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Blockchain and AI: Leading the Way to the Fourth Industrial Revolution Against the Odds

As the Fourth Industrial Revolution approaches, blockchain and AI are starting to be used by companies together, rather than separately.

Human imagination and the strive to turn science fiction into science fact goes back to ancient times, but has only truly begun to manifest itself in the last 50 years. Though mostly unseen by average users, artificial intelligence (AI) is already deeply embedded in the basic processes people have become accustomed to.

Blockchain technology has come to the forefront in much the same way AI had, through a long development process full of trials, tribulations, ignorance and triumphs over skeptics and critics alike.

The application potential for blockchain is no less extensive than it is for AI — and today, these technologies are more complementary than competitive in their natures. Both AI and blockchain work on the principle of analyzing vast amounts of data and solving the issues of specific industries. Just as AI found its applications in the fintech sector as a data aggregator and automated solution determiner, so began blockchain in its permeation into areas of application where its properties can be of most use.

Into the unknown

Society is now entering what is known as the Fourth Industrial Revolution. But unlike the first three, which were based on the application of machinery for streamlining of the means of mass production through digital information accessibility, the new wave of technological progress promises to be a revolution of automation, rather than an involvement of masses of people needed for maintaining industrial processes.

AI and blockchain may become the leaders of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, as they can allow artificial constructs and programs to perform a vast number of tasks that had previously required human labor and entailed high risks of error. According to a study carried out by researchers from PwC in 2018, 30 percent of jobs may become automated by the 2030s, with 44 percent of workers with a low level of education being at particular risk. At the same time, as the report showed that automation could help the United States’ gross domestic product (GDP) reach $15 trillion by 2030.

Top AI Use Case in 2016 — 2021

The background underpinning the modern world is big data, the factor uniting blockchain and AI in their applications.

The modern world produces a staggering amount of information that needs to be processed. Since the information being produced is of an endless variety of topics, there is physically no human workforce capable of analyzing such vast amounts of data. The AI can analyze large amounts of data and blockchain can serve as the immutable foundation for securely storing the records for use by various industries, since the Fourth Industrial Revolution is more of a breakthrough in data analysis.

Complementing each other

By being able to continuously analyze data under a strict protocol required for achieving desired results, AI leads the way by allowing data to be properly stratified and shared. This essential attribute automates a mundane process and brings to the forefront one of the main qualities of AI in the form of efficiency.

Blockchain, on the other hand, is the vital component that lends its characteristics to make sure the data is handled in an environment that is safe from external interference, as well as tampering of data ownership and sequence. This is what may complement AI and solve the problem of trust many people face. Take, for example, the recent scandal engulfing Facebook, when personal data from over 50 million social network users were harvested by Cambridge Analytica via an algorithm that targeted voters during the U.S. election.

Size of the blockchain technology market worldwide from 2016 to 2021

Paul Lee, co-founder and CEO of Mind AI, an AI-powered platform, believes that blockchain plays an essential role in the process of making data management decentralized:

“We don’t see AI and blockchain as two separate, incompatible technologies, but rather as two technologies that can complement each other very nicely. The world of AI is an arms race, with large internet giants leading the progress with their seemingly unlimited resources, specifically data. These corporations collect data from their users in a centralized database. The data is owned and utilized by these companies for their own self-interests, while the users who provided the data are left empty handed. This also creates an uneven playing field in the advancement of AI technology, since data is the primary fuel that powers most modern AI systems. This can be detrimental to humanity, as AI technology is extremely powerful.”

And although the use of AI to collect personal information has become the most common way to use this technology, blockchain can help change the reputation of AI by storing the AI ​​mechanisms that process data on a distributed registry. At the same time, using private and public keys, users themselves determine who should be given access to their personal data. And for those who want to further protect personal information from third parties, AI-powered blockchains may provide decentralized identification.

US, UAE and Malta lead revolution

One way or another, everything depends on the approval of regulators and authorities in matters of adoption of any kind of technology. No matter how innovative a technology is, it first needs to prove its worth to average people to become profitable. And that is why governments are considering the capabilities offered by AI — an already proven and effective technology — and its merger with blockchain, which still requires considerable research.

The U.S. government is already leading the charge after issuing an American AI Initiative order that will facilitate investments into AI and related technologies research. On Feb. 11, the Trump administration announced that the president signed an executive order that calls upon federal government agencies to allocate the necessary resources and workers to adapt to the era of AI. The initiative has documented Trump’s long-term plans to enter the AI-powered future. Back in May 2018, the White House held a meeting devoted to AI, with over 30 large companies from a number of industries — including Ford, Boeing, Amazon and Microsoft — in which the officials promised not to prevent the technology’s development by creating AI regulations.

The United Arab Emirates is trailing close behind as the National Program for AI and Blockchain Capacity Building was launched on Nov. 28, 2018 to provide university courses and scholarships in AI and blockchain technology under the purview of the Ministry of Education. The innovation has complemented the UAE’s Strategy for Artificial Intelligence, which is aimed at turning the country into a leading power in the adoption of AI by 2031.

Malta is seeking to take on a leading role in this brave new world of technological races as it strives to become a “Blockchain Island” and a “top AI nation.” As reported by Cointelegraph on Nov. 1, the Maltese government announced the launch of the initiative called “Malta.ai,” creating friendly conditions for the companies developing AI solutions.

Finally, India, a powerhouse economy, is launching initiatives aimed at improving its energy sector using AI and blockchain. The government created a special committee to carry out a national AI program that aims at helping startups and venture funds to conduct research related to the technology. The country also announced a partnership with Russia to cooperate in using blockchain and AI technologies at the Strategic Economic Summit, which was held in Russia in November 2018. The two countries agreed to boost two-way investments in the high-tech sector to $30 billion by 2025.

Use cases

Despite the fact that blockchain and AI seem to be incompatible at first glance — the first is based on the principle of decentralized data storage, and the second allows information to be concentrated in the hands of centralized corporations — today, companies have learned to combine them in their processes.

New networks combining AI and blockchain aim to make machine learning transparent and less biased, says Jeremy Epstein, the head of Never Stop Marketing.

Today, industry leaders are solving the nontrivial task of combining two technologies in order to preserve the privacy of user data and achieve greater automation in complex analytical processes.

DeepSee, a media platform, strives to provide the solution to the problem of fake news and become a decentralized alternative to Reddit, YouTube, Medium and Twitter. At the same time, DeepSee reportedly uses the same machine learning mechanisms used by Facebook, but transfers them to a trusted blockchain platform that guarantees transparency of privacy settings, as well as rewarding users for high-quality content in a similar way to Steemit.

In the health care sector, personal information security is of the highest importance. The AI-powered ​​company Deep Mind, acquired by Google, is already leveraging blockchain to better protect users’ health data. In February, Neuromation also entered the health care sector, entering into a partnership with the Longenesis, a decentralized marketplace of personal data.

Longenesis, in turn, intends to provide individuals with control over their own personal data and the option to monetize it by passing certain data to corporations, research institutes and medical institutions at their discretion. Such data includes not only a medical history or a genetic profile, but also, for example, test results. “Our goal is to create a new, data-driven economy,” says Alexander Zhavoronkov, chief science officer of Longenesis Limited.

Another use of the blockchain in AI-based services is being investigated by Mind AI and SingularityNet. The companies use a decentralized registry to reward users. Mind AI, a company that has invented an AI-powered solution aiming to achieve human-level reasoning, leverages blockchain to make the entire machine thought process transparent for average people. As an open-source platform, Mind AI rewards its contributors with tokens for adding value to the platform’s ontology database. Thanks to the AI-powered reasoning engine and the ontologies input by the community, Mind AI can reason like a real human, requiring no massive quantities of data. Lee, the platform’s co-founder and CEO, believes that blockchain in AI solutions enhances the way users’ data is protected and used for the community benefits:

“We believe blockchain provides the foundation to creating [sic] AI systems that are transparent, decentralized, and beneficial for many, rather than a few.

“Without ontologies, Mind AI is like a car without fuel. We’ve split the source code of the AI engine and the ontology database to make sure the ownership of our technology is not centralized. The ontologies will be crowdsourced and stored into a distributed storage system utilizing blockchain, and the contributors of the ontologies will be the owners of the data. The community has control of the data, gets rewarded when their data is used, and has a voice in how his or her data is used.”

He also shared with Cointelegraph the challenges that may be faced when developing and managing such complex platforms:

“One of the main challenges with designing such a system is adapting to the constantly and quickly changing technologies in the blockchain space. There are a few promising technologies we’d like to utilize, but many are only at a conceptual stage. For example, we’re constantly looking for the best distributed storage system that can provide the adequate speed, security, and the amount of data we need. A centralized, local storage is going to be, overall, much faster and much more robust than a distributed storage at this point of time. Currently available blockchain platforms might not have the adequate TPS (transaction per second) […].”

SingularityNet rewards users with tokens every time someone uses its proposed AI model, thus allowing anyone to monetize AI algorithms, and letting companies and developers buy and sell AI at scale.

In an interview with Cointelegraph, Ben Goertzel, CEO of SingularityNet and chairman of the Artificial General Intelligence Society, explained how both technologies can be used to socialize the AI industry:

“If you had a global decentralized network and you can put your AI there and anyone can access it and then use it in a way that connects it with other AI tools that are out there, that can provide a way for people to monetize what they’ve done, without having to go the currently standard route of creating a startup and selling the startup to Google or Amazon or something.”

In the run-up to changes

A revolution, as the term implies, is a complete turn of events around a focal point, thus leading to a new stage or phase. With technologies, revolutions involve a variety of changes in everyday lives. But the uniting factor of all revolutions is a strive for improvement and efficiency.

Experts predict that by 2021, the blockchain technology market will grow to $2.3 billion and investments in AI will grow to $52.2 billion. As the investments in both AI and blockchain grow, more and more global companies — including Microsoft, Dell, and Porsche — are spending money on their research and testing.  Fred Ehrsam, the co-founder of the cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase, predicted it could take some time for these systems to prove themselves and show the results in practice, but that once it happens, they will boost the industry’s democratization.

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Chinese Insurance Giant Ping An Partners With Decentralized AI Startup SingularityNET

Chinese insurance giant Ping An has partnered with Ethereum-based decentralized AI startup SingularityNET.

Chinese insurance giant Ping An has partnered with Ethereum (ETH)-based decentralized artificial intelligence (AI) startup SingularityNET. The latter company announced the collaboration in a press release published on Medium on March 14.

Per the release, the collaboration will at first focus on Optical Character Recognition (OCR), Computer Vision (CV) and model training. SingularityNET notes that the scope of the partnership is expected to expand to multiple industries and initiatives in the future.

The announcement has been made shortly after SingularityNET officially launched a beta version of its Ethereum-based decentralized marketplace on Thursday, Feb. 28. In January last year, the company also announced a partnership with agriculture-focused blockchain startup Hara at the World Web Forum.

Ping An is reportedly the world’s most valuable insurance company, it serves 170 million customers, and ranked tenth in the Forbes Global 2000 list of world’s largest public companies. As Cointelegraph reported in November last year, Ping An and the Sanya municipal government also signed a strategic cooperation agreement for “Smart City” construction involving blockchain.

The press release notes that Ping An’s “One Minute Clinics” for medical consultations, which are unstaffed and use AI, are already in use in eight Chinese cities.

During the same month, Cointelegraph also reported that Ping An’s banking subsidiary Ping An Bank will launch a boutique bank using blockchain, cloud services and Internet of Things (IoT) tech.

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Startup Finturi Raises $2.2 Million for Its Blockchain-Based Invoice Finance Platform

Startup Finturi has secured $2.2 million to let businesses secure loans against invoices with blockchain and AI.

Dutch blockchain startup Finturi has secured 2 million euro ($2.2 million) to enable businesses to secure loans against invoices via blockchain tech, the company tweeted on March 12.

Founded in September 2018, Finturi aims to help businesses finance invoices by linking them with financiers to borrow money against invoices, using blockchain and artificial intelligence (AI), according to a report by startup-focused publication EU-Startups.com on March 11.

Finturi has reportedly raised its first investment via an angel round led by NetSam Participaties BV, which evidently participated in an investment round for the first time, according to Crunchbase.

Finturi’s blockchain-based invoice finance platform is scheduled to launch in the third quarter of 2019. According to the report, the Finturi team plans to provide a completely peer-to-peer (P2P) platform in future that includes businesses’ clients.

Expressing concerns about many new businesses face difficulties with raising capital, Finturi CEO Johannes Brouwer stated that the firm aims to enable businesses to get loans against invoices within 24 hours. According to Finturi’s CEO, the upcoming platform will provide financiers with a “platform for investing in invoices with minimum hussle.”

The lead investor from NetSam Participaties BV said that blockchain tech combined with AI has a massive potential in eliminating inefficiencies in existing financial processes by cutting costs, accelerating processing time and providing  better security.

Recently, five Japanese banks entered into a partnership to launch blockchain-based financial services infrastructure. Targeting a range of financial operations for efficiency improvements, the banks will leverage IBM’s expertise during the development phase.

Last week, economist and notorious crypto critic Nouriel Roubini argued that blockchain has nothing to do with the future of financial services. Roubini excluded the term from the list of major technologies that he sees as leading to a manufacturing or fintech revolution, including AI, machine learning, big data and the Internet of Things.

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SingularityNET Platform Launches Beta Decentralized AI Marketplace After $36 Mln ICO

Blockchain artificial intelligence platform SingularityNET has officially launched the beta version of its blockchain marketplace.

Blockchain artificial intelligence (AI) platform SingularityNET has officially launched a beta version of its Ethereum-based decentralized marketplace on Thursday, Feb. 28, according to a press release obtained by Cointelegraph.

Ben Goertzel, CEO and chief scientist at SingularityNET, noted in the press release that the pre-beta version was stress tested by the community and volunteers prior to the launch .

The AI firm, which is working with renowned robot Sophia built by Hong Kong-based Hanson Robotics, completed an ICO in 2017, raising over $150 million in pledged orders from investors. The ICO eventually collected $36 million in total, the limit of their hard cap.

Following the AGI token offering, the company reportedly partnered with more than 20 companies and institutions, including UNESCO and the government of Malta, the press release states.

The AI company intends to create a blockchain-driven marketplace where individuals, small businesses and government agencies will be able to purchase algorithms that had previously been available only to Silicon Valley players, the release notes. The services available on the marketplace will include image and emotion recognition services, object detection and speech-recognition, among others.

SingularityNET believes that AI is a rapidly growing area that will probably contribute over $15 trillion to the global economy by 2030. Goertzel also states that the AI economy will further expand and the businesses will need more tech solutions in coming years:

“As the AI economy matures and expands, the demand for a democratic and decentralized AI infrastructure is becoming increasingly clear, as is the need within businesses across the spectrum for AI tools with a greater variety of focus and generalization capabilities.”

As Cointelegraph previously reported, the government of Malta collaborated with SingularityNET back in November 2018 for a pilot project to “explore a citizenship test for robots in the process of drafting new regulation for AI.”

In other AI news, South Korean internet giant and messaging app operator Kakao Corp has recently announced it will keep investing in blockchain and AI despite the significant expenses related to new businesses.

Another AI-related initiative, Fetch.AI, has recently closed its FET token sale on Binance’s Launchpad platform, gaining $6 million dollars with the sale of over 69 million tokens within 22 seconds.

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Wall Street Journal CIO Network: Blockchain Adoption Is Still Early

According to participants of the annual meeting of The Wall Street Journal CIO Network, blockchain technology adoption is still in its early stages.

Experts and industry players have said that the adoption of blockchain technology is still in its early stages at the annual meeting of The Wall Street Journal CIO Network, The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) reported Feb. 26.

The regular Wall Street Journal CIO Network is a membership exclusively for chief information officers and technology experts from the largest companies around the world. The event gathered a range of experts from startups, large corporations and governments to share their views on the development of enterprise technology.

Although enterprise blockchain technology has found its practical use, its new applications are not large scale, according to Christine Moy, executive director and head of the blockchain center of excellence at JPMorgan Chase. She added however that “these incremental use cases will evolve into something larger.”

Bridget van Kralingen, senior vice president of global industry platforms for IBM’s blockchain division, reportedly suggested that blockchain will eventually have more use cases business, and will specifically streamline document flow and establish authenticity. Van Kralingen reportedly stated:

“I think we see pull but it is very early days.”

Speaking about artificial intelligence (AI) adoption, participants said that the technology could help improve workflow in various industries, from human resources to sales. Stephen Messer, co-founder and vice chairman of Collective[i], reportedly said:

“In sales, AI can help with basic automation and foster better business analysis. The company uses data, artificial intelligence and predictive technologies to help sales professionals assess which potential deals are most likely to close. That insight can help managers decide where to focus team resources.”

Messer also added that it could be challenging to make companies take AI seriously, since they tend to be skeptical of its value and want to see results right away.

Both technologies have been gaining traction in recent times. According to the 2018 United States Emerging Jobs report by LinkedIn released last December, the role of blockchain developer registered an increase of 33 times in the past 12 months prior to December. That year’s top emerging jobs also included AI specialists, wherein “six out of the 15 emerging jobs are related in some way to AI.”

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National University of Singapore and Chinese Tech Firm to Research Blockchain: Report

The university’s collaboration with a Sichuan-based company will focus on both blockchain and artificial intelligence.

The National University of Singapore (NUS) will work with a Chinese tech company to research and develop blockchain solutions, the Communist Party of China’s official news outlet, People’s Daily Online, reported on Feb. 26.

As part of a blockchain and big data seminar held in the city of Chongqing in Sichuan Province, NUS will collaborate with local business Chongqing Jinwowo Technologies (CJT) on innovations that also include big data and artificial intelligence (AI).

“This strategic cooperation will work within big data, artificial intelligence, blockchain technology, etc,” People’s Daily quotes professor Pang Yan, professor at the NUS’ School of Business and Computer Science and director of its Commercial Big Data Analysis Center, as saying.

The seminar also saw the presentation of the Chongqing Blockchain Industry Innovation Alliance’s charter, the entity forming the first blockchain association in the area.

NUS will play a broadly technical role in the CJT deal, reportedly helping resolve issues in new tools with its expertise.

Earlier this month, China’s own educational establishment continued its broad investigation into blockchain, with Fuden University opening a dedicated Blockchain Research Center.

On Tuesday, a corporate partnership was announced between Microsoft and Spanish telecoms giant Telefonica, also targeting Blockchain and AI tools.

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Research Team Demonstrates Hard Wallets Vulnerabilities, Trezor Promises Firmware Update

Software security researchers have reportedly been able to extract private keys from the Trezor One hardware wallets.

Researchers have reportedly shown how they were able to hack the Trezor One, Ledger Nano S and Ledger Blue at the 35C3 Refreshing Memories conference. The demonstration of the hacks was published in a video on Dec. 27.

The research team behind the dubbed “Wallet.fail” hacking project is made up of hardware designer and security researcher Dmitry Nedospasov, software developer Thomas Roth and security researcher and former submarine officer Josh Datko.

During the conference, the researchers announced that they have been able to extract the private key out of a Trezor One hardware wallet after flashing — overwriting existing data — a custom firmware. However, they pointed out that this exploit only works if the user didn’t set a passphrase.

Pavol Rusnak, CTO of SatoshiLabs (the company behind Trezor), commented on Twitter that they were not notified through their Responsible Disclosure program prior to the demonstration, and that they will address the reported vulnerabilities through a firmware update at the end of January.

Moreover, the same group of hacker researchers also claimed during the talk that they were able to install any firmware on a Ledger Nano S, a leading hardware wallet. While the team used this vulnerability to play the game Snake on the device, one member of the team that found the exploit claimed:

“We can send malicious transactions to the ST31 [the secure chip] and even confirm it ourselves [via software,] or we can even go and show a different transaction [not the one that is actually being sent] on the screen.”

The team also demonstrated that they found a vulnerability in the Ledger Blue, the most expensive hardware wallet produced by the company, that comes with a color touchscreen. The signals are transported to the screen by an unusually long trace on the motherboard, the researcher explained, which is why it leaks those signals as radio waves.

When a USB cable is attached to the device, the aforementioned leaked signals get strong enough that, according to the researchers, they could be easily received from several meters.

Employing an artificial intelligence (AI) software deployed on the cloud, the team has been reportedly able to obtain the pin of the device from a dump of the leaked radio signal from the moment when the pin has been entered.

When asked about BitFi, the hardware wallet promoted as being “unhackable” by crypto advocate John McAfee in July, a team member said that “we only talk about somewhat secure wallets” before concluding that “we didn’t want to use a Chinese phone in this talk.”

As Cointelegraph reported in August, a teenage hacker claimed to have compromised the BitFi device. The producer has since denied that the device has been hacked since no coins have been extracted.

Moreover, also in August, a group of researchers declared to have successfully sent signed transactions from the BitFi wallet, claiming to meet the conditions of the bounty program.

As of press time, neither Ledger nor Trezor have responded to Cointelegraph’s request for comments.

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LinkedIn Report: Blockchain Developer Leads List of Most Rapidly Growing Jobs

LinkedIn has released a report showing that the role of blockchain developer is the fastest growing emerging job in the U.S. this year.

The role of blockchain developer is the most rapidly growing emerging job in the United States, according to the 2018 U.S. Emerging Jobs report by LinkedIn released on Dec. 13.

In the course of preparing the report, LinkedIn used data from its Economic Graph to analyze the positions that companies are hastily hiring for, as well as skills related to those positions and roles that have emerged over the past five years.

The professional social network found that the role of blockchain developer has registered an increase of 33 times in the past 12 months, while cities with the highest demand are San Francisco, New York City, and Atlanta. Among major skills required for the role, LinkedIn notes solidity, blockchain, Ethereum, cryptocurrency, and Node.js.

This year’s top emerging jobs also include artificial intelligence (AI) specialists, wherein “six out of the 15 emerging jobs are related in some way to AI,” and machine learning engineers, with 12 times growth year-over-year. For the latter roles, LinkedIn names deep learning, machine learning, tensorflow, Apache Spark and natural language processing as major required skills.

As Cointelegraph previously reported, 645 vacancies tagged with the words “blockchain,” “Bitcoin,” or “cryptocurrency” were published on LinkedIn in 2016. By 2017, the number surged to around 1,800 and to 4,500 vacancies by mid-May of this year. As of recently, LinkedIn’s search system displays 13,816 records related to blockchain and 2,479 records related to cryptocurrency.

A report prepared by job review site Glassdoor shows that as of August 2018, U.S. companies had posted 1,775 vacancies related to blockchain technology, which is three times more compared to the previous year. 79 percent of the vacancies are concentrated in the 15 largest American cities, and the most saturated demand regions show that New York and San Francisco account for 24 percent and 21 percent of the total number of crypto-industry job offers.

Social network Facebook listed five new blockchain-related jobs on its careers page within the past three weeks. In the job description for blockchain engineer at the Facebook Blockchain Data Engineering team, the ad characterizes the position as technically and intellectually challenging work, which “will have massive global impact.”

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UNICEF Innovation Fund to Invest in Blockchain-Related Projects

The UNICEF Innovation Fund will invest $100,000 in six international firms to develop blockchain-based projects.

The UNICEF Innovation Fund is investing $100,000 in six companies for developing blockchain projects, according to an announcement published Dec. 10.

The UNICEF Innovation Fund was launched specifically to finance early stage and open-source technology that can benefit children. The fund identifies solutions in tech areas like blockchain, machine learning, quantum computing, artificial intelligence (AI), and others.

Today’s announcement reads that the Fund will invest up to $100,000 in Argentinian software development firm Atix Labs, Mexican tech companies Onesmart and Prescrypto, Indian startup Statwig, Tunisian apps development startup Utopixar, and web apps development firm W3 Engineers from Bangladesh.

The companies will separately build prototypes and systems that aim to address global problems like transparency in healthcare delivery, affordable access to mobile communications, as well as the ability to allocate finances and resources in social initiatives.

The newly announced companies will reportedly join 20 other tech startups, which are already under management by the Fund in fields like data science, drones, and virtual reality.

Per the announcement, the investments are part of UNICEF’s larger blockchain initiative for using smart contracts for organizational efficiency, and efforts to learn about and understand distributed ledger technology (DLT).

“Blockchain technology is still at an early stage — and there is a great deal of experimentation, failure, and learning ahead of us as we see how, and where, we can use this technology to create a better world,” said Chris Fabian, Principal Adviser at UNICEF Innovation.

In April, UNICEF Australia announced an initiative that would allow the public to use their computer’s processing power to mine cryptocurrency as a donation to the charity. Tony Andres Tang, the digital brand and content manager of UNICEF Australia, rsaid that they “are transparent in the fact [they] are borrowing a computer’s processing power, and provide the ability to choose how much power is donated.”

In February, UNICEF started a kind of charity drive for Syrian children, by asking PC gamers to use their computers to mine Ethereum (ETH) and donate their earnings. UNICEF said it would use the donated Ethereum to give children access to water, education, and health and hygiene services.

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Bitmain Closes Israeli Blockchain Development Center Citing Crypto Market Conditions

Chinese mining giant Bitmain will close its Israeli blockchain and AI development center, letting its 23 local employees go.

Chinese crypto mining giant Bitmain is closing its development center in Israel and firing local employees, Israeli business news outlet Globes has learned Monday, Dec. 10.

Bitmaintech Israel — founded in 2016 to explore the use of blockchain technology, work on the Connect BTC mining pool and develop the infrastructure behind Bitmain’s artificial intelligence (AI) project Sophon — will close this week. All 23 employees will be fired, the Globes reports.

Gadi Glikberg, head of the Israeli branch as well as Bitmain vice president of international sales and marketing, is also leaving. The Globes reports that Glikberg linked the closure to the recent crypto market collapse:

“The crypto market has undergone a shake-up in the past few months, which has forced Bitmain to examine its various activities around the globe and to refocus its business in accordance with the current situation.”

Bitmain is also currently facing two lawsuits. The first one, a class action lawsuit of $5 million focused on unauthorized mining, was filed in the North District Court of California against Bitmain’s United States– and China-based entities.

The second suit was purportedly filed against Bitmain, Bitcoin.com, Roger Ver and the Kraken Bitcoin Exchange. The case alleges that the defendants jointly used unfair methods and practices to manipulate the BCH network for their benefit.

In early December, Israel has seen a crackdown on unreported crypto earnings. According to local business newspaper Calcalist, Israeli tax authorities opened tax accounts for hundreds of Israelis who allegedly concealed cryptocurrency related revenues. As cryptocurrencies are treated as a financial asset in Israel, they are subject to a 25 percent tax for private investors.