ContentBox Launches on Chinese Exchange Huobi 3 1193

ContentBox is utilizing the blockchain in hopes of disrupting the digital content industry.

Relevant content should be easy to find in this technologically-enabled era. However, competition has created white noise that can be hard to penetrate for both creators and content-seekers.

Take podcasts. When we go to Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Soundcloud or any other number of apps and search our favorite topics from a phone, tablet or laptop, we expect to find the most relevant results. But, due to convoluted distribution schemes and multiple different platforms, that’s not always the case. What happens, for example, when a podcast isn’t featured on your device’s native app store or podcast app? Or, perhaps it’s only available in the language of the non-English speaking foreign country you may be traveling in (which you might not happen to speak). At this point, it becomes a matter of scarcity: do you risk settling for a diminished digital experience, or worse, diminishing the quality of your trip?

Renee Wang was working in Japan when she realized there were no podcasting platforms that supported multiple languages on the market. She had to download podcasts to MP3 files and piecemeal them into one.  Recognizing the gap, she decided to build a solution.

CastBox was Born

Renee and her co-founder Alex He built CastBox, a discovery app hailed “the Netflix of podcasts,” and an all-in-one solution to the problem with having to hunt down disparate podcast channels, apps, and stations to find the podcasts you want. Replete with foreign language and multi-platform support, as well as personalized recommendation features, CastBox is essentially a blockchain-enabled podcast aggregator that not only allows individuals to discover new podcasts tailored to their interests, but also allows users to see what others are listening to on the app, and personalize their podcast recommendation and search preferences. One of the greatest ways CastBox adds value to users’ podcast experience is through its in-audio search feature: the app transcribes and indexes audio files and then allows users to search for them based off of just one sentence or body of text within it, after which CastBox then shows their search result, in addition to giving contextualized recommendations to similar podcasts.

On July 17, CastBox Launched ContentBox

As Wang and He discovered, the creative landscape for digital content creators is wide and deep, leading to significant and often insurmountable competition. Unfortunately, the profit potential for such creatives is bleak, as a result. In a market where distribution channels take the lion’s share of content creators’ revenues, the blockchain is poised to rebalance the model in the artist’s favor. And that’s where ContentBox comes in.

On July 17th, CastBox launched ContentBox on Huobi Global. The platform is an open-source blockchain infrastructure for creators, a token-based ecosystem comprised of a shared user and content pool along with a unified payment solution. As a decentralized content ecosystem, ContentBox gives users, creators, and companies alike the ability to integrate into it, opening up content channels, monetization, and multi-platform mobilization.

Boasting 18 million users, 3 billion BOX released, and 750 million BOX circulating as of July, ContentBox is now working on scaling its adoption of BOX Passport, a cross-platform identity and attribution gateway; BOX Payout, a borderless and secure payment transaction network; and BOX Unpack, a turn-key content management solution for publishers, to provide even more monetization opportunities for artists and creators.

ContentBox is allowing users to deposit and buy BOX both on its platform as well as on Huobi, which now also accepts BOX deposits, as well as BOX/ETH and BOX/BTC trades on its platform. ContentBox aims to decentralize the digital content industry and tackle its biggest pain points—creator monetization, user incentives, and content ownership—through a unified payout system, a shared content pool, and a shared user pool. ContentBox is the latest and most wide-ranging effort to combat abuses towards artists in the digital production industries, where platforms take the lion’s share of creators’ profits in exchange for distribution rights. ContentBox allows artists to bypass distribution platforms and access users directly, maximizing their profit potential. The release gives creators crypto-incentives for featuring their podcasts on the platform in the form of BOX tokens, which can be traded for ETH and BTC on Huobi Global.

With the release of ContentBox, CastBox further moves to disrupt the digital content production industry with an antagonistic business model that gives value back to creators instead of profiting off of them. There is major support for this: ContentBox is backed by Nirvana Capital, Node Capital, BlockVC, LinkVC, ICONIZ, JRR, and Fenbushi Capital founder Bo Shen. Further, that ContentBox was listed on Huobi at all is validation: only 0.0001% of all crypto projects are listed on this particular exchange. Yet, to definitively change the industry, CastBox will need to reach mass markets to scale platform adoption and reach mass profitability for podcasters using ContentBox, as well as attract key influencers away from top digital content distribution platforms and onto its own. If it can do this, ContentBox could allow CastBox to compete with the top market-dominating podcast apps globally. Keep your eyes open for more news on this continuing development.

Editorial note: this article was updated to correct a typographical error. We previously reported there were 750 billion BOX circulating as of July — that number was updated to reflect the accurate figure: 750 “million.”


What do you think about blockchain vs. tradition digital content distribution platforms? Could these really disrupt today’s digital content industry? Post in the comments below to tell us your opinions!

 

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Freelance Terrorist Carried Out Hundreds of Bomb Threats in Exchange For Bitcoin 44 2989

An American-Israeli teen is sentenced to a decade in prison after a Tel Aviv court convicted him for a series of fake bomb threats he carried out in exchange for Bitcoin.

The 19 year old began making threats professionally at the age of 16. He is convicted only for crimes committed while over the age of 18. These include making false threats and reports, extortion, money laundering, and conspiracy to commit a crime.

While the Israeli courts withheld the defendant’s identity because some of his alleged crimes occurred while he was a minor, the Guardian identified him as Michael Kadar at the time of his arrest. He was originally indicted for over 2,000 bomb threats, carried out between 2015 and 2017.

Kadar Targeted Children and Jewish Community Centers

The targets of Kadar’s threats included Jewish community centers, the Israeli Embassy in Washington DC, elementary schools, shopping centers, hospitals, law enforcement agencies, airports and airlines.

A threat to an El-Al flight resulted in the deployment of fighter jets for an escorted emergency landing; another threat to a Canadian airport left six people injured during emergency disembarkment; a Virgin flight dumped eight tons of fuel before landing because of a threat; and another threat went to a plane carrying the Boston Celtics.

Kadar also targeted Republican Delaware state senator Ernesto Lopez, who he threatened with blackmail and the murder of his daughter. After Lopez ignored the demands, Kadar ordered drugs to have sent to Lopez’s residence.

Dealing Terror From Mom and Dad’s Apartment

His reign of terror operated from his parent’s fifth floor apartment near the beach in a posh neighborhood in Ashkelon, about 30 miles south of Tel Aviv. But his threats landed in over a dozen countries, including Ireland, New Zealand, Germany, Denmark, Great Britain, Belgium, Australia, Norway, Argentina, Israel, the United States, and Canada.

“One can easily imagine the terror, the fear and the horror that gripped the airplane passengers who were forced to make an emergency landing, some of whom were injured while evacuating the plane,” read the verdict by judge Zvi Gurfinkel, “and the terrified panic caused when there was a need to evacuate pupils from schools because of fake bomb threats.”

The Judge also divulged Kadar’s fees for his services: $40 for a threatening phone call to a private residence, $80 for a bomb threat to a school, and $500 for an airplane scare. Kadar operated on the dark net and disguised his IP address, using a powerful self-installed antenna to tap into remote networks, and software to mask his voice. According to an indictment filed against him in Florida, he spent some of his calls going into graphic detail threatening the deaths of children in American Jewish centers.

A Small Fortune in Bitcoins

At the time of his arrest, Kadar had amassed around 184 Bitcoins for such services—about half a million dollars at the time, and closer to $680,000 today. He also dealt in bomb making manuals, drugs, and child pornography.

Kadar is the son of an American mother, and his father is an Israeli engineer, and has dual citizenship. The US Department of Justice has also indicted Kadar for 32 crimes, including hate crimes, cyberstalking, giving false information to the police, and making threatening phone calls to around 200 institutions. A separate indictment also accuses Kadar of threatening the children of a former CIA and Pentagon official with kidnapping and murder, and links him to over 245 threatening calls.

When Kadar was arrested, he tried to escape by grabbing a pistol from a police officer, but was wrestled to the ground. Thursday’s conviction follows a cooperative investigation by the FBI and Israeli authorities, who have not been able to recover Kadar’s Bitcoins.

Teen’s Mother Calls Conviction ‘Cruel’

Kadar’s mother spoke outside the courtroom after her son’s sentencing, saying “This is the most cruel, cruel thing in the world. I’m very sorry, but I am ashamed that the country acts this way.” She insisted that her son needed treatment, not prison.

In an earlier interview she told Israeli TV her sun was suffering from a brain tumor, which made school difficult for him. Because of this and his autism, Kadar was homeschooled.

Defense lawyer Shira Nir said these conditions made Kadar unfit to stand trial, as he could not distinguish right from wrong. A medical panel confirmed the defendant’s autistic condition, but concluded he was capable of understanding the consequences of his actions. Judge Gurfinkel said Kadar’s conditions were taken into account, lessening the sentence from 17 years in prison to 10.

Bitcoin Uses As Much Energy As Austria, Could Add 2°C to Earth’s Atmosphere 2,182 13371

Bitcoin mining, it turns out, damages the earth more than more traditional environmental assaults like actual mineral mining.

According to a paper published Monday in Nature Sustainability, the power-hungry Bitcoin mining process consumes more than triple the amount of energy needed to mine the equivalent amount of gold, more than quadruple what’s needed for copper, and more than double what it takes to mine platinum.

Other coins didn’t fare much better. By their measurements, Ethereum and Litecoin consume 7 megajoules of electricity to produce the equivalent of $1, the same energy expenditure as copper mining but more than that of platinum or gold. Monero eats up 14 megajoules to produce $1.

Naturally, these measurements refer to the notoriously variable dollar valuations of such tokens. “While the market prices of the coins are quite volatile,” write researchers Max J. Krause and Thabet Tolaymat, “the network hashrates for three of the four cryptocurrencies have trended consistently upward, suggesting that energy requirements will continue to increase.”

Bitcoin’s Growing Electricity Bill is Bigger Than Some Countries

We’ve long known that Bitcoin is unsustainable. In a 2015 article for Motherboard, Christopher Malmo pointed out that a single Bitcoin transaction used 5,033 times as much energy as a Visa swipe, and could power 1.5 American homes for a day.

The electricity used to crunch Bitcoin code—and its environmental cost—has been growing with its increasing popularity. Digiconomist’s Bitcoin Energy Consumption Index shows Bitcoin currently consuming 73.12 terawatt hours (or 263.232 billion megajoules) of electricity annually. To put that in context, it’s comparable to the amount of energy it takes to power Austria for a year.

That means there are 175ish countries on earth using less energy than Bitcoin (to say nothing of crypto on the whole), while 66 countries consume less energy per capita than one Bitcoin transaction (it takes 94 thousand kilowatt hours of electricity to mine a single Bitcoin).

Iceland, a major hub of Bitcoin mining farms, spends nearly as much energy on Bitcoin as it does powering its residential homes. In this case, the damage is mitigated because most of Iceland’s power comes from renewable energy.

Canada’s Bitcoin emissions are also on the lower end due to renewable energy sources. They’re using this to court mining companies from China, where mining emissions are about four times that of Canada’s. Montreal International attracts foreign investment by calling Quebec the land of “green bitcoin”. This has caught the eye of some Chinese mining companies looking to go overseas as the Chinese government has discouraged expansion and shut down some mining operations altogether.

Depending on Bitcoin’s growth, some have projected that it could use as much energy as the entire world by 2020.

Digital Currency Has a Real Carbon Footprint

Krause’s and Tolaymat’s research reminds us of the sobering reality that all this invisible wealth has real world costs.

For the 30 months they measured between January 2016 and June 2018, they estimate their four featured tokens collectively belched out at least 3 million tons of CO2 emissions, possibly as much as 15 million tons.

These findings follow another study, published last month, which determined Bitcoin alone could add two degrees Celcius to global warming within the next three decades. That’s enough to raise ocean acidity by 29 percent.

Solving Bitcoin’s Energy Consumption Crisis

So what is the solution? If the world were to switch to 100 percent renewable energy overnight, the problem would be moot. But we can’t hold our breath for that. There could be ways of incentivizing clean energy so greener mines reap more coins, or of implementing clean energy in other ways.

It’s also possible to adopt less computationally intensive mining algorithms so the mining computers don’t guzzle as much juice. This would disappoint a lot of old school Bitcoiners who have invested in hardware, but their feelings don’t really outweigh that 2 degrees celcius that everyone will have to live with (or die by).

Whatever the best solution turns out to be, something needs to change soon. Bitcoin is growing up, and it’s time for it to mature into something more sustainable.

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