In the Verse 2: Curiosity, Face-Swapping, and the Plantoid Invasion




Blockchain-based lifeforms


To Tether or Not to Tether



Harley-Davidson Goes Future

Niantic + Escher 

Curiosity’s Journey



1/ There is a self-propagating art project of plant-like machine-sculptures that replicate via a crypto-economic incentivization scheme involving cryptocurrencies and the artists that create them: Plantoids. The project was created by Primavera De Fillipi, a Faculty Associate at the Berkman-Klein Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University who has been researching governance in distributed systems and legal implications of blockchain and smart contracts. The purpose for the project is not only to create a self-propagating machine organism art project but also to act as a physical manifestation of blockchain technology at work. (Forbes)

2/ A Net Neutrality protest was organized through an Ethereum Đapp (decentralized application) named CryptoTask. While the freelancing market is largely dominated by the likes of Fiverr, a peer-to-peer alternative that utilizes cryptocurrencies may appeal to a growing community. A crypto project as the instrument for setting up a protest against Net Neutrality repeal is about as good of an example of the underlying ideologies at play as anything else. (Youtube, CNBC)

3/ The CFTC subpoenaed Bitfinex and Tether, a cryptocurrency exchange and USD-pegged cryptocurrency custodian respectively, on Dec. 6th. The Tether debate has been going on for some time, with many commentators in the space citing lack of transparency on the part of Tether Limited to prove that they back the Tether supply with actual USD. Other concerns include the auditor, Friedman LLP, cutting ties with Tether. Some have posited the idea that the printing of USDT has manipulated the market price of Bitcoin. If Bitfinex and Tether dissolved, the effects on the cryptocurrency markets are projected to be severe. (CNBC / Wired)

4/ The Venezuelan “Petro” is set to be the first state-issued cryptocurrency. The whitepaper detailing the effort was released on Jan. 30th. The paper was light on the technical details but there is mention that the project would be conducted via the Ethereum blockchain. The exact methods by which the Petro maintains its connection to the oil assets is unknown. The plan also has an interesting mixture of rhetoric, such as “sovereign crypto asset” and “decentralized, more egalitarian, inclusive and transparent global economy.” How they bridge both of those worlds has yet to be seen. (Whitepaper / Trustnodes)



5/ The “Deepfakes” (portmanteau of “deep learning” and “fake”) are becoming an increasing concern as people question the technology’s implications. While much of the discourse around this practice of faceswapping has centered on fabricated celebrity porn, many have expressed worries that the tech could be used to completely eliminate the viability of video evidence. (Variety / BoingBoing)



6/ Harley Davidson has moved up the release of its electric motorcycle to 2019, or “within 18 months.” Now we wait (im)patiently for the Akira bikes. (Digital Trends)



7/ Pokemon GO developer Niantic has acquired AR company Escher Reality to extend its capabilities in building “persistent, cross platform, multi-user experiences.” Niantic is currently improving its wildly popular Pokemon GO, launching an updated Ingress, and working on Harry Potter: Wizards Unite. We can only ponder where the company will go after feeding off of childhood nostalgia to dominate the mixed-reality games market. (VRFocus)



8/ As of Jan. 31st, NASA’s Curiosity rover has roamed, documented, and selfied its way on the Red Planet for 2,000 days. Our own WALL-E has taken breathtaking pictures of another world and has taken all manner of tests on minerals, helping us further understand Mars. One can only look at those images and imagine it as another home for humanity, given we can succeed in the biggest expedition in the history of our species. No pressure. (The Atlantic)



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