Video Of The Week: Albert On Decentralization And The Knowledge Age

My partner Albert gave this talk recently at The Blockstack Summit. He frames the crypto/blockchain movement in the context of a broader societal shift into the knowledge age.


Comments (Archived):

  1. Vendita Auto

    IMO the first half could be described as “Pain or Pleasure” the second half as “Obama or Trump”

  2. sigmaalgebra

    Yes, quite generally information technology and technology more generally can move the frontiers of cases of Pareto optimality. Okay.Values: Tough subject. Apparently in the past values came from a social contract, mostly implicit, that helped people in small communities be accepted into the community. The acceptance was from important up to crucial. E.g., in the Great Depression, in some small, poor communities, being not accepted by the community could push one close to or all the way to death. More generally, wanting to be accepted into a small group is one of the more important “motivations” (to draw from the lecture) in humans — gee, dogs, too, herds, and more.Blockchain: That may have some effects, e.g., from moving the frontier of Pareto optimality, but IMHO the main “motivation” now is just to make a buck, i.e., US dollars. IMHO soon the existing, strong world financial system, made stronger in attempts to stop illegal drugs, terrorism, and tax cheating, will severely throttle the more obvious financial applications of blockchain technology and, thus, leave that technology as something for niche applications outside of finance and small and not very important.So, I don’t see much connection between values and blockchains or much effect on the Pareto frontier of blockchains.Future and Knowledge Age: The big changes since the industrial revolution have been information technology (IT) and bio-technology.For the IT part, that has been from Moore’s law, optical fiber communications via small, solid state lasers, readily available infrastructure software, and the Internet.So, the IT has moved the Pareto frontier for gathering, transmitting, storing, and processing data. That work is related to “knowledge” something like wheat is related to pizza or cold rolled steel is related to cars! That is, that IT makes it easier to work with knowledge but is not knowledge itself.For the knowledge, again, as usual, we want to automate. Okay, from 50,000 feet up over here on the left we have IT and a lot of data and over here on the right we have a lot of real problems of people, society, etc. Now how do we use the data to solve the real problems? Well, we can do that work manually but we want to automate it. IMHO how to do that automation is the main bottleneck in moving from IT to a Knowledge Age.For “global warming”, f’get about it: The concern is just a flim-flam, fraud scam to scare a lot of people and, thus, get political and financial support for a global warming industry with about $1.5 trillion dollars a year in revenue, and, thus, lots of publicity efforts, as in, say,…This just in! After our “super El Nino”, now it’s cooler than when Gore won his Nobel prize in 2007. See…Where’s the “hockey stick?” I can’t find the hockey stick! Maybe the whole thing was just a small spelling error, the hooky stick on a day Al Gore skipped school!

  3. Michael Elling

    Motivation and Coordination. Which protocol stack has it?OSI:-request-indication-response-confirmTCP/IP:-listen-connect-send-receive-closeAs a 4, not 7, layer stack, TCP is missing key (economic) signals that provide incentives and disincentives for motivation and coordination. Why has it taken IPv6 2 decades to get to 30% penetration (and most of that because of mobility needs)? TCP/IP hatched out of an institutional framework based on trust and scaled on and arbitraged an inefficient voice business model and framework in the 1980s-90s. All the risk in the TCP/IP stack is moved from the send to the receive side. There is little balanced motivation and coordination.

    1. sigmaalgebra

      As I have programmed TCP/IP, we listen, accept, receive, and then if we wish send.

      1. Michael Elling

        “we wish”. Sender-centric. You don’t really care about receiver. You don’t really accept much risk.

        1. sigmaalgebra

          You lost me: A Web site waits for a user to ask for a TCP/IP socket connection and then sends a GET request to the Web server. The Web server does listen, accept, and receive. Then on the same TCP/IP socket connection, the Web server sends back in the HTTP syntax the HTML, CSS, etc. data.

          1. Michael Elling

            The web site is the receiver. The browser is permission-less send. Same like email doesn’t require permission to send. Only need to know address. Most of risk in the models is one-sided. Think of a world of endless cocktail parties with no invitations. You just show up and start shouting at anyone and everyone. Yup they are listening! Then you start stealing from them or beating them up. Funny, but that didn’t scale for humanity, nor will it for the current dominant protocol stack.

          2. sigmaalgebra

            Okay. You are at least sort’a right!Let’s see: Many cases of sending too many e-mail messages and not agreeing to stop is illegal. And with the standard e-mail header lines, the sender is well identified.Next, a receiver of unwanted e-mail messages can just delete such messages and, thus, basically waste only some Internet data rate.Next, for e-mail, it’s super tough to have an e-mail message be a threat — all that is being sent is just old ASCII characters. Even for attachments, as in Multimedia Internet Mail Extensions (MIME) or whatever it is, that’s in base 64 encoding and, again, essentially harmless. Receiving e-mail is just dirt simple: For my first Internet e-mail, I had some program that wanted to put an icon on my desktop for each e-mail message sent or received! The programmer had a super bad infection of Xerox PARC Icon Disease. So one afternoon I used the scripting language Rexx that has the TCP/IP sockets API to write my own e-mail to send/receive. It worked great — I used it for years. I changed to Outlook 2003 just to avoid having to do the base 64 decoding (I also used Rexx to write base 64 de/encoding). Actually, there’s a lot I prefer about what I wrote back then and may return to it and junk Outlook — the Outlook PST files, or whatever Microsoft uses for the e-mail data — are a total pain in the back side to work with, e.g., for letting me develop my own really good e-mail search tools.Sure, for a Web site, there can be distributed denial of service (DDOS) attacks. IIRC Akamai, etc. have ways to throttle those.So, I’m mostly lost on on the risks of the current Internet with TCP/IP.

          3. Michael Elling

            Kids under 20 avoid email like the plague. Actions speak louder than words. Throw the smallest micro-fraction of a cent into the TCP/IP send side and your cyber-security and spam threats will decline 80-95%. Throw a little more in from larger to smaller actors and IPv6 becomes 90% penetrated in 2 years. And/or new protocols will begin to burgeon to handle the complexities of ubiquitous 2-way HD video on the one extreme and IoT on the other.Oh and it’s not just economics but social (addressing) conventions as well. Ban the anonymity and overnight we’ll have more blogging, commenting and 50%-60% will be women.So many historical, accepted, communication conventions that TCP/IP throws out the window end up reducing greater network effects and social benefit because risk becomes imbalanced.

          4. sigmaalgebra

            > Throw a little more in from larger to smaller actors and IPv6 becomes 90% penetrated in 2 years.”Penetrated” in what sense? Why? Is there something serious wrong with IPv6?I’m not seeing serious botheration, problems, or threats from e-mail.It’s easy enough to cook up new protocols over TCP/IP now. E.g., on just one connection, just put some headers at the beginning of the messages and can have each of many programs on one side communicating with each of many programs on the other side. And, for more, can have more than one port doing the communicating. Web browsers already support asynchronous multi-threading with AJAX. So, two way video with some interactivity should be feasible enough now if there is enough data rate. And IIRC, video conference calls are doable now. For security, encrypt the packet contents and/or use proxy servers much as in TOR. I haven’t done anything with VPN, but that is standard stuff now. > Ban the anonymity and overnight we’ll have more blogging, commenting and 50%-60% will be women.What? Why? I’d think that if women were afraid of being known to the public, then they’d want anonymity.Gee, as far as anyone knows, I’m a trembling girl, 15, got a Ph.D. in applied math at age 12, and are blogging because I’m too ugly for dates!Gee, someone has to make the first call!

          5. Michael Elling

            See my point above about 2 decades to get to 30% penetration. If you don’t see a problem with that then you don’t realize how new services are not able to become rapidly ubiquitous. Why is this a problem? 3-fold: 1) missing out on greater network effects, so minimizing social (total) benefit, which hurts large and small actors alike, 2) not providing universal service, so the digital divide is growing, not declining, 3) technology (supply) obsoletes in days/weeks/months now, no longer quarters and years, so bizmodels don’t scale effectly. 3 big problems!I doubt many would agree with you on email. Huge spam, phishing attacks, etc… Hacking everywhere. Dominates political landscape. Sure, great medium! Heavy sarcasm.WRT ubiquitous 2-way HD video collaboration we’re about 10 years behind and 10x above where we should be in terms of price/performance to make it truly mass market and user friendly. Our networks are still in a kilo/mega model where they should be in a giga model end to end. And technology improves 50% or so every 18 months. So we’re falling behind all the time!As for anonymity, you will have the ability with a more OSI like stack to know who the sender is (therefore putting the risk on them) and giving the receiver more tools to block and filter. That’s why Facebook is so successful and Twitter not so much; of course that’s not the only reason.One other huge, huge benefit of sender pays/receiver controls model is the ability for the receiver to reverse the economic flows and subsidize or make access free. So ultimately nearly all communication sessions get subsumed into some commercial transaction. But what it really means is that marginal supply and demand clear much faster.Permission-less send (semantics, control, etc…) plus lack of economic incentives and disincentive is the biggest problem with the internet today. If you don’t agree then why does every justification for ICO/crypto begin with “trust”?So economic incentive = greater network effects. Economic disincentive = greater network effects. Everyone on this blog agrees that 6 companies control or dictate terms on the internet today. That’s a problem. And as more of a telecom and network analyst for 27 years who has tracked closely 4 generations of digital wireless and is looking at IoT business models all the time, I can tell you that 5G (without something like the iPhone) is DoA for the next 10 years. So where does that leave the edge and core actors and their business models? Big problems.Don’t confuse growth over the last 30 years in ICT and TMT networks and services domestically and globally with advancement. Arguably much of it was catch-up to 70 years of stultified growth due to inefficient regulation and market structures until Bill McGowan came along and changed everything. We took variously 4-7bn people from less than or not even 2.4kbs to 5000kbs nearly ubiquitously. Price/bit declined 99.9%. Looks great! But add at least 1, maybe 2, zeros at the same price point and that’s where we should be today…everywhere! And you have to add 1 zero every 18 mos. That’s the economics of networks. We’re not there and not even nearly in a position to achieve it. Just ask Google and Facebook who’ve been talking about it and doing it for the past 5+ years and getting nowhere.I am not saying to go back to the old structures and settlement systems. I believe we can achieve tremendous horizontal scale and infinite arrays of vertically complete solutions that will solve for all 3 problems above in a competitive, lightly regulated model via balanced (2-sided) settlements (and attendant protocol stacks). Anyway I’m signing off. Remember the first comment was about the important semantic and sociological differences between OSI and TCP and how that’s a human nature (demand side), not technological (supply side), thing. In the end, it’s all about balancing (and reducing collectively) risk.

  4. creative group

    CONTRIBUTORS:Excellent presentation.We have listened to the top thinkers and thought creators on the Blockchain and it appears it is still evolving and everyone is putting their own personal stamp on what they think it has become. We all still haven’t realized what the Blockchain will become and how it will eventually effect society because everyone has excepted it (GAFA).

  5. Michael Elling

    Ok, so blockchain doesn’t handle risk well, it doesn’t achieve balance and it results in winner takes all. Hmmmh. Oh, and its economics as a fully distributed database (power, latency, storage, etc…) are questionable, but that’s another matter.Firm, state and market are all networks. Nature and the universe are networks and inter-networks. Our bodies are an ecosystem of networks. All networks share similar characteristics, namely value grows geometrically and is captured at the top and core (centralization and market power), while costs grow linearly (and uniformly, although large marginal differences exist) and are borne at the edge and bottom of the informational stack. Pareto and Gaussian curves will always exist, but they can be maximized.The fully distributed crowd believes that they can spread the core value through protocol to cover the edge cost democratically: first TCP, now blockchain. It hasn’t happened and will not happen. What’s needed are “settlement systems” that equilibrate the spread between social benefit and private cost. Over 100 years ago we dealt with Universal Service issues and took a wrong fork in the road. 34 years ago we tried to get back on the right path but failed and are still failing.Nicolas Economides recognized this in his 1995-96 WP on The Economics of Networks, stating, “One interesting question that remains virtually unanswered is how to decentralize the welfare maximizing solution in the presence of network externalities.” He was asking, how do we ensure universal service in competitive markets?When queried recently if anyone has come close to answering this question he responded, “Not much progress because the issue is hard. You need an incentive-compatible (so people and companies do not misrepresent themselves) price discrimination schedule that takes into account network effects. Also network effects can be global (me adding myself to Facebook affects positively all others) or local (me adding myself to Facebook affects few people), so there can be many variations to the problem. I am pretty sure that a general analytical solution to this problem does not exist, but the problem can be solved for restricted classes of utility functions and specifications of network effects.”I believe market driven algorithms for maximizing social benefit in the face of network effects (externalities) exist and are within our grasp if we simply understand that the larger actor should pay the smaller actor a slightly large “terminating settlement” in any exchange. But this is anathema to conventional thinking that imbues our winner takes all society. These settlements mind you violate net neutrality; which I believe to be a farcical and contrived notion to begin with. Until we recognize that network theory and network effects drive everything and ensure the right protocol stacks and settlement systems are built (see the OSI vs TCP comment in this thread) we will continue to witness growing digital and wealth divides.

    1. SubstrateUndertow

      “Nature and the universe are networks and inter-networks. Our bodies are an ecosystem of networks”Being a bio-mimicry nut for the last 49 years kick started by James G. Miller’s “Living Systems Theory” 1978and Douglas R. Hofstadter’s “Gödel, Escher, Bach” 1979I cheer your recognition that human social and economic organizing principles are largely an extension/retread-scaling of the universal organizing principle i.e. coherent successively-layered platforms of level-mixed holographic network synchronization.Albert’s talk is a true organizational gem of bottom up instantiation of generic biologically-established network-organizing principles. It would be my contention that more formal efforts to distill/extract reusable bio-mimicry, network-organizing strategies as cheat-sheet-analogues could vastly accelerated the evolutionary trajectory/injection of this universal organizing principle into our social/economic reorganizational possibilities/LIMITS.Just a few applicable “living system”/”complex-adaptive-systems” universal mandatory attributes.- Distally distributive redundancy of functions- Massive intra-function and intra-level RELATIONALLY-LINKED….PURPOSE-DRIVEN-FEEDBACK synchronization (data driven regulation)- Adaptive RATIO-MODULATED network synchronized everything- INERTIA-DAMPED, LIMIT DEFINED everythingMaybe there is a fly in the network-synchronization magic ?Is there an evolutionary discontinuance in the trajectory of a universal network-synchronized organizing principles as it extends into the social/economic domain?I would make the case that when the penny in the currency of a network-syncronized platform of functions/building-blocks is in fact a highly volitional/cognitive/introspective/self-aware human-being driven by millions of years of evolutionary shorter-term proximal self-interest as its prime strategic survival directive there attends a monumental phase-shift/discontinuance in said network-organizing principle, analogue to classic vs quantum physics,Why ?Because the primary network-synchronized social component i.e. human-beings are far too behaviourally volitive. Lower levels of universal network-synchronized organizational evolution rely on stable platform components, atom, cells organisms. When you take time out of the formula there will always be an evolutionary gradient drift toward selecting out the more complex more environmentally adaptive as the triumphant colonizing/sustaining winner.Humans, on the other hand, as platform components in a network-synchronizedevolution are more like unstable atoms that can instantly cop volitional attitudes about every aspect of their situational stimulus-respose behaviours. Unstable atomic behaviours could not have supported network-synchronizational gradient evolutionary drift towards stable molecules and by extension on to stable cellular/organismic homeostasis.That is not to say that network-synchronized evolutionary organizing principles are not applicable to human social/economic organization just that they would need to be orders of magnitude more complex and self-refferencial to human volitional volatilities. Not to speak of the evolutionary shot-term myopic self-interest so fundamental to our base human knee-jerks.In short I am left pondering whether that volitional/cognitive/introspective/self-awareness, the very seed of human power and success, contains the seed of our own self-destructive limitation at surfing network-synchronized viral greatness?If our fundamental biological attributes limit our ability to effectively surf the full power of network-synchronizes social organization then we may well have reached our evolutionary hull speed.( or as your president would say “SAD”)

      1. Michael Elling

        My girlfriend constantly cites trends in the human condition which says technology is already winning and we are losing. Mankind is pretty unique in the cosmos in that we can project thought into intentional action (that means changing the future and the world around us). If we are a “natural force” then technology may well be another natural force (which is already working against us), as is the environment (which is already working against us), as are other living organisms (which are already working against us). Nature wants and demands balance; albeit with that generative disturbance you refer to. Hopefully with the right inter-networked (and actor) settlements north-south and east-west in the information stack providing incentives and disincentives we will better work with the other natural forces and evolve in a positive fashion. Incidentally, I’m not a human anatomy or biology expert (not even close) but I would say my informational stack as a referential tool can handle quite a bit of complexity.

  6. Twain Twain

    The thing I’m learning about Albert is that we agree at the macro-levels of Humanism rather than Homo Deus (that’s the terrain of singularity Immortals) but there are variances wrt “HOW DO WE ACTUALLY GET TO THE KNOWLEDGE AGE?!”The key variances are these:(1.) Albert believes in decentralization with purpose. The AI crew believe in “democratizing AI.” I believe in first making the data sets and models REPRESENTATIVE of human reasoning. This gets us to …(2.) Albert believes reasoning is anchored in the materialist rationality frameworks we inherited from the Enlightenment where emotions are separate from logic (and therefore not included in the deductive-inductive equations and models).Meanwhile, I’ve read from Professor Brian Uzzi, faculty director of the Kellogg Architectures of Collaboration Initiative, that researchers have learned that decisions and emotions are really tightly coupled. “What we found was this. When traders are low in emotional states, they’re very cool-headed, they tend to make bad decisions. They’re too slow in taking advantage of an opportunity in the market, and they tend to hold on to bad trades too long. Exactly what you don’t want to do. We also found that when they were in a very high emotional state, they did the same thing. When they were at an intermediate level of emotion, somewhere between being cool-headed and being highly emotional, they made their best trades.”https://insight.kellogg.nor…That means EMOTIONS ARE AS NECESSARY FOR OPTIMAL REASONING AS LOGIC. This then brings us to …(3.) Coordination by humanist values and intrinsic motivations. The problem with the tools of the Enlightenment are:(i.) They’re about measuring externally observed behaviors so have no scientifically-robust tool for measuring intrinsic (subjective) motivations.(ii.) They assume humans behave like machines and clockwork. Meanwhile, our values are also emotional, cultural and subjective.Programming humanistic values into a network structure would involve configuration of the algorithms. Now, in AI, we have this situation: “Scientists at the Department of Computer and Information Science at the University of Pennsylvania conducted research on how to encode classical legal and philosophical definitions of fairness into machine learning (see 1,2,3). They found that it is extremely difficult to create systems that fully satisfy multiple definitions of fairness at once. There’s a trade-off between measures of fairness, and the relative importance of each measure must be balanced.Replace the word ‘fairness’ with ‘justice,’ ‘liberty’ or ‘non-partisanship,’ and we start to see the challenge. Technologists may be unconsciously codifying existing biases by using data-sets that demonstrate those biases, or could be creating new biases through simple ignorance of their potential existence. Technologists should consciously remove these biases and encode laws, policies, and virtues, (shortened for our purposes to ‘values’), into machine learning systems. These values can be mathematized, but there will always be tradeoffs among different value that will have real-world impacts on people and society.The same Univeristy of Pennsylvania scientists found there can be a cost to fairness in machine learning. The penalty to a machine learning training rate from encoding fairness can be mild to significant depending on the complexity of the model. The cost of encoding virtues (and the benefits) must be balanced against the potentially lower costs of systems that are optimized without regard to values or bias. For a machine learning system that delivers ads for clothing, encoding values may not be worth the cost. But for a system that determines eligibility for food stamps or advises on criminal sentences, the cost of bias is severe and likely worth the expense of encoding values.”…So, as we can see, there are a number of incongruences in the systems that need to be solved (mathematically as well as legally, linguistically, economically).

    1. Michael Elling

      These 3 article more or less capture how winner takes all philosophies imbued in our socio-political and economic frameworks and unregulated or poorly regulated digital network effects have combined to create the current bizarre state of affairs and imbalance. But as one author points out, similar events have collided in the past with similar outcomes.Utopia Lost: America Went Haywire: Capitalism: I agree with much of the analysis, I don’t agree with Basic Income Guarantees, which like net neutrality, are rationalizations for flawed institutional structures and address the effects, not the root cause(s).All of this is because network theory and network effects are not well understood. That’s the greatest failure of economists who coined the term “network externalities”. They aren’t external, they are central to all economic theory! The reality is that networks (and information velocity) are the key to understanding how supply and demand are cleared. It has always been the case, only now with digital networks it is becoming quite apparent. It’s about how all risk is minimized or balanced. How we handle the future. The challenge today with all economic systems (as we live in an information economy) is that supply obsoletes rapidly (in some cases in nano-seconds), while demand is infinite and infinitely diverse. So what are the right business models that lead to sustainable and generative ecosystems? Quite a complex problem as Economides suggests. Anyway a last article to appreciate the dismal science: How Economics Became A Religion:

  7. Twain Twain

    As an observation, I’d have included spoken language as a carrier for knowledge. Writing was something that emerged around 2000 BC, according to what we know of cuneiform tablets. By comparison, it’s possible humans had a proto-spoken language since 200,000 BC.

    1. Michael Elling

      As always Twain, good points that most in the developer community miss or don’t know (clearly apparent in latest Google brouhaha). See my points about semantic differences between OSI and TCP here and on yesterday’s thread.

      1. Twain Twain

        Thanks and I find Professors and PhDs in AI have similar blind spots about semantics within settlement structures. And, to paraphrase Feynman, “Just because you can define something doesn’t mean you know its meaning or understand it.” Semantics for values exchange involving vanilla contracts with discrete prices or price bands and specified timelines for delivery are easy to write in code.Semantics related to subjective language in more complex contracts (see the Benchmark vs Kalanick case) are currently not possible to write. We simply don’t have the tooling.The Google brouhaha very neatly shows how the basis of dualism in Western philosophy created “them vs us” modes of debate which are divisive.The use of distribution curves and sliding scale of “N% of this gender is this” also speaks to the inadequacy of the tools to enable the establishment of “the truth”. https://uploads.disquscdn.c

  8. Twain Twain

    It’s great he highlighted the main limitation of blockchain to be the incompleteness of more complex contracts (well, I did say M&A transactions would be a way-off whereas vanilla IR-FX-type trades are easy to do) and conflict resolutions where subjective contingencies are involved.Quite frankly, there isn’t the compute power available yet. For the types of multi-dimensional variables involved in more complex transactions like M&A, we’d need quantum computers.

  9. William Mougayar

    At 14:00, Albert is not correct in his characterization of Steemit. Steemit has intrinsic characteristics against users that try to game it.

  10. Frank W. Miller

    The first 23 minutes are sort of like if Steve Jobs gave a TED talk. Slides with no words presenting lots of sort of semi connected historical ideas that are designed to lift the viewer into a frame of mind where we think we’re gonna get something really new and monumental. Then he gets to the punch line. Let’s give everybody UBI using cryptocurrency. Deflate. Sorry, but I’m a little disappointed. 23 minutes to get to that message.

    1. LE

      Albert needs to convene a focus group or actually one on one meetings with non-believers ‘the enemy’ in order to be able to formulate arguments for UBI that changes the opinion of the non-believers. Not to be able to change the opinion of those people but to be able to better formulate what will work with those types of people. Kind of like mock jury practice (instead of what is now jury selection).This is in other words to reveal hot buttons. Same could be said about people on the side of climate change or the opposite. Everyone keeps just repeating the same argument without putting much effort into what might actually work to change the mind of someone on the other side (whatever that side may be).One of the worse thing in sales is saying things that don’t matter to a particular buyer all it does is make them dig in and less likely to buy what you are saying.

      1. Matt A. Myers

        The way I envision UBI working is everyone in the world is given “$100,000” in value, maybe have a cap per immediate family to limit abuse of having a ton of babies before it’s implemented. Then let the poorest parts of the world organize and coordinate with the riches parts who have the knowledge and experience, and that wealth is transferred through services and such wherever it is most efficient. That is how we can elevate everyone to a higher quality of life. The problem to solve and educate before then is the platform in which this happens. We already know about things like industrial complexes that inevitably form and will continue and strengthen if this amount of resources was released into the world. That platform as a monitor and policy would have to be in place before the behaviours would have fuel added to them.Edit to add: I’ve always wondered what thoughts the general population would generate by hearing that idea – their questions, concerns, etc.

        1. LE

          Well that is much to complicated – it’s not a simple enough message.Also what do you do if “I don’t care about anyone but me?”

  11. LE

    Facebook sucking up your time that you will never get back.An example of legalized addiction with no formal and widely acceptable support group or laws to protect anyone. [1] Not seen for the harm on society that it creates. Especially and ironically in children. Which has got to be the most overprotected group in history. For all sorts of things that actually don’t matter and are often invented and enforced for religious and puritanical concerns that even vary by state and country.[1] And people would say ‘of course we couldn’t do that’ because it’s a soft and non-obvious long term harm instead of an obvious acute harm.

  12. LE

    Motivation is also secured by getting people off the fence of indecision. One way you get people off the fence is to give them a deadline to make an decision and for a choice to not be open ended and good at a future date. As with anything you would get diminishing returns if you overplayed this and also if it was recognized as being used to control behavior and not (for lack of a better way to put it) organic. Has to be based on something that seems believable. [1] Believably varies with the target and their sophistication and past history.[1] It’s not enough to say why the offer is only good ‘today’. You have to say why the offer is only good today.

  13. JLM

    .OK, so the blockchain killer app is some sort of crypto-currency Basic/Universal Income Guaranty?Really?JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

    1. sigmaalgebra

      IIRC it was for the whole world or some such. We’re talking the height of globalism?

    2. JamesHRH

      If you think though the value chain, crypto could possibly connect, via conversion, very small value stores, generated by very low value but very high volume transactions, through a wallet (like Coinbase) to larger store of value (say, USD).Its never going to transact high value goods. Why would you risk being held at digital gun point by miners when you can have an 3P guarantor like credit card company or a bank?

  14. sigmaalgebra

    On the remark in the video that a VC would not fund a startup to take on a big, essentially monopoly, like Facebook:Okay, in simple terms and without more details, that sounds wise, but we might look a little deeper:Some of the big monopolies go for years and years neglecting potentially important, closely related parts of their business. They are big and successful so they are able to neglect and do.So, a startup does a good job on what the monopoly is neglecting. Then, sure, first cut, it looks like the big monopoly will right away set up a team to duplicate or equal the work of the startup. Surprise! And may I have the envelope, please? And the result is: Commonly the big company doesn’t do that. IBM, Microsoft, Google, …, commonly don’t do that. Instead, commonly they buy out the startup and, maybe, shut it down, operate it as a subsidiary, or really modify their main product to blend in, include, the startup. E.g., Microsoft bought HotMail. Microsoft could have programmed something like HotMail in a few weeks; still they bought it. Google bought YouTube; Google could have programmed something like YouTube in a few weeks, yet they bought it instead. IBM bought bought lots of little companies, e.g., Tivoli when IBM already had NetView and research in the work of Tivoli. Indeed, one view of IBM is that they are, from an IBM executive, “a marketing company”. So, they don’t want to build. Instead, if they see a little company with a product/service IBM could fold into its product line and sell with its marketing force and make good money, e.g., have the marketing grow the revenue and earning especially quickly, then IBM might do that.There are plenty of reasons a big company would rather buy than build, even if in principle building for them would be easy.But, wait, there’s more! Sure, a huge fraction, nearly all, of current information technology (IT) products and services are 100% just routine software for routine automation of work easy enough to understand and do routinely manually. So, e.g., take the old library card catalog subject index, sort the items on a gross measure of popularity, program that in a lot of C++ code, have a simple, polished, fast user interface, scale that to a huge size, e.g., for electrical power take over a bend in the Columbia River, put up a building of a million square feet or so, have some high end HVAC, draw electrical power from Bonneville Dam on the Columbia River, and, presto, bingo, get a company worth $500 billion.But there is no law saying that all such things have to be only routine! Instead, it may be that the startup has some crucial, core, original, advanced, trade secret (secret sauce), enabling technology that the big company is not able to duplicate or equal. Or, the big company just doesn’t have a middle manager who understands that technology or even small parts of it and, thus, very much doesn’t want to bet his career on being successful duplicating or equaling that technology; and each such middle manager reports to another middle manager who also has fears about sponsoring a project that is likely to fail. Those fears go up the management organization chart to the CIO, CTO, CEO, and BoD, with fiduciary responsibility for not wasting money. So, as everyone involved wants to cover their back sides, their decision is to buy, not build, or maybe just hope the startup goes away. Or maybe attack the startup with nuisance law suits, etc.Basically no executive in the big organization wants to execute, sponsor, or approve an attack that failed. Failed? That can be a sign “kick me” on the back of any such executive — such a failure could cost them their career.And, we should note: The startup is doing something the monopoly is neglecting and only “related” to what the monopoly is doing and, thus, is not in direct competition with the monopoly. So, it’s easy enough for the monopoly just to ignore the startup. Also anti-trust lawyers might be able to find some other reasons the monopoly needs to be careful whose toes they stomp on.And, then, if the monopoly has been so flush with extra money so long that they no longer much care about the business and, instead, push to the top of their TO DO lists lots of highly peripheral stuff, e.g., bitter internal wars about, say, just to pick at topic at random, just absurd cases of political correctness gone bonkers and wack-o, then for the startup “no worries, mate”!Standard Law of the Universe: They are back there. They have been there for a long time. There are still there. And they are patient. They are back there in the woodwork. They are like Tardigrades, able to remain dormant, bone dry, in the vacuum of outer space, at close to 0 K, for years, and come out and flourish when an opportunity is present. And the Tardigrades are not the worst: The ones back in the woodwork will make a case or cook up a case, e.g., the threat of evil humans releasing dangerous CO2 and, thus, destroying the planet with “global warming”, whenever possible — against destroying the good ozone, the bad ozone, damming rivers, air conditioning working fluids, carefully bred crops, fracking, etc. For anything visible to a lot of people, there are other people able to scream “sin, danger, threat” and get rich — private planes, limos, 100′ house boats, big houses, etc.So, it’s easy for a too-rich monopoly to get distracted by such nonsense. Their nonsense, anxiety, paranoia, political correctness, wack-o, bonkers nonsense, etc. are part of a startup’s opportunity!

    1. Matt A. Myers

      I have to assume he meant a direct competition to Facebook, though that isn’t a great example. Would he have used MySpace as his example if he was making this talk earlier? You could say they were competitors, though they didn’t really look like direct competitors. Whatever is to replace Facebook may not really look like Facebook, just like Facebook didn’t look like MySpace.

      1. sigmaalgebra

        Thanks.I can’t comment on the MySpace v Facebook thingy: Yup, a friend wouldn’t let go until I got the DVD of the movie, IIRC, The Social Network, and watched it, which I did a few times and concluded that it was way too superficial.But the movie mentioned MySpace a lot and had Zuck saying over and over that Facebook was very different. But I never connected to MySpace and know just nothing about it. For Facebook, I used it to connect with some people in the family of a girl I dated when I was 14-15, have used it for nothing else, and in total have made very little use of it.So, what the heck was wrong with MySpace? How the heck is Facebook so much better? How is Facebook any good at all? E.g., whenever I use it, the screen keeps showing something for 1-2 seconds, jumps to a totally different screen, loads very slowly, eventually starts to settle down, still often jumps away from what I’m still reading, and has actions I don’t understand at all. E.g., if I use the mouse to send the keyboard focus to the Facebook connection, no telling what the heck big screen changes Facebook will do. Facebook seems to have lots of features, and I don’t understand hardly any of them. Basically I just don’t know how Facebook works at all; in particular, I have no idea who can see what on Facebook, e.g., how their privacy/security works. And I don’t see where they are getting significant revenue. But then I’ve not spent hours and hours exploring Facebook. No, in terms of the movie, I don’t find it “addictive”. With all of that, just how Facebook can be so successful, even how people put up with Facebook at all, I don’t get. And how Facebook could kill off MySpace, or anything, I don’t see at all clearly.But, if the pain in the back side Facebook user interface/experience that bad can be so successful, then great news for my startup!

  15. LE

    The example that I give of ‘altruism going out the window’ (when you introduce money into a system) is how an attorney will do pro bono work (no fee) but not do the same work for $200 per hour (arbitrary).Likewise a friend will help you move just for pizza but not if you offer to pay them $15 per hour.There is a counter example of altruism though. It’s not always appreciated.A neighbor is a dentist who helped me a few weeks ago and refused to take my payment. And I really tried to say I wanted to pay him. It was for something he typically and obviously charges for as a dentist. And it’s not like he doesn’t need the money either. He was just (he thought) being neighborly. And nice. And ‘it’s what you do’.I didn’t like it and argued with him. I wanted to pay. Why? Not because I wanted to avoid a favor in return. Not because I want to throw out money. So why? Because I want to be able to use him in the future and I want to not feel as if I am imposing on him. I don’t want a favor I want a valuable service. (And I want to avoid driving an hour to the dentist that I would normally use. And this isn’t even a regular occurrence and actually the first time I needed him.)

    1. Matt A. Myers

      It’s essentially the concept of daana, where a person isn’t charging a fee, however you can contribute/donate what you can afford or feel something is worth. That’s one reason I like sliding scales for payment. If I’m poor I’d pay the minimum, if I’m equivalent to a billionaire then I’d hope I’d pay the top end of the range – or more; is it a problem if we have people with so much excess wealth to do such a thing, I don’t know – IMHO likely not a problem so long as everyone else has a minimum high quality of life.

      1. LE

        If I’m poor I’d pay the minimum, if I’m equivalent to a billionaire then I’d hope I’d pay the top end of the range – or moreA better way to state this (in a business or organization) is to set the price at $x and then allow exceptions in some fashion to pay less than $x.Planned parenthood and some therapists work this way. Also synagogues with membership fees and I am sure a host of other places.Otherwise it comes across often as people feeling like they are paying more than they have to instead of people who can’t afford getting a break. Subtle difference but it matters.

  16. OurielOhayon

    Excellent video. Bottom line: not everything can be coded. Not everything should be coded

  17. Ronnie Rendel

    yet another excuse for my neo-socialist rant – one day in the not so distant future we will be less citizen of a geopolitical community (States), and more becoming members of several decentralized communities with differing societal “give and takes”. This will happen, and it will be a function of the Age of Knowledge which we are in its infancy.Of course for that to happen, we need an end to wars (real or perceived) as they are still the best business in town, keeping us all holed up under a “flag” that will supposedly protect us from our sworn enemies. LOL.My second favorite rant – what role will VCs play in this progress in the future? Very little if any.