Blockchain Prediction Market Augur Elected as a ‘Breakthrough’ Finalist at Exponential Finance 2015

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Blockchain Prediction Market Augur Elected as a ‘Breakthrough’ Finalist at Exponential Finance 2015

Augur, a fully-decentralized, open-source prediction market platform based on blockchain technology, intended to revolutionize forecasting, decision-making and the manner in which information consensus is collected and aggregated, has been selected as one of the five finalists in the “Breakthrough” category at the XCS Challenge at Exponential Finance 2015.

The Singularity University and CNBC hosted the Exponential Finance 2015 conference (New York, 2-3 June), which examines how rapidly accelerating technologies such as artificial intelligence, quantum computing, crowdfunding, digital currencies, and robotics are rapidly disrupting businesses throughout the financial industry.

The Singularity University, based at Moffett Federal Airfield in California and sponsored by high-profile high-tech firms including Google, is an educational center dedicated to world-changing applications of disruptive, exponentially accelerating technologies.

Augur, a fully-decentralized, open-source prediction market platform based on blockchain technology and Ethereum, intended to revolutionize forecasting, decision making, and the manner in which information consensus is collected and aggregated, has been selected as one of the five finalists in the “Breakthrough” category at the XCS Challenge at Exponential Finance 2015.

“Singularity U traditionally highlights the most innovative and cutting edge technology and we feel Augur definitely deserves to be here,” said Augur’s Marketing Director, Tony Sakich, to CoinTelegraph. “Prediction Markets have the potential to create more accurate forecasts in so many fields that the applications could go on for a long time. The most exciting immediate application is for political polling as Augur would enable the largest consensus of models possible.”

“Harnessing the blockchain, Augur has created the first online platform for a global market of predictions,” states the Exponential Finance website. “Anybody can create a market for an event, and anyone can wager whether that event will occur or not.”

Prediction markets harness the “wisdom of the crowds” to create powerful and uncensorable forecasting engines. “This is the future of forecasting,” says the Exponential Finance announcement.

Prediction markets are speculative markets created for the purpose of making predictions. The current market price for a prediction – for example the election of a particular candidate – can be interpreted as an aggregate, crowdsourced estimate of the probability of the prediction. For example, if a prediction market security rewards a dollar if a particular candidate is elected, those who think the candidate had a 70 percent chance of being elected should be willing to pay up to 70 cents for the security.

Evidence suggests that such financial incentives make prediction markets more effective than other forecasting strategies. The Iowa Electronic Markets typically predicts elections within one percent, more accurate than polls or expert opinions. Since 1988 it has correctly predicted the outcome of every U.S. presidential election. The Foresight Exchange, one of the oldest active prediction markets, is a public, play-money market allowing individuals to sign up for free and predict the future.

Prediction markets had a moment of fame in 2003, when the Policy Analysis Market (PAM), a proposed futures exchange developed by the United States’ Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), was canceled after a wave of accusations of incentivizing terrorism, which resulted in the resignation of John Poindexter, head of the DARPA unit responsible for developing the project.

“The idea of a federal betting parlor on atrocities and terrorism is ridiculous, and it’s grotesque,” said Sen. Ron Wyden.

The PAM was inspired by the work of George Mason University economist Robin Hanson, a leading researcher in the field, co-creator of the Foresight Exchange, and author of a seminal paper on “Idea Futures,” who is now one of the Augur advisors. Hanson explains his ideas on prediction markets and Augur in a short video posted on the Augur website.

According to Hanson, real money markets such as the Iowa Electronic Markets – and Wall Street – predict election outcomes better than opinion polls. Referring to previous regulatory obstacles encountered by prediction markets such as PAM, Hanson notes that all of our familiar financial instruments: stocks, insurance, commodity futures, options were once forbidden by anti-gambling laws.

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ASIC Developer Bitmine AG Goes Bankrupt, Faces Lawsuits

Swiss ASIC miner developer Bitmine AG was officially declared bankrupt by the local court of Bellinzona, Switzerland, in May 2015. All accounts, assets and company documents have been handed over to the Swiss justice ministry and are under investigation.

In an open letter released on the official website of Bitmine AG, the company’s management claimed that Bitmine AG had tried to restructure its products and services by seeking new investments. It failed, however, to raise enough funding to continue its production of ASIC miners which led to the company’s bankruptcy.

Bitmine AG initially engaged in a contract with Innosilicon, a Chinese chip manufacturer to develop their 28nm ASIC. The company provided the manufacturer with explicit instructions, process of creating the mask, wafers and IC packaging concurrent to the one-year exclusivity agreement on the chip. However, Bitmine AG said it discovered that Innosilicon had violated the contract and sold the A1 chips itself.

Moreover, the shipment of the A1 chips was delayed for a few months, and the majority of the chips were defective.

“Innosilicon repeatedly delivered us broken chips or ‘junk grade’ ones as part of the purchased (and paid for) lots, forcing us to place ever bigger and bigger orders in order to fulfill our customers’ orders and eventually draining out most of the company’s money,” Bitmine said. “Out of all the ordered chips, a huge part of them were simply not working and could only be thrown away in the garbage bin.”

Bitmine also stated that the rapid increase of mining difficulty has been one of the core reasons why more than half of the customers canceled the orders.

“If bitcoin was still valued at well over $1,000 like it was in the beginning of 2014, nobody would have tried to cancel his orders and we would all be rich,” Bitmine AG said. “Unfortunately, the BTC value collapsed constantly since Mt.Gox’s bust, and mining difficulty exploded to values that nobody was able to predict at the time we were selling our products.”

Lawsuits Filed Against Bitmine AG

Regardless of the attempts of Bitmine AG to explain the company’s status to their furious customers, the ASIC miner developer began to face multiple lawsuits claiming defrauding since April, 2015.

Since its presale of a new product called CoinCraft Series 28nm, customers of Bitmine AG did not receive a single mining rig for at least 2-3 months. The refund requests were ignored by the company while Bitmine AG continued to launch new products.

Currently, the company is charged with multiple lawsuits and will face its customers in court this month.

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BitPay Launches Open Source, Multisig Wallet Copay

After a year of beta testing, the first version of BitPay’s multi-signature wallet Copay was released on June 3.

Copay is a multi-signature wallet built on BitPay’s Bitcore, an open-source platform for bitcoin- and blockchain-based applications. Copay multi-sig wallet is a shared bitcoin wallet, in which each owner holds a unique private key and the ability to push out payments or withdrawals. A transaction initiated in a Copay multi-sig wallet requires the approval of multiple people – efficient for businesses and privacy-conscious users.

“With Copay, a small company can, for example, manage their bitcoin holdings by requiring 3 of 5 officers to sign transactions that spend funds,” BitPay Chairman Tony Gallippi explained. “A household can use a 2-of-3 wallet to manage family funds (with one signer on a device tucked away in a secure, offline location in case someone accidentally loses their online wallet). A parent can use a 2-of-3 wallet with their child to moderate the child’s spending habits and ensure they don’t accidentally lose bitcoins to a virus. There are many more possibilities.”

The Copay multi-signature wallet provides a convenient flow for sending funds from shared wallets which small or co-owned business could greatly benefit from. For example, a small online business on e-commerce platforms such as E-Bay or Amazon could adopt the Copay wallet to combine the budget of the business into one shared wallet and then allocate the expenses through approvals from different departments of the company.

Furthermore, the Copay multi-signature wallet brings the security of bitcoin wallet into a whole new level. Even if a bitcoin wallet service provider or exchange were ever compromised, the private keys would not be, so the possessed bitcoin would not be affected.

Copay wallet is also the first bitcoin wallet to support the bitcoin testnet on both iOS and Windows Phones. This feature allows developers to create / test new bitcoin applications across different platforms with ease. This may also pave the way for additional blockchains to be added to the Copay wallet, including altcoins or other blockchains built on top of the bitcoin protocol such as Counterparty and ChainDB, another BitPay project.

Security and Open Source

“We’re serious about security and privacy. Not only is the Copay app open source, the server is too,” BitPay’s development team announced on BitPay’s official blog.

The development of Copay began in 2014, following research of Gallippi which stated that not a single account from the world’s top 100 richest bitcoin accounts was secured with multi-sig technology. With a vision to ease the process of securing wallets with multi-sig technology and to increase the number of multi-signature wallets globally, BitPay created Copay on bitcore on July 9, 2014.

“I’d like to see 10 percent of bitcoin in existence stored in multi-signature wallets,” Gallippi said.

Within a few days after its launch, over 1000 BTC has been stored on Copay already and the open source code on GitHub is being contributed by hundreds of bitcoin developers worldwide, offering improvements in the code   s and new features that could increase the east of use of the Copay wallet.

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Bitcoin Gets Fit Through Social Fitness App Gymnut

Gymnut, the first peer-to-peer app connecting people and trainers, is now accepting bitcoin for its in-app store. Gymcoins, the prepaid store tokens, will allow users to pay for specialized workouts and more through the app. Gymnut’s founders are scientists pursuing their PhDs who realized that the best way to counter the rise of chronic disease was through focus on proactive health and tangibles like exercise, nutrition and lifestyle combined with technology that allows connection for personal training. The underlying principles of personal training encompass goal-setting, motivation, personalized workouts, nutrition plans, accountability and tracking to drive behavioral change.

Current personal training models are badly broken. Similar to the analogy of outdated banking software stifling commercial models, large gyms have a monopoly over personal training, which take large cuts from trainers and make client retention difficult because of the high premiums they are forced to charge. The rise in online training and peer-to-peer commerce has offered trainers the freedom to build a career independent of centralized gyms or organizations while leveraging social media.

Gymnut is a social fitness app on a mission to redefine training by connecting fitness enthusiasts with a community of trainers and fellow gym nuts dedicated to improving health and fitness. Gymnut empowers trainers to build and monetize their followings by offering workouts and training plans through an iTunes likeworkout store, which lets users find exactly what they are looking for from curated workouts personalized for different goals, for prices as low as $0.99.

Gymnut has integrated BitPay’s API on their app to allow customers to top up their account with bitcoin.

Gymnut is also a premium sponsor of the #ProofOfWorkout 30-day challenge, encouraging participants to share their stats for a chance to win store credits.


The #ProofOfWorkout 30-Day Challenge has expanded to over 90 participants with each person sharing their progress on social media. Organizer, Emily Vaughn, expressed her excitement over participant engagement stating, “We hoped for 50 participants and expected much less. To have just under 100 people getting fit with bitcoin is an inspiring turnout, so we’ve been brainstorming on how to create more value for these challengers and keep them motivated.”

What keeps everyone so engaged? The answer lies in how they stay connected. #ProofOfWorkout encourages participants to use social media to set a unique goal and share progress for that goal with a worldwide community. The proof of work comes from making progress known to the community of challengers by sharing workout statistics and action shots. #ProofOfWorkout and its sponsors, like Gymnut, incentive challengers with bitcoin-funded Gyft cards and redeemable prizes.

Being a social fitness app, Gymnut captures the core principles behind #proofofworkout – that by sharing progress, motivating, and keeping each other accountable, participants have better success at establishing healthy habits.

With the #ProofOfWorkout Challenge coming to an end June 9th, this week is closing out the challenge with “Share Your Stats!” Three challengers can win $25 towards the Gymnut store by sharing screenshots of their fitness app after a hard workout. The final prize of a $100 Gyft card to Nike remains for the five most active participants.

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