- Why Decentralization Matters – medium.com
Early internet protocols were technical specifications created by working groups or non-profit organizations that relied on the alignment of interests in the internet community to gain adoption. This method worked well during the very early stages of the internet but since the early 1990s very few new protocols have gained widespread adoption. Cryptonetworks fix these problems by providing economics incentives to developers, maintainers, and other network participants in the form of tokens. They are also much more technically robust. For example, they are able to keep state and do arbitrary transformations on that state, something past protocols could never do.
Cryptonetworks use multiple mechanisms to ensure that they stay neutral as they grow, preventing the bait-and-switch of centralized platforms. First, the contract between cryptonetworks and their participants is enforced in open source code. Second, they are kept in check through mechanisms for “voice” and “exit.” Participants are given voice through community governance, both “on chain” (via the protocol) and “off chain” (via the social structures around the protocol). Participants can exit either by leaving the network and selling their coins, or in the extreme case by forking the protocol.
In short, cryptonetworks align network participants to work together toward a common goal — the growth of the network and the appreciation of the token. This alignment is one of the main reasons Bitcoin continues to defy skeptics and flourish, even while new cryptonetworks like Ethereum have grown alongside it.
Today’s cryptonetworks suffer from limitations that keep them from seriously challenging centralized incumbents. The most severe limitations are around performance and scalability. The next few years will be about fixing these limitations and building networks that form the infrastructure layer of the crypto stack. After that, most of the energy will turn to building applications on top of that infrastructure.
- Enlightenment How? Omens of the Semantic Apocalypse – rsbakker.wordpress.com
Humans deceive and manipulate one another all the time, of course. And false AI friends don’t rule out true AI defenders. But the former merely describes the ancestral environments shaping our basic heuristic tool box. And the latter simply concedes the fundamental loss of those cognitive ecologies. The more prosthetics we enlist, the more we complicate our ecology, the more mediated our determinations become, the less efficacious our ancestral intuitions become. The more we will be told to trust to gerrymandered stipulations.
Corporate simulacra are set to deluge our homes, each bent on cuing trust. We’ve already seen how the hypersensitivity of intentional cognition renders us liable to hallucinate minds where none exist. The environmental ubiquity of AI amounts to the environmental ubiquity of systems designed to exploit granular sociocognitive systems tuned to solve humans. The AI revolution amounts to saturating human cognitive ecology with invasive species, billions of evolutionarily unprecedented systems, all of them camouflaged and carnivorous. It represents—obviously, I think—the single greatest cognitive ecological challenge we have ever faced.
What does ‘human flourishing’ mean in such cognitive ecologies? What can it mean? Pinker doesn’t know. Nobody does. He can only speculate in an age when the gobsmacking power of science has revealed his guesswork for what it is. This was why Adorno referred to the possibility of knowing the good as the ‘Messianic moment.’ Until that moment comes, until we find a form of rationality that doesn’t collapse into instrumentalism, we have only toothless guesses, allowing the pointless optimization of appetite to command all. It doesn’t matter whether you call it the will to power or identity thinking or negentropy or selfish genes or what have you, the process is blind and it lies entirely outside good and evil. We’re just along for the ride.
- After Authenticity – subpixel.space
Meanwhile, years of semantic slippage had happened without me noticing. Suddenly the surging interest in fashion, the dad hats, the stupid pin companies, the lack of sellouts, it all made sense. Authenticity has expanded to the point that people don’t even believe in it anymore. And why should we? Our friends work at SSENSE, they work at Need Supply. They are starting dystopian lifestyle brands. Should we judge them for just getting by? A Generation-Z-focused trend report I read last year clumsily posed that “the concept of authenticity is increasingly deemed inauthentic.” It goes further than that. What we are witnessing is the disappearance of authenticity as a cultural need altogether.
Under authenticity, the value of a thing decreases as the number of people to whom it is meaningful increases. This is clearly no longer the case. Take memes for example. “Meme” circa 2005 meant lolcats, the Y U NO guy and grimy neckbeards on 4chan. Within 10 years “meme” transitioned from this one specific subculture to a generic medium in which collective participation is seen as amplifying rather than detracting from value.
In a strange turn of events, the mass media technologies built out during the heady authenticity days have had a huge part in facilitating this new mass media culture. The hashtag, like, upvote, and retweet are UX patterns that systematize endorsement and quantify shared value. The meme stock market jokers are more right than they know; memes are information commodities. But unlike indie music 10 years ago the value of a meme is based on its publicly shared recognition. From mix CDs to nationwide Spotify playlists. With information effortlessly transferable at zero marginal cost and social platforms that blast content to the top of everyone’s feed, it’s difficult to for an ethics based on scarcity to sustain itself.
- Introducing: Asabiyah – scholars-stage.blogspot.com
To introduce the idea of asabiyah I like to start in a place where the cold Hobbseian logic of fear and interest break down: the battleground. This example is not what Ibn Khaldun uses to explain the concept, but it does accord with his later outline of the principles that lead to victory or defeat.  War is an activity that requires extreme sacrifices from those called to wage it. Imagine if you will a Roman legion, Greek phalanx, or any kind of ancient army that required men to stand arrayed in line against a foe as terrible as themselves. How does a commander of such a force motivate his men to obey his commands despite the terror, tiredness, and sheer brutality to be found on the killing fields of war? The Legalists of ancient China thought great rewards for valor and dreadful punishments for cowardice or insubordination would be enough to command the devotion of the soldiery. Theirs was an attempt to align the private passions of the masses with the will of the state, and with this Hobbesian logic they hoped to throw conscripts and slaves into battle without needing to worry about loyalty or other soft emotions of the soul.  As the success of the Qin armies demonstrates, their methods had merit. But theirs was a strategy that worked best when the battle was easy and victory was certain. When victory is in doubt, when rewards may not be given, and death seems certain for both those who follow orders and those who shirk them, the Hobbesian approach falls apart. In such dire times the self interested soldier realizes that his personal interest would be better served by fleeing from the field of battle than staying to be sacrificed for the greater cause.
An army composed of self interested soldiers more concerned with their own appetites and advantage than the army’s fate is an army that, other things being equal, will be defeated. The force that conquers or defends ‘against all odds’ is a force imbued with a spirit of solidarity whose strength is more compelling than naked self interest could ever be. This spirit of sacrifice and common cause may be the fruit of patriotic fervor or revolutionary zeal, though often it is simply the sort of battleground loyalty that turns a group of strangers into “a band of brothers.” It is this feeling that compels the self interested man to lead the charge and hold fast the standard despite the seeming irrationality of his position. It is not an emotion that causes men to ignore or forget self interest so much as it is a virtue that causes them to identify their narrow passions with the greater cause. For as long as this conviction lasts, the soldier thus enraptured will believe sincerely that the army’s gains are his gains and that the army’s fate is his fate. Even in most desperate straits he will work with the strength and focus normally reserved for attaining private advantage, for in his mind the distinction between “self interest” and “group interest” will no longer be important.
The feeling and conviction that causes a man to think and act this way is what Ibn Khaldun called asabiyah.
this blog is a treasure – i somehow hadn’t come across it until last month. the subject, though, is one of those concepts that clicks deeply into place and makes all kinds of group behaviors (cults, monotheism, subcultures) suddenly make sense. also drawn on heavily by peter turchin, who i mentioned last update.
- Vengeance As Justice: Passages I Highlighted in My Copy of “Eye for an Eye” – scholars-stage.wordpress.com
Suppose I lose my eye in a car accident for which you were at fault. In our legal order you must pay me for the loss of my eye. But you get it at a bargain. I can get only what the court, or the worker’s comp schedules, or the insurance company says is the going rate for an involuntarily transferred eye as long as it still leaves me with one good one. You do not have to pay me what I would have demanded had you bargained with me ahead of time for the right to take it (assuming for the sake of the hypothetical that I could legally agree to have my eye gouged out). But that is the problem with accidents. One does not usually set about to do them on purpose, and so all the bargaining must he done after the transfer has been effected and the damage is done. My eye in such a regime is cheap for the taking.
Compare, though, how much improved my bargaining position is in a talionic regime, and thus how much pricier my eye will be. The talion structures the bargaining situation to simulate the hypothetical bargain that would have been struck had I been able to set the price of my eye before you took it. It does this by a neat trick of substitution. Instead of receiving a price for the taking of my eye, I get to demand the price you will be willing to pay to keep yours. It is not so much that I think your eye substitutable for mine. It is that you do. You will in fact play the role of me valuing my eye before it was taken out, and the talion assumes that you will value yours as I would have valued mine. The talion works some quick magic: as soon as you take my eye, in that instant your eye becomes mine; I now possess the entitlement to it. And that entitlement is protected by a property rule. I get to set the price, and you will have to accede to my terms to keep me from extracting. 
An interesting comparison here (that Miller does not make) is with compensation packages awarded to families whose children died due to industrial malfeasance. In the early days awards might be as low as $10 per child, representing the amount of money the child would have made for his family had he not died as a child-worker.  The Victorians and their predecessors talked about how they were more civilized than their Saxon forbearers, but in many ways the life of a barbarian was valued far higher than a modern man’s
- Book Review: The Complacent Class – thezvi.wordpress.com
Our society has made talking about some of its central issues and problems quite difficult.
A loosely defined and generally expanding class of facts, thoughts and ideas are classified as Bad Things. Many of these Bad Things were consensus views as recently as a few years ago. Many of the Bad Things are believed by many or even a majority of the people. Some are obviously true, important to people’s well being and believed by basically everyone.
If you defend even one of these Bad Things even once, for a single sentence, that makes you a horrible person. Some people will literally try to destroy your entire life for it. Even if your statement is factually accurate. Even if your true statement was not a Bad Thing at the time, but retroactively becomes a Bad Thing. Even if you do so while explicitly fighting that same Bad Thing. Or condemning Bad Thing insufficiently strongly.
There are also Good Things, for which the situation is reversed.
Tyler describes problems where people value Bad Things. In some cases he wants to point out that this is in their self-interest. In others, he wants to point out that those Bad Things are necessary for society.
Thus, he needs even more obfuscation than usual.
His book contains facts. It condemns Bad Things and praises Good Things.
If all works as planned, this constructs a model that causes the man on the street to take proper actions.
The text also contains enough information to construct a second model. This second model is deniable. It is explicit about what must be raised and lowered in status. It knows some Good Things are bad, some Bad Things good. Sometimes for the individual, sometimes for society. Most importantly, the second model explains what is going on and why, but then encourages us to preach for the first model, because the second model predicts that widespread belief in the first model will have good results.
- Our Moral Duties to Monsters – schwitzsplinters.blogspot.com
Now, if artificial consciousness is possible, then maybe it will turn out that we can create Utility Monsters on our hard drives. (Maybe this is what happens in R. Scott Bakker’s and my story Reinstalling Eden.)
Two questions arise:
(1.) Should we work to create artificially conscious beings who are capable of superhuman heights of pleasure? On the face of it, it seems like a good thing to do, to bring beings capable of great pleasure into the world! On the other hand, maybe we have no general obligation to bring happy beings into the world. (Compare: Many people think we have no obligation to increase the number of human children even if we think they would be happy.)
(2.) If we do create such beings, ought we immiserate ourselves for their happiness? It seems unintuitive to say that we should, but I can also imagine a perspective on which it makes sense to sacrifice ourselves for superhumanly great descendants.
- Hash-based Signatures: An illustrated Primer – blog.cryptographyengineering.com
Instead I’m going to talk about something much more wonky. This post will be about one of the simplest (and coolest!) cryptographic technologies ever developed: hash-based signatures.
Hash-based signature schemes were first invented in the late 1970s by Leslie Lamport, and significantly improved by Ralph Merkle and others. For many years they were largely viewed as an interesting cryptographic backwater, mostly because they produce relatively large signatures (among other complications). However in recent years these constructions have enjoyed something of a renaissance, largely because — unlike signatures based on RSA or the discrete logarithm assumption — they’re largely viewed as resistant to serious quantum attacks like Shor’s algorithm.
- Adolescent social defeat alters markers of adult dopaminergic function – ncbi.nlm.nih.gov
Stressful experiences during adolescence can alter the trajectory of neural development and contribute to psychiatric disorders in adulthood. We previously demonstrated that adolescent male rats exposed to repeated social defeat stress show changes in mesocorticolimbic dopamine content both at baseline and in response to amphetamine when tested in adulthood. In the present study we examined whether markers of adult dopamine function are also compromised by adolescent experience of social defeat. Given that the dopamine transporter as well as dopamine D1 receptors act as regulators of psychostimulant action, are stress sensitive and undergo changes during adolescence, quantitative autoradiography was used to measure [3H]-GBR12935 binding to the dopamine transporter and [3H]-SCH23390 binding to dopamine D1 receptors, respectively. Our results indicate that social defeat during adolescence led to higher dopamine transporter binding in the infralimbic region of the medial prefrontal cortex and higher dopamine D1 receptor binding in the caudate putamen, while other brain regions analyzed were comparable to controls. Thus it appears that social defeat during adolescence causes specific changes to the adult DA system, which may contribute to behavioral alterations and increased drug seeking.
- Virtual private networks with WireGuard – archive.is (lwn.net)
In June 2016, Jason Donenfeld showed up with a new VPN implementation called WireGuard that claims to avoid the problems associated with other options. It is an in-kernel implementation (though still out of tree) that has been developed with performance in mind. The implementation is quite small (about 4,000 lines of code), making it relatively easy to verify. Configuration of the system is relatively simple though, as with any sort of network configuration it seems, the “relatively” qualification is important.
The advantage of the WireGuard approach can be seen here, though; it creates interfaces that can be connected to each other. After that all of the normal networking routing and traffic-control features can be used to cause that VPN link to be used in a wide variety of ways. There are also some special features designed to allow WireGuard interfaces to be used within network namespaces.
I ran a test, using WireGuard to set up a link between the desktop machine and a remote cloud instance. It took a little while, but that is mostly a matter of being extremely rusty with the ip command set. The VPN tunnel worked as advertised in the end. Before enabling the tunnel, a SpeedOf.Me test showed 137Mbps bandwidth down and 12.9Mbps up; the ping time to an LWN server was 76ms. With all traffic routing over the WireGuard VPN link, downward bandwidth dropped to 131Mbps and upward to 12.4Mbps; ping times were nearly unchanged. That is not a zero cost, but it is not huge and one should bear in mind that going through a NAT gateway at the far end will be a big chunk of the total performance hit. So WireGuard does indeed appear to be reasonably fast.
- Ending the Long 20th Century – jacobitemag.com
While groundbreaking technological innovations often happens first in the framework of the hyper-centralized and -verticalized confines of large corporations and ultracapitalized high-risk military research, its spin-offs have continuously facilitated decentralization – PCs and the internet being the obvious example. Similarly, today permaculture, solar panels, autonomous energy housing, mesh networks, and the blockchain allow for various kinds of a sustainable and efficient organization of lifestyles both prosperous, self-sufficient and independent of centralized power. Cody Wilson’s 3D printed gun is the nightmare of the 20th century economy, since it moves the main – and with the controlled demolition of state-welfare functions increasingly sole – legitimization mechanism of state power – security – into the hands of the individual. From the perspective of state power, the variety of the technologies of decentralization and autonomy of course are all problematic because they pose a challenge to the ongoing subsidization of a complex of military-petrochemicals-pharmaceuticals-agribusiness-chemicals-food-corporate infrastructure which doubles as a stabilizing transnational control grid.
Observing the functional mechanisms of these sector-organizations, it is easy to see how technology becomes a double-edged sword and constant challenge to their globalized but ultimately highly centralized supply chains. Territorialization: Planned obsolescence and suspiciously regular innovation cycles show that economies organized around a skeleton of centralizing megacorporation’s prefer the steady trickle of shareholder returns to the potentially unmanageable entropy of technological innovation. Especially if technological innovation, as is often the case, manages to cut out the (technological-financial) middle men and helps to self-organize the bulk of medical, energetic, nutritional and technological needs. The currently ongoing political-ideological war against the class of (mainly white) rural independent and armed US landowners must be understood in this context. From the perspective of the state, Waco will always stand for the limits of extraction and control.
- Home-made drones now threaten conventional armed forces – economist.com
These particular drones, the Russians claim, were intercepted before they could cause any damage. However, several Russian aircraft were apparently damaged in an attack in Syria four days earlier, which was also, according to some accounts, carried out by drones. And there will certainly be other assaults of this sort. Guerrillas have been using commercial drones since 2015. Islamic State (IS), one of the groups active in Syria, makes extensive use of quadcopters to drop grenades. In 2017 alone the group posted videos of over 200 attacks. IS has also deployed fixed-wing aircraft based on the popular Skywalker X8 hobby drone. These have longer ranges than quadcopters and can carry bigger payloads. Other groups in Syria, and in Iraq as well, employ similar devices. Their use has spread, too, to non-politically-motivated criminals. In October, four Mexicans allegedly linked to a drug cartel were arrested with a bomb-carrying drone.
- Patchwork: A Minor Introduction – xerosones.wordpress.com
2008 brings us Moldbug’s first post on Patchwork on Unqualified reservations. Moldbug unconsciously isolates himself away from Panarchism (not that Moldbug knew of Panarchism, he explicitly state he has no knowledge of any other author writing about similar ideas). Moldbug summing up (his version of) Patchwork :
The basic idea of Patchwork is that, as the crappy governments we inherited from history are smashed, they should be replaced by a global spiderweb of tens, even hundreds, of thousands of sovereign and independent mini-countries, each governed by its own joint-stock corporation without regard to the residents’ opinions. If residents don’t like their government, they can and should move. The design is all “exit,” no “voice.”
This paradox is just one more stimulus for a complete replacement of the State. We have had enough. We are done with the present system of government. We want a reboot. And, anarchy being both impossible and un-reactionary, we can’t even talk about a reboot until we’ve specified what operating system to boot next.
So we can think of Patchwork as a new operating system for the world. Of course, it does not have to be installed across the entire world, although it is certainly designed to scale. But, it is easier and much more prudent to start small. Innovations in sovereignty are dangerous.
A patchwork — please feel free to drop the capital — is any network consisting of a large number of small but independent states. To be precise, each state’s real estate is its patch; the sovereign corporate owner, ie government, of the patch is its realm. At least initially, each realm holds one and only one patch. In practice this may change with time, but the realm-patch structure is at least designed to be stable.
This links us back to Nietzsche stating that once the state decays, private corporations will take the role to provide what used to be provided by the government. This is how Moldbug wants Patchwork to be run, and has been dubbed (by him) as Neocameralism.
a ‘new operating system’ eh?
- The Malicious Use of Artificial Intelligence: Forecasting, Prevention, and Mitigation (pdf) – eff.org
Artificial intelligence and machine learning capabilities are growing at an unprecedented rate. These technologies have many widely beneficial applications, ranging from machine translation to medical image analysis. Countless more such applications are being developed and can be expected over the long term. Less attention has historically been paid to the ways in which artificial intelligence can be used maliciously. This report surveys the landscape of potential security threats from malicious uses of artificial intelligence technologies, and proposes ways to better forecast, prevent, and mitigate these threats. We analyze, but do not conclusively resolve, the question of what the long-term equilibrium between attackers and defenders will be. We focus instead on what sorts of attacks we are likely to see soon if adequate defenses are not developed.
- OpenBazaar 2.0 is LIVE! – openbazaar.org
The 2.0 release is a completely new network, separate from the earlier version of the OpenBazaar network. We’ve learned much from the 1.0 version, and with this information we’ve made the new OpenBazaar one of the most user-friendly decentralized applications ever built.
- Fenrir Project wiki – fenrirproject.org
Fenrir is a from-scratch rewrite of transport, authentication, authorization and encryption protocols. The result is an efficient, flexible protocol whose aims are the security and the simplification of both developers’ work and the user experience with security. […] The protocol can handle unicast, Multicast, ordered, unordered, reliable and unreliable transmission, or any combination, with multiple data streams per connection. The federated authentication included grants the interoperability between servers, and introduces the concept of authorization lattice where we can order multiple privilege levels. Finally the whole project does not rely on the certificate authority model, so no X.509 certificates are needed: the keys are derived from DNSSEC.
- How to Host Your IPFS Files Online Forever – medium.com
Have you ever wondered how to keep your IPFS files online forever? If you’ve used IPFS at some point, you‘ve probably have seen that your files just dissapear after 24 hours or so. In this tutorial I’ll show you how to keep your files online as long as you have a server and your content is pinned.
IPFS is a fantastic platform for hosting descentralized files without worrying about Ddos attacks and server problems. It just works and it’s ideal for static websites. Dapps that you want to be fully descentralized. The problem is that once you add a file to the network, it dissapears after about 24 hours if nobody else has it pinned. It gets garbage collected by the network.
Newsboat is a fork of Newsbeuter, an RSS/Atom feed reader for the text console. The only difference is that Newsboat is actively maintained while Newsbeuter isn’t.
i’ve only just found out about inoreader but i’ve already switched over to that!