Showing posts from May, 2017

Blockchain 1.0

NOTE: Previously, I wrote an introductory article on cryptocurrencies and other applications of blockchain, The article can be found here: The article below builds on this by explaining the actual “nuts and bolts” of the bitcoin blockchain. Our goal is to have the reader walk away with a better, more technical understanding of the bitcoin blockchain. If the reader is not familiar with terms and concepts such as: blockchain, cryptocurrencies, distributed ledger, bitcoin mining, etc. It may be best to read the introductory article first or obtain the basic knowledge from other sources.)

Many people have a rough idea of how the bitcoin blockchain works, but few understand precisely how it works. This article intends to explain the blockchain in a clear, simple, and visual way.
Part 1 The Hash and the Blockchain [1]
Before we talk about blockchain, let’s talk about a hash [2]. The hash is the foundation of blockc…

2017 Fiscal Summit by Henry Zhang, Impact Investing Intern, University of Toronto

The US is in major trouble, this being the gigantic amount of debt it has issued. The debt burden is getting bigger by the second and shows no sign of stopping.

For those that aren’t sure what this means, it means less public spending in the future, more inflation, and a large scale economic crisis ahead.

Major trouble attracts major attention, so on May 23rd, 2017, the well known Peter G. Peterson Foundation hosted the 2017 Fiscal Summit, with prominent speakers like Senator John McCain, Senator Mark Warner, House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (and many others) all convening to discuss the national debt, the current political landscape, and implications of the debt for the nation's future.

The key message from the conference is this: nothing can be done and nothing will be done unless the Republicans and the Democrats work together. Right now, there’s little hope for that.

Bipartisanship is an unknown land at this point, and very, very far away, since each party sees the other …

Too late for bitcoin?

On April 17, 2017, we made the following suggestion: "Get some Bitcoins. Now! Why? Our economic forecasting models (the same ones that predicted Trump's win, btw) show an extended period of instability coming, and soon. Should things really go south, bitcoin will be one of the few transaction tools you can depend on. (You can thank me later..just don't say we didn't warn you and give you a way out that we both could benefit from...but I digress...) If you don't know what Bitcoin is, this may help: 'Bitcoin is a new kind of money that can be sent from one person to another without the need for a trusted third party such as a bank or other financial institution; it is the first global, decentralized currency. One of the most important elements of Bitcoin is the blockchain, which tracks who owns what, similar to how a bank tracks assets. What sets the Bitcoin blockchain apart from a bank's ledger is that it is distributed, meaning anyone can view it. Since B…

The K(NO)W Identity Conference by Bo Wang, Impact Investing Intern and student at American University

From the past to the present, people always ask "Who are we?" Today, in a technological era, we have to ask ourselves: "What is my identity?" How does identification relate to our lives?

To help address these issues, on May 15th, One World Identity held The K(NO)W Identity Conference, a platform for participants to connect with identity industry leaders. There were 200 speakers, and more than 300 companies in attendance at this conference. This is a moment for people in the identity industry to learn from other experts. In addition, each session delivered ideas about how the identity industry relate to business, finance, security, government regulation, and so on. However, speakers pursued a neutral position and to sought to simply communicate ideas related to identity across different industries.

From eighteen (18) first day sessions, I attended three related to government, privacy, technology/implementation.

The first session I attended focused on using and mana…

Identity and Blockchain by Henry Zhang, Impact Investing Intern, University of Toronto

With the breakout in the price of bitcoin (from $1177 on March 16 to $1832 on May 16) and the rise of blockchain technology, people now have a “blockchain” view on the future of society. Just about every industry has to deal with internet data and the inherit the risks - data integrity, data transparency, and/or third party inefficiency. This means they can all use blockchain technology and the distributed ledger technology to mitigate or eliminate some or all of the these risks.

One industry which has recently gotten a lot of attention is the identity management industry. Fortunately, since I am in Washington DC for the summer, I had an opportunity to attend the 2017 K(NO)W Identity “intellectual fest” and hear what experts in the identity management field have to say about the issue.

Admittedly, this was a hard conversation to follow. Half of the time they were throwing out jargon I did not understand and the other half of the time they did not provide clear, concise answers to ques…

Edward Snowden on Identity

In what must be considered a successful and interesting approach, the KNOW Identity Conference focused on identity related issues and identity related investment opportunities.

The first speaker was Edward Snowden, appearing via Skype from an undisclosed location. Mr. Snowden made a number of interesting comments.

He noted the government’s primary role in the provision of authenticated documents relating to identity. Indeed, supplying “identity” is one of the core functions of a modern government. Mr. Snowden suggested that governments focus on enabling people to interact with one another, secure in the knowledge of true identity. This needs to be facilitated both locally and globally, that is, you need to communicate securely (secure with respect to knowing the identity of the other person) over both great distances and/or over a shop counter.

As a way of facilitating this thinking, Mr. Snowden noted that one of the core ways to enhance identity is to have governments ask the questi…

Summary of bitcoin and its underlying technology-blockchain, by Henry Zhang, Impact Investing Intern. University of Toronto.


Everyone’s probably heard of the word “bitcoin,” but many only have the vaguest idea about it and little understand the underlying technology. Even fewer realize the true impact this technology may have on the future.
Bitcoin is a cryptocurrency. A cryptocurrency is a digital program or asset designed to work like currency. It seeks to have the following properties: a store of value, a unit of account, and a medium of exchange  Bitcoin is the most popular cryptocurrency of the seven hundred out there. Other major cryptocurrencies are Ethereum, Ripple, and Litecoin.

Cryptocurrencies work via a system of paired-public, private keys - randomly generated numbers. Each user in the cryptocurrency network has a unique pair of public and private keys. The public key is a string of numbers available to everybody on the network. They are used for encryption. The private key is only available to an individual. It is used for decryption of the paired public key. The bitcoin transfer mechan…

Sale of the US Election

As we noted on June 11, 2016, "our initial 2016 Election Fully Adjusted Return Forecast indicates that Donald J. Trump will win the election for the Presidency of the United States" (see: "Why Trump Will Win" Having given on November 9, 2016 one explanation for Trump's win (, we continue to get interesting comments from persons claiming to have additional insight. I found one comment particularly interesting and thought I would share it. “I enjoyed your analysis, but I think it leaves out a few factors. Goldman Sachs acted as a broker for the sale of the US election. It’s why their people fill so many key positions. By applying the same type of computer programs used in high frequency trading, Goldman was able to manipulate actual vote totals. Given their knowledge of this type of trading, they identified…

Sir Richard Branson at the Post by Brendan Cody, Impact Investing Intern and GWU student

Richard Branson owns one of the British Virgin Islands, but, on Friday April 28th, concern about climate change brought him out of his tropical paradise to Washington.

In advance of attending the climate march on Saturday April 29, the Virgin CEO sat down with Jonathan Capehart of the Washington Post for a wide ranging discussion.

Before answering Capehart’s first question, he untied the reporter’s neck tie and tossed it away, displaying his patented eccentricity and disdain for formality. Branson had an unconventional upbringing and while he never received a university education, he “learned through meeting fascinating people and through amazing experiences.”

Branson has innovative ideas to improve the world and prevent the potentially debilitating effects of  climate change. Along with other billionaires, he created a monetary prize for anyone who can create a way to remove carbon from the atmosphere.

He also suggested that coal is not coming back in the United States, but that coa…