Decentralize Brief – When decentralized protest meets decentralized money

This newsletter is a biweekly curation from the world of Crypto, Blockchain, and AI. Sharing how these technological trends are shaping Africa and the world. Subscribe here to get it directly in your inbox every Mondays and Fridays.

Here’s what’s happening…

Crypto in brief

Decentralized protest meets decentralized finance. 

  • A lot has been happening in Nigeria since the country celebrated her 60th Independence (on October 1). Nigerian youths across the globe have been out for days, protesting against brutality from the police force, which they’ve been enduring for years. 
  • Several youth initiatives such as the Feminist Coalition group in the country have been contributing in the aspect of finance, setting up funds to provide for protesters. 
  • In an attempt to censor protests, financial institutions allegedly suspended accounts holding and receiving funds for the protest. Fintech platform, Flutterwave, in charge of providing links for donations, was allegedly questioned by the country’s apex financial institutions.

Bitcoin to the rescue

  • Who could ask for a better alternative? Bitcoin came to the rescue. The protesters switched to raising funds in Bitcoin. Interestingly:
  • Jack Dorsey, CEO of Twitter and Square, who is known to be a big fan of Bitcoin, lent his support to the protest by urging people to donate via bitcoin to support the protest.
  • What happened clearly demonstrates how Bitcoin can come in as a viable alternative in countries where censorship is inevitable.

China pilot testing for digital Yuan, giveaway millions

  • The People’s Bank Of China (PBOC) is currently pilot testing the nation’s sovereign digital currency. As a part of a series of ongoing pilot programs, 3.13 million transactions have been processed, highly indicative of a positive progress for the pilot program and the currency itself. 
  • Following a series of piloting programs in a bid to promote the adoption of its new digital currency, China, on Friday, announced a giveaway of 10 million digital yuan ($15 million) to 50,000 Shenzhen residents
  • The currency, presently being pilot tested, is being used for transactions ranging from government services to bill payments. 113,300 personal digital wallets have been opened with 8000 corporate ones as part of the pilot program.

Central bank digital currency frenzy!

  • Several International financial authorities constituted of the World Bank, the Group of Twenty (G20), International Monetary Funds (IMF), and the Bank for International Settlements (BIS), have confirmed in a report about working hand in hand to formalize the use of central bank digital currencies (CBDC) in banking systems. 

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AI in brief

AI can now describe images as well as people do

  • Machines have always performed poorer than humans when it comes to image captioning. Microsoft’s new image captioning AI boasts of better performance than humans in the area of image captioning. 
  • The new algorithm is able to identify objects in an image as well as the relationship between them to provide a comprehensive description or caption for the image. The algorithm achieved the highest score ever recorded on the Nocaps image captioning benchmark. 
  • The new image captioning model is available to users via the Azure Cognitive Services Computer Vision offering. It is also available in Microsoft’s app for the blind, Seeing AI. Later this year, it will be made available in PowerPoint for Windows, Mac and web, and Microsoft Word as Outlook, for Windows and Mac.

Like humans, robots can now recognize pain

  • NTU Researchers at the Nanyang Technological Institute have developed a method that allows robots to recognize pain and self-repair when damaged. The research was driven by a brain-inspired approach. 
  • The researchers devised a way of helping robots feel pain by using meta transistors, which are brain-like electronic devices that can process information and are capable of memory, to behave as synthetic pain receptors and synapses. 
  • The self-healing properties of the robot prevents the robot from losing mechanical functions when injured with a cut. The self-healing ion gel consists of molecules that interact and repair the injury of the robot, restoring it to a normal functioning state with a high degree of responsiveness. 

Researchers develop AI capable of controlling vehicles with fewer neurons

  • A team of researchers from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), TU Wien and Institute of Science and Technology Austria has developed a new artificial intelligence system based on the brain of tiny animals like threadworms. This new kind of AI system is capable of controlling a vehicle with just a few artificial neurons. 
  • According to the team of researchers, the two major advantages of their new model are interpretability and robustness. Their new model can also reduce training time.

ICYMI: Other top trending stories you may have missed. 

  • OneCoin Ponzi scheme about to unfold as drama. A movie titled “FAKE!” is coming soon, based on an unpublished book by Jen McAdams, a victim of the OneCoin Scheme. 
  • Fintech giant, Stripe, has acquired Paystack, a Nigerian-based startup for $200M+. Paystack provides similar services with Stripe; a quick way to integrate payment services into online or offline transactions by using API. This is seemingly the biggest startup acquisition to come out of Nigeria, till date.
  • Another DeFi burst. WLEO, a Uniswap protocol, saw a 99% plummet in price after reporting that $42,000 worth of funds was stolen.

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