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Amazon Files Proof-Of-Work Patent Using Cryptography

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Amazon this week filed a US patent for a Proof-of-Work system which uses cryptography to generate Merkle trees. The Bitcoin and Ethereum networks use such ‘hash trees’ to verify the content of large data structures.


Proof-of-Work as a Tool Against DoS Attacks

A Merkle tree is a fundamental component of a blockchain, whereby each non-leaf node is a hash of its respective child nodes. In Amazon’s patent, the generation of a Merkle tree could fulfill a challenge, allowing access to a computing resource. From the abstract:

The challenge may include a message and a seed, such that the seed may be used at least in part to cryptographically derive information that may be used to generate a solution to the challenge.

Thus, the expense of resources in creating a valid solution could deter malicious entities from attempting denial-of-service (DoS) or other attacks.

Proof-of-work Patent

Amazon Continues To Push Crypto Without The Currency

Amazon, in the guise of its Amazon Web Services arm, has been rather active in the blockchain space. It claims to be simply responding to demand from its existing customers. However, thus far it has stopped short of cryptocurrency integration into its core business. From this, we can draw the conclusion that it is prioritizing the demands of corporate customers rather than end users.

Towards the end of last year, it revealed two interoperable blockchain-inspired products, aimed at healthcare, supply chain, and other industries.

The first, Amazon Quantum Ledger Database (QLDB), is:

A fully managed ledger database that provides a transparent, immutable, and cryptographically verifiable transaction log ‎owned by a central trusted authority.

Whilst the other product, the Amazon Managed Blockchain, allows users to set up their own organizational blockchain using open source frameworks. It can also replicate the user’s blockchain activity into the QLDB.

Which Is Better, Bitcoin Or Amazon?

That’s like asking whether cash is better than a pub. They would ideally go very well together… although not if the pub told law enforcement exactly what I’d spent there.

bitcoin price chart BTC

In terms of return on investment, BTC has beaten AMZN stock in 5 of the past 8 years. And of course, given recent BTC form, Amazon will need a miracle for it not to become 6 out of 9.

Which I calculate, means that Bitcoin is exactly twice as good as Amazon.

And you can quote me on that.

Is Amazon working on its own Bitcoin-like currency? Share your thoughts below!


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Amazon Patent Casts Light on Plans to Create Proof-of-Work Blockchain Analog

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Retail behemoth Amazon has received a patent for generating Merkle trees as a solution to the proof-of-work (PoW) algorithm, a document confirmed on May 14.

Amazon, which has taken an increasing interest in blockchain technology in recent times, now appears to be targeting development of a specific variation of the instrument.

Specifically, the patent targets Merkle trees — a data verification tool — to constitute the work required in a PoW setup.

PoW is the algorithm used in bitcoin (BTC) and some other major cryptocurrencies such as litecoin (LTC), dogecoin (DOGE) and monero (XMR).

“This document describes techniques for using the generation of Merkle Trees as a solution to a proof-of-work challenge,” the patent reads.

The exact nature of Amazon’s plans remains unclear. The patent document does not reference specific uses within a cryptocurrency or blockchain, continuing uncertainty over the company’s stance on the wider cryptocurrency phenomenon.

As Cointelegraph reported, rumors Amazon was preparing to take a direct interest in bitcoin, for example, have repeatedly sparked a frenzy within the crypto community, each time culminating in nothing.

At the same time, others consider it only a matter of time before an integration occurs. In February, Changpeng Zhao, CEO of exchange Binance, claimed Amazon would ultimately have no choice but to issue some form of cryptocurrency.

“For any internet (non-physical) based business, I don’t understand why anyone would not accept crypto for payments,” he said.

Late last month, Amazon Web Services publicly launched its enterprise blockchain setup network, based on Ethereum (ETH) and Hyperledger technology.

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Amazon Wins Patent for Proof-of-Work Cryptographic System

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Tech giant Amazon has been granted a patent for various techniques to build a proof-of-work (PoW) cryptographic system similar to those used by blockchains such as bitcoin.

First filed in December 2016 and awarded Tuesday by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), the patent outlines how Merkle trees can be generated as a solution to a proof-of-work challenge, among other benefits.

A Merkle tree structure allows for verification of data sent between computers, and on peer-to-peer networks such as blockchains is used to ensure blocks are not falsified. The concept dates back to 1979.

PoW, on the other hand, is an algorithm that is used to protect networks by asking a service participant to do “work” – often involving using computer processing power to solve complex mathematical puzzles. The bitcoin blockchain network, for instance, uses a PoW algorithm with the work done by miners.

In this case, Amazon says, the Merkle tree creation is the work demanded by the algorithm.

The patent explains:

“A proof-of-work system where a first party (e.g., a client computer system) may request access to a computing resource. A second party (e.g., a service provider) may determine a challenge that may be provided to the first party. A valid solution to the challenge may be generated and provided for the request to be fulfilled.”

“The challenge may include a message and a seed, such that the seed may be used at least in part to cryptographically derive information that may be used to generate a solution to the challenge. A hash tree [or Merkle tree] may be generated as of generating the solution,” it adds.

PoW could also help prevent denial-of-service (DoS) and distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks that frequently hit computer networks, Amazon says, explaining:

“Requiring a valid proof-of-work may mitigate a DOS or DDOS attack by causing the participants of the DOS or DDOS attack to generate a valid proof-of-work solution, which may require the use of computational resources on the attacking systems and dramatically reduce the rate at which entities participating in the attack may send requests.”

Elsewhere, the patent also mentions “cryptographic key,” “digital signature” and “public signing key,” among other concepts related to blockchain and cryptocurrencies. The patent does not directly discuss blockchains or cryptocurrencies, however.

While a much talked about Amazon cryptocurrency has so far remained elusive, the e-commerce giant has been moving further into the blockchain space. Earlier this month, its cloud computing arm, Amazon Web Services (AWS), launched its Managed Blockchain service for wider use among enterprise clients. The service currently supports open-source framework Hyperledger Fabric, while the support for the ethereum network is still in the works and is expected to be made available later this year.

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Amazon Crypto Patent Ignites Desperate Rumors of Bitcoin Integration

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By CCN: For whatever reason, people believe that Amazon’s acceptance of Bitcoin or lack thereof will be a significant milestone for cryptocurrency. The company has never accepted it, which has given rise to several business models, including Purse.io and Moon’s recent browser extension.

Amazon Finally Seeing the Light for DDoS Prevention

Amazon has reportedly filed for a patent involving cryptographic proof-of-work, the system that underpins Bitcoin and most major cryptocurrencies. Proof-of-work is a concept invented by Adam Back as part of hashcash, primarily as a means to make it very expensive to conduct denial-of-service attacks.

Amazon mentions this in the earlier paragraphs of its patent application:

“Computer networks have evolved to provide sophisticated functionality in a large variety of contexts. Providing such functionality, however, often involves complex systems that malicious entities may try to exploit. One such attack involves denial-of-service attacks, which can be disruptive to computer systems on a network. In a distributed denial-of-service attack, for instance, large numbers of requests are sent to a computer system to attempt to overload the computer system. One way to mitigate against such attacks is to configure a service such that requests to the service incur some sort of expense, thereby providing disincentive to participating in the attack. One such expense involves imposing a condition that a client submitting a request expend more computational resources (e.g., CPU cycles) to cause the request to be fulfilled.”

The revelation of the patent has sparked the usual fervor, although blockchain-related patents from major companies is nothing new. Bank of America and several other traditional financial companies have filed for and own numerous patents. Amazon’s patent has special relevance for certain sectors of the crypto supporter zone, it seems.

No, This Doesn’t Mean Amazon Wants Your Crypto

Nowhere does the patent mention cryptocurrency. The patent is purely for a proof-of-work system, presumably to play a role in Amazon’s web services division, which is one of its biggest money makers. We can speculate on what type of products they may intend to offer as a result, but the fact is we don’t know.

Will Amazon create a radical alternative to CloudFlare, for example?

Proof-of-work has previously been used as a method to verify users and even allow them to pay for things. However, most browsers have banned in-browser mining scripts, as the services which provided them were primarily used by scammers and unsavory webmasters.

Amazon interacts with cryptocurrencies like bitcoin in a number of ways currently. Its marketplace contains numerous crypto-related products, including hardware wallets and even a gumball machine that accepts cryptocurrency.

We must stress that this patent application does nothing to expand Amazon’s crypto presence, although they are apparently integrating Ethereum in their blockchain services package soon.

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Tech-Averse Warren Buffett’s Company Wolfs $900 Million in AMZN Stock

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By CCN: By the end of Wednesday’s trading, Warren Buffett’s company Berkshire Hathaway had a stake in Amazon’s stock worth $904 million, an SEC disclosure reveals.

To get a sense of scale for how big Amazon.com is, the $900 million stake in Amazon’s stock only puts Berkshire Hathaway in control of 0.1% of the e-commerce giant’s retail empire.

Warren Buffett disclosed the mammoth Amazon stock acquisition to CNBC earlier in the month but didn’t disclose the amount.

The Oracle of Omaha did make sure to let everyone know it wasn’t he who finally put some Amazon stock on Berkshire Hathaway’s books but one of the company’s major asset managers:

“One of the fellows in the office that manage money… bought some Amazon so it will show up in the 13F.”

Amazon Stock Purchase a Value Investment?

Responding to a shareholder question about whether the high-stakes purchase of an innovative technology company is a value investment, Warren Buffett assured attendees at Berkshire Hathaway’s annual shareholding meeting that the two asset managers who made the purchase are value investors:

“It’s interesting that the term ‘value investing’ came up because I can assure you both managers — and one of them bought some Amazon stock in the last quarter — he is a value investor.”

Amazon stock chart

AMZN shares have been on a tear in 2019. | Source: Yahoo Finance

Buffett was referring to Berkshire Hathaway’s Todd Combs and Ted Weschler, two asset managers with $13 billion of Berkshire’s $173 billion portfolio on their books.

He added:

“The two people that, one of whom made the investment in Amazon, they are looking at hundreds of securities. Because they are managing less money in their universe, they are looking for things that they feel they understand what will be developed by that business between now and judgment day.”

Buffett Calls Himself an ‘Idiot for Not Buying’

Buffett stated:

“I’ve been a fan, and I’ve been an idiot for not buying. But I want you to know it’s no personality changes taking place”

Though the legendary value investor has long admired Amazon, he has waited decades – as he famously did with Apple Computer – to invest after its IPO.

Buffett has suggested before that what’s kept him away from Amazon’s stock for so long is the sting of regret he’d feel from buying the company’s shares at such a high price when he absolutely saw its world-changing potential. Last year in an interview with CNBC, Warren Buffett said:

“It’ll probably be tough. I’ve probably got so many psychological problems with the fact that I didn’t do it that it’s very hard to do it.”

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Amazon Flaunts War Chest, Pays Employees to Quit while Uber Flounders

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By CCN: Amazon is willing to pay its employees as much as $10,000 along with three months’ worth of compensation if they quit their jobs to launch delivery startups, according to The Wall Street Journal. Meanwhile, Uber, whose CEO recently compared the rideshare company to the e-commerce giant, is busy making excuses while its new stock continues to reel.

This expansion of Amazon’s delivery service partner program will help the company lower its Prime shipping time down to a day. Employees have the potential to earn as much as $300,000 in profits if they manage to increase their delivery fleets to 40 vehicles.

With this move, Amazon is on its way to creating thousands of jobs, boosting its delivery infrastructure, improving customer service, and increasing sales. Uber, on the other hand, can never deploy such a model to scale up its business.

Uber’s Damage Control

Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi is in damage control mode after the ridesharing giant’s IPO turned out to be a disastrous one. Uber’s stock tumbled out of the gate right after its IPO, and the losses accelerated on day two of trading.

But Khosrowshahi is putting up a brave face, telling employees in an email that the likes of Facebook and Amazon also had difficult starts and Uber’s stock could similarly recover.

The Uber CEO’s obsession with Amazon runs deeper than just the email. Last September, he said that he wants to make Uber the Amazon of the transportation business.

But that looks like a farfetched dream after Amazon’s move to tempt employees to quit their jobs to start their own delivery businesses.

Why Uber Is No Amazon

Amazon is a far bigger company than Uber on the basis of employee strength. The e-commerce giant boasts more than 630,000 employees, while Uber has slightly more than 22,000.

So Amazon has the luxury of telling its employees to go and start their own delivery business. But Uber cannot tell its employees to quit their jobs, buy their own cars, and start making money. That’s because Uber doesn’t have an Amazon-like employee base, and the ridesharing business is not scalable like the delivery business is.

For a delivery business, an Amazon employee can buy a truck and make several deliveries. As Amazon notes, the employee can make a profit of $300,000 per year if he/she can scale up to 40 vans or $1,500 per van.

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But Uber cannot follow Amazon’s example because it will have to pay employees much more than $10,000 to buy a car and start driving. That’s because the popular car models attached with Uber start at $20,000 and go higher depending on the model.

And even if they do get a car, they will have to work 833 hours, or 34 days, to make $7,500 in profit from one car; the take-home pay of an Uber driver comes to $9.21 an hour. But then, attrition is a big problem at Uber. It is estimated that Uber drivers generally cart around for 17 hours per week and work for an average of three months.

So, if the Uber employee wants to employ a driver, it will take much longer to generate profits after meeting minimum wage requirements, spending money on vehicle maintenance, and accounting for the idle time incurred if the driver leaves.

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So for someone looking to start an Uber cab business, employee retention and sustainability would be a big problem given the economics of this market. This is why Uber can never do an Amazon. Khosrowshahi needs to stop making such claims to boost the stock and instead focus on saving his business from real threats.

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