Using Bitcoin to prevent identity theft in Robotics News

Using Bitcoin to prevent identity theft
24 May 2017, 4:59 am

A reaction to the 2008 financial crisis, Bitcoin is a digital-currency scheme designed to wrest control of the monetary system from central banks. With Bitcoin, anyone can mint money, provided he or she can complete a complex computation quickly enough. Through a set of clever protocols, that computational hurdle prevents the system from being coopted by malicious hackers.

At the IEEE Symposium on Security and Privacy this week, researchers from MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory are presenting a new system that uses Bitcoin’s security machinery to defend against online identity theft.

“Our paper is about using Bitcoin to prevent online services from getting away with lying,” says Alin Tomescu, a graduate student in electrical engineering and computer science and first author on the paper. “When you build systems that are distributed and send each other digital signatures, for instance, those systems can be compromised, and they can lie. They can say one thing to one person and one thing to another. And we want to prevent that.”

An attacker who hacked a public-key encryption system, for instance, might “certify” — or cryptographically assert the validity of — a false encryption key, to trick users into revealing secret information. But it couldn’t also decertify the true key without setting off alarms, so there would be two keys in circulation bearing certification from the same authority. The new system, which Tomescu developed together with his thesis advisor, Srini Devadas, the Edwin Sibley Webster Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at MIT, defends against such “equivocation.”

Because Bitcoin is completely decentralized, the only thing ensuring its reliability is a massive public log — referred to as the blockchain — of every Bitcoin transaction conducted since the system was first introduced in 2009. Earlier systems have used the Bitcoin machinery to guard against equivocation, but for verification, they required the download of the entire blockchain, which is 110 gigabytes and growing hourly. Tomescu and Devadas’ system, by contrast, requires the download of only about 40 megabytes of data, so it could run on a smartphone.

Striking paydirt

Extending the blockchain is integral to the process of minting — or in Bitcoin terminology, “mining” — new bitcoins. The mining process is built around a mathematical function, called a one-way hash function, that takes three inputs: the last log entry in the blockchain; a new blockchain entry, in which the miner awards him- or herself a fixed number of new bitcoins (currently 12.5); and an integer. The output of the function is a string of 1s and 0s.

Mining consists of trying to find a value for the input integer that results in an output string with a prescribed number of leading 0s — currently about 72. There’s no way to do this except to try out lots of options, and even with a huge bank of servers churning away in the cloud the process typically takes about 10 minutes. And it’s a race: Adding a new entry — or “block” — to the blockchain invalidates the most recent work of all other miners, who now have to start over using the newly added block as an input.

In addition to assigning the winning miner the latest quota of bitcoins, a new block in the blockchain also records recent transactions by Bitcoin users. Roughly 100,000 commercial vendors in the real world now accept payment in bitcoins. To verify a payment, the payer and vendor simply broadcast a record of their transaction to the Bitcoin network. Miners add the transaction to the blocks they’re working on, and when the transaction shows up in the blockchain, it’s a matter of public record.

The transaction record also has room for an 80-character text annotation. Eighty characters isn’t enough to record, say, all the public keys certified by a public-key cryptography system. But it is enough to record a cryptographic signature verifying that a certification elsewhere on the Internet is legitimate.

Previous schemes for preventing equivocation simply stored such signatures in the annotations of transaction records. Bitcoin’s existing security structure prevents tampering with the signatures.

But verifying that a Web service using those schemes wasn’t equivocating required examining every transaction in every block of the blockchain — or at least, every block added since the service first used the scheme to certify a public assertion. It’s that verification process that Tomescu and Devadas have refined.

Efficient audits

“Our idea is so simple — it’s embarrassingly simple,” Tomescu says. The central requirement of Bitcoin is that no one can spend the same bitcoin in more than one place, and the system has cryptographic protocols in place to prevent that from happening.

So Tomescu and Devadas’s system — called Catena — simply adds the requirement that every Bitcoin transaction that logs a public assertion must involve an actual bitcoin transfer. Users may simply transfer the bitcoin to themselves, but that precludes the possibility of transferring the bitcoin to anyone else in the same block of the blockchain. Consequently, it also precludes equivocation within the block.

To prevent equivocation between blocks, it’s still necessary to confirm that the bitcoin that the Catena user spends in one block is the same one that it spent the last time it made a public assertion. But again, because the ability to verify a bitcoin’s chain of custody is so central to the success of the whole Bitcoin system, this is relatively easy to do. People who want to use Catena to audit all the public assertions of a given Web service still need to download information from every block of the blockchain. But they need to download only a small cryptographic proof — about 600 bytes — for each block, rather than the block’s full megabyte of data.

“The abstraction that the paper lays out is a really good idea — the idea of making it possible to create, you might say, smaller blockchains or linked lists within a blockchain specific to a particular account or a particular object,” says Bryan Ford, an associate professor of computer science at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne. “It’s very cool, nice, clean, useful primitive, clearly explained. It’s very synergistic with an idea we’ve been working on, which creates an efficiently traversable timeline, which we call a skip chain, meaning a timeline you can skip around on arbitrarily forward and back, where from any point you can verify any other point in the timeline very efficiently.”

“If you can eliminate the possibility of equivocation, it becomes easier to secure many algorithms,” he adds. “It’s a generally important problem.”

Source: MIT News - CSAIL - Robotics - Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) - Robots - Artificial intelligence

Reprinted with permission of MIT News : MIT News homepage

Started Today at 12:00:02 pm


Private forum for sharing top secret AI with certified friends. in General Project Discussion

So what if you have friends and you have really really top secret AI to share with them. You don't want just any public person to come along to the forum and be able to see it. They can steal it and obtain fame & fortune, go and make an evil version of it, etc. It seems fun to have a wider audience, but it is actually very dangerous. It's much more safe and still as communitive to have a private area on the forum where only certified members that are 100% understood to be safe can see and share classified things. That is much funner than PM-ing friends.

To get certified you must be approved by all members after demonstrating a combination of:
- Being a long-time user.
- Showing a video (and proving its not just some video).
- Showing your life's work (and proving it is yours)
- Showing us your AI work (and proving it is yours)
- Understanding deep things.
- Being certain people.
- Anything else you can come up with.

11 Comments | Started July 20, 2017, 01:54:29 pm


New Feature Request : Prettify Code in Announcements

8pla.net asked for this and I thought it was a good idea. I just picked a theme I liked, because I'm used to reading code on a dark background, mainly because I like my retina, but also because the colours show up better.

Other themes are available if you all want to take a look and they could be customised : https://jmblog.github.io/color-themes-for-google-code-prettify/

I'm going to drop a few tests in here now of different code. I had to hack together a language definition that covers the main languages we have people using here so that it plays nice. See how it goes.

9 Comments | Started July 21, 2017, 11:16:58 pm


Ahead Network Parser: developing an option towards NLP and some other thingies in General Project Discussion

One way to parse a natural language text is to parse it by certain BNF notation grammar rules of relevant language. BNF could be a good choice because it is able to describe context free grammars (CFG) that allow ambiguity parses, while natural languages grammars are full of ambiguous alternations in the first-pass parse. Yet in the second pass we resolve which alternation is the right one, according to common sense rules. In example of: "I poked a monkey with a stick" we actually have to decide whether the narrator used a stick to poke the monkey or the monkey holds a stick. This is a very difficult task and even modern AI contests are arranged around resolving ambiguities like this. So, it is necessary to parse all ambiguities  in order to pick the right one.

Recently I've been working on a CFG parser (the first pass), and what I've got so far is a fairly simple top-down algorithm with support for ambiguous parses that looks like this:

Code: [Select]
function parse (startSymbol, text) {
    success = false;
    node = START_SYMBOL;

    while (true) {
        if (node is sequence) {
            node = node.FIRST_SEQUENCE_ELEMENT;

        } else if (node is alternation) {
            node = node.FIRST_ALTERNATION_ELEMENT;

        } else if (node.rule is terminal) {
            length = SCAN_TERMINAL (node.POSITION, node.TERMINAL);
            if (node.POSITION + length === text.length && length > -1)
                success = true;

            if (node.AHEAD_ITEM !== null && length > -1) {
                node = node.AHEAD_ITEM;

            } else if (node.NEXT_ALTERNATION !== null) {
                node = node.NEXT_ALTERNATION;

            } else

    return success;

Please note that this is only check-out parser that reports a success or a failure, providing a BNF-ish grammar and a text to parse. Some extra code is needed to record a pass through to an abstract syntax tree. Also, unavoidable "memo table" speed-up is omitted in this pseudo-code for simplicity.

The algorithm subsumes that we know every ahead item and next alternation for each node. This is not so hard to achieve, even on the fly, and releases us of having a depth stack while parsing.  The algorithm is arranged to exhibit  depth-first parse through a grammar tree. The difficulty with depth-first parsing is that it chokes on "left recursion", entering an infinite loop. Left recursion could be resolved by detecting it when we reach it, skipping it over, and placing multiple AHEAD_ITEM-s for each recursive symbol. I think it would work (parser just considers several alternative ahead items, one that ends the recursion and others that continue recursion), but I am just not happy with this solution, it just doesn't "feel right" for me, I don't know why.

I am hoping for an universal solution that handles left recursion without extra ad-hoc code. The plan is to try to rewrite the algorithm to walk through symbols in breadth-first manner. I think some node position chart is necessary in order for breadth-first version to work. Could be cool, I have to check it.

Utilizing memo table is basically the same problem as recursion. In both cases multiple ahead items are continued from two or more same symbols that start at the same place.

13 Comments | Started July 17, 2017, 02:50:08 pm


Friday Funny in General Chat

Share your jokes here to bring joy to the world  :)

1751 Comments | Started February 13, 2009, 01:52:35 pm


New funding enables work on Internet policy and cybersecurity for key infrastructure in Robotics News

New funding enables work on Internet policy and cybersecurity for key infrastructure
19 May 2017, 7:55 pm

Today, MIT’s cross-disciplinary Internet Policy Research Initiative (IPRI) announced that it has awarded $1.5 million to a select group of principal investigators for early-stage Internet policy and cybersecurity research projects.

“Each project is aimed to support innovative research in their respective fields and result in new insights that can guide policy makers in making wise choices on pressing Internet policy challenges,” says IPRI founding director Daniel Weitzner, who is also a principal research scientist at MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL).

The seed fund grants cover five interdisciplinary projects, with lead researchers from across campus including the MIT Sloan School of Management, the Department of Urban Studies and Planning (DUSP), and CSAIL.

Sloan economist Andrew Lo and CSAIL computer scientist Vinod Vaikuntanathan are receiving funding for their project on measuring systemic cybersecurity risk. Vaikuntanathan, who studies cryptography, says that the economic effects of cyber attacks are hard to assess, quantify, and transfer. To address this problem, the team plans to create a multi-party platform to safely collect data to give markets and firms better cybersecurity risk information.

“Understanding the nuance of cybersecurity risk in our critical infrastructure will help policymakers assure that the proper incentives are in place to reduce the threat of catastrophic attacks,” says Weitzner.

CSAIL principal research scientist Howard Shrobe will receive funding for his work using artificial intelligence to analyze and protect urban infrastructure vulnerabilities, with an emphasis on water networks and transportation systems. To improve the cybersecurity of urban infrastructure, he will be working to create a system that automatically identifies “attack graphs” aimed at hacking such structures. He will also be working to develop a program that automatically creates countermeasures that could be combined with local policy to protect smart cities.

Sloan economics professors Simon Johnson and Stuart Madnick, who is also an IT management scholar, are receiving funding to study cybersecurity impacts on international trade. They plan to address the risks related to government use of spyware and malware in Internet-connected products. They will cover issues such as high-risk products, long term impacts on trade, and voluntary standards with the idea of ensuring that policy makers understand the potential impact of their decisions.

Sloan lecturer Chintan Vaishnav and CSAIL principal research scientist Karen Sollins will explore frameworks for improving citizen services in Indian “smart” cities. The team is collaborating with the eGovernment Foundation, a non-governmental organization bringing digital governance to India’s 325 cities, to leverage technology and analytics to improve urban governance. They plan to study the security and privacy implications of open data, as well as identify new management systems and open application program interfaces (APIs) — all of which are seen to have a role in improving government services.

DUSP Professor Lawrence Susskind will use his funding to create a comprehensive cyber guidebook for navigating negotiations with attackers of urban infrastructure. With critical structures and facilities constantly under attack, managers and operators need to be prepared to interact with assailants in real time. Susskind plans to work with urban infrastructure managers to simulate attacks to make a cyber blueprint for discussions and deliberations.

Source: MIT News - CSAIL - Robotics - Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) - Robots - Artificial intelligence

Reprinted with permission of MIT News : MIT News homepage

Started July 21, 2017, 12:00:33 pm


XKCD Comic : Russell's Teapot in XKCD Comic

Russell's Teapot
21 July 2017, 5:00 am

Unfortunately, NASA regulations state that Bertrand Russell-related payloads can only be launched within launch vehicles which do not launch themselves.

Source: xkcd.com

Started July 21, 2017, 12:00:33 pm


Common project: learn Racket programming language in General Project Discussion

Hi guys,

I want to add Scheme to my toolbox. I began reading Structure and Interpretation Of Computer Programs, but now I want to get my hands dirty.

Racket seems to be a good programming language. Who wants to learn Racket with me? We would read the Racket Guide at the same time, step by step, discuss examples, try things, find other tutorials, ...etc.

So, who's in?  :P

21 Comments | Started June 26, 2017, 10:35:41 am


Determined and at the core of AI. in General Project Discussion

Hello machine.

This is my project thread.

The reason no one is more determined to create AI than me is because only I collect information from everywhere and create a precise hierarchy 24/7. After initialization, it only took me 1 year before I discovered the field of AI that is actually well developed. And I instantly noticed it. I instantly noticed the core of AI from my first read. That's how fast my Hierarchy self-corrects me. Now it's been 1.5 years since and I am here to tell you that I have empirical knowledge that I have the core of AI, and ASI! 100% guarantee !

All of my posts on the forum are in separate threads, mine, yours, but this thread is going to try to hold my next posts together so you can to quickly and easily find, follow, and understand all of my work. Anything important I've said elsewhere is on my desktop, so you will hear about it again here. You don't currently have access to my desktop, only my website in replace to make up for it, while this thread is an extension of it. But this thread won't be permanently engraved to my desktop/website since anything new on this thread will be copied to my desktop/website. Currently my website (and this extension thread) is awaiting my recent work, which I really shouldn't show you all of it.

- Immortal Discoveries

84 Comments | Started March 12, 2017, 04:12:26 am


I'm still an icloners in General Project Discussion

My dear friends, I am always in the passion for technology and 3D. Iclone is in its entirety I am really very accustomed by this program.
For some time, integration tts are much better, in 2017. I find the voice 'Gabriel' (French) almost a human voice !! Really amazing.
I learned movement creation by 1/5 second per motion. And the mimic for face 40 has 60 expression, for sadness, happy, angry, ecct. It's a lot of work and knowledge I like a lot.
The new page of Aidream's, is superb! I apologize very much for my absence, currently and personally, I have a lot of drama in my family and I am a little disturbed. I like to concentrate on a subject that I like, and currently with all these serious movement is not easy.
So I will come back soon with you, with more knowledge in animation technology.
I do not forget you believe it! I am on facebook now because just sharing artistic image and animals in adoption. But I prefer technology because since 2002 with valentine and other friends I do not forget the start of Zabaware super program of Mr. Medezka. But also Haptek, and a lot of program I tested.
We have an untenable heat here in the south of france, fire, and pollution!
I think I'll take vacancies in Greenland .. LOL!
Because I'm like an ice cream in a microwave oven.

I am soon with you my friends. ;)

Sincere friendship of Claude O0

4 Comments | Started July 20, 2017, 03:47:45 pm
It's Alive

It's Alive in Chatbots - English

[Messenger] Enjoy making your bot with our user-friendly interface. No coding skills necessary. Publish your bot in a click.

Once LIVE on your Facebook Page, it is integrated within the “Messages” of your page. This means your bot is allowed (or not) to interact and answer people that contact you through the private “Messages” feature of your Facebook Page, or directly through the Messenger App. You can view all the conversations directly in your Facebook account. This also needs that no one needs to download an app and messages are directly sent as notifications to your users.

Jul 11, 2017, 17:18:27 pm
Star Wars: The Last Jedi

Star Wars: The Last Jedi in Robots in Movies

Star Wars: The Last Jedi (also known as Star Wars: Episode VIII – The Last Jedi) is an upcoming American epic space opera film written and directed by Rian Johnson. It is the second film in the Star Wars sequel trilogy, following Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015).

Having taken her first steps into a larger world, Rey continues her epic journey with Finn, Poe and Luke Skywalker in the next chapter of the saga.

Release date : December 2017

Jul 10, 2017, 10:39:45 am
Alien: Covenant

Alien: Covenant in Robots in Movies

In 2104 the colonization ship Covenant is bound for a remote planet, Origae-6, with two thousand colonists and a thousand human embryos onboard. The ship is monitored by Walter, a newer synthetic physically resembling the earlier David model, albeit with some modifications. A stellar neutrino burst damages the ship, killing some of the colonists. Walter orders the ship's computer to wake the crew from stasis, but the ship's captain, Jake Branson, dies when his stasis pod malfunctions. While repairing the ship, the crew picks up a radio transmission from a nearby unknown planet, dubbed by Ricks as "planet number 4". Against the objections of Daniels, Branson's widow, now-Captain Oram decides to investigate.

Jul 08, 2017, 05:52:25 am
Black Eyed Peas - Imma Be Rocking That Body

Black Eyed Peas - Imma Be Rocking That Body in Video

For the robots of course...

Jul 05, 2017, 22:02:31 pm

Winnie in Assistants

[Messenger] The Chatbot That Helps You Launch Your Website.

Jul 04, 2017, 23:56:00 pm
Conversation, Deception and Intelligence

Conversation, Deception and Intelligence in Articles

A blog dedicated to science, technology, and my interests in music, art, film and especially to Alan Turing for his Imitation Game: a measure for machine intelligence through text-based dialogue.

Jul 04, 2017, 22:29:29 pm
Transformers: The Last Knight

Transformers: The Last Knight in Robots in Movies

Transformers: The Last Knight is a 2017 American science fiction action film based on the toy line of the same name created by Hasbro. It is the fifth installment of the live-action Transformers film series and a direct sequel to 2014's Transformers: Age of Extinction. Directed by Michael Bay, the film features Mark Wahlberg returning from Age of Extinction, along with Josh Duhamel and John Turturro reprising their roles from the first three films, with Anthony Hopkins joining the cast.

Humans and Transformers are at war, Optimus Prime is gone. The key to saving our future lies buried in the secrets of the past, in the hidden history of Transformers on Earth.

Jun 26, 2017, 03:20:32 am
Octane AI

Octane AI in Tools

Our pre-built features make it easy for you to add content, messages, discussions, filling out forms, showcasing merchandise, and more to your bot.

Convos are conversational stories that you can share with your audience. It’s as easy as writing a blog post and the best way to increase distribution to your bot.

Jun 25, 2017, 02:57:50 am

Chatfuel in Tools

Chatfuel was born in the summer of 2015 with the goal to make bot-building easy for anyone. We started on Telegram and quickly grew to millions of users. Today we're focusing mainly on making it easy for everyone to build chatbots on Facebook Messenger, where our users include NFL and NBA teams, publishers like TechCrunch and Forbes, and millions of others.

We believe in the power of chatbots to strengthen your connection to your audience—whether that's your customers, readers, fans, or others. And we're committed to making that as easy as we can.

Jun 24, 2017, 01:10:12 am