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Jacques Knight: A Promenade With The Gilets Jaunes In Paris

Along with flashbang stun grenades, the tear-gas grenades were the MVP of crowd control. Securely positioned in lateral streets, riot police equipped with grenade launchers would lob instant pain into the crowd every now and then.

A direct hit from a stun grenade recently cost a young woman an eye. In Bordeaux, a young man lost his hand when he picked up a grenade.


Mara Hvistendahl:  China’s Tech Giants Want to go Global. Just One Thing Might Stand in Their Way

While a wave of homegrown Nobels may still be a way off, the country has seen an explosion of business innovation. The country’s powerful tech companies, along with a few ambitious startups, are now shaping business models in Silicon Valley—and driving debate over internet controls and surveillance in the process. They have succeeded in large part because of a scrappy entrepreneurialism of the sort first seen on Electronics Street. As they get bigger and set their sights overseas, what holds them back may no longer be a lack of talent or resources. Rather, it may be their ties to the Chinese government—the very institution that set off China’s tech boom when it began the economic reform program 40 years ago.


Mike Orcutt: Ethereum Thinks it can Change the World. It’s Running Out of Time to Prove It

The handful of idealistic researchers, developers, and administrators in charge of maintaining its software are under increasing pressure to overcome technical limitations that stymie the network’s growth. At the same time, well-funded competitors have emerged, claiming that their blockchains perform better. Crackdowns by regulators, and a growing understanding of how far most blockchain applications are from being ready for prime time, have scared many cryptocurrency investors away: Ethereum’s market value in dollars has fallen more than 90% since its peak last January.


Robin Hanson: World Government Risks Collective Suicide

We today coordinate on the scale of firms, cities, nations, and international organizations. However, the fact that we also fail to coordinate to deal with many large problems on these scales shows that we face severe limits in our coordination abilities. We also face many problems that could be aided by coordination via world government, and future civilizations will be similarly tempted by the coordination powers of central governments.

But, alas, central power risks central suicide, either done directly on purpose or as an indirect consequence of other broken thinking. In contrast, in a sufficiently decentralized world when one power commits suicide, its place and resources tend to be taken by other powers who have not committed suicide. Competition and selection is a robust long-term solution to suicide, in a way that centralized governance is not.

This is my tentative best guess for the largest future filter that we face, and that other alien civilizations have faced. The temptation to form central governments and other governance mechanisms is strong, to solve immediate coordination problems, to help powerful interests gain advantages via the capture of such central powers, and to sake the ambition thirst of those who would lead such powers. Over long periods this will seem to have been a wise choice, until suicide ends it all and no one is left to say “I told you so.”

Divide the trillions of future years over which we want to last over the increasingly short periods over which moods and sanity changes, and you see a serious problem, made worse by the lack of a sufficiently long view to make us care enough to solve it. For example, if the suicide mood of a universal government changed once a second, then it needs about 1020 non-suicide moods in a row to last a trillion years.


Brandon QuittemBitcoin is a Decentralized Organism (Mycelium)

…some of bitcoin’s best characteristics are simply reflections of successful evolutionary strategies found in nature, specifically in the fungi kingdom. Fungi are predominantly made up of “mycelium” — an underground decentralized intelligence network described by Paul Stamets as “earth’s natural internet.”

Fungal networks don’t have a centralized “brain.” Instead, they have a one-cell walled “root system” called Mycelium. This underground stomach and distributed intelligence network is capable of sending information bi-directionally over long distances and even across species lines. These fungal networks constantly evolve based on feedback from their environment. At any one point, a fungal network contains millions of end points each searching for food, defending their territory, or inventing new molecules to subvert their competition (other fungi, bacteria, etc). These networks form a decentralized consensus on how to use resources, when to reproduce, and what strategy best defends the organism. This mirrors the decentralized consensus (social contract) formed in bitcoin. Nodes determine what software they wish to run and enforce the consensus rules they support accordingly. Miners determine which transactions to include in blocks. Exchanges, wallets, and merchants each steward large groups of users. Each participant in bitcoin voluntarily chooses how they wish to participate and the aggregate consensus represents the network.

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