October 06, 2018 11:39
Having earned the reputation of “Blockchain Island”, Malta is taking steps to preserve the industry by investing heavily in supervisory technology in order to protect the blockchain industry.
Such investments according to authorities are aimed at ensuring that the inherent risks associated with virtual currencies are kept at a minimal level in Malta.
There Is Work To Do
Having shown a friendly appeal to the blockchain industry and already seeing an influx of activities into the Island, the Malta Financial Services Authority (MFSA) believes that it has its work cut out already. After being heavily criticized over the years for failing to protect victims of the collapsed La Valette Property Funds, the institution appears unwilling to permit any loopholes this time around.
Christopher Buttigieg, head of the Malta Financial Services Authority’s securities and markets supervision unit noted the huge risks involved in environments with large flows of money. Therefore, the establishment is working in advance to block any vulnerability to criminals, money launderers, terrorists, among other bad actors.
The limited number of nations that are open to blockchain and cryptocurrency activities in relation to the expanding nature of the industry implies that these nations will be experiencing a high density influx of activities. Several startups, ICOs and even conferences are moving their activities to nations like Malta.
Apart from the direct monetary risks involved, the need to ascertain the required standards for projects that seek to host their base in such nations will go a long way in defining the society.
Therefore, the extent of MFSA’s activities in achieving a tight system for a sanitized ecosystem cannot be overemphasized.
Malta recently enacted three pieces of legislation covering blockchain and cryptocurrencies. Hence, the efforts of MFSA to tighten the regulatory system ahead of the industry’s expected expansion.
Apart from the La Valette Property Funds scenario, the regulatory institution has also undergone heavy criticism following alleged breaches at Pilatus Bank and other financial institutions. Hence, it is facing increased pressure, along with the Financial Intelligence Analysis Unit, from the European Banking Authority, the European Parliament and the European Central Bank.
These are some of the scenarios that Buttigieg noted that his institution has learned from and would work towards avoiding any chance of reoccurrence. He also explains that MFSA has gone beyond other regulators, and that Malta has already adopted the Fifth Anti-Money Laundering Directive, well before the 2019 deadline.
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1 big thing: Deepfakes go biggerIllustration: Rebecca Zisser/AxiosResearchers have broadened the controversial technology called “deepfakes” — AI-generated media that experts fear could roil coming elections by convincingly depicting people saying or doing things they never did. Kaveh reports: A new computer program, created at OpenAI, the San Francisco AI lab, is the latest front in deepfakes, producing remarkably human-sounding prose that opens the prospect of fake news circulated at industrial scale.As we have previously reported, existing technology can already create fake video, audio, and images — AI forgeries that together could transform the misinformation industry. Details: The new OpenAI program is like a supercharged autocomplete — a system like Google uses to guess the next words in your search, except for whole blocks of text. Write the first sentence of a sci-fi story and the computer does the rest. Begin a news article and the computer completes it.The quality varies. Sometimes, the text is a bit confused — but when it gets it right, the results are stunning. It has enormous potential for fiction or screenwriting. (See bonus item below.)But it could also be used for dystopian ends — huge, coordinated onslaughts of racist invective, fake news stories and made-up Amazon reviews.”There are probably amazingly imaginative malicious things you could do with this technology,” says Kristian Hammond, a Northwestern professor and CEO of AI company Narrative Science.Why OpenAI created the program: The lab says it aims to create a general model for language — a program that can do what humans can (speak, understand, summarize, answer questions and translate) without being specifically trained to do each.In terms of what can go wrong, this is ultimately a dual-use question — AI researchers are working on this technology for one reason, but bad players can use it for another.”I think you have to ask yourself what systems like this might be capable of in several years,” says Jack Clark, OpenAI’s policy director. The quality of the program’s writing is likely to keep improving as more data and computing power is added to the mix, he says.How it works: The program “writes” by choosing the best next word based on both the human-written prompt and an enormous database of text it has read on the internet.One reason the program is so convincing is that it was trained with enormous amounts of computing power and data — resources out of reach of many less wealthy research organizations.An important point: The AI writer can only make stuff up. It can’t tell the difference between a fact and a lie, which is part of what makes it volatile. Figuring out how to “teach” it what’s true remains a huge challenge, says Hammond.Because of how this technology could be abused, OpenAI announced that it will not release the program that generates the most convincing-sounding text. (Next week, we will return to this aspect of the story.)The big question: How dangerous are text deepfakes? AI-generated images have reached a level where they’re often indistinguishable from real photographs. That’s not true for generated text, which can sometimes be incoherent.One new door that AI-generated text opens: “Conversational,” rather than “broadcast” deepfakes, says Aviv Ovadya, a misinformation researcher who founded the non-profit Thoughtful Technology Project. It could be used to influence people one-on-one on a massive scale, rather than distributing a small number of forgeries widely.Bonus: AI wrote this storyPhoto illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios, Photo: Jim Watson/GettyKaveh wrote the first two sentences in italics below — they’re from a story we published in Monday’s newsletter. Then, the OpenAI program discussed above wrote the rest, on the first try.We added bolding and bullet points to mimic Axios style, but didn’t change the computer-generated text at all.A very important note: Everything you’ll read below, after the italicized intro — quotes, “facts” and all — is not true. The AI program invented them.On the heels of a sweeping new U.S. plan to retain dominance in artificial intelligence, the Pentagon has cast Chinese development of intelligent weapons as an existential threat to the international order.A day after the release of an executive order by President Trump that omits naming China, the Defense Department, in a new AI strategy document, speaks in stark terms of a “destabilizing” Chinese threat.It warns of a “new arms race in AI” and says the United States “will not sit idly by” as a “highly advanced new generation of weapons capable of waging asymmetric warfare” is “possessed by aggressive actors.”Related: New White House plan on China may spark a cyber arms race”China uses new and innovative methods to enable its advanced military technology to proliferate around the world, particularly to countries with which we have strategic partnerships,” the Pentagon said in its five-page strategy outline last week.The new U.S. strategy will be a major component of the White House’s first National Security Strategy, coming in two parts in September.The first part, which Trump wants to roll out in full by June, is a much more traditional geopolitical playbook focused on the threats posed by China and Russia.The second part of the NSS is “a broad review of all U.S. national security interests, and the potential new relationships needed for those interests,” the document said.”The President has directed me to undertake a study of our strategy toward a world of artificial intelligence,” Defense Secretary James Mattis told the Senate Armed Services Committee on Thursday.2. Alipay in AmericaIllustration: Sarah Grillo/AxiosAlibaba, China’s e-commerce behemoth, is making new inroads in the U.S. and Canada, adding its mobile payment system to thousands of stores — convenience, drug stores and other shops — frequented by Americans of all income levels.Erica writes: Alipay insists that it is not after American customers, instead seeking to serve Chinese tourists, students and business people who come in droves to North America every year.But while its partnerships — with chains like 7-11 and Walgreens — may serve a lot of Chinese visitors, these stores’ main clientele is ordinary locals, who now will become acquainted with the Alipay name. The big picture: Alibaba is enticing U.S. businesses with Alipay, which allows users to pay by scanning a QR code on the app. It has more than 700 million Chinese users. It is telling U.S. companies that if they add the system, they’ll get a big piece of the tens of billions dollars Chinese nationals spend in the U.S. every year. Alipay already has 4 million U.S. users and works with luxury brands like Lacoste and Rebecca Minkoff, and can be used at duty-free shops and Vegas hotels — places frequented by Chinese tourists. But the move this week into 7,000 Walgreens, and earlier into 7-Eleven in Canada, is part of a separate strategy, says Humphrey Ho, an analyst with the Hylink Group. “The real play here is for the students, the new immigrants, and the people here to work for just a few years,” Ho says. There’s a massive market of Chinese nationals who are in the U.S. longer than tourists, but would still like to use Alipay instead of applying for a credit card.My thought bubble: Though it’s possible that Alibaba could follow Japan’s strategy from the 1960s and 1970s and break open the American market, it seems to me that Alipay’s expansion will be limited to Chinese nationals for the foreseeable future. As a Walgreens shopper, I’m not sure just seeing that Alipay is an option would make me want to use it. Americans love their credit cards way too much.Plus, it’s unlikely that Alibaba will ever get approval from the U.S. to take on the role of a bank and dole out mobile wallets. The privacy concerns are too big, Ho says.3. What you may have missedPhoto: Underwood Archives/Getty4. Worthy of your timeIllustration: Rebecca Zisser/AxiosThe weak link in the global economy (Fergal O’Brien, William Horobin — Bloomberg)Hospitals reap windfalls from outpatient drugs (Bob Herman — Axios)India floats Chinese-style censorship (Vindu Goel — NYT)Investors are scurrying back to Rome (Kate Allen — FT)Why baths incubate ideas (The Economist)5. 1 cartoon thing: Watching Peppa, talking like a Brit Screenshot: Peppa PigIn a new phenomenon, young Americans are falling under the influence of a cartoon pig, and speaking with British accents and idioms. The culprit is Peppa Pig, the star of an animated U.K. series whose dialogue includes phrases not used by ordinary Americans, like knackered, snuggle, straightaway and toh-MAH’-toh, writes Kelly Conaboy at the Cut. Go deeper: Watch Peppa Pig.
Discuss the future of blockchain with Dogecoin and more at TNW2019
The world of blockchain and cryptocurrency is rather confusing for those looking in from the outside. Granted, it’s a tight-knit circle – but it won’t be for long. While there are still plenty of unanswered questions, blockchain technology opens doors for our future that we never thought possible.
At TNW2019’s Hard Fork track, we’ll explore how we’ll use blockchain in the next five to 10 years, and how we can achieve mass adoption in the face of uncertainty. Here are some of the themes that our lineup of speakers will explore on stage:
The Trust Economy
These days, transparency in king when it comes to business. Finding ways to build trust with clients and customers goes a long way in differentiating yourself from the competition. Many organizations are already doing this successfully, but technologies like blockchain can enhance integrity and trust even further. So how can companies use it effectively?
At TNW2019, speakers like Jackson Palmer, founder of Dogecoin, will be talking about the use cases of blockchain for business. He’ll explore how we can achieve mass adoption, and more. Don’t miss him speak at the Hard Fork track.
The road to regulation is long and winding – with no clear end in sight. How can we ensure that cryptocurrency is regulated in a way that upholds the values upon which it was built? The answer is anything but simple.
And yet, thought leaders like Letitia Seglah, consultant for the European Commission, are moving us in the right direction. Her outspoken views on regulation provide a platform for this important discussion to move forward. If you’re interested in learning more about how we’ll achieve regulation, make sure to hear her speak on the TNW2019 stage.
Check out Letitia’s panel discussion on regulation from our blockchain and cryptocurrency event, Hard Fork Decentralized:
Blockchain has already been employed for a variety of reasons – from tracking goods in a transparent way to making sure no product has been tampered with across the supply chain. This opens up greater opportunities for us to use blockchain to solve global issues like sustainability.
Entrepreneurs like Jessi Baker, founder and CEO of Provenence, are already making a big impact to improve sustainability. Her company enhances transparency for organic certified farms across Europe, and works with global organizations like Greenpeace. Want to hear more about how she’s using blockchain to build a better world? Then her TNW2019 talk is a must-see.
Working in blockchain or cryptocurrency, or trying to wrap your head around its future? Then the Hard Fork track is for you. Don’t miss our lineup of speakers discuss the latest technology and trends that will keep you ahead of the game – get your TNW2019 tickets now.
Want all the latest news about TNW2019 in real time? Follow @TNWEvents on Twitter and Facebook!
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