June 12, 2014: The Guardian • Pentagon preparing for mass civil breakdown. Social science is being militarised to develop 'operational tools' to target peaceful activists and protest movements Source HerePentagon preparing for mass civil breakdown. It seemed ludicrous back in 2014, didn't it? Inconceivable. Sure some preppers believed it, but they're always getting ready and nothing happened. Doomsday was always right around the corner, and then the next corner, and on and on. Televangelists have probably accused more politicians of being the antichrist than the number of politicians went to Epstein's Island.
February 20, 2020: History Network • Here’s Why These Six Ancient Civilizations Mysteriously Collapsed. From the Maya to Greenland’s Vikings, check out six civilizations that seemingly disappeared without a trace. Source HereAll of these civilizations vanished because of some combination of exhausting their natural resources, drought, plauge, and the little ice age. Sound familiar? Don't tell me that the Rockefeller Foundation and BlackRock became environmentally aware out of a sense of obligation to the planet. They're setting the groundwork for what's coming down the pipe. This isn't about money anymore, this is about control and survival. Throw out the rulebook because the rules no longer apply.
March 15, 2012 • More and more personal and household devices are connecting to the internet, from your television to your car navigation systems to your light switches. CIA Director David Petraeus cannot wait to spy on you through them. Earlier this month, Petraeus mused about the emergence of an "Internet of Things" -- that is, wired devices -- at a summit for In-Q-Tel, the CIA's venture capital firm. "'Transformational' is an overused word, but I do believe it properly applies to these technologies," Petraeus enthused, "particularly to their effect on clandestine tradecraft." All those new online devices are a treasure trove of data if you're a "person of interest" to the spy community. Once upon a time, spies had to place a bug in your chandelier to hear your conversation. With the rise of the "smart home," you'd be sending tagged, geolocated data that a spy agency can intercept in real time when you use the lighting app on your phone to adjust your living room's ambiance. "Items of interest will be located, identified, monitored, and remotely controlled through technologies such as radio-frequency identification, sensor networks, tiny embedded servers, and energy harvesters -- all connected to the next-generation internet using abundant, low-cost, and high-power computing," Petraeus said, "the latter now going to cloud computing, in many areas greater and greater supercomputing, and, ultimately, heading to quantum computing." Petraeus allowed that these household spy devices "change our notions of secrecy" and prompt a rethink of "our notions of identity and secrecy." All of which is true -- if convenient for a CIA director. The CIA has a lot of legal restrictions against spying on American citizens. But collecting ambient geolocation data from devices is a grayer area, especially after the 2008 carve-outs to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. Hardware manufacturers, it turns out, store a trove of geolocation data; and some legislators have grown alarmed at how easy it is for the government to track you through your phone or PlayStation. That's not the only data exploit intriguing Petraeus. He's interested in creating new online identities for his undercover spies -- and sweeping away the "digital footprints" of agents who suddenly need to vanish. "Proud parents document the arrival and growth of their future CIA officer in all forms of social media that the world can access for decades to come," Petraeus observed. "Moreover, we have to figure out how to create the digital footprint for new identities for some officers." Source HereThe IoT should be renamed to IoTT (Internet of Tracking Things), shouldn't it. But we can't have people figure out what's really happening, can we? It's a good thing that quantum computing isn't too close, isn’t it?
December 19, 2019: New York Times • THE DATA REVIEWED BY TIMES OPINION didn’t come from a telecom or giant tech company, nor did it come from a governmental surveillance operation. It originated from a location data company, one of dozens quietly collecting precise movements using software slipped onto mobile phone apps. You’ve probably never heard of most of the companies — and yet to anyone who has access to this data, your life is an open book. They can see the places you go every moment of the day, whom you meet with or spend the night with, where you pray, whether you visit a methadone clinic, a psychiatrist’s office or a massage parlor. The Times and other news organizations have reported on smartphone tracking in the past. But never with a data set so large. Even still, this file represents just a small slice of what’s collected and sold every day by the location tracking industry — surveillance so omnipresent in our digital lives that it now seems impossible for anyone to avoid. It doesn’t take much imagination to conjure the powers such always-on surveillance can provide an authoritarian regime like China’s. Within America’s own representative democracy, citizens would surely rise up in outrage if the government attempted to mandate that every person above the age of 12 carry a tracking device that revealed their location 24 hours a day. Yet, in the decade since Apple’s App Store was created, Americans have, app by app, consented to just such a system run by private companies. Now, as the decade ends, tens of millions of Americans, including many children, find themselves carrying spies in their pockets during the day and leaving them beside their beds at night — even though the corporations that control their data are far less accountable than the government would be. Source Here
April 5, 2018: Global News • (Project Maven) Over 3,000 Google employees have a signed a petition in protest against the company’s involvement with a U.S. Department of Defense artificial intelligence (AI) project that studies imagery and could eventually be used to improve drone strikes in the battlefield. Source HereHmmm. Maybe Apple will be for the little guy? They have always valued privacy rights, right?
December 12, 2019 • Palantir took over Project Maven defense contract after Google backed out. Source Here
December 29, 2020: Input • Palantir exec says its work is on par with the Manhattan Project. Comparing AI to most lethal weapon in human history isn’t comforting. SourceHere
August 14, 2020: Venture: • Google researchers use quantum computing to help improve image classification. Source Here
October 2, 2013: Vice News • The hacktivist group Anonymous released a video statement with an accompanying Pastebin document claiming that there are definitive links between AuthenTec, the company that developed the iPhone 5S’s fingerprint scanner, and the US government. Source HereAn apple a day helps the NSA. Or Google. Or Microsoft. Or Amazon. Take your pick from the basket, because dem Apple's are all the same. But at least we have fundamental rights, right?
Controversial debates arose as the Protect America Act was published. Constitutional lawyers and civil liberties experts expressed concerns that this Act authorized massive, wide-ranging information gathering with no oversight. Whereas it placed much focus on communications, the Act allowed for information gathering of all shapes and forms. The ACLU called it the "Police America Act" – "authorized a massive surveillance dragnet", calling the blank-check oversight provisions "meaningless," and calling them a "phony court review of secret procedures."So the surveillance state doesn't have checks and balances anymore. The state is preparing for Massive Civil Breakdown. They keep warning us about environmental collapse. Got it? Good. Let's keep on keeping on.
The District of Columbia Organic Act of 1871 created a single new district corporation governing the entire federal territory, called the District of Columbia, thus dissolving the three major political subdivisions of the District (Port of Georgetown, the City of Washington, and Washington County) and their governments. Source Here)There's a reason people call lawyers snakes, it's because most of them speak with forked tounges. So the corporation isn't being held liable, but the shareholders can't be held liable either. That's too insane to even be called a Catch 22. We are literally being set up to have no recourse because there isn’t anybody who can be held responsible. Why is that important when I've been talking about the surveillance state?
The first big leap in corporate personhood from holding mere property and contract rights to possessing more expansive rights was a claim that the Equal Protection Clause applied to corporations. One of the strangest twists in American constitutional law was the moment that corporations gained personhood under the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. It occurred in a case called Santa Clara County, and what was odd was that the Supreme Court did not really even decide the matter in the actual opinion. It only appeared in a footnote to the case. What we are likely to have at the conclusion of the Supreme Court term is corporations that are empowered to spend in American elections because of Bellotti and Citizens United; corporations that can make religious objections thanks to Hobby Lobby; and if Jesner turns out as badly as I predict, corporations will be able to aid and abet human rights violations abroad with impunity. Source Here"Having a corporation would allow people to put property into a collective ownership that could be held with perpetual existence," she says. "So it wouldn't be tied to any one person's lifespan, or subject necessarily to laws regarding inheriting property." Later on, in the United States and elsewhere, the advantages of incorporation were essential to efficient and secure economic development. Unlike partnerships, the corporation continued to exist even if a partner died; there was no unanimity required to do something; shareholders could not be sued individually, only the corporation as a whole, so investors only risked as much as they put into buying shares. Source Here
The way that the Arab Bank may get away with this alleged morally troubling behavior, even though it has a New York branch, is by reasserting the basic argument that was made in Nestle USA and Kiobel II: that the federal Alien Tort Statute was not intended to apply to corporations full stop. Given other cases in this area like Mohamad v. PLO, which held the word “individual” in the Torture Victim Protection Act means a natural person and does not impose any liability against organizations, the Arab Bank’s procorporate argument may well prevail. There are multiple federal Circuit Courts which have shot down the argument that corporations are immune from suit under the Alien Tort Statute. The lone outlier is the Second Circuit, which decided in 2010 that corporations are excused from suit in Kiobel I. This is the case that was appealed to the Supreme Court and became Kiobel II. Jesner v. Arab Bank was litigated in the Second Circuit. One question in Jesner was what exactly did Kiobel II do to Kiobel I. So far in the litigation, Jesner concluded that Kiobel I and its conclusion that corporations can’t be sued in federal court using the Alien Tort Statute remained the controlling law of the Second Circuit.
July 14, 2020: The Intercept • Microsoft’s police surveillance services are often opaque because the company sells little in the way of its own policing products. It instead offers an array of “general purpose” Azure cloud services, such as machine learning and predictive analytics tools like Power BI (business intelligence) and Cognitive Services, which can be used by law enforcement agencies and surveillance vendors to build their own software or solutions. A rich array of Microsoft’s cloud-based offerings is on full display with a concept called “The Connected Officer.” Microsoft situates this concept as part of the Internet of Things, or IoT, in which gadgets are connected to online servers and thus made more useful. “The Connected Officer,” Microsoft has written, will “bring IoT to policing.” With the Internet of Things, physical objects are assigned unique identifiers and transfer data over networks in an automated fashion. If a police officer draws a gun from its holster, for example, a notification can be sent over the network to alert other officers there may be danger. Real Time Crime Centers could then locate the officer on a map and monitor the situation from a command and control center. Source HereUhm, I guess it's really is all connected, isn’t it?
June 18, 2020: The Guardian • How Target, Google, Bank of America and Microsoft quietly fund police through private donations. More than 25 large corporations in the past three years have contributed funding to private police foundations, new report says. Source HereLong live the Military Industrial Techno Surveillance State. If you have nothing to hide, than you have nothing to worry about. Really? Are we still believing that line? Cause it's a load of crap. If we have nothing to worry about, then why are they worried enough to be implementing surveillance systems with corresponding units on the ground? Got your attention there, didn't I?
August 19, 2019: Big Think • Though the term "Orwellian" easily applies to such a technology, Michel's illuminating reporting touches something deeper. Numerous American cities have already been surveilled using these god-like cameras, including Gorgon Stare, a camera-enabled drone that can track individuals over a 50-square kilometer radius from 20,000 feet. Here's the real rub: the feature that allows users to pinch and zoom on Instagram is similar to what WAMI allows. Anything within those 50-square kilometers is now under the microscope. If this sounds like some futuristic tech, think again: Derivations of this camera system have been tested in numerous American cities. Say there is a big public protest. With this camera you can follow thousands of protesters back to their homes. Now you have a list of the home addresses of all the people involved in a political movement. If on their way home you witness them committing some crime—breaking a traffic regulation or frequenting a location that is known to be involved in the drug trade—you can use that surveillance data against them to essentially shut them up. That's why we have laws that prevent the use of surveillance technologies because it is human instinct to abuse them. That's why we need controls. Source HereWant to know more about the Gorgon Stare? Flatten the Curve. Part 12. Source Here
MEDUSA (Mob Excess Deterrent Using Silent Audio) is a directed-energy non-lethal weapon designed by WaveBand Corporation in 2003-2004 for temporary personnel incapacitation. The weapon is based on the microwave auditory effect resulting in a strong sound sensation in the human head when it is subject to certain kinds of pulsed/modulated microwave radiation. The developers claimed that through the combination of pulse parameters and pulse power, it is possible to raise the auditory sensation to a “discomfort” level, deterring personnel from entering a protected perimeter or, if necessary, temporarily incapacitating particular individuals. In 2005, Sierra Nevada Corporation acquired WaveBand Corporation.Ok. Get it? The Gorgon eye in the sky stares at you while the Medusa makes you immobile. Not good, but at least it'll just freeze you in your tracks.
July 6, 2008: Gizmodo • The Sierra Nevada Corporation claimed this week that it is ready to begin production on the MEDUSA, a damned scary ray gun that uses the "microwave audio effect" to implant sounds and perhaps even specific messages inside people's heads. Short for Mob Excess Deterrent Using Silent Audio, MEDUSA creates the audio effect with short microwave pulses. The pulses create a shockwave inside the skull that's detected by the ears, and basically makes you think you're going balls-to-the-wall batshit insane. Source HereUhm. And drive you insane.
July 26, 2008: Gizmodo • The MEDUSA crowd control ray gun we reported on earlier this month sounded like some pretty amazing-and downright scary-technology. Using the microwave auditory effect, the beam, in theory, would have put sounds and voice-like noises in your head, thereby driving you away from the area. Crowd control via voices in your head. Sounds cool. However, it turns out that the beam would actually kill you before any of that happy stuff started taking place, most likely by frying or cooking your brain inside your skull. Can you imagine if this thing made it out into the field? Awkward! Source HereAnnnnnnnndddddd it'll kill you.
From the earliest Chinese dynasties to the present, the jade deposits most used were not only those of Khotan in the Western Chinese province of Xinjiang but other parts of China as well, such as Lantian, Shaanxi.Remember, words matter. Look at Gorgon Stare and Medusa. They don't randomly grab names out of a hat, or pick them because they think it sounds dystopian. They pick words for a reason.
July 7, 2017: The Warzone • There only appears to be one official news story on this exercise at all and it's available on the website of Air Mobility Command’s Eighteenth Air Force, situated at Joint Base Charleston. At the time of writing, a google shows that there were more than a half dozen more copies on other Air Force pages, as well as number of photographs. For some reason, someone appears to have taken these offline or otherwise broken all the links. Using Google to search the Defense Video Imagery Distribution System, which is the main U.S. military's public affairs hub, brings up more broken links. Oh, and unless there's been some sort of mistake, JADE HELM actually stands for the amazingly obtuse Joint Assistance for Deployment Execution Homeland Eradication of Local Militants. A separate web search for this phrase does not turn up any other results. Source HereNow, using an acronym that indicates training to Eradicate Local Militants seems pretty dumb. It may be used in that manner if environmental collapse triggers riots, but i don't think they would warn everyone ahead of time, do you? So I dug a little bit more.
October 17, 2018: The Carolinan • In 2016, 75 percent of American forces were private contractors. In 2017, Erik Prince, former head of Blackwater, and Stephen Feinberg, head of Dyncorp, discussed plans for contractors completely taking over U.S. operations in Afghanistan. Although ultimately unsuccessful, it remains to be seen if the current administration will change its mind. Contractors are involved in almost every military task, such as intelligence analysis, logistics and training allied soldiers. Contractors are even involved in U.S. special ops missions. This is because contractors are essentially untraceable and unaccountable. Most are born in other countries; only 33 percent are registered U.S. citizens. Private military firms don’t have to report their actions to Congress, unlike the military or intelligence agencies. They also aren’t subject to the Freedom of Information Act, so private citizens and journalists aren’t allowed to access their internal documents. There are also no international laws to regulate private military firms. It’s been proven that many contractors are involved in illegal activities. The larger multinational companies sometimes hire local subcontractors. These contractors sometimes aren’t background-checked. A 2010 investigation by the Senate found that many subcontractors were linked to murders, kidnappings, bribery and anti-coalition activities. Some subcontractors even formed their own unlicensed mercenary groups after coalition forces leave. A 2010 House investigation showed evidence that the Department of Defense had hired local warlords for security services. In 2007, Blackwater contractors massacred 17 civilians. This eventually led Blackwater to being restructured and renamed as Academi. Source HereMilitary Exercises. Private Defense Firms. No oversight. And it's all coming soon. Read more at Flatten the Curve. Part 20. Upcoming war and catastrophes. Source Here
Most financial services that DeFi offers already exist in the real world. So why does it need to be on a blockchain?submitted by mickhagen to genesisblockhq [link] [comments]
This is the final post of Crypto-Powered — a new series that examines what it means for Genesis Block to be a digital bank that’s powered by crypto, blockchain, and decentralized protocols.
Earlier in this series, we looked at some of the most promising DeFi use-cases already in the wild. We explored categories like lending, investment, insurance, stablecoins, payments, and more. And before that, we gave a primer on Bitcoin, Ethereum, and DeFi (decentralized finance).
So now that we’ve gone a little deeper down the crypto rabbit hole and we’ve done this whirlwind tour of DeFi, the natural next question is: why does any of it matter?
Most of the financial services offered by DeFi protocols already exist in the real world. So why does it need to be decentralized or on a blockchain? What’s the big deal?
Today we go through 10 points that highlight the magic of DeFi, and why it matters. And hopefully, it becomes clear just how big of an unfair advantage this technology is for Genesis Block. It’s our superpower as we compete against big banks and fintech unicorns. Alright, let’s dive in!
1. Global Pipes & BridgesIn traditional finance, each country or region has its own currency, infrastructure, and regulations. With blockchain technology and more specifically DeFi, the world is instantly connected. These decentralized protocols serve as the pipes and plumbing that plug the different economies together.
The internet completely broke down the walls & borders for information and news. DeFi is doing the same thing, but now for money, commerce, and financial markets. We’re now part of a global, digital marketplace that can finally transact with each other— there’s a common set of rules and protocols that transcend cultures, languages, and borders.
Jack Dorsey recently shared his own bullish insights on this future.
2. Efficient Markets & LiquidityWhile the crypto ecosystem is still small when compared to traditional financial markets, it is growing quickly. As participation continues to mature, it will unlock enormous liquidity in the global markets.
Imagine the possibilities for mostly illiquid markets like real estate, collectibles, or private company stock.
This creates new opportunities for people. Imagine a farmer in Mexico helping a young family in Florida buy their first home. Or a coal worker in China participating in micro-finance loans in Africa. With liquid markets, they can easily swap in and out of investments depending on their financial situations. They won’t have to worry about long periods of no liquidity — which traditionally only favored the wealthy.
Additionally, more liquid markets lead to great efficiencies. Defi, like the internet before, reduces transaction costs to the bare minimum — just the tech/infrastructure costs. The high cost of participation is removed.
This new, unlocked liquidity will lead to a much more efficient, vibrant, and healthy global economy.
3. Earning Opportunities & Value CreationBasic crypto allows you to move and store value. With many of these DeFi protocols, you can actually create and earn value. You can share in the upside and success of these new micro-economies by earning tokens for your contributions.
For example, with DeFi protocols like Maker or UMA, you can be rewarded for voting and participating in high-level protocol decisions. With Synthetix, Compound, and Uniswap you can be rewarded for providing liquidity to the network. With Cosmos or Tezos (and soon Ethereum), you can be rewarded for helping keep the network stable and secure.
These new decentralized protocols and the work required to grow and cultivate them can be incredible earning opportunities for people all over the world. Value isn’t just moving, it’s being created and growing. This is an entirely new paradigm for work and earning income.
It’s actually really incredible to think about.
4. Equal Access & Economic FreedomBecause DeFi protocols are decentralized and on a blockchain, there are no gatekeepers. No government or bank or corporation can censor these protocols. Everyone has equal access.
You can be a user who needs financial services. You can be an entrepreneur who has a great idea and decide to launch your own protocol. You can be a worker who wants to earn income by helping and contributing to these new micro-economies. All options are available. Nobody can stop you.
People all over the world — whether from a favela in Rio or living under oppression by an authoritarian regime — can participate in this new, digital, permissionless global economy. This creates more economic freedom, which changes the world.
5. Composability & InteroperabilityMany of these DeFi protocols leverage other DeFi protocols. They are like lego pieces — you can mix, match, connect, combine… and create an entirely new, exciting thing! This is called composability and it’s one of DeFi’s greatest strengths.
As Genesis Block decides to add additional features (more financial services), it becomes much easier because most of these protocols are modular and integrate nicely.
6. Regulatory WindowsWhile cryptocurrency like Bitcoin is starting to become more regulated in developed countries, many of these newer decentralized technologies have not, like DeFi (financial services built on smart contracts).
This technology is at the bleeding-edge of innovation. It’s a new frontier that is being explored and developed at an incredibly fast pace. As a result, most governments around the world have not yet fleshed out how or if it will be regulated. For many countries around the world with fewer resources and less-developed regulatory infrastructure, it would be dizzying to even try.
This creates a unique window of opportunity for builders and entrepreneurs. They won’t get bogged down by some of the outdated laws that slow them down in legacy finance.
For updates on crypto regulation in the US, CoinCenter is a great resource. So far, US regulatory focus has just been on cryptocurrency or securities more generally.
7. Decentralized GovernanceThe companies behind top DeFi protocols like Compound and Maker have relinquished their power and turned it over to the community. The community of token holders are now in charge of proposing, approving, and voting for decisions and updates in the protocol. This is called decentralized governance.
Of course, not all protocols are truly decentralized in their management or governance. But this is a trend we’re seeing more and more of. This more democratic style of governance creates a system of checks and balances, hopefully leading to a more stable, secure, and resilient protocol.
There’s a great post recently from Jesse Walden where he describes this as The Ownership Economy.
8. User Interface FlexibilityBecause these protocols are low-level, there can be a variety of product experiences, interfaces, and designs built around them. It’s similar to interacting with web APIs, except these are smart contracts on a blockchain.
If you don’t like the design of an app that interacts with a specific protocol, you can build your own.
9. Transparency & AuditabilityThese protocols are on the blockchain for anyone to inspect, analyze, and review. This transparency can create more trust and confidence for users. Anyone can discover a bug or whistle-blow malfeasance.
In the real world, bank customers typically have no idea what’s happening under the hood. It’s a complete black hole. In DeFi, the code is open-source. You can verify it’s doing exactly what they say it is.
10. Autonomous & Open 24/7While the developers can sometimes update the protocol or fix a bug, these decentralized applications are not managed day to day by a company or its employees. These smart contracts run independently and automatically on the blockchain — enforced by policies and rules written in the code. DeFi protocols aren’t closed on weekends or bank holidays.
Can you imagine a bank that was run by robots and open 24/7. That’s DeFi.
Hopefully, it’s becoming crystal clear that a crypto-native company — if it can substantially leverage these game-changing DeFi protocols — will win the consumer finance market. It will disrupt Wells Fargo, Goldman, and Bank of America. It will become the bank of the future.
Which crypto-native company is best positioned to win? Who can abstract away the complexity, deliver a world-class product experience, and take it to the world?
We obviously believe it’s us at Genesis Block. Time will tell.
I hope your imagination is running wild with possibilities like mine is. The potential of this tech is incredible. When you consider both the broad spectrum of financial use-cases that DeFi offers and the enormous value that is unlocked through these protocols (as outlined in today’s post), you can see just how big of an unfair advantage this is for Genesis Block.
As long as we’re building on this foundation, we’re out here playing 3d Chess while big banks & fintech companies are playing Checkers.This is mic-drop weaponry. These are superpowers. This is what it means to be a digital bank that’s powered by blockchain technology and decentralized protocols. This is what it means to be crypto-powered.
Other Ways to Consume Today's Episode:
Download the app. We're a digital bank that's powered by crypto: https://genesisblock.com/download
The success of today’s high-flying fintech unicorns will be short-lived as long as they’re building on legacy financial infrastructure.submitted by mickhagen to genesisblockhq [link] [comments]
This is the first post of our Crypto-Powered series where we look at what it means for Genesis Block to be a digital bank that’s powered by crypto, blockchain, and decentralized protocols.
Today we start a new series called Crypto-Powered. This will be similar to our last series, Spreading Crypto, but now we’re exploring a new theme. At Genesis Block, we’re building a digital bank that’s powered by crypto, blockchain technology, and decentralized protocols. Yes, lots of buzzwords.
What does any of it mean? How does it give us an unfair advantage? What superpowers are unlocked? What are the benefits for users?
In this series, we’ll answer all of these questions. Grab some popcorn. Sit down. Put your feet up. Make yourself comfortable. Let us take you on a journey. Let us be your tour guide down the crypto rabbit hole…
But hold on! Pump those brakes. Before we dive into the crypto rabbit hole, we need to establish some context. We can’t talk about the future of money unless we first understand the problems of money today. We need to understand what’s broken with legacy finance. So let’s do a quick primer on the current state of finance. That will set the stage for the rest of the series. Alright, let’s go.
Fintech & UnbundlingOver the last decade, legacy financial institutions (banks in particular) haven’t been meeting the needs of younger, more digital generations. As a result, fintech startups have emerged and effectively unbundled the consumer banking stack. Whether it was Robinhood for investing, TransferWise for cross-border payments, SoFi for student loans, Wealthfront for wealth management, or Digit for saving… these innovative upstarts all focused on a single use-case and nailed it.
While great for a period, this led to a lot of fragmentation. Users needed to split their finances across many different services and keep track of what money was where. The cognitive load for many users became overwhelming.
Re-bundling of FinanceAs we’ve seen in other industries (eg. media/entertainment), the pendulum swings back to bundled services (Cable TV → Individual Digital Channel Subscriptions → YoutubeTV/Hulu/Disney+), but in a better, more valuable, digital experience for end-users.
In the last few years, we’ve started to see a re-bundling of consumer finance. But instead of users going back to traditional banks, the rising generation is choosing to bank directly with these innovative, digital fintech companies.
Each of the startups mentioned above is now offering a more bundled experience with checkings accounts, debit cards, and other financial services. In Europe, we’ve seen the enormous rise of neo/challenger banks like Revolut, Monzo, N26 — all-in-one solutions for modern, consumer finance. That trend is starting to grow in North America with apps like Chime (the original was Simple)
We believe this bundled approach is here to stay — especially for the younger, more mobile, digital generation. They prefer convenient, easy-to-use, all-in-one solutions that require little effort & minimum commitment.
Building on Legacy FinanceWhile many of these high-flying fintech unicorns have seen incredible success, I believe it will be short-lived as long as they’re building on legacy financial infrastructure. It’s a realization I’ve come to only recently.
In years past, whenever I met a fintech entrepreneur, they’d always suggest that they’d never do a startup in traditional finance again. Too complex. Too expensive. Too slow. I always shrugged it off. Wimps. How hard can it be?
I really didn’t believe or understand that pain until we started Genesis Block. And it wasn’t until we began integrating with some of our partners (Evolve Bank & Trust, I2C, Visa, etc) that I really started to understand.
The rumors are true. Those fintech entrepreneurs were all right. The pain is real.
Trying to innovate in legacy finance is like running on a hamster wheel blindfolded while powerful, evil rats randomly throw explosives inside.It feels like you are never making any progress and at any moment you can be destroyed. Luckily at Genesis Block, we’re only integrating with legacy finance at the edges — the onramps and offramps (money in, money out). We’ve worked with great partners and so far have been able to navigate the treacherous terrain.
Legacy Finance is BrokenYou must be wondering why and how is it so bad. It’s all the things you’d expect…
The antiquated tech stack of financial institutions. The frustrating process of working with big, bureaucratic, slow-moving organizations. The prehistoric payment systems that haven’t improved in decades (for example, ACH payments and their strange batch processing practices). The countless unnecessary middle-men on every card swipe (merchant, acquiring bank, processor, card network, issuing bank). The slow settlement times. Systems rife with fraud. An industry oozing with predatory practices and unethical behavior. The moth-eaten laws & regulations that are NOT innovator-friendly (mostly due to powerful Wall Street incumbents who control politicians).
The list goes on and on. Maybe someday we can dedicate an entire series to it. It’ll be a good bedtime story.
The more familiar I become with how legacy finance works, the more convinced I am that the future of money cannot be built on that foundation.The fintech darlings of Silicon Valley are all building on extremely shaky ground that is ripe for massive disruption.
They will spend so much time looking backward (integration, compatibility, regulation) that they will have very little time to look forward (innovation, progress, disruption). They will be tangled in the quagmire of archaic tech and the tentacles of outdated regulation.
I don’t believe the ultimate winners in consumer finance will come from the current cohort of fintech unicorns. And that’s because these companies are all building on the pipes of legacy finance.
The Future of MoneyThe future of money will be built on a foundation that is digital, open-source, permissionless, and decentralized. The future of money will have no borders or middle-men. The future of money will have no institutions or governments controlling or censoring it.
The future of money will be built on blockchain technology. The future of money will be built on “crypto rails.” The future of money is crypto. It’s the missing piece of the internet age — and quite frankly, long overdue.
This is an entirely new paradigm. New infrastructure. New pipes.
While blockchain technology provides a strong base, this tech alone won’t be sufficient. As discussed in our last series (Spreading Crypto), these powerful protocols need killer applications to reach broader adoption. The apps need to be simple, convenient, and require no blockchain education. They need to fit nicely within existing workflows and behaviors. A digital bank like Genesis Block is a perfect app to propel crypto to the masses.
At Genesis Block, that’s the foundation we’re building on — a powerful combination of the underlying technology and our unique approach in how it’s delivered.
The future of consumer finance belongs to those who build with blockchain technology & decentralized protocols at its core, and know how to best take it to the billions of people around the world.That’s our thesis at Genesis Block. Our last series went deep on how the tech reaches and touches end-users. This new series is all about what’s under the hood — crypto & blockchain — and how that gives us an unfair advantage in the world of consumer finance.
Clone WarsWhile some fintech products are giving users the ability to buy & hold crypto (Robinhood, Revolut, Cash App), they aren’t leveraging the technology beyond that. And they most certainly aren’t building their infrastructure around it.
So let’s ask the dumb VC question that some of you are thinking: what if these fintech companies or big banks just copy what we’re doing at Genesis Block? What if they add blockchain and crypto?
Sorry, you can’t just “add crypto” as if a pizza topping in a Doordash order. That’s not how it works. I mean, you can say you are doing that, but it’s not real. That’s just Innovation Theater.
The systems behind banks and fintech are deeply integrated with legacy financial rails. Trying to retroactively add blockchain in any meaningful way would be like trying to make a 2020 Lambo with a 1910 Ford Model T engine. No matter how talented their engineers are, it just ain’t gonna happen. Not unless they burn it all down and start over. Massive risks. A classic case of Innovator’s Dilemma. Will anyone have the courage? I don’t know. I think they are much more likely to acquire someone like Genesis Block than gamble their entire business on it. But we aren’t cheap.
These new, decentralized protocols are complex, fast-moving, and full of snags. Our team has been in this space for many years — we understand the security tradeoffs, the protocol nuances (we spent a lot of time actually building them), and enough self-awareness to know what we don’t know.
Our team at Genesis Block can run circles around traditional banks and fintech companies. Certainly, they have large audiences and strong balance sheets — which can’t be underestimated. But when it comes to unlocking the enormous, new value to users, as long as the incumbents are building on legacy financial infrastructure, they simply cannot compete with us.
Crypto-PoweredThe empires created in the 21st-century world of finance will be crypto-native companies that deeply understand decentralized tech and know how best to leverage it. It will be the teams who build on “crypto rails” first, with bridges back to legacy finance second.
That’s our thesis at Genesis Block. In this series, we intend to lay out a convincing argument for why that’s true.So now that the stage is set and we’ve introduced the series, I think you’re ready to start learning why blockchain technology is our superpower, our unfair advantage.
You are ready to dive into that crypto rabbit hole.
But first, a word of caution. Once you go in, you may never want to come out. It’s what happened to me and so many others.
Once you see the potential & promise of this incredible technology, you won’t be able to ignore it. You won’t stop thinking about it. It’ll capture your imagination like few other things can.
Don’t be afraid of it. Let it take you.
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A whirlwind tour of Defi, paying close attention to protocols that we’re leveraging at Genesis Block.submitted by mickhagen to genesisblockhq [link] [comments]
This is the third post of Crypto-Powered — a new series that examines what it means for Genesis Block to be a digital bank that’s powered by crypto, blockchain, and decentralized protocols.
Last week we explored how building on legacy finance is a fool’s errand. The future of money belongs to those who build with crypto and blockchain at their core. We also started down the crypto rabbit hole, introducing Bitcoin, Ethereum, and DeFi (decentralized finance). That post is required reading if you hope to glean any value from the rest of this series.
97% of all activity on Ethereum in the last quarter has been DeFi-related. The total value sitting inside DeFi protocols is roughly $2B — double what it was a month ago. The explosive growth cannot be ignored. All signs suggest that Ethereum & DeFi are a Match Made in Heaven, and both on their way to finding strong product/market fit.
So in this post, we’re doing a whirlwind tour of DeFi. We look at specific examples and use-cases already in the wild and seeing strong growth. And we pay close attention to protocols that Genesis Block is integrating with. Alright, let’s dive in.
StablecoinsStablecoins are exactly what they sound like: cryptocurrencies that are stable. They are not meant to be volatile (like Bitcoin). These assets attempt to peg their price to some external reference (eg. USD or Gold). A non-volatile crypto asset can be incredibly useful for things like merchant payments, cross-border transfers, or storing wealth — becoming your own bank but without the stress of constant price volatility.
There are major governments and central banks that are experimenting with or soon launching their own stablecoins like China with their digital yuan and the US Federal Reserve with their digital dollar. There are also major corporations working in this area like JP Morgan with their JPM Coin, and of course Facebook with their Libra Project.
Stablecoin activity has grown 800% in the last year, with $290B of transaction volume (funds moving on-chain).The most popular USD-pegged stablecoins include:
tablecoins are playing an increasingly important role in the world of DeFi. In a way, they serve as common pipes & bridges between the various protocols.https://preview.redd.it/v9ki2qro12b51.png?width=700&format=png&auto=webp&s=dbf591b122fc4b3d83b381389145b88e2505b51d
Lending & BorrowingThree of the top five DeFi protocols relate to lending & borrowing. These popular lending protocols look very similar to traditional money markets. Users who want to earn interest/yield can deposit (lend) their funds into a pool of liquidity. Because it behaves similarly to traditional money markets, their funds are not locked, they can withdraw at any time. It’s highly liquid.
Borrowers can tap into this pool of liquidity and take out loans. Interest rates depend on the utilization rate of the pool — how much of the deposits in the pool have already been borrowed. Supply & demand. Thus, interest rates are variable and borrowers can pay their loans back at any time.
So, who decides how much a borrower can take? What’s the process like? Are there credit checks? How is credit-worthiness determined?These protocols are decentralized, borderless, permissionless. The people participating in these markets are from all over the world. There is no simple way to verify identity or check credit history. So none of that happens.
Credit-worthiness is determined simply by how much crypto collateral the borrower puts into the protocol. For example, if a user wants to borrow $5k of USDC, then they’ll need to deposit $10k of BTC or ETH. The exact amount of collateral depends on the rules of the protocol — usually the more liquid the collateral asset, the more borrowing power the user can receive.
The most prominent lending protocols include Compound, Aave, Maker, and Atomic Loans. Recently, Compound has seen meteoric growth with the introduction of their COMP token — a token used to incentivize and reward participants of the protocol. There’s almost $1B in outstanding debt in the Compound protocol. Mainframe is also working on an exciting protocol in this area and the latest iteration of their white paper should be coming out soon.
There is very little economic risk to these protocols because all loans are overcollateralized.I repeat, all loans are overcollateralized. If the value of the collateral depreciates significantly due to price volatility, there are sophisticated liquidation systems to ensure the loan always gets paid back.
InvestmentsBuying, selling, and trading crypto assets is certainly one form of investing (though not for the faint of heart). But there are now DeFi protocols to facilitate making and managing traditional-style investments.
Through DeFi, you can invest in Gold. You can invest in stocks like Amazon and Apple. You can short Tesla. You can access the S&P 500. This is done through crypto-based synthetics — which gives users exposure to assets without needing to hold or own the underlying asset. This is all possible with protocols like UMA, Synthetix, or Market protocol.
Maybe your style of investing is more passive. With PoolTogether , you can participate in a no-loss lottery.
Maybe you’re an advanced trader and want to trade options or futures. You can do that with DeFi protocols like Convexity, Futureswap, and dYdX. Maybe you live on the wild side and trade on margin or leverage, you can do that with protocols like Fulcrum, Nuo, and DDEX. Or maybe you’re a degenerate gambler and want to bet against Trump in the upcoming election, you can do that on Augur.
And there are plenty of DeFi protocols to help with crypto investing. You could use Set Protocol if you need automated trading strategies. You could use Melonport if you’re an asset manager. You could use Balancer to automatically rebalance your portfolio.
With as little as $1, people all over the world can have access to the same investment opportunities and tools that used to be reserved for only the wealthy, or those lucky enough to be born in the right country.
You can start to imagine how services like Etrade, TD Ameritrade, Schwab, and even Robinhood could be massively disrupted by a crypto-native company that builds with these types of protocols at their foundation.https://preview.redd.it/agco8msx12b51.png?width=700&format=png&auto=webp&s=3bbb595f9ecc84758d276dbf82bc5ddd9e329ff8
InsuranceAs mentioned in our previous post, there are near-infinite applications one can build on Ethereum. As a result, sometimes the code doesn’t work as expected. Bugs get through, it breaks. We’re still early in our industry. The tools, frameworks, and best practices are all still being established. Things can go wrong.
Sometimes the application just gets in a weird or bad state where funds can’t be recovered — like with what happened with Parity where $280M got frozen (yes, I lost some money in that). Sometimes, there are hackers who discover a vulnerability in the code and maliciously steal funds — like how dForce lost $25M a few months ago, or how The DAO lost $50M a few years ago. And sometimes the system works as designed, but the economic model behind it is flawed, so a clever user takes advantage of the system— like what recently happened with Balancer where they lost $500k.
There are a lot of risks when interacting with smart contracts and decentralized applications — especially for ones that haven’t stood the test of time. This is why insurance is such an important development in DeFi.
Insurance will be an essential component in helping this technology reach the masses.Two protocols that are leading the way on DeFi insurance are Nexus Mutual and Opyn. Though they are both still just getting started, many people are already using them. And we’re excited to start working with them at Genesis Block.
Exchanges & LiquidityDecentralized Exchanges (DEX) were one of the first and most developed categories in DeFi. A DEX allows a user to easily exchange one crypto asset for another crypto asset — but without needing to sign up for an account, verify identity, etc. It’s all via decentralized protocols.
Within the first 5 months of 2020, the top 7 DEX already achieved the 2019 trading volume. That was $2.5B. DeFi is fueling a lot of this growth.
There are many different flavors of DEX. Some of the early ones included 0x, IDEX, and EtherDelta — all of which had a traditional order book model where buyers are matched with sellers.
Another flavor is the pooled liquidity approach where the price is determined algorithmically based on how much liquidity there is and how much the user wants to buy. This is known as an AMM (Automated Market Maker) — Uniswap and Bancor were early leaders here. Though lately, Balancer has seen incredible growth due mostly to their strong incentives for participation — similar to Compound.
There are some DEXs that are more specialized — for example, Curve and mStable focus mostly only stablecoins. Because of the proliferation of these decentralized exchanges, there are now aggregators that combine and connect the liquidity of many sources. Those include Kyber, Totle, 1Inch, and Dex.ag.
These decentralized exchanges are becoming more and more connected to DeFi because they provide an opportunity for yield and earning interest.Users can earn passive income by supplying liquidity to these markets. It usually comes in the form of sharing transaction fee revenue (Uniswap) or token rewards (Balancer).
PaymentsAs it relates to making payments, much of the world is still stuck on plastic cards. We’re grateful to partner with Visa and launch the Genesis Block debit card… but we still don’t believe that's the future of payments. We see that as an important bridge between the past (legacy finance) and the future (crypto).
Our first post in this series shared more on why legacy finance is broken. We talked about the countless unnecessary middle-men on every card swipe (merchant, acquiring bank, processor, card network, issuing bank). We talked about the slow settlement times.
The future of payments will be much better. Yes, it’ll be from a mobile phone and the user experience will be similar to ApplePay (NFC) or WePay (QR Code).
But more importantly, the underlying assets being moved/exchanged will all be crypto — digital, permissionless, and open source.Someone making a payment at the grocery store check-out line will be able to open up Genesis Block, use contactless tech or scan a QR code, and instantly pay for their goods. All using crypto. Likely a stablecoin. Settlement will be instant. All the middlemen getting their pound of flesh will be disintermediated. The merchant can make more and the user can spend less. Blockchain FTW!
Now let’s talk about a few projects working in this area. The xDai Burner Wallet experience was incredible at the ETHDenver event a few years ago, but that speed came at the expense of full decentralization (can it be censored or shut down?). Of course, Facebook’s Libra wants to become the new standard for global payments, but many are afraid to give Facebook that much control (newsflash: it isn’t very decentralized).
Bitcoin is decentralized… but it’s slow and volatile. There are strong projects like Lightning Network (Zap example) that are still trying to make it happen. Projects like Connext and OmiseGo are trying to help bring payments to Ethereum. The Flexa project is leveraging the gift card rails, which is a nice hack to leverage existing pipes. And if ETH 2.0 is as fast as they say it will be, then the future of payments could just be a stablecoin like DAI (a token on Ethereum).
In a way, being able to spend crypto on daily expenses is the holy grail of use-cases. It’s still early. It hasn’t yet been solved. But once we achieve this, then we can ultimately and finally say goodbye to the legacy banking & finance world. Employees can be paid in crypto. Employees can spend in crypto. It changes everything.
Legacy finance is hanging on by a thread, and it’s this use-case that they are still clinging to. Once solved, DeFi domination will be complete.https://preview.redd.it/svft1ce422b51.png?width=700&format=png&auto=webp&s=9a6afc9e9339a3fec29ee2ae743c07c3042ea4ce
Impact on Genesis BlockAt Genesis Block, we’re excited to leverage these protocols and take this incredible technology to the world. Many of these protocols are already deeply integrated with our product. In fact, many are essential. The masses won’t know (or care about) what Tether, USDC, or DAI is. They think in dollars, euros, pounds and pesos. So while the user sees their local currency in the app, the underlying technology is all leveraging stablecoins. It’s all on “crypto rails.”
When users deposit assets into their Genesis Block account, they expect to earn interest. They expect that money to grow. We leverage many of these low-risk lending/exchange DeFi protocols. We lend into decentralized money markets like Compound — where all loans are overcollateralized. Or we supply liquidity to AMM exchanges like Balancer. This allows us to earn interest and generate yield for our depositors. We’re the experts so our users don’t need to be.
We haven’t yet integrated with any of the insurance or investment protocols — but we certainly plan on it. Our infrastructure is built with blockchain technology at the heart and our system is extensible — we’re ready to add assets and protocols when we feel they are ready, safe, secure, and stable. Many of these protocols are still in the experimental phase. It’s still early.
At Genesis Block we’re excited to continue to be at the frontlines of this incredible, innovative, technological revolution called DeFi.---
None of these powerful DeFi protocols will be replacing Robinhood, SoFi, or Venmo anytime soon. They never will. They aren’t meant to! We’ve discussed this before, these are low-level protocols that need killer applications, like Genesis Block.
So now that we’ve gone a little deeper down the rabbit hole and we’ve done this whirlwind tour of DeFi, the natural next question is: why?
Why does any of it matter?Most of these financial services that DeFi offers already exist in the real world. So why does it need to be on a blockchain? Why does it need to be decentralized? What new value is unlocked? Next post, we answer these important questions.
To look at more projects in DeFi, check out DeFi Prime, DeFi Pulse, or Consensys.
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Last week we talked with our adviser and CEO at Nusantara Trust Dr Walter Tonetto. He answered a number of questions that interest our customers.submitted by digitalgoldcoin to golderc20 [link] [comments]
How did you land in the cryptocurrency / blockchain space?
I was advising startup businesses in the technology space, and when 2016 came around, I asked Scotty, the feisty chief engineer of the U.S.S. Enterprise, to beam me into the heart of the finance system; I felt more and more the irresistible tug towards remodeling the current toxic financial system. Purposive remodeling, of course, is going on all the time, and it’s a knife that cuts into two directions. The vast majority of the ‘woke’ crowd actually believe that they can ‘disrupt’ the power of the elites that control all money flows. Bathing limestone statues – registering about 4 on the Mohs scale and 0 on the scale of reason -- of past leaders in district waters may give you a feeling of breathing the air of revolution and tiring unknown muscle-groups in your shanks, but think of it like a father watching his child toss around shovels of soil in a sandbox; he smiles benignly from afar, knowing it won’t change a thing; all the luxurious appointments at home won’t get touched. It is a grave illusion to suppose that by playing around with payment systems and technologies we will actually change the role and the emission of money. You may be permitted to become the shoe-shine boy in the royal household, but don’t think you will marry the princess and dilute the royal blood! But understanding the constitutive parts of power aggregation, and working over significant time-frames, allows for approaches and solutions; -- but these should come not from another adversarial position, thus merely marking a displacement of the incumbent, a change of guard, but from an authentic re-orientation, of making benefits much more widely possible and not creating monetary systems that are grossly imbalanced and highly destructive. That, and not building tech stacks, is the challenge!
What was your initial reaction to bitcoin?
Well, I was following the file-sharing service Napster since it started, around 1999 – when the U.S.S. Enterprise was sitting pier-side at Huntington Ingalls Newport shipyard, rusted and gutted, and to me the P2P sharing paradigm was always present in my mind, shining buffed and radiant, so even the centralized Napster was something wholly natural to me – Dr Sheldrake calls it morphic resonance. We live with a great deal of blurriness, though. On the one hand, we think of the virtues of sharing; on the other, there is a seemingly indefatigable impulse to control and dominate. Sean Parker, after founding and floundering with Napster, became a cocaine-snorting egotist and president of Facebook. Collecting money for a charity, he gets aggressive with people who do not follow suit. A control-freak in overdrive. Notwithstanding the technical variations, BTC, seemingly freeing us up from fiscal controls and yet showing our craving for money, exemplifies the flawed perception at the root of things. Monero, which sounds like a much faster, highoctane vehicle, a CV8-Z of the crypto-track, beats BTC in regard to privacy and fungibility, though BTC has advantages in other areas.
Which is a much more common trend nowadays?
It’s hard to make out the shapes of wild-life in the current kangaroo market we’re in. The bulls and bears have mauled one another, and the kangaroo, bereft of oxygen on account of wearing a tight mask, is hopping wildly everywhere. But clearly the possibilities of digital currencies became un-tethered via Bitcoin and the querulous and hidden Satoshi. I like to think of him more as an idea rather than as a person; an idea is generally more malleable and consequential. For instance, rather than laud the benefits of crypto for FX and cross-border payments, the possibilities of a central-bank issued digital currencyENCOMPASS THE POTENTIAL to inscribe new roles for programmable money; for how money is issued, how it is used, and what role custodial mechanisms (traditionally in the hand of commercial banks) might have. I see HUGE potential for private firms to enter the equation here, but we need more open-minded and intelligent regulators that do not always look for the rungs of the career-ladder in any move they make! A DAO could be most helpful here, but we are currently under the terror of algorithms that are not concerned with the welfare of the greatest number of people. If I had the time I would coauthor a book on this theme with a skilful mathematician (perhaps with my son, who is completing a Ph.D in near-term Quantum Algorithms).
In 2018 I was keynote speaker at the BlueWhale forum in Seoul, and I spoke about an Algorithm of Peace. I had a clutch of people approach me straight after the talk, some from Korea, others from the U.S., and ask me to develop my ideas in book form.
Where do you see the price of bitcoin going over the next few years?
I wouldn’t speculate, but since everyone is shilling it, it is bound to keep pushing north, occasional blockages otwithstanding. I always look for twists and incongruities in the usual narratives on offer. Many BTC fans talk about the unbanked, but BTC is held by what will become another elite in due course, and the unbanked will later be serving them the chilled drinks between innings, as usual.
Do you think that there’s a time for altcoins to break out and move away from the movements of bitcoin? What’s that tipping point that needs to take place?
I have some notions under which alt-coins can take the lead and leave bitcoin behind, but it’s too complex to explain the conditions for that to occur. Once very solid use-cases have been established with a clutch of alt-coins, bitcoin might begin quavering in his boots. That alt-coins should take BTC as a benchmark speaks volumes about the lack of maturity of this young and over-eager market. The fuzzy umbilical cord is always present like a foot-tangle; alt-coins must find their own ground, and clip the connection to a vagrant father. Finance needs clarity and not fuzziness. Keep in mind that many sovereign nations bridle at the calamitous influence of the US on payment systems, so nations are building their own messaging systems outside SWIFT, and their own securities exchanges are following. But remember: these are all crumbs: the U.S. can shut down payments to any recipient accounts by informing the payments company and doling out threats. And since all alt-coins and fiat currencies are connected to payment gateways in some form, the U.S. would have to begin reforming its archaic ACH structure to enable efficiencies in the financial pipes, which does not offer real-time payments functionality. This accounts for the relative simplicity (and success) of the PayPal business model (which Venmo and Dwolla later emulated without using credit cards). But understand that the elites will always protect the real crown jewels, and incite wars (or street battles and racial squabbles, as we’re witnessing in the U.S. in mid 2020) so that they can get away with major financial heists in broad daylight. It’s all smoke and mirrors, and scorched talons if you look closely: you cannot trust the reflection you will receive on a smoky pane. Only the big players know the predetermined outcome.
One fundamental misprision occurs amongst alt-coin apologetes: they fail to understand how markets move and what the designated role of money is in markets. Even if you want to displace something, you first need to understand exactly what you’re dealing with, but that is rarely the case. Yes, banks are structurally and constitutionally part of the problem, but no government will dare cross swords with them: there is still too much aggregated power. Ripple and Stellar are two Blockchains that are working with, and not against, banks, and that likely makes them much better candidates for wide acceptance.
What’s one must-read book you recommend to everyone?
That depends so very much on who’s sitting opposite me! I wouldn’t push what is not naturally aligned. But I would push a couple of films urgently, as essential viewing for everyone:
“Vaxxed: From Cover-Up to Catastrophe” (and a sequel), which profoundly shocked me, but confirmed my suspicions. Talking about books: one gets a good sense of the kind of books I would counsel people not to touch, unless an overweening impulse bade them otherwise. For instance Steve Pinker, a favourite author of Bill Gates. Pinker in Gates’ hands explains a lot about the character of the reader, the latter of whom I consider one of the most dangerous people on the planet at the moment. If we stay with Pinker for a moment, since he’s famous and fashionable (Harvard professor with a Medusa hairdo and an effete libertarian air, who in “Better Angels of Our Nature” has affirmed that man is not innately good), we note in his presentation in regard to his ineptly titled book “Enlightenment” that he falls prey to the very flaws he chastises, the classic Münchhausen trilemma (in Jakob Fries’ phrase). Picture Baron Münchhausen pulling himself out of quicksand by his own hair! That he is beholden to neoliberal befuddlement becomes clear when two of the opening images of his talk show Vladimir Putin with a rifle andDonald Trump speaking on a podium. The classic neoliberal Harvard think-tank shows reason to be failing and drowning in pious gestures to the cognoscenti and anointed. I like to look for effective counters for specious and shallow argument: for instance, Rupert Sheldrake’s “The Science Delusion” is a splendid book that bucks the Dawkins’, Pinkers and other materialists of this age. You see, if one listens to Pinker with the head alone, his pedestrian epistemology might not irk, and some ideas might appear plausible enough in a desultory encounter, but if you really want to know the meaning of things, and discover how it relates to the heart, you feel betrayed and given short shrift by him. Among the platitudes he gives out in carefully parsed syllables, the movement of his forehead and eyes betray the spirit behind the façade. Yet I always look, like Yeats, for those who “had changed their throats and had the throats of birds”!
What’s the rainbow trout of the year? Nut-like flavour, the eye still gleaming, with tender, flaky flesh? There are many books I could cite for different genres. The vast majority of modern writers, for all their accomplishments, lack genius, don’t really understand the art of writing, and so cannot hold my attention for long. For those who are open-minded and spiritual, “A Course in Miracles” cannot be bested, but don’t touch it unless you’re really willing to dive deep. There is no need to save the world, since it is nothing but projection; there is no world. You might experience the deepest sigh of relief, as if Atlas had cast off a burden after the Titanomachy. Paul Celan once remarked that “reality is not simply there, it must be sought for and won.” Snorkeling near the surface and blowing bubbles won’t cut it.
We are living in times of great manufactured unrest, which will only heighten in coming months and years, and so I would offer a guernsey to Seamus Heaney. I had met him many years ago, alas cursorily, at a symposium at Waseda University where I was working as a Gaikokujinkoshi, an Associate Professor, where another Nobel laureate, Kenzaburō Ōe and he were giving a reading. Heaney was inspired to write “The Grauballe Man” on the basis of the bog man that he had seen in a book of prehistoric times, but the troubles in Ulster were alive in him, too:
As if he had been poured in tar, he lies on a pillow of turf and seems to weep
the black river of himself. The grain of his wrists is like bog oak, the ball of his heel
like a basalt egg. His instep has shrunk cold as a swan’s foot or a wet swamp root.
Talking of Japan here, methinks, is an aculeate observation of Japan:
Cross the intersection at Shibuya Station in Tokyo on a forbidding wintry evening — touted as the world’s busiest cloverleaf — and you will feel this is Eliot’s London Bridge revisited, with quaggas (think half zebras) preserved in the tar of the five crossings; — flattened ebon bones dreaming the dreams of Pleistocene mammoths — as the mass of the dead mill past you, chasing some mirage, and often accompanied by a revenant that must have been disgorged from a Pachinko parlour. Blanched lilacs float in minarets of light beyond these bituminous quaggas, bidding the odd-toed ungulates in their psychotropic dernier cri and fuddy-duddies in theirstygian suits to sup here or buy over yonder: all tethered to their devices. One might be surprised that no cracks are forming at these arced crossings with strange requisitions folding into the hiemal air. And yet it is still more odd that so few people see this as a primped and pimped potter’s field, a graveyard for those who’ve lost their way. We’re living in an age where the multitude of the dead are pacing among us in perdurable trysts with other zombies.
The above text is from one of my unpublished works; again it speaks to me – and perhaps to you – about the quiddities of this age. There is a distinct sense of zombification taking place on the planet at the moment. Is your lineage that of Dolly, or are you magnificent and free?
Do you have any theories about who Satoshi is?
I don’t really, though I follow the haughty chit-chat at times, especially in the jejune forums LinkedIN provides. I think the person has a good reason to remain concealed (forever), but that is also a major factor why I have never fully trusted bitcoin as an investment proposition.
Keeping the provenance concealed suggests a number of things, none of them conducive to embracing bitcoin as a common form of payment.
What do you think about the prospects of gold in connection with the uncontrolled money printing by different Central Banks?
Gold is what BTC can never become, especially when its provenance remains totally unclear – as well as its likely endgame! Central Banks engage in quasi-criminal activity – and one hopes the future prudent regulator won’t be making it too difficult for people to hold gold bullion. The Perth Mint might be a splendid little dot on the global map, but beware of holding your assets in the form of gold coins: many governments will regard them as forms of payment, and may impose all manner of restrictions on the possession of it.
Let's dream a little. How stablecoins can be used after 5 years from now?
I believe the great RESET is coming – even Davos and the U.N. are alerting us to that. The Covid19 panic has been declared by more than 1500 German physicians as a “global Mafia-style deception”, and while Big Pharma and Bill Gates will likely earn trillions of dollars by the useless and potentially dangerous vaccines that will be foisted on “free” citizens, the finance system as a whole will need to be RESET. We are already receiving an inkling of how draconian and void of reason and concern for the people most governments of the world are reacting to a harmless lab-manufactured virus (virologist Prof Luc Montagnier, Nobel Laureate in medicine in 2008, said that), so it’s possible that regulators may become more tyrannical, and under some pretext or other forbid the use of alt-coins. STABLECOINS can be over-collateralized, allowing absorption of pricing fluctuations, but it will be hard to call. I believe many are bound to fail, and that even earlier, despite all their most valiant efforts: as soon as the RESET comes, which is likely to come with all manner of encumbrances. There are many reasons for the issuance of stablecoins, some having opposing views, but all are dependent on trust – and we don’tknow yet if digital currencies that governments will issue will by regulatory over-reach (including absurd compliance requirements) displace other contenders, but you can assume that the tyrannical forms of governance we are currently experiencing suggest that all kinds of skullduggery are possible.
Do you see the problem of fiat stablecoins in the fact that annual inflation constantly depreciates them? An investor who bought $1000 USDT now and sold these tokens in 10 years for $ 1000 will receive much less money.
The problem occurs if we’re converting things back into payment forms that are fundamentally flawed. Inflation and Black Swan events are the major threats to stablecoins, and tethered crypto-values to natively burdened propositions recalls my earlier idea that we have not yet cut the umbilical cord to bitcoin. On the other hand, stablecoins in their current flavour are perhaps best viewed as transitional schemata that will need later revisitation.
You are a very successful Crypto and ICO Advisor, what is the secret behind this success?
I’m not sure if I’m very successful, but I always try to shoot a straight ball. Here are two instances where my input has not been heeded in any way.
I recall one of the first ICOs I advised. I was sitting with the owner on a Telegram Channel, and after some power Q&A sessions online, we were literally hearing the millions of dollars tumble in neat digital hashes into the inbox within a couple of hours of the ICO opening. He had a bottle of Scotch on his table, and by the end of the session he had reached his hard cap and was besotted to boot! The age of digital money had placed the foolscap on his pate, but the script was no longer legible. I cannot determine if his sobriety ever returned. The prudential advice I had been giving him previously – and that we had discussed in great depth -- was over coming weeks thrown out of the window, and I assume other bottles of Scotch ended up on his desk and didn’t last long.
Here is another example. At one time a well-known ambitious individual in the U.S. cryptospace, a young lawyer, asked me if I wanted to start a crypto compliance organisation with him.
When I think of him now and the feathery assistants he congregated around him, I think of the lines in Dickens’s “Bleak House”: “Mr. Tangle’s learned friends, each armed with a little summary of eighteen hundred sheets, bob up like eighteen hammers in a pianoforte, make eighteen bows, and drop into their eighteen places of obscurity.”
Simply to continue serving wine from the same sour vats won’t do. I saw that as a prospective idea, and offered some important advice to get the ball rolling. Soon we had recruited many eager beavers to the exercise, and there was talk of it becoming an influential body. I was naïve enough to assume at the time that my co-founder, a black college asketballer with body tattoos who had a write-up in a major paper on account of his ambition and aggression, was actually interested in asking some fundamental revisionary questions about compliance in relation to the freedom of the citizen. When I suggested we don’t just copy the traditional compliance template and rather probe more deeply, he became insolent and very aggressive. That confirmed my instinct that most ambitious players in the crypto-space are actually dyed-in-the-wool bourgeois, and don’t care about improving the system itself.
What is your advice for upcoming Crypto startups and investors?
You might know the technology well, but do you know the business? Does it really deeply address, even solve, a problem? How much life experience do you have, and how well do you know the market? Can you create a market for your product or services? If yes, how will you do that? Have you only got yes-men around you, or are you willing to listen to those who speak Tacheles to you? If you’ve come to water the plant of your ego, your business will flounder. Most achievers keep their ego initially in check, and get the work done.
For investors the answer I would give is rather complex, but here’s a brief response: often the mandate of investors is very narrowly girded, and they trust their old boy networks, and rarely venture out and follow their instincts. That is foolish, and also the recipe for a dull life.
Perhaps a general observation that everybody might ponder with profit is the idea that we know really so very little of the world; that the news and information we are are offered and digest, even when it is tendered by so-called ‘experts’, is often seriously ignorant. It seems our perspective is getting narrower all the time, as if our mind is shrinking and we block out knowledge.
Let me give another current reference point. In 2020 everyone is fearful of viruses. Viruses currently have a bad rap! We have no idea what they actually are. We are always hobbling around with our fearful partisan gaze, and what is good today becomes bad tomorrow. Yet viruses are adroit and malleable messengers of inter-species DNA, in some sense regulating vast populations of organisms. Think of them as cellular simpletons: mere protein shells with few genes, but endowed with the ability to replicate easily despite their paucity of genetic instructions! They form alliances, you might say, with other forms of life. And they are deeply mysterious to our acquisitive and ignorant segmenting intelligence: how can the papillomavirus cause horns to grow on rabbits; and at the same time cause hundreds of thousands of cases of cervical cancer every year? Is one good and the other bad? It would seem so. Such simple summary, like Pinker’s reductionist view of the world, might becalm for a moment, but does not offer lasting satisfactions. To read the world along the axes of like and dislike, as the Buddha had warned us, leads to great suffering.
I’m told by someone who met Bill Gates a long time ago that the man was apparently even then obsessively fearful of viruses (imagine a pendant to Lady Macbeth, continually cleansing his hands). But do we have any clue what viruses actually are, and how they benefit us all in so many incalculable ways? When the child crawls around, it picks up antigens (bacteria and viruses) and on that basis builds its immune system. At various points of that contact and exchange new forms grow, and other forms decay and die. Like CO2, viruses are suddenly declared dangerous and that we need to shield ourselves against them. Yet how many people know that marine phages rule the world, and rule the sea? This was not discovered until 1986. An electron microscope showed that every litre of seawater contained up to one hundred billion viruses, almost as much in dollars as BillGates expects to make off vaccines in 2020. If you put these viruses end to end, they would stretch out forty-two million light-years! Viruses offer stunning genetic variety, and they are the very pulse of life! When viruses swallow oceanic microbes, they release a billion tons of carbon every day: imagine squalls of marine snowfalls, powdering the porous sand of the deep. Imagine the white nights of St Petersburg under water, celebrating the magic of life with the same skill and abandon as the Mariinsky Theatre, to an audience of gastropods, deep-water fish and lovelorn mermaids.
Seamus Heaney, when he passed in 2013, spoke the word Noli timere (“Do not fear”) to his wife as he breathed his last. Instead of being fearful, we might do well to assert that we understand nothing of the manifold wonders of this world! Let us cultivate the virtue of wonderment, and fear will find no habitation in our house:
And lonely as it is that loneliness Will be more lonely ere it will be less— A blanker whiteness of benighted snow With no expression, nothing to express.
They cannot scare me with their empty spaces Between stars—on stars where no human race is. I have it in me so much nearer home To scare myself with my own desert places.
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