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Bitcoin mining advocate is going state-to-state to educate US lawmakers

The legislatures in Mississippi and Missouri have separately introduced bills aimed at protecting certain activities of Bitcoin miners following visits from the Satoshi Action Fund.

Dennis Porter, chief executive officer of the Satoshi Action Fund, is taking the fight for hearts and minds on Bitcoin mining to Washington, D.C. and beyond in an effort to support friendly legislation.

Porter, who first discovered Bitcoin (BTC) in 2017, told Cointelegraph his path on advocating the benefits of mining has taken him to support bills in at least six U.S. states with federal lawmakers also in his crosshairs. The Satoshi Action Fund CEO met with U.S. Senators and Representatives on Jan. 25 in support of proposed legislation aimed at eliminating discrimination against miners.

According to Porter, the Lummis-Gillibrand Responsible Financial Innovation Act — a bill introduced in June 2022 aimed at addressing the roles of the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission and Securities and Exchange Commission on crypto regulation — has a provision addressing taxation for BTC mining rewards. He said the legislation could close a loophole allowing the Internal Revenue Service to have two bites of the apple on miners’ revenue.

“We believe that Bitcoin mining is being unfairly targeted and double taxed by the IRS currently,“ said Porter.

Educating on #Bitcoin pic.twitter.com/e8DnH1zEiW

— Dennis Porter (@Dennis_Porter_) January 26, 2023

The conversations between Porter and members of Congress including Senators Ron Wyden, Cynthia Lummis, and Ted Budd marked the first time the Satoshi Action Fund had stepped up in person to the national stage in defense of BTC miners. However, the organization has also stood behind bills being considered in New Hampshire, Montana, Mississippi, Missouri, and Oklahoma.

Crypto mining operations in the United States have many critics among lawmakers and citizens alike, making complaints on the energy consumption of Proof-of-Work cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and noise pollution due to many of the machines always running. In November, New York Governor Kathy Hochul signed a two-year moratorium on PoW mining into law.

Related: Bitcoin mining revenue jumps up 50% to $23M in one month

Porter added leaders in Montana have attempted to push miners out using zoning laws and considered policies including higher electricity rates. The legislatures in Mississippi and Missouri have separately introduced bills aimed at protecting certain activities of miners following visits from the Satoshi Action Fund, while Texas is home to many major blockchain firms following a crackdown in China.

“We’re just going to keep pushing hard until we get actual policy passed,” said Porter.

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Blockchain provider SIMBA Chain awarded $30M by US Air Force STRATFI program

According to SIMBA Chain, the investment will go toward developing blockchain applications that will be used by several government organizations.

Blockchain solutions provider SIMBA Chain has been selected for a $30 million Strategic Technology Focus Initiative (STRATFI) by the United States Air Force (USAF). The initiative is focused on identifying and advancing technologies that could secure the future dominance of the U.S. Air Force. 

According to the announcement, the investment will be used to develop blockchain applications in supply chain management and programs that will be used by several government organizations, including the Office of the Undersecretary of Defense for Research & Engineering, the USAF, the U.S. Navy, the U.S. Army and the Defense Logistics Agency.

SIMBA Chain has a long-standing relationship with the Department of Defense, having developed various blockchain applications to improve critical USAF activities, such as budget tokenization for better accounting and tracking of essential components for the air service branch. The STRATFI initiative will accelerate the development of SIMBA’s blockchain platform, SIMBA Blocks, which supports USAF’s strategic mission.

Bryan Ritchie, CEO of SIMBA Chain, views the STRATFI initiative as a strong demand signal for blockchain technology and an opportunity to increase adoption within the commercial industry. He said, “Given the interconnectedness of the DoD supply chain, it also signals an opportunity to collaborate and increase adoption within the commercial industry.”

Related: US Air Force files trademark application for ‘SpaceVerse’ initiative

As previously noted, this is not the first time the U.S. Air Force has experimented with blockchain technology. In June 2022, Cointelegraph reported that the U.S. Air Force tapped SIMBA Chain to develop a budgeting and accounting system for tracking and monitoring the military’s cash flow and supply chain quality and management. 

The goal of the project, dubbed Digital Blockchain Budgeting Accountability and Tracking (DiBaT), was to tokenize all dollars within the U.S. Air Force supply chain budget and track fund movement across billing centers, purchasing teams and suppliers.

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Wormhole wins second ‘temp check’ to become bridge for Uniswap governance

Wormhole got over 60% of the vote in the Uniswap DAO referendum, with LayerZero coming in second.

The Uniswap DAO has approved a second non-binding proposal, called a “temperature check,” to make Wormhole the official bridge for cross-chain governance of the protocol between BNB Chain and Ethereum, according to the official proposal page.

BREAKING: Wormhole has won the vote to be Uniswap’s designated bridge to the Binance Chain! This is a major step forward in the development of the DeFi ecosystem. #DeFi #BNBChain #Uniswap #Wormhole

— BitArchive (@ChainArchives) January 31, 2023

The proposal will now become part of a final plan to deploy Uniswap V3 to the BNB Chain, which will go up for a binding governance vote at some point in the future.

Wormhole was up against three rival bridge solutions in the DAO’s referendum: LayerZero, deBridge and Celer. It got a clear majority with 62.31% of the vote. LayerZero was second with 37.58%, and DeBridge and Celer each got less than 0.1%.

This is the second time the Uniswap DAO has attempted to reach consensus on the choice of bridging solutions. On Jan. 21, the DAO voted in a temp check to deploy Uniswap V3 on the BNB Chain and to utilize Celer bridge to handle cross-chain governance votes. However, even before this vote had finished, some community members had started to express security and centralization concerns regarding using Celer bridge.

Related: DeFi auditor gets $40,000 for identifying Uniswap vulnerability

On Jan. 27, DAO members began voting on this second temperature check to decide specifically on the choice of bridge, with the understanding that the decision to deploy to BNB chain had been settled in the previous vote.

The Solana-Ethereum version of Wormhole was hacked in February 2022, allowing the attacker to gain $321 million worth of crypto in one of the largest decentralized finance exploits ever. However, the Wormhole team replaced the Ether (ETH) in the bridge to reimburse users, and the BNB-Ethereum version of the bridge doesn’t seem to have been affected by the exploit.

LayerZero was recently the subject of controversy, as a rival developer accused the bridging protocol of having security vulnerabilities. The LayerZero team has rejected the accusation, claiming it is misleading.

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Examiner finds customer deception, ‘very Ponzi-like’ use of funds at Celsius

The court-appointed examiner found many intentional and unintentional shortcomings at the bankrupt crypto lender dating back to its founding.

Court-appointed examiner Shoba Pillay submitted her final report on select aspects of operations at bankrupt cryptocurrency Celsius on Jan. 31. The document was commissioned on Sept. 29 and is 470 pages long, not counting the 31 appendices.

Pillay is a former federal prosecutor and partner at law firm Jenner & Block. She looked at how customer cryptocurrency was stored at Celsius, the accuracy of the company’s public representations, whether new deposits were used to pay existing customers, the status of the company’s mining business and tax compliance.

“Celsius promoted itself as an altruistic organization,” Pillay wrote. However, “Behind the scenes, Celsius conducted its business in a starkly different manner than how it marketed itself to its customers in every key respect.”

The deception began immediately, Pillay found, when the Celsius initial coin offering in March 2018 failed to raise the hoped-for $50 million, coming in at $32 million. The Celsius community was not told of the shortfall. Nor did founder Alex Mashinsky make good on his promise to buy any unsold tokens.

Further, Pillay documented how the company and Mashinsky personally exerted control over the price of the native CEL token. That effort was not wholly successful, in part due to accounting shortcomings. As a result:

“Celsius did not earn sufficient yield on its crypto asset deployments to fully fund its CEL buybacks. As a result, it began using customer-deposited Bitcoin (BTC) and Ether (ETH) to fund its CEL purchases.”

In early 2021, as Bitcoin (BTC) and Ether (ETH) prices rose and customers withdrew more of the CEL cryptocurrency, Celsius “justified its use of customer deposits to fill this hole in its balance sheet on the basis that it was not selling customer deposits but instead posting them as collateral to borrow the necessary coins.”

1/ The Celsius bankruptcy examiner report is out.

My opinion is that @Mashinsky and other executives will go to jail for a long time.

Celsius propped $CEL token while Mashinsky dumped on retail.

Evidence show willful deception to keep the ‘flywheel’ going

Highlights

— Ram Ahluwalia, crypto CFA (@ramahluwalia) January 31, 2023

Pillay noted that the Celsius coin deployment specialist described the actions as “very Ponzi-like” in internal communications. In addition, the company’s reward (interest) rates were not tied to yield generated from customer assets but were set to beat competitors’ offers. There was no policy for determining rewards until July 2021.

Between 2018 and June 30, 2022, the company paid out $1.36 billion more in rewards than the revenue customer assets generated.

By May 2022, as the price of the LUNA (LUNA) stablecoin plummeted, the company was no longer able to support the price of CEL. It paused withdrawals on June 13, but continued to pay rewards. At that point, the company was taking questionable measures. Pillay wrote:

“Between June 9 and June 12, Celsius did directly use new customer deposits to fund customer withdrawal requests.”

Celsius declared bankruptcy on July 13.

Related: New ‘Celsius token’ may be used to repay creditors: Report

The examiner found Celsius’ mining business, created as a subsidiary in October 2020, to be “generally current” on its bills, with few exceptions. She summed up the outstanding debt:

“Celsius Mining’s unpaid utility-related bills were $13,982,152. Celsius Mining’s mining hosts, however, hold prepayment balances totaling $46,809,756 that may be available to offset Celsius Mining’s obligations.”

Celsius defaulted on its debt to third-party mining contractor Core Scientific in October.

The tax picture was less rosy. Pillay found “significant tax compliance deficiencies.” This might be unsurprising, since Celsius had no tax professionals on its staff until June 2021. Even then, there was no systems created to pay use taxes and value-added taxes in a timely manner.

Pillay described widespread confusion about how applicable taxes for Celsius Mining were calculated or collected. Consequently, Celsius Mining may face tax bills upward of $20 million in the American states of Texas, Pennsylvania and Georgia, where it has mining operations. That amount may be reduced through retrospectively applied exemptions.

Celsius Network, a U.K.-based organization, is facing potential VAT liabilities. It has reserved $3.7 million for their payment.

Celsius’ tax problems were due only to lack of systems, communications and sophistication, Pillay said:

“The Examiner did not uncover any facts suggesting that Celsius or any of its business entities willfully or intentionally failed to pay its tax obligations.”

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LayerZero bridging protocol denies accusation of ‘critical vulnerabilities’

LayerZero is the protocol used by Stargate bridge, which has over $382 million locked in its smart contracts.

Summa founder James Prestwich has accused the $382 million LayerZero bridging protocol of hosting a “critical vulnerability.” 

According to a Jan. 30 post by Prestwich, this vulnerability “could result in theft of all user funds.” LayerZero CEO Bryan Pellegrino has called Prestwich’s accusation “absolutely shocking” and “wildly dishonest,” claiming that the vulnerability only applies to applications that don’t modify the default configuration.

Absolutely shocking that a competitor would put out a wildly dishonest post about us. Happy to have @zellic_io @osec_io @ZOKYO_io or any other of the auditing firms come comment and dispel but let me summarize.

If you set up your own config, absolutely none of this is true https://t.co/zXdqkqO4rZ

— Bryan Pellegrino (@PrimordialAA) January 30, 2023

LayerZero is a protocol used to create cross-chain blockchain bridges. Its most notable application is the Stargate Bridge, which can be used to move coins between several different blockchain networks, including Ethereum, BNB Chain (BNB), Avalanche (AVAX), Polygon (MATIC) and others. Stargate has $382 million of total value locked (TVL) in its smart contracts as of Jan. 30, according to DeFi Llama.

According to its whitepaper, the LayerZero protocol provides a trustless way of moving cryptocurrencies from one network to another. It does this by using an Oracle and Relayer to verify that coins are locked on one chain before allowing a coin to be minted on a different chain. As long as the Oracle and Relayer are independent and do not collude with each other, it should be impossible for coins to be minted on the destination chain without first being locked on the originating chain.

However, Prestwich claimed in a Jan. 30 blog post that Stargate and other bridges that use the “default configuration” for LayerZero suffer from a critical vulnerability. He claimed this vulnerability allows the LayerZero team to remotely change “the default Receiving library” or to “arbitrarily modify message payloads,” which can enable the team to bypass the Oracle and Relayer to transmit any message they want across the bridge. This implies that when LayerZero is used with its default configuration, it relies upon trust in the LayerZero team rather than in a decentralized protocol for its security.

Prestwich further claimed that Stargate suffers from this vulnerability since it uses the default configuration. To mitigate against this vulnerability, Prestwich advises app developers who use LayerZero to alter their smart contracts to change the configuration. However, he says that most LayerZero apps still use the default configuration, putting them at risk.

Related: Cross-chain interoperability remains a barrier to crypto mass adoption

LayerZero CEO Bryan Pellegrino vigorously denied Prestwich’s claims, calling them “wildly dishonest” in a Jan. 30 tweet. 

In a conversation with Cointelegraph on Jan. 31, Pellegrino stated that all validation libraries “are immutable forever, period.” The team can add new libraries but “can never change, remove, or do anything to” the ones that already exist. While the team can add new libraries to the registry, if an app has already chosen a particular library or set of libraries to be used, this cannot be changed by the LayerZero team.

Pellegrino admitted that the library an app “points to” can be changed by the LayerZero team if the app developer is using the defaults, but not if it has already moved away from the default configuration.

As for Prestwich’s claim that Stargate is at risk, Pellegrino responded by saying that the StargateDAO voted on Jan. 3 to change its library from the default to a specific one that is more gas-efficient. He expects this library change to be implemented “this week (likely today).” Once this update is made, “that will never be able to change on them unless Stargate votes and changes it themselves.”

Cross-chain bridge security has been a hot topic in the crypto community over the past few years, as millions of dollars have been lost through bridge hacks. In May, 2022, the Axie Infinity Ronin Bridge was exploited for $600 million by an attacker who stole keys to the developers’ multi-sig wallet and used it to mint coins without any backing. A similar attack occurred against the Harmony Horizon Bridge on June 24, 2022. Over $100 million was lost in the Horizon attack. The Harmony team has since relaunched the bridge using the LayerZero protocol.

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Rumor has it that Dogecoin could shift to proof-of-stake — What does that mean for miners?

Dogecoin shifting to proof-of-stake would be good for the environment, but what impact would it have on miners and ASIC manufacturers?

There are rumors that Dogecoin could switch from proof-of-work to proof-of-stake (PoS). 

Do I know if Dogecoin is switching to PoS?

No.

Do I think it’s going to PoS? Probably not.

But I love the “what if” game.

As a person who works in the crypto mining industry, I do my best to gauge where the market and mining industry are going, along with how that could play out. If Dogecoin makes a change to PoS or some other change to how new blocks are created, it would have massive ramifications for the mining industry.

Here’s a look at a few options and their effects.

Scrypt mining could be devastated

I’m not going to debate whether or not Dogecoin will or should switch to PoS. While it’s hard to determine if the recent rumors about the potential for a switch are true or not, they were enough to have Bitmain supposedly pause Litecoin (LTC) and Dogecoin (DOGE) miner manufacturing.

The larger question in my mind is, What happens to miners if Dogecoin switches to PoS?

First, Scrypt mining would be devastated. DOGE accounts for over 60% of the revenue with Scrypt mining. Take it away, and every L3+, every LT6 and every Mini Doge Pro, literally almost every non-L7 miner not connected to $0.04-per-kilowatt-hour electricity would need to be unplugged immediately.

Network difficulty would likely bounce all over the place for some time, while miners with older equipment struggle with the decision to keep their ASICSs on or turn them off. The apex Scrypt miner, Bitmain’s Antminer L7, would see its profitability reduced by nearly 75%, reducing profits to a whopping $4.83/day at $0.05/kWh.

What about the miners that don’t have an industrial electric rate? At $0.10/kWh, the L7 9050M, which sold for around $9,000 a few weeks ago, would earn you $0.72/day.

Yikes!

A drastic change like this would result in those who had recently purchased an L7 being very unlikely to ever recover their investment, let alone generate any profits.

ASIC manufacturers would be forced to drop prices, further impacting their bottom line

The vastly reduced profitability would inevitably lead to the price of the L7 dropping quicker than it did during the COVID-19-induced crypto crash. Pricing miners solely by their expected ROI time, at $5 a day profit, miners would be looking at the L7 having a price tag between $1,825 (12-month ROI) and $2,737.50 (18-month ROI). This reflects a minimum price reduction of nearly 70%.

How quickly would Bitmain react? Would they gradually reduce prices week after week similar to what Goldshell has done with many of its miners over the past few months? A strategy that repeatedly left a sour taste in the mouths of customers as they watched the price of the miner they just spent thousands of dollars on being slashed repeatedly.

Or would they come out and continue their recent trend of pricing miners fairly?

ASIC resellers would also bear the brunt of the negative consequences connected to a PoS shift by Dogecoin. Many L7 miners are suppliers, and retailers sitting on that would instantly need to be marked down by a substantial amount. However, based on their recent history of price-gouging customers, like charging $60,000 for a KD6 that is barely worth over $1,000 today, it’s doubtful many tears would be shed for them.

Many home miners would flood eBay and similar platforms with Scrypt miners. It would be a race to the bottom as desperate miners attempt to recoup whatever value is left in the hunk of metal that can now only be used as a doorstop or display piece if one is desperate.

Litecoin mining would survive. Those L7s would stay on because they’d still be somewhat profitable, and there really wouldn’t be another choice. It’s doubtful that the market would see a new Scrypt miner that could challenge the L7 to be developed anytime soon unless there already is a more efficient Scrypt miner in development. There are some rumors that Bitmain is working on a miner that would surpass the L7.

That’s a lot of disruption from the move to PoS, and we’ve only looked at one aspect of the crypto ecosystem. Numerous other questions and scenarios would need to be considered.

What would happen to network security?

Would the yield from staking cause DOGE to eventually be labeled a security?

Would Dogecoin be lauded for the change, or would the masses flee from what is now the second-largest PoW coin by market cap?

Now for my favorite what if. This option is unlikely, maybe even impossible, but there are different ways it could play out.

What if Dogecoin breaks away from merge-mining with LTC and creates its own mining algorithm?

Related: Dogecoin Foundation announces new fund for core developers

Innovation and competition are healthy for every industry

What if there’s a GPU mining renaissance? After the Ethereum Merge event, there’s a ton of really cheap GPUs available on the market. Those would get expensive really quickly. Mining purists would rejoice as they build their own mining rigs while trying to figure out how much DOGE they can stack. It really would be cool to see, but it wouldn’t last. The big three manufacturers — Bitmain, Goldshell and iBelink — would scramble to be the first to market with an ASIC miner.

Eventually, they’d each have at least one ASIC miner on the market, and naturally, they’ll get more powerful and more efficient over time. The jumps and increases in difficulty would be ridiculous, and just like with Bitcoin (BTC), it will eventually no longer be profitable to mine DOGE with GPUs. But it could also open the door to something the ASIC manufacturing market desperately needs: competition.

What if, following the short-lived GPU mining renaissance, a door opens for another manufacturer or manufacturers to enter the market? Currently, Bitmain, Goldshell and iBelink are the “big three,” and it’s really Bitmain that has a total stranglehold on the market. So, while it’s likely Bitmain would come out on top, what if there’s someone out there who can be first to market and maintain that lead and establish itself as a credible and reliable ASIC manufacturer?

What if that company decided to branch out into other miners and offer them fair prices? To be fair, we do have to commend Bitmain again for the pricing on its recent rollout of industry-altering miners. Reseller markups are still an issue, but that’s another topic. Perhaps this “new” competitor would adhere to the mantra that customer service actually matters. If customers could get over the reliability concerns and the company built a good product, that could happen. Admittedly, that’s a lot of what-ifs.

Alternatively, there’s a money-grab scenario for Dogecoin. The project could go directly to Bitmain, Goldshell and iBelink and say, “We’re creating our own mining algorithm, and we’ll give it to you and you alone. How much money will you give us?”

What would Goldshell pay to bring life back to a company that has taken a series of body blows from the recent altcoin miners released by Bitmain? Or would iBelink go all out to win the rights to make the miner? IBelink just released a new BM-K3 Kadena miner that boasts 70 terahashes — a nearly 75% increase over the next closest model — and it can’t celebrate because Bitmain is about to trump that with the new KA3 that brings 166 THs. In the case of a Dogecoin offer to ASIC manufacturers, how much would Bitmain pay to maintain its market dominance?

No change could be a good thing

What if DOGE chooses to simply continue with Scrypt mining?

The status quo is not that exciting, but it seems to be the most likely outcome. Sure, there may be some changes that will pass a vote, but Dogecoin will most likely continue to be merge-mined with LTC on the Scrypt algorithm.

Bitmain is likely to continue pushing out L7 inventory before launching a more efficient Scrypt miner later this year AND Goldshell will launch a Mini Doge Pro 2 for home miners that will essentially be two Mini Doge Pros in one box. The upcoming LTC halving, along with the more efficient miners, will probably push several older models to shut down for good.

Crypto markets will go up, and crypto markets will go down. There will likely be some other crypto scandal that no one sees coming that will look incredibly obvious in hindsight. The sun will come up, and the sun will come down. Of course, most suppliers and especially resellers will continue to markup miners and squeeze everything they can out of regular customers.

It’s impossible to know what’s going to happen with Dogecoin in the future, but crypto is one of the few industries where anything can happen on any given day.

Regardless of whether Dogecoin switches to PoS, the crypto mining landscape has always changed rapidly, and Scrypt mining is no different.

Change is coming.

The views, thoughts and opinions expressed here are the authors’ alone and do not necessarily reflect or represent the views and opinions of Cointelegraph.

This article does not contain investment advice or recommendations. Every investment and trading move involves risk, and readers should conduct their own research when making a decision.

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Cronos Labs to accept second cohort for $100M-backed Web3 accelerator program

The program aims to provide selected projects with upfront seed funding of $30,000 in addition to mentoring, masterclasses and support from industry experts.

Blockchain startup accelerator Cronos Labs has announced the opening of applications for its second cohort of the $100 million-backed Cronos Accelerator Program. 

The program, which begins on April 24, 2023, will last for 12 weeks and provide selected projects with upfront seed funding of $30,000. In addition, participants will have the opportunity to secure up to $300,000 in seed funding from Cronos Labs and receive mentoring, masterclasses and support from industry experts. The program is focused on the decentralized finance (DeFi), GameFi, SocialFi, and Infrastructure verticals and will accept applications until March 24, 2023.

The selection of projects for the second cohort of the Accelerator Program will be based on various factors, including their market potential, the leadership team’s expertise, market compatibility and compatibility with the Cronos ecosystem. The main focus of the program is to encourage innovation and growth within the Cronos ecosystem in an effort to drive the broader adoption of Web3.

Ken Timsit, head of Cronos Labs, said the success of the accelerator program’s inaugural cohort provided the rationale for launching a second cohort. 

The second cohort of the Accelerator Program will be guided by experienced Web3 professionals, who have designed the program to offer a full range of benefits to support founders in developing their Web3 decentralized applications.

Related: Sandeep Nailwal-backed Web3 accelerator launches demo day for first cohort

In June 2022, Crypto.com’s Cronos launched its $100M accelerator program for DeFi and Web3 projects, with the goal of supporting early-stage crypto projects with mentorship, funding and growth opportunities. 

Some of the companies supporting the Cronos Accelerator Program include Mechanism Capital, Spartan Labs, IOSG Ventures, OK Blockchain Capital, AP Capital, Altcoin Buzz, and Dorahacks.

Crypto.com originally launched the Cronos blockchain in November 2021. 

Blockchain accelerator programs with a focus on Web3 development have grown over the past year. As reported by Cointelegraph, Web3 accelerator Beacon recently wrapped up its first cohort with 15 companies graduating. The second cohort plans to offer up to $8 million to 32 startups.

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Top 9 cyberpunk movies of all time

Cyberpunk movies feature advanced technology, such as computers and the internet, in a dystopian future setting.

Cyberpunk movies are a subgenre of science fiction that emerged in the 1980s. They typically take place in a dystopian future, often in a city characterized by high-tech, advanced technology and a breakdown of social order.

They often feature advanced forms of artificial intelligence, virtual reality, and cybernetically enhanced characters and worlds. The stories often focus on the intersection of technology and humanity and typically depict a society where the lines between man and machine are blurred, and where the power dynamics between governments, corporations and individuals are in constant flux.

Cyberpunk movies are known for their unique visual style, complex characters and thought-provoking stories that explore the impact of technology on humanity and the implications of a rapidly advancing world.

Here are top nine cyberpunk films that can spark a lifelong interest in the genre:

Blade Runner (1982)

Blade Runner is a 1982 science fiction film directed by Ridley Scott and starring Harrison Ford. The movie is set in a dystopian future in which genetically engineered humanoids, called Replicants, are used for dangerous or menial work on Earth and off-world colonies.

The story follows a “Blade Runner” named Deckard (Ford), who is tasked with hunting down and “retiring” rogue replicants. The film explores themes of humanity, identity and the intersection of man and machine.

The film’s visuals and its depiction of a decaying, neon-lit Los Angeles have become iconic, and it has since become a cult classic and a defining film of the cyberpunk genre. It’s also considered as one of the best science fiction films ever made and has a lasting impact on science fiction filmmaking.

‘Blade Runner’ (1982, Ridley Scott) pic.twitter.com/tWnvWKbwAV

— Lenscap (@Ienscap) January 23, 2023

The Matrix (1999)

The Matrix is a 1999 science fiction film directed by the Wachowskis and starring Keanu Reeves. The movie is set in a dystopian future where humanity is trapped inside a simulated reality created by sentient machines in order to pacify and subdue them while their bodies are used as an energy source.

The story follows Neo (Reeves), a hacker who discovers the truth about the Matrix and joins a rebellion against the machines, led by Morpheus (Laurence Fishburne) and Trinity (Carrie-Anne Moss).

The film explores themes of virtual reality, artificial intelligence and rebellion and revolutionized the action genre with its use of “bullet time” special effects and wire-fu choreography. It has since become a cultural phenomenon and has had a significant impact on popular culture.

Akira (1988)

Akira is a 1988 anime film directed by Katsuhiro Otomo. It is set in a post-apocalyptic version of Tokyo called Neo-Tokyo, 31 years after the city was destroyed by a mysterious explosion. The story follows a biker named Kaneda and his friend Tetsuo, who gains powerful psychic abilities after a motorcycle accident.

The film explores themes of power, technology and identity, as Tetsuo’s abilities spiral out of control and threaten to destroy the city. The animation and storytelling in Akira are considered groundbreaking, and it is widely considered one of the best anime films of all time and a defining film of the cyberpunk genre. The film has also been influential on Western animation, comics and film.

Ghost in the Shell (1995)

Another iconic anime film, directed by Mamoru Oshii, Ghost in the Shell explores themes of artificial intelligence, consciousness and the nature of humanity. The movie is set in a future where humanity has become heavily cyborgized and follows a cyborg counter-cyberterrorist field commander and leader of Public Security Section 9, Motoko Kusanagi, and her team as they hunt a mysterious hacker known as the “Puppet Master.”

The animation and storytelling in Ghost in the Shell are widely considered some of the best in anime, and it is considered a classic in the cyberpunk genre. The film has also been influential on Western animation, comics and film and has been adapted into several other media forms.

Neuromancer (1984)

Neuromancer is a science fiction novel by William Gibson, published in 1984. It is one of the most famous and influential books in the cyberpunk genre, which combines elements of science fiction and noir fiction.

The story is set in a dystopian future where the world is dominated by powerful corporations and follows the adventures of a washed-up hacker named Case, who is recruited by a mysterious figure called the Wintermute to pull off the ultimate hack. The novel explores themes of artificial intelligence, virtual reality and the blurring of the line between humans and machines.

The Terminator (1984)

The Terminator is a 1984 science fiction film directed by James Cameron and written by Cameron and Gale Anne Hurd. The film stars Arnold Schwarzenegger as the titular “Terminator,” a cyborg assassin sent back in time to kill Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton), the mother of a future resistance leader against Skynet, an artificial intelligence that becomes self-aware and starts a nuclear war.

Michael Biehn plays Kyle Reese, a soldier from the future sent back in time to protect Sarah. The film explores the concept of time travel and the possibility of machines becoming self-aware and turning against humanity. It is considered a classic and has spawned multiple sequels and spin-offs.

RoboCop (1987)

RoboCop is a science fiction action film directed by Paul Verhoeven and written by Edward Neumeier and Michael Miner. The film takes place in a crime-ridden Detroit, Michigan in the near future, where police officer Alex Murphy (Peter Weller) is brutally murdered and subsequently resurrected as the cyborg police officer RoboCop.

It’s 1987, a cyborg working for the police is heading towards the city to stop the chaos once and for all #synthwave #80s #80smusic #robocop #cybercity #cyberpunk #darkwave #musician #retromusic pic.twitter.com/nI6upemD4f

— D r e a m k i d (@dreamkid83) January 24, 2023

The film explores themes of crime, corruption and the blurring of the lines between human and machine. RoboCop is programmed with three primary directives: serve the public trust, protect the innocent, and uphold the law. The film was both a commercial success and a critical success and has since spawned a franchise that includes multiple sequels, television series and a reboot.

Tron (1982)

Tron is a 1982 science fiction film directed by Steven Lisberger and written by Lisberger and Bonnie MacBird. The film stars Jeff Bridges as Kevin Flynn, a computer programmer who becomes trapped inside a computer-generated virtual world called “The Grid.”

Once inside, he must compete in gladiatorial games in order to escape. The film explores themes of technology and artificial intelligence and the concept of a virtual world existing within a computer system.

Tron was a box office disappointment, but later, it became a cult classic, credited with pioneering computer-generated imagery and influencing the development of the cyberpunk genre. It also spawned a franchise, which includes multiple sequels, a Disney XD animated series and a reboot.

Total Recall (1990)

Total Recall is directed by Paul Verhoeven and written by Ronald Shusett, Dan O‘Bannon and Gary Goldman. It stars Arnold Schwarzenegger as Douglas Quaid, a construction worker who begins to suspect that his life is not what it seems and that his memories of his past may have been implanted.

The film is based on the Philip K. Dick story We Can Remember It For You Wholesale and explores the nature of reality and the consequences of altering memories. The film is set in a future where Earth is experiencing severe overpopulation, and people are looking for an escape by traveling to a colony on Mars. Critics praised the film’s special effects, action sequences and performances, and it was a commercial success, grossing over $261 million worldwide.

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Opinion: Have Brazil’s Lula and Argentina’s Fernandez heard of cryptocurrency?

Brazil’s Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva and Argentina’s Alberto Fernández want to create a “common currency.” It sounds suspiciously like a state-controlled cryptocurrency.

“Good ideas out of context are like shiny objects lost in a dark field,” American writer Seth Godin once said. “They catch your attention, but have no real utility.”

Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva and Argentine President Alberto Fernández have been making headlines for a proposal to create a common currency between Argentina and Brazil. The idea for a common currency arose about 25 years ago in an article written by two renowned economists and, in the context of the time, made sense. This idea has now been resurrected as a political opportunism play with a hint of ideological propaganda, but it lacks real utility.

In 1998, both the Argentine and Brazilian governments implemented neoliberal measures in the economy, including a fixed exchange rate regime, with a conversion rate close to 1:1 between the United States dollar and their respective local currencies. A lot has changed in the 25 years that followed. Both countries went through similar political cycles, with the predominance of Peronism in Argentina and Petism in Brazil. (Peronism was a populist political movement created around President Juan Perón ideas; Petism was a left-wing political movement led by the Brazilian Workers’ Party.)

Related: Crypto’s downturn is about more than the macro environment

However, the economies of both countries have evolved in vastly different ways. The Brazilian real, which was close to one Argentine peso back in 1998, today is worth more than 35 pesos considering Argentina’s official exchange rate, which is, knowingly, overvalued. Part of the peso’s devaluation can be explained by the two defaults in Argentine sovereign debt in the period.

Another anecdotal symptom of the chaotic state in which the Argentine economy is found is the proliferation of different official exchange rates for specific purposes. Some examples include the so-called “Coldplay dollar” for contracting international shows, and the “Qatar dollar,” which was used by Argentine fans in the last World Cup. (In football, Argentina is on top. But in economic terms, Brazil is winning by a large margin.)

Strength of the Argentinian Peso (ARS) and Brazilian Real (BRL) compared to the U.S. dollar (USD), 2004-Present. Source: TradingView

In 2023, Peronism and Petism are simultaneously in power once again. The ideological affinity between the two governments acts as a propellant for bizarre ideas, such as the creation of a common currency (in the current context). Ideologies are often used to conceal mundane interests, and this case is no exception.

The proposal for a common currency itself is completely empty. It would not be viable, given the huge disparity between the two economies and would not solve the problem of lack of foreign currency for import in Argentina. However, like a shiny object in the dark, it attracts attention. And one of the factors that contributed to this awareness is the fact that it was announced that the currency would be digital. There is great confusion between digital currencies and cryptocurrencies, which are very popular both in Argentina and Brazil. In the proposal, the currency would be issued by a central bank and, therefore, would not be decentralized like cryptocurrency.

Related: Brazil could cement its status as an economic leader thanks to 2024 CBDC move

However, behind the smokey curtain of the common-currency proposal, there is something related to cryptocurrency. Two reasons cited for the initiative are escaping the dollar hegemony and strengthening resistance to any future sanctions. Crypto advocates share similar goals. For instance, one Harvard Ph.D. candidate has proposed incorporating cryptocurrencies into countries’ international reserves as a kind of insurance against sanctions. It is quite remarkable that national governments are echoing these two crypto mantras, especially in peaceful times.

The common currency proposal, in a best-case scenario, is only a rhetorical play that will decay through time and vanish completely at some point. In normal circumstances, this would be very likely, given that Brazil has nearly nothing to profit from this initiative. But there are some warning signs from the past.

Just consider Brazilian Finance Minister Fernando Haddad, who is prone to unorthodox ideas. When he served as São Paulo’s mayor, for example, he implemented a plan to fight the crack epidemic by giving money to addicts — causing crack prices to spike on payment days. Consider also that the Workers’ Party has a long track record of creating ingenious mechanisms for favoring countries with ideologically aligned governments at the expense of Brazilian taxpayers.

Time will tell if the common currency plan becomes reality. As Llewellyn Rockwell said, “Never underestimate the power of bad ideas. They must be refuted again and again.”

João Marco Braga da Cunha holds a doctorate in electrical and electronics engineering from the Pontifical Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro. He has a master of science in economics from Fundação Getulio Vargas.

This article does not contain investment advice or recommendations. Every investment and trading move involves risk, and readers should conduct their own research when making a decision. The views, thoughts and opinions expressed here are the author’s alone and do not necessarily reflect or represent the views and opinions of Cointelegraph.

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5 altcoins that produced double-digit gains as Bitcoin price rallied in January

Bitcoin’s strong monthly performance translated to outsized gains in APT, GALA, T, MANA and SOL, making them the top performing altcoins in January.

The rally in cryptocurrency markets started in early January with a spike in heavily-shorted altcoins and Ethereum (ETH) liquid staking derivative (LSD) tokens due to the upcoming network upgrade in March. Soon gains started to show across the board as buyers started to play catch up. 

The improving macroeconomic conditions, such as reduced inflation and a stable job sector in the United States, provided additional tailwinds for the positive rally. Bitcoin (BTC) is en route to its most impressive closing for January since 2013. Its price has gained 40% year-to-date from the opening value of $16,530.

Another important catalyst for January 2023’s rally was a short squeeze across the crypto market. After the FTX debacle and the lack of bullish narratives for the niche space, most investors expected growth to slow down in 2023.

There are unresolved issues such as potential a Digital Currency Group fallout, geopolitical tension between Russia and Ukraine, and recession risks due to Fed’s aggressive quantitative tightening policies. Thus, most traders didn’t expect strong price rallies so early into the year.

As it turns out, negative sentiment and crowded positions in the futures market continued to fuel more upside. There’s a strong chance of a pullback soon after steep gains. It remains to be seen if the pullback levels are attractive enough for buyers to turn it into a medium-to-long-term bullish trend. Let’s take a look at the top performing cryptocurrencies for January.

Top crypto market gainers in January. Source: CoinMarketCap

Aptos (APT)

Launched in October 2022, Aptos is a relatively new blockchain in the space which leverages the technology of Facebook’s (Meta) discarded project, Libra. It carries significant face value based on its executive team, composed of former Meta engineers, who also built the Move programming language to make the chain scalable and decentralized.

While the project carries much reputation, its fundamentals do not justify the price. The disbelief among investors is part of the reason behind the APT price rally. A market capitalization of $3 billion for a four-month-old project has surprised many onlookers. There’s also suspected market manipulation in the APT/KRW pair on Upbit, giving rise to the Kimchi premium. It is difficult to pinpoint a specific factor driving its demand in South Korea.

APT/USD broke above its previous peak of around $10, recorded around its launch. Technically, the token is in price discovery mode right now. Thus, there are few sell-side resistance levels besides the latest peak of $20 and the psychological level at $25. Unless the positive catalysts in the negative funding rate for perpetual swaps and the Kimchi premium cool off, the rally may still have wings.

The price momentum indicator, Relative Strength Index (RSI), has spiked to oversold territory, suggesting the possibility of a pullback. The Moving Average Convergence Divergence (MACD) indicator shows a slight bullish deviation with a less steep rise in the metric compared to the price. Still, the presence of buying volume is reassuring for APT bulls. The support for the token lies at $14.75 and $10.40.

APT/USD daily price chart with RSI and MACD indicator. Source: TradingView

Gala (GALA)

Similar to Aptos, Gala (GALA) also benefited from the excess negative positioning in the futures market. The gain in GALA/USD from $0.02 to $0.07 can be primarily attributed to wipe out of short positions.

GALA price (yellow) and funding rate. Source: Coinglass

The token suffered significant inflation of around 17,123,286 GALA daily, which accounts for around $28.2 million monthly at current prices. It raised concerns that the recent price pump could be short-lived.

On Jan. 25, Gala’s team introduced a new roadmap of the project in which they seek to update the tokenomics to reduce inflation and introduce a new burn mechanism. They are working on an independent Gala chain, where GALA tokens will be used to pay transaction fees.

On top of that, the daily issuance of GALA may also reduce after a vote is passed to change the time-based halving schedule to a supply-based one to bring halving closer than July 203.

The upgrade announcements have added to the buying pressure in GALA/USD, evident in a spike in buying volume. The token is trading above its 200-day exponential moving average at $0.052. If buyers build support above this level, the price can run toward the July 2022 breakdown levels near $0.164.

GALA/USD daily price chart. Source: TradingView

Threshold (T)

Threshold was born from the merger of two projects, Keep Network and NuCypher, which have combined their technologies to build a decentralized bridge network. Node operators on the Threshold network stake the platform’s native token, T and Ether, to validate the transfers between Bitcoin and Ethereum. This technology was borrowed from Keep Network, while NuCypher adds a layer of privacy to the protocol.

In January, the project’s native token nearly tripled in price, benefiting from the V2 launch and Coinbase’s listing announcements. The upgraded version of the Threshold protocol will enable tBTC (threshold Bitcoin) mints on Ethereum, which are backed by Bitcoin and pegged 1:1 to the BTC price.

The beginning of tBTC mints on Ethereum via Threshold Network will likely increase the network’s total locked value, aka TVL, making Threshold nodes more valuable. Initially, the project will launch a semi-decentralized version, Optimistic Minting, and gradually move to a decentralized system of nodes.

There’s a significant market opportunity for Threshold after the dissolution of RenBTC. Wrapped Bitcoin (WBTC) currently commands a dominant share of 93.6% of the total Bitcoin bridged to Ethereum.

Still, the recent 190% increase is starting to show signs of a buy-the-rumor, sell-the-news type of event, especially factoring in the Coinbase-led rise. The support for buyers lies at $0.027, with the next level of resistance at $0.145.

Decentraland (MANA)

The metaverse-themed projects Decentraland (MANA) and The Sandbox (SAND) witnessed a revival of the VR narrative as Apple is rumored to launch its VR headset collection in spring 2023. More recently, the Decentraland’s team released its manifesto for the current year, highlighting a focus on growing its developer and creator community.

While Decentraland is one of the earliest metaverse projects with a massive opportunity to capture the future Web3 market, the present rally is showing overbought characteristics in the short-term.

The RSI indicator shows a reading above its bullish resistance. The MACD indicator shows a divergence with little to no-change in the metric to complement the Jan. 28 surge of 16.5%.

MANA/USD daily price chart. Source: TradingView

Nevertheless, the breakout above 200-day moving average and resistance from the FTX breakdown levels at 0.70 is encouraging for technical buyers. It remains to be seen if the surge was a just stop hunt of short orders or stemming from actual demand. Support for the token lies at the 50-day EMA, current at $0.54, and 2022 lows of $0.27.

Solana (SOL)

Solana (SOL) benefited from excessive negative sentiment around the blockchain’s future. The price rally was a classic case of a short squeeze in the futures market. While the fundamentals pointed towards a death spiral in its price, the market played out the better of sellers. By leveraging low liquidity conditions, buyers were able to push the prices higher until few sellers remained.

The market maker and venture capitalist entity, Alameda Research, was the primary source of liquidity for Solana’s DeFi projects. It was also one of the largest backers of its ecosystem projects. The DeFi community will face significant challenges within Solana due to a lack of liquidity.

Solana developers and the foundation have been working hard to make the network stable and more decentralized. While the network remained stable through the FTX debacle, it appears to have lost the market’s trust thanks to frequent downtimes. Moreover, Alameda/FTX owns around 10.7% of the total supply of SOL, which will likely add to the selling pressure for the next few years.

Their NFT space, while placed second in terms of trading volume across blockchains, is starting to see the departure of top performers like DeGods, y00ts, and most recently, F Studio. It remains to be seen if the community can build back up. The task will be challenging without the support of its most prolific backers.

On long timeframes, the $30 level is a crucial resistance and support level for SOL/USD. If buyers consolidate above this level, the positive momentum in the token’s price will likely stretch into Q1 2023. However, given that the rally is mainly driven by a short-side wipeout in the futures market, there’s a higher likelihood for a significant correction, followed by a period of accumulation, until a meaningful run can take form.

Last but not least, the LSD-narrative tokens deserve a mention in the monthly winners list. The native tokens of Ethereum LSD platforms nearly doubled in price across the board thanks to the upcoming Shanghai upgrade.

The Frax DAO was the highest gainer among LSD tokens, benefiting from a strong rise in the staked Ether on its platform. The platform is able to attract liquidity by providing additional yield on staking ETH through leveraging its position on Curve Finance.

The Frax DAO is the largest owner of CVX tokens, which gives them priority control over Curve emissions. Currently, staking frxETH on Curve earns around 9-10% annual yield, which is two times higher than the average LSD yield of around 4%.

Given that Ethereum’s Shanghai upgrade is still a month away and there’s room for growth of LSD platforms, the attention toward LSD tokens could likely sustain through February.

The views, thoughts and opinions expressed here are the authors’ alone and do not necessarily reflect or represent the views and opinions of Cointelegraph.

This article does not contain investment advice or recommendations. Every investment and trading move involves risk, and readers should conduct their own research when making a decision.

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