A useful currency should be a medium of exchange, a unit of account, and a store of value. Cryptocurrencies excel at the first, but as a store of value or unit of account, they’re pretty bad. You cannot be an effective store of value if your price fluctuates by 20% on a normal day. This is where stablecoins come in. Stablecoins are price-stable cryptocurrencies, meaning the market price of a...
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Cryptocurrencies, ICOs, magic internet money—it’s all so damn exciting, and you, the eager developer, want to get in on the madness. Where do you start? I’m glad you’re excited about this space. I am too. But you’ll probably find it’s unclear where to begin. Blockchain is moving at breakneck speed, but there’s no clear onramp to learning this stuff. Since I left Airbnb to work full-time on blockchain, many people...
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2017 draws to a close. It’s been my third year earning-to-give, and another year full of changes. At various points this year I seriously considered starting a company. This made me ask myself: does it still make sense to donate a third of my income this year if I’m considering something that risky? It’s all well and good to donate money, but maybe it makes sense to do it later...
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Cryptocurrencies have a trust problem. Blockchain evangelists claim that with the advent of Bitcoin, centralized authorities and financial institutions will soon become obsolete. Blockchain technology will run the world and corruption will be engineered out of existence. Society will become “trustless.” Ironically, the vast majority of people still don’t trust cryptocurrencies. [video] The evangelists claim those people don’t understand the technical innovations behind blockchains. (As though a lecture on consensus...
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It wasn’t too long ago that Silicon Valley scoffed at cryptocurrencies. All over coffee shops in Mountain View and Menlo Park, you heard the same conversation: “Sure, it’s cool technology, but when are we going to see the killer app”? A few merchants dipped their toes into accepting Bitcoin in 2014. But adoption largely backed off. I remember seeing a few Bitcoin ATMs in Austin, and then they disappeared. Bitcoin...
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Yesterday, a hacker pulled off the second biggest heist in the history of digital currencies. Around 12:00 PST, an unknown attacker exploited a critical flaw in the Parity multi-signature wallet on the Ethereum network, draining three massive wallets of over $31,000,000 worth of Ether in a matter of minutes. Given a couple more hours, the hacker could’ve made off with over $180,000,000 from vulnerable wallets. But someone stopped them. Having...
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Imagine you didn’t need to trust a stranger to make a deal with them. Imagine you didn’t need to trust your bank to deposit your money there. Imagine you didn’t need to trust your government to know it was being just and fair. What would happen? It would change the world. This is precisely the promise of blockchains. Cryptocurrencies, which are built on blockchains, are all over the press these...
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I have no self-control. Luckily, I know this about myself. This allows me to consciously engineer my life so that despite having the emotional maturity of a heroin-addicted lab rat, I’m occasionally able to get things done. Mm, a waste of time! I waste a lot of time on Reddit. If I want to procrastinate on something, I’ll often open a new tab and dive down a Reddit-hole. But sometimes...
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I was originally planning to write this post reflecting on 2016 and my year-end donations (I know, better late than never). But given the political climate in the U.S. right now, I’m feeling pretty shaken. I don’t usually write about politics, but I decided I needed to share a few thoughts. [video] First, donations. [Note: for those who don’t know my background; I am an effective altruist, and I earn-to-give....
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I just came home from a vow of silence at a meditation center in northern California. It’s a strange feeling coming back to city life after five days of silent meditation. Looking around at puffing joggers, Christmas wreaths, eager couples waiting outside restaurants, the stop and start of traffic—it’s almost too much for my senses. The last time I took a vow of silence was 5 years ago. It lasted...
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