The Morning After: Cryptocurrency may be more centralized than you thought

A fifth of bitcoin nodes may be using old, vulnerable tech.

NurPhoto via Getty Images

One of the boons of cryptocurrency is meant to be that no particular company, central bank or government has control. Er, right?

That might not be true. Researchers for a report commissioned by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) found there can be "unintended centralities" in these supposed decentralized systems.

Cryptocurrency power is concentrated among people or organizations with a large chunk of the pie. Almost like any other capitalist system? Gasp.

"Unintended centralities" was the term used, defined as circumstances where an entity has sway over a so-called decentralized system. This could give them the opportunity to tamper with records of ownership. The report also notes three ISPs handle 60 percent of all bitcoin traffic.

The report said 21 percent of nodes are running an old, vulnerable version of the core bitcoin client. Attackers could target these nodes and take over the majority of a blockchain network. Theoretically, at least. But there have been plenty of cryptocurrency attacks in the last few years. Nothing wrong with some skepticism.

Real-life examples already exist: Read CNBC’s report on lending platform Solend. It’s had issues with one major account holder wielding influence over the entire platform.

— Mat Smith


The biggest stories you might have missed

Proteus is Amazon's first fully autonomous warehouse robot

Amazon has also introduced a new robotic arm at its fulfillment centers.


It’s an imposing name for Amazon’s first autonomous warehouse robot, but it still looks like an industrial Roomba. Proteus can move around Amazon's facilities on its own while carrying carts full of packages. The company said the robot uses an "advanced safety, perception and navigation technology," so it can do its work without getting in the way of human employees.

Continue reading.

Microsoft will phase out facial recognition AI that could detect emotions

The move comes as Microsoft pushes for more responsible uses of AI.

Microsoft will "retire" facial recognition technology it said could infer emotions as well as characteristics like age, gender and hair. The AI raised privacy questions, Microsoft said, and offering a framework created the potential for discrimination and other abuses. There was also no clear consensus on the definition of emotions.

Continue reading.

New Philips Hue smart lights include its first portable rechargeable smart lamp

Signify has also launched a new sunrise effect for Philips Hue lights.


Signify (the company responsible for Hue lighting) has introduced a bunch of new Philips Hue smart lighting products, including its first portable rechargeable lamp designed for both indoors and outdoors. The Philips Hue Go portable table lamp has a silicone grip so you can take it with you wherever you go. It can last for up to 48 hours on a single charge. The lamp will be available by the end of summer for $160 in the US and £130 in the UK. The company has new sunrise lighting effects, brighter downlights and even a new floor lamp. For all your smart lighting desires, read on.

Continue reading.

The best smart displays you can buy

Plus our advice on how to choose one.


Smart displays are the second-wave devices born out of the success of the Amazon Echo, Google Home and other smart speakers. Adding visual and tactile components to what were once devices you could only bark orders at makes them more functional and intriguing. Amazon and Google dominate the space, and we’ve just updated our guide to buying a smart display, and we have opinions!

Continue reading.

NASA finally succeeds with its Artemis 1 wet launch test

It has fully fueled the Space Launch System for the first time.

NASA encountered a couple of issues while conducting the Artemis 1 wet dress rehearsal, but it still checked off a major milestone by the end of the test. The agency was able to fully fuel all the Space Launch System's propellant tanks for the first time and proceed to terminal launch countdown. Wet dress rehearsals are tests that simulate a rocket launch without the rocket actually lifting off.

Continue reading.