NFTs are everywhere, including at a Christie’s auction of the artist Beeple. But the new tech seems to be recreating the old problems of the art world.
Hands on the wheel, eyes squinting against the winter sun, Lauren Miehe eases his Land Rover down the main drag and tells me how he used to spot promising sites to build a bitcoin mine, back in 2013, when he was a freshly arrived techie from Seattle and had just discovered this sleepy rural community.
The attraction then, as now, was the Columbia River, which we can glimpse a few blocks to our left. Bitcoin mining — the complex process in which computers solve a complicated math puzzle to win a stack of virtual currency — uses an inordinate amount of electricity, and thanks to five hydroelectric dams that straddle this stretch of the river, about three hours east of Seattle, miners could buy that power more cheaply here than anywhere else in the nation. Long before locals had even heard the words “cryptocurrency” or “blockchain,” Miehe and his peers realized that this semi-arid agricultural region known as the Mid-Columbia Basin was the best place to mine bitcoin in America — and maybe the world.
Christian Bale from “The Big Short”
「The US government is inviting inflation with its MMT-tinged policies. Brisk Debt/GDP, M2 increases while retail sales, PMI stage V recovery. Trillions more stimulus & re-opening to boost demand as employee and supply chain costs skyrocket. #ParadigmShift
“The life of the inflation in its ripening stage was a paradox which had its own unmistakable characteristics.One was the great wealth, at least of those favored by the boom..Many great fortunes sprang up overnight…The cities, had an aimless and wanton youth”
“Prices in Germany were steady, and both business and the stock market were booming. The exchange rate of the mark against the dollar and other currencies actually rose for a time, and the mark was momentarily the strongest currency in the world” on inflation’s eve.
“Side by side with the wealth were the pockets of poverty. Greater numbers of people remained on the outside of the easy money, looking in but not able to enter. The crime rate soared.”
“Accounts of the time tell of a progressive demoralization which crept over the common people, compounded of their weariness with the breakneck pace, to no visible purpose, and their fears from watching their own precarious positions slip while others grew so conspicuously rich.”
“Almost any kind of business could make money. Business failures and bankruptcies became few. The boom suspended the normal processes of natural selection by which the nonessential and ineffective otherwise would have been culled out.”
“Speculation alone, while adding nothing to Germany’s wealth, became one of its largest activities. The fever to join in turning a quick mark infected nearly all classes..Everyone from the elevator operator up was playing the market.”
“The volumes of turnover in securities on the Berlin Bourse became so high that the financial industry could not keep up with the paperwork…and the Bourse was obliged to close several days a week to work off the backlog” #robinhooddown
“all the marks that existed in the world in the summer of 1922 were not worth enough, by November of 1923, to buy a single newspaper or a tram ticket. That was the spectacular part of the collapse, but most of the real loss in money wealth had been suffered much earlier.”
“Throughout these years the structure was quietly building itself up for the blow. Germany’s #inflationcycle ran not for a year but for nine years, representing eight years of gestation and only one year of #collapse.” Written in 1974 re: 1914-1923. 2010-2021: Gestation.」
I dunno about all this, BUT it sure makes you wonder what WW2 would have been like if Bitcoin were around.
Every ten years or so, there’s a paradigm shift with the Internet. First, it was the transition from portal sites to Google. In the 2010s, social networks not only flipped how we interacted with each other, but how we consumed content. Could cryptomedia and NFTs indicate the next wave of how we consider and use the Internet? One where everyone, not just artists, stand to benefit as far as property ownership and profitability are concerned?
In recent history the mining, petroleum, and nuclear industries have all had their share of environmental disasters. These are household names that every school child learns: Chernobyl. Fukushima. Deepwater. Kingston. Valdez. However you may not know that as you read this, the tech industry is having it’s own environmental disaster moment and you may have heard its name: Bitcoin.
For those of you living in a monastery for the last decade, bitcoin is a computer protocol that provides a speculative digital pseudo-asset that is traded between individuals around the world. It is a system that aims to transcend borders, banks and laws. It’s notoriously difficult to frame bitcoin in traditional concepts because it defies many traditional terms. It’s not a currency, it’s not a payment system, it’s barely used to transact, it doesn’t support an economy, it’s not correlated to anything, and it’s unclear if there is any meaningful way to value it.
Crypto protocols are meant to be governed by decentralized communities of stakeholders. Not because it’s more efficient, or important for ideological reasons, but because it’s necessary to unlock their core value proposition: that the underlying protocols will continue to run as designed, and will remain open to anyone who wants to use or build on them, without having the rules shift under their feet.
Bitcoin is the original embodiment of these concepts, creating the first internet-native money at scale. But they are equally applicable (and valuable) to other types of open financial primitives as well, including things like borrowing, lending, trading, and so on. Though the specific application may differ, the need for decentralized governance remains the same.
For crypto startups, transitions towards community governance are complicated, and raise difficult questions around ongoing development, voter participation, and incentive alignment between stakeholders. But they are ultimately necessary in order for the protocols to transcend their original developers and provide enduring value as open financial infrastructure.
As committed stakeholders in many of these networks, we wanted to briefly expand on how we at a16z think about crypto governance, and how we see our role in it going forward.
I recently saw an interesting interview with former Canadian prime minister Stephan Harper1, where the topic of Bitcoin briefly came up, and I noticed that he referred to Bitcoin as a “private digital currency”.
I think it’s wrong to call Bitcoin a private currency. In fact, I view Bitcoin as a type of commons, a digital commons.
The word “commons” comes from the Latin communis, the same root that gives us “commoner”, “community”, “communism” and “commune”, and describes something “belonging to all, owned or used jointly, general, of a public nature or character”2.
Very fitting! This is exactly what one would expect Steven Seagal to get into.
Actor Steven Seagal was hired to promote the company, also known as “Bitcoiin2Gen” or “B2G,” and was ordered last year by the Securities and Exchange Commission to pay a $157,000 penalty, without admitting to any crimes.
DeMarr, on the other hand, made his first appearance in court on Feb. 1 to face one charge of conspiracy to commit securities fraud.
Have been reading “The Fabric of Reality” for several months now It takes me awhile to digest things, and I have a 2 year old, but also I can’t sleep after I read a chapter, and I can’t stop once I start (so I tend to tackle it when I feel up to it).
Last night I finished the “Quantum Computers” chapter. Like the previous chapters it is mind blowing. I already knew a little bit about quantum computers, but there was a revelation that just blew me away. Here’s my layman’s (probably incorrect in some way) takeaway.
There are an infinite amount of you in the multi-verse, but you just can’t interact with them. In the infinite amount of you, you just need to be able to interact with the ones that are doing the same thing as you to, quantum computers allow you to do that. They allow you to use interference that differentiates the subtle differences universe (like a proton interacting with a half-silvered mirror in one universe, and not in the other) to process computation across universes.
Here’s the chapter: https://archive.org/details/TheFabricOfReality/page/n141/mode/2up
But, the point is that it stands to be falsified that there are an infinite amount of you that you can interact with through a computer. You can leverage an infinite amount of yourself to solve problems.
It also has profound implications for the internet (as you’ve probably heard before)—because the internet relies on cryptography that uses classical model physics for security. All private data on computers is protected behind a few large easy to multiply, but hard to factor numbers. It’s highly probable that in the next decade or so Shor’s algorithm will be used to factor some big number in minutes that would have taken all the classical computers on earth a million years.
I initially covered Bitcoin in an article in autumn 2017, and was neutral-to-mildly-bearish for the intermediate term, and took no position.
The technology was well-conceived, but I had concerns about euphoric sentiment and market dilution. I neither claimed that it had to go lower, nor viewed it bullishly, and merely stepped aside to keep watching.
However, I turned bullish on Bitcoin in April 2020 in my research service at about $6,900/BTC and went long. It had indeed underperformed many other asset classes from autumn 2017 into spring 2020, but from that point, a variety of factors turned strongly in its favor. I then wrote a public article about it in July when it was at $9,200/BTC, further elaborating on why I am bullish on Bitcoin….
In the modern nation state, courts (“justice”) operate with the threat of violence. The exact way a dispute is settled varies (jury, single judge, etc.), but the “finality” of the resolution they provide is based on the fact that the state asserts the final say, and if you don’t agree, it doesn’t matter, because they have men with guns. Importantly, they don’t just have some men with guns (that’s something you might have, too), they have an overwhelming number of men and increasingly large guns depending on how much you don’t want to accept their say.
If you are thinking “that’s a stupidly over-simplified way of thinking about modern justice systems”, then that’s fine; a lot of what follows is precisely about the finesse around this simplified view of the world.
Beginning its current glorious bull run at the start of the second week of October when it was valued at $10,500, Bitcoin has today passed the $30k benchmark on a swift and unimpeded rise. Key milestones gave its network an early Christmas, with the price marching from $21,000 on December 16 to over $25,000 by boxing day.
Okay, this may be just my depressive side talking, or it may be the stress of the last year just boiling over. But I’m inclined to think it’s not and it isn’t.
It is my opinion that Bitcoin is a failure. Worse than that, it’s a disaster…
In 2018, John Kim liquidated his businesses, sold the family house, and began a two-year journey as a homeless cryptocurrency evangelist. Does his story have a happy ending?
2020 brought with it many, many things, both bad and good. And while Bitcoin’s bull run and the summer of DeFi grabbed the headlines, a quiet revolution was taking place in another corner of crypto: the world of non-fungible tokens (NFTs).
Cryptocurrency intelligence firm CipherTrace announced today that it has developed a toolset for tracing Monero (XMR) transactions—and that it has done so at the behest of the United States Department of Homeland Security (DHS).
Monero has gained popularity for its privacy-centric design, making it the second most popular coin for dark web transactions after Bitcoin. However, CipherTrace claims that its tools will allow investigators to search, explore, and visualize Monero transactions.
The number of Bitcoin addresses holding at least $1 million worth of Bitcoin has skyrocketed. Here’s why.
Tether has a big impact on the crypto market. But there are a lot of questions—and speculation—surrounding it. Here are our takes on its latest developments.