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Image from Eliasson L. and Johnson M. (2018). Thesis: Adapting the Urban Metabolism Analyst Model for Practical Use within Local Authorities. Challenge Lab.

Last month I attended the retirement ceremony of my PhD supervisor — Prof Hans Westerhoff — from his professorships in Amsterdam. His invitation came as a nice and unexpected surprise — even more so, considering my not so recent carrier change that marked my departure from the world of Systems Biology (where Hans is one of the world’s most renown experts) and my arrival to the as-exciting field of Smart-Cities.

As all brilliant scientists, Hans likes to recognise patterns and commonalities across different venues of scientific enquiry. It is not by chance that his academic farewell celebration was also the occasion for him to host a scientific conference where the theme was how the Systems Biology approach may be applied to understand and address the complexities of our society and stir its development towards desirable outcomes. …


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For someone who is, like myself, heavily involved in the technological aspects of smart-city projects, the very notion of smart-city is inextricably intertwined with the notion of smart technology. To us, talking about smart-cities makes sense insofar a substantial reliance on new technology is, at least implicitly, entailed. Internet of Things (IoT), Artificial Intelligence (AI), cloud computing, autonomous vehicles and the like are the quintessence of cities’ “smartness” and are essential elements to the betterment of the different functions that characterize cities as complex, dynamic systems. Yet,…

… is pervasive smart-technology all that there is to smart-cities? And is it even necessary? …


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Mining Difficulty, Hash Power, Nonce Range And The Like.

In this article, I’d like to cover some of the “nuts and bolts” of bitcoin mining. I’ll try to do this in a progressive way, so as not to get too technical too soon. Where to start from, then? Well, what about from the basics?


In the world of cryptocurrencies, the prospects of hard forks and soft works are always the subject of intense debates among the experts, as well as a source of concern and uncertainty among traders and speculators. But what do these terms really mean?

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Simply put, hard forks and soft forks are for cryptocurrencies what updates are for common computer programs.

The software that implements a blockchain consensus protocol (for example the software that runs the Bitcoin network) is usually curated by a community of developers who incessantly work to define, propose and implement best practice solutions and improvements to the code. When this community introduces an update on the software, the blockchain is said to “fork”.

When it comes to updates of common computer programs, we are all familiar with the notion of backward compatibility (or incompatibility). If the update is such that the files created with the new version of the program can be still opened and worked on using the old version , then we have a backward compatible update, otherwise the update is said to be backward incompatible. For blockchain consensus protocols it works pretty much the same way. A soft fork is an update on the blockchain protocol that is backward compatible, i.e. it introduces some changes in the code that do not severe the functional continuity with its previous version. On the contrary, a hard fork consists of changing the blockchain protocol in a way that is not backward compatible, hence introducing a discontinuity with the previous version. …


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In the world of Bitcoin and Cryptocurrencies it’s not uncommon for people to come across concepts and expressions never heard of before and never get to the bottom of what they really mean. In this article I’ll try to demystify one of these concepts, shedding some light on what is known as the 51% Attack.

The topic of the 51% attack is strongly related to other concepts such as mining, the consensus protocol, orphan blocks and the double spending problem, and cannot be understood if the reader is not familiar with them. All of those concepts have been explained in previous articles (see list of relevant readings at the bottom of this page). Here I will limit myself to preface the discussion of the 51% attack with a very short introduction to these foundation concepts in an attempt to make this article as self-contained as possible. …


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A semi-technical overview for the uninitiated.

In a previous article, I touched on some technical aspects of Bitcoin mining, explaining what mining is and how it works. In particular, I expanded on the notion of blockchain and how the mining process is used to elongate such chain with new blocks containing the new transactions that occur within the network.


Is blockchain technology the “Columbus’ egg” of smart cities’ digital infrastructure?

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The Future Of Our Cities

The notion of Smart City has gained increasing attention over the last decade or so by technologists, urbanologists, businesses and policy makers. The new paradigm of city that this notion entails is believed (included by the author of this article) to be a viable answer to the unprecedented urbanization rate that most nations are and will be experiencing worldwide.

Fundamentally, the whole idea of smart cities is about using smart technology — as well as data-driven, context-aware governance models — to mitigate or even preempt the challenges that will inevitably arise with an estimated 2 billion people moving into urban areas by 2050¹. …


The Blockchain approach to three of the fundamental issues of our time.

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Blockchain technology has hit the headlines in the last few years thanks to the advent of Bitcoin. Bitcoin is a cryptocurrency and payment system that addresses and solves issues that have been considered, up to that point, unsolvable. In particular Bitcoin removes the need of a middle-man who acts as guarantor when two parties decide to exchange some monetary value, while securing the records of the transactions in a tamper-proof, distributed ledger.

From Trust to Trustless Consensus


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Enlightenment, bliss, awakening, cosmic consciousness, nirvana, … These are just a few of the names that have been given to that state of being pursued by spiritual seekers. But what do these words really mean? Different spiritual traditions will probably provide different answers, each one focusing on specific aspects of this blissful state of being. Buddhists may underline the peaceful and compassionate side of it, yogis and tantra practitioners may prefer to talk about kundalini awakening or life energy arousal, others will use expressions such as “expanded awareness”, “ultimate freedom” or “liberation from duality”.

The next question, then, is whether there exists a common underlying factor from which all these definitions ultimately stem. If we dig deeper into each of these attempts at describing the ultimate enlightenment we realize that they all fundamentally rely on a common prerequisite: the suspension of thinking and judging. Beingness is indeed at odds with the convulsive thinking that we enslave ourselves to. Disengaging from our mind — or rather our identification with its continuous chattering, categorizing, judging, biases and concepts — is indeed the most liberating experience we can have as it opens us up to a state of being that is not filtered by any preconception. Anything that we perceive, from our inner and outer world, is welcome with enthusiastic child-like curiosity and a deeply rooted sense of joy. …

About

Ettore Murabito

My interests are in both technology (Smart-Cities, Blockchain) and spirituality (Consciousness, Meditation, Personal Growth, etc.). I write about them all.

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