Sunday, December 3, 2017

What is Bitcoin and cryptocurrency?

Article written in June 2017 and published in December 2017

Crypto currencies are based on the use of cryptography, which is the practice of encoding messages for communication so that they are not understood by anybody who intercepts the communication. In the case of a currency, the coding is done so that another person who is on the network that uses the currency is not able to lay their digital hands on that held by the rightful owner. The procedure that is followed to ensure that all transactions with a currency unit are carried out only once and not ‘double-spent” is based on the implementation of a peer-to-peer network. Such a network is one which does not have a centralized server, in other words, all the systems in the network are peers. When was this model for a digital currency evolved?

Satoshi Nakamoto
Bitcoin was the first cryptocurrency. The Paper that specified the alogorithm and procedure for Bitcoin was written by Satoshi Nakamoto, whose identity is not known and it can an individual or an entity. Nakamoto presented the paper in 2009 and left the project in 2010. Bitcoin is run by all its users. The concept behind it also involves all users also known as peers working on its implementation.

Peer to Peer Model
The peer-to-peer model works through the involvement of the entire network of users in the production and utilization of the crypto currency. The core method is the application of a cryptographic hash function. This is a function that takes data of any size and converts it into a string of bits, with the string being of a fixed size. The procedure is called hashing. As laid out by Nakamoto, each transaction is hashed, i.e., represented by a fixed string of binary digits(bits), into an “ongoing chain.” This becomes a record that cannot be changed without the chain being redone. The chain that is thus created, termed as a block chain, is available with every user of the network.

Doing the math for confirming a bitcoin transaction
The process of hashing i.e., the conversion of network timestamps into bits, requires computing power which is supplied by each user. When the owner of a coin pays, the hash of the previous transaction is transferred along with a digital signature as well as a public key of the new owner of the coin. As each timestamp is used to create a hash and the ongoing hashes, the chain reveals the utilization of a coin in the first instance and so it cannot be used a second time by a rogue user.

Effort(energy) required
The confirmation of a transaction is called “Mining” and requires the utilization of a CPU. This requires scanning for a value so that the bit string conforms to certain specifications. The specification is that the bit string must have a number of zeros at its start. The calculations become exponentially tougher as the number of zeros are higher. The mathematical computation involved is for the identification of the right number that can be combined with the block can yield the bit string with the specified number of leading zero bits. The computation involves billions of calculations per second.

Proof of Work
After the calculation is completed by the CPU, which is termed as Proof of Work, the block is completed. The block is the cryptographic proof that the order of transactions is secure. When a transaction takes place, it is communicated to all nodes on the system. Every node then starts to gather new transactions into a block.

Creation of new Bitcoins
A confirmation might not be needed if the users know and trust each other. A single confirmation by a node of a transaction can suffice for smaller transactions whereas larger transactions would need six confirmations. The more confirmations there are, the lower are the risks. The average rate of addition of blocks to the chain is one every ten minutes. When a miner verifies a transaction, they get a reward in the form of newly-generated Bitcoins. When the number of Bitcoins reaches 21 million, issuance of new units will be stopped.

Spending the cryptocurrency
There are many types of wallets that can be used to store and transact. They are available in the form of mobile wallets, desktop wallets, hardware wallets and web wallets. The wallets needs to be kept secure and must have backups. If the wallet is on a user’s phone, it needs to be encrypted. Hardware wallets are devices that are built solely for bitcoin storage. In a user’s wallet, private keys will be stored. A transaction for spending the currency will be signed by the user with this private key. The person receiving the currency will have to provide an address, which is not used again for any other transaction. The spender has control over the selection of any fees that may be required for the transaction.

Buying Bitcoin
Bitcoin can be bought at exchanges dealing in it in exchange for other currencies. The denomination that is used is known as ‘satoshi’ with one Bitcoin equal to 100,000,000 Satoshis. One Bitcoin is represented by BTC.

Exchanges in India
·        BTCXIndia
·        Coinsecure
·        Unocoin
·        Zebpay

Advantages over normal currencies
·        No processing fees by a central authority
·        No other unwanted charges can be levied on a purchase
·        Individuals are insulated from fraud
·        A transaction cannot be reversed
·        Personal data is not required for a transaction
·        No delays on international transactions
Disadvantages are primarily about the volatility of the value of the currency.

Current value of bitcoin
Bitcoin has risen nearly 500 percent in the last year, and 50 percent in May of 2017. In June 2017, it had been maintaining a range of between $2000 and all time high of $2791. As more countries have begun to look closely at the crypto currency, there is an expectation that demand will be high in the coming days. The BTC value in India in June was around 178,000. The Government of India is currently seeking suggestions from the public on cryptocurrencies. Update: In early December BTC has risen to above $11,000 and in Indian Rupees is trading at 75200.

Competitors
There are many other crypto currencies in the wake of Bitcoin, with Ripple coming second. A prominent competitor is Ethereum which has grown rapidly from $8 at the beginning of 2017 to over $200 in May.

Last Word

Bitcoin has been projected to grow rapidly as is the case currently too. Its competitors are also all growing. However, volatility is a fundamental feature. It can be used as an alternate asset at the moment while not yet being at the level of a regular investment. People must avoid making any investments in Bitcoins with their primary cash and savings.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

A series on taxi service apps-1

Curb Passenger App

Curb delivers the most extensive network for a Taxi service around the U.S. with coverage of 65 cities. Curb delivers a different level of security when compared to other apps with its verified driver roster. In each city, drivers who have certified licenses and insurance according to local specifications are registered. This makes it a Taxi app that provides total secure rides to its users as it does not stop with ensuring quick hailing but also goes ahead and creates a secure pathway to your destination.

Connect with a huge customer base
Taxi services that plug into Curb get customers across the U.S. to serve while maintaining the high standards that Curb applies to drivers. This ensures that any fleet that works with Curb has a high quality threshold by meeting the guidelines laid down by Curb. Not only do Transportation Service providers get customers across the country but also maintain zero tolerance for unprofessional drivers. When a professional driver utilizes the Curb app, they are assured of regular customer bookings with more rides per shift than the rest of the apps in the market.

Online booking avenue
Curb also provides the option to go in for online booking which is very useful when you are planning well ahead of your journey and need to customize various facets of your travel plan. At the same time, you can make bookings right from your app. The online experience is for those who like to do it with a bit more detail. Customers can plan for a trip 24 hours in advance. A crucial differentiator with Curb is you can make the payment with cash if you want to do so, thereby not closing any channel of payment that the customer might prefer.

Choice of vehicle
In addition to choice of payment, Curb also provides choice of vehicle which is a very crucial parameter for some customers.

Pair and Pay
Customers can hail a taxi on the streets and then pair the service up with the app.

Wide network of Taxi drivers
Curb is not confined to professional taxi drivers but also includes any for-hire driver after all the mandatory approvals with regard to local standards and insurance.

Payment is instantaneous
Curb delivers automatic payment leading to a complete elimination of any interaction between devices or any dialogue between the driver and the customer. A default tip percentage is applied with the automatic payment feature, which can be changed by the customer to set the tip percentage of their choice. Tips can be set for future rides and tips on past rides too can be adjusted down the line by contacting support.

Unique add-ons
Customers who want to engage Taxis for an event that they are organizing can get in touch with Curb and organize a more customized hail and dispatch.

Credit Card benefits
With credit card being essential in some jurisdictions, the payback for customers comes in the form of promos that add a great way of bringing down some of your customer’s transportation bills. Credit cards can be added by using a smartphone to scan the card and after the scan is configured by the App, entry of the expiration date completes the addition of the card to the account. With such ease of card addition, there is absolutely no extra effort needed by customers to get their payments off and running. The same can also be done by going through the menu of the app.

No worry about lost articles
When you lose some object on your Curb App ride, all you need to do is log into your account and identify the company whose service you have utilized.

Sharing benefits
Curb users can convert their travel into a shared one by sing the app to set the destination as well as the number of people that they want to share their ride with. After the request is confirmed, a nearby location where the travel will originate is notified to the customer. Such comprehensive customer benefits are not available in many other taxi apps. This feature is available in specific areas within New York City which can be identified on a map on the app. Once the ride is confirmed, four minutes are allowed before the ride can be started while the passenger who joins in has two minutes to reach the pickup spot.

Getting receipts
Curb will send customers receipts for the ride within 24 hours. Customers can also log in to the site and get their receipt mailed to them.

Using Curb without an account
The taxi company that customers frequent can be used to get the transaction routed through Curb but many features might not be available through this avenue.

Completion of the journey

Curb is completely paperless for customers who want to eliminate all hassle from their journey. It is this feature that makes it a futuristic mode of travel wherein customers can get their taxis in a matter of minutes, complete their journey and exit the vehicle without loss of any time for completion of the payment.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Stress in the workplace

Stress is Good
When Stress becomes an apparent issue, it is time to realize that you have entered a phase of intense activity at the workplace. It is an indication of your responsibilities becoming bigger and your career gaining exponentially in terms of expertise. To rise up to the occasion, the first step is to acknowledge that you are being required to deliver more as you have developed the foundation for the same. This is the time to make the move towards aiding yourself to cope with the responsibilities better.

Turning insecurity into resourcefulness
If you are having insecurity with regard to your abilities to handle added responsibilities, planning and learning are the key words to address it. This stress is good because you have identified the areas that need more focus, either consciously or sunconsciously. All that remains to be done is to work out the ways to address them with the development of a mission statement for the particular challenges. By linking with the required resources, half the stress is addressed while the remaining half is overcome with a roadmap for application of the resources.

Ramp up communication

Communication is crucial in creating the right atmosphere for all reactive and resourceful action plans to be put into practice. Develop a new vocabulary of communication to handle the new or the unfolding situation that is causing the stress. In the long run, stress is good because it drives you to make the changes required to wade through it and perform your responsibilities to the most optimum. Step up into a rich new phase of both your professional and personal life.

Is it time to start looking at AI for your business

Artificial Intelligence has acquired breakneck speed of late to the extent that warnings have been issued of machines taking over too fast. In Business, the time to make full use of the technologies underpinning the field is surely now or never. With delegation of noncreative tasks to the machine, employees will have the time to focus on key aspects of the business that deliver added value to customers. The focus will shift to research and the development of jobs related to the availability of rapid-fast deductions by machines on what is going on with customers and markets.

Aiding business intelligence
With machine-deduced insights, decision makers will have their hands full in responding to alerts that are generated by the system. Further detail can be picked out by using the customization capabilities of the Machine Learning process. With all future business patterns discerned in advance and all events responded to with precision, businesses are going to be beehives of activity with activities that are guided to the last detail. The next stage of business development will be led by analysts who assist the AI system to generate key knowledge streams.

Staying on Track
Businesses that get into the AI revolution will be able to mop up all the small bits and pieces of profitable activities while keeping even the miniscule loss-making parts out of the equation. As companies master this efficiency phenomenon, they will discover more advanced capabilities of AI down the track. It is Win-Win when AI is adopted early, in the near-term and the long term. Without an AI game plan, businesses will be falling back more and more with each quarter.


Thursday, August 31, 2017

Digital Transformation-How to go about it?

Digital Transformation is the flavor of the season with all talk about bots replacing humans and the Internet of Things holding out great promise for transformation of all current practices. As companies embrace this buzzword or react to it, it needs to be realized that this is quite a major revamp of the entire setup and not just the introduction of newer technologies. The convergence of a whole lot of innovation and their continuous adoption and further innovation is delivering an environment where efficiency is maximized over all activities and processes.

What is the basic prerequisite for Digital Transformation?
It is the involvement and integration of every component of a business operation. For Digital Transformation to really achieve its potential, every part of an organization and its staff need to be connected to the transformation as too needs to be all operations and data. The interlinking of data to feed and refine decision-making processes translates into all data becoming crucial for every decision. Insights will be gleaned from across the organization and not any more from specific departments.

Who benefits the most?

It is ultimately the customers who are going to be struck by this new approach and delivery wherein the buying experience becomes elevated to rarefied heights. To create such an outcome, the tools and the ways and means that employees have at their disposal will be radically advanced thereby making employees work better.

From Chief Information Officer to Chief Integration Officer

The times are a changing and technology is gaining rapid momentum. When one grasps the momentum of the event, it is clear that these are the times of maximum revolution in all spheres of business. Technology is bringing about a new kind of existence where there is no room for vagueness. It is all about learning and adapting. To rise to the occasion, CIOs need to be afraid of complacency.

Restructuring comes to the Enterprise
Digital Transformation is raising the bar all around the organization. All activities and processes are going to be ultra-refined and revamped beyond recognition. Leadership is crucial now and CIOs need to get on their battle gear. This is a challenging time and most importantly an exciting time. It is going to be a time where employees are going to get into the great learning evolution. Like the Ice Age and the Dark Ages, we are now entering the Age of Learning. This is going to make humans ultimately realize the great wealth of knowledge that is out there to be delved into.

Digital Transformation of Everything

It is going to be an age where humans are going to shake away their immersion into straitjackets of learning. This is going to be the age where the Learning of Everything is going to come about. An unification of all learning disciplines is the new model. And the CIO is the person making the first move in taking over the entire organization as the ambit of operation. To be afraid of this overarching venture is to be prepared fully. It is time to get down to work, to move out of the Department and into the Organization.

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Artificial Intelligence in Medicine

Is Artificial Intelligence going to transform Medicine?
Artificial Intelligence in Medicine requires the collation of vast sets of data combined with detailed inputs from doctors and other medical professionals. With a steady agglomeration of data, AI can deliver the possibility of machine diagnosis of diseases and the ideal treatment regimen. Together with all of the data, algorithms can create the best models based on either rules or on inferences.
Initial Interest in the 70s
INTERNIST-1 was designed in the early 70s with a partitioning algorithm and exclusion functions. Prior attempts had been based on statistical models developed by Thomas Bayes and on Pattern Recognition. Ineffectiveness in diagnosing complex conditions led to INTERNIST-1 being redefined with the introduction of a microcomputer as Quick Medical Reference (QMR). Another system that was developed in the early 1970s was Mycine written in the Lisp programming language. Present Illness Program (PIP) and CASNET were the other systems developed in that period.
Revival in the 2000s
After a period of stagnation in the 90s, the turn of the millennium brought technology to te forefront of all business and lifestyle endeavors. This period was marked early on by the defeat of Chess World champions by computers, the victory of computers at popular games and the spread of smartphones and networked homes. Through the 2000s, processors kept getting better and better while also getting cheaper. This brought AI back onto the fast track of innovation.
Peculiar case of Medicine
In medicine, physicians and experts develop their knowledge by a process of slow and incremental learning through the years. No amount of educational brilliance can surpass a doctor who has seen and observed patients and diseases progress, retreat and be treated or overcome the bodily and chemical responses. Now with digitization and standardization, it is possible to let AI systems scour through all the electronic documents and accumulate learning and intuitions. It is but a matter of time before a well-designed system comes into the practice of diagnosis of diseases after going through each and every document that is out there in a clinic, hospital or in way-bigger systems.
Faster evaluation of test/scan results
AI systems can be trained to look into the images that are a fundamental feature of medicine today. When a system looks an image of a scan, it will have the ability to pick up the minutest patterns that are present in the image. These are jobs that usually occupy the time of the doctors and which will be freed up by relying on AI. Further, the job is not only done fast but also probably better, which makes it an ideal situation when doctors with experience are not available.
Building the system
The more wider the system that feeds into the AI machine, the better that machine learning can come up with better outcomes. When physicians train the AI system, it gets the right directions in which to drive at as it goes about bettering itself each day of its evolutionary existence. Even with the earliest systems of the 70s, it was observed that improvements are dramatic when the early errors are corrected and the system is pointed in the way to go.
Exciting and futuristic probabilities with AI
Epidemics are one of the main target areas that AI can address with great effectiveness. When it comes to handling multiple variables and analyzing them comprehensively, an AI system can help develop just-in-time alerts for healthcare systems. Another equally futuristic possibility is that of detecting when diseases are going to occur in risky sections of the population. This makes disease treatment a highly-enhanced area of medical operation wherein there is no surprise at all when a disease is found in a person.
A whole new outlook on disease
In the dramatic future that AI can deliver within this decade itself, diseases will end up being similar to greying of hair or wrinkling of skin as they are known well in advance. This can transform the very model that medicine is based upon, from that of having patients who have no clue on what is going to happen next to one where patients know about its imminent arrival and all that can be done to stave it off even before it has reared its head.