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Bitcoin adoption could spike with 21 Inc.’s help

Bitcoin used to be a buzz word, but what is it really? How do you use it, where do you get it, and why do you want it? We have all these answers and more.

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Bitcoin

Bitcoin may soon be part of your daily life

Bitcoin used to be a daily buzz word; from why you needed it to how to use it, everyone was buzzing about the currency. Now, scuttlebutt surrounding the newest currency kid on the block is scarce at best, but it is still around, still relevant, and here’s why:

Bitcoin experienced a plummet from a high price of $1,242 in December 2013 to a mere $238, according to Stratechery. Now this may seem to make my point about Bitcoin being relevant invalid, but consider this: 21 Inc., a Bitcoin-focused startup, announced they had raised $116 million.

While they didn’t specifically state this was for furthering Bitcoin, Andreessen Horowitz and Matthew Pauker said, “Bitcoin is going to change the way that people and businesses and even machines interact with each other, but for Bitcoin to realize that vision we need mass adoption. It can’t just be for Silicon Valley.”

Wait, what’s Bitcoin?

Herein lies the problem: people do not understand what Bitcoin is, how it’s useful, and why it should interest them. If you’re in the “what the heck is Bitcoin” group, you’re not alone. Here’s what is it and how you can use it (and why it’s probably the next trendy thing).

Bitcoin is digital currency. When I say digital, I mean completely digital, operating free from banking institutions. Okay, not completely digital, as you can attain physical Bitcoins, but this does defeat the original premise behind an “all digital” currency and enthusiasts greatly prefer the digital variety.

So, Bitcoin is 98% digital. I liken Bitcoin to tokens that you used to get in gaming arcades, with one exception: Bitcoin currency can be broken down into fractions (called satoshis). Using the token example, you gave the machine $1, you got four tokens. With Bitcoin, those 4 “tokens” could be divided into multiple fractions, giving you more bang for your buck…or Bitcoin.

When you decide to spend a Bitcoin, the transaction is submitted to a global peer-to-peer network. Compare this to those old illegal music downloading sites, only this is legal. Then, the transaction is verified, entered into public record (also called blockchains). These blockchains have a record of every Bitcoin ever made, so they know who own each one, including fractionals, which helps prevent fraud. These p2p networks are not verifying for free though, they are rewarded with Bitcoins for their efforts, making the Bitcoin system self-supporting. Think of it like PayPal’s fees, only digital.

Don’t get confused, these will be common words soon

When tech gurus and Bitcoin enthusiasts talk about Bitcoin, you’ll hear words like “cryptographic keys” and “cryptocurrency.” These can be confusing for newbies, who aren’t even sure what Bitcoin does; let’s face it, it can be confusing even if you do know what Bitcoin does. This is a complicated way to describe how the information is transferred. Bitcoin uses public key encryption4 techniques for security.

Basically, when a new Bitcoin address is created, a cryptographic key pair is also created. This consists of a public key and private key. These keys are unique, long strings of letters and numbers; a bit like when you have the computer generate a secure password for your site, or email. This keeps Bitcoin secure, and unique to the address that created it.

If you’re ready to get your feet wet in the Bitcoin world, there’s a great primer that even a kiddo can understand. Just remember the one caveat of Bitcoin: the balance isn’t insured, as it isn’t held by any institution. If a hacker breaks into your computer, or your hard drive crashes, you could lose all your “money.”

Now you get it, so let’s circle back to 21 Inc.

For the more advanced Bitcoiners, let’s look at what 21 Inc. is really doing with the money they raised. To understand what they’re doing, you need to know a little about Bitcoin mining. Mining refers to the computer-intensive process of generating Bitcoins. Any computer can mine a Bitcoin with freeware, but it takes a great deal of space and time to complete the process, due to the complex algorithms.

Miners use computers to track and record pending Bitcoin transactions every ten minutes into a new block. Then, they must be verified. The first miner to solve the algorithm and verify the transaction, uploads the results to the Bitcoin network.

This upload, or algorithm answer, is also called a block. When the rest of the Bitcoin network confirms the solution, the block is added to the block chain. The miner who solved the algorithm is then paid 25 Bitcoins for their efforts. Now you can see why some Bitcoin enthusiasts love it: the thrill of the problem solving and reward.

Now, on to 21 Inc. They “unofficially” announced on Medium. 21 Inc. stated, after much hard work, they’ve “created an embeddable mining chip, which [they] call the BitShare.”

This BitShare chip “can be embedded into an internet-connected device as a standalone chip, or integrated into an existing chipset as a block of IP to generate a continuous stream of digital currency for use in a wide variety of applications.” To clarify this, BitShare, simplifies that long computer-intensive process and places it in a chip. This allows you to use your mobile devices as Bitcoin mining devices, along with a whole host of possibilities. This chip could simplify the mining process and allow more users to adopt the Bitcoin concept.

And finally, the Bitcoin crux and why 21 Inc. is so important

Thus, the Bitcoin crux: to be successful and really get off the ground, more users need to adopt the concept. However, the very users that need to adopt it, have passed it off as a fad, or of something of disinterest.

Given the chance to try Bitcoin though, these same users, may begin to understand and enjoy the experience. 21 Inc. is hoping to bridge the gap between the Bitcoin enthusiasts and the “what the heck is Bitcoin” group.

21 Inc. wants to be the AOL CD of Bitcoin by “giving every user a free trial of Bitcoin at near-zero marginal cost” and to onboard millions of users.

This may help bring the additional users needed to the Bitcoin game. It certainly worked for AOL; remember all those CDs hanging in WalMart, Best Buy, and the like. What do you think? Will more users help bring Bitcoin into the usability sphere, or will it require something more to get Bitcoin off the ground?

#BitcoinAdoption

Jennifer Walpole is a Senior Staff Writer at The American Genius and holds a Master's degree in English from the University of Oklahoma. She is a science fiction fanatic and enjoys writing way more than she should. She dreams of being a screenwriter and seeing her work on the big screen in Hollywood one day.

Tech News

Microsoft’s latest HUGE investment: Self-driving car technologies

(TECH NEWS) Microsoft invests in self-driving car technology by joining other investors in a combined equity investment of $2 billion.

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Cars driving on city highway, including more than one self-driving car in the future.

Microsoft has put its money into self-driving car technology. The tech giant has partnered with General Motors and Cruise, GM’s majority-owned driverless car startup, to “accelerate the
commercialization of self-driving vehicles.”

“Our mission to bring safer, better, and more affordable transportation to everyone isn’t just a tech race – it’s also a trust race,” said Cruise CEO Dan Ammann in a press release. “Microsoft, as the gold standard in the trustworthy democratization of technology, will be a force multiplier for us as we commercialize our fleet of self-driving, all-electric, shared vehicles.”

Along with Honda and other institutional investors, the companies are investing a combined $2 billion into the autonomous car company. This new funding round brings Cruise to a post-money valuation of $30 billion.

The long-term strategic partnership between the companies will be a collaborative one and beneficial for both. To roll out its fleet of self-driving vehicles, Cruise will leverage Microsoft’s cloud and edge computing platform, Azure.

In turn, as GM’s and Cruise’s preferred cloud provider, Microsoft will use the car company’s “industry expertise to enhance its customer-driven product innovation and serve transportation companies across the globe through continued investment in Azure.”

Besides helping bring the self-driving technology out to the market quicker, the companies will also work together on other digitization initiatives. For instance, they will collaborate on artificial intelligence and machine learning capabilities. And, explore opportunities to streamline operations and increase productivity.

“Advances in digital technology are redefining every aspect of our work and life, including how we move people and goods,” said Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella. “As Cruise and GM’s preferred
cloud, we will apply the power of Azure to help them scale and make autonomous transportation mainstream.”

Cruise first announced its self-driving car service a year ago, but when it will be deployed isn’t certain yet. With Microsoft as a partner, deploying those cars will help speed things up.

“Microsoft is a great addition to the team as we drive toward a future world of zero crashes, zero emissions, and zero congestion,” said GM Chairman and CEO Mary Barra. “Microsoft will help us accelerate the commercialization of Cruise’s all-electric, self-driving vehicles and help GM realize even more benefits from cloud computing as we launch 30 new electric vehicles globally by 2025 and create new businesses and services to drive growth.”

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Tech News

Wow! This synthetic cornea gave a legally blind man his vision back!

(TECH NEWS) Another instance of “technology is amazing:” this minimally invasive eye implant has opened new doors for sight restoration surgeries for the legally blind.

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Blurry city with a single glass piece held in the middle with a clear view.

After being the first patient to receive a cutting-edge cornea implant, a legally blind 78-year-old man can see again. Directly after his surgery, the patient was able to recognize his family members and read an eye chart. The KPro implant comes from the company CorNeat.

KPro is the first implant that can be directly integrated into the eye wall, replacing damaged or deformed corneas with no donor tissue. The clear layer that protects the front portion of the eye is called the corona. The corona is susceptible to degeneration or scarring, as well as a number of diseases such as keratopathy, keratoconus and pseudophakia bullous.

While artificial cornea implants already exist, the surgeries are complex and typically only used as a last resort when transplants or cornea ring implants don’t work. That is perhaps what makes the CorNeat transplants so remarkable – it’s a simple procedure that’s minimally invasive.

Additionally, KPro uses a biomimetic material that “stimulates cellular proliferation, leading to progressive tissue integration”. Not only can these implants give you your sight back instantly, but they also can help the natural tissue in your eyes to grow back and integrate. Now, THIS is cool stuff.

CorNeat said that ten more patients in Israel are approved for trials, as well as two in Canada. Six others are in the approval process in France, U.S., and the Netherlands. Professor Irit Bahar of CorNeat stated that he believes this project will ultimately impact millions of people’s lives. Only time will tell.

This advancement in biotech comes at a time where many Americans are uninsured and at a higher risk for health ailments due to the coronavirus pandemic and subsequent effects. At its best, CorNeat’s KPro offers some hope – while COVID has brought many industries to their knees, advancements in medical technology seem to persist.

If the results of the implants continue to stay as promising as they are now, who knows – maybe we’ll all be receiving cornea implants as a normal part of health upkeep in the not-so-distant future. I know I’ll be first in line.

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Tech News

The top 10 languages you can know as a programmer

(TECH NEWS) Considering a career as a developer or programmer? You’re not alone. Here’s top 10 programming languages to enhance or start your career.

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Two female programmers at a laptop working on a programming screen.

The COVID economy has thousands of Americans reconsidering their career paths – with so many jobs dissolving due to various reasons (i.e., automation, a decrease in full-time creative positions), it’s no wonder why scores of professionals are seeking to reskill ASAP.

If this sounds like you, look no further; have you ever considered the lucrative career of computer programming?

Programmers on average make a salary of $89,590 a year. And better yet, coding jobs might never become obsolete. The trick is to know exactly what you want to do – different coding languages best serve specific purposes. So, which one should you learn first?

Top ten languages for new developers:

  1. Python – Learn Python if you’re interested in data analysis, machine learning, scripting, web development and Internet of Things (it’s the future!). Python is also the easiest language to learn, so give it a go!
  2. JavaScript – JavaScript is for you if you want a career in making websites interactive.
  3. The Go Programming Language – You can learn to build simple, reliable, and efficient software.
  4. Java – Want to work on computer programs, games, apps and web applications? What about Internet of Things and robots? Learn Java to tap into these fields. Keep in mind, Java is considered difficult for novice programmers.
  5. C# – C# is great for websites, web applications, games, and apps – especially Windows apps. It’s also perfect for Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence.
  6. PHP – Want to get your hands dirty doing back-end website programming? PHP is the language for you.
  7. C++ – For programming apps, games and web browsers, C++ is the language you’ll need to learn. Though it’s notoriously tough to grasp, knowing this language could be the competitive edge you need to set you apart from the pool of programmers.
  8. C – C will prepare you for operating systems, compilers and databases.
  9. R – The world is always in need of those who conduct data and statistical analyses – check out R to dive in.
  10. Swift – For apps and software for Apple devices, check out Swift.

My advice? Figure out exactly it is you want to do in your new career as a programmer. Set your goal. Then, after you’re sure what direction you want to go in, see which programming language best suits your needs.

Get proficient at one language to start and become top-notch at it. Then, you can expand your rolodex to include multiple languages and grow your abilities as a programmer.

Good luck!

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