Quick links (#23)

It’s Xi Jinping’s China now, and Marx still matters. Advances and obstacles on China’s new global networks. Ominous indications from the banks (but also inner metal). China’s ISIS connection. What the Great Firewall actually does.

World conflict trends. Chaos in Argentina. Horror in Pakistan. Ruble rubble. Pluto-net (relevant, plus).

Terrorism works (even when the story is seriously confusing). The CIA torture playlist. Pirate revenge in Sweden (plus defiance from Tor, under pressure).

Automation, and the educational front, stimulation and skepticism. More on the speed, penetration, and strange history of automation. I, for one, welcome our new machine lords. (SRMs.)

Continue reading

Speaking Personally …

Under the compulsion of formality, complex legal-administrative codes have no option but to make space for the future.

FinCEN’s crucial (and still incompletely digested) guidance note on virtual currencies, issued March 18, 2013, clarifies in a footnote (#2):

FinCEN’s regulations define “person” as “an individual, a corporation, a partnership, a trust or estate, a joint stock company, an association, a syndicate, joint venture, or other unincorporated organization or group, an Indian Tribe (as that term is defined in the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act), and all entities cognizable as legal personalities.”

There’s plenty of room already for almost anything to slither in. (Follow the DAO.)

On the Table

Pierre Rochard’s essay on ‘The Bitcoin Central Bank’s Perfect Monetary Policy’ presents an impressively cogent case for the superiority of Bitcoin over not only slimy government fiat scrip (boo hiss), but even over precious metals. One table, in particular, deserves to be committed to heart by anyone making systematic three-way comparisons:


It’s difficult to run through this and see anything less than a fundamental rupture in social history. When compared to Bitcoin, only proto-money has ever yet existed.

Continue reading

Edited Life

Leonard Eisenberg has created a striking new visualization of the tree of life.


It’s open about the skew: “All the major and many of the minor living branches of life are shown on this diagram, but only a few of those that have gone extinct are shown.”

Extinction is overwhelmingly the deep reality, compared to which the survival of species — the selected phenomenon — is scarcely more than a rounding error. Through a reflexive, lucid, secondary selection the culled, blasted, and gnawed tree of terrestrial life is edited into the attractive flowering shrub we see in the diagram. It shows us what our illusion looks like in detail.

Survivor or selection bias is a hugely important frame. It absorbs the whole of anthropic reasoning in principle. To produce a display of life on earth that realistically incorporated it would require overcoming a range of psychological and epistemological obstacles so profound they reach the very root of the biological enterprise and even human intelligence as such, but only then would we truly see where we come from.

Quotable (#53)

Relayed for near-future reference:

[Former deputy director of China’s central bank, the People’s Bank of China (PBOC)] Wu Xiaoling is also a current member of the National People’s Congress Standing Committee as well as the dean of the Tsinghua University Wudaokou Finance College in their world renowned School of Economics and Management (Tsinghua SEM). In her presentation and speech, full text available [in Chinese] here, Wu … said: “Private digital money can coexist with government money. […] Coexistence of private money and government money will be a normal part of our world.”

Though Wu did not specifically mention Bitcoin (比特币) in her presentation and speech, she made it clear that her uses of the words “private digital money,” “virtual money,” and “algorithmic money” were referring to Bitcoin during the panel discussion, which involved Chinese Bitcoin exchange Huobi’s CEO Leon Lin. Wu ended her speech on this salient note: “A new value transfer network based on open-source, distributed information technology will reduce costs and increase efficiency; it is worthy of exploration and development.”

Following the revealing words, Huobi posted the news to the Bitcoin subreddit and reminded the world that Wu is China’s “highest-ranking government official to have made such positive public statements about bitcoin.” Though, the National People’s Congress’s secondary position in Chinese politics relative to the Chinese Communist Party’s does tell us that Bitcoin education still has a ways further to advance within China’s government. Regardless, Wu’s words are a monumental development for the still-strong Chinese Bitcoin community.

(Compare and contrast.)

ADDED: Highly relevant commentary.

Quick links (#22)

Chinese inflation, grand strategy, and anti-corruption. Hebei told to clean up. Market turbulence. A post-capital economy? Hong Kong and loyalty. Changi biodome.

Urbanization and inequality. 1WTC is the most expensive building in the world.

Don’t trust economists (even if they’re well informed or objective). The stagnation quandary. Economic impacts of foreign policy and demography. A bubble in the US shale patch?

Difficult times for Venezuela (more, and more). Metamorphosis of Mecca. Cyberwar in Turkey. North Korean hackers. Europe‘s new ‘arc of instability‘. Mesopotamian miseries (1, 2, 3).

Tech-regulation arbitrage. Commercial experimentation at Amazon. AI on the blockchain. Nanotech meets 3D-printing. Memristor update. A path to quantum transistors? BitQuest. Internet decentralization through Project Maelstrom and Ethereum. Skype translator on the way. Attending to the unconnected. AI net nannies. Accelerating AI (more). The week in cyberpanic. What, me worry? Security challenge.

Continue reading