What is Terra? Your guide to the hot cryptocurrency
With cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, Ether, and Dogecoin gyrating in value over the past few months, many people are looking at so-called stablecoins like Terra to invest in because of their more predictable prices.
Terraform Labs, which oversees the Terra cryptocurrency project, has benefited from its rising popularity. The company said recently that investors like Arrington Capital, Lightspeed Venture Partners, and Pantera Capital have pledged $150 million to help it incubate various crypto projects that are connected to Terra.
Terraform Labs and its partners have built apps that operate on the company’s blockchain technology that helps keep a permanent and shared record of the firm’s crypto-related financial transactions.
Here’s what you need to know about Terra and the company behind it.
What is Terra?
Terra is a blockchain project developed by Terraform Labs that powers the startup’s cryptocurrencies and financial apps. These cryptocurrencies include the Terra U.S. Dollar, or UST, that is pegged to the U.S. dollar through an algorithm.
Terra is a stablecoin that is intended to reduce the volatility endemic to cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin. Some stablecoins, like Tether, are pegged to more conventional currencies, like the U.S. dollar, through cash and cash equivalents as opposed to an algorithm and associated reserve token.
To mint new UST tokens, a percentage of another digital token and reserve asset, Luna, is “burned.” If the demand for UST rises with more people using the currency, more Luna will be automatically burned and diverted to a community pool. That balancing act is supposed to help stabilize the price, to a degree.
“Luna directly benefits from the economic growth of the Terra economy, and it suffers from contractions of the Terra coin,” Terraform Labs CEO Do Kwon said.
Each time someone buys something—like an ice cream—using UST, that transaction generates a fee, similar to a credit card transaction. That fee is then distributed to people who own Luna tokens, similar to a stock dividend.
Who leads Terra?
The South Korean firm Terraform Labs was founded in 2018 by Daniel Shin and Kwon, who is now the company’s CEO. Kwon is a 29-year-old former Microsoft employee; Shin now heads the Chai online payment service, a Terra partner. Kwon said many Koreans have used the Chai service to buy goods like movie tickets using Terra cryptocurrency.
Terraform Labs does not make money from transactions using its crypto and instead relies on outside funding to operate, Kwon said. It has raised $57 million in funding from investors like HashKey Digital Asset Group, Divergence Digital Currency Fund, and Huobi Capital, according to deal-tracking service PitchBook. The amount raised is in addition to the latest $150 million funding commitment announced on July 16.
What are Terra’s plans?
Terraform Labs plans to use Terra’s blockchain and its associated cryptocurrencies—including one pegged to the Korean won—to create a digital financial system independent of major banks and fintech-app makers. So far, its main source of growth has been in Korea, where people have bought goods at stores, like coffee, using the Chai payment app that’s built on Terra’s blockchain. Kwon said the company’s associated Mirror trading app is experiencing growth in China and Thailand.
Meanwhile, Kwon said Terraform Labs would use its latest $150 million in funding to invest in groups that build financial apps on Terra’s blockchain. He likened the scouting and investing in other groups as akin to a “Y Combinator demo day type of situation,” a reference to the popular startup pitch event organized by early-stage investor Y Combinator.
The combination of all these Terra-specific financial apps shows that Terraform Labs is “almost creating a kind of bank,” said Ryan Watkins, a senior research analyst at cryptocurrency consultancy Messari.
In addition to cryptocurrencies, Terraform Labs has a number of other projects including the Anchor app, a high-yield savings account for holders of the group’s digital coins. Meanwhile, people can use the firm’s associated Mirror app to create synthetic financial assets that mimic more conventional ones, like “tokenized” representations of corporate stocks. These synthetic assets are supposed to be helpful to people like “a small retail trader in Thailand” who can more easily buy shares and “get some exposure to the upside” of stocks that they otherwise wouldn’t have been able to obtain, Kwon said. But some critics have said the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission may eventually crack down on synthetic stocks, which are currently unregulated.
What do critics say?
Terra still has a long way to go to catch up to bigger cryptocurrency projects like Ethereum.
Most financial transactions involving Terra-related cryptocurrencies have originated in Korea, where its founders are based. Although Terra is becoming more popular in Korea thanks to rising interest in its partner Chai, it’s too early to say whether Terra-related currencies will gain traction in other countries.
Terra’s blockchain runs on a “limited number of nodes,” said Messari’s Watkins, referring to the computers that help keep the system running. That helps reduce latency that may otherwise slow processing of financial transactions, he said.
But the tradeoff is that Terra is less “decentralized” than other blockchain platforms like Ethereum, which is powered by thousands of interconnected computing nodes worldwide. That could make Terra less appealing to some blockchain purists.
More on Web3 & Crypto
1 year ago
Bored Ape Yacht Club creator raises $450 million at a $4 billion valuation.
Yuga Labs, owner of three of the biggest NFT brands on the market, announced today a $450 million funding round. The money will be used to create a media empire based on NFTs, starting with games and a metaverse project.
The team's Otherside metaverse project is an MMORPG meant to connect the larger NFT universe. They want to create “an interoperable world” that is “gamified” and “completely decentralized,” says Wylie Aronow, aka Gordon Goner, co-founder of Bored Ape Yacht Club. “We think the real Ready Player One experience will be player run.”
Just a few weeks ago, Yuga Labs announced the acquisition of CryptoPunks and Meebits from Larva Labs. The deal brought together three of the most valuable NFT collections, giving Yuga Labs more IP to work with when developing games and metaverses. Last week, ApeCoin was launched as a cryptocurrency that will be governed independently and used in Yuga Labs properties.
Otherside will be developed by “a few different game studios,” says Yuga Labs CEO Nicole Muniz. The company plans to create development tools that allow NFTs from other projects to work inside their world. “We're welcoming everyone into a walled garden.”
However, Yuga Labs believes that other companies are approaching metaverse projects incorrectly, allowing the startup to stand out. People won't bond spending time in a virtual space with nothing going on, says Yuga Labs co-founder Greg Solano, aka Gargamel. Instead, he says, people bond when forced to work together.
In order to avoid getting smacked, Solano advises making friends. “We don't think a Zoom chat and walking around saying ‘hi' creates a deep social experience.” Yuga Labs refused to provide a release date for Otherside. Later this year, a play-to-win game is planned.
The funding round was led by Andreessen Horowitz, a major investor in the Web3 space. It previously backed OpenSea and Coinbase. Animoca Brands, Coinbase, and MoonPay are among those who have invested. Andreessen Horowitz general partner Chris Lyons will join Yuga Labs' board. The Financial Times broke the story last month.
"META IS A DOMINANT DIGITAL EXPERIENCE PROVIDER IN A DYSTOPIAN FUTURE."
This emerging [Web3] ecosystem is important to me, as it is to companies like Meta,” Chris Dixon, head of Andreessen Horowitz's crypto arm, tells The Verge. “In a dystopian future, Meta is the dominant digital experience provider, and it controls all the money and power.” (Andreessen Horowitz co-founder Marc Andreessen sits on Meta's board and invested early in Facebook.)
Yuga Labs has been profitable so far. According to a leaked pitch deck, the company made $137 million last year, primarily from its NFT brands, with a 95% profit margin. (Yuga Labs declined to comment on deck figures.)
But the company has built little so far. According to OpenSea data, it has only released one game for a limited time. That means Yuga Labs gets hundreds of millions of dollars to build a gaming company from scratch, based on a hugely lucrative art project.
Investors fund Yuga Labs based on its success. That's what they did, says Dixon, “they created a culture phenomenon”. But ultimately, the company is betting on the same thing that so many others are: that a metaverse project will be the next big thing. Now they must construct it.
1 year ago Draft
A Myth: Decentralization
It’s simply not conceivable, or at least not credible.
One of the most touted selling points of Crypto has always been this grandiose idea of decentralization. Bitcoin first arose in 2009 after the housing crisis and subsequent crash that came with it. It aimed to solve this supposed issue of centralization. Nobody “owns” Bitcoin in theory, so the idea then goes that it won’t be subject to the same downfalls that led to the 2008 crash or similarly speculative events that led to the 2008 disaster. The issue is the banks, not the human nature associated with the greedy individuals running them.
Subsequent blockchains have attempted to fix many of the issues of Bitcoin by increasing capacity, decreasing the costs and processing times associated with Bitcoin, and expanding what can be done with their blockchains. Since nobody owns Bitcoin, it hasn’t really been able to be expanded on. You have people like Vitalk Buterin, however, that actively work on Ethereum though.
The leap from Bitcoin to Ethereum was a massive leap toward centralization, and the trend has only gotten worse. In fact, crypto has since become almost exclusively centralized in recent years.
Decentralization is only good in theory
It’s a good idea. In fact, it’s a wonderful idea. However, like other utopian societies, individuals misjudge human nature and greed. In a perfect world, decentralization would certainly be a wonderful idea because sure, people may function as their own banks, move payments immediately, remain anonymous, and so on. However, underneath this are a couple issues:
You can already send money instantaneously today.
They are not decentralized.
Decentralization is a bad idea.
Being your own bank is a stupid move.
Let’s break these down. Some are quite simple, but lets have a look.
Sending money right away
One thing with crypto is the idea that you can send payments instantly. This has pretty much been entirely solved in current times. You can transmit significant sums of money instantly for a nominal cost and it’s instantaneously cleared. Venmo was launched in 2009 and has since increased to prominence, and currently is on most people's phones. I can directly send ANY amount of money quickly from my bank to another person's Venmo account.
Comparing that with ETH and Bitcoin, Venmo wins all around. I can send money to someone for free instantly in dollars and the only fee paid is optional depending on when you want it.
Both Bitcoin and Ethereum are subject to demand. If the blockchains have a lot of people trying to process transactions fee’s go up, and the time that it takes to receive your crypto takes longer. When Ethereum gets bad, people have reported spending several thousand of dollars on just 1 transaction.
These transactions take place via “miners” bundling and confirming transactions, then recording them on the blockchain to confirm that the transaction did indeed happen. They charge fees to do this and are also paid in Bitcoin/ETH. When a transaction is confirmed, it's then sent to the other users wallet. This within itself is subject to lots of controversy because each transaction needs to be confirmed 6 times, this takes massive amounts of power, and most of the power is wasted because this is an adversarial system in which the person that mines the transaction gets paid, and everyone else is out of luck. Also, these could theoretically be subject to a “51% attack” in which anyone with over 51% of the mining hash rate could effectively control all of the transactions, and reverse transactions while keeping the BTC resulting in “double spending”.
There are tons of other issues with this, but essentially it means: They rely on these third parties to confirm the transactions. Without people confirming these transactions, Bitcoin stalls completely, and if anyone becomes too dominant they can effectively control bitcoin.
Not to mention, these transactions are in Bitcoin and ETH, not dollars. So, you need to convert them to dollars still, and that's several more transactions, and likely to take several days anyway as the centralized exchange needs to send you the money by traditional methods.
They are not distributed
That takes me to the following point. This isn’t decentralized, at all. Bitcoin is the closest it gets because Satoshi basically closed it to new upgrades, although its still subject to:
It’s vital to realize that these are often the same folks. While whales aren’t centralized entities typically, they can considerably effect the price and outcome of Bitcoin. If the largest wallets holding as much as 1 million BTC were to sell, it’d effectively collapse the price perhaps beyond repair. However, Bitcoin can and is pretty much controlled by the miners. Further, Bitcoin is more like an oligarchy than decentralized. It’s been effectively used to make the rich richer, and both the mining and price is impacted by the rich. The overwhelming minority of those actually using it are retail investors. The retail investors are basically never the ones generating money from it either.
As far as ETH and other cryptos go, there is realistically 0 case for them being decentralized. Vitalik could not only kill it but even walking away from it would likely lead to a significant decline. It has tons of issues right now that Vitalik has promised to fix with the eventual Ethereum 2.0., and stepping away from it wouldn’t help.
Most tokens as well are generally tied to some promise of future developments and creators. The same is true for most NFT projects. The reason 99% of crypto and NFT projects fail is because they failed to deliver on various promises or bad dev teams, or poor innovation, or the founders just straight up stole from everyone. I could go more in-depth than this but go find any project and if there is a dev team, company, or person tied to it then it's likely, not decentralized. The success of that project is directly tied to the dev team, and if they wanted to, most hold large wallets and could sell it all off effectively killing the project. Not to mention, any crypto project that doesn’t have a locked contract can 100% be completely rugged and they can run off with all of the money.
Decentralization is undesirable
Even if they were decentralized then it would not be a good thing. The graphic above indicates this is effectively a rich person’s unregulated playground… so it’s exactly like… the very issue it tried to solve?
Not to mention, it’s supposedly meant to prevent things like 2008, but is regularly subjected to 50–90% drawdowns in value? Back when Bitcoin was only known in niche parts of the dark web and illegal markets, it would regularly drop as much as 90% and has a long history of massive drawdowns.
The majority of crypto is blatant scams, and ALL of crypto is a “zero” or “negative” sum game in that it relies on the next person buying for people to make money. This is not a good thing. This has yet to solve any issues around what caused the 2008 crisis. Rather, it seemingly amplified all of the bad parts of it actually. Crypto is the ultimate speculative asset and realistically has no valuation metric. People invest in Apple because it has revenue and cash on hand. People invest in crypto purely for speculation. The lack of regulation or accountability means this is amplified to the most extreme degree where anything goes: Fraud, deception, pump and dumps, scams, etc. This results in a pure speculative madhouse where, unsurprisingly, only the rich win. Not only that but the deck is massively stacked in against the everyday investor because you can’t do a pump and dump without money.
At the heart of all of this is still the same issues: greed and human nature. However, in setting out to solve the issues that allowed 2008 to happen, they made something that literally took all of the bad parts of 2008 and then amplified it. 2008, similarly, was due to greed and human nature but was allowed to happen due to lack of oversite, rich people's excessive leverage over the poor, and excessive speculation. Crypto trades SOLELY on human emotion, has 0 oversite, is pure speculation, and the power dynamic is just as bad or worse.
Why should each individual be their own bank?
This is the last one, and it's short and basic. Why do we want people functioning as their own bank? Everything we do relies on another person. Without the internet, and internet providers there is no crypto. We don’t have people functioning as their own home and car manufacturers or internet service providers. Sure, you might specialize in some of these things, but masquerading as your own bank is a horrible idea.
I am not in the banking industry so I don’t know all the issues with banking. Most people aren’t in banking or crypto, so they don’t know the ENDLESS scams associated with it, and they are bound to lose their money eventually.
If you appreciate this article and want to read more from me and authors like me, without any limits, consider buying me a coffee: buymeacoffee.com/calebnaysmith
1 year ago
LCX is the latest CEX to have suffered a private key exploit.
The attack began around 10:30 PM +UTC on January 8th.
We’ve said it before; if established companies holding millions of dollars of users’ funds can’t manage their own hot wallet security, what purpose do they serve?
The Unique Selling Proposition (USP) of centralised finance grows smaller by the day.
The official incident report states that 7.94M USD were stolen in total, and that deposits and withdrawals to the platform have been paused.
LCX hot wallet: 0x4631018f63d5e31680fb53c11c9e1b11f1503e6f
Hacker’s wallet: 0x165402279f2c081c54b00f0e08812f3fd4560a05
- 162.68 ETH (502,671 USD)
- 3,437,783.23 USDC (3,437,783 USD)
- 761,236.94 EURe (864,840 USD)
- 101,249.71 SAND Token (485,995 USD)
- 1,847.65 LINK (48,557 USD)
- 17,251,192.30 LCX Token (2,466,558 USD)
- 669.00 QNT (115,609 USD)
- 4,819.74 ENJ (10,890 USD)
- 4.76 MKR (9,885 USD)
**~$1M worth of $LCX remains in the address, along with 611k EURe which has been frozen by Monerium.
The rest, a total of 1891 ETH (~$6M) was sent to Tornado Cash.**
Why can’t they keep private keys private?
Is it really that difficult for a traditional corporate structure to maintain good practice?
CeFi hacks leave us with little to say - we can only go on what the team chooses to tell us.
Next time, they can write this article themselves.
See below for a template.
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1 year ago
Metaverse, Web 3, and NFTs are BS
Most crypto is probably too.
The goals of Web 3 and the metaverse are admirable and attractive. Who doesn't want an internet owned by users? Who wouldn't want a digital realm where anything is possible? A better way to collaborate and visit pals.
Companies pursue profits endlessly. Infinite growth and revenue are expected, and if a corporation needs to sacrifice profits to safeguard users, the CEO, board of directors, and any executives will lose to the system of incentives that (1) retains workers with shares and (2) makes a company answerable to all of its shareholders. Only the government can guarantee user protections, but we know how successful that is. This is nothing new, just a problem with modern capitalism and tech platforms that a user-owned internet might remedy. Moxie, the founder of Signal, has a good articulation of some of these current Web 2 tech platform problems (but I forget the timestamp); thoughts on JRE aside, this episode is worth listening to (it’s about a bunch of other stuff too).
Moxie Marlinspike, founder of Signal, on the Joe Rogan Experience podcast.
Web 3 champions are premature. There was so much spectacular growth during Web 2 that the next wave of founders want to make an even bigger impact, while investors old and new want a chance to get a piece of the moonshot action. Worse, crypto enthusiasts believe — and financially need — the fact of its success to be true, whether or not it is.
I’m doubtful that it will play out like current proponents say. Crypto has been the white-hot focus of SV’s best and brightest for a long time yet still struggles to come up any mainstream use case other than ‘buy, HODL, and believe’: a store of value for your financial goals and wishes. Some kind of the metaverse is likely, but will it be decentralized, mostly in VR, or will Meta (previously FB) play a big role? Unlikely.
The metaverse exists already. Our digital lives span apps, platforms, and games. I can design a 3D house, invite people, use Discord, and hang around in an artificial environment. Millions of gamers do this in Rust, Minecraft, Valheim, and Animal Crossing, among other games. Discord's voice chat and Slack-like servers/channels are the present social anchor, but the interface, integrations, and data portability will improve. Soon you can stream YouTube videos on digital house walls. You can doodle, create art, play Jackbox, and walk through a door to play Apex Legends, Fortnite, etc. Not just gaming. Digital whiteboards and screen sharing enable real-time collaboration. They’ll review code and operate enterprises. Music is played and made. In digital living rooms, they'll watch movies, sports, comedy, and Twitch. They'll tweet, laugh, learn, and shittalk.
The metaverse is the evolution of our digital life at home, the third place. The closest analog would be Discord and the integration of Facebook, Slack, YouTube, etc. into a single, 3D, customizable hangout space.
I'm not certain this experience can be hugely decentralized and smoothly choreographed, managed, and run, or that VR — a luxury, cumbersome, and questionably relevant technology — must be part of it. Eventually, VR will be pragmatic, achievable, and superior to real life in many ways. A total sensory experience like the Matrix or Sword Art Online, where we're physically hooked into the Internet yet in our imaginations we're jumping, flying, and achieving athletic feats we never could in reality; exploring realms far grander than our own (as grand as it is). That VR is different from today's.
Ben Thompson released an episode of Exponent after Facebook changed its name to Meta. Ben was suspicious about many metaverse champion claims, but he made a good analogy between Oculus and the PC. The PC was initially far too pricey for the ordinary family to afford. It began as a business tool. It got so powerful and pervasive that it affected our personal life. Price continues to plummet and so much consumer software was produced that it's impossible to envision life without a home computer (or in our pockets). If Facebook shows product market fit with VR in business, through use cases like remote work and collaboration, maybe VR will become practical in our personal lives at home.
Before PCs, we relied on Blockbuster, the Yellow Pages, cabs to get to the airport, handwritten taxes, landline phones to schedule social events, and other archaic methods. It is impossible for me to conceive what VR, in the form of headsets and hand controllers, stands to give both professional and especially personal digital experiences that is an order of magnitude better than what we have today. Is looking around better than using a mouse to examine a 3D landscape? Do the hand controls make x10 or x100 work or gaming more fun or efficient? Will VR replace scalable Web 2 methods and applications like Web 1 and Web 2 did for analog? I don't know.
My guess is that the metaverse will arrive slowly, initially on displays we presently use, with more app interoperability. I doubt that it will be controlled by the people or by Facebook, a corporation that struggles to properly innovate internally, as practically every large digital company does. Large tech organizations are lousy at hiring product-savvy employees, and if they do, they rarely let them explore new things.
These companies act like business schools when they seek founders' results, with bureaucracy and dependency. Which company launched the last popular consumer software product that wasn't a clone or acquisition? Recent examples are scarce.
Investors and entrepreneurs of Web 3 firms are declaring victory: 'Web 3 is here!' Web 3 is the future! Many profitable Web 2 enterprises existed when Web 2 was defined. The word was created to explain user behavior shifts, not a personal pipe dream.
Origins of Web 2: http://www.oreilly.com/pub/a/web2/archive/what-is-web-20.html
One of these Web 3 startups may provide the connecting tissue to link all these experiences or become one of the major new digital locations. Even so, successful players will likely use centralized power arrangements, as Web 2 businesses do now. Some Web 2 startups integrated our digital lives. Rockmelt (2010–2013) was a customizable browser with bespoke connectors to every program a user wanted; imagine seeing Facebook, Twitter, Discord, Netflix, YouTube, etc. all in one location. Failure. Who knows what Opera's doing?
Silicon Valley and tech Twitter in general have a history of jumping on dumb bandwagons that go nowhere. Dot-com crash in 2000? The huge deployment of capital into bad ideas and businesses is well-documented. And live video. It was the future until it became a niche sector for gamers. Live audio will play out a similar reality as CEOs with little comprehension of audio and no awareness of lasting new user behavior deceive each other into making more and bigger investments on fool's gold. Twitter trying to buy Clubhouse for $4B, Spotify buying Greenroom, Facebook exploring live audio and 'Tiktok for audio,' and now Amazon developing a live audio platform. This live audio frenzy won't be worth their time or energy. Blind guides blind. Instead of learning from prior failures like Twitter buying Periscope for $100M pre-launch and pre-product market fit, they're betting on unproven and uncompelling experiences.
NFTs are also nonsense. Take Loot, a time-limited bag drop of "things" (text on the blockchain) for a game that didn't exist, bought by rich techies too busy to play video games and foolish enough to think they're getting in early on something with a big reward. What gaming studio is incentivized to use these items? Who's encouraged to join? No one cares besides Loot owners who don't have NFTs. Skill, merit, and effort should be rewarded with rare things for gamers. Even if a small minority of gamers can make a living playing, the average game's major appeal has never been to make actual money - that's a profession.
No game stays popular forever, so how is this objective sustainable? Once popularity and usage drop, exclusive crypto or NFTs will fall. And if NFTs are designed to have cross-game appeal, incentives apart, 30 years from now any new game will need millions of pre-existing objects to build around before they start. It doesn’t work.
Many games already feature item economies based on real in-game scarcity, generally for cosmetic things to avoid pay-to-win, which undermines scaled gaming incentives for huge player bases. Counter-Strike, Rust, etc. may be bought and sold on Steam with real money. Since the 1990s, unofficial cross-game marketplaces have sold in-game objects and currencies. NFTs aren't needed. Making a popular, enjoyable, durable game is already difficult.
With NFTs, certain JPEGs on the internet went from useless to selling for $69 million. Why? Crypto, Web 3, early Internet collectibles. NFTs are digital Beanie Babies (unlike NFTs, Beanie Babies were a popular children's toy; their destinies are the same). NFTs are worthless and scarce. They appeal to crypto enthusiasts seeking for a practical use case to support their theory and boost their own fortune. They also attract to SV insiders desperate not to miss the next big thing, not knowing what it will be. NFTs aren't about paying artists and creators who don't get credit for their work.
South Park's Underpants Gnomes
NFTs are a benign, foolish plan to earn money on par with South Park's underpants gnomes. At worst, they're the world of hucksterism and poor performers. Or those with money and enormous followings who, like everyone, don't completely grasp cryptocurrencies but are motivated by greed and status and believe Gary Vee's claim that CryptoPunks are the next Facebook. Gary's watertight logic: if NFT prices dip, they're on the same path as the most successful corporation in human history; buy the dip! NFTs aren't businesses or museum-worthy art. They're bs.
Gary Vee compares NFTs to Amazon.com. vm.tiktok.com/TTPdA9TyH2
We grew up collecting: Magic: The Gathering (MTG) cards printed in the 90s are now worth over $30,000. Imagine buying a digital Magic card with no underlying foundation. No one plays the game because it doesn't exist. An NFT is a contextless image someone conned you into buying a certificate for, but anyone may copy, paste, and use. Replace MTG with Pokemon for younger readers.
When Gary Vee strongarms 30 tech billionaires and YouTube influencers into buying CryptoPunks, they'll talk about it on Twitch, YouTube, podcasts, Twitter, etc. That will convince average folks that the product has value. These guys are smart and/or rich, so I'll get in early like them. Cryptography is similar. No solid, scaled, mainstream use case exists, and no one knows where it's headed, but since the global crypto financial bubble hasn't burst and many people have made insane fortunes, regular people are putting real money into something that is highly speculative and could be nothing because they want a piece of the action. Who doesn’t want free money? Rich techies and influencers won't be affected; normal folks will.
Imagine removing every $1 invested in Bitcoin instantly. What would happen? How far would Bitcoin fall? Over 90%, maybe even 95%, and Bitcoin would be dead. Bitcoin as an investment is the only scalable widespread use case: it's confidence that a better use case will arise and that being early pays handsomely. It's like pouring a trillion dollars into a company with no business strategy or users and a CEO who makes vague future references.
New tech and efforts may provoke a 'get off my lawn' mentality as you approach 40, but I've always prided myself on having a decent bullshit detector, and it's flying off the handle at this foolishness. If we can accomplish a functional, responsible, equitable, and ethical user-owned internet, I'm for it.
I wanted to summarize my opinions because I've been angry about this for a while but just sporadically tweeted about it. A friend handed me a Dan Olson YouTube video just before publication. He's more knowledgeable, articulate, and convincing about crypto. It's worth seeing:
This post is a summary. See the original one here.
8 months ago
ChatGPT Is Experiencing a Lightbulb Moment
Why breakthrough technologies must be accessible
ChatGPT has exploded. Over 1 million people have used the app, and coding sites like Stack Overflow have banned its answers. It's huge.
I wouldn't have called that as an AI researcher. ChatGPT uses the same GPT-3 technology that's been around for over two years.
More than impressive technology, ChatGPT 3 shows how access makes breakthroughs usable. OpenAI has finally made people realize the power of AI by packaging GPT-3 for normal users.
We think of Thomas Edison as the inventor of the lightbulb, not because he invented it, but because he popularized it.
Going forward, AI companies that make using AI easy will thrive.
Most modern AI systems use massive language models. These language models are trained on 6,000+ years of human text.
GPT-3 ate 8 billion pages, almost every book, and Wikipedia. It created an AI that can write sea shanties and solve coding problems.
Nothing new. I began beta testing GPT-3 in 2020, but the system's basics date back further.
Tools like GPT-3 are hidden in many apps. Many of the AI writing assistants on this platform are just wrappers around GPT-3.
Lots of online utilitarian text, like restaurant menu summaries or city guides, is written by AI systems like GPT-3. You've probably read GPT-3 without knowing it.
Why is ChatGPT so popular if the technology is old?
ChatGPT makes the technology accessible. Free to use, people can sign up and text with the chatbot daily. ChatGPT isn't revolutionary. It does it in a way normal people can access and be amazed by.
Accessibility isn't easy. OpenAI's Sam Altman tweeted that opening ChatGPT to the public increased computing costs.
Each chat costs "low-digit cents" to process. OpenAI probably spends several hundred thousand dollars a day to keep ChatGPT running, with no immediate business case.
Academic researchers and others who developed GPT-3 couldn't afford it. Without resources to make technology accessible, it can't be used.
This dynamic is old. In the history of science, a researcher with a breakthrough idea was often overshadowed by an entrepreneur or visionary who made it accessible to the public.
We think of Thomas Edison as the inventor of the lightbulb. But really, Vasilij Petrov, Thomas Wright, and Joseph Swan invented the lightbulb. Edison made technology visible and accessible by electrifying public buildings, building power plants, and wiring.
Edison probably lost a ton of money on stunts like building a power plant to light JP Morgan's home, the NYSE, and several newspaper headquarters.
People wanted electric lights once they saw their benefits. By making the technology accessible and visible, Edison unlocked a hugely profitable market.
Similar things are happening in AI. ChatGPT shows that developing breakthrough technology in the lab or on B2B servers won't change the culture.
AI must engage people's imaginations to become mainstream. Before the tech impacts the world, people must play with it and see its revolutionary power.
As the field evolves, companies that make the technology widely available, even at great cost, will succeed.
OpenAI's compute fees are eye-watering. Revolutions are costly.
1 year ago
The world's 36th richest man uses a 5-step system to get what he wants.
Ray Dalio's super-effective roadmap
Ray Dalio's $22 billion net worth ranks him 36th globally. From 1975 to 2011, he built the world's most successful hedge fund, never losing more than 4% from 1991 to 2020. (and only doing so during 3 calendar years).
Dalio describes a 5-step process in his best-selling book Principles. It's the playbook he's used to build his hedge fund, beat the markets, and face personal challenges.
This 5-step system is so valuable and well-explained that I didn't edit or change anything; I only added my own insights in the parts I found most relevant and/or relatable as a young entrepreneur. The system's overview:
Have clear goals
Identify and don’t tolerate problems
Diagnose problems to get at their root causes
Design plans that will get you around those problems
Do what is necessary to push through the plans to get results
If you follow these 5 steps in a virtuous loop, you'll almost always see results. Repeat the process for each goal you have.
1. Have clear goals
a) Prioritize: You can have almost anything, but not everything.
I started and never launched dozens of projects for 10 years because I was scattered. I opened a t-shirt store, traded algorithms, sold art on Instagram, painted skateboards, and tinkered with electronics. I decided to try blogging for 6 months to see where it took me. Still going after 3 years.
b) Don’t confuse goals with desires.
A goal inspires you to act. Unreasonable desires prevent you from achieving your goals.
c) Reconcile your goals and desires to decide what you want.
d) Don't confuse success with its trappings.
e) Never dismiss a goal as unattainable.
Always one path is best. Your perception of what's possible depends on what you know now. I never thought I'd make money writing online so quickly, and now I see a whole new horizon of business opportunities I didn't know about before.
f) Expectations create abilities.
Don't limit your abilities. More you strive, the more you'll achieve.
g) Flexibility and self-accountability can almost guarantee success.
Flexible people accept what reality or others teach them. Self-accountability is the ability to recognize your mistakes and be more creative, flexible, and determined.
h) Handling setbacks well is as important as moving forward.
Learn when to minimize losses and when to let go and move on.
2. Don't ignore problems
a) See painful problems as improvement opportunities.
Every problem, painful situation, and challenge is an opportunity. Read The Art of Happiness for more.
b) Don't avoid problems because of harsh realities.
Recognizing your weaknesses isn't the same as giving in. It's the first step in overcoming them.
c) Specify your issues.
There is no "one-size-fits-all" solution.
d) Don’t mistake a cause of a problem with the real problem.
"I can't sleep" is a cause, not a problem. "I'm underperforming" could be a problem.
e) Separate big from small problems.
You have limited time and energy, so focus on the biggest problems.
f) Don't ignore a problem.
Identifying a problem and tolerating it is like not identifying it.
3. Identify problems' root causes
a) Decide "what to do" after assessing "what is."
"A good diagnosis takes 15 to 60 minutes, depending on its accuracy and complexity. [...] Like principles, root causes recur in different situations.
b) Separate proximate and root causes.
"You can only solve problems by removing their root causes, and to do that, you must distinguish symptoms from disease."
c) Knowing someone's (or your own) personality can help you predict their behavior.
4. Design plans that will get you around the problems
a) Retrace your steps.
Analyze your past to determine your future.
b) Consider your problem a machine's output.
Consider how to improve your machine. It's a game then.
c) There are many ways to reach your goals.
Find a solution.
d) Visualize who will do what in your plan like a movie script.
Consider your movie's actors and script's turning points, then act accordingly. The game continues.
e) Document your plan so others can judge your progress.
Accountability boosts success.
f) Know that a good plan doesn't take much time.
The execution is usually the hardest part, but most people either don't have a plan or keep changing it. Don't drive while building the car. Build it first, because it'll be bumpy.
5. Do what is necessary to push through the plans to get results
a) Great planners without execution fail.
Life is won with more than just planning. Similarly, practice without talent beats talent without practice.
b) Work ethic is undervalued.
Hyper-productivity is praised in corporate America, even if it leads nowhere. To get things done, use checklists, fewer emails, and more desk time.
c) Set clear metrics to ensure plan adherence.
I've written about the OKR strategy for organizations with multiple people here. If you're on your own, I recommend the Wheel of Life approach. Both systems start with goals and tasks to achieve them. Then start executing on a realistic timeline.
If you find solutions, weaknesses don't matter.
Everyone's weak. You, me, Gates, Dalio, even Musk. Nobody will be great at all 5 steps of the system because no one can think in all the ways required. Some are good at analyzing and diagnosing but bad at executing. Some are good planners but poor communicators. Others lack self-discipline.
Stay humble and ask for help when needed. Nobody has ever succeeded 100% on their own, without anyone else's help. That's the paradox of individual success: teamwork is the only way to get there.
Most people won't have the skills to execute even the best plan. You can get missing skills in two ways:
Others' (requires humility) light
On knowing what to do with your life
“Some people have good mental maps and know what to do on their own. Maybe they learned them or were blessed with common sense. They have more answers than others. Others are more humble and open-minded. […] Open-mindedness and mental maps are most powerful.” — Ray Dalio
I've always known what I wanted to do, so I'm lucky. I'm almost 30 and have always had trouble executing. Good thing I never stopped experimenting, but I never committed to anything long-term. I jumped between projects. I decided 3 years ago to stick to one project for at least 6 months and haven't looked back.
Maybe you're good at staying focused and executing, but you don't know what to do. Maybe you have none of these because you haven't found your purpose. Always try new projects and talk to as many people as possible. It will give you inspiration and ideas and set you up for success.
There is almost always a way to achieve a crazy goal or idea.
Enjoy the journey, whichever path you take.