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Facebook’s Libra code chugs along ignoring regulatory deadlock – TechCrunch

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“5 months and growing strong” the Libra Association announced today in a post about its technical infrastructure that completely omits the fierce regulatory backlash to its cryptocurrency.

Forty wallets, tools and block explorers plus 1,700 GitHub commits have how now been built on its blockchain testnet that’s seen 51,000 mock transactions in the past two months. Libra nodes that process transactions are now being run by Coinbase, Uber, BisonTrails, Iliad, Xapo, Anchorage and Facebook’s Calibra. Six more nodes are being established, plus there are 8 more getting set up from members who lack technical teams, meaning all 21 members have nodes running or in the works.

But the update on the Libra backend doesn’t explain how the association plans to get all the way to its goal of 100 members and nodes by next year when it originally projected a launch. And it gives no nod to the fact that even if Libra is technically ready to deploy its mainnet in 2020, government regulators in the U.S. and around the world still won’t necessarily let it launch.

Facebook itself seems to be hedging its bets on fintech in the face of pushback against Libra. This week it began the launch of Facebook Pay, which will let users pay friends, merchants and charities with a single payment method across Facebook, Messenger, WhatsApp and Instagram.

Facebook Pay could help the company drive more purchases on its platform, get more insights into transactions and lead merchants to spend more on ads to lure in sales facilitated by quicker payments. That’s most of what Facebook was trying to get out of Libra in the first place, beyond better financial inclusion.

Last month’s congressional testimony from Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg was less contentious than Libra board member David Marcus’ appearances on Capitol Hill in July. Yet few of lawmakers’ core concerns about how Libra could facilitate money laundering, endanger users’ assets and give Facebook even more power amidst ongoing anti-trust investigations were assuaged.

This set of announcements from the Libra Core summit of technical members was an opportunity for the project to show how it was focused on addressing fraud, security and decentralization of power. Instead, the Libra Association took the easy route of focusing on what the Facebook-led development team knows best: writing code, not fixing policy. TechCrunch provided questions to the Libra Association and some members, but the promised answers were not returned before press time.

[Update: In response to our article and criticisms about the lack of acknowledgement of regulatory issues, a Libra spokesperson provided the following statement.]

Today’s Libra Core Summit was the first step towards a collaborative development plan for Libra Core and Move. The summit was designed to educate and support members in areas include running a Libra node, building a Libra wallet, scaling the Libra network and interoperability between Libra wallet. There are many facets of the Libra project that are working in tandem. The Libra Association executive leadership team is continuing the critical work to listen to, engage and collaborate with regulators around the world.

For those organizations without a technical team to implement a node, the Libra Association is working on a strategy to support deployment in 2020, when the Libra Core feature set is complete” the Association’s Michael Engle writes. “The Libra Association intends to deploy 100 nodes on the mainnet, representing a mix of on-premises and cloud-hosted infrastructure.” It feels a bit like Libra is plugging its ears.

Having proper documentation, setting up CLAs to ease GitHub contributions, standardizing the Move code language, a Bug Bounty program and a public technical roadmap are a good start. But until the Association can answers Congress’ questions directly, they’re likely to refuse Libra approval, which Zuckerberg said the project won’t launch without.



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The Real Reason The US Cancelled This Multi-Billion Dollar Helicopter Project

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Prior to UAVs like the MQ-1 Predator and MQ-9 Reaper capturing the public’s attention during the War on Terror, stealth aircraft were all the rage. Aircraft like the B2 Spirit showed the potential for stealth attack aircraft. The RAH-66 Comanche was supposed to follow that same trend. 

The Comanche was a joint venture by Sikorsky and Boeing and was originally intended to act as a reconnaissance aircraft and pinpoint targets of interest, according to Boeing. 

Looking like a PlayStation One render of a helicopter, the Comanche was designed to operate stealthily. Its angular body panels allowed it to fly into enemy territory virtually undetected. The Comanche was not designed to be a flying weapons platform like the AH-64 Apache, but it wasn’t a slouch either. It boasted a 20mm chin gun and the wing pylons could be equipped with air-to-air or air-to-ground missiles (via Hotcars).

With nearly 20 years of hindsight, it’s easy to see why the military favored drones over the stealth wizardry of the Comanche. But back then, a stealth helicopter was the future of warfare.  

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American Airlines New Supersonic Jets Could Slash Flight Times In Half

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Being built to travel at Mach 1.7, or about 1,304 miles per hour (when traveling over water), the Overture would get passengers to their destinations much faster than the average commercial flight. Though one of its primary trade-offs is capacity, as Boom says the jet can only manage between 65 to 80 passengers at a time. That’s roughly half of the commonly-used Airbus A320’s 140 to 170 passenger capacity or the 149 to 220 maximum seating of the Boeing 737 series. Though on paper the Overture does boast more range — up to 4,250 nautical miles — than either of its mass transit contemporaries.

A ride in an Overture aircraft should also be just as safe as today’s typical flights, with Boom on the hook to make sure the new plane meets the current industry standards. Additionally, the new models will also have to meet American’s own requirements even before it delivers its first plane.

If all goes according to plan, Boom should begin rolling out manufactured Overtures sometime in 2025. It expects to start carrying passengers by 2029. So far nothing has been said about the availability of Overture flights to American Airline customers once it has the planes in hand, nor anything about ticket pricing.

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The 5 Best Ways To Celebrate May The 4th: Star Wars Day

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While you’re perfectly welcome to head to your local LEGO retailer to pick up a set and snap it together, we’ve got another bit of a treat for you. Straight from yesterday’s Toys-R-Us “May The 4th Be With You” Star Wars LEGO event, here are the directions to the Wookie Gunship mini-build.

Above you’ll see the first half of the directions, below you’ll see the second. These pieces should be relatively easy to find – supposing you’ve got stacks of LEGO blocks handy to build with.

These sets weren’t sold – they were given away to the tiniest and newest fans of Star Wars, the kids! The next generation!

Below you’ll see a gallery provided by Toys-R-Us of the Star Wars event held at (most) Toys-R-Us locations across the United States.

Celebrate along with us by sharing your Star Wars Day experience right now!

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