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James Brockbank

1 year ago

Canonical URLs for Beginners

More on Technology

Clive Thompson

Clive Thompson

1 year ago

Small Pieces of Code That Revolutionized the World

Few sentences can have global significance.

Photo by Chris Ried on Unsplash

Ethan Zuckerman invented the pop-up commercial in 1997.

He was working for Tripod.com, an online service that let people make little web pages for free. Tripod offered advertising to make money. Advertisers didn't enjoy seeing their advertising next to filthy content, like a user's anal sex website.

Zuckerman's boss wanted a solution. Wasn't there a way to move the ads away from user-generated content?

When you visited a Tripod page, a pop-up ad page appeared. So, the ad isn't officially tied to any user page. It'd float onscreen.

Here’s the thing, though: Zuckerman’s bit of Javascript, that created the popup ad? It was incredibly short — a single line of code:

window.open('http://tripod.com/navbar.html'
"width=200, height=400, toolbar=no, scrollbars=no, resizable=no, target=_top");

Javascript tells the browser to open a 200-by-400-pixel window on top of any other open web pages, without a scrollbar or toolbar.

Simple yet harmful! Soon, commercial websites mimicked Zuckerman's concept, infesting the Internet with pop-up advertising. In the early 2000s, a coder for a download site told me that most of their revenue came from porn pop-up ads.

Pop-up advertising are everywhere. You despise them. Hopefully, your browser blocks them.

Zuckerman wrote a single line of code that made the world worse.

A photo of the cover of “You Are Not Expected To Understand This”; it is blue and lying on its side, with the spine facing the viewer. The editor’s name, Torie Bosch, is in a green monospaced font; the title is in a white monospaced font

I read Zuckerman's story in How 26 Lines of Code Changed the World. Torie Bosch compiled a humorous anthology of short writings about code that tipped the world.

Most of these samples are quite short. Pop-cultural preconceptions about coding say that important code is vast and expansive. Hollywood depicts programmers as blurs spouting out Niagaras of code. Google's success was formerly attributed to its 2 billion lines of code.

It's usually not true. Google's original breakthrough, the piece of code that propelled Google above its search-engine counterparts, was its PageRank algorithm, which determined a web page's value based on how many other pages connected to it and the quality of those connecting pages. People have written their own Python versions; it's only a few dozen lines.

Google's operations, like any large tech company's, comprise thousands of procedures. So their code base grows. The most impactful code can be brief.

The examples are fascinating and wide-ranging, so read the whole book (or give it to nerds as a present). Charlton McIlwain wrote a chapter on the police beat algorithm developed in the late 1960s to anticipate crime hotspots so law enforcement could dispatch more officers there. It created a racial feedback loop. Since poor Black neighborhoods were already overpoliced compared to white ones, the algorithm directed more policing there, resulting in more arrests, which convinced it to send more police; rinse and repeat.

Kelly Chudler's You Are Not Expected To Understand This depicts the police-beat algorithm.

About 25 lines of code that includes several mathematical formula. Alas, it’s hard to redact it in plain text here, since it uses mathematical notation

Even shorter code changed the world: the tracking pixel.

Lily Hay Newman's chapter on monitoring pixels says you probably interact with this code every day. It's a snippet of HTML that embeds a single tiny pixel in an email. Getting an email with a tracking code spies on me. As follows: My browser requests the single-pixel image as soon as I open the mail. My email sender checks to see if Clives browser has requested that pixel. My email sender can tell when I open it.

Adding a tracking pixel to an email is easy:

<img src="URL LINKING TO THE PIXEL ONLINE" width="0" height="0">

An older example: Ellen R. Stofan and Nick Partridge wrote a chapter on Apollo 11's lunar module bailout code. This bailout code operated on the lunar module's tiny on-board computer and was designed to prioritize: If the computer grew overloaded, it would discard all but the most vital work.

When the lunar module approached the moon, the computer became overloaded. The bailout code shut down anything non-essential to landing the module. It shut down certain lunar module display systems, scaring the astronauts. Module landed safely.

22-line code

POODOO    INHINT
    CA  Q
    TS  ALMCADR

    TC  BANKCALL
    CADR  VAC5STOR  # STORE ERASABLES FOR DEBUGGING PURPOSES.

    INDEX  ALMCADR
    CAF  0
ABORT2    TC  BORTENT

OCT77770  OCT  77770    # DONT MOVE
    CA  V37FLBIT  # IS AVERAGE G ON
    MASK  FLAGWRD7
    CCS  A
    TC  WHIMPER -1  # YES.  DONT DO POODOO.  DO BAILOUT.

    TC  DOWNFLAG
    ADRES  STATEFLG

    TC  DOWNFLAG
    ADRES  REINTFLG

    TC  DOWNFLAG
    ADRES  NODOFLAG

    TC  BANKCALL
    CADR  MR.KLEAN
    TC  WHIMPER

This fun book is worth reading.

I'm a contributor to the New York Times Magazine, Wired, and Mother Jones. I've also written Coders: The Making of a New Tribe and the Remaking of the World and Smarter Than You Think: How Technology is Changing Our Minds. Twitter and Instagram: @pomeranian99; Mastodon: @clive@saturation.social.

Liz Martin

Liz Martin

1 year ago

A Search Engine From Apple?

Apple's search engine has long been rumored. Recent Google developments may confirm the rumor. Is Apple about to become Google's biggest rival?

Here's a video:

People noted Apple's changes in 2020. AppleBot, a web crawler that downloads and caches Internet content, was more active than in the last five years.

Apple hired search engine developers, including ex-Googlers, such as John Giannandrea, Google's former search chief.

Apple also changed the way iPhones search. With iOS 14, Apple's search results arrived before Google's.

These facts fueled rumors that Apple was developing a search engine.

Apple and Google Have a Contract

Many skeptics said Apple couldn't compete with Google. This didn't affect the company's competitiveness.

Apple is the only business with the resources and scale to be a Google rival, with 1.8 billion active devices and a $2 trillion market cap.

Still, people doubted that due to a license deal. Google pays Apple $8 to $12 billion annually to be the default iPhone and iPad search engine.

Apple can't build an independent search product under this arrangement.

Why would Apple enter search if it's being paid to stay out?

Ironically, this partnership has many people believing Apple is getting into search.

A New Default Search Engine May Be Needed

Google was sued for antitrust in 2020. It is accused of anticompetitive and exclusionary behavior. Justice wants to end Google's monopoly.

Authorities could restrict Apple and Google's licensing deal due to its likely effect on market competitiveness. Hence Apple needs a new default search engine.

Apple Already Has a Search Engine

The company already has a search engine, Spotlight.

Since 2004, Spotlight has aired. It was developed to help users find photos, documents, apps, music, and system preferences.

Apple's search engine could do more than organize files, texts, and apps.

Spotlight Search was updated in 2014 with iOS 8. Web, App Store, and iTunes searches became available. You could find nearby places, movie showtimes, and news.

This search engine has subsequently been updated and improved. Spotlight added rich search results last year.

If you search for a TV show, movie, or song, photos and carousels will appear at the top of the page.

This resembles Google's rich search results.

When Will the Apple Search Engine Be Available?

When will Apple's search launch? Robert Scoble says it's near.

Scoble tweeted a number of hints before this year's Worldwide Developer Conference.

Scoble bases his prediction on insider information and deductive reasoning. January 2023 is expected.

Will you use Apple's search engine?

Asha Barbaschow

Asha Barbaschow

2 years ago

Apple WWDC 2022 Announcements

WWDC 2022 began early Tuesday morning. WWDC brought a ton of new features (which went for just shy of two hours).

With so many announcements, we thought we'd compile them. And now...

WWDC?

WWDC is Apple's developer conference. This includes iOS, macOS, watchOS, and iPadOS (all of its iPads). It's where Apple announces new features for developers to use. It's also where Apple previews new software.

Virtual WWDC runs June 6-10.  You can rewatch the stream on Apple's website.

WWDC 2022 news:

Completely everything. Really. iOS 16 first.

iOS 16.

iOS 16 is a major iPhone update. iOS 16 adds the ability to customize the Lock Screen's color/theme. And widgets. It also organizes notifications and pairs Lock Screen with Focus themes. Edit or recall recently sent messages, recover recently deleted messages, and mark conversations as unread. Apple gives us yet another reason to stay in its walled garden with iMessage.

New iOS includes family sharing. Parents can set up a child's account with parental controls to restrict apps, movies, books, and music. iOS 16 lets large families and friend pods share iCloud photos. Up to six people can contribute photos to a separate iCloud library.

Live Text is getting creepier. Users can interact with text in any video frame. Touch and hold an image's subject to remove it from its background and place it in apps like messages. Dictation offers a new on-device voice-and-touch experience. Siri can run app shortcuts without setup in iOS 16. Apple also unveiled a new iOS 16 feature to help people break up with abusive partners who track their locations or read their messages. Safety Check.

Apple Pay Later allows iPhone users to buy products and pay for them later. iOS 16 pushes Mail. Users can schedule emails and cancel delivery before it reaches a recipient's inbox (be quick!). Mail now detects if you forgot an attachment, as Gmail has for years. iOS 16's Maps app gets "Multi-Stop Routing," .

Apple News also gets an iOS 16 update. Apple News adds My Sports. With iOS 16, the Apple Watch's Fitness app is also coming to iOS and the iPhone, using motion-sensing tech to track metrics and performance (as long as an athlete is wearing or carrying the device on their person). 

iOS 16 includes accessibility updates like Door Detection.

watchOS9

Many of Apple's software updates are designed to take advantage of the larger screens in recent models, but they also improve health and fitness tracking.

The most obvious reason to upgrade watchOS every year is to get new watch faces from Apple. WatchOS 9 will add four new faces.

Runners' workout metrics improve.
Apple quickly realized that fitness tracking would be the Apple Watch's main feature, even though it's been the killer app for wearables since their debut. For watchOS 9, the Apple Watch will use its accelerometer and gyroscope to track a runner's form, stride length, and ground contact time. It also introduces the ability to specify heart rate zones, distance, and time intervals, with vibrating haptic feedback and voice alerts.

The Apple Watch's Fitness app is coming to iOS and the iPhone, using the smartphone's motion-sensing tech to track metrics and performance (as long as an athlete is wearing or carrying the device on their person).

We'll get sleep tracking, medication reminders, and drug interaction alerts. Your watch can create calendar events. A new Week view shows what meetings or responsibilities stand between you and the weekend.

iPadOS16

WWDC 2022 introduced iPad updates. iPadOS 16 is similar to iOS for the iPhone, but has features for larger screens and tablet accessories. The software update gives it many iPhone-like features.

iPadOS 16's Home app, like iOS 16, will have a new design language. iPad users who want to blame it on the rain finally have a Weather app. iPadOS 16 will have iCloud's Shared Photo Library, Live Text and Visual Look Up upgrades, and FaceTime Handoff, so you can switch between devices during a call.

Apple highlighted iPadOS 16's multitasking at WWDC 2022. iPad's Stage Manager sounds like a community theater app. It's a powerful multitasking tool for tablets and brings them closer to emulating laptops. Apple's iPadOS 16 supports multi-user collaboration. You can share content from Files, Keynote, Numbers, Pages, Notes, Reminders, Safari, and other third-party apps in Apple Messages.

M2-chip

WWDC 2022 revealed Apple's M2 chip. Apple has started the next generation of Apple Silicon for the Mac with M2. Apple says this device improves M1's performance.

M2's second-generation 5nm chip has 25% more transistors than M1's. 100GB/s memory bandwidth (50 per cent more than M1). M2 has 24GB of unified memory, up from 16GB but less than some ultraportable PCs' 32GB. The M2 chip has 10% better multi-core CPU performance than the M2, and it's nearly twice as fast as the latest 10-core PC laptop chip at the same power level (CPU performance is 18 per cent greater than M1).

New MacBooks

Apple introduced the M2-powered MacBook Air. Apple's entry-level laptop has a larger display, a new processor, new colors, and a notch.

M2 also powers the 13-inch MacBook Pro. The 13-inch MacBook Pro has 24GB of unified memory and 50% more memory bandwidth. New MacBook Pro batteries last 20 hours. As I type on the 2021 MacBook Pro, I can only imagine how much power the M2 will add.

macOS 13.0 (or, macOS Ventura)

macOS Ventura will take full advantage of M2 with new features like Stage Manager and Continuity Camera and Handoff for FaceTime. Safari, Mail, Messages, Spotlight, and more get updates in macOS Ventura.

Apple hasn't run out of California landmarks to name its OS after yet. macOS 13 will be called Ventura when it's released in a few months, but it's more than a name change and new wallpapers. 

Stage Manager organizes windows

Stage Manager is a new macOS tool that organizes open windows and applications so they're still visible while focusing on a specific task. The main app sits in the middle of the desktop, while other apps and documents are organized and piled up to the side.

Improved Searching

Spotlight is one of macOS's least appreciated features, but with Ventura, it's becoming even more useful. Live Text lets you extract text from Spotlight results without leaving the window, including images from the photo library and the web.

Mail lets you schedule or unsend emails.

We've all sent an email we regret, whether it contained regrettable words or was sent at the wrong time. In macOS Ventura, Mail users can cancel or reschedule a message after sending it. Mail will now intelligently determine if a person was forgotten from a CC list or if a promised attachment wasn't included. Procrastinators can set a reminder to read a message later.

Safari adds tab sharing and password passkeys

Apple is updating Safari to make it more user-friendly... mostly. Users can share a group of tabs with friends or family, a useful feature when researching a topic with too many tabs. Passkeys will replace passwords in Safari's next version. Instead of entering random gibberish when creating a new account, macOS users can use TouchID to create an on-device passkey. Using an iPhone's camera and a QR system, Passkey syncs and works across all Apple devices and Windows computers.

Continuity adds Facetime device switching and iPhone webcam.

With macOS Ventura, iPhone users can transfer a FaceTime call from their phone to their desktop or laptop using Handoff, or vice versa if they started a call at their desk and need to continue it elsewhere. Apple finally admits its laptop and monitor webcams aren't the best. Continuity makes the iPhone a webcam. Apple demonstrated a feature where the wide-angle lens could provide a live stream of the desk below, while the standard zoom lens could focus on the speaker's face. New iPhone laptop mounts are coming.

System Preferences

System Preferences is Now System Settings and Looks Like iOS
Ventura's System Preferences has been renamed System Settings and is much more similar in appearance to iOS and iPadOS. As the iPhone and iPad are gateway devices into Apple's hardware ecosystem, new Mac users should find it easier to adjust.


This post is a summary. Read full article here

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Cory Doctorow

Cory Doctorow

1 year ago

The downfall of the Big Four accounting companies is just one (more) controversy away.

Economic mutual destruction.

Multibillion-dollar corporations never bothered with an independent audit, and they all lied about their balance sheets.

It's easy to forget that the Big Four accounting firms are lousy fraud enablers. Just because they sign off on your books doesn't mean you're not a hoax waiting to erupt.

This is *crazy* Capitalism depends on independent auditors. Rich folks need to know their financial advisers aren't lying. Rich folks usually succeed.

No accounting. EY, KPMG, PWC, and Deloitte make more money consulting firms than signing off on their accounts.

The Big Four sign off on phony books because failing to make friends with unscrupulous corporations may cost them consulting contracts.

The Big Four are the only firms big enough to oversee bankruptcy when they sign off on fraudulent books, as they did for Carillion in 2018. All four profited from Carillion's bankruptcy.

The Big Four are corrupt without any consequences for misconduct. Who can forget when KPMG's top management was fined millions for helping auditors cheat on ethics exams?

Consulting and auditing conflict. Consultants help a firm cover its evil activities, such as tax fraud or wage theft, whereas auditors add clarity to a company's finances. The Big Four make more money from cooking books than from uncooking them, thus they are constantly embroiled in scandals.

If a major scandal breaks, it may bring down the entire sector and substantial parts of the economy. Jim Peterson explains system risk for The Dig.

The Big Four are voluntary private partnerships where accountants invest their time, reputations, and money. If a controversy threatens the business, partners who depart may avoid scandal and financial disaster.

When disaster looms, each partner should bolt for the door, even if a disciplined stay-and-hold posture could weather the storm. This happened to Arthur Andersen during Enron's collapse, and a 2006 EU report recognized the risk to other corporations.

Each partner at a huge firm knows how much dirty laundry they've buried in the company's garden, and they have well-founded suspicions about what other partners have buried, too. When someone digs, everyone runs.

If a firm confronts substantial litigation damages or enforcement penalties, it could trigger the collapse of one of the Big Four. That would be bad news for the firm's clients, who would have trouble finding another big auditor.

Most of the world's auditing capacity is concentrated in four enormous, brittle, opaque, compromised organizations. If one of them goes bankrupt, the other three won't be able to take on its clients.

Peterson: Another collapse would strand many of the world's large public businesses, leaving them unable to obtain audit views for their securities listings and regulatory compliance.

Count Down: The Past, Present, and Uncertain Future of the Big Four Accounting Firms is in its second edition.

https://www.emerald.com/insight/publication/doi/10.1108/9781787147003

umair haque

umair haque

1 year ago

The reasons why our civilization is deteriorating

The Industrial Revolution's Curse: Why One Age's Power Prevents the Next Ones

Image Credit: Nature

A surprising fact. Recently, Big Oil's 1970s climate change projections were disturbingly accurate. Of course, we now know that it worked tirelessly to deny climate change, polluting our societies to this day. That's a small example of the Industrial Revolution's curse.

Let me rephrase this nuanced and possibly weird thought. The chart above? Disruptive science is declining. The kind that produces major discoveries, new paradigms, and shattering prejudices.

Not alone. Our civilisation reached a turning point suddenly. Progress stopped and reversed for the first time in centuries.

The Industrial Revolution's Big Bang started it all. At least some humans had riches for the first time, if not all, and with that wealth came many things. Longer, healthier lives since now health may be publicly and privately invested in. For the first time in history, wealthy civilizations could invest their gains in pure research, a good that would have sounded frivolous to cultures struggling to squeeze out the next crop, which required every shoulder to the till.

So. Don't confuse me with the Industrial Revolution's curse. Industry progressed. Contrary. I'm claiming that the Big Bang of Progress is slowing, plateauing, and ultimately reversing. All social indicators show that. From progress itself to disruptive, breakthrough research, everything is slowing down.

It's troubling. Because progress slows and plateaus, pre-modern social problems like fascism, extremism, and fundamentalism return. People crave nostalgic utopias when they lose faith in modernity. That strongman may shield me from this hazardous life. If I accept my place in a blood-and-soil hierarchy, I have a stable, secure position and someone to punch and detest. It's no coincidence that as our civilization hits a plateau of progress, there is a tsunami pulling the world backwards, with people viscerally, openly longing for everything from theocracy to fascism to fundamentalism, an authoritarian strongman to soothe their fears and tell them what to do, whether in Britain, heartland America, India, China, and beyond.

However, one aspect remains unknown. Technology. Let me clarify.

How do most people picture tech? Say that without thinking. Most people think of social media or AI. Well, small correlation engines called artificial neurons are a far cry from biological intelligence, which functions in far more obscure and intricate ways, down to the subatomic level. But let's try it.

Today, tech means AI. But. Do you foresee it?

Consider why civilisation is plateauing and regressing. Because we can no longer provide the most basic necessities at the same rate. On our track, clean air, water, food, energy, medicine, and healthcare will become inaccessible to huge numbers within a decade or three. Not enough. There isn't, therefore prices for food, medicine, and energy keep rising, with occasional relief.

Why our civilizations are encountering what economists like me term a budget constraint—a hard wall of what we can supply—should be evident. Global warming and extinction. Megafires, megadroughts, megafloods, and failed crops. On a civilizational scale, good luck supplying the fundamentals that way. Industrial food production cannot feed a planet warming past two degrees. Crop failures, droughts, floods. Another example: glaciers melt, rivers dry up, and the planet's fresh water supply contracts like a heart attack.

Now. Let's talk tech again. Mostly AI, maybe phone apps. The unsettling reality is that current technology cannot save humanity. Not much.

AI can do things that have become cliches to titillate the masses. It may talk to you and act like a person. It can generate art, which means reproduce it, but nonetheless, AI art! Despite doubts, it promises to self-drive cars. Unimportant.

We need different technology now. AI won't grow crops in ash-covered fields, cleanse water, halt glaciers from melting, or stop the clear-cutting of the planet's few remaining forests. It's not useless, but on a civilizational scale, it's much less beneficial than its proponents claim. By the time it matures, AI can help deliver therapy, keep old people company, and even drive cars more efficiently. None of it can save our culture.

Expand that scenario. AI's most likely use? Replacing call-center workers. Support. It may help doctors diagnose, surgeons orient, or engineers create more fuel-efficient motors. This is civilizationally marginal.

Non-disruptive. Do you see the connection with the paper that indicated disruptive science is declining? AI exemplifies that. It's called disruptive, yet it's a textbook incremental technology. Oh, cool, I can communicate with a bot instead of a poor human in an underdeveloped country and have the same or more trouble being understood. This bot is making more people unemployed. I can now view a million AI artworks.

AI illustrates our civilization's trap. Its innovative technologies will change our lives. But as you can see, its incremental, delivering small benefits at most, and certainly not enough to balance, let alone solve, the broader problem of steadily dropping living standards as our society meets a wall of being able to feed itself with fundamentals.

Contrast AI with disruptive innovations we need. What do we need to avoid a post-Roman Dark Age and preserve our civilization in the coming decades? We must be able to post-industrially produce all our basic needs. We need post-industrial solutions for clean water, electricity, cement, glass, steel, manufacture for garments and shoes, starting with the fossil fuel-intensive plastic, cotton, and nylon they're made of, and even food.

Consider. We have no post-industrial food system. What happens when crop failures—already dangerously accelerating—reach a critical point? Our civilization is vulnerable. Think of ancient civilizations that couldn't survive the drying up of their water sources, the failure of their primary fields, which they assumed the gods would preserve forever, or an earthquake or sickness that killed most of their animals. Bang. Lost. They failed. They splintered, fragmented, and abandoned vast capitols and cities, and suddenly, in history's sight, poof, they were gone.

We're getting close. Decline equals civilizational peril.

We believe dumb notions about AI becoming disruptive when it's incremental. Most of us don't realize our civilization's risk because we believe these falsehoods. Everyone should know that we cannot create any thing at civilizational scale without fossil fuels. Most of us don't know it, thus we don't realize that the breakthrough technologies and systems we need don't manipulate information anymore. Instead, biotechnologies, largely but not genes, generate food without fossil fuels.

We need another Industrial Revolution. AI, apps, bots, and whatnot won't matter unless you think you can eat and drink them while the world dies and fascists, lunatics, and zealots take democracy's strongholds. That's dramatic, but only because it's already happening. Maybe AI can entertain you in that bunker while society collapses with smart jokes or a million Mondrian-like artworks. If civilization is to survive, it cannot create the new Industrial Revolution.

The revolution has begun, but only in small ways. Post-industrial fundamental systems leaders are developing worldwide. The Netherlands is leading post-industrial agriculture. That's amazing because it's a tiny country performing well. Correct? Discover how large-scale agriculture can function, not just you and me, aged hippies, cultivating lettuce in our backyards.

Iceland is leading bioplastics, which, if done well, will be a major advance. Of sure, microplastics are drowning the oceans. What should we do since we can't live without it? We need algae-based bioplastics for green plastic.

That's still young. Any of the above may not function on a civilizational scale. Bioplastics use algae, which can cause problems if overused. None of the aforementioned indicate the next Industrial Revolution is here. Contrary. Slowly.

We have three decades until everything fails. Before life ends. Curtain down. No more fields, rivers, or weather. Freshwater and life stocks have plummeted. Again, we've peaked and declined in our ability to live at today's relatively rich standards. Game over—no more. On a dying planet, producing the fundamentals for a civilisation that left it too late to construct post-industrial systems becomes next to impossible, with output dropping faster and quicker each year, quarter, and day.

Too slow. That's because it's not really happening. Most people think AI when I say tech. I get a politicized response if I say Green New Deal or Clean Industrial Revolution. Half the individuals I talk to have been politicized into believing that climate change isn't real and that any breakthrough technical progress isn't required, desirable, possible, or genuine. They'll suffer.

The Industrial Revolution curse. Every revolution creates new authorities, which ossify and refuse to relinquish their privileges. For fifty years, Big Oil has denied climate change, even though their scientists predicted it. We also have a software industry and its venture capital power centers that are happy for the average person to think tech means chatbots, not being able to produce basics for a civilization without destroying the planet, and billionaires who buy comms platforms for the same eye-watering amount of money it would take to save life on Earth.

The entire world's vested interests are against the next industrial revolution, which is understandable since they were established from fossil money. From finance to energy to corporate profits to entertainment, power in our world is the result of the last industrial revolution, which means it has no motivation or purpose to give up fossil money, as we are witnessing more brutally out in the open.

Thus, the Industrial Revolution's curse—fossil power—rules our globe. Big Agriculture, Big Pharma, Wall St., Silicon Valley, and many others—including politics, which they buy and sell—are basically fossil power, and they have no interest in generating or letting the next industrial revolution happen. That's why tiny enterprises like those creating bioplastics in Iceland or nations savvy enough to shun fossil power, like the Netherlands, which has a precarious relationship with nature, do it. However, fossil power dominates politics, economics, food, clothes, energy, and medicine, and it has no motivation to change.

Allow disruptive innovations again. As they occur, its position becomes increasingly vulnerable. If you were fossil power, would you allow another industrial revolution to destroy its privilege and wealth?

You might, since power and money haven't corrupted you. However, fossil power prevents us from building, creating, and growing what we need to survive as a society. I mean the entire economic, financial, and political power structure from the last industrial revolution, not simply Big Oil. My friends, fossil power's chokehold over our society is likely to continue suffocating the advances that could have spared our civilization from a decline that's now here and spiraling closer to oblivion.

Jeff Scallop

Jeff Scallop

1 year ago

The Age of Decentralized Capitalism and DeFi

DeCap is DeFi's killer app.

The Battle of the Moneybags and the Strongboxes (Pieter Bruegel the Elder and Pieter van der Heyden)

“Software is eating the world.” Marc Andreesen, venture capitalist

DeFi. Imagine a blockchain-based alternative financial system that offers the same products and services as traditional finance, but with more variety, faster, more secure, lower cost, and simpler access.

Decentralised finance (DeFi) is a marketplace without gatekeepers or central authority managing the flow of money, where customers engage directly with smart contracts running on a blockchain.

DeFi grew exponentially in 2020/21, with Total Value Locked (an inadequate estimate for market size) topping at $100 billion. After that, it crashed.

The accumulation of funds by individuals with high discretionary income during the epidemic, the novelty of crypto trading, and the high yields given (5% APY for stablecoins on established platforms to 100%+ for risky assets) are among the primary elements explaining this exponential increase.

No longer your older brothers DeFi

Since transactions are anonymous, borrowers had to overcollateralize DeFi 1.0. To borrow $100 in stablecoins, you must deposit $150 in ETH. DeFi 1.0's business strategy raises two problems.

  • Why does DeFi offer interest rates that are higher than those of the conventional financial system?;

  • Why would somebody put down more cash than they intended to borrow?

Maxed out on their own resources, investors took loans to acquire more crypto; the demand for those loans raised DeFi yields, which kept crypto prices increasing; as crypto prices rose, investors made a return on their positions, allowing them to deposit more money and borrow more crypto.

This is a bull market game. DeFi 1.0's overcollateralization speculation is dead. Cryptocrash sank it.

The “speculation by overcollateralisation” world of DeFi 1.0 is dead

At a JP Morgan digital assets conference, institutional investors were more interested in DeFi than crypto or fintech. To me, that shows DeFi 2.0's institutional future.

DeFi 2.0 protocols must handle KYC/AML, tax compliance, market abuse, and cybersecurity problems to be institutional-ready.

Stablecoins gaining market share under benign regulation and more CBDCs coming online in the next couple of years could help DeFi 2.0 separate from crypto volatility.

DeFi 2.0 will have a better footing to finally decouple from crypto volatility

Then we can transition from speculation through overcollateralization to DeFi's genuine comparative advantages: cheaper transaction costs, near-instant settlement, more efficient price discovery, faster time-to-market for financial innovation, and a superior audit trail.

Akin to Amazon for financial goods

Amazon decimated brick-and-mortar shops by offering millions of things online, warehouses by keeping just-in-time inventory, and back-offices by automating invoicing and payments. Software devoured retail. DeFi will eat banking with software.

DeFi is the Amazon for financial items that will replace fintech. Even the most advanced internet brokers offer only 100 currency pairings and limited bonds, equities, and ETFs.

Old banks settlement systems and inefficient, hard-to-upgrade outdated software harm them. For advanced gamers, it's like driving an F1 vehicle on dirt.

It is like driving a F1 car on a dirt road, for the most sophisticated players

Central bankers throughout the world know how expensive and difficult it is to handle cross-border payments using the US dollar as the reserve currency, which is vulnerable to the economic cycle and geopolitical tensions.

Decentralization is the only method to deliver 24h global financial markets. DeFi 2.0 lets you buy and sell startup shares like Google or Tesla. VC funds will trade like mutual funds. Or create a bundle coverage for your car, house, and NFTs. Defi 2.0 consumes banking and creates Global Wall Street.

Defi 2.0 is how software eats banking and delivers the global Wall Street

Decentralized Capitalism is Emerging

90% of markets are digital. 10% is hardest to digitalize. That's money creation, ID, and asset tokenization.

90% of financial markets are already digital. The only problem is that the 10% left is the hardest to digitalize

Debt helped Athens construct a powerful navy that secured trade routes. Bonds financed the Renaissance's wars and supply chains. Equity fueled industrial growth. FX drove globalization's payments system. DeFi's plans:

If the 20th century was a conflict between governments and markets over economic drivers, the 21st century will be between centralized and decentralized corporate structures.

Offices vs. telecommuting. China vs. onshoring/friendshoring. Oil & gas vs. diverse energy matrix. National vs. multilateral policymaking. DAOs vs. corporations Fiat vs. crypto. TradFi vs.

An age where the network effects of the sharing economy will overtake the gains of scale of the monopolistic competition economy

This is the dawn of Decentralized Capitalism (or DeCap), an age where the network effects of the sharing economy will reach a tipping point and surpass the scale gains of the monopolistic competition economy, further eliminating inefficiencies and creating a more robust economy through better data and automation. DeFi 2.0 enables this.

DeFi needs to pay the piper now.

DeCap won't be Web3.0's Shangri-La, though. That's too much for an ailing Atlas. When push comes to shove, DeFi folks want to survive and fight another day for the revolution. If feasible, make a tidy profit.

Decentralization wasn't meant to circumvent regulation. It circumvents censorship. On-ramp, off-ramp measures (control DeFi's entry and exit points, not what happens in between) sound like a good compromise for DeFi 2.0.

The sooner authorities realize that DeFi regulation is made ex-ante by writing code and constructing smart contracts with rules, the faster DeFi 2.0 will become the more efficient and safe financial marketplace.

More crucially, we must boost system liquidity. DeFi's financial stability risks are downplayed. DeFi must improve its liquidity management if it's to become mainstream, just as banks rely on capital constraints.

This reveals the complex and, frankly, inadequate governance arrangements for DeFi protocols. They redistribute control from tokenholders to developers, which is bad governance regardless of the economic model.

But crypto can only ride the existing banking system for so long before forming its own economy. DeFi will upgrade web2.0's financial rails till then.