With the recent talk of reddit being cannibalized by bitcoin technology, I thought it a good time to post something I’ve been thinking about for a while. Could a completely decentralized startup one day rival the likes of Google, Facebook and Amazon?
Within the bitcoin world there’s a common understanding that the most valuable thing about bitcoin is not the monetary currency but the underlying “blockchain” technology that the bitcoin currency runs on. For those unfamiliar, you can check out three heavily-funded ventures creating infrastructure that would enable anyone to program applications on the blockchain that go way beyond monetary currencies: Ethereum,Swarm and Blockstream.
One such application is what’s known as a “Distributed Autonomous Organization,” which is an organization like a corporation, government or NGO, but which has no central leadership and uses internet technologies to organize and function. Examples of DAOs that you are familiar with include open-source software systems like Linux; terrorist organizations like Al Qaeda; communities like Anonymous; and …
Prior to the mid-19th century, those who could not pay their debts were routinely tossed into prison. Actually, you can still go to debtor’s prison in Germany, Greece, China and Dubai. In the United States, two of the signatories to the Declaration of Independence (James Wilson and Robert Morris) were incarcerated for their unpaid debts. In theory, the U.S. abolished such practices in the 1830s. But six states still allow you to be arrested and detained indefinitely until you “work it out” with your creditors.
And while we humans seem to have a visceral negative reaction to welshers, our disdain for bad faith lenders goes deeper. Condemnation of usury dates back to the Vedic texts in ancient India, and is condemned as well in all the other major religious texts in the world. Islamic law (Sharia) prohibits the charging of interest at all, and considers the practice to be one of the seven heinous sins, right up there with murder and “unlawfully taking an orphan’s …
Several years ago I became aware of Eliezer Yudkowsky’s “AI-Box Experiment” in which he plays the role of a transhuman “artificial intelligence” and attempts (via dialogue only) to convince a human “gatekeeper” to let him out of a box in which he is being contained (resumably so the AI doesn’t harm humanity). Yudkowsky ran this experiment twice and both times he convinced the gatekeeper to let the AI out of the box, despite the fact that the gatekeeper swore up and down that there was no way to persuade him to do so.
I have to admit I think this is one of the most fascinating social experiments ever conceived, and I’m dying to play the game as gatekeeper. The problem though that I realize after reading Yudkowsky’s writeup is that there are (at least) two preconditions which I don’t meet:
Currently, my policy is that I only run the test with people who are actually advocating that an AI Box be used …
This was one of my favorites of the year.…
If you liked this, check out these posts:
- Behavioral Economics with Dan Ariely
- Management 2.0
- Executive Compensation
- World’s Most Ambitious Crowdsource
- My Favorite TED Talks of TED 2009
I was listening today to a Fresh Air interview from a couple of weeks ago on the reasons for the high cost of health care:
Highly informative and thought provoking. One thing that struck me was the discussion about how we don’t pay primary care physicians enough and that specialists make a majority of the dollars. This is not earth shattering news, but it I was reminded of a similar problem in higher education. Specialization is highly valued where as general studies and thinking/life skills are not, despite the fact that it’s these more general abilities and knowledge that determine how successful you are in your chosen trade (specialized or not). Same thing in medical care: it’s not the specialists who have the most impact on your health and mortality, it’s …
The following quotes are from a book describing a real set of events:
[The incident] is an extraordinary example of what happens when you get… a dozen people with an average IQ of 160… working in a field in which they collectively have 250 years of experience… employing a ton of leverage.
It’s hard to overstate the significance of a [government-led] rescues of a private [corporation]. If a [company], however large was too big to fail, then what large [company] would ever be allowed to collapse? The government risked becoming the margin of safety. No serious consequences had come about in the end from the… near-meltdown.
Was the incident:
a) The savings and loan scandal
b) The collapse of Enron
c) The sub-prime mortgage meltdown
d) none of the above
First correct answer gets to invest in an exciting new bridge project I’m involved with in New York!…
I just tweeted on a subject that I suspected would cause a stir, and so it has, I’m moving it here:
RafeFurst: I strongly support a soda tax! RT @mobilediner: check it out: a Soda Tax? http://amplify.com/u/dvl
coelhobruno: @RafeFurst what about diet soda? Would it be exempt?
RafeFurst: @coelhobruno no diet soda would not b exempt from tax. Tax should be inversely proportional to total nutritional content. Spinach = no tax
Lauren Baldwin: I do as well … and while they are at it they should tax fake fruit juice too.
Kevin Dick: I think this would be an interesting experiment. I predict a tax does not cause any measurable decrease in BMI.
Kim Scheinberg: New York has had this under consideration for a year. Perhaps surprisingly, I’m against it. In theory, people will drink less soda. In reality, it will just be another tax on people who can afford it the least.
Leaving aside the “rights” issues and …
What’s fascinating to me about this is not that it works so well and or that there might actually be support in the Obama administration for doing it on a national scale, but rather that there has not been a backlash against it yet. What are the odds that something like this will actually get implemented? Is it actually a good thing?
hat tip: Annie Duke’s mom…
Everyone has heard about the Large Hadron Collider, arguably the most ambitious and complex engineering project ever undertaken, anywhere. The purpose, no less ambitious, is to answer all sorts of burning questions about the nature of the universe, including whether the Standard Model of particle physics is valid. Given such ambition and high stakes, it would surprise most people that the LHC is managed in a collaborative manner with very little hierarchy. Essentially it’s a giant, crowdsourced science experiment.…
Short but brilliant TED talk by Joachim de Posada. I love the economic point he makes at the end.
I’m giving my “2009 Q1 award for most concise, lucid comment” to Paul Phillips for this gem:
Viewed from a thousand miles, the financial system has a incalculably large incentive to fail catastrophically as frequently as it can do so without killing the goose that lays the golden eggs.
As long as there is such a thing as “too big to fail” and trillions of dollars are available for siphoning, according to what logic can this cycle be dampened? Nobody has to explicitly pursue this outcome (although there are many who will) for it to be inevitable; the system obeys its own logic above all else.
[ commenting on Alfred Hubler on Stabilizing CAS ]