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The World’s Fifth-Largest Electrical Company Is Using an Ethereum Dapp

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One of the world’s largest electrical companies is teaming up with ethereum app iExec on a new test.

EDF, the fifth largest electrical utility company with a $33 billion market cap, has launched its visual simulator software GPUSPH on iExec, a decentralized application that operates on ethereum mainnet. With this, EDF can test how the program operates on a blockchain rather than a more normal computing environment.

Specifically, the simulator explores a field called “smoothed particle hydrodynamics” for modeling fluids. It’s technical in nature, but the general idea is that the GPUSPH application is useful for studying all sorts of things, like water dams, for example, or even lava cooling. EDF is trying to determine whether ethereum adds any benefits to the simulator, which typically runs on a GPU.

As EDF blockchain engineer Gilles Deleuze told CoinDesk:

“In a wider perspective, […] development of distributed computing is a credible scenario for the future, and blockchain may be a nice lever in this scenario. So, let’s explore it.”

Originally an extension of a decade-old research project, iExec is one of the longer-running ethereum apps, launched in 2016 to explore the concept of cloud computing on the blockchain. While the world of cloud computing is currently dominated by large companies, like Amazon, they’re trying to decentralize the form of computing on ethereum.

iExec head of innovation and adoption Jean-Charles Cabelguen argued to CoinDesk that the advantages of using iExec for GPUSPH are many, including clear monitoring of the state and computational power of the app and increased “resilience” of the app, as it’s running on a decentralize network.

But perhaps one of the most pressing problems ethereum faces is that it doesn’t scale well, at least not yet. But iExec argues they’ve come around with their own scaling solution to at least ensure their dapp is scalable.

“The heavy computing is done off-chain and does not overwhelm ethereum. Afterward, blockchain is used to reach a consensus on the validity of computation’s results. A hash of this result is stored on the blockchain,” Cabelguen said.

That said, EDF thinks the technology is worth exploring. Deleuze even added that EDF plans to launch other experiments on iExec in the future, stating:

“The plan is to continue with other open scientific codes requiring possibly other types of workerpools.”

EDF skyscraper image via Shutterstock

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New Zealand Blockchain Group to Request Government Blockchain Strategy

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New Zealand-based blockchain industry group BlockchainNZ announced that it will request a national blockchain strategy from the government next Thursday, according to a press release on May 21.

The executive director of Blockchain NZ, Mark Pascall, will give a presentation to the New Zealand parliament’s economic development, science and innovation select committee hearing on the potential economic advantages of implementing blockchain tech solutions in the country.

The presentation will reportedly serve as an introductory seminar on blockchain, bitcoin, smart contracts, security tokens, and decentralized autonomous organisations.

Pascall commented that Blockchain NZ wants to have its experts work together with the government to formulate this strategy, and also highlighted the financial scope of blockchain in 2019:

“So, we really want government to take blockchain seriously and produce a strategy. We can help them with that so we strike a balance between trying to plan for an unpredictable future and taking some action so we realize huge potential economic benefits for the country.”

Blockchain NZ is a group of various blockchain-oriented business, organizations and experts, that was formed in 2016. In 2018, the organization voted to become part of the not-for-profit New Zealand Tech Alliance.

Various countries have either implemented or are in the process of implementing or have already implemented national blockchain strategies.

In April 2018, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, launched the ‘UAE Blockchain Strategy 2021.’ In addition to other benefits, the plan will purportedly reduce government expenditures on documentation.

In February, the German government announced it would form such a strategy by mid-2019. Some parliamentarians of the Bundestag stated that the strategy should also include a framework for trading cryptocurrencies.

In March, Australia revealed a national blockchain roadmap and a funding boost to support the technology’s development. The new plan aims to make Australia a national leader in the blockchain industry.





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Central Bank of Laos Issues Warning Against Using Cryptocurrency

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The central bank of Laos has warned the public against the use, purchase or sale of digital currencies, local news outlet Vientiane Times reported on May 21.

The Bank of the Lao PDR has issued a warning to financial market participants and the public against cryptocurrency transactions as they are considered illegal in the country. The bank previously banned financial institutions from conducting any operations with cryptocurrencies, as well as making investments in such an asset.

The bank is purportedly concerned about the anonymity of the sender and receiver in a cryptocurrency transaction, which it worries increases the risk of digital assets’ use in money laundering. A source familiar with the matter told Vientiane Times that authorities do not have a relevant security system to protect cryptocurrency owners.

While some countries like, Canada, Malta and Switzerland have embraced the new asset class to varying degrees, officials around the globe are still expressing skepticism toward crypto, while some hardliners call for outright bans.

In the United States, where the legal status of crypto can vary state-to-state, California Congressman Brad Sherman recently called for a full ban on cryptocurrencies. Sherman claimed that crypto presents a threat to the power of the U.S. dollar to affect world economic developments.

In April, Cointelegraph reported that the Indian government was considering a complete ban of cryptocurrencies under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act since it could purportedly be used for money laundering. The Ministry of Corporate Affairs reportedly stated that cryptocurrencies are used in fraudulent schemes to “defraud gullible investors”.

That same month, news broke that Pakistan — which banned cryptocurrency trading last April — is implementing new cryptocurrency regulations in an effort to improve its track record in fighting financial crime. The move was reportedly in part a reaction to demands from international monitoring body the Finance Action Task Force, which has repeatedly voiced concerns about cryptocurrencies’ role in terrorist financing.





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Firefox Quantum Offers Anti-Cryptojacking Feature

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Firefox Quantum, the latest version of open-source internet browser Firefox, has a new privacy toggle that protects against cryptojacking, according to a blog post by Mozilla on May 21.

Mozilla previously warned official blog post that websites can deploy scripts that launch a crypto miner on a user’s machine without them being aware — a practice known as cryptojacking.

To combat these exploitative practices, Mozilla partnered with online privacy company Disconnect to create a crypto mining blocker for their browser. Users can now toggle an opt-in feature, that purportedly blocks would-be cryptojackers from taking advantage of spare computing power to mine cryptocurrencies.

Mozilla initially announced that it would block cryptojacking in new browser releases in August 2018. As per a report by Cointelegraph, Firefox featured cryptojacking protection in its Firefox Nightly 68 and Beta 67 versions this April, just prior to the launch of Quantum.

Firefox Quantum also aims to mitigate the practice of so-called “fingerprinting,” which makes a sort of digital fingerprint of a user that is employed to monitor their activities on the internet.

Cryptojacking at the consumer level was called “essentially extinct” by cybersecurity company MalwareBytes on April 23. According to the report:

“Marked by the popular drive-by mining company CoinHive shutting down operations in early March, consumer cryptomining seems to have gone the way of the dodo. Detections of consumer-focused bitcoin miners have dropped significantly over the last year and even from last quarter, while business-focused miners have increased from the previous quarter, especially in the APAC region.”

According to the report, consumer malware detections have gone down by approximately 40%. Businesses, however, are being targeted more heavily by cryptojacking attempts, with

Business detections increasing by about 7% during the first quarter of 2019.





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