What r/fatFIRE can learn from the book, Psychology of Money
My favorite author, Morgan Housel, released his new book, The Psychology of Money, last week. In the book, Housel discussed many interesting psychological phenomenon, through the lens of finance. As I flipped through the pages, I started to realize so much of what's happening in fatFIRE are examples of what's discussed in the book. No One's Crazy The book begins with how your personal experiences with money make up maybe 0.000000001% of what's happened in the world, but maybe 80% of how you think the world works. For example, if you were born in 1970, the S&P 500 increased almost 10-fold, adjusted for inflation, during your teens and 20s. That's an amazing return. If you were born in 1950, the market went literally nowhere in your teens and 20s adjusted for inflation. Two groups of people, separated by chance of their birth year, go through life with a completely different view on how the stock market works. Takeaways forfatFIRE: When you read other posts and comments about what stocks to buy, what startups to join, what's the economy going to be like, what's the best asset allocation, etc., remember that is just a single person's point of view. That person may be from a different generation, earns different incomes, upholds different values, keeps different jobs, and has different degrees of luck. And remember, don't be mean to others. A view about money that one group of people thinks is outrageous can make perfect sense to another. Luck & Risk The next chapter discusses the big role luck and risk plays in someone's life. Luck and risk are two sides of the same coin. Examples from the book: Countless fortunes (and mistakes) owe their outcomes to leverage. The best (and worst) managers drive their employees as hard as they can. "The customers are always right" and "customers don't know what they want" are both accepted business wisdom. The line between "inspiringly bold" and "foolishly reckless" can be a millimeter thick and only visible with hindsight. Risk and luck are doppelgängers. Takeaways forfatFIRE: Be careful who you praise and admire. That commenter who joined a unicorn at Series A may look like a genius on the outside, but they may just be lucky and cannot repeat it again. Be careful who you look down upon and wish to avoid becoming. That poster who joined WeWork may look like a fool, but they made the best decision based on the information they had at a time. They took a risk and got unlucky. Therefore, focus less on specific individuals and case studies and more on broad patterns. Furthermore, when things are going extremely well, realize it's not as good as you think -- like the stock market right now. On the other hand, we should forgive ourselves and leave room for understanding when judging failures -- like the stock market in March. Never Enough The hardest financial skill is getting the goalpost to stop moving. It gets dangerous when the taste of having more -- more money, more power, more prestige -- increases ambition faster than satisfaction. Social comparison is the problem here. A rookie baseball players who earns $500k a year envies Mike Trout who has a 12-year, $430 million contract envies a hedge fund manager who makes $340 million a year envies Warren Buffett who had a $3.5 billion increase in fortune in 2018. There are many things never worth risking, no matter the potential gain. Reputation is invaluable. Freedom and independence are invaluable. Friends and family are invaluable. Being loved by those who you want to love you is invaluable. Happiness is invaluable. And your best shot at keeping these things is knowing when it's time to stop taking risks that might harm them. Knowing when you have enough. Takeaways forfatFIRE: When you make a big gain, it's totally okay to take profit, as long as you keep your ambition down and acknowledge the possibility that it may go higher. If that happens, no need to play the would've should've could've game, because it very well might've gone the other way. When you see someone who got 20x return on Shopify or bet big into Ethereum in 2016, remember they may envy the pre-IPO employees at Shopify or the genius who held Bitcoin since 2010. At the end of the day, do not risk more than what's comfortable in your life for the sake of making huge amount of money, because even if you do make it, you may not find it worth it. Tails, You Win Skipping a few chapters to talk about the prominence of tail events. At the Berkshire Hathaway shareholder meeting in 2013 Warren Buffet said he's owned 400 to 500 stocks during his life and made most of his money on 10 of them. Charlie Munger followed up: "If you remove just a few of Berkshire's top investments, its long-term track record is pretty average." In 2018, Amazon drove 6% of the S&P 500's returns. And Amazon's growth is almost entirely due to Prime and Amazon Web Services, which itself are tail events in a company that has experimented with hundreds of products, from the Fire Phone to travel agencies. Apple was responsible for almost 7% of the index's returns in 2018. And it is driven overwhelmingly by the iPhone, which in the world of tech products is as tail--y as tails get. And who's working at these companies? Google's hiring acceptance rate if 0.2%. Facebook's is 0.1%. Apple's is about 2%. So the people working on these tail projects that drive tail returns have tail careers. Takeaways forfatFIRE: When we pay special attention to a role model's successes we overlook that their gains came from a small percent of their actions. That makes our own failures, losses, and setbacks feel like we're doing something wrong. When you accept that tails drive everything is business, investing and finance you will realize that it's normal for lots of things to go wrong, break, fail and fall. If you are a good stock picker you'll be right maybe half the time. If you're a good business leader maybe half of your product and strategy ideas will work. If you're a good investor most years will be just OK, and plenty will be bad. If you're a good worker you'll find the right company in the right field after several attempts and trials. And that's if you're good. Freedom The highest form of wealth is the ability to wake up every morning and say "I can do whatever I want today." The ability to do what you want, when you want, with who you want, for as long as you want, is priceless. It is the highest dividend money pays. Research has shown having a strong sense of controlling one's life is a more dependable predictor of positive feelings of wellbeing than any of the objective conditions of life we have considered. People like to feel like they're in control -- in the drivers' seat. When we try to get them to do something, they feel disempowered. Rather than feeling like they made the choice, they feel like we made it for them. So they say no or do something else, even when they might have originally been happy to go along. Takeaways forfatFIRE: Most of you probably are working thought-based and decision job, your tool is your head, which never leaves you. You might be thinking about your project during your commute, as you're making dinner, while you put your kids to sleep, and when you wake up stressed at three in the morning. You might be on the clock for fewer hours than you would in 1050. But it feels like you're working 24/7. If this feels like you, and you do not like it, it is totally fine to switch to a job that pays less but gives you more freedom and independence, because freedom and independence are what FatFire is all about. --- I'm only half way into the book, but I can tell this will be one of the best finance book of 2020. If you guys find this useful, happy to come back next week with more insights once I've gotten to the end. I like talking about these things on Twitter too. Edit: here's part 2 and here's a Twitter thread of the best snippets
[CW: emotional outpouring] I (22 y.o.) just found out that my cousin, who visited us last night to drink with my brother (29 y.o.), tested positive for COVID-19. I am currently living with my mother (57 y.o.) and her boyfriend (55 y.o.) supposedly to hide from the pandemic that's currently on our doorstep. I want to blame people. Isn't that natural? I mean, I have grown hoarse admonishing my older brother for hosting family members in our house but he and my mum keep colluding to break all my quarantine precautions. Why? I don't know. Maybe it's in our blood to be disagreeable. Maybe it's because I'm the Weird Science Kid who does everything out of weirdness. No one listens to me in this house. I have lost all semblance of persuasion points ever since the pandemic started and now I can't get any of them back. (I would like to mention that we do not live in the US so this is not a Culture War-related thing. It's just that, I live in a third world country where "honor thy father and mother" is the national motto.) So, cool. My brother is the kind of person who has never taken any responsibility whatsoever for the consequences of his actions. He has weaseled his way out of child support and has somehow lived on allowances from his neverending stream of girlfriends since 2012. I get it. Maybe it's a coping thing, 'cause we both have ADHD but I'm the only one who bothered to get himself diagnosed. My mum and her boyfriend support us on a household income of $8200 a year. But y'know, economics is magic and somehow we have a roof over our heads with running water six days a week. I know why she's going with everything my brother is doing. Because...she's given up. In my country, when you fire someone you are bound by law to compensate them an amount that scales linearly with the amount of time they've been with the company. Unless the employee willingly resigns that is, so what a lot of employers do is to target employees who they want to quit until they give up. My mum, being almost of retirement age (which would entitle her to yet another round of compensation which her employer understandably doesn't want to pay) is currently undergoing this treatment, and has had five or six breakdowns in the last two weeks alone. So yeah, she doesn't have enough emotional bandwidth to deal with all this. And well, her boyfriend is dutifully keeping out of our squabbles because, hell, why the fuck do you need to discipline a 29 year old? Now, I didn't use to live with my family. Back in March, I had a place to myself, but the pandemic encroached too quickly and I had to flee. Was that irresponsible? Maybe. When I was five, my kidneys failed and my entire body swelled up like a balloon. Since then I've been in and out of clinics until I decided to take up swimming in college. That, plus my asthma has made me a care a little bit about my own prospects when push comes to shove. I have moved at least three more times since then, often within two hours of hearing about a gross violation of quarantine or a new case nearby. I have grown tired, and my savings are dwindling. But y'know, you gotta continue living so here we are. Now you might think, "OP, you're doing all right. You're a STEM major who knows how to code. Why don't you apply to remote jobs so you can keep yourself afloat?" The trouble is, I...never actually finished my degree. Instead, in my junior year I founded a startup. "Cool, so you're rich?" "Nope, but I did get a PC out of it." I'm sorry, folks. I didn't say I was good at money. Y'know, I even had the chance to invest 2000 USD on Bitcoin a couple of months before it went kaput but like most of you here, I failed. Let's think about my options here. On one hand, medicine marches constantly and there's going to be a huge financial incentive to figure out how to treat CFS after all this. Furthermore, there is a tiny but still nontrivial chance that we're going to solve longevity within our lifetimes, so what's 25-30 years of suffering for potentially thousands of years, right? On the other hand, there's eleventy-seven reasons why you can't be part of that Eternal 10000. Stem cell therapy today costs up to $50000/year and it's not like we have powerful financial incentives pointed at living longer. And the thing is, I'm seeing inpatient COVID-19 costs here hovering around $40 000 per individual. There are three of us in the house who are highly susceptible, and to be honest with meager salaries even ONE case is enough to bankrupt all of us . So anyway, two years ago I left my previous startup to look for greener pastures. I found it in February, when someone believed in me enough to (angel) invest in me! So I founded a new startup because I have to make him whole, right? Let's face it, I still live in a third-world country. No matter how smart I am or how good I am at programming, the fact that I haven't finished my degree means I'll have a decades-long uphill battle to immigrate to a decent country AND that's if I'm going to be healthy after all this is over. Who's going to hire a doubly disabled person who can't work long hours?  It's feels so...wrong writing out all this. I'm supposed to be stoic, y'know. Founders are supposed to be an unstoppable force, or else we're whiny asses who probably can't do anything right if our life depended on it. In Silicon Valley, there's this weird, unspoken sense that everything you do can be used against you. "The best founders are X, the most successful startups are Y"—implying that if you're neither X nor Y you should probably just go home. There are always these slots you have to fill and character traits you have to have so VCs can trust that you can build a billion-dollar business with their money. I mean, you can't really blame them because they are moving a lot of money. VCs are pattern matchers: no one wants to waste >6 zeros on their term sheet for coke and not much else, and the less risk they need to deal with the better. So imagine a choice between someone like me and an earnest suburban kid who's lived all his life in California and went to an Ivy League and had access to a proper hospital during the worst pandemic in recent memory. Of course you'll pick that kid. I'd pick him if I were in their shoes. Paul Graham once distilled the worst founders into one trait: hapless. The inability to control one's environment, the complacency of letting the world have its way with you. And so by implication being the opposite, i.e., being relentlessly resourceful, is the mark of a great founder. But what if your challenge is big enough for the history books? What if it's the mental and physical deterioration of everyone you hold dear? What if shit doesn't just happen, it keeps happening day after day and there's a hungry wolf stalking you and you still have to deal with the faceless bureaucracy of the USCIS and then run a startup on top of all this during a recession? What if...some people just aren't destined to participate in certain parts of the economy? Wouldn't that make things simpler? In the spirit of having retaining some semblance of agency, I have outlined the possible paths I can take before I hit rock bottom:
continue megadosing on Vitamin D on my own, and hope that some science still replicate
use up my remaining savings and (irresponsibly) find an apartment where I can self-isolate within the next 72 hours
take the odds and OODA the shit out of my post-corona life
And if none of these work, well, maybe we just can't tsuyoku naritai the shit out of everything. : Does my mum have health insurance? Yes, from the government. Is the government currently dissolving said health department due to corruption? You bet. : I'm really sorry if this is incoherent, but to be clear: I'm oscillating between founding a company and getting a proper job. The reason why the latter is such a difficult option to take is because ADHD and entrepreneurship go together like salt and fries, and I'm >85% confident that it's going to be really difficult for me to survive in an office environment based on how I know I work.
Attention incoming interns! Here's a list of TIPS I WISH I KNEW starting my intern year, some things you can start working on now and some less commonly discussed but very important parts of your job
It’s that time of year and yet again I’ve seen plenty of incoming interns asking what they can do to prepare. I wrote this post to share some tips for all of the not-exactly-medical stuff I wish I knew before I started intern year and to share a few things that interns can do before they start to feel like they’re well prepared for the long white coat. As a quick background, I was a surgery intern in the first half of the 2010s and much of this is informed by my notes and memories from that time in addition to everything I’ve learned since, particularly about professionalism both in medicine and in the business world with work I’ve done in the healthcare startup arena. I’m also not perfect and very much a work in progress myself and, outside the intern-specific items here, I try to do most of these things myself—sometimes more successfully than others. So take what you think are good ideas here, leave what you don’t think would be useful, and if anyone else has anything to add, please feel free to chime in. TL;DR: Intern year is hard. Here are some not-so-commonly-disucussed tips that may help.
1. Being an effective intern is, at its core, about being responsible, effective and reliable.
Your day to day responsibilities are nearly always dominated by the need to get things done and to do so in a manner that lets your other team members focus on their own roles and responsibilities. What about learning clinical medicine? You'll learn plenty and fast. Don't worry. When reading through these tips below, view them from an angle of “would this help me develop an effective system for making sure everything gets done and nothing falls through the cracks?”
2. For your in-the-hospital life as well as your outside-the-hospital life, remember this one thing: you will forget.
You will be busy and have responsibilities in a way you likely have never experienced before. This will naturally make the day-to-day things in life more difficult than you’re used to so developing ways to outsmart your forgetful brain will pay off.
3. You are a professional now. This is your career. You’re in it.
It’s easy to view your life as a trainee as a sort of advanced student or something in between a student and a “real doctor”. But that’s not true. View yourself as a professional building your career. Your intern year is just the first step of that career. You’re a real doctor as much as any other now.
4. One of the hardest things about being an intern or resident is dealing with feelings of isolation. It will take work to actively manage and overcome those feelings.
Imposter syndrome, feeling like you don’t know what you’re doing or that you don’t belong, feeling like you’re not the person you used to be, that you don’t have time to do all the “normal” things that other people do, thinking your co-residents or attendings think you’re dumb, feeling that you don’t have time for friends/family/hobbies, ruminating on “what if I screw this up and hurt a patient?”, or “this doesn’t matter -- the patient is going to XX or YY anyway” etc are all common feelings and they all share the same undercurrent of feeling isolated in one way or another. You need to actively work to find ways to confront and overcome these feelings or else they will control you. When they control you, you’re burned out. It may not seem like it at first, but nearly every single tip below is geared towards avoiding feelings of isolation. Feeling like you’re not in control of your finances will make you feel isolated. Feeling like you’re losing a handle on your relationships will make you feel isolated. Feeling like you’re behind on your email and haven’t done all the little things in life you need to do will make you feel isolated. Read these tips through that lens.
What you can do before you start
1. Organize and update your contacts. Seriously.
Here are some ways it can help you maintain and grow your relationships.
Use the ‘Notes’ feature in your contacts for everyone important in your life and all the new people meet.
You will forget your friends’ kids names and ages. Every time you get a birth announcement or see a post on social media, go to your friend’s contact, edit the notes and put in the info. Then, when you reach out to your friends, ask about their kids...by name.
You will forget your friends’ boyfriend/girlfriend/wife/husband/partner’s name, especially if you’ve never met them or haven’t seen them for a long time. Put their name in your friends’ card with a note like “Started seeing Sam in June 2020, he/she’s a software engineer”. Someone you know gets married? Add their wedding date to their card.
You will forget how you knew people in your contacts. Met at a conference? Was a medical student on your heme onc service? Friend-of-a-friend you met at a wedding? Someone shares an interest you have? Make a note in their contact card. Tip: these notes are for you, not them. So if someone reminds you of an actor, or didn’t stop talking about bitcoin, make a note. It will help because you will forget.
Tag your contacts or add them to lists and use those tags/lists to your advantage.
Make lists or tags for your family, your medical school friends, your undergrad friends, your coresidents, your attendings, your medical students, the hospitals you’ll be working at, etc. Put those lists or tags to use like this:
You will forget to stay in touch with people important to you. Set reminders in your phone for every week / two weeks / month, etc to pull up a list (family, medical school friends, etc), pick someone on that list you haven’t chatted with in a while and text them and ask them how they’re doing. Aim to start a conversation, ask about what’s happening in their life. Texts are more personal and meaningful than liking a post on social media or sharing a meme. Initiating conversations with your friends and family will help you feel connected and will increase the likelihood they reach out to you.
Don’t label your medical students like “MS3 Laura” or “Sub-I Juan”, etc. Label them with their full name and treat them like the colleagues they are. Put them on a list, clear it out next year if you want, but don’t treat them as “MS3 XXX“ or “MS4 YYY”. I’m sure you remember feeling like a nameless/faceless medical student at times in school and I’m sure you didn’t love it. So don’t repeat that behavior. Add a note or two about them while you’re at it. Take enough interest in your medical students to treat them well. You never know when or how you’ll cross paths with them again.
If you rotate through different hospitals, you will forget which “ED” or “PACU” or “nursing station 3rd floor” numbers are which. Tag them or put them on a list. It’ll make finding them when you need them much easier.
2. Use a good note taking app and a good task manager app to help with both your in-hospital life and your outside-of-the-hospital life.
Here are some ways to use a notes app.
Make a note for each rotation you’re on. Add in any unstructured tips as they come up, like “Send all of Dr. X’s patients home with Y”, “Use the call room in the basement outside of the locker room, passcode 1234”, “Park in the X lot on the weekends”, “Dr. A likes to manage Z with Y”, “The case manager, NAME, usually sits at the computer behind the 2nd floor nurses station”, etc. Don't overthink them, just write them down when they come up. Review those notes the next time you rotate through because you will forget all those little things and they will help you in the future.
Create a master grocery list of all things you typically get at the grocery store. Share it with a roommate/partner so they can keep it updated too. That way if you ever stop to pick something up, you can review the list to make sure there’s nothing you’ll forget.
Make master lists for other things in your life too like “packing for a conference”, “packing for a family trip”, “Target/Wal-Mart household master list” so you can quickly review anytime something comes up so you minimize the chance of forgetting something
Make notes for all of the other stuff you have to manage in your life like your car, your apartment/house, your loans, etc and update them every time you work on that thing. Change your loan repayment? Add it to the note. Have to get your brakes fixed? Add to the note where you got it done, how much it cost, etc. Talk to your landlord about fixing the shower? Add it to the note. Have to call the medical board to sort something out with a license? Add it to the note.
I like two note apps on iOS: Bear for personal notes since it’s fast and has great tagging and Apple’s Notes app for shared notes
Pick a good task manager app and use it for all the things in your life that aren’t your day-to-day work
Cousin getting married and you can go to the wedding? Make tasks to ensure your time off, book your travel, buy a gift, rent a hotel room, etc. Then put all the relevant info into your note because...you will forget.
Pandemic is over and you get to present a poster at a conference? Make tasks to review your draft with your coauthors, print your poster, book your travel, submit your reimbursement, etc. Then put all the relevant info into a note. Otherwise, you’ll forget.
I like Things and have also liked OmniFocus. There is a ton of content on how to set one of these things up for productivity so review it and use it YouTube search
3. Take charge of your finances
When I was an intern, I figured all I had to do was pay my loans and not go into more debt. I wish I had done the following instead:
Read these two books: The White Coat Investor and I Will Teach You To Be Rich. Both are very good and have different strengths. The WCI is directly applicable to you and will help educate you in ways medical school didn’t about your financial future. IWTYTBR is much more of a “millennial” book but it’s very good for explaining big concepts and for providing a system to set yourself up for success. They’re both easy and relatively quick reads and don’t require any financial background. WCI is fine as an e-book but IWTY has a bunch of dialog boxes that make the e-book a poor experience, get a physical new or used copy.
Set up a budget. I use and swear by You Need A Budget. It’s the best money I spend every year. Their system is easy and straightforward and it doesn’t take long to get the hang of it. I can’t recommend it highly enough.
4. Update your CV now and keep it updated regularly
You will no doubt have to share your CV with someone at some point whether it’s for fellowship or a research project or any number of things. The time to work on it is not when someone says “can you share your CV?” -- that’s a recipe for omissions, typos and mistakes. The only thing you should be doing every time you share your CV is giving it a quick once-over to make sure you don’t spot any mistakes and to make sure it’s up to date There are plenty of templates online and your training institution may even have a preferred format somewhere on their website. Your ERAS application will give you a good head start but most of your medical school CV lines will either be condensed or removed all together unless something was particularly notable. You can almost always find example CVs online from senior people in your department or institution with a quick web search -- use a few as a guide Set a reminder / task to update your CV at regular intervals. Quarterly is good, yearly at least. Save new versions of it each time so you can refer to the old ones if you need to and name them in a way to let you know you’re always sharing the most recent version, e.g., LASTNAME_FIRST NAME_CV_2020-06. You will forget if the one marked “CV” only is the right one you want to share.
5. Subscribe to a couple of newsletters to stay up to date with the world outside of your hospital
For general news, your preferred newspaper probably has a daily email briefing. Otherwise, Axios AM/PM and Politico’s Playbook are both very good quick reads to stay up to date with current events.
Keep up with healthcare news so you know what’s going on in the healthcare system broadly
Politico’s Pulse and Morning eHealth are both very good and have quick facts at the beginning if you just want to skim
Rock Health’s Rock Weekly is a decent summary of each week in the healthcare startup and technology world
Pick a few of these and aim to get through them each day. If you can’t get through them, unsubscribe to the ones you think are least relevant to you so you never feel “behind” in staying up with the news. You can breeze through the few you pick in a few minutes here and there throughout the day -- don’t make it any harder than that to feel like you’re “up to date” on the news.
General tips for maintaining relationships
For any romantic relationship, do these things if you don’t already:
1. Make a rule: no phones at the table. * Don’t put your phone on the table face-up. Don’t put your phone on the table face-down. Keep your phone off the table and set to silent. * Focus on the person in front of you and show them you care about them by paying attention to them. We all know what it feels like to be with someone more interested in their screen than in interacting with you. If you’re on call, say “sorry, I’m on call, I may have to check something here and there”, apologize if you do check it and then put your phone away. 2. Make another rule: no phones in bed * Same principle as at the table. Want to feel like two strangers just passing through life who just so happen to share the same bed? Wake up, reach for your phone and scroll through your feeds like a zombie before getting out of bed. Same idea before bed. Your phone can wait. 3. If you’re at the point where you share finances, set a regular meeting to review how you’re doing. * Ideally, this is a “red, yellow or green” meeting and should only take a few minutes. Money can be a big conflict issue for relationships and avoiding talking about money is a surefire way to eventually turn to conflict. If you have a budget and shared goals, this should be quick. * A monthly check-in is good. Create a recurring calendar event, attach the shared notes or spreadsheet document you use, add your goals for the meeting and honor the meeting when it comes around.
Eat with people who are important to you, if you can.
There’s something about sharing a meal that’s special in human nature. Friends who are important to you? Partners? Mentors you’re looking to get to know better after you’ve had a few chats? Try to eat with them when you can. And keep your phone off the table.
The same idea works with your coresidents and teams in the hospital. Eat with them if you can. Eating with others builds, strengthens and maintains relationships. Keep your phone off the table if you can.
Think about it this way: who would you consider a better mentor, the person you’ve met with a few times in their office where they sit behind their desk and you in front of them while they glance at their computer screen every time it pings or the person who’s invited you to get coffee or food and they kept their phone away the whole time? Now turn that around and realize the power of the message you can send to people you care about by trying to eat with them and show them they have your full attention.
1. Learn to think about tasks as a continuum from start to finish instead of as a binary 'done/not done'.
Let’s say you have to order a CT for a patient of yours.
Instead of marking the task as complete the second you place the order for the CT, recognize that the whole task is not just placing the order, but also knowing when your patient is going down to the scanner, when they’re back, when the CT is up in the system, when the report is up and also that you’ve looked at the CT yourself and have read the report.
When your senior or attending asks you, “Did patient X get their CT?”, a not-so-great answer is “Yes” or “No”. A better answer is “they’re down at the scanner now” or “the scan’s done but it hasn’t been read yet. Want to look at it?” or “Yes, it’s negative for XXX but did show YYY”.
Whatever system you eventually adopt for your day-to-day task management in the hospital, whether it’s a list or index cards or a printed signout sheet, make sure you’re tracking both when orders go in, when they’re complete, when they’re cancelled, etc. Just marking things as complete once you place the order isn’t enough.
2. Signout is taken, not given.
What I mean by this is that when you take signout, that means you’re accepting responsibility for those patients. They might be your patients, you might be cross-covering, it doesn’t matter. What matters is that when those patients are your responsibility, it’s your responsibility to get what you need to know to take care of them. Is someone signing out to you in a hurry and not giving you what you need? Ask them for that relevant past medical history, those exam findings, and so on. It’s not enough for the person handing off to say “we’re worried about x or y”, you’ve got to follow that up with “in case of x or y, is there a plan for what the team wants me to do?”. Get the answers you need. A lot of covering patients on call is playing defense whereas the primary team generally plays offense. But that doesn’t mean you can play defense in isolation. The last thing you want is for the primary team to feel surprised by your choices.
* Here’s two ways for the above example to go when turning the patients you were covering back over the next day or whatever: 1. You: “For patient so-and-so, you said you were worried about x or y. Y happened.” Them: “What did you do?”. You: “Z”. Them: “Shit, my attending’s not gonna like that”. 2. You “Y happened so I did A like you said, it went fine and here’s the current status”. Them: “Great, thanks” * See the difference?
Along the lines of taking responsibility for those patients, that means that if you couldn’t get the information you needed at signout then you have to go and see those patients and get the information you need yourself.
You’ll hear this idea said a bunch of different ways like “trust but verify”, “trust no one” and your comfort level will change over the year as you become more confident and comfortable. But always error on the side of going to see the patient and getting your own information at the start.
3. If you will be miserable without something when you’re in the hospital, bring it with you. You won’t reliably be able to find it at the hospital every time you need it.
Need coffee otherwise you turn into a demon? Bring it with you. You never know when you’ll get caught doing something and won’t be able to run to the cafeteria for your fix.
On call overnight and know you need food so you don’t go insane? Bring it with you. Here’s a hospital food rule: never rely on the hospital's ability to feed you. The hospital will let you down sooner or later, I guarantee it.
Know you always get cold on call? The day you forget your jacket/sweatshirt is the day you won’t be able to find a spare blanket in the hospital to save your life. Put a backup in your locker (if your hospital respects you enough to give you one).
Miscellaneous productivity, professionalism and lifestyle tips
1. Aim to “touch” everything only once
Example: your physical mail. You know, the stuff made of dead trees that accumulates in that box you check every once in a while. For every piece of mail you get, you should either trash it, file it, or act on it. Don’t touch it until you’re ready to do one of those things.
Example: your email. Either delete it, archive it, reply to it or do the thing it’s telling you to do right away. Don’t fall into the trap of using your inbox as a to-do list -- that’s a recipe to get burned. Use a task manager for your to-do list and aim to keep your inbox at zero. Realize that email’s true power is communication and use it as a communication tool and nothing else.
I’ll use the example of going to a wedding again as something to “touch once”. Aim to accomplish all the tasks at once or at least create tasks and reminders to complete those tasks all in one go. Respond to the RSVP, create the calendar invite with all the information from the invitation, share the calendar event with your date, book your travel, book your hotel, book your rental car, buy your gift from the registry and set a reminder to get your suit/dress cleaned a few weeks ahead, etc.
2. Lean to use your calendar as a tool
Professionals in the “real world” tend to live and die by their calendars. Some people, especially many senior people in medicine, don’t manage their own calendars. But you manage yours. With it you can:
Make sure all events—even small ones like dates or errands you want to run—have locations so all you have to do is click the location for directions
Send invites to friends / family / coworkers for anything you talk about doing that has the relevant info
Make reminders for yourself to prepare for upcoming events, i.e.., don’t count on seeing your parents’/spouses’/whomever’s birthday “coming up” to remind you to get a gift or send a card. Create an event two weeks before their birthday that says “Buy Mom a birthday card”, set it to repeat yearly and buy a card when it comes up, send it a few days later and don’t worry that it won’t get there in time.
3. Learn to use email well
Ever get an email from someone and feel their tone was terse, condescending or rude? Don’t be that person. Error on the side being polite and professional and writing in complete sentences without textspeak. It’s not hard — you type fast, even with your thumbs, I’m sure of it.
Learn to communicate effectively. Keep it short but not terse. State why you’re writing to someone, be clear if you’re asking a question, and think about it this way: “How am I making it as easy as possible for this person to understand why I’m emailing them and do what I’m asking them to do?
Don’t use a canned salutation like “Best, NAME” or even worse: “Best, INITIALS”. Use your salutation to continue to communicate your message and remember that politeness and professionalism extend through your signature.
I don’t know why “Best,” is so common in medicine but it’s meaningless, unthoughtful, inherently passive aggressive and I seriously read it as if the person writing it were signing off by saying “Go f*ck yourself,”. Same thing for “Regards,” and its ilk, any abbreviation like “vr,” or any form of cutesy quote.
Write your salutation fresh each time. Did you ask someone for something? Say “Thank you for your help”. Are you writing someone senior to you and want to sound somewhat formal? “Sincerely,” never goes out of style. Are you sharing information and essentially writing a memo? Use “Please let me know if you have any questions”. Your salutation is communication, treat it that way.
Sign with your name, not your initials. Signing with initials is a common way senior people will try to remind you they’re senior to you. If you do it, it’s like you’re trying to prove you’re a Cool Guy Big Shot too. It never comes across well -- even for those senior people. Initials are terse. Lowercase initials are even terser. Although they may look different at first glance, all initial signatures functionally come across as ‘FU’. Write your name.
If it’s a few rounds back and forth of email, it’s normal drop salutations and signatures and treat email more like texting. Keep using complete sentences without textspeak, though. I promise you’ll come across better that way.
Use the ‘signature’ feature of your email client to share your professional details and contact information
Your institution (not department) will hopefully have a format for this that’s standardized and includes minimal or no graphics. If it doesn't, then I feel sorry for all the inevitable IT headaches you will eventually endure at your institution since they clearly underfund and undervalue contemporary IT and professional services. It’s the wild west out there so find some good examples of clean, professional signature formats and make one for yourself.
Note: this signature lives below your salutation and sign off. It’s essentially the letterhead for your email that lets your recipient fill in the details you may not otherwise provide like your department, mailing address or fax number. It’s not a replacement for signing off of your communication professionally.
Never use bold, italics, underlines or different font sizes in your emails. They only make emails harder to read and jumble your message.
If you want to highlight something, put it in a numbered or bulleted list.
If you can’t communicate what you want with 2-3 bulleted points, then email is not the right medium to use. Do you like reading long emails? Of course you don’t. Write a memo, attach it as a PDF or shared doc and use the email to tell your recipients to review the attachment.
You will eventually, in some way or another, ask someone to introduce you to one of their contacts and or refer you for something. Learn how to write a good forwardable email that utilizes the double opt-in concept and how to make it easy on the person doing you the favor. Read more here, here and here.
While you’re at it, understand the power of using CC and BCC to communicate effectively.
Aim to answer all emails written directly to you within 24 hours.
If you can’t respond fully right away, respond briefly saying you got the note and that you’ll work on it and get back to them. Set a reminder or create a task to do or review the thing and get back to them once you’ve done it.
Do you hate being left on read in text? You do it in email every time you don’t respond to someone in a timely fashion. It’s better to share a quick, “I got it and I’m working on it message” then not replying until days or weeks later.
4. Don’t let someone else’s negative energy and/or anxiety transfer to you
You will frequently experience things like this in the hospital:
A co-resident disagrees with a management decision made at rounds and mentions that so-and-so is an idiot. So-and-so probably isn’t an idiot. Your co-resident probably isn’t an idiot either. Form your own opinions from your own experiences.
A nurse pages you with a tone that says “THIS IS REALLY BAD”. It might be, go and see. And on your way, stay calm and go over the steps in your head of what you’d do if it is, in fact, REALLY BAD. But don’t freak yourself out before you even get to the room. You won’t be able to make decisions with a clear head if you’re already worked up.
You’re a surgery intern and all your patients are normally on the med-surg floor. Every once in a while, one goes somewhere like heme-onc if the med-surg floor is full. Someone on your team says something like “great, now they’re going to screw up our patient”. Recognize that that floor isn’t full of terrible nurses and may just have less experiences with lines and drains and that the best thing you can do is go down there, talk to the nurse and say “here’s what we want to be called about” and “this thing may look bad but it usually isn’t and we don’t need to be called, here’s why”, and so on. Doing things like this will mean you get fewer calls. Fewer calls are good.
Your attending is having a bad day and you’re not enjoying your interactions with them. Don’t let that make you have a bad day too. Medicine is hard enough as it is, stick to your own bad days instead adopting other people’s. Then pull up your friend list, text a buddy and feel better.
5. Don’t neglect your physical health. Trying to eat well and stay active are even more important when you’re insanely busy.
The #1 thing you can do to help your waistline is cook your own food and pack your own meals. It doesn’t matter what you cook or how good of a cook you are, as long as you’re aiming to pack meals that an adult would eat, it will be healthier than takeout and cafeteria food. It’s better for portion control, you control all the ingredients and you get a sense of satisfaction for being on the ball. It’s better in every way. I know it’s not realistic to always prep and pack your own food on the busiest of services but you should try to hit at least a percentage like 25% or 50% of your meals. There are no lost causes in your own health. It will be hard to exercise and work out. You should still try to do it anyway. You will go long stretches without exercising at times. Don’t beat yourself up about it. Every day is a chance to do the thing you want to do so get back out there.
6. If your social profiles are private, consider doing some housekeeping and making them public.
Instead of thinking about them as a liability to be that needs to be hidden, think about them as a narrative you can control. Nothing is private on the internet. Even your private profile. You never know who knows someone you know or what may get screenshotted and shared down the line. It’s natural to run a web search on anyone you’re meeting for a date, interviewing with for a job, or researching in general. When you search your own name, what comes up? What do you think when you’re searching for someone and they have a private page? Do you ever click on a few links to see professional stuff from LinkedIn, and then some social pages to see what else you learn? So does everyone else. Use your social pages to put forward a version of you that shows who you are, shows some interests true to yourself, makes you seem like a totally normal and reliable person (which is exactly what any potential date, partner, fellowship director or hiring manager is asking themselves about you) and doesn’t share enough information to let a patient show up at your door. Medicine lags behind other industries with people still commonly hiding behind private pages. In the tech world, it’s more strange to not have a public page. A private page says more about you that you might want to hide red flags whereas a public page says “go ahead and look, you won’t find any red flags”. One is much more powerful than the other.
Closing and something to read
When you view your professional life, it’s natural to view your professional relationships as being a binary one between patient and physician. That’s certainly essential and certainly important, but as a professional you now have relationships to consider with so many more types of people: co-residents, faculty in your department, faculty in other departments, administrators, support staff, medical students, and so on. Just as you had to learn how to work with patients, you will have to learn to work with all of the other people in your professional life. Truly effective professionals will treat all interactions importantly and give thought and consideration to each one. All these interactions and relationships will all affect your day-to-day experience, your well-being and, ultimately, your professional experience. You will find yourself being not just responsible for your patients, but also for yourself, your career and your relationships. It takes effort to succeed in all of those areas. And even with effort, sometimes you’ll be winning in an area and losing in others. And in a few months it will be different -- that’s just life. I want you to consider looking outside of books and resources written specifically for physicians when you’re trying to tackle these issues inside the hospital and out. Medicine is a much-smaller-than-you-realize bubble with a long history of personality-driven examples of “that’s just the way we do it” or “that’s how we’ve always done it”. There are good books about medicine out there, to be sure, but you’ll benefit more professionally by learning from the wide world outside of hospitals since there are quite simply many more successful and accomplished people who’ve written great resources for all aspects of professional life that medicine tends to ignore. I’d recommend you start with this book: Andy Grove’s High Output Management (a review by another Valley titan here). Andy escaped communist Hungary, taught himself English and rose to be CEO of Intel and went on to be a sage of Silicon Valley before he passed. This book is a how-to guide for how to be an effective professional in an organization (hint: you're now a professional in an organization) and if you’ve enjoyed this post at all, you’ll love this book. You may think that this book applies to ‘managers’ and ‘business’ and not medicine but you couldn’t be more wrong. Although it was probably written around the time you were born, nearly everything in this book is a lesson that directly applies to your professional life in medicine and when you start seeing it, you’ll feel like you’re in The Matrix. Congratulations! You've worked hard to get here. Be proud of yourself, your degree, your long white coat and be the best doctor you can be.
The story of how I build my successful microstartup aCrypto
Around 2017, a good friend of mine introduced me to Bitcoin. I was very fascinated by cryptocurrency and started investing in small amounts. Everything worked out fine the first week, as I was new to everything, but then in the second week, I started to realize there were so many issues. It wasn't easy to trade or even manage cryptocurrency. Along the way, I realized that I was not the only person who had been facing such problems, and I decided to publish it on the Google Play Store. I set a goal and built an MVP in the least time possible. I decided to build an Android app, as I have been an android developer for five years. I took a week's holiday, sat at home coding nonstop, and released the MVP after seven days. I wanted to build every feature at once, but my product-manager intuition kicked in and I cut down the features to the top three that I thought would be the most important (and without which the app would be useless). One of the mistakes people often make is to overthink and take too much time to get products out. I started sharing it within my company, and it was an instant hit. Nail down the ASO (SEO for apps). This is one of the hardest parts, and it can easily increase your downloads exponentially or break you down completely. Share with friends and colleagues on the company's slack channel, Facebook and Google Plus Communities, ask users to give a review after you solve their issue. Customer Support is easily ignored by most, but it's by far the most powerful tool for app growth as well as product growth. So what I used to do was answer each and every email. I used to get over 1,000 emails per month. I know, it was insane, but I enjoyed solving and replying to user issues. Along with that, I used to attach a closing questionnaire asking users to give a review on the Play Store if they liked the app. Trust me, this di wonders. Instead of starting directly with a paid subscription option, I released all the paid features with a small banner stating "This is a PRO feature and it requires payment soon.". with a remote switch I kept the price as low as $1.99/month, even though my competitors were charging $6-$12 monthly. I could test, improve, and make the app robust, and get it ready for subscriptions. You need a lot of testing to do this, as it's in the financial space and I was just a single person and I could turn on paid features at any time, and I could do so based on usage. Necessity is the mother of all inventions. For the iOS app, I had to learn Swift. One of the biggest pains was mastering auto layouts in XCode, but I managed to do it all and release it in 35 days sharp and it got a 70% growth rate in a month. Yes, I was surprised myself. One of the things that really helped me was catching the uptrend in the crypto world and riding this wave. If I'd waited for six months to start, I doubt I'd have found the same kind of success. One of the best decisions I made was to monetize early on instead of waiting until the app had a lot of users. Trust me, it's not at all easy to start charging once you have a large user base. Monetize early on if you are providing a value-added service. ACrypto has more than 150K users and 1M monthly sessions and it's fully automated. Of course, the whole cryptocurrency market took a hit and I have moved on to my other micro startups but it was my first success in a long time. https://acrypto.io
Hey all, I've been researching coins since 2017 and have gone through 100s of them in the last 3 years. I got introduced to blockchain via Bitcoin of course, analyzed Ethereum thereafter and from that moment I have a keen interest in smart contact platforms. I’m passionate about Ethereum but I find Zilliqa to have a better risk-reward ratio. Especially because Zilliqa has found an elegant balance between being secure, decentralized and scalable in my opinion.
Below I post my analysis of why from all the coins I went through I’m most bullish on Zilliqa (yes I went through Tezos, EOS, NEO, VeChain, Harmony, Algorand, Cardano etc.). Note that this is not investment advice and although it's a thorough analysis there is obviously some bias involved. Looking forward to what you all think!
Fun fact: the name Zilliqa is a play on ‘silica’ silicon dioxide which means “Silicon for the high-throughput consensus computer.”
This post is divided into (i) Technology, (ii) Business & Partnerships, and (iii) Marketing & Community. I’ve tried to make the technology part readable for a broad audience. If you’ve ever tried understanding the inner workings of Bitcoin and Ethereum you should be able to grasp most parts. Otherwise, just skim through and once you are zoning out head to the next part.
Technology and some more:
The technology is one of the main reasons why I’m so bullish on Zilliqa. First thing you see on their website is: “Zilliqa is a high-performance, high-security blockchain platform for enterprises and next-generation applications.” These are some bold statements.
Before we deep dive into the technology let’s take a step back in time first as they have quite the history. The initial research paper from which Zilliqa originated dates back to August 2016: Elastico: A Secure Sharding Protocol For Open Blockchains where Loi Luu (Kyber Network) is one of the co-authors. Other ideas that led to the development of what Zilliqa has become today are: Bitcoin-NG, collective signing CoSi, ByzCoin and Omniledger.
The technical white paper was made public in August 2017 and since then they have achieved everything stated in the white paper and also created their own open source intermediate level smart contract language called Scilla (functional programming language similar to OCaml) too.
Mainnet is live since the end of January 2019 with daily transaction rates growing continuously. About a week ago mainnet reached 5 million transactions, 500.000+ addresses in total along with 2400 nodes keeping the network decentralized and secure. Circulating supply is nearing 11 billion and currently only mining rewards are left. The maximum supply is 21 billion with annual inflation being 7.13% currently and will only decrease with time.
Zilliqa realized early on that the usage of public cryptocurrencies and smart contracts were increasing but decentralized, secure, and scalable alternatives were lacking in the crypto space. They proposed to apply sharding onto a public smart contract blockchain where the transaction rate increases almost linear with the increase in the amount of nodes. More nodes = higher transaction throughput and increased decentralization. Sharding comes in many forms and Zilliqa uses network-, transaction- and computational sharding. Network sharding opens up the possibility of using transaction- and computational sharding on top. Zilliqa does not use state sharding for now. We’ll come back to this later.
Before we continue dissecting how Zilliqa achieves such from a technological standpoint it’s good to keep in mind that a blockchain being decentralised and secure and scalable is still one of the main hurdles in allowing widespread usage of decentralised networks. In my opinion this needs to be solved first before blockchains can get to the point where they can create and add large scale value. So I invite you to read the next section to grasp the underlying fundamentals. Because after all these premises need to be true otherwise there isn’t a fundamental case to be bullish on Zilliqa, right?
Down the rabbit hole
How have they achieved this? Let’s define the basics first: key players on Zilliqa are the users and the miners. A user is anybody who uses the blockchain to transfer funds or run smart contracts. Miners are the (shard) nodes in the network who run the consensus protocol and get rewarded for their service in Zillings (ZIL). The mining network is divided into several smaller networks called shards, which is also referred to as ‘network sharding’. Miners subsequently are randomly assigned to a shard by another set of miners called DS (Directory Service) nodes. The regular shards process transactions and the outputs of these shards are eventually combined by the DS shard as they reach consensus on the final state. More on how these DS shards reach consensus (via pBFT) will be explained later on.
The Zilliqa network produces two types of blocks: DS blocks and Tx blocks. One DS Block consists of 100 Tx Blocks. And as previously mentioned there are two types of nodes concerned with reaching consensus: shard nodes and DS nodes. Becoming a shard node or DS node is being defined by the result of a PoW cycle (Ethash) at the beginning of the DS Block. All candidate mining nodes compete with each other and run the PoW (Proof-of-Work) cycle for 60 seconds and the submissions achieving the highest difficulty will be allowed on the network. And to put it in perspective: the average difficulty for one DS node is ~ 2 Th/s equaling 2.000.000 Mh/s or 55 thousand+ GeForce GTX 1070 / 8 GB GPUs at 35.4 Mh/s. Each DS Block 10 new DS nodes are allowed. And a shard node needs to provide around 8.53 GH/s currently (around 240 GTX 1070s). Dual mining ETH/ETC and ZIL is possible and can be done via mining software such as Phoenix and Claymore. There are pools and if you have large amounts of hashing power (Ethash) available you could mine solo.
The PoW cycle of 60 seconds is a peak performance and acts as an entry ticket to the network. The entry ticket is called a sybil resistance mechanism and makes it incredibly hard for adversaries to spawn lots of identities and manipulate the network with these identities. And after every 100 Tx Blocks which corresponds to roughly 1,5 hour this PoW process repeats. In between these 1,5 hour, no PoW needs to be done meaning Zilliqa’s energy consumption to keep the network secure is low. For more detailed information on how mining works click here. Okay, hats off to you. You have made it this far. Before we go any deeper down the rabbit hole we first must understand why Zilliqa goes through all of the above technicalities and understand a bit more what a blockchain on a more fundamental level is. Because the core of Zilliqa’s consensus protocol relies on the usage of pBFT (practical Byzantine Fault Tolerance) we need to know more about state machines and their function. Navigate to Viewblock, a Zilliqa block explorer, and just come back to this article. We will use this site to navigate through a few concepts.
We have established that Zilliqa is a public and distributed blockchain. Meaning that everyone with an internet connection can send ZILs, trigger smart contracts, etc. and there is no central authority who fully controls the network. Zilliqa and other public and distributed blockchains (like Bitcoin and Ethereum) can also be defined as state machines.
Taking the liberty of paraphrasing examples and definitions given by Samuel Brooks’ medium article, he describes the definition of a blockchain (like Zilliqa) as: “A peer-to-peer, append-only datastore that uses consensus to synchronize cryptographically-secure data”.
Next, he states that: "blockchains are fundamentally systems for managing valid state transitions”. For some more context, I recommend reading the whole medium article to get a better grasp of the definitions and understanding of state machines. Nevertheless, let’s try to simplify and compile it into a single paragraph. Take traffic lights as an example: all its states (red, amber, and green) are predefined, all possible outcomes are known and it doesn’t matter if you encounter the traffic light today or tomorrow. It will still behave the same. Managing the states of a traffic light can be done by triggering a sensor on the road or pushing a button resulting in one traffic lights’ state going from green to red (via amber) and another light from red to green.
With public blockchains like Zilliqa, this isn’t so straightforward and simple. It started with block #1 almost 1,5 years ago and every 45 seconds or so a new block linked to the previous block is being added. Resulting in a chain of blocks with transactions in it that everyone can verify from block #1 to the current #647.000+ block. The state is ever changing and the states it can find itself in are infinite. And while the traffic light might work together in tandem with various other traffic lights, it’s rather insignificant comparing it to a public blockchain. Because Zilliqa consists of 2400 nodes who need to work together to achieve consensus on what the latest valid state is while some of these nodes may have latency or broadcast issues, drop offline or are deliberately trying to attack the network, etc.
Now go back to the Viewblock page take a look at the amount of transaction, addresses, block and DS height and then hit refresh. Obviously as expected you see new incremented values on one or all parameters. And how did the Zilliqa blockchain manage to transition from a previous valid state to the latest valid state? By using pBFT to reach consensus on the latest valid state.
After having obtained the entry ticket, miners execute pBFT to reach consensus on the ever-changing state of the blockchain. pBFT requires a series of network communication between nodes, and as such there is no GPU involved (but CPU). Resulting in the total energy consumed to keep the blockchain secure, decentralized and scalable being low.
pBFT stands for practical Byzantine Fault Tolerance and is an optimization on the Byzantine Fault Tolerant algorithm. To quote Blockonomi: “In the context of distributed systems, Byzantine Fault Tolerance is the ability of a distributed computer network to function as desired and correctly reach a sufficient consensus despite malicious components (nodes) of the system failing or propagating incorrect information to other peers.” Zilliqa is such a distributed computer network and depends on the honesty of the nodes (shard and DS) to reach consensus and to continuously update the state with the latest block. If pBFT is a new term for you I can highly recommend the Blockonomi article.
The idea of pBFT was introduced in 1999 - one of the authors even won a Turing award for it - and it is well researched and applied in various blockchains and distributed systems nowadays. If you want more advanced information than the Blockonomi link provides click here. And if you’re in between Blockonomi and the University of Singapore read the Zilliqa Design Story Part 2 dating from October 2017. Quoting from the Zilliqa tech whitepaper: “pBFT relies upon a correct leader (which is randomly selected) to begin each phase and proceed when the sufficient majority exists. In case the leader is byzantine it can stall the entire consensus protocol. To address this challenge, pBFT offers a view change protocol to replace the byzantine leader with another one.”
pBFT can tolerate ⅓ of the nodes being dishonest (offline counts as Byzantine = dishonest) and the consensus protocol will function without stalling or hiccups. Once there are more than ⅓ of dishonest nodes but no more than ⅔ the network will be stalled and a view change will be triggered to elect a new DS leader. Only when more than ⅔ of the nodes are dishonest (66%) double-spend attacks become possible.
If the network stalls no transactions can be processed and one has to wait until a new honest leader has been elected. When the mainnet was just launched and in its early phases, view changes happened regularly. As of today the last stalling of the network - and view change being triggered - was at the end of October 2019.
Another benefit of using pBFT for consensus besides low energy is the immediate finality it provides. Once your transaction is included in a block and the block is added to the chain it’s done. Lastly, take a look at this article where three types of finality are being defined: probabilistic, absolute and economic finality. Zilliqa falls under the absolute finality (just like Tendermint for example). Although lengthy already we skipped through some of the inner workings from Zilliqa’s consensus: read the Zilliqa Design Story Part 3 and you will be close to having a complete picture on it. Enough about PoW, sybil resistance mechanism, pBFT, etc. Another thing we haven’t looked at yet is the amount of decentralization.
Currently, there are four shards, each one of them consisting of 600 nodes. 1 shard with 600 so-called DS nodes (Directory Service - they need to achieve a higher difficulty than shard nodes) and 1800 shard nodes of which 250 are shard guards (centralized nodes controlled by the team). The amount of shard guards has been steadily declining from 1200 in January 2019 to 250 as of May 2020. On the Viewblock statistics, you can see that many of the nodes are being located in the US but those are only the (CPU parts of the) shard nodes who perform pBFT. There is no data from where the PoW sources are coming. And when the Zilliqa blockchain starts reaching its transaction capacity limit, a network upgrade needs to be executed to lift the current cap of maximum 2400 nodes to allow more nodes and formation of more shards which will allow to network to keep on scaling according to demand. Besides shard nodes there are also seed nodes. The main role of seed nodes is to serve as direct access points (for end-users and clients) to the core Zilliqa network that validates transactions. Seed nodes consolidate transaction requests and forward these to the lookup nodes (another type of nodes) for distribution to the shards in the network. Seed nodes also maintain the entire transaction history and the global state of the blockchain which is needed to provide services such as block explorers. Seed nodes in the Zilliqa network are comparable to Infura on Ethereum.
The seed nodes were first only operated by Zilliqa themselves, exchanges and Viewblock. Operators of seed nodes like exchanges had no incentive to open them for the greater public. They were centralised at first. Decentralisation at the seed nodes level has been steadily rolled out since March 2020 ( Zilliqa Improvement Proposal 3 ). Currently the amount of seed nodes is being increased, they are public-facing and at the same time PoS is applied to incentivize seed node operators and make it possible for ZIL holders to stake and earn passive yields. Important distinction: seed nodes are not involved with consensus! That is still PoW as entry ticket and pBFT for the actual consensus.
5% of the block rewards are being assigned to seed nodes (from the beginning in 2019) and those are being used to pay out ZIL stakers. The 5% block rewards with an annual yield of 10.03% translate to roughly 610 MM ZILs in total that can be staked. Exchanges use the custodial variant of staking and wallets like Moonlet will use the non-custodial version (starting in Q3 2020). Staking is being done by sending ZILs to a smart contract created by Zilliqa and audited by Quantstamp.
With a high amount of DS; shard nodes and seed nodes becoming more decentralized too, Zilliqa qualifies for the label of decentralized in my opinion.
Generalized: programming languages can be divided into being ‘object-oriented’ or ‘functional’. Here is an ELI5 given by software development academy: * “all programs have two basic components, data – what the program knows – and behavior – what the program can do with that data. So object-oriented programming states that combining data and related behaviors in one place, is called “object”, which makes it easier to understand how a particular program works. On the other hand, functional programming argues that data and behavior are different things and should be separated to ensure their clarity.” *
Scilla is on the functional side and shares similarities with OCaml: OCaml is a general-purpose programming language with an emphasis on expressiveness and safety. It has an advanced type system that helps catch your mistakes without getting in your way. It's used in environments where a single mistake can cost millions and speed matters, is supported by an active community, and has a rich set of libraries and development tools. For all its power, OCaml is also pretty simple, which is one reason it's often used as a teaching language.
Scilla is blockchain agnostic, can be implemented onto other blockchains as well, is recognized by academics and won a so-called Distinguished Artifact Award award at the end of last year.
One of the reasons why the Zilliqa team decided to create their own programming language focused on preventing smart contract vulnerabilities is that adding logic on a blockchain, programming, means that you cannot afford to make mistakes. Otherwise, it could cost you. It’s all great and fun blockchains being immutable but updating your code because you found a bug isn’t the same as with a regular web application for example. And with smart contracts, it inherently involves cryptocurrencies in some form thus value.
Another difference with programming languages on a blockchain is gas. Every transaction you do on a smart contract platform like Zilliqa or Ethereum costs gas. With gas you basically pay for computational costs. Sending a ZIL from address A to address B costs 0.001 ZIL currently. Smart contracts are more complex, often involve various functions and require more gas (if gas is a new concept click here ).
So with Scilla, similar to Solidity, you need to make sure that “every function in your smart contract will run as expected without hitting gas limits. An improper resource analysis may lead to situations where funds may get stuck simply because a part of the smart contract code cannot be executed due to gas limits. Such constraints are not present in traditional software systems”.Scilla design story part 1
Some examples of smart contract issues you’d want to avoid are: leaking funds, ‘unexpected changes to critical state variables’ (example: someone other than you setting his or her address as the owner of the smart contract after creation) or simply killing a contract.
Scilla also allows for formal verification. Wikipedia to the rescue: In the context of hardware and software systems, formal verification is the act of proving or disproving the correctness of intended algorithms underlying a system with respect to a certain formal specification or property, using formal methods of mathematics.
Formal verification can be helpful in proving the correctness of systems such as: cryptographic protocols, combinational circuits, digital circuits with internal memory, and software expressed as source code.
“Scilla is being developed hand-in-hand with formalization of its semantics and its embedding into the Coq proof assistant — a state-of-the art tool for mechanized proofs about properties of programs.”
Simply put, with Scilla and accompanying tooling developers can be mathematically sure and proof that the smart contract they’ve written does what he or she intends it to do.
Smart contract on a sharded environment and state sharding
There is one more topic I’d like to touch on: smart contract execution in a sharded environment (and what is the effect of state sharding). This is a complex topic. I’m not able to explain it any easier than what is posted here. But I will try to compress the post into something easy to digest.
Earlier on we have established that Zilliqa can process transactions in parallel due to network sharding. This is where the linear scalability comes from. We can define simple transactions: a transaction from address A to B (Category 1), a transaction where a user interacts with one smart contract (Category 2) and the most complex ones where triggering a transaction results in multiple smart contracts being involved (Category 3). The shards are able to process transactions on their own without interference of the other shards. With Category 1 transactions that is doable, with Category 2 transactions sometimes if that address is in the same shard as the smart contract but with Category 3 you definitely need communication between the shards. Solving that requires to make a set of communication rules the protocol needs to follow in order to process all transactions in a generalised fashion.
There is no strict defined roadmap but here are topics being worked on. And via the Zilliqa website there is also more information on the projects they are working on.
Business & Partnerships
It’s not only technology in which Zilliqa seems to be excelling as their ecosystem has been expanding and starting to grow rapidly. The project is on a mission to provide OpenFinance (OpFi) to the world and Singapore is the right place to be due to its progressive regulations and futuristic thinking. Singapore has taken a proactive approach towards cryptocurrencies by introducing the Payment Services Act 2019 (PS Act). Among other things, the PS Act will regulate intermediaries dealing with certain cryptocurrencies, with a particular focus on consumer protection and anti-money laundering. It will also provide a stable regulatory licensing and operating framework for cryptocurrency entities, effectively covering all crypto businesses and exchanges based in Singapore. According to PWC 82% of the surveyed executives in Singapore reported blockchain initiatives underway and 13% of them have already brought the initiatives live to the market. There is also an increasing list of organizations that are starting to provide digital payment services. Moreover, Singaporean blockchain developers Building Cities Beyond has recently created an innovation $15 million grant to encourage development on its ecosystem. This all suggests that Singapore tries to position itself as (one of) the leading blockchain hubs in the world.
Zilliqa seems to already take advantage of this and recently helped launch Hg Exchange on their platform, together with financial institutions PhillipCapital, PrimePartners and Fundnel. Hg Exchange, which is now approved by the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS), uses smart contracts to represent digital assets. Through Hg Exchange financial institutions worldwide can use Zilliqa's safe-by-design smart contracts to enable the trading of private equities. For example, think of companies such as Grab, Airbnb, SpaceX that are not available for public trading right now. Hg Exchange will allow investors to buy shares of private companies & unicorns and capture their value before an IPO. Anquan, the main company behind Zilliqa, has also recently announced that they became a partner and shareholder in TEN31 Bank, which is a fully regulated bank allowing for tokenization of assets and is aiming to bridge the gap between conventional banking and the blockchain world. If STOs, the tokenization of assets, and equity trading will continue to increase, then Zilliqa’s public blockchain would be the ideal candidate due to its strategic positioning, partnerships, regulatory compliance and the technology that is being built on top of it.
What is also very encouraging is their focus on banking the un(der)banked. They are launching a stablecoin basket starting with XSGD. As many of you know, stablecoins are currently mostly used for trading. However, Zilliqa is actively trying to broaden the use case of stablecoins. I recommend everybody to read this text that Amrit Kumar wrote (one of the co-founders). These stablecoins will be integrated in the traditional markets and bridge the gap between the crypto world and the traditional world. This could potentially revolutionize and legitimise the crypto space if retailers and companies will for example start to use stablecoins for payments or remittances, instead of it solely being used for trading.
Zilliqa also released their DeFi strategic roadmap (dating November 2019) which seems to be aligning well with their OpFi strategy. A non-custodial DEX is coming to Zilliqa made by Switcheo which allows cross-chain trading (atomic swaps) between ETH, EOS and ZIL based tokens. They also signed a Memorandum of Understanding for a (soon to be announced) USD stablecoin. And as Zilliqa is all about regulations and being compliant, I’m speculating on it to be a regulated USD stablecoin. Furthermore, XSGD is already created and visible on block explorer and XIDR (Indonesian Stablecoin) is also coming soon via StraitsX. Here also an overview of the Tech Stack for Financial Applications from September 2019. Further quoting Amrit Kumar on this:
There are two basic building blocks in DeFi/OpFi though: 1) stablecoins as you need a non-volatile currency to get access to this market and 2) a dex to be able to trade all these financial assets. The rest are built on top of these blocks.
So far, together with our partners and community, we have worked on developing these building blocks with XSGD as a stablecoin. We are working on bringing a USD-backed stablecoin as well. We will soon have a decentralised exchange developed by Switcheo. And with HGX going live, we are also venturing into the tokenization space. More to come in the future.”
Additionally, they also have this ZILHive initiative that injects capital into projects. There have been already 6 waves of various teams working on infrastructure, innovation and research, and they are not from ASEAN or Singapore only but global: see Grantees breakdown by country. Over 60 project teams from over 20 countries have contributed to Zilliqa's ecosystem. This includes individuals and teams developing wallets, explorers, developer toolkits, smart contract testing frameworks, dapps, etc. As some of you may know, Unstoppable Domains (UD) blew up when they launched on Zilliqa. UD aims to replace cryptocurrency addresses with a human-readable name and allows for uncensorable websites. Zilliqa will probably be the only one able to handle all these transactions onchain due to ability to scale and its resulting low fees which is why the UD team launched this on Zilliqa in the first place. Furthermore, Zilliqa also has a strong emphasis on security, compliance, and privacy, which is why they partnered with companies like Elliptic, ChainSecurity (part of PwC Switzerland), and Incognito. Their sister company Aqilliz (Zilliqa spelled backwards) focuses on revolutionizing the digital advertising space and is doing interesting things like using Zilliqa to track outdoor digital ads with companies like Foodpanda.
Zilliqa is listed on nearly all major exchanges, having several different fiat-gateways and recently have been added to Binance’s margin trading and futures trading with really good volume. They also have a very impressive team with good credentials and experience. They don't just have “tech people”. They have a mix of tech people, business people, marketeers, scientists, and more. Naturally, it's good to have a mix of people with different skill sets if you work in the crypto space.
Marketing & Community
Zilliqa has a very strong community. If you just follow their Twitter their engagement is much higher for a coin that has approximately 80k followers. They also have been ‘coin of the day’ by LunarCrush many times. LunarCrush tracks real-time cryptocurrency value and social data. According to their data, it seems Zilliqa has a more fundamental and deeper understanding of marketing and community engagement than almost all other coins. While almost all coins have been a bit frozen in the last months, Zilliqa seems to be on its own bull run. It was somewhere in the 100s a few months ago and is currently ranked #46 on CoinGecko. Their official Telegram also has over 20k people and is very active, and their community channel which is over 7k now is more active and larger than many other official channels. Their local communities also seem to be growing.
Moreover, their community started ‘Zillacracy’ together with the Zilliqa core team ( see www.zillacracy.com ). It’s a community-run initiative where people from all over the world are now helping with marketing and development on Zilliqa. Since its launch in February 2020 they have been doing a lot and will also run their own non-custodial seed node for staking. This seed node will also allow them to start generating revenue for them to become a self sustaining entity that could potentially scale up to become a decentralized company working in parallel with the Zilliqa core team. Comparing it to all the other smart contract platforms (e.g. Cardano, EOS, Tezos etc.) they don't seem to have started a similar initiative (correct me if I’m wrong though). This suggests in my opinion that these other smart contract platforms do not fully understand how to utilize the ‘power of the community’. This is something you cannot ‘buy with money’ and gives many projects in the space a disadvantage.
Zilliqa also released two social products called SocialPay and Zeeves. SocialPay allows users to earn ZILs while tweeting with a specific hashtag. They have recently used it in partnership with the Singapore Red Cross for a marketing campaign after their initial pilot program. It seems like a very valuable social product with a good use case. I can see a lot of traditional companies entering the space through this product, which they seem to suggest will happen. Tokenizing hashtags with smart contracts to get network effect is a very smart and innovative idea.
Regarding Zeeves, this is a tipping bot for Telegram. They already have 1000s of signups and they plan to keep upgrading it for more and more people to use it (e.g. they recently have added a quiz features). They also use it during AMAs to reward people in real-time. It’s a very smart approach to grow their communities and get familiar with ZIL. I can see this becoming very big on Telegram. This tool suggests, again, that the Zilliqa team has a deeper understanding of what the crypto space and community needs and is good at finding the right innovative tools to grow and scale.
To be honest, I haven’t covered everything (i’m also reaching the character limited haha). So many updates happening lately that it's hard to keep up, such as the International Monetary Fund mentioning Zilliqa in their report, custodial and non-custodial Staking, Binance Margin, Futures, Widget, entering the Indian market, and more. The Head of Marketing Colin Miles has also released this as an overview of what is coming next. And last but not least, Vitalik Buterin has been mentioning Zilliqa lately acknowledging Zilliqa and mentioning that both projects have a lot of room to grow. There is much more info of course and a good part of it has been served to you on a silver platter. I invite you to continue researching by yourself :-) And if you have any comments or questions please post here!
the year 2020 in Bitcoin Cash so far: a detailed history
the year 2020 in Bitcoin Cash so far: a detailed history What follows at the bottom is a four page long chronological overview of what happened in BCH in 2020 so far. To make it more digestable and fun to read I start with my narrating of the story. My attempt was to remain as objective as possible and "let the facts speak for themselve" with everything sourced. I also link to manyread.casharticles, the decision of which are the important ones to include is certainly not easy, I count on the rest of the community if I overlooked anything important. summary & my narrating of the story: The year started out relatively calm, with cashfusion in "the news" and an older ongoing controversy between Amaury and Roger Ver being worked out. Starting Jan 22nd all debate broke loose with the announcement of “Infrastructure Funding Plan for Bitcoin Cash” by Jiang Zhuoer of BTC.TOP. To illustrate this point 2 days later coinspice ran the title " Roger Ver Praises Vigorous Debate, [...]" and 6 days, less than a week, later Chris Pacia made a read.cash post titled "The 253rd "Thoughts on developer funding" Article" which might have been only a slight exaggeration or he might have been counting. Part of the reason of the tsunami was the lack of worked out details. By the time of Pacia's post a lot had changed: Both BU, Bitcoin Verde and a group of miners had made announcements not to go along with "the plan". On feb 1st, the second version of the IFP was announced by Jiang Zhuoer in a post “BCH miner donation plan update”. Two weeks later on Feb 15th, the third iteration was announced by Bitcoin ABC which was to be activated by hashrate voting and on the same day Flipstarter was introduced, a sign of the search for alternative solutions. After a few more days and a few more people coming out more against the IFP (including Jonald Fyookball, Mark Lundeberg & Josh Ellithorpe), BCHN was announced on feb 20th with a formal release a week later. Also feb 27th, the DAA was brought back into the conversation by Jonathan Toomim with his " The BCH difficulty adjustment algorithm is broken. Here's how to fix it." video. By early march the IFP was effectively dead with its author Jiang Zhuoer vowing to vote against it. This became clear to everyone when ABC, a day later sudddenly shifted gears towards non-protocol, donation based funding: the IFP was dead. End march ABCs 2020 Business Plan was announced as a way to raise $3.3 million. Mid april to mid may was the high time for voluntary funding with four node implementations and General Protocols, a BCH DeFi Startup successfully raising funds. By May 15th, the 6th HF network upgrade things had pretty much cooled down. The upgraded included nothing controversial and even saw an unexpected doubling in the unconfirmed transaction chain. June 15th a month later things started to heat up again with the BCHN announcement to remove the "poison pill" or "automatic replay protection". 8th Jul Jonathan Toomim posted "BCH protocol upgrade proposal: Use ASERT as the new DAA" which promised the solution to the long dragging DAA problem. Jul 23th however an unexpected twist occurred when Amaury Séchet posted "Announcing the Grasberg DAA" an incompatible, alternative solution. This, again, sparked a ton of debate and discussion. Grasberg lasted just two weeks from Jul 23th to Aug 6th when ABC announced its plans for the november 2020 upgrade but it had successfully united the opposition in the meanwhile. ABCs plan for november included dropping grasberg in favour of aserti3–2d and introducing IFPv4. Now we're here August 8th, the IFP which was declared dead after just over a month (Jan 22-Mar 5) is now back in full force. The rest of the history is still being written but if p2p electronic cash is to succeed in any big regard it's very thinkable that these events will get into history books. Important resources:coinspice IFP timeline&Compiled list of BCH Miner Dev Fund posts, articles, discussions History Jan 13th : “Do CoinJoins Really Require Equal Transaction Amounts for Privacy? Part One: CashFusion” article by BitcoinMagazine [source] Jan 13th : “Clearing the Way for Cooperation” Read.cash article by Amaury Séchet [source] on the controversy with Roger Ver about the amount of donations over the years Jan 22nd : “Infrastructure Funding Plan for Bitcoin Cash” IFPv1 announced by Jiang Zhuoer of BTC.TOP [source] IFPv1: 12.5% of BCH coinbase rewards which will last for 6 months through a Hong Kong-based corporation & to be activated on May 15th Jan 22nd : ”Bitcoin Cash Developers React to Infrastructure Fund Announcement: Cautiously Optimistic” coinspice article including Amaury Séchet, Antony Zegers, Jonald Fyookball & Josh Ellithorpe [source] Jan 23rd : Jiang Zhuoer reddit AMA [source] [coinspice article] Jan 23rd : Vitalik weighs in with his take on twitter [source] Jan 23rd :” On the infrastructure funding plan for Bitcoin Cash” article by Amaury Séchet [source] [coinspice article] in which he proposed to place control of the IFP key in his hands together with Jonald Fyookball and Antony Zegers. . A group of 7 to 12 miners, developers, and businessmen in total would get an advisory function. Jan 24th : “Bitcoin.com's Clarifications on the Miner Development Fund“ which emphasizes, among other things, the temporary and reversible nature of the proposal [source] [coinspice article] Jan 24th : “Little Known (But Important!) Facts About the Mining Plan” Read.cash article by Jonald Fyookball in which he defended the IFP and stressed its necessity and temporary nature. Jan 25th : massive amounts of public debate as documented by coinspice [coinspice article] with Justin Bons, Tobias Ruck and Antony Zegers explaining their take on it. Jan 26th : public debate continues: “Assessment and proposal re: the Bitcoin Cash infrastructure funding situation” Read.cash article by imaginary_username [source] which was noteworthy in part because the post earned over Earns $1,000+ in BCH [coinspice article] and “The Best Of Intentions: The Dev Tax Is Intended to Benefit Investors But Will Corrupt Us Instead” by Peter Rizun [source] Jan 27th : “We are a group of miners opposing the BTC.TOP proposal, here's why” article on Read.cash [source] [reddit announcement] Jan 27th : Bitcoin Unlimited's BUIP 143: Refuse the Coinbase Tax [source][reddit announcement] Jan 28th : “Bitcoin Verde's Response to the Miner Sponsored Development Fund” read.cash article by Josh Green in which he explains “Bitcoin Verde will not be implementing any node validation that enforces new coinbase rules.” [source] Jan 28th : “Update on Developer Funding” read.cash article from Bitcoin.com [source] in which they state “As it stands now, Bitcoin.com will not go through with supporting any plan unless there is more agreement in the ecosystem such that the risk of a chain split is negligible.” And that “any funding proposal must be temporary and reversible.” This announcement from bitcoin.com and their mining pool lead the anonymous opposition miners to stand down. [source] Jan 28th : The 253rd "Thoughts on developer funding" Article – by Chris Pacia, to tackle the “serious misconceptions in the community about how software development works”. He ends on a note of support for the IFP because of lack of realistic alternatives. [source] Feb 1st: “BCH miner donation plan update” IFPv2 announced by Jiang Zhuoer of BTC.TOP [source] Which changes the donation mechanism so miners directly send part of their coinbase to the projects they wants to donate to. It would be activated with hashrate voting over a 3-month period with a 2/3 in favour requirement. The proposal also introduces a pilot period and a no donation option, Jiang Zhuoer also says he regards 12.% as too much. Feb 7th: Group of BCH miners led by AsicSeer voice scepticism about the IFP during a reddit AMA [source] Feb 15th: “On the Miner Infrastructure Funding Plan” article by Bitcoin ABC [source] In which they announce they will implement IFPv3 in their upcoming 0.21.0 release. This version has amount reduced to 5% of block reward and will go in effect with BIP 9 hashratevoting and a whitelist with different projects. Feb 15th : “Introducing Flipstarter” [source] Feb 16th :” Bitcoin.com’s stance on the recent block reward diversion proposals” video by Roger Ver on the Bitcoin.com Official Channel. [source] > Ver called Zhuoer’s IFP “clever” but ultimately “problematic.” [coinspice article] Feb 16th :” BCH miner donation plan update again” read.cash article by Jiang Zhuoer of BTC.TOP [source] In which he briefly outlines the details of IFPv3 Feb 17th : “Latest Thoughts On Infrastructure Mining Plan” post by Jonald Fyookball [source] Feb 17th : “Regarding the Bitcoin Cash Infrastructure Funding Plan, I am certain now that it should be scrapped immediately.” tweet by Mark Lundeberg [source] Feb 19th : “Thoughts on the IFP - A Dev Perspective“ read.cash article by Josh Ellithorpe [source] Feb 20th : “Bitcoin Cash Node” post announcing the new node implementation [source] Feb 20th : First “Bitcoin Cash Developer Meeting” After IFP Proposal [source] Feb 24th : “Flipstarter 500k, 6 independent campaigns” post announcing the goal to “fund the BCH ecosystem with 6 independent campaigns and an overall 500,000 USD target” [source] Feb 27th : BCHN Formally Released [source] Feb 27th : “The BCH difficulty adjustment algorithm is broken. Here's how to fix it.” Video by Jonathan Toomim [source] Mar 3th :” Bitcoin Cash Node 2020: plans for May upgrade and beyond” post by BCHN [source] Mar 4th :”Author of the Bitcoin Cash IFP [Jiang Zhuoer] Vows to Vote Against It, Using Personal Hash in Opposition” [source] Mar 5th :Bitcoin ABC announces their 2020 Business Plan Fundraising for later in march [source] Mar 15th : “EatBCH campaign funded! Next: node campaigns.” campaign funded after 11 hours [source] Mar 30th : Bitcoin ABC 2020 Business Plan [source] $3.3 Million Fundraiser [source] Apr 17th : Five flipstarter node campaign launched. [source] Apr 26th : BCHN flipstarter campaign successfully funded. [source] Apr 27th : VERDE flipstarter campaign successfully funded. [source] May 4th : KNUTH flipstarter campaign successfully funded. [source] May 7th : “BCH DeFi Startup General Protocols Raises Over $1 mil“ [source] May 8th : BCHD flipstarter campaign successfully funded. [source] May 9th : Deadline for node campaigns, ABC flipstarter campaign not funded. [source] May 14th : “With IFP Defeated, Bitcoin ABC, ViaBTC & CoinEX CEO Publicly Consider a Bitcoin Cash Foundation” [source] May 15th : deadline for ABC fundraiser campaign, ends at 55% completed. [source] May 15th : 6th HF network upgrade -> new opcode op_Reversebytes, increased of the chained transaction limit from 25 to 50, and the improved counting of signature operations using the new “Sigchecks” implementation [source] with the “Controversial Funding Plan Rejected by Miners” [source] May 25th : “Announcing the SLP Foundation” [source] Jun 15st : “BCHN lead maintainer report 2020-06-15” announcement to remove the Automatic Replay Protection (a.k.a. the Poison Pill) from BCHN in november [source] Jun 16st : “So [BCHN] is going to fork off from BCH at the next upgrade. Same old story. […]” tweeted Vin Armani [source] Jun 21st : “Why Automatic Replay Protection Exists” post by Shammah Chancellor [source] Jul 7th : “The Popular Stablecoin Tether Is Now Circulating on the Bitcoin Cash Network” [source] Jul 8th : “BCH protocol upgrade proposal: Use ASERT as the new DAA” post by Jonathan Toomim [source] Jul 18th : “$6M Worth of Tether on the Bitcoin Cash Chain Highlights the Benefits of SLP Tokens” [source] Jul 23th : “Announcing the Grasberg DAA” post by Amaury Séchet[source] Jul 24th : “Thoughts on Grasberg DAA” post by Mark Lundeberg [source] Jul 29th : CashFusion security audit has been completed [source] Jul 31st : Electron Cash 4.1.0 release with CashFusion support [source] 4th year, august 2020 – 2021 Aug 1st : “Bitcoin Cash: Scaling the Globe“ Online conference for ForkDay Celebration [source] Aug 2nd : >“Is there going to be a fork between ABC and BCHN?” > “IMO it is very likely. If not in November, then next May.” – Amaury Séchet Aug 3rd : “Dark secrets of the Grasberg DAA” post by Jonathan Toomim [source] Aug 3rd : “Joint Statement On aserti3-2d Algorithm“ post by General Protocols, including Cryptophyl, Read.cash, Software Verde & SpinBCH [source] Aug 3rd : Knuth announces they will be implementing aserti3-2d as DAA for november. [source] Aug 3rd : Amaury rage quit from the developer call [source] Aug 4th : “But why do people care about compensating for historical drift? Seems like a tiny problem and if it's causing this much social discord it seems not even worth bothering to try to fix.” Tweet by Vitalik [source] Aug 5th : “Bitcoin Cash (BCH) November 2020 Upgrade statement” signed by BCHD, electron cash, VERDE, BU members, BCHN developers, Jonathan Toomim, Mark B. Lundeberg and many others [source] Aug 5th : “BCHN FAQ on November 2020 Bitcoin Cash network upgrade” [source] Aug 6th : “Bitcoin ABC’s plan for the November 2020 upgrade” [source] the announcement that they will drop Grasberg in favour of aserti3–2d (ASERT) and will also include FPv4 in which 8% of the blockreward goes to ABC as development funding. Aug 7th : “Joint Statement from BCH Miners regarding Bitcoin ABC and the November 2020 BCH Upgrade.” Read.cash article by asicseer [source] stating “Over recent months, most miners and pools have switched to BCHN, and presently operate a majority of BCH hashrate.” Aug 7th : “Simple Ledger Protocol's Joint Statement Regarding Bitcoin ABC on BCH's November 2020 Upgrade” read.cash post by the SLP-Foundation [source]
Quick weekly news: Tether is moving 1 billion more USDT coins from TRON to the Ethereum blockchain Binance has been accused of “aiding and abetting” the theft of $60 million in cryptocurrency in 2018. Rapper T.I. and seven others were charged with securities violations for their involvement in a pair of initial coin offerings (ICOs). Other notable events include: - Kraken Financial, a newly formed division of the popular crypto exchange, has become the first firm to receive a special type of charter making it a bank. - Online gaming and gambling platform Unikrn will pay a $6.1 million settlement – “substantially all of the company’s assets” Also, be sure to check out top altcoin gainers and losers of the week ⬇️ Crypto’s bank Kraken Financial, a newly formed division of the popular crypto exchange, has become the first firm to receive a special type of charter making it a bank. On Wednesday, the Wyoming Banking Board approved the exchange’s application for a special purpose depository institution (SPDI) charter – making it a licensed bank in the state, replete with access to federal payments infrastructure and opening the doors to issuing digital-asset debit cards and savings accounts as well as securities and commodities services. Kraken Financial beat out Wyoming blockchain pioneer Caitlin Long’s application for Avanti Financial and became the first bank established in Wyoming since 2006. ‘Chilling effect’ Online gaming and gambling platform Unikrn will pay a $6.1 million settlement – “substantially all of the company’s assets” – for conducting an allegedly unlicensed initial coin offering (ICO) in 2017, according to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). The securities regulator said Unikrn’s $31 million fundraise was in violation of registration requirements, though Commissioner Hester M. Peirce has offered a dissenting opinion that the token startup wasn’t accused of committing any fraud. Further, this injunction will have a chilling effect on innovation on the part of other firms. Unikrn will continue to offer its services supported by major currencies, including fiat currencies, bitcoin (BTC), bitcoin cash (BCH), ether (ETH), and USDC, among others. https://preview.redd.it/jk3u6g00dio51.jpg?width=1200&format=pjpg&auto=webp&s=dd3b78df0fe1f8e7744e752bcc06fdf778f4b641
All you need to know about Yield Farming - The rocket fuel for Defi
Source It’s effectively July 2017 in the world of decentralized finance (DeFi), and as in the heady days of the initial coin offering (ICO) boom, the numbers are only trending up. According to DeFi Pulse, there is $1.9 billion in crypto assets locked in DeFi right now. According to the CoinDesk ICO Tracker, the ICO market started chugging past $1 billion in July 2017, just a few months before token sales started getting talked about on TV. Debate juxtaposing these numbers if you like, but what no one can question is this: Crypto users are putting more and more value to work in DeFi applications, driven largely by the introduction of a whole new yield-generating pasture, Compound’s COMP governance token. Governance tokens enable users to vote on the future of decentralized protocols, sure, but they also present fresh ways for DeFi founders to entice assets onto their platforms. That said, it’s the crypto liquidity providers who are the stars of the present moment. They even have a meme-worthy name: yield farmers. https://preview.redd.it/lxsvazp1g9l51.png?width=775&format=png&auto=webp&s=a36173ab679c701a5d5e0aac806c00fcc84d78c1
Where it started
Ethereum-based credit market Compound started distributing its governance token, COMP, to the protocol’s users this past June 15. Demand for the token (heightened by the way its automatic distribution was structured) kicked off the present craze and moved Compound into the leading position in DeFi. The hot new term in crypto is “yield farming,” a shorthand for clever strategies where putting crypto temporarily at the disposal of some startup’s application earns its owner more cryptocurrency. Another term floating about is “liquidity mining.” The buzz around these concepts has evolved into a low rumble as more and more people get interested. The casual crypto observer who only pops into the market when activity heats up might be starting to get faint vibes that something is happening right now. Take our word for it: Yield farming is the source of those vibes. But if all these terms (“DeFi,” “liquidity mining,” “yield farming”) are so much Greek to you, fear not. We’re here to catch you up. We’ll get into all of them. We’re going to go from very basic to more advanced, so feel free to skip ahead.
What are tokens?
Most CoinDesk readers probably know this, but just in case: Tokens are like the money video-game players earn while fighting monsters, money they can use to buy gear or weapons in the universe of their favorite game. But with blockchains, tokens aren’t limited to only one massively multiplayer online money game. They can be earned in one and used in lots of others. They usually represent either ownership in something (like a piece of a Uniswap liquidity pool, which we will get into later) or access to some service. For example, in the Brave browser, ads can only be bought using basic attention token (BAT). If tokens are worth money, then you can bank with them or at least do things that look very much like banking. Thus: decentralized finance. Tokens proved to be the big use case for Ethereum, the second-biggest blockchain in the world. The term of art here is “ERC-20 tokens,” which refers to a software standard that allows token creators to write rules for them. Tokens can be used a few ways. Often, they are used as a form of money within a set of applications. So the idea for Kin was to create a token that web users could spend with each other at such tiny amounts that it would almost feel like they weren’t spending anything; that is, money for the internet. Governance tokens are different. They are not like a token at a video-game arcade, as so many tokens were described in the past. They work more like certificates to serve in an ever-changing legislature in that they give holders the right to vote on changes to a protocol. So on the platform that proved DeFi could fly, MakerDAO, holders of its governance token, MKR, vote almost every week on small changes to parameters that govern how much it costs to borrow and how much savers earn, and so on. Read more:Why DeFi’s Billion-Dollar Milestone Matters One thing all crypto tokens have in common, though, is they are tradable and they have a price. So, if tokens are worth money, then you can bank with them or at least do things that look very much like banking. Thus: decentralized finance.
What is DeFi?
Fair question. For folks who tuned out for a bit in 2018, we used to call this “open finance.” That construction seems to have faded, though, and “DeFi” is the new lingo. In case that doesn’t jog your memory, DeFi is all the things that let you play with money, and the only identification you need is a crypto wallet. On the normal web, you can’t buy a blender without giving the site owner enough data to learn your whole life history. In DeFi, you can borrow money without anyone even asking for your name. I can explain this but nothing really brings it home like trying one of these applications. If you have an Ethereum wallet that has even $20 worth of crypto in it, go do something on one of these products. Pop over to Uniswap and buy yourself some FUN (a token for gambling apps) or WBTC (wrapped bitcoin). Go to MakerDAO and create $5 worth of DAI (a stablecoin that tends to be worth $1) out of the digital ether. Go to Compound and borrow $10 in USDC. (Notice the very small amounts I’m suggesting. The old crypto saying “don’t put in more than you can afford to lose” goes double for DeFi. This stuff is uber-complex and a lot can go wrong. These may be “savings” products but they’re not for your retirement savings.) Immature and experimental though it may be, the technology’s implications are staggering. On the normal web, you can’t buy a blender without giving the site owner enough data to learn your whole life history. In DeFi, you can borrow money without anyone even asking for your name. DeFi applications don’t worry about trusting you because they have the collateral you put up to back your debt (on Compound, for instance, a $10 debt will require around $20 in collateral). Read more:There Are More DAI on Compound Now Than There Are DAI in the World If you do take this advice and try something, note that you can swap all these things back as soon as you’ve taken them out. Open the loan and close it 10 minutes later. It’s fine. Fair warning: It might cost you a tiny bit in fees, and the cost of using Ethereum itself right now is much higher than usual, in part due to this fresh new activity. But it’s nothing that should ruin a crypto user. So what’s the point of borrowing for people who already have the money? Most people do it for some kind of trade. The most obvious example, to short a token (the act of profiting if its price falls). It’s also good for someone who wants to hold onto a token but still play the market.
Doesn’t running a bank take a lot of money up front?
It does, and in DeFi that money is largely provided by strangers on the internet. That’s why the startups behind these decentralized banking applications come up with clever ways to attract HODLers with idle assets. Liquidity is the chief concern of all these different products. That is: How much money do they have locked in their smart contracts? “In some types of products, the product experience gets much better if you have liquidity. Instead of borrowing from VCs or debt investors, you borrow from your users,” said Electric Capital managing partner Avichal Garg. Let’s take Uniswap as an example. Uniswap is an “automated market maker,” or AMM (another DeFi term of art). This means Uniswap is a robot on the internet that is always willing to buy and it’s also always willing to sell any cryptocurrency for which it has a market. On Uniswap, there is at least one market pair for almost any token on Ethereum. Behind the scenes, this means Uniswap can make it look like it is making a direct trade for any two tokens, which makes it easy for users, but it’s all built around pools of two tokens. And all these market pairs work better with bigger pools.
Why do I keep hearing about ‘pools’?
To illustrate why more money helps, let’s break down how Uniswap works. Let’s say there was a market for USDC and DAI. These are two tokens (both stablecoins but with different mechanisms for retaining their value) that are meant to be worth $1 each all the time, and that generally tends to be true for both. The price Uniswap shows for each token in any pooled market pair is based on the balance of each in the pool. So, simplifying this a lot for illustration’s sake, if someone were to set up a USDC/DAI pool, they should deposit equal amounts of both. In a pool with only 2 USDC and 2 DAI it would offer a price of 1 USDC for 1 DAI. But then imagine that someone put in 1 DAI and took out 1 USDC. Then the pool would have 1 USDC and 3 DAI. The pool would be very out of whack. A savvy investor could make an easy $0.50 profit by putting in 1 USDC and receiving 1.5 DAI. That’s a 50% arbitrage profit, and that’s the problem with limited liquidity. (Incidentally, this is why Uniswap’s prices tend to be accurate, because traders watch it for small discrepancies from the wider market and trade them away for arbitrage profits very quickly.) Read more:Uniswap V2 Launches With More Token-Swap Pairs, Oracle Service, Flash Loans However, if there were 500,000 USDC and 500,000 DAI in the pool, a trade of 1 DAI for 1 USDC would have a negligible impact on the relative price. That’s why liquidity is helpful. You can stick your assets on Compound and earn a little yield. But that’s not very creative. Users who look for angles to maximize that yield: those are the yield farmers. Similar effects hold across DeFi, so markets want more liquidity. Uniswap solves this by charging a tiny fee on every trade. It does this by shaving off a little bit from each trade and leaving that in the pool (so one DAI would actually trade for 0.997 USDC, after the fee, growing the overall pool by 0.003 USDC). This benefits liquidity providers because when someone puts liquidity in the pool they own a share of the pool. If there has been lots of trading in that pool, it has earned a lot of fees, and the value of each share will grow. And this brings us back to tokens. Liquidity added to Uniswap is represented by a token, not an account. So there’s no ledger saying, “Bob owns 0.000000678% of the DAI/USDC pool.” Bob just has a token in his wallet. And Bob doesn’t have to keep that token. He could sell it. Or use it in another product. We’ll circle back to this, but it helps to explain why people like to talk about DeFi products as “money Legos.”
So how much money do people make by putting money into these products?
It can be a lot more lucrative than putting money in a traditional bank, and that’s before startups started handing out governance tokens. Compound is the current darling of this space, so let’s use it as an illustration. As of this writing, a person can put USDC into Compound and earn 2.72% on it. They can put tether (USDT) into it and earn 2.11%. Most U.S. bank accounts earn less than 0.1% these days, which is close enough to nothing. However, there are some caveats. First, there’s a reason the interest rates are so much juicier: DeFi is a far riskier place to park your money. There’s no Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) protecting these funds. If there were a run on Compound, users could find themselves unable to withdraw their funds when they wanted. Plus, the interest is quite variable. You don’t know what you’ll earn over the course of a year. USDC’s rate is high right now. It was low last week. Usually, it hovers somewhere in the 1% range. Similarly, a user might get tempted by assets with more lucrative yields like USDT, which typically has a much higher interest rate than USDC. (Monday morning, the reverse was true, for unclear reasons; this is crypto, remember.) The trade-off here is USDT’s transparency about the real-world dollars it’s supposed to hold in a real-world bank is not nearly up to par with USDC’s. A difference in interest rates is often the market’s way of telling you the one instrument is viewed as dicier than another. Users making big bets on these products turn to companies Opyn and Nexus Mutual to insure their positions because there’s no government protections in this nascent space – more on the ample risks later on. So users can stick their assets in Compound or Uniswap and earn a little yield. But that’s not very creative. Users who look for angles to maximize that yield: those are the yield farmers.
OK, I already knew all of that. What is yield farming?
Broadly, yield farming is any effort to put crypto assets to work and generate the most returns possible on those assets. At the simplest level, a yield farmer might move assets around within Compound, constantly chasing whichever pool is offering the best APY from week to week. This might mean moving into riskier pools from time to time, but a yield farmer can handle risk. “Farming opens up new price arbs [arbitrage] that can spill over to other protocols whose tokens are in the pool,” said Maya Zehavi, a blockchain consultant. Because these positions are tokenized, though, they can go further. This was a brand-new kind of yield on a deposit. In fact, it was a way to earn a yield on a loan. Who has ever heard of a borrower earning a return on a debt from their lender? In a simple example, a yield farmer might put 100,000 USDT into Compound. They will get a token back for that stake, called cUSDT. Let’s say they get 100,000 cUSDT back (the formula on Compound is crazy so it’s not 1:1 like that but it doesn’t matter for our purposes here). They can then take that cUSDT and put it into a liquidity pool that takes cUSDT on Balancer, an AMM that allows users to set up self-rebalancing crypto index funds. In normal times, this could earn a small amount more in transaction fees. This is the basic idea of yield farming. The user looks for edge cases in the system to eke out as much yield as they can across as many products as it will work on. Right now, however, things are not normal, and they probably won’t be for a while.
Why is yield farming so hot right now?
Because of liquidity mining. Liquidity mining supercharges yield farming. Liquidity mining is when a yield farmer gets a new token as well as the usual return (that’s the “mining” part) in exchange for the farmer’s liquidity. “The idea is that stimulating usage of the platform increases the value of the token, thereby creating a positive usage loop to attract users,” said Richard Ma of smart-contract auditor Quantstamp. The yield farming examples above are only farming yield off the normal operations of different platforms. Supply liquidity to Compound or Uniswap and get a little cut of the business that runs over the protocols – very vanilla. But Compound announced earlier this year it wanted to truly decentralize the product and it wanted to give a good amount of ownership to the people who made it popular by using it. That ownership would take the form of the COMP token. Lest this sound too altruistic, keep in mind that the people who created it (the team and the investors) owned more than half of the equity. By giving away a healthy proportion to users, that was very likely to make it a much more popular place for lending. In turn, that would make everyone’s stake worth much more. So, Compound announced this four-year period where the protocol would give out COMP tokens to users, a fixed amount every day until it was gone. These COMP tokens control the protocol, just as shareholders ultimately control publicly traded companies. Every day, the Compound protocol looks at everyone who had lent money to the application and who had borrowed from it and gives them COMP proportional to their share of the day’s total business. The results were very surprising, even to Compound’s biggest promoters. COMP’s value will likely go down, and that’s why some investors are rushing to earn as much of it as they can right now. This was a brand-new kind of yield on a deposit into Compound. In fact, it was a way to earn a yield on a loan, as well, which is very weird: Who has ever heard of a borrower earning a return on a debt from their lender? COMP’s value has consistently been well over $200 since it started distributing on June 15. We did the math elsewhere but long story short: investors with fairly deep pockets can make a strong gain maximizing their daily returns in COMP. It is, in a way, free money. It’s possible to lend to Compound, borrow from it, deposit what you borrowed and so on. This can be done multiple times and DeFi startup Instadapp even built a tool to make it as capital-efficient as possible. “Yield farmers are extremely creative. They find ways to ‘stack’ yields and even earn multiple governance tokens at once,” said Spencer Noon of DTC Capital. COMP’s value spike is a temporary situation. The COMP distribution will only last four years and then there won’t be any more. Further, most people agree that the high price now is driven by the low float (that is, how much COMP is actually free to trade on the market – it will never be this low again). So the value will probably gradually go down, and that’s why savvy investors are trying to earn as much as they can now. Appealing to the speculative instincts of diehard crypto traders has proven to be a great way to increase liquidity on Compound. This fattens some pockets but also improves the user experience for all kinds of Compound users, including those who would use it whether they were going to earn COMP or not. As usual in crypto, when entrepreneurs see something successful, they imitate it. Balancer was the next protocol to start distributing a governance token, BAL, to liquidity providers. Flash loan provider bZx has announced a plan. Ren, Curve and Synthetixalso teamed up to promote a liquidity pool on Curve. It is a fair bet many of the more well-known DeFi projects will announce some kind of coin that can be mined by providing liquidity. The case to watch here is Uniswap versus Balancer. Balancer can do the same thing Uniswap does, but most users who want to do a quick token trade through their wallet use Uniswap. It will be interesting to see if Balancer’s BAL token convinces Uniswap’s liquidity providers to defect. So far, though, more liquidity has gone into Uniswap since the BAL announcement, according to its data site. That said, even more has gone into Balancer.
Did liquidity mining start with COMP?
No, but it was the most-used protocol with the most carefully designed liquidity mining scheme. This point is debated but the origins of liquidity mining probably date back to Fcoin, a Chinese exchange that created a token in 2018 that rewarded people for making trades. You won’t believe what happened next! Just kidding, you will: People just started running bots to do pointless trades with themselves to earn the token. Similarly, EOS is a blockchain where transactions are basically free, but since nothing is really free the absence of friction was an invitation for spam. Some malicious hacker who didn’t like EOS created a token called EIDOS on the network in late 2019. It rewarded people for tons of pointless transactions and somehow got an exchange listing. These initiatives illustrated how quickly crypto users respond to incentives. Read more:Compound Changes COMP Distribution Rules Following ‘Yield Farming’ Frenzy Fcoin aside, liquidity mining as we now know it first showed up on Ethereum when the marketplace for synthetic tokens, Synthetix, announced in July 2019 an award in its SNX token for users who helped add liquidity to the sETH/ETH pool on Uniswap. By October, that was one of Uniswap’s biggest pools. When Compound Labs, the company that launched the Compound protocol, decided to create COMP, the governance token, the firm took months designing just what kind of behavior it wanted and how to incentivize it. Even still, Compound Labs was surprised by the response. It led to unintended consequences such as crowding into a previously unpopular market (lending and borrowing BAT) in order to mine as much COMP as possible. Just last week, 115 different COMP wallet addresses – senators in Compound’s ever-changing legislature – voted to change the distribution mechanism in hopes of spreading liquidity out across the markets again.
Is there DeFi for bitcoin?
Yes, on Ethereum. Nothing has beaten bitcoin over time for returns, but there’s one thing bitcoin can’t do on its own: create more bitcoin. A smart trader can get in and out of bitcoin and dollars in a way that will earn them more bitcoin, but this is tedious and risky. It takes a certain kind of person. DeFi, however, offers ways to grow one’s bitcoin holdings – though somewhat indirectly. A long HODLer is happy to gain fresh BTC off their counterparty’s short-term win. That’s the game. For example, a user can create a simulated bitcoin on Ethereum using BitGo’s WBTC system. They put BTC in and get the same amount back out in freshly minted WBTC. WBTC can be traded back for BTC at any time, so it tends to be worth the same as BTC. Then the user can take that WBTC, stake it on Compound and earn a few percent each year in yield on their BTC. Odds are, the people who borrow that WBTC are probably doing it to short BTC (that is, they will sell it immediately, buy it back when the price goes down, close the loan and keep the difference). A long HODLer is happy to gain fresh BTC off their counterparty’s short-term win. That’s the game.
How risky is it?
Enough. “DeFi, with the combination of an assortment of digital funds, automation of key processes, and more complex incentive structures that work across protocols – each with their own rapidly changing tech and governance practices – make for new types of security risks,” said Liz Steininger of Least Authority, a crypto security auditor. “Yet, despite these risks, the high yields are undeniably attractive to draw more users.” We’ve seen big failures in DeFi products. MakerDAO had one so bad this year it’s called “Black Thursday.” There was also the exploit against flash loan provider bZx. These things do break and when they do money gets taken. As this sector gets more robust, we could see token holders greenlighting more ways for investors to profit from DeFi niches. Right now, the deal is too good for certain funds to resist, so they are moving a lot of money into these protocols to liquidity mine all the new governance tokens they can. But the funds – entities that pool the resources of typically well-to-do crypto investors – are also hedging. Nexus Mutual, a DeFi insurance provider of sorts, told CoinDesk it has maxed out its available coverage on these liquidity applications. Opyn, the trustless derivatives maker, created a way to short COMP, just in case this game comes to naught. And weird things have arisen. For example, there’s currently more DAI on Compound than have been minted in the world. This makes sense once unpacked but it still feels dicey to everyone. That said, distributing governance tokens might make things a lot less risky for startups, at least with regard to the money cops. “Protocols distributing their tokens to the public, meaning that there’s a new secondary listing for SAFT tokens, [gives] plausible deniability from any security accusation,” Zehavi wrote. (The Simple Agreement for Future Tokens was a legal structure favored by many token issuers during the ICO craze.) Whether a cryptocurrency is adequately decentralized has been a key feature of ICO settlements with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).
What’s next for yield farming? (A prediction)
COMP turned out to be a bit of a surprise to the DeFi world, in technical ways and others. It has inspired a wave of new thinking. “Other projects are working on similar things,” said Nexus Mutual founder Hugh Karp. In fact, informed sources tell CoinDesk brand-new projects will launch with these models. We might soon see more prosaic yield farming applications. For example, forms of profit-sharing that reward certain kinds of behavior. Imagine if COMP holders decided, for example, that the protocol needed more people to put money in and leave it there longer. The community could create a proposal that shaved off a little of each token’s yield and paid that portion out only to the tokens that were older than six months. It probably wouldn’t be much, but an investor with the right time horizon and risk profile might take it into consideration before making a withdrawal. (There are precedents for this in traditional finance: A 10-year Treasury bond normally yields more than a one-month T-bill even though they’re both backed by the full faith and credit of Uncle Sam, a 12-month certificate of deposit pays higher interest than a checking account at the same bank, and so on.) As this sector gets more robust, its architects will come up with ever more robust ways to optimize liquidity incentives in increasingly refined ways. We could see token holders greenlighting more ways for investors to profit from DeFi niches. Questions abound for this nascent industry: What will MakerDAO do to restore its spot as the king of DeFi? Will Uniswap join the liquidity mining trend? Will anyone stick all these governance tokens into a decentralized autonomous organization (DAO)? Or would that be a yield farmers co-op? Whatever happens, crypto’s yield farmers will keep moving fast. Some fresh fields may open and some may soon bear much less luscious fruit. But that’s the nice thing about farming in DeFi: It is very easy to switch fields.
Link to Coindesk:https://www.coindesk.com/data-centralization-2030 The next 10 years will witness the systematic manipulation of human life at a scale unrivaled in history. For all the recent controversies over privacy and surveillance, the real threat is ahead of us. Unless new approaches to online identity and data management take hold, both governments and private actors will move inexorably from knowing you to shaping you. Blockchain-enabled decentralization will develop as the only viable response to the iron logic of data centralization. Blockchain believers often talk as though today’s early-adopter use cases, such as cryptocurrency trading and decentralized finance, will lead straight to mass market adoption. As the inevitable ‘killer apps’ appear, so the story goes, blockchain-based systems will conquer the mainstream. One might imagine that we’ll all soon be trading digital collectibles and relying on token-curated registries for accurate information. Governments will lose control over money, and blockchain-based smart contracts will replace court-enforced legal agreements. Uber, Facebook and the banks will wither away in the face of tokenized alternatives. This narrative is wishful thinking. In most markets, intermediaries will endure for the same reasons they always have: they provide value. The Ubers and Facebooks – and yes, even the banks – tame complexity and produce coherent, convenient, de-risked experiences that no decentralized community can ever match. Early adopters use blockchain-based systems for ideological reasons or to get rich on cryptocurrency speculation. The billions behind them in the mainstream will not. The lock-in power of network effects creates high barriers for alternative economic systems. And the need for trust disqualifies decentralized solutions that are havens for criminals, incapable of effective compliance or vulnerable to catastrophic attacks – which, regrettably, means virtually all of them today. Truly decentralized blockchain systems will reach critical mass not out of hope but out of necessity. Powerful actors and mainstream users will adopt blockchain as a counterbalance to digital behavior-shaping by governments and private platforms. Dramatic innovations such as decentralized autonomous organizations (DAOs), which manage activity automatically through smart contracts, will become significant at the end point of this process, once the foundations are in place. Big data and artificial intelligence, pitched as freeing us from human frailties, are becoming powerful tools for social control. This is occurring along two parallel tracks: surveillance authoritarianism and surveillance capitalism. Through massive data collection and aggregation, China’s social credit system envisions an airtight regime of perfect compliance with legal and social obligations. Many other governments, including liberal democracies, are adopting similar techniques. The potential for catching terrorists, child predators and tax evaders is simply too appealing – whether it’s the real objective or a cover story. "WHAT WE NEED IS A TECHNOLOGY THAT ALLOWS FOR SHARING WITHOUT GIVING UP CONTROL. FORTUNATELY, IT EXISTS." Meanwhile, private digital platforms are using troves of data to shape online experiences consistent with their business models. What you see online is, increasingly, what maximizes their profits. Companies such as Google, Amazon, Tencent and Alibaba can build the best algorithms because they have the most data. And they aren’t interested in sharing. Regulatory interventions will fail to derail the self-reinforcing momentum for ever more centralized data repositories. They may even accelerate it by creating layers of compliance obligations that only the largest firms can meet. Europe’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) actually increased the market share of Google and Facebook in online advertising, and so it is not surprising to see such incumbents actively welcoming the prospect of more regulation. The only lasting solution is to change the economics of data, not to impose private property rights; that would accelerate the market forces promoting data centralization. Giving you “ownership” over your data means giving you legal cover to sell it, by clicking “OK” to a one-sided contract you’ll never read. The problem is not ownership, but control. In today’s algorithm-driven world, sharing and aggregating data increases its value, producing better models and better predictions. The trouble is that once we share, we lose control to centralized data hogs. What we need is a technology that allows for sharing without giving up control. Fortunately, it exists. It is called blockchain. Blockchain technology is, fundamentally, a revolution in trust. In the past, trust required ceding control to counter parties, government authorities or intermediaries who occupied the essential validating roles in transaction networks. Blockchain allows participants to trust the results they see without necessarily trusting any actor to verify them. That’s why major global firms in health care, finance, transportation, international trade and other fields are actively developing cross-organizational platforms based on blockchain and related technologies. No database can provide a trusted view of information across an entire transactional network without empowering a central intermediary. Blockchain can. Adopting any new platform at scale, along with the necessary software integration and process changes, takes time – especially when the technology is so immature. But today’s incremental deployments will serve as proofs-of-concept for the more radical innovations to come. Chinese blockchain networks are already managing tens of billions of dollars of trade finance transactions. Pharmaceutical companies are tracking drugs from manufacturing to pharmacies using the MediLedger platform. Boeing is selling a billion dollars of airline parts on Honeywell’s blockchain-based marketplace. Car insurance companies are processing accident claims in a unified environment for the first time. These and other enterprise consortia are doing the essential technical and operational groundwork to handle valuable transactions at scale. The need for transformative approaches to data will become acute in the next five years. Every week, it seems, another outrage comes to light. For instance, users who posted photos under Creative Commons licenses or default-public settings were shocked they were sucked into databases used to train facial-recognition systems. Some were even used in China’s horrific campaign against Uighur Muslims. Clearview AI, an unknown startup, scraped three billion social media images for a face identification tool it provided, with no oversight, to law enforcement, corporations and wealthy individuals. The examples will only get worse as firms and nations learn new ways to exploit data. The core problem is there is no way to share information while retaining control over how it gets used. Blockchain offers a solution. It will be widely adopted because, behind the scenes, the current data economy is reaching its breaking point. Outrage over abuses is building throughout the world. The immensely valuable online advertising economy attracts so much fraud that the accuracy of its numbers is coming into question. Communities are looking for new ways to collaborate. Governments are realizing the current system is an impediment to effective service delivery. The technologist Bill Joy famously stated that no matter how many geniuses a company employs, most smart people work somewhere else. The same is true of data. Even giants such as Google, Facebook and Chinese government agencies need to obtain information from elsewhere in their quest for perfect real-time models of every individual. These arrangements work mostly through contracts and interfaces that ease the flow of data between organisations. As Facebook discovered when Cambridge Analytica extracted massive quantities of user data for voter targeting, these connection points are also vulnerabilities. As tighter limits are placed on data-sharing, even the big players will look for ways to rebuild trust. The blockchain alternative will begin innocuously. Government authorities at the subnational level are deploying self-sovereign identity to pull together information securely across disparate data stores. This technology allows anyone to share private information in a fine-grained way while still retaining control. You shouldn’t have to reveal your address to confirm your age, or your full tax return to verify your stated income. The necessary cryptography doesn’t require a blockchain, but the desired trust relationships do. Once people have identities that belong to them, not to banks or social media services, they will use them as the basis for other interactions. Imagine a world where you never need to give a third-party unnecessary data to log into a website, apply for a job, refinance a mortgage or link your bank account to a mobile payment app. Where you can keep your personal and professional profiles completely separate if you choose. Where you can be confident in the reputation of a car mechanic or an Airbnb or a product made in China without intermediaries warping ratings for their own gain. The convenience of user experiences we enjoy within the walled gardens of digital platforms will become the norm across the vastness of independent services. We will gradually come to view access to our personal information as an episodic, focused interaction, rather than fatalistically accepting an open season based on preliminary formal consent. Major hardware companies such as Apple, which don’t depend on targeted advertising, will build decentralized identity capabilities into their devices. They will add cryptocurrency wallets linked behind the scenes to existing payment and messaging applications. Stablecoins – cryptocurrencies pegged to the dollar, pound or other assets – will help tame volatility and facilitate movement between tokens and traditional currencies. Privately created stablecoins will coexist with central bank digital currencies, which are under development in most major countries throughout the world. Once this baseline infrastructure is widely available, the real changes will start to occur. DAOs will begin to attract assets as efficient ways for communities to achieve their goals. These entities won’t replace state-backed legal systems; they will operate within them. As numerous controversies, crashes and hacks have already demonstrated, software code is too rigid for the range of situations in the real world, absent backstops for human dispute resolution. Fortunately, there are solutions under development to connect legal and digital entities, such as OpenLaw’s Limited Liability Autonomous Organisations and Mattereum’s Asset Passports. Today, the legal machinery of contracts strengthens the power of centralized platforms. User agreements and privacy policies enforce their control over data and limit individuals’ power to challenge it. Blockchain-based systems will flip that relationship, with the legal system deployed to protect technology-backed user empowerment. Large aggregations of information will be structured formally as “data trusts” that exercise independent stewardship over assets. They will operate as DAOs, with smart contracts defining the terms of data usage. Users will benefit from sharing while retaining the ability to opt out. "DATA WILL BE TREATED NOT AS PROPERTY BUT AS A RENEWABLE RESOURCE, WITH THE COMPETITION FOR ECONOMIC VALUE IN THE APPLICATIONS BUILT ON TOP OF IT." Many significant applications require aggregation of data to drive algorithms, including traffic monitoring (and eventually autonomous vehicles); insurance and lending products serving previously excluded or overcharged customer groups; diagnosis and drug dosing in health care; and demand forecasting for economic modeling. Collective action problems can prevent constructive developments even when rights in data are well defined. DAOs will gradually find market opportunities, from patronage of independent artists to mortgage securitization. The big data aggregators won’t go away. They will participate in the decentralized data economy because it provides benefits for them as well, cutting down on fraud and reinforcing user trust, which is in increasingly scarce supply. Over time, those who provide benefits of personalization and targeting will more and more be expected to pay for it. A wide range of brokering and filtering providers will offer users a choice of analytics, some embedded in applications or devices and some providing services virtually in the cloud. Governments will focus on making data available and defining policy objectives for services that take advantage of the flow of information. Data will be treated not as property but as a renewable resource, with the competition for economic value in the applications built on top of it. The most powerful benefit of open data built on blockchain-based decentralised control is that it will allow for new applications we can’t yet envision. If startups can take advantage of the power of data aggregation that today is limited to large incumbents, they are bound to build innovations those incumbents miss. The surveillance economy took hold because few appreciated what was happening with their data until it was too late. And the cold reality is that few will accept significantly worse functionality or user experience in return for better privacy. That is why the blockchain-powered revolution will make its way up from infrastructural foundations of digital identity and hardware, rather than down from novel user-facing applications. This vision is far from certain to be realized. Business decisions and government policies could make blockchain-based data decentralization more or less likely. The greatest reason for optimism is that the problem blockchain addresses – gaining trust without giving up control – is becoming ever more critical. The world runs on trust. Blockchain offers hope for recasting trust in the networked digital era.
In Episode 618 of This Week in Startups, Jason sits down with Brock Pierce, Managing Partner at Blockchain Capital and Chairman of the Bitcoin Foundation. Together, they discuss blockchain protocol, bitcoin mining and scalability, innovative use cases, and the future of cryptocurrency. Throughout the episode, Jason asks Brock important questions about the technology and future of Bitcoin and ... Support This Week in Startups and independent media by joining our new Producer Program at ... Further Background on Bitcoin, Gavin Andresen and Amir Taaki. About Bitcoin. Bitcoin is the first digital currency to be distributed and was created by Satoshi Nakamoto; Bitcoin is based on entirely open source software ; Decentralized to ensure security and freedom of use; Encryption provides basic ... This week, Bitcoin’s halving event which happened on Monday, May 12, 2020, took the crypto ecosystem by storm, where the rewards per block mined on bitcoin’s blockchain was reduced to 6.25 BTC ... Bitcoin has been suspiciously quiet this week. Even though some of the top cryptocurrency assets experienced sharp ups and downs, the pioneer digital asset stayed in a comparative serenity of a ... bitcoin-startups.com. Menu. General; Bahamas launch digital national currency (CBDC) Redakteur 21. October 2020 General No Comments. Digital Central Bank Currencies (CBDCs) are on everyone's lips. But while other countries are still conducting test runs, the Central Bank of the Bahamas announced the official launch of … [Continue Reading...] Renault tests blockchain in the area of parts ...
OpenBazaar, a decentralized marketplace to buy/sell anything w/bitcoin, is a Big Idea w/Big Backers
On today's show is Brian Hoffman, lead developer of OpenBazaar.org, a decentralized P2P open marketplace to buy and sell anything using bitcoin. Parallels to Silk Road abound, and Jason and Brian ... Start making money everyday with us! Click Here - http://www.tradegeniusacademy.com Use Promo Code "holiday" For 50% OFF All Non Bundled Items! Pay attention... This is the first episode of many This Week In Crypto Episodes to come (TWIC) This week has been a very very bipolar week, we have had ups downs all over the... Here's what happened this week in Bitcoin. For the complete stories visit: ... - Lawsuit against 1Broker Bitcoin futures exchange - Swiss startup creates regulated crypto bank. Category Science ... Benchmark Capital General Partner Bill Gurley speaks to CNBC about the Stitch Fix IPO and the state of start-ups and Silicon Valley, as well as his thoughts on Uber and bitcoin.