that’s unlikely to be the case with Mandarin. It’s certainly not going to happen to Gaelic, Neapolitan or Swahili.

How many different monies have there been in history? Shells, whale teeth, metals, paper, cigarettes, mackerel packs, cognac, Zimbabwe dollars, reichsmarks, denarii, farthings, shillings. Most have died. Only gold goes on.

But, as with transatlantic cables, you can’t send gold over the internet. Only golden promises between trusted parties.

Bitcoin is money for the internet

The US dollar is the global reserve currency. You can send that over the internet. But it’s hard for people who aren’t American to get US dollar bank accounts. Foreign exchange fees are expensive. Money transfers can take several days sometimes.

It’s a national currency that is used internationally. A country – and several do – could use it as their national currency, but they would be importing US monetary policy too, and so subjecting themselves to US political whims. Which is why most countries with their own political agenda issue their own currencies.

Thus, though “international”, as a national currency, the US dollar is limited by its national borders and its politics. The same goes for any national currency.

But language is not limited by national borders – or at least English isn’t. If only there was an apolitical, borderless currency for the borderless economy that is the internet, then that really would be scalable in a way that no national currency is. A network that has evolved organically, and is constantly growing.

You don’t need a bank account to start using bitcoin. You only need a phone with an internet connection. We are not far off that point when everyone who wants one has one. My argument is this: if money is language, then bitcoin is English. It has a potential to scale that no other currency has.

Just as an aside on how quickly money evolves – it’s worth remembering that as recently as the 19th century, the pound had greater global recognition than the dollar. In emulation of Jules Verne’s Phileas Fogg, who went Around The World in 80 Days, in 1889-1890 American journalist Nellie Bly went on a trip around the world in 72 days.

She took pounds, but she also brought some dollars, “as a test to see if American money was known outside of America”. She went east from New York, and did not see American money until Colombo, Sri Lanka, where $20 gold pieces were used as jewellery. They accepted her dollars – but only at a 60% discount.

It’s a bit of an ask – though possible – to get people to accept bitcoin in the physical world. But that is not what it is for. It is money for the internet.

Dominic Frisby author headshot

Source: Despite the crypto crash, bitcoin still has a bright future | MoneyWeek

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Americans Lost $1 Billion To Romance Scammers Last Year, FBI Says

About 24,000 Americans lost a reported $1 billion to romance scammers during 2021, the FBI estimated Thursday, marking what the Federal Trade Commission said was the most lucrative year for romance scammers on record—with many scam artists luring their victims into sending cryptocurrency.

The FTC—which only counts scams reported to its Consumer Sentinel Network, a database for scams and crimes like identity theft—said Thursday losses from romance scams rose to $547 million in 2021, up from $307 million in 2020 and $202 million in 2019.

About 25% of losses from scams reported to the FTC last year were paid in cryptocurrency, with the median individual cryptocurrency loss at $9,770, and the agency said a growing number of scammers have tricked victims with fake cryptocurrency investment advice.

Though reports of romance scams increased for every age group, the increase was greatest for people ages 18 to 29, though people in that group reported a median loss of only $750, compared to $9,000 among people age 70 and up, the group for whom losses were greatest.

Though the number of cryptocurrency-related scams grew almost fivefold from 2020 to 2021, gift or reload cards were the most frequent method of payment, used in about 28% of last year’s scams, compared to cryptocurrency at 18%, payment apps or services at 14%, bank transfers or payments at 13% and wire transfers at 12%, according to the FTC.

Many people targeted by romance scammers are initially contacted on dating apps, but more than a third of last year’s victims told the FTC they were first contacted on Facebook or Instagram.

The precipitous increase in online romance scams has coincided with a pandemic-driven increase in social isolation and a reliance on technology to meet social needs. Tinder users sent 19% more messages per day in February 2021 compared to February 2020, and conversation length grew 32% over pre-pandemic levels, the company said.

Romance scammers create fake online profiles using photos swiped from the web, often creating identities with built-in excuses for not being available to meet in person, such as serving in the military overseas. Once a scammer has gained the trust of their victim, they may request money to help resolve a supposed crisis, such as paying for medical treatment for a sick child or resolving “processing fees” to release funds that would otherwise be in jeopardy.

To guard against these scams, the FBI said anyone looking to start a romantic relationship online should “go slowly and ask lots of questions,” consider researching the other person’s photos to see if they have been used elsewhere and avoid sending money, cryptocurrency or gift cards before meeting in-person.“We need to be wary about casting certain groups as the ‘natural’ victims of scams,” Sarah Rutherford, senior director of portfolio marketing, global, fraud and compliance at analytics firm FICO, told Forbes.

“The idea of the lonely, old woman struggling to use a computer to connect with the world can make others feel it would never happen to them and lower their defenses.”

In 2012, pioneering particle physicist Paul Frampton was arrested in Buenos Aires after checking a suitcase with 2 kilograms of cocaine concealed in the lining. Frampton, who was convicted of drug smuggling in Argentina and sentenced to four years and eight months in prison, said he was lured into becoming a drug mule by a romance scammer posing as a professional swimwear model.

Though the FBI on Thursday published an approximate figure of $1 billion in reported losses to romance scammers in 2021, a precise figure will not be available until the Internet Crime Complaint Center’s annual report is finalized. Additionally, many victims of romance scams likely did not report their losses, the FBI said.

Follow me on LinkedIn. Send me a secure tip.

I cover breaking news for Forbes. Previously, I was editor for The Cordova Times newspaper in Cordova, Alaska. In 2018, I obtained a Master of Journalism degree at the University of Melbourne. From 2015-2017, I headed Chess For The Gambia, a youth development project.

Source: Americans Lost $1 Billion To Romance Scammers Last Year, FBI Says

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Critics:

Internet fraud is a type of cybercrime fraud or deception which makes use of the Internet and could involve hiding of information or providing incorrect information for the purpose of tricking victims out of money, property, and inheritance. Internet fraud is not considered a single, distinctive crime but covers a range of illegal and illicit actions that are committed in cyberspace.

It is, however, differentiated from theft since, in this case, the victim voluntarily and knowingly provides the information, money or property to the perpetrator. It is also distinguished by the way it involves temporally and spatially separated offenders.

According to the FBI‘s 2017 Internet Crime Report, the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) received about 300,000 complaints. Victims lost over $1.4 billion in online fraud in 2017. According to a study conducted by the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) and McAfee, cybercrime costs the global economy as much as $600 billion, which translates into 0.8% of total global GDP.

Online fraud appears in many forms. It ranges from email spam to online scams. Internet fraud can occur even if partly based on the use of Internet services and is mostly or completely based on the use of the Internet.

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An Omicron Surges Spark Chain Reactions That Strain US Hospitals Everywhere

Registered nurse Nvard Termendzhyan, center, sets up a table for Linda Calderon, right, as her twin sister Natalie Balli, far left, rests in her bed in a Covid-19 unit at Providence Holy Cross Medical Center in Los Angeles, California, on December 13. The sisters were admitted to the hospital on the same day, a few days after their Thanksgiving gathering.Jae C. Hong/AP 

America’s hospitals and their workforces have reached and exceeded their breaking points in the last two years — and another surge of Covid-19 is already underway.

Earlier this month, with a new wave of Covid-19 cases looking likely after the omicron variant was identified, Rhode Island emergency doctors wrote their state leaders to warn that any new surge of patients would “lead to collapse of the state health care system.” In Kansas, patients in rural hospitals have been stuck in the ER for days while they wait for a transfer to a larger hospital with the capacity and resources to care for them.

With the fast-spreading omicron variant now upon us, some of the rhetoric around the pandemic has changed. Government officials, starting with President Joe Biden, are pointedly differentiating between the risks for vaccinated and unvaccinated people. This could create the perception that some places face more of a risk than others: Perhaps omicron will threaten rural communities (where vaccination rates are lowest) and their health systems, but perhaps more vaccinated cities and their hospitals will be better off.

Such thinking would be misguided. As convoluted and sometimes siloed as the US health system may seem at times, it is still a system. Patients transfer between facilities based on capacity or clinical need. If rural hospitals are shipping seriously ill patients to their urban neighbors, which already tend to run close to capacity even in normal times, a rural Covid-19 crisis could quickly become a crisis for everybody.

One hospital being overwhelmed isn’t a one-hospital problem, it’s an every-hospital problem. Even if your community is not awash with Covid-19 or if most people are vaccinated, a major outbreak in your broader region, plus all the other patients hospitals are treating in normal times, could easily fill your hospital, too. That makes it harder for the health system to treat you if you come to the ER with heart attack symptoms or appendicitis or any acute medical emergency.

Already, because of existing staffing shortages, rural hospitals are finding it difficult to find room for their patients at larger hospital systems. With omicron spreading rapidly, increasing the number of patients seeking care while sidelining health workers who have to quarantine, systemic overload may not be far off.

“When you have a Covid patient who needs ICU care, those hospitals are turning away patients,” Carrie Saia, CEO of Holton Community Hospital, located in a town of 3,000 people about 90 minutes east of the Kansas City metropolitan area, told me earlier this month. “We’re sending our patients farther away. Not because they’re full, they’re just out of staff.”

At earlier points in the crisis, large hospitals would limit transfers from smaller facilities in order to preserve their capacity to treat the most seriously ill patients. As a new wave driven by the omicron variant takes off, that could happen again.

As Karen Joynt Maddox, a practicing cardiologist and associate professor of medicine at Washington University in St. Louis, told me in August: “During Covid surges, we were told to limit transfers only to patients who had needs that could not be met at their current hospital (i.e. decline transfers because the family requested it, but equal services available at both places) because that was the only way we could make sure that we did have the ability to accept patients that only we (or another major referral center) could handle.”

The feedback loop works in reverse as well. Recently, the HCA hospital in Conroe, Texas, about 40 miles north of Houston, was dealing with such a staffing shortage in its emergency department that the facility temporarily asked ambulances to bypass it because the ED couldn’t handle any more patients, according to a spokesperson. Suddenly, hospitals in the heart of Houston were seeing an unexpected surge of patients who needed emergency care, causing long wait times at their facilities.

America’s hospitals are all in this together. So what can we do quickly to relieve the burden for all of our hospitals and prevent unnecessary deaths?

How we can all help hospitals handle a surge in omicron patients

Last week, the Biden White House detailed a new plan for helping hospitals handle the coming surge of Covid-19 patients. They are deploying emergency medical personnel to six states: Michigan, Indiana, Wisconsin, Arizona, New Hampshire, and Vermont. They are also planning to deploy another 1,000 military doctors and nurses in January and February, as well as ordering FEMA to work with states to add hospital beds. The White House also said it had 100,000 ventilators in the federal stockpile that could be deployed as needed.

Those policies could certainly help to alleviate the pressure on hospitals in places facing particularly acute crises. But the truth is, they can only do so much. US hospitals cannot suddenly grow the staff and physical capacity to handle another enormous surge of Covid-19 patients.

Infected medical workers add to the strain on hospitals. Hospitals have seen a spike in nurses and doctors testing positive; by late December, the El Centro Regional Medical Center, about two hours east of San Diego near the US-Mexico border, was seeing 5 to 10 percent of its staff either infected or being tested for exposure at any given time, according to CEO Adolphe Edward. Other hospitals have told me they are also seeing a growing number of workers test positive, which requires them to stop working and isolate.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently revised its isolation protocols for health care workers who test positive for Covid-19, shortening the standard isolation period from 10 days to 7 (if accompanied by a negative test). But that still takes doctors and nurses out of commission for several days if they contract the virus. (On Monday, the CDC released new guidelines for the general public stating that those who test positive can stop isolating after five days if they do not have symptoms.)

“You can send all the ventilators you want,” Roberta Schwartz, executive vice president at Houston Methodist Hospital, told me. “I have no one to staff them.”

Nearly 99 percent of rural hospitals said in a survey released in November they were experiencing a staffing shortage; 96 percent of them said they were having the most difficulty finding nurses. According to a September study commissioned by the American Hospital Association, the average cost of labor expenses for each discharged patient has grown by 14 percent in 2021 — even as the number of full-time employees has dropped by 4 percent.

“The only things I can think of could not be accomplished in two weeks,” Peter Viccellio, associate chief medical officer at Stony Brook University Hospital in New York, said. “We have a severe staffing shortage everywhere, and it’s not going to go away. It existed before Covid, and Covid just exacerbated it.”

Some policy changes — smoothing schedules that better distribute surgeries (and therefore patient volume) throughout the day or week, earlier discharges or more weekend discharges — could help. “But this won’t happen without a mandate,” Viccellio said.

“We won’t prevent future catastrophes because of a very simple reason. It requires that we think of the future and plan for it,” he added. “You can see how that’s working out. We can’t frigging plan for one month from now.”

More money from the federal government could also allow hospitals to beef up their staffing, said Beth Feldpush, senior vice president of policy and advocacy at America’s Essential Hospitals, which represents critical access facilities. But all of these policies targeted directly to hospitals may only help at the margins. The American health system’s capacity is what it is — the time to act was long ago. Instead, the US health care system is behind many of its wealthy peers in the number of practicing medical staff in its hospitals.

So the quickest and surest action to prevent hospitals from being overwhelmed is actually to prevent people from needing to go to the hospital with Covid-19 in the first place, hospital leaders said. Get vaccinated — with three doses. Wear masks indoors in public places. Test before you see people who don’t live in your house.

Following the pandemic playbook can make a difference for hospitals bracing for another grim winter in this pandemic.

“The more we can help keep the public protected, the more we can keep our workers here,” Schwartz said, “and lessen the burden of this.”

Dylan Scott

I grew up in Ohio, lived in Las Vegas for a year and moved to Washington in 2011. I cover health care and other domestic policy. You’ll probably see me tweeting about Cleveland sports or the last movie I watched.

Source: An omicron Covid-19 surge anywhere can strain US hospitals everywhere

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Facebook Adds Photobucket and Google Calendar To Its Data Portability Options

Facebook has today announced that it has added two new destinations for when you want to move your data from the social network. In a blog post, the company said that users will be able to move their images to Photobucket and event listings to Google Calendar.

The TYI tool exists to get a copy of your data off Facebook, be that your photos and videos or notes and posts stored on the service. There’s already support for Google Docs, Google Photos, Blogger, WordPress, Koofr, Dropbox, and Backblaze, but the list has now grown to include Google Calendar and Photobucket.

Product Manager Hadi Michel said that the tool has been “completely rebuilt” to be “simpler and more intuitive,” giving people more clarity on what they can share to which platforms. In addition, users can now launch multiple transfers, with better fine-grain control on what they’re choosing to export in any one transfer.

This is yet another feature piled on to the Data Transfer Project, an open-source project developed by Google, Facebook and Microsoft. Facebook users can already send their photos to Google’s own image-storage service, as well as Dropbox, Blogger, Google Documents and WordPress.

This is, in part, a way to address the long-in-progress ACCESS Act, which would enable users to transfer their data to any competing platform. Facebook says that it calls on government to “make clearer rules about who is responsible for protecting that data as it is transferred to different services.

The addition of Photobucket means there’s a new destination for your photos and videos, but Goolge Calendar has been added specifically to support the transfer of events data for the first time. That way you can continue to track which events are happening and set notifications for them in Calendar without needing to manually enter them all first.

Facebook is also touting a “completely rebuilt experience,” which was implemented to make it easier to see the available destinations and specifically which types of data can be transferred to them. It’s also easier to retry transfers, start multiple transfers simultaneously to the same destination, and there’s new filters to make it easier to “precisely select” the data you want to transfer.

Matthew Humphries

By: Matthew Humphries

Source: https://uk.pcmag.com/

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In 2013 The Man Accidentally Threw His Hard Drive In The Trash That Had 7,500 Bitcoins

An inhabitant of the British city of Newport has approached the local authorities, with the aim of conducting an important search for a hard drive that he accidentally threw in 2013 in a municipal landfill, said device had bitcoins, whose current value is it would approximate 210 million pounds, that is, an average of 288 million dollars.

How did this tragic situation happen?

The 35-year-old computer engineer, James Howells, in 2013 carried out the cleaning of his home, later he realized that he had thrown his hard drive with 7,500 bitcoins in the trash instead of another that was empty.

After his previous application was rejected, Howells makes an offer of 25 percent, or $ 72 million , to the council in the event that he recovers his losses.

“I would like the opportunity to sit down with the decision makers and present an action plan to them,” Howells told South Wales Argus, indicating that he is supported by a hedge fund, prepared to provide funding for the initiative.

What would be the programmer’s strategy to recover his hard drive?

The computer scientist assures that in 2013 a garbage container obtained a serial number when it was filled, this before being transferred to a grave and buried. Also, a grid reference was required.

“So I could access the landfill log, identify the week I dumped the hard drive, identify the container’s serial number, and then the grid landmark,” the developer said, according to the source.

Despite eight years since the incident, Howells remains optimistic about recovering the information within the device. “The box could be rusty, but it is possible that the disk inside where the data is stored still works,” said the engineer.

It is worth mentioning that, with the passage of time, this possibility decreases, according to the programmer, who gave the suggestion that in case his search had a successful end, the funds would be transferred in the form of help to patients with coronavirus of his city.

However, the Newport City Council has indicated that digging, storing and treating all the waste could cost millions of pounds, and there is no solid guarantee that the hard drive will be found or will continue to serve.

Likewise, the institution emphasizes that, in the event of extraction, the activity is impossible due to the requirements of the current licenses and that carrying out this could lead to a serious and negative environmental impact of the place, the same reasons for which they do not guarantee assistance.

In case you are interested: “Reactivate without risking”, the new plan launched by CDMX

By: Entrepreneur en Español Entrepreneur Staff

.

BBC News

Subscribe to BBC News http://www.youtube.com/bbcnews If someone told you you just threw away over $6 million worth of bitcoins, well you wouldn’t be too happy. You can imagine how James Howells from Wales felt when he discovered that he had thrown away his hardrive containing over 7,000 bitcoins. The value of Bitcoins has reached an all time high so now Mr Howells is frantically searching his local tip in the hope of retrieving his fortune Subscribe http://www.youtube.com/bbcnews Check out our website: http://www.bbc.com/news Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/bbcworldnews Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/bbcworld Instagram: http://instagram.com/bbcnews

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