Trust Disrupted

Techcrunch has created a six part mini series about bitcoin and the blockchain called Trust Disrupted. They will release one episode each day this week.

Here is the first episode:


Comments (Archived):

  1. JimHirshfield

    Video of the week already?

    1. jason wright

      The vlog rebranding inflection point has arrived? Daily blogging without exception must be a little exhausting after a good while. The daily flog slog?’Fiat Unbundled’ would work for me, but I’ll watch this vlog with great interest.

      1. Lawrence Brass

        What I like about this bar is the regular juice, don’t mind what is playing on the screen. Fred weekly is good enough, give the man a break. 🙂

      2. Girish Mehta

        ‘Fiat Unbundled’ – Hope you are not holding your breath for this.

        1. jason wright

          Well, the Bank of England finally introduced plastic notes this year (Freudian slip?), and so a meltdown may be next.

          1. Girish Mehta

            The Central Banks are past the point of no return in terms of salvaging the current post-Bretton Woods monetary system. It might linger longer than you expect, but end it will.The thing is – monetary systems have collapsed before. Painful, but the world does not end. The current system can collapse – and get replaced with a new form of Fiat. Thats my point. The current monetary system collapsing does not mean Fiat going away.

    2. William Mougayar

      Fred is in it.

      1. JimHirshfield

        …to win it.

        1. William Mougayar

          Is there another way?

    3. Mario Cantin

      It’s the mid-week video.

  2. Twain Twain

    It’s Vitalik of Ethereum’s comments around “decentralized automation” that causes concern. This idea of “you can run various kinds of process that is completely automated so you get huge efficiency gains and means no process can get corrupted by any one particular entity” is interesting given the $60 million DAO theft (a form of corruption to the system by human actions and by code) and Ethereum having to hard fork.Also …(1.) In AI, there are huge concerns the AI will become autonomous without human control, transparency and intervention. That’s why Google, IBM Watson, MS and others have created Partnership in AI and are trying to look into stop-loss functions, intervention and transparency of data flows and the code.(2.) The global financial crisis cost US households $22+ TRILLION in value loss, according to the Government Accountability Office, and the crisis was facilitated (network effects at its worst) by machines that automated trades in “black box” algorithms that not even its designers and engineers knew how exactly they worked (and still don’t know to this day).Only last week, the £ fell the most it has in 31 years and this may have been due to algorithmic automation.I agree with data and controls being “in the hands of the people” rather than monopolized by governments and banks.However, I’m mindful of algorithms whose automation may lead to processing efficiencies but may not lead to effective protection of human interests.There are missing pieces of the puzzle in “trust networks” — whether they be in AI or in blockchain — and that’s something I think about A LOT.

    1. William Mougayar

      Decentralized automation comes with some responsibility. If we don’t shoulder that responsibility, we get decentralized chaos.

      1. Twain Twain

        I shared a similar slide to this on Twitter previously. https://uploads.disquscdn.c…This has implications for loss recovery as well as reducing the risks of future global financial crisis.

    2. Joe Cardillo

      Do you think CS / engineering should require ethics training or education? I was just thinking about Hunter’s thing from yesterday on that —>

      1. Twain Twain

        In business school, two compulsory subjects are Law and Business Ethics. They’re tools to help business folks make good decisions and consider all the stakeholders involved.If the code / the algorithm / the AI is now making decisions (e.g., automated trading, writing articles, etc), then code engineers probably should have Ethics of Technology as a compulsory course in CS.Yesterday, this happened and it reflects a very real need for CS engineers to build systems that are more moral, ethical and representative:* https://uploads.disquscdn.c

        1. Joe Cardillo

          That really hammers home how important it is to include social sciences in any discussion of AI big picture. And there are so many predictors that are themselves attached to an array of other predictors, that you have to run a large number of experiments that aren’t automatically tinged by or tied to a specific business outcome.It also highlights how important basic science and research really is. I was at a national labs the other week and even the program manager there working on classified weapons upgrade was putting it in language of how to justify business outcome, and said that’s how nearly everything gets funded these days.

      2. Al Bunshaft

        Good discussion. The subject is potentially broader than your specific point. This committee of the National Academies, http://sites.nationalacadem… , is looking at the need to better integrate the arts, humanities and STEM in higher ed. The subject of requiring ethics education as part of accredited engineering, science and medical degree programs is a perfect example. Do we produce more capable and successful professionals through a broader education?

        1. Joe Cardillo

          That’s an interesting question – I graduated from a liberal arts college, so my training leans me towards a yes, but I’m no expert in that area.I guess the reason I see ethics, among other things, as a critical part of an engineering or CS education is that tech co’s are creating platforms for so many other kinds of companies.I’ve worked in a lot of different parts of a business, and I think even beyond the obvious things, like is someone working on something that feels low stakes to privacy and safety (e.g. ebook delivery tech) vs. higher stakes (e.g. mobile banking), there’s also more general, business culture and ethical debt that companies get into. And you can’t fix that stuff later on, it has to be something people are thinking about early and often.

    3. Lawrence Brass

      This is a favourite thought theme for me too.Was it 2011 when automated trading algorithms entered in resonance and had to shutdown? I will look for the link.The achilles heel of automation is the moment when automation, or AI if you wish, handles control back to a human operator. The AI-human interface must set up the correct context before yielding control of the process to humans and the human receiving the control must be aware and immersed in that context.Most of automation/AI failures originate at that crucial moment of process transfer. I understood this concept while reading David A. Mindell’s, “Our Robots, Ourselves” which I have quoted here before. In his book, Mindell tells the story about aviation accidents occurring when the autopilot disengage on its own, leaving the pilots clueless.I you extrapolate this phenomenon to automated trust handling, there is a moment in the trust chain when trust is handed back to a person or group. This is a crucial moment and I believe that process designers usually ignore or underestimate this moment, enchanted by the AI itself. What use can encapsulated trust have if it don’t has a proper interface with our imperfect and untrusted human world?

      1. Twain Twain

        THIS: “The AI-human interface must set up the correct context before yielding control of the process to humans and the human receiving the control must be aware and immersed in that context.”So in Alexa Skills and in Google Assistant Actions (which will open up to developers in Dec, apparently), there’s a constant loopback between human and machine.In the case of Blockchain and trade automation, once the “Buy / Sell” command is issued, the algorithm just runs.In the case of currency trades or even more complex financial instruments, the algo speeds through the number permutations faster than the human trader can say the words “STOP.”

  3. awaldstein

    Clarity combined with inspiration is the winning combo and anything that aspires towards that in understanding the possibilities of this is a good thing.

  4. Tom Labus

    $632 this morning. That’s some return from an 08 cent start.Banks will turn their blockchains into Dark Pools II

    1. pointsnfigures

      They will be all in when they figure that out.

    2. Twain Twain

      Exactly, see Jul 2016. But we know how Dark Pool I and subprimes worked out …https://uploads.disquscdn.c… .

  5. William Mougayar

    Anything that helps to explain bitcoin and the blockchain to the masses is a good thing! Some of you forget that between 1993-1996, few people really understood what the Internet/Web were about, and we had similar videos explaining what the Web was, including demonstrations of “Web surfing” as this aha thing.

    1. awaldstein

      Agree on all of these 100%.

    2. aminTorres

      Cannot wait for us to get to the point where we talk about the apps and services on the blockchain and stop talking about the blockchain itself. 🙂

      1. jason wright


    3. K_Berger

      William gave a great presentation about blockchain a couple of weeks ago at 1871 in Chicago. It was a well-attended event put together by Jeff Carter.Always nice to meet AVC people IRL.

    4. LE

      Anything that helps to explain bitcoin and the blockchain to the masses is a good thing!I just watched it. (For anyone interested Fred is at about 3.45 minutes in). Worth watching.With a “but”.While the info is here to make a interesting presentation, and gloss and productions values are high enough (sharp and clean, ntim btw), the final initial series product doesn’t do the material justice at all. At least for someone behind the curve on bitcoin [1] which should be the target audience [2]. It’s disjointed, skips around and (at one point) tries to bring a drug underground vibe into something that just ads to the mysteriousness which is actually the problem that needs to be solved with bitcoin. Whomever produced this was really proud of themselves I’m sure. [3]I actually almost bailed in the first minute by Nathan Popper (who talks way to slow for my taste being from the east coast). Only reason I didn’t was Fred posted it. Should have started with something a bit more engaging (you only have one chance to make a good first impression) and had Nathan speak at a later point. Maybe the drug dealer esq shots to start for example.[1] Meaning you or Fred know to much![2] Not the circle jerk crowd[3] As someone who in the past has been paid to do photography, I am reminded that the only thing people ever cared about was whether they personally looked good in the picture, not the creative or technical aspects of what I did. (This was back when photography required a darkroom for reference).

      1. Twain Twain

        I agree with you. Bitcoin’s a developer movement, based on changing code protocols to enable transactions to be registered across widely-distributed, securely-encrypted databases (ledgers).So the documentary should have opened with someone like Marc Andreessen, Paul Graham, Sir TBL or Vint Cerf saying the technology is like the Internet 3.0 followed by that consultant to R3 talking about its application in finance.Then Fred’s segment.I think the Italian developer (the one going into the shadowy basement) should have been the second last segment with a v/o: “From its grassroots origins as a transparent digital currency, what’s emerged is a movement and Blockchain technology that seeks to democratize transaction data and make that data available outside the walled gardens of any one government or technology monopoly.”That would be a more accessible story arc for Main Street whilst still being techie.

    5. mikenolan99

      Timing couldn’t be better – thanks for the time on the phone today William! If anyone wants to bounce ideas around blockchain applications ping me on Twitter.

  6. pointsnfigures

    Trust might be a good way to sell blockchain. I was at an event in Chicago last evening before the Cubs game. Michael Lewis was talking about it briefly.One interesting thing he said is when you have an industry that has a lot of “intuitive” decision making, there is a way to disrupt it or make a bet on efficiency.

    1. Tom Labus

      That’s investing.

  7. iggyfanlo

    Always good to educate… I hope that this mini-series addresses the key “blocking” issue (sorry for the pun) with blockchain/BTC… BTC is the sizzle, blockchain is the steak… if we can adequately separate those two concepts for the public, it will have been a success

  8. Susan Rubinsky

    And today in the NYT: Central Banks Consider Bitcoin’s Technology, if Not Bitcoin…

  9. awaldstein

    episodic storytelling.let’s see if they understand how to harness its power.few do in tech. corrections, no one really does.

    1. Lawrence Brass

      Heads down talking to machines consumes a lot of time and soul.Still in Europe?

      1. awaldstein

        nope back in ny