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Microsoft’s Daniel Buchner says open public blockchains are the most viable options to achieve decentralization



With Bitcoin breaking into the mainstream space, the latest WhatBitcoinDid interviewfeatured a discussion with Microsoft’s Daniel Buchner to identify the company’s outlook towards blockchain, open source, and its mass adoption.

Buchner detailed Microsoft’s vision to decentralize user identity and claimed that “open public blockchains” are the most viable options to achieve the same. He also stated that “decentralized money and decentralized identity go hand-in-hand in solving problems,” but only if implemented without imposing undue weight on the blockchain.

Moreover, Buchner also explained how market-type services that require some kind of centralized entity could gather user data through voluntary disclosure. In fact, Microsoft’s Project Ion would not display any personal information, ensuring no compromise on sensitive information, he added.

The discussion also uncovered Microsoft’s future plans of “implementing new cryptographic schemes for recovering secrets.” Supporting this move, Buchner said,“Privacy is important so but at the same time it has to be super easy. Decentralizing entities is your choice, and we just want to make sure that people have that choice.”

While further discussing Microsoft’s intention to enable total decentralization, he also added that the company’s sole motive was to reduce the overall complexity of every individual involved in it. It is clear that Microsoft has not yet found any other crypto-related applications, but is actively looking for places to find “a good fit” for.

While concluding the interview, Buchner said that he does not care about miner’s fee until the whole layer has completed its development and execution. Further, Microsoft expects the rise of an ecosystem of companies that will leverage Microsoft’s technology as the base to enable further decentralization.



Second-Largest Indian State to Use Blockchain in Various Spheres



The government of the Indian state of Maharashtra is preparing a regulatory sandbox for testing blockchain solutions across various applications. 

According to a report by Indian English-language news daily DNA India on Aug. 19, the government aims to apply blockchain technology in supply chains, agricultural marketing, vehicle registration and document management. 

The Maharashtra Information Technology Directorate will lead the development and the government has already earmarked 100 million rupees (~$1.4 million) for blockchain adoption from 2019–2020. 40 million ($560,000) has been approved outright by the implementation committee. State IT department principal secretary S.V.R. Srinivas told DNA India:

“The state government is adopting a cutting edge technology to help enhance efficiency in the governance. Already the government has completed its first blockchain pilot in the fields of health, supply chain, documents and SSC certificates. A detailed report has been prepared to go in for extensive use of blockchain technology in various government departments. A regulatory sandbox, which will be a common framework for adopting blockchain technology, will be prepared in next five to six months.”

Containing the capital of Mumbai, the state of Maharashtra is the second-largest state in India and is home to over 114 million people. The state’s government previously signed a memorandum of understanding with the Bahrain Economic Development Board to develop a framework for the joint promotion of fintech. 

Various Indian companies and government institutions have been applying blockchain technology to their businesses and administrative models. In June, news broke that the Reserve Bank of India is developing a blockchain platform for banking in its R&D branch.

Last week, Indian telecoms provider Reliance Jio Infocomm Limited announced that it was developing one of the world’s largest blockchain networks. The firm’s chairman and managing director Shri Mukesh D. Ambani said, “Over the next 12 months, Jio will install across India one of the largest blockchain networks in the world, with tens of thousands of nodes operational on day one.” Jio has a current user base of over 330 million people. 


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Second Annual WyoHackathon Grows to Multi-Day Blockchain Stampede at UW



The University of Wyoming will again host the WyoHackathon, but the 2019 event has expanded into a multi-day educational opportunity called the Wyoming Blockchain Stampede at the 2019 WyoHackathon.

Presented by UW’s College of Engineering and Applied Science, the events will take place Sept. 19-22 at the new EngineeringEducation and Research Building on the UW campus. UW College of Engineering and Applied Science Dean and Wyoming Blockchain Taskforce member Michael Pishko has been instrumental in ensuring the return of this year’s events.

Pishko stated,

“The [Wyo]Hackathon and other events like it bolster our college’s culture of entrepreneurship. It helps us guide Wyoming’s economic development and foster innovative growth.”

Kicking off the four-day event will be the third 2019 meeting of the Wyoming Blockchain Taskforce, a bipartisan group created to draft and seek public opinion on blockchain legislation. Wyoming gained worldwide attention after 13 blockchain bills were enacted during the 2018-19 legislative session.

These laws range from recognizing direct property rights of cryptocurrency owners to authorizing new state-chartered depository institutions that can provide basic banking services to blockchain businesses. Shortly after these laws were passed, over 200 companies registered in Wyoming as doing business with blockchain.

The Stampede Developers Conference and Stampede Business Conference will take place following the task force meeting and will cater unique information to technologists, developers, and entrepreneurs. Each conference will feature globally renowned speakers, including Charles Hoskinson, CEO of Input Output [IOHK]; Caitlin Long, Wyoming Blockchain Task Force gubernatorial appointee and chairwoman/president of SymbiontTrace Mayer; Anthony Pompliano, co-founder and partner at Morgan Creek Digital; Jesse Powell, CEO of Kraken digital asset exchange; and Jeremy Wood, co-founder and chief strategy officer at IOHK. Several workshops also will be offered to better understand the legislative environment and business opportunities in blockchain. The conferences are free and open to the public because of a significant donation from title sponsor Kraken, a champion of crypto since 2011.

Jesse Powell, Kraken CEO, stated,

“We like to lead by example and are proud to support Wyoming Blockchain Stampede Week because Wyoming is a rare and shining example of how to wrangle with Blockchain the right way. Events like this are critical in the development of blockchain technology and its regulatory treatment as we drive toward mainstream adoption.”

Starting Sept. 20 at 3 p.m., technologists, developers and students will gather in the atrium of the recently completed Engineering Education and Research Building to compete in the second annual WyoHackathon. Many sponsors will present challenges and provide prize money, also known as “bounties” in hackathons. Last year, the WyoHackathon awarded $80,000 in bounties, and organizers hope to exceed that amount this year. Registration deadline for the initial challenge is Aug. 14, and participants can begin work Aug. 20. The remaining challenges will be released soon on the event website.

Following the hackathon awards Sept. 22, UW will host the first of four Sandcastle Invitational Challenges as part of the Sandcastle Startups Challenge global tour, leading up to its world finals in Dubai in fall 2020. Invitational winners in Wyoming’s regional qualifier will be awarded a share of the $25,000 prize provided by Sandcastle prize sponsor Green, a division of Codex.

Winners from the WyoHackathon then will compete against other blockchain startups for a chance to be invited to Dubai for the Sandcastle Startups Challenge 2020 Finals, where 16 teams will compete [all expenses paid] in a bracket-style global cryptocurrency/blockchain startup competition. The winner of the Sandcastle 2020 will receive a $250,000 grand prize package. Sandcastle Foundation Chairman and co-founder Chris J. Snook explain why Wyoming became a front-runner destination for one of the invitationals.

Snook remarked,

“Selecting Wyoming as the right venue for our North American regional qualifier location was a data-driven decision based upon many factors that we look for at Sandcastle. The core of it stemmed from its robust commitment to developing a thoughtful framework, and we found an incredible commitment from the [UW] College of Engineering and Applied Science to remove obstacles and enable the next generation of leaders around blockchain and cryptocurrency research.”

A celebration will be hosted at UW’s Marian H. Rochelle Gateway Center to conclude the Wyoming Blockchain Stampede Sept. 22 from 5-7 p.m. Notable speakers will travel to campus and engage with attendees throughout the events.

The Wyoming Blockchain Stampede and continued benefits for Wyoming-based blockchain organizations have been made possible by industry supporters and individuals such as 1990 UW alumnae Long, who organized the first WyoHackathon last year. Participants can register for the events by visiting our official link, and teams can be formed the day of the event.

DISCLAIMER: This a paid post, and should not be treated as news/advice.


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Japan to Solarize Its Burgeoning Digital Economy, Expert Take



Society is now witnessing the implementation of digital currencies, artificial intelligence (AI) and blockchain technology worldwide. These new digital technologies necessitate very high consumption of electric energy, which is currently produced with coal and fossil fuels that have adverse environmental effects. A global shift toward green energy will require the removal of the technological/infrastructural, financial and regulatory/tax-policy barriers. In this series, we evaluate the tax, digital technology and solar policies (including a space solar power satellite) of the top carbon dioxide-emitting countries.

In 2009, Japan — the Land of the Rising Sun — undertook  important initiatives that set the tone for how it intended to solarize the world’s third-largest digital economy. Japan passed its Basic Space Law, which established a space power satellite (SPS) — the concept of collecting solar power in outer space and distributing it to Earth via satellites — as a national priority.

The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) of Japan sets the strategic energy plan for the world’s fourth-largest energy consumer and the sixth-largest emitter of CO2 — 90% of which is tied to hydrocarbon energy. METI believes that the impact of blockchain — which consumes large amounts of electricity — is huge and that its importance is similar to the emergence of the internet.

According to a World Economic Forum survey, global GDP stored on blockchain technology is expected to reach 10% by 2027. Therefore, in June 2018, Japan introduced a sandbox regime to accelerate the introduction of new business models and innovative technologies such as blockchain, AI and the Internet of Things.

The world’s largest technology investment fund — the $100 billion Softbank Vision Fund, which announced the launch of a second fund — and Japanese megabanks have been investing in and funding blockchain startups concerning applications in telecommunications, swift -payment system, solar energy, identity, health care, messaging, transportation, data security and fintech industries, both in Japan and globally. 

Solar photovoltaic technology and its applications in solar energy in Japan 

Japan’s Ministry of Technology and Industry (MITI) views solar photovoltaic power as an essential part of its digital economic transformation. Japanese science fiction author Haruki Murakami concurs “Japan, as an economic power, should find another source of power besides atomic energy. It may cause a temporary economic dip, but we will be respected as a country that does not use nuclear power.”

Solar photovoltaic (PV) technology — which converts light into electrical current — was born in the United States at Bell Labs when engineer Daryl Chapin, chemist Calvin Fuller and physicist Gerald Pearson worked together to develop the first silicon solar photovoltaic cell in 1954. The New York Times wrote that the silicon solar cell “may mark the beginning of a new era, leading eventually to the realization of one of mankind’s most cherished dreams — the harnessing of the almost limitless energy of the sun for the uses of civilization.” 

First launched in 1974 by MITI, with METI joining in 2001, the Sunshine Project was a long-term comprehensive plan for the research and development of new solar energy technologies to resolve Japan’s energy and climate change problems. The program was heavily funded by the government because PV technology emits no CO2 while also being highly reliable and modular, and with lower construction and operational costs.

Starting in the 1980s, Japanese manufacturers began incorporating solar PV cells into electronic applications in various areas. In the late 1990s, Japanese government programs began promoting solar houses. In 2009, Tsutomu Miyasaka and his colleagues in Japan reported on perovskite compounds being light absorbers for solar energy applications, which outperform the efficiency of more established PV technologies and can be printed or woven into fabric. As a result, Japan emerged as the world’s third-largest solar energy power producer, with 45% of PV cells in the world being manufactured in Japan.

With the rise of Bitcoin and in the aftermath of the Fukushima nuclear plant disaster in 2011, the government encouraged the proliferation of decentralized solar energy by encouraging the production of more energy-efficient buildings, cars that combine solar panels with some form of energy storage as well as other devices. This compelled the solar energy sector to begin using blockchain technology. Professor Umit Cali of the University of North Carolina provided an exclusive comment, saying:

“In the solar energy sector, decentralized blockchain technology is used in person-to-person (P2P) energy trading, labeling, energy provenance and certification, smart metering and billing, electric vehicle charging and payments, and wholesale power trading and settlements.” 

Reports published by Fitch Solutions Macro Research and Globadata conclude that over the next decade, decentralized solar technology may replace PV solar farms as the main growth-driver in Japan. Already, a blockchain-enabled solar energy-trading pilot project is set to link 100 solar rooftops of smart, zero-energy homes in the country, while another pilot project will administeran energy-trading marketplace using blockchain to connect a number of Japanese power production facilities with homes, offices, factories, batteries and electric vehicles. 

Toyota Motor Corp. — which began testing high-efficiency solar cells for electric cars — has joined forces with the University of Tokyo and online renewable energy retailer Trende to test peer-to-peer vehicle-to-grid electricity trading using blockchain technology, which allows for electric vehicles to communicate with the power grid to buy and sell electricity to smooth out peak and low demand times. 

Japan’s Marubeni Corp. has recently backed a blockchain-based power-purchasing platform called WePower that makes it easy for small- and medium-sized businesses to buy power from solar project developers, offering standardized, digital power purchase agreements to help underwrite new projects.

Japan is a predominantly mountainous land with varied weather conditions, and the area that a PV solar farm occupies is an important consideration, as it determines the yield. Accordingly, Japan has been creative in developing new PV solar energy generation stations at home and abroad — in seas, lakes, deserts and space.

Japan built the world’s first and largest floating solar plants. Its lakes and reservoirs are now home to 73 of the world’s 100-largest floating solar plants, which is up to 16% more efficient than land-based solar systems.

In cooperation with the National University of Mongolia, Japan is also participating in the project “Energy from the Desert,” with the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) providing financial support covering up to half of the initial investment costs. Marubeni Corp. built the world’s largest PV farm, the Noor Abu Dhabi photovoltaic power project, in the Sweihan Desert of the United Arab Emirates, which recently began producing solar energy at $0.024 per kilowatt hour.

The Japanese Space Agency (JAXA) began its SPS program in 2009, with the goal to set up a one gigawatt solar farm in space that can transmit energy back to Earth by 2030. In 2015, Japan came closer to harvesting solar energy from space when it transmitted condensed solar power converted to microwaves to a receiving antenna, which converted only 5%-10% of the power required to power three PCs. 

For space solar power generation to become commercially viable, 50% of the solar power generated in space needs to be transmitted to Earth. JAXA is also designing kite-like orbiters that will travel in low-earth orbit above the equator, with a transmitting antenna on the Earthward face and solar collectors on spaceward face in order to transmit solar energy to Earth. In 2010, JAXA has already successfully launched Ikaros, a solar space kite, that sailed through deep space and was propelled by solar energy. Small satellites are ideal candidates for this type of solar propulsion.

Environmental, regulatory and tax policy in Japan 

Japan has inadequate energy resources and imports 87.4% of its hydrocarbon energy. It is the world’s largest importer of liquefied natural gas and third-largest importer of oil and coal.

Japan has lower levels of subsidies for fossil fuel consumption when compared to other G-7 countries, but higher subsidies for oil and gas exploration and coal production. Because efforts to compensate for the drop in nuclear power generation after the Fukushima nuclear crisis — which was triggered by the 9.1 Tohoku tsunami in Japan and which forced the shutdown of Japan’s entire fleet of nuclear 48 reactors, effectively terminating the plan to supply half the country’s electricity with nuclear power — resulted in far more support for fossil fuels and increased CO2 emissions compared to renewable energy. 

Japan provides billions in taxpayer dollars for building highly polluting coal plants in Japan as well as overseas. Japan’s largest banks — MUFG and SMBC Group — along with other banks, have reportedly continued to finance fossil fuels with $1.9 trillion since the adoption of the Paris climate agreement. Therefore, Japan is the second-worst performer when it comes to reforming fossil fuel subsidies, according to a report by the Natural Resources Defense Council. 

In October 2012, Japan implemented a carbon tax of 289 Japanese yen (about $3) per ton of CO2 equivalent. The government plans to use the revenues of $2 billion generated from this carbon tax to finance clean energy and energy-saving projects. Hydrocarbon air pollution is a drag for renewable energy. Dust and other sky-darkening air pollutants slash solar energy production by an estimated 11.5% to 13%. The haze blocks sunlight from reaching the solar panels, and if the particles land on a panel’s flat surface, they cut down on the area exposed to the sun.

Japan also introduced a feed-in tariff (FIT) system in 2012 to lower solar power generation costs, which are double that of Europe  thereby shifting the price of solar energy on the public to the tune of 2.4 trillion yen (roughly $22 billion) in the 2019 fiscal year alone, with a cumulative total of about 10 trillion yen (nearly $100 billion) since its introduction in July 2012. The government’s steady lowering of the FIT purchase price, which stands at 14 yen ($0.13) per kilowatt hour in 2019, has brought a drastic drop in profits for solar energy companies, triggering a wave of bankruptcies, which have reportedly risen year-on-year for five consecutive years since 2013.


Globally, subsidies and financing for fossil fuels continue to remain stubbornly high. According to reports, 2018 actually saw an increase in money going into new upstream oil and gas projects, while investment in renewable power of all kinds dipped 2%. The World Bank still funds the fossil fuel industry at least three times greater than renewable energy. 

This is despite G-20 finance ministers’ commitment to working together in redirecting public investments to renewable energies through fiscal policy and the use of public finance. Despite the International Renewable Energy Agency reporting that the cost of solar electricity has tumbled 80% in recent years and with three-quarters of coal production now more expensivethan solar energy, the fossil fuel industry still receives benefits from governments.

In the latest G-20 meeting in Osaka, Japan reiterated its dedication to the Paris climate agreement and to phasing out fossil fuel financing and subsidies in order to tackle climate change. Enhancing zero-carbon energy is an urgent task for the Japanese government, which is aiming to derive 44% of power from renewable (7% from solar energy) and nuclear power by 2030 to fuel its burgeoning digital economy. Fossil fuel subsidies significantly reduce the use of renewables, according to an OECD report. 

According to scientific reports, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, giant landslides and tsunamisbecome more frequent as global warming changes the Earth’s crust, swells sea levels, and triggers a repetitive cycle of severe natural disasters that cause extensive environmental and economic damage (e.g., it cost $315 billion to $728 billion to clean up the Fukushima nuclear reactor site alone). 

On Aug. 12, Australian energy technology company Power Ledger and Japanese Kansai Electric Power Co. announced they completed a joint trial of a blockchain-based peer-to-peer trading system for post-feed-in tariff surplus solar power in Osaka. Their announcement came on the heels of a report that highlights multiple ways blockchain technology could disrupt the peer-to-peer solar energy trading sector. According to the report:

“Blockchain technology could alter the manner in which electricity customers and producers interact. Traditionally electric utilities are vertically integrated. Blockchain could disrupt this convention by unbundling energy services along a distributed energy system. For instance, a customer could directly purchase excess electricity produced from their neighbor’s solar panels instead of purchasing electricity from the utility.” 

Japan intends to replace FIT’s fixed price system with a competitive bidding/blockchain-based peer-to-peer trading system for post-feed-in tariff surplus solar power system as soon as 2020.  This would thereby reduce inequality and provide cheaper, cleaner energy that reduces CO2 emissions and would help promote digital development in Japan as well as across the world.


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