1 year ago

An approximate introduction to how zk-SNARKs are possible (part 2)

If tasked with the problem of coming up with a zk-SNARK protocol, many people would make their way to this point and then get stuck and give up. How can a verifier possibly check every single piece of the computation, without looking at each piece of the computation individually? But it turns out that there is a clever solution.


Polynomials are a special class of algebraic expressions of the form:

  • x+5
  • x^4
  • x^3+3x^2+3x+1
  • 628x^{271}+318x^{270}+530x^{269}+…+69x+381

i.e. they are a sum of any (finite!) number of terms of the form cx^k

There are many things that are fascinating about polynomials. But here we are going to zoom in on a particular one: polynomials are a single mathematical object that can contain an unbounded amount of information (think of them as a list of integers and this is obvious). The fourth example above contained 816 digits of tau, and one can easily imagine a polynomial that contains far more.

Furthermore, a single equation between polynomials can represent an unbounded number of equations between numbers. For example, consider the equation A(x)+ B(x) = C(x). If this equation is true, then it's also true that:

  • A(0)+B(0)=C(0)
  • A(1)+B(1)=C(1)
  • A(2)+B(2)=C(2)
  • A(3)+B(3)=C(3)

And so on for every possible coordinate. You can even construct polynomials to deliberately represent sets of numbers so you can check many equations all at once. For example, suppose that you wanted to check:

  • 12+1=13
  • 10+8=18
  • 15+8=23
  • 15+13=28

You can use a procedure called Lagrange interpolation to construct polynomials A(x) that give (12,10,15,15) as outputs at some specific set of coordinates (eg. (0,1,2,3)), B(x) the outputs (1,8,8,13) on thos same coordinates, and so forth. In fact, here are the polynomials:

  • A(x)=-2x^3+\frac{19}{2}x^2-\frac{19}{2}x+12
  • B(x)=2x^3-\frac{19}{2}x^2+\frac{29}{2}x+1
  • C(x)=5x+13

Checking the equation A(x)+B(x)=C(x) with these polynomials checks all four above equations at the same time.

Comparing a polynomial to itself

You can even check relationships between a large number of adjacent evaluations of the same polynomial using a simple polynomial equation. This is slightly more advanced. Suppose that you want to check that, for a given polynomial F, F(x+2)=F(x)+F(x+1) with the integer range {0,1…89} (so if you also check F(0)=F(1)=1, then F(100) would be the 100th Fibonacci number)

As polynomials, F(x+2)-F(x+1)-F(x) would not be exactly zero, as it could give arbitrary answers outside the range x={0,1…98}. But we can do something clever. In general, there is a rule that if a polynomial P is zero across some set S=\{x_1,x_2…x_n\} then it can be expressed as P(x)=Z(x)*H(x), where Z(x)=(x-x_1)*(x-x_2)*…*(x-x_n) and H(x) is also a polynomial. In other words, any polynomial that equals zero across some set is a (polynomial) multiple of the simplest (lowest-degree) polynomial that equals zero across that same set.

Why is this the case? It is a nice corollary of polynomial long division: the factor theorem. We know that, when dividing P(x) by Z(x), we will get a quotient Q(x) and a remainder R(x) is strictly less than that of Z(x). Since we know that P is zero on all of S, it means that R has to be zero on all of S as well. So we can simply compute R(x) via polynomial interpolation, since it's a polynomial of degree at most n-1 and we know n values (the zeros at S). Interpolating a polynomial with all zeroes gives the zero polynomial, thus R(x)=0 and H(x)=Q(x).

Going back to our example, if we have a polynomial F that encodes Fibonacci numbers (so F(x+2)=F(x)+F(x+1) across x=\{0,1…98\}), then I can convince you that F actually satisfies this condition by proving that the polynomial P(x)=F(x+2)-F(x+1)-F(x) is zero over that range, by giving you the quotient:
Where Z(x) = (x-0)*(x-1)*…*(x-98).
You can calculate Z(x) yourself (ideally you would have it precomputed), check the equation, and if the check passes then F(x) satisfies the condition!

Now, step back and notice what we did here. We converted a 100-step-long computation into a single equation with polynomials. Of course, proving the N'th Fibonacci number is not an especially useful task, especially since Fibonacci numbers have a closed form. But you can use exactly the same basic technique, just with some extra polynomials and some more complicated equations, to encode arbitrary computations with an arbitrarily large number of steps.

see part 3




1 year ago

👏 Awesome post! When is part 3 coming?

Trent Lapinski

Trent Lapinski

1 year ago

Very complex topic, great explanation

More on Web3 & Crypto

joyce shen

joyce shen

1 year ago

Framework to Evaluate Metaverse and Web3

Everywhere we turn, there's a new metaverse or Web3 debut. Microsoft recently announced a $68.7 BILLION cash purchase of Activision.

Like AI in 2013 and blockchain in 2014, NFT growth in 2021 feels like this year's metaverse and Web3 growth. We are all bombarded with information, conflicting signals, and a sensation of FOMO.

How can we evaluate the metaverse and Web3 in a noisy, new world? My framework for evaluating upcoming technologies and themes is shown below. I hope you will also find them helpful.

Understand the “pipes” in a new space. 

Whatever people say, Metaverse and Web3 will have to coexist with the current Internet. Companies who host, move, and store data over the Internet have a lot of intriguing use cases in Metaverse and Web3, whether in infrastructure, data analytics, or compliance. Hence the following point.

## Understand the apps layer and their infrastructure.

Gaming, crypto exchanges, and NFT marketplaces would not exist today if not for technology that enables rapid app creation. Yes, according to Chainalysis and other research, 30–40% of Ethereum is self-hosted, with the rest hosted by large cloud providers. For Microsoft to acquire Activision makes strategic sense. It's not only about the games, but also the infrastructure that supports them.

Follow the money

Understanding how money and wealth flow in a complex and dynamic environment helps build clarity. Unless you are exceedingly wealthy, you have limited ability to significantly engage in the Web3 economy today. Few can just buy 10 ETH and spend it in one day. You must comprehend who benefits from the process, and how that 10 ETH circulates now and possibly tomorrow. Major holders and players control supply and liquidity in any market. Today, most Web3 apps are designed to increase capital inflow so existing significant holders can utilize it to create a nascent Web3 economy. When you see a new Metaverse or Web3 application, remember how money flows.

What is the use case? 

What does the app do? If there is no clear use case with clear makers and consumers solving a real problem, then the euphoria soon fades, and the only stakeholders who remain enthused are those who have too much to lose.

Time is a major competition that is often overlooked.

We're only busier, but each day is still 24 hours. Using new apps may mean that time is lost doing other things. The user must be eager to learn. Metaverse and Web3 vs. our time?  I don't think we know the answer yet (at least for working adults whose cost of time is higher).
I don't think we know the answer yet (at least for working adults whose cost of time is higher).

People and organizations need security and transparency.

For new technologies or apps to be widely used, they must be safe, transparent, and trustworthy. What does secure Metaverse and Web3 mean? This is an intriguing subject for both the business and public sectors. Cloud adoption grew in part due to improved security and data protection regulations.

 The following frameworks can help analyze and understand new technologies and emerging technological topics, unless you are a significant investment fund with the financial ability to gamble on numerous initiatives and essentially form your own “index fund”.

I write on VC, startups, and leadership.

More on and

This writing is my own opinion and does not represent investment advice.

David Z. Morris

9 months ago

FTX's crash was no accident, it was a crime

Sam Bankman Fried (SDBF) is a legendary con man. But the NYT might not tell you that...

Since SBF's empire was revealed to be a lie, mainstream news organizations and commentators have failed to give readers a straightforward assessment. The New York Times and Wall Street Journal have uncovered many key facts about the scandal, but they have also soft-peddled Bankman-Fried's intent and culpability.

It's clear that the FTX crypto exchange and Alameda Research committed fraud to steal money from users and investors. That’s why a recent New York Times interview was widely derided for seeming to frame FTX’s collapse as the result of mismanagement rather than malfeasance. A Wall Street Journal article lamented FTX's loss of charitable donations, bolstering Bankman's philanthropic pose. Matthew Yglesias, court chronicler of the neoliberal status quo, seemed to whitewash his own entanglements by crediting SBF's money with helping Democrats in 2020 – sidestepping the likelihood that the money was embezzled.

Many outlets have called what happened to FTX a "bank run" or a "run on deposits," but Bankman-Fried insists the company was overleveraged and disorganized. Both attempts to frame the fallout obscure the core issue: customer funds misused.

Because banks lend customer funds to generate returns, they can experience "bank runs." If everyone withdraws at once, they can experience a short-term cash crunch but there won't be a long-term problem.

Crypto exchanges like FTX aren't banks. They don't do bank-style lending, so a withdrawal surge shouldn't strain liquidity. FTX promised customers it wouldn't lend or use their crypto.

Alameda's balance sheet blurs SBF's crypto empire.

The funds were sent to Alameda Research, where they were apparently gambled away. This is massive theft. According to a bankruptcy document, up to 1 million customers could be affected.

In less than a month, reporting and the bankruptcy process have uncovered a laundry list of decisions and practices that would constitute financial fraud if FTX had been a U.S.-regulated entity, even without crypto-specific rules. These ploys may be litigated in U.S. courts if they enabled the theft of American property.

The list is very, very long.

The many crimes of Sam Bankman-Fried and FTX

At the heart of SBF's fraud are the deep and (literally) intimate ties between FTX and Alameda Research, a hedge fund he co-founded. An exchange makes money from transaction fees on user assets, but Alameda trades and invests its own funds.

Bankman-Fried called FTX and Alameda "wholly separate" and resigned as Alameda's CEO in 2019. The two operations were closely linked. Bankman-Fried and Alameda CEO Caroline Ellison were romantically linked.

These circumstances enabled SBF's sin.  Within days of FTX's first signs of weakness, it was clear the exchange was funneling customer assets to Alameda for trading, lending, and investing. Reuters reported on Nov. 12 that FTX sent $10 billion to Alameda. As much as $2 billion was believed to have disappeared after being sent to Alameda. Now the losses look worse.

It's unclear why those funds were sent to Alameda or when Bankman-Fried betrayed his depositors. On-chain analysis shows most FTX to Alameda transfers occurred in late 2021, and bankruptcy filings show both lost $3.7 billion in 2021.

SBF's companies lost millions before the 2022 crypto bear market. They may have stolen funds before Terra and Three Arrows Capital, which killed many leveraged crypto players.

FTT loans and prints

CoinDesk's report on Alameda's FTT holdings ignited FTX and Alameda Research. FTX created this instrument, but only a small portion was traded publicly; FTX and Alameda held the rest. These holdings were illiquid, meaning they couldn't be sold at market price. Bankman-Fried valued its stock at the fictitious price.

FTT tokens were reportedly used as collateral for loans, including FTX loans to Alameda. Close ties between FTX and Alameda made the FTT token harder or more expensive to use as collateral, reducing the risk to customer funds.

This use of an internal asset as collateral for loans between clandestinely related entities is similar to Enron's 1990s accounting fraud. These executives served 12 years in prison.

Alameda's margin liquidation exemption

Alameda Research had a "secret exemption" from FTX's liquidation and margin trading rules, according to legal filings by FTX's new CEO.

FTX, like other crypto platforms and some equity or commodity services, offered "margin" or loans for trades. These loans are usually collateralized, meaning borrowers put up other funds or assets. If a margin trade loses enough money, the exchange will sell the user's collateral to pay off the initial loan.

Keeping asset markets solvent requires liquidating bad margin positions. Exempting Alameda would give it huge advantages while exposing other FTX users to hidden risks. Alameda could have kept losing positions open while closing out competitors. Alameda could lose more on FTX than it could pay back, leaving a hole in customer funds.

The exemption is criminal in multiple ways. FTX was fraudulently marketed overall. Instead of a level playing field, there were many customers.

Above them all, with shotgun poised, was Alameda Research.

Alameda front-running FTX listings

Argus says there's circumstantial evidence that Alameda Research had insider knowledge of FTX's token listing plans. Alameda was able to buy large amounts of tokens before the listing and sell them after the price bump.

If true, these claims would be the most brazenly illegal of Alameda and FTX's alleged shenanigans. Even if the tokens aren't formally classified as securities, insider trading laws may apply.

In a similar case this year, an OpenSea employee was charged with wire fraud for allegedly insider trading. This employee faces 20 years in prison for front-running monkey JPEGs.

Huge loans to executives

Alameda Research reportedly lent FTX executives $4.1 billion, including massive personal loans. Bankman-Fried received $1 billion in personal loans and $2.3 billion for an entity he controlled, Paper Bird. Nishad Singh, director of engineering, was given $543 million, and FTX Digital Markets co-CEO Ryan Salame received $55 million.

FTX has more smoking guns than a Texas shooting range, but this one is the smoking bazooka – a sign of criminal intent. It's unclear how most of the personal loans were used, but liquidators will have to recoup the money.

The loans to Paper Bird were even more worrisome because they created another related third party to shuffle assets. Forbes speculates that some Paper Bird funds went to buy Binance's FTX stake, and Paper Bird committed hundreds of millions to outside investments.

FTX Inner Circle: Who's Who

That included many FTX-backed VC funds. Time will tell if this financial incest was criminal fraud. It fits Bankman-pattern Fried's of using secret flows, leverage, and funny money to inflate asset prices.

FTT or loan 'bailouts'

Also. As the crypto bear market continued in 2022, Bankman-Fried proposed bailouts for bankrupt crypto lenders BlockFi and Voyager Digital. CoinDesk was among those deceived, welcoming SBF as a J.P. Morgan-style sector backstop.

In a now-infamous interview with CNBC's "Squawk Box," Bankman-Fried referred to these decisions as bets that may or may not pay off.

But maybe not. Bloomberg's Matt Levine speculated that FTX backed BlockFi with FTT money. This Monopoly bailout may have been intended to hide FTX and Alameda liabilities that would have been exposed if BlockFi went bankrupt sooner. This ploy has no name, but it echoes other corporate frauds.

Secret bank purchase

Alameda Research invested $11.5 million in the tiny Farmington State Bank, doubling its net worth. As a non-U.S. entity and an investment firm, Alameda should have cleared regulatory hurdles before acquiring a U.S. bank.

In the context of FTX, the bank's stake becomes "ominous." Alameda and FTX could have done more shenanigans with bank control. Compare this to the Bank for Credit and Commerce International's failed attempts to buy U.S. banks. BCCI was even nefarious than FTX and wanted to buy U.S. banks to expand its money-laundering empire.

The mainstream's mistakes

These are complex and nuanced forms of fraud that echo traditional finance models. This obscurity helped Bankman-Fried masquerade as an honest player and likely kept coverage soft after the collapse.

Bankman-Fried had a scruffy, nerdy image, like Mark Zuckerberg and Adam Neumann. In interviews, he spoke nonsense about an industry full of jargon and complicated tech. Strategic donations and insincere ideological statements helped him gain political and social influence.

SBF' s'Effective' Altruism Blew Up FTX

Bankman-Fried has continued to muddy the waters with disingenuous letters, statements, interviews, and tweets since his con collapsed. He's tried to portray himself as a well-intentioned but naive kid who made some mistakes. This is a softer, more pernicious version of what Trump learned from mob lawyer Roy Cohn. Bankman-Fried doesn't "deny, deny, deny" but "confuse, evade, distort."

It's mostly worked. Kevin O'Leary, who plays an investor on "Shark Tank," repeats Bankman-SBF's counterfactuals.  O'Leary called Bankman-Fried a "savant" and "probably one of the most accomplished crypto traders in the world" in a Nov. 27 interview with Business Insider, despite recent data indicating immense trading losses even when times were good.

O'Leary's status as an FTX investor and former paid spokesperson explains his continued affection for Bankman-Fried despite contradictory evidence. He's not the only one promoting Bankman-Fried. The disgraced son of two Stanford law professors will defend himself at Wednesday's DealBook Summit.

SBF's fraud and theft rival those of Bernie Madoff and Jho Low. Whether intentionally or through malign ineptitude, the fraud echoes Worldcom and Enron.

The Perverse Impacts of Anti-Money-Laundering

The principals in all of those scandals wound up either sentenced to prison or on the run from the law. Sam Bankman-Fried clearly deserves to share their fate.

Read the full article here.

Max Parasol

Max Parasol

1 year ago

Are DAOs the future or just a passing fad?

How do you DAO? Can DAOs scale?

DAO: Decentralized Autonomous. Organization.

“The whole phrase is a misnomer. They're not decentralized, autonomous, or organizations,” says Monsterplay blockchain consultant David Freuden.

As part of the DAO initiative, Freuden coauthored a 51-page report in May 2020. “We need DAOs,” he says. “‘Shareholder first' is a 1980s/90s concept. Profits became the focus, not products.”

His predictions for DAOs have come true nearly two years later. DAOs had over 1.6 million participants by the end of 2021, up from 13,000 at the start of the year. Wyoming, in the US, will recognize DAOs and the Marshall Islands in 2021. Australia may follow that example in 2022.

But what is a DAO?

Members buy (or are rewarded with) governance tokens to vote on how the DAO operates and spends its money. “DeFi spawned DAOs as an investment vehicle. So a DAO is tokenomics,” says Freuden.

DAOs are usually built around a promise or a social cause, but they still want to make money. “If you can't explain why, the DAO will fail,” he says. “A co-op without tokenomics is not a DAO.”

Operating system DAOs, protocol DAOs, investment DAOs, grant DAOs, service DAOs, social DAOs, collector DAOs, and media DAOs are now available.

Freuden liked the idea of people rallying around a good cause. Speculators and builders make up the crypto world, so it needs a DAO for them.

,Speculators and builders, or both, have mismatched expectations, causing endless, but sometimes creative friction.

Organisms that boost output

Launching a DAO with an original product such as a cryptocurrency, an IT protocol or a VC-like investment fund like FlamingoDAO is common. DAOs enable distributed open-source contributions without borders. The goal is vital. Sometimes, after a product is launched, DAOs emerge, leaving the company to eventually transition to a DAO, as Uniswap did.

Doing things together is a DAO. So it's a way to reward a distributed workforce. DAOs are essentially productivity coordination organisms.

“Those who work for the DAO make permissionless contributions and benefit from fragmented employment,” argues Freuden. DAOs are, first and foremost, a new form of cooperation.

DAO? Distributed not decentralized

In decentralized autonomous organizations, words have multiple meanings. DAOs can emphasize one aspect over another. Autonomy is a trade-off for decentralization.

DAOstack CEO Matan Field says a DAO is a distributed governance system. Power is shared. However, there are two ways to understand a DAO's decentralized nature. This clarifies the various DAO definitions.

A decentralized infrastructure allows a DAO to be decentralized. It could be created on a public permissionless blockchain to prevent a takeover.

As opposed to a company run by executives or shareholders, a DAO is distributed. Its leadership does not wield power

Option two is clearly distributed.

But not all of this is “automated.”

Think quorum, not robot.

DAOs can be autonomous in the sense that smart contracts are self-enforcing and self-executing. So every blockchain transaction is a simplified smart contract.

Dao landscape

The DAO landscape is evolving.

Consider how Ethereum's smart contracts work. They are more like self-executing computer code, which Vitalik Buterin calls “persistent scripts”.

However, a DAO is self-enforcing once its members agree on its rules. As such, a DAO is “automated upon approval by the governance committee.” This distinguishes them from traditional organizations whose rules must be interpreted and applied.

Why a DAO? They move fast

A DAO can quickly adapt to local conditions as a governance mechanism. It's a collaborative decision-making tool.

Like UkraineDAO, created in response to Putin's invasion of Ukraine by Ukrainian expat Alona Shevchenko, Nadya Tolokonnikova, Trippy Labs, and PleasrDAO. The DAO sought to support Ukrainian charities by selling Ukrainian flag NFTs. With a single mission, a DAO can quickly raise funds for a country accepting crypto where banks are distrusted.

This could be a watershed moment for DAOs.

ConstitutionDAO was another clever use case for DAOs for Freuden. In a failed but “beautiful experiment in a single-purpose DAO,” ConstitutionDAO tried to buy a copy of the US Constitution from a Sotheby's auction. In November 2021, ConstitutionDAO raised $47 million from 19,000 people, but a hedge fund manager outbid them.

Contributions were returned or lost if transactional gas fees were too high. The ConstitutionDAO, as a “beautiful experiment,” proved exceptionally fast at organizing and crowdsourcing funds for a specific purpose.

We may soon be applauding UkraineDAO's geopolitical success in support of the DAO concept.

Some of the best use cases for DAOs today, according to Adam Miller, founder of and MIDAO Directory Services, involve DAO structures.

That is, a “flat community is vital.” Prototyping by the crowd is a good example.  To succeed,  members must be enthusiastic about DAOs as an alternative to starting a company. Because DAOs require some hierarchy, he agrees that "distributed is a better acronym."

Miller sees DAOs as a “new way of organizing people and resources.” He started, a DAO tooling advisery that is currently transitioning to a DAO due to the “woeful tech options for running a DAO,” which he says mainly comprises of just “multisig admin keys and a voting system.” So today he's advising on DAO tech stacks.

Miller identifies three key elements.

Tokenization is a common method and tool. Second, governance mechanisms connected to the DAO's treasury. Lastly, community.”

How a DAO works...

They can be more than glorified Discord groups if they have a clear mission. This mission is a mix of financial speculation and utopianism. The spectrum is vast.

The founder of Dash left the cryptocurrency project in 2017. It's the story of a prophet without an heir. So creating a global tokenized evangelical missionary community via a DAO made sense.

Evan Duffield, a “libertarian/anarchist” visionary, forked Bitcoin in January 2014 to make it instant and essentially free. He went away for a while, and DASH became a DAO.

200,000 US retailers, including Walmart and Barnes & Noble, now accept Dash as payment. This payment system works like a gift card.

Arden Goldstein, Dash's head of crypto, DAO, and blockchain marketing, claims Dash is the “first successful DAO.” It was founded in 2016 and disbanded after a hack, an Ethereum hard fork and much controversy. But what are the success metrics?

Crypto success is measured differently, says Goldstein. To achieve common goals, people must participate or be motivated in a healthy DAO. People are motivated to complete tasks in a successful DAO. And, crucially, when tasks get completed.

“Yes or no, 1 or 0, voting is not a new idea. The challenge is getting people to continue to participate and keep building a community.” A DAO motivates volunteers: Nothing keeps people from building. The DAO “philosophy is old news. You need skin in the game to play.”

MasterNodes must stake 1000 Dash. Those members are rewarded with DASH for marketing (and other tasks). It uses an outsourced team to onboard new users globally.

Joining a DAO is part of the fun of meeting crazy or “very active” people on Discord. No one gets fired (usually). If your work is noticed, you may be offered a full-time job.

DAO community members worldwide are rewarded for brand building. Dash is also a great product for developing countries with high inflation and undemocratic governments. The countries with the most Dash DAO members are Russia, Brazil, Venezuela, India, China, France, Italy, and the Philippines.

Grassroots activism makes this DAO work. A DAO is local. Venezuelans can't access, so DAO members help them use a VPN. DAO members are investors, fervent evangelicals, and local product experts.

Every month, proposals and grant applications are voted on via the Dash platform. However, the DAO may decide not to fund you. For example, the DAO once hired a PR firm, but the community complained about the lack of press coverage. This raises a great question: How are real-world contractual obligations met by a DAO?

Does the DASH DAO work?

“I see the DAO defund projects I thought were valuable,” Goldstein says. Despite working full-time, I must submit a funding proposal. “Much faster than other companies I've worked on,” he says.

Dash DAO is a headless beast. Ryan Taylor is the CEO of the company overseeing the DASH Core Group project. 

The issue is that “we don't know who has the most tokens [...] because we don't know who our customers are.” As a result, “the loudest voices usually don't have the most MasterNodes and aren't the most invested.”

Goldstein, the only female in the DAO, says she worked hard. “I was proud of the DAO when I made the logo pink for a day and got great support from the men.” This has yet to entice a major influx of female DAO members.

Many obstacles stand in the way of utopian dreams.

Governance problems remain

And what about major token holders behaving badly?

In early February, a heated crypto Twitter debate raged on about inclusion, diversity, and cancel culture in relation to decentralized projects. In this case, the question was how a DAO addresses alleged inappropriate behavior.

In a corporation, misconduct can result in termination. In a DAO, founders usually hold a large number of tokens and the keys to the blockchain (multisignature) or otherwise.

Brantly Millegan, the director of operations of Ethereum Name Service (ENS), made disparaging remarks about the LGBTQ community and other controversial topics. The screenshotted comments were made in 2016 and brought to the ENS board's attention in early 2022.

His contract with ENS has expired. But what of his large DAO governance token holdings?

Members of the DAO proposed a motion to remove Millegan from the DAO. His “delegated” votes net 370,000. He was and is the DAO's largest delegate.

What if he had refused to accept the DAO's decision?

Freuden says the answer is not so simple.

“Can a DAO kick someone out who built the project?”

The original mission “should be dissolved” if it no longer exists. “Does a DAO fail and return the money? They must r eturn the money with interest if the marriage fails.”

Before an IPO, VCs might try to remove a problematic CEO.

While DAOs use treasury as a governance mechanism, it is usually controlled (at least initially) by the original project creators. Or, in the case of Uniswap, the venture capital firm a16z has so much voting power that it has delegated it to student-run blockchain organizations.

So, can DAOs really work at scale? How to evolve voting paradigms beyond token holdings?

The whale token holder issue has some solutions. Multiple tokens, such as a utility token on top of a governance token, and quadratic voting for whales, are now common. Other safeguards include multisignature blockchain keys and decision time locks that allow for any automated decision to be made. The structure of each DAO will depend on the assets at stake.

In reality, voter turnout is often a bigger issue.

Is DAO governance scalable?

Many DAOs have low participation. Due to a lack of understanding of technology, apathy, or busy lives. “The bigger the DAO, the fewer voters who vote,” says Freuden.

Freuden's report cites British anthropologist Dunbar's Law, who argued that people can only maintain about 150 relationships.

"As the DAO grows in size, the individual loses influence because they perceive their voting power as being diminished or insignificant. The Ringelmann Effect and Dunbar's Rule show that as a group grows in size, members become lazier, disenfranchised, and detached.

Freuden says a DAO requires “understanding human relationships.” He believes DAOs work best as investment funds rooted in Cryptoland and small in scale. In just three weeks, SyndicateDAO enabled the creation of 450 new investment group DAOs.

Due to SEC regulations, FlamingoDAO, a famous NFT curation investment DAO, could only have 100 investors. The “LAO” is a member-directed venture capital fund and a US LLC. To comply with US securities law, they only allow 100 members with a 120ETH minimum staking contribution.

But how did FlamingoDAO make investment decisions? How often did all 70 members vote? Art and NFTs are highly speculative.

So, investment DAOs are thought to work well in a small petri dish environment. This is due to a crypto-native club's pooled capital (maximum 7% per member) and crowdsourced knowledge.

While scalability is a concern, each DAO will operate differently depending on the goal, technology stage, and personalities. Meetups and hackathons are common ways for techies to collaborate on a cause or test an idea. But somebody still organizes the hack.

Holographic consensus voting

But clever people are working on creative solutions to every problem.

Miller of cites DXdao as a successful DAO. Decentralized product and service creator DXdao runs the DAO entirely on-chain. “You earn voting rights by contributing to the community.”

DXdao, a DAOstack fork, uses holographic consensus, a voting algorithm invented by DAOstack founder Matan Field. The system lets a random or semi-random subset make group-wide decisions.

By acting as a gatekeeper for voters, DXdao's Luke Keenan explains that “a small predictions market economy emerges around the likely outcome of a proposal as tokens are staked on it.” Also, proposals that have been financially boosted have fewer requirements to be successful, increasing system efficiency.” DXdao “makes decisions by removing voting power as an economic incentive.”

Field explains that holographic consensus “does not require a quorum to render a vote valid.”

“Rather, it provides a parallel process. It is a game played (for profit) by ‘predictors' who make predictions about whether or not a vote will be approved by the voters. The voting process is valid even when the voting quorum is low if enough stake is placed on the outcome of the vote.

“In other words, a quorum is not a scalable DAO governance strategy,” Field says.

You don't need big votes on everything. If only 5% vote, fine. To move significant value or make significant changes, you need a longer voting period (say 30 days) and a higher quorum,” says Miller.

Clearly, DAOs are maturing. The emphasis is on tools like Orca and processes that delegate power to smaller sub-DAOs, committees, and working groups.

Miller also claims that “studies in psychology show that rewarding people too much for volunteering disincentivizes them.” So, rather than giving out tokens for every activity, you may want to offer symbolic rewards like POAPs or contributor levels.

“Free lunches are less rewarding. Random rewards can boost motivation.”

Culture and motivation

DAOs (and Web3 in general) can give early adopters a sense of ownership. In theory, they encourage early participation and bootstrapping before network effects.

"A double-edged sword," says Goldstein. In the developing world, they may not be fully scalable.

“There must always be a leader,” she says. “People won't volunteer if they don't want to.”

DAO members sometimes feel entitled. “They are not the boss, but they think they should be able to see my calendar or get a daily report,” Goldstein gripes. Say, “I own three MasterNodes and need to know X, Y, and Z.”

In most decentralized projects, strong community leaders are crucial to influencing culture.

Freuden says “the DAO's community builder is the cryptoland influencer.” They must “disseminate the DAO's culture, cause, and rally the troops” in English, not tech.

They must keep members happy.

So the community builder is vital. Building a community around a coin that promises riches is simple, but keeping DAO members motivated is difficult.

It's a human job. But tools like SourceCred or coordinate that measure contributions and allocate tokens are heavily marketed. Large growth funds/community funds/grant programs are common among DAOs.

The Future?

Onboarding, committed volunteers, and an iconic community builder may be all DAOs need.

It takes a DAO just one day to bring together a passionate (and sometimes obsessive) community. For organizations with a common goal, managing stakeholder expectations is critical.

A DAO's core values are community and cause, not scalable governance. “DAOs will work at scale like gaming communities, but we will have sub-DAOs everywhere like committees,” says Freuden.

So-called holographic consensuses “can handle, in principle, increasing rates of proposals by turning this tension between scale and resilience into an economical cost,” Field writes. Scalability is not guaranteed.

The DAO's key innovation is the fragmented workplace. “Voting is a subset of engagement,” says Freuden. DAO should allow for permissionless participation and engagement. DAOs allow for remote work.”

In 20 years, DAOs may be the AI-powered self-organizing concept. That seems far away now. But a new breed of productivity coordination organisms is maturing.

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Sam Warain

Sam Warain

9 months ago

The Brilliant Idea Behind Kim Kardashian's New Private Equity Fund

Source: Jasper AI

Kim Kardashian created Skky Partners. Consumer products, internet & e-commerce, consumer media, hospitality, and luxury are company targets.

Some call this another Kardashian publicity gimmick.

Source: Comment on WSJ Article

This maneuver is brilliance upon closer inspection. Why?

1) Kim has amassed a sizable social media fan base:

Over 320 million Instagram and 70 million Twitter users follow Kim Kardashian.

Source: Wikipedia, Top Instagram Account Followers

Kim Kardashian's Instagram account ranks 8th. Three Kardashians in top 10 is ridiculous.

This gives her access to consumer data. She knows what people are discussing. Investment firms need this data.

Quality, not quantity, of her followers matters. Studies suggest that her following are more engaged than Selena Gomez and Beyonce's.

Kim's followers are worth roughly $500 million to her brand, according to a research. They trust her and buy what she recommends.

2) She has a special aptitude for identifying trends.

Kim Kardashian can sense trends.

She's always ahead of fashion and beauty trends. She's always trying new things, too. She doesn't mind making mistakes when trying anything new. Her desire to experiment makes her a good business prospector.

Kim has also created a lifestyle brand that followers love. Kim is an entrepreneur, mom, and role model, not just a reality TV star or model. She's established a brand around her appearance, so people want to buy her things.

Her fragrance collection has sold over $100 million since its 2009 introduction, and her Sears apparel line did over $200 million in its first year.

SKIMS is her latest $3.2bn brand. She can establish multibillion-dollar firms with her enormous distribution platform.

Early founders would kill for Kim Kardashian's network.

Making great products is hard, but distribution is more difficult. — David Sacks, All-in-Podcast

3) She can delegate the financial choices to Jay Sammons, one of the greatest in the industry.

Jay Sammons is well-suited to develop Kim Kardashian's new private equity fund.

Sammons has 16 years of consumer investing experience at Carlyle. This will help Kardashian invest in consumer-facing enterprises.

Sammons has invested in Supreme and Beats Electronics, both of which have grown significantly. Sammons' track record and competence make him the obvious choice.

Kim Kardashian and Jay Sammons have joined forces to create a new business endeavor. The agreement will increase Kardashian's commercial empire. Sammons can leverage one of the world's most famous celebrities.

“Together we hope to leverage our complementary expertise to build the next generation consumer and media private equity firm” — Kim Kardashian

Kim Kardashian is a successful businesswoman. She developed an empire by leveraging social media to connect with fans. By developing a global lifestyle brand, she has sold things and experiences that have made her one of the world's richest celebrities.

She's a shrewd entrepreneur who knows how to maximize on herself and her image.

Imagine how much interest Kim K will bring to private equity and venture capital.

I'm curious about the company's growth.

Daniel Clery

1 year ago

Twisted device investigates fusion alternatives

German stellarator revamped to run longer, hotter, compete with tokamaks

Wendelstein 7-X’s complex geometry was a nightmare to build but, when fired up, worked from the start.

Tokamaks have dominated the search for fusion energy for decades. Just as ITER, the world's largest and most expensive tokamak, nears completion in southern France, a smaller, twistier testbed will start up in Germany.

If the 16-meter-wide stellarator can match or outperform similar-size tokamaks, fusion experts may rethink their future. Stellarators can keep their superhot gases stable enough to fuse nuclei and produce energy. They can theoretically run forever, but tokamaks must pause to reset their magnet coils.

The €1 billion German machine, Wendelstein 7-X (W7-X), is already getting "tokamak-like performance" in short runs, claims plasma physicist David Gates, preventing particles and heat from escaping the superhot gas. If W7-X can go long, "it will be ahead," he says. "Stellarators excel" Eindhoven University of Technology theorist Josefine Proll says, "Stellarators are back in the game." A few of startup companies, including one that Gates is leaving Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory, are developing their own stellarators.

W7-X has been running at the Max Planck Institute for Plasma Physics (IPP) in Greifswald, Germany, since 2015, albeit only at low power and for brief runs. W7-X's developers took it down and replaced all inner walls and fittings with water-cooled equivalents, allowing for longer, hotter runs. The team reported at a W7-X board meeting last week that the revised plasma vessel has no leaks. It's expected to restart later this month to show if it can get plasma to fusion-igniting conditions.

Wendelstein 7-X’s twisting inner surface is now water cooled, enabling longer runs

Wendelstein 7-X's water-cooled inner surface allows for longer runs.


Both stellarators and tokamaks create magnetic gas cages hot enough to melt metal. Microwaves or particle beams heat. Extreme temperatures create a plasma, a seething mix of separated nuclei and electrons, and cause the nuclei to fuse, releasing energy. A fusion power plant would use deuterium and tritium, which react quickly. Non-energy-generating research machines like W7-X avoid tritium and use hydrogen or deuterium instead.

Tokamaks and stellarators use electromagnetic coils to create plasma-confining magnetic fields. A greater field near the hole causes plasma to drift to the reactor's wall.

Tokamaks control drift by circulating plasma around a ring. Streaming creates a magnetic field that twists and stabilizes ionized plasma. Stellarators employ magnetic coils to twist, not plasma. Once plasma physicists got powerful enough supercomputers, they could optimize stellarator magnets to improve plasma confinement.

W7-X is the first large, optimized stellarator with 50 6- ton superconducting coils. Its construction began in the mid-1990s and cost roughly twice the €550 million originally budgeted.

The wait hasn't disappointed researchers. W7-X director Thomas Klinger: "The machine operated immediately." "It's a friendly machine." It did everything we asked." Tokamaks are prone to "instabilities" (plasma bulging or wobbling) or strong "disruptions," sometimes associated to halted plasma flow. IPP theorist Sophia Henneberg believes stellarators don't employ plasma current, which "removes an entire branch" of instabilities.

In early stellarators, the magnetic field geometry drove slower particles to follow banana-shaped orbits until they collided with other particles and leaked energy. Gates believes W7-X's ability to suppress this effect implies its optimization works.

W7-X loses heat through different forms of turbulence, which push particles toward the wall. Theorists have only lately mastered simulating turbulence. W7-X's forthcoming campaign will test simulations and turbulence-fighting techniques.

A stellarator can run constantly, unlike a tokamak, which pulses. W7-X has run 100 seconds—long by tokamak standards—at low power. The device's uncooled microwave and particle heating systems only produced 11.5 megawatts. The update doubles heating power. High temperature, high plasma density, and extensive runs will test stellarators' fusion power potential. Klinger wants to heat ions to 50 million degrees Celsius for 100 seconds. That would make W7-X "a world-class machine," he argues. The team will push for 30 minutes. "We'll move step-by-step," he says.

W7-X's success has inspired VCs to finance entrepreneurs creating commercial stellarators. Startups must simplify magnet production.

Princeton Stellarators, created by Gates and colleagues this year, has $3 million to build a prototype reactor without W7-X's twisted magnet coils. Instead, it will use a mosaic of 1000 HTS square coils on the plasma vessel's outside. By adjusting each coil's magnetic field, operators can change the applied field's form. Gates: "It moves coil complexity to the control system." The company intends to construct a reactor that can fuse cheap, abundant deuterium to produce neutrons for radioisotopes. If successful, the company will build a reactor.

Renaissance Fusion, situated in Grenoble, France, raised €16 million and wants to coat plasma vessel segments in HTS. Using a laser, engineers will burn off superconductor tracks to carve magnet coils. They want to build a meter-long test segment in 2 years and a full prototype by 2027.

Type One Energy in Madison, Wisconsin, won DOE money to bend HTS cables for stellarator magnets. The business carved twisting grooves in metal with computer-controlled etching equipment to coil cables. David Anderson of the University of Wisconsin, Madison, claims advanced manufacturing technology enables the stellarator.

Anderson said W7-X's next phase will boost stellarator work. “Half-hour discharges are steady-state,” he says. “This is a big deal.”

Architectural Digest

Architectural Digest

1 year ago

Take a look at The One, a Los Angeles estate with a whopping 105,000 square feet of living area.

The interiors of the 105,000-square-foot property, which sits on a five-acre parcel in the wealthy Los Angeles suburb of Bel Air and is suitably titled The One, have been a well guarded secret. We got an intimate look inside this world-record-breaking property, as well as the creative and aesthetic geniuses behind it.

The estate appears to float above the city, surrounded on three sides by a moat and a 400-foot-long running track. Completed over eight years—and requiring 600 workers to build—the home was designed by architect Paul McClean and interior designer Kathryn Rotondi, who were enlisted by owner and developer Nile Niami to help it live up to its standard.
"This endeavor seemed both exhilarating and daunting," McClean says. However, the home's remarkable location and McClean's long-standing relationship with Niami persuaded him to "build something unique and extraordinary" rather than just take on the job.

And McClean has more than delivered.

The home's main entrance leads to a variety of meeting places with magnificent 360-degree views of the Pacific Ocean, downtown Los Angeles, and the San Gabriel Mountains, thanks to its 26-foot-high ceilings. There is water at the entrance area, as well as a sculpture and a bridge. "We often employ water in our design approach because it provides a sensory change that helps you acclimatize to your environment," McClean explains.

Niami wanted a neutral palette that would enable the environment and vistas to shine, so she used black, white, and gray throughout the house.

McClean has combined the home's inside with outside "to create that quintessential L.A. lifestyle but on a larger scale," he says, drawing influence from the local environment and history of Los Angeles modernism. "We separated the entertaining spaces from the living portions to make the house feel more livable. The former are on the lowest level, which serves as a plinth for the rest of the house and minimizes its apparent mass."

The home's statistics, in addition to its eye-catching style, are equally impressive. There are 42 bathrooms, 21 bedrooms, a 5,500-square-foot master suite, a 30-car garage gallery with two car-display turntables, a four-lane bowling alley, a spa level, a 30-seat movie theater, a "philanthropy wing (with a capacity of 200) for charity galas, a 10,000-square-foot sky deck, and five swimming pools.

Rotondi, the creator of KFR Design, collaborated with Niami on the interior design to create different spaces that flow into one another despite the house's grandeur. "I was especially driven to 'wow factor' components in the hospitality business," Rotondi says, citing top luxury hotel brands such as Aman, Bulgari, and Baccarat as sources of inspiration. Meanwhile, the home's color scheme, soft textures, and lighting are a nod to Niami and McClean's favorite Tom Ford boutique on Rodeo Drive.

The house boasts an extraordinary collection of art, including a butterfly work by Stephen Wilson on the lower level and a Niclas Castello bespoke panel in black and silver in the office, thanks to a cooperation between Creative Art Partners and Art Angels. There is also a sizable collection of bespoke furniture pieces from byShowroom.

A house of this size will never be erected again in Los Angeles, thanks to recently enacted city rules, so The One will truly be one of a kind. "For all of us, this project has been such a long and instructive trip," McClean says. "It was exciting to develop and approached with excitement, but I don't think any of us knew how much effort and time it would take to finish the project."