Monthly Archives: January 2019

Secure elections of the future – today.

“Online voting – it’s the only thing that’ll save democracy, since the younger generations will only vote if they can do so online”. This is something I’ve been saying for years now. Younger generations – ‘digital natives’ – are used to doing a great many things online instead of off-line; it’s what they’re used to and what they prefer, and that needs to be understood, accepted, and embraced. If not, only the folks who have been used to going to polling stations in person will be voting – the older generations: hardly a good, balanced, representative cross-section of the adult population.

Statistics show that voter turnout has been declining steadily in established democracies since the 1980s. Reasons for this vary: there can be crises of trust in the authorities; in some places there are problems with access to voting facilities. There’s even a new social sub-grouping of largely passive participants in the political system: interested observers – folks who are interested in what’s going on around them but don’t get involved in any of it. And this isn’t some tiny, insignificant new sub-group either: in the U.S. it’s said to reach nearly 50% of the adult population! And these interested observers look like the ideal target audience for online voting: folks used to getting news and information from the internet – and that includes of course the younger generations right down to millennials. To have the best chance of high voter turnouts for elections, voting needs to be a simple, natural addition to a typical daily online routine. Social networks – checked; a few photos – uploaded; online purchases – made; (for some) a day’s work performed largely online – done; (for some) online gaming – done; online voting – also done.

Online voting systems around the world have been developing slowly for quite a while. When the first online vote took place I’m not sure, but I do recall how in January 2003 the Helkern worm (aka Slammer) nearly derailed some inter-party elections of a Canadian political party. The first e-elections at state level were those in 2007 in Estonia. Online voting continued to slowly proliferate in other countries, but with differing degrees of success. Why? Because there is the obvious question of security – the high risk of a hack and direct manipulation of the voting process; this issue, btw, has often been raised by critics of online voting. In 2014 a group of experts conducted a penetration test on the Estonian e-voting system. Not only did it find that it was real easy to install malware on the servers of the system, but also that, theoretically, the result of the voting could be changed – leaving no trace of that having been done whatsoever. In 2015 there was the electronic voting scandal in Australia. Here, a New South Wales election used the iVote online voting system, but it was found that around 66,000 votes could have been compromised via a hack of the voting site.

Clearly the above all shows that online voting systems need protecting (authorization, connection, transaction), and that includes the storing and counting of the results (server-cloud part). This idea came about in our business incubator a few years ago, which eventually led to the introduction at the end of 2017 of the Polys project – a platform for electronic voting based on blockchain.

All data relating to voting (including the final results) are stored not on servers but in blocks of data on the devices of all voting participants, which makes the platform simply unhackable. It provides anonymity of voting, and also permits hiding interim results – the final result becomes known to participants only after all counting is completed. But what’s more important – the Polys platform is convenient, simple, and suitable for any kind of voting – even… to decide what colors the roses should be in the local park! Indeed, the overarching mission of Polys is to bring the pluralism of opinions and happiness for all to the masses :). But don’t just take my word for it. Have a look for yourself! That the future is blockchain-voting many agree with.

And if you think this is all just theory, here’s some fresh news: Polys has been officially used already! In Russia’s Saratov region the local parliament elected deputies for its youth parliament. 40,000 folks voted! And last year the platform was used for conducting similarly-sized voting for Russia’s Higher School of Economics. And I’m sure this is only the beginning

So there you have it – we’re saving the world yet again but in a new way: protecting voting against fraud. So if you need to run a vote on something, no matter how trivial or how important, and you want to be able to guarantee voters it will be 100% protected, 100% fair – check out the Polys site!

And for those interested in the technical side to Polys – go here; you should find all the answers you need there. In short, have a look, try it (it’s free for now), get a feel for it, and tell your colleagues and friends about it!

And remember – your vote counts!

 

Mathematical fanatical 2019 – the answers.

Hi folks!

In yesterday’s post, you’ll recall how I gave you, dear readers mathematicians, a mathematical brainteaser: how to get ‘2019’ using the four main arithmetic operations [+, -, ×, ÷], plus parentheses [(, )’], and the figures 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, and 1; and not in any order but in the order given [10 down to 1] – and with no joining up of the numbers to make bigger numbers.

Budding mathematicians among the readers of my blog in Russian sent in their answers. Here are some of the more elegant runners-up among them:

( 10 * 9 * 8 – 7 * 6 – 5 ) * ( 4 – 3 + 2 * 1 ) = 2019 (by Skarbovoy);

( 10 + 9 ) * ( 8 + 7 + 6 ) * 5 + 4 * ( 3 + 2 + 1 ) = 2019 (by eve_nts);

(10 + 9 * 8 * 7 – 6 – 5 ) * 4 + 3 * 2 + 1 = 2019 (also by eve_nts).

A big thanks to everyone, btw, who sent in answers! I had great fun picking out the right ones, checking for mistakes – and coming up with some formulations of my own.

But back to the podium…

Read on…

Flickr photostream

Instagram photostream

Mathematical fanatical: How to turn ‘1’ into ‘2019’?!

Hi folks!

2019. Is it two thousand nineteen, or twenty nineteen? How does it sound to you? “It’s just a number – the number of the year,” you say? Hmm. I think your saying that might mean poetry or just rhythm-and-rhyme aren’t your fortes. Right? For – and not a lot of people know this – there’s a phenomenon known as digital poetry. There are all different kinds of digital poetry, as a quick glance at that Wikipedia page will show you. One kind I find rather intriguing is the one where numbers are substituted for the words of the works of the great poets – and you need to work out who that poet is based on the way the numbers are pronounced – which words are stressed, the number of syllables, and so on.

Here, for example, are some numbers that, when spoken, reflect the poetry style of Alexander Pushkin (at least, in Russian:):

 17 30 48
 140 10 01
 126 138
 140 3 501

I wonder, does it work the other way round? I mean, can a poem be made up about 2019? Might there be some budding digital poets among you, dear readers, who might be able to conjure up a poem about 2019?

Meanwhile, for the mathematicians and physicists among you, my traditional annual arithmetic puzzler…

I hope you remember the rules. If not:

You need to get the number of the current year – this year being 2019 of course – using the four main arithmetic operations [+, -, *, ÷], plus parentheses [(, )’], and the figures 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, and 1; and not in any order but in the order given [10 down to 1] – and with no joining up of the numbers to make bigger numbers (e.g., 1 and 2 making 12).

For example:

 ((10 + 9 – 8) * 7) + (6 + 5) * (4 – 3 + 2) + 1 = 111

Hmm. That gives 111. But I wanted 2019.

All righty. Try it! Who does it first is the winner!

 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1 = 2019
 …

Did you do it? Well done!

Now, let’s continue the fun by upping the difficulty a bit: let’s drop the 10:

Read on…

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog

Top-100: North America.

Hi folks!

Next up on this world tour of the Top-100 Must-See Places in the World – North America…

1. Alaska.

Southern Alaska is a land of mountains, waterfalls, lakes and glaciers. More salmon than you can shake a fishing rod at, whopping whales in the ocean, and all sorts of other interesting beasts. Northern Alaska is all about harsh Klondike Gold Rush scenes straight out of Call of the Wild or White Fang. I was there in August and all it did was pour it down. I need to get back there in June or July, which they say are the best times. Details – here.

na_1

info_ru_20 wiki_en map_ru_20 gmaps foto_ru_20 google flickr

Read on…

Top-100: Central America.

Another week – another peek… – at the next regional update to my Top-100 Must-See Most Beautiful Places in the World: Central America.

13. Teotihuacan.

The ancient city and pyramids of the Aztecs. A completely separate branch of the modern history of mankind. A climb to the top of the Pyramid of the Sun to gaze at the sunset (or sunrise) – simply obligatory.

na1_3_1

info_ru_20 wiki_en map_ru_20 gmaps foto_ru_20 google flickr

Read on…

Top-100: South America.

Hi folks!

And so we reach the next world region in my Top-100 Must-See Places in the World – South America.

And, not surprisingly, there’s plenty to must-see here too. So without more of a do, let’s get on with this!…

21. Angel Falls, Venezuela.

The highest waterfall in the world; almost a kilometer of free-falling water. Haven’t been myself, but have heard rave reports and seen prodigious pics.

sa1_1Source

info_ru_20 wiki_en map_ru_20 gmaps foto_ru_20 google flickr

Read on…

Top-100: Russia.

Hi folks!

On we go with my journey around what are to me the 100 most beautiful places in the world, all of which I reckon need visiting at least once in a lifetime without fail – so as not to live the rest of that lifetime with regret!

Next up, the world’s largest country!…

Russia.

Russia’s East European Plain doesn’t have anything outstandingly must-see when it comes to natural beauty. Of course, there are beautiful places – and many of them, but none quite make their way onto my Top-100. Then, east of the Urals there’s the West Siberian Plain – a rather plain… plain, this time all tundra/taiga/steppe (from north to south, respectively), marshes, rivers, lakes, oil extraction and mosquitoes. Things only start getting Top-100-worthy still further east. But I’ll get to that in a bit. For now though…

39. Red Square and the Kremlin.

Many foreign friends who come visit us here in Moscow tell us that Red Square – with St. Basil’s Cathedral at one end, the Kremlin to one side and GUM on the other – is the most beautiful spot in Europe, especially at night when lit up. And who am I to argue? I too am a big fan.

Note: St. Petersburg is in the Cities section of the Top-100 series.

ru_1Source

info_ru_20 wiki_en map_ru_20 gmaps foto_ru_20 google flickr

Read on…

Top-100: China. part 2: bonus track.

Hi folks!

Last month I published an update to the Chinese portion of my Top-100 Must-See Places in the World. Today I’ve got for you another list of places also in China, but these are the ones that didn’t quite make it onto the list. Runners up, as it were; B-sides; also rans… But don’t let this put you off – they’re still well worth a visit.

Bonus tracks:

Terracotta Army.

This place is of course well known, but you only truly grasp the scale and depth of the history when you see it in the flesh. Without doubt, a truly grandiose site. I’ve been there, and was very impressed.

4162304_original

info_ru_20 wiki_en map_ru_20 gmaps foto_ru_20 google flickr

Read on…

Top-100: Middle East

The Middle East is another thoroughly interesting region. Without a doubt its ‘greatest hits’ are of a man-made archaeological-historical nature, comfortably prevailing over its naturally occurring ‘B-sides’. Hardly surprising given that the Middle East is an ancient cradle of civilization (please forgive the banality).

One thing I should mention at the outset here: I only have scant first-hand knowledge of the region; accordingly, there may be a few inaccuracies in this short regional section of my Top-100. If so – help me out! Any mistakes need correcting or additions need making? > the comments section please. I’d be most grateful.

All righty. Off we go…

50. Dead Sea.

An undeniably unique Middle Eastern natural phenomenon. Water so salty… yes, you know, you float in it!… So let me be a little less obvious here: water so salty… just a lick of your wet fingers and you need to down at least two cold beers in one. What better excuse for a little naughtiness? :-).

me_1Source

info_ru_20 wiki_en map_ru_20 gmaps foto_ru_20 google flickr

Read on…