Categories
Startups

Day 1257 and Other People’s Labor

I am laying prone in bed hopped up on DayQuil and the good codeine cough medication. I have Covid and apparently this bout will be no picnic.

Being sick can feel vulnerable. I imagine to most eyes I am economically and socially unproductive in this condition. I am not able to labor.

When I am sick I am grateful I get to be capital. I feel capitalism should appeal anyone with a disability (as I do) simply because comparative advantage allows us to exist without being at of the mercy of the state. Illness being disabling doesn’t mean low productivity.

My ability to be capital relies on the comparative advantage of specializing in startup kinda of startups. Practically it means I got to play a part in helping further the labor of others looking build a company.

Today was a big day on that front for me. One of my investments (humble brag I was their first commitment) Squads announced their Series A today.

They have come a long way since when I wrote about them on day 301 to where they are today on day 1257. A lot happened between fall of 2021 and Summer 2024. Now they are the market leading multi-sig wallet on Solana thanks to their Squads protocol.

They began with a vision of DAO tooling and ended up simply dominating code Solana primitives. They are doing the work of developing smart account technology and products that make it easier for businesses and individuals to securely manage and own digital assets. And they continue to make crucial tooling like Fuse.

For all the mania of meme coins and tokens, we can forget it’s real companies making real infrastructure.

These things have to be built for grander vision to exist in crypto and Squads has clearly been the team to do it. They have worked relentlessly shipping tools people want to use and build with.

When first met their CEO Stepan in Twitter DMs I had the privilege of seeing their early days upfront. There was never a moment that they were not listening to the market and adapting. I spent much of the summer of 2021 on DAOs because of their influence.

Everyone on the team practically wanted to do the work of building out what was needed for us to transact and govern in a trustless environment as individuals and as groups. I was inspired by their commitment to execution.

I am just a small part of their journey. But being able to provide the kind of specialized capital that could understand what they wanted to build from the start is a huge source of pride for me. Without early stage oddity investors like me it would take just a little longer for the entrepreneurs like Stepan, Deni and Sean to get to market. And the market deserves a company like Squads. Their hard labor built something of value.

Categories
Internet Culture Startups

Day 1239 and @ Consensus 2024 Next Week

I’ll be in Austin Texas next week for Consensus 2024. I’ve really enjoyed my last couple of years attending. The entire crypto industry gathers for it giving it a summer camp feel. Or as Coindesk says “10 years of decentralizing the future” which undersells their role in reporting the industry.

The conference coincided with the annual Coincenter dinner which is an industry wide non profit effort to work towards policy goals for decentralized computing like Bitcoin & Ethereum and the wider cryptocurrency.

Our mission is to defend the rights of individuals to build and use free and open cryptocurrency networks: the right to write and publish code – to read and to run it. The right to assemble into peer-to-peer networks. And the right to do all this privately.

In that vein, I’ll be discussing the intersection of artificial intelligence as the #FreedomToCompute at Consensus as this is THE issue for everyone who uses compute as a tool to solve problems.

It’s an opportunity to discuss the big public goals around the future of machine money and machine intelligence.

I’d argue this includes the entire software industry and by default anyone who is reading this post. Our most important rights will be decided by how we handle policy on these issues. Math is leverage.

One of the town halls I’ll be participating in at Consensus (a format I love to dig deep into topics) is about how artificial intelligence can be a tool for our efforts to decentralize and not end up as a master of big government or big tech.

Crypto has the basic problems facing artificial intelligence. Both spaces rely on open, available and trustless compute. Both are under intense scrutiny and face significant regulatory capture risks.

It’s never been a better time to get involved in these topics. We need open protocols and interoperability standards far more than we need fretting about safetyism and hysterics about science fiction.

Doom solves no problems but software does. We need safe harbors and policy sandboxes so we can continue to nurture algorithmic innovation for us all.

Categories
Startups

Day 1230 and Alignment is Consensus

Over the last decade I’ve gone deeper into a set of values that guide my relationship to what we should be building and for whom.

Consensus and alignment will be the twin sisters of our shared reality.

We achieve consensus through open networked & decentralized systems of governance and value. A trustless system reaches consensus we all agree upon through the mathematical verification of compute. Decentralized collaborative approaches are the path to alignment.

The further we get from truth as a set of shared experience we agree upon as humans, the more crucial a trustless future becomes.

AI and crypto offer us transparent solutions to agreement. Machine intelligence needs machine money and machine governance.

Humans beings are not truth seeking animals. We are social animals. We decide the boundaries of culture together. Rationality is an aspiration resting atop faulty sensors and emotional baggage.

But we can reach a consensus. Mathematics gives us the tools to differentiate between thing and not thing. We can encode quite a bit into binary.

We can seek to know things impartially. From there we share our experience with others. We measure and compare. Trial and error is collaborative. To be able to come to an agreement on a shared truth is the whole goal.

To be able to collaborate widely and through shared and mutually agreed upon standards remains the ambition of civilization. Coordination unlocks progress.

With artificial intelligence we can extend out the realm of what we know. Networking together all our emotionally faulty sensors, conflicting pieces of cultural & emotional knowledge together reveals bigger things.

If, from that networked reality, we are then able to scale the abstract business of solving specific and concrete problems all the better.

Building within reality requires us to agree on an acceptable consensus. We can verify positions and align incentives together. The alignment is all of us coming to a consensus on how we allocate our attention, willpower, and resources.

We reach for technological progress through alignment which is organized through the network consensus layers of governance and value.

The freedom to compute is essential to alignment. In a trustless world, we are able to reach consensus we can all verify.

Categories
Travel

Day 1160 and Head West Young Woman

I’m wrapping up my current trip through the southern Mediterranean and the Balkans. I have been doing travel as part of my own effort to do on the ground work cultivating networks.

“I cultivate movements, memesdegenerateseccentrics and engineers. I’ve made many trips to far flung corners of the European continent including extended stays in the Baltics and the Balkans.”

Day 1155

I particularly enjoyed getting to see the practical efforts of crypto communities in the Balkans. The road to success is long and I like to walk the early paths and less popular trails in my searches for the weirdos who I believe make the best founders.

I’ll be heading to Los Angeles soon. I will be touring El Segundo where I’ll finally get see one of my portfolio founders in person. If you are in the area and working on something you think I can help with as an investor or advisor send me a DM on Twitter or drop me an email Julie at chaotic dot capital.

Categories
Finance Startups

Day 1147 and Balkan Crypto

I’m in the Balkans for a few weeks doing some scouting and visiting with friends and colleagues. The western Balkans including Albania, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Serbia and Montenegro are known for their occasionally colorful participation in cryptocurrencies.

The region has experienced currency volatility, struggles with central banking and even in Albania a civil war stemming from a financial crisis over government Ponzi schemes.

These negative experience with currency instability, government corruption and sociopolitical unrest has led to a desire to experiment with transparency and decentralization amongst the region’s youth.

The ecosystem is host to serious projects has a talented base of engineers. Ripple is experimenting with a national stable coin in Montenegro. Zuzalu, the two-month invite-only gathering that Ethereum blockchain co-founder Vitalik Buterin led in Montenegro has been a regional hub. And it has inspired a new grants program Zu- villages that strikes me as a cross between network state and a DAO with Gitcoin.

In an editorial in Bitcoin Magazine the founder of the Belgrade Bitcoin Hub summed up the “why”

As a result of years of unfulfilled promises from regional politicians, people of the Balkans are hard to convince about the long-term benefits that can be realized by adopting Bitcoin in one’s life. A low time preference way of life to most people in this region is associated with disappointment and the lowered standards of living that have happened many times before.

Plumski founder of the Belgrade Bitcoin Hub.

Categories
Media

Day 1122 and Zombie Media

The lifespan of a media brand is an odd thing. Commanding attention and influencing the opinion of large audiences is hard work. Distribution of information has changed a lot in my lifetime which has shaken the business of media.

Some generational powers like Vogue have managed to hang on even as the internet democratized access to changing fashions. Newspapers, which have consolidated fiercely, are no longer local city standard bearers. The most financial success went in national directions like The New York Times.

Everything is fighting a losing war against the Internet. Weeklies that were concerned with recapping the goings on in the world have all but disappeared. The Economist almost made the transition to the the digital era but lost its way.

For me it was when John Micklethwait left The Economist for Bloomberg. I loved the publication as a teen & twenty something. I miss it still, but once its paywall was up and the editors I trusted were gone, it ceased to exist as an influence in my world. Influence can wane quickly. I read Bloomberg now.

Other media outlets have gone to battle in the Hobbesian war of all against all and seem to be competing with rage headlines and audience capture niches. These are the ones that concern me the most.

Wired Magazine was beloved by the first wave of Internet and technology enthusiasts. Its essays defined the era. Now it seems to have turned on the promise of technology entirely with panicked headlines about the dangers inherent in a new form of corporate structure.

A Dangerous Home for Online Extremism: DAOs

For me, seeing Wired doing this sort of thing is akin to the moment in a zombie movie when a friend or family member is bitten. As they are reanimated from the dead, you are in grief and shock, but also must quickly accept your friend is gone and what is in its place is able to harm you.

For what it’s worth, I have been arguing for the innovative potential in decentralized autonomous organizations for years. I appreciate the spotlight being put on them. But I’m also sad to see a media brand lose trust. It’s not so easily regained.

Categories
Aesthetics Internet Culture

Day 1046 and Aestheticization of Techno-Capital

Aestheticization of politics is to 1930s :: Aestheticization of techno-capital is to 2020s

Julie Fredrickson

Does anyone have a Walter Benjamin AI agent I can borrow? I’m working on the above analogy as I believe we may be seeing a similar form of reactionary populism with techno-capital finding itself at the center of a similar aestheticization process inside the accelerationist movements.

Its (mankind) self-alienation has reached such a degree that it can experience its own destruction as an aesthetic pleasure of the first order. This is the situation of politics which Fascism is rendering aesthetic. Communism responds by politicizing art

The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction” Walter Benjamin

The various branching of accelerationist thought has gone from university critical theorists towards the event horizon of techno-capital. It’s all playing out across fragmented social media platforms.

I don’t have a full analysis of what’s happening but e/acc’s first genuinely funny attack vector is a femcel coded brigade of glowie girlboss NFT grifts calling themselves “based retard gang” and Lil Clear Pill. They made a whole cute/acc manifesto riffing Landian NEET asexuality aesthetics just to sell some shit. Which is obviously the most techno-capitalism shit I can imagine. For watchers of the space it’s the Milady/ Remelia folks drifting into the slipstreams of e/acc for a buck.

If none of that scans for you don’t worry, I’m confident you are happier for it. It’s just interesting to see the branching and threading and hijacking of these schismatic groups all in search of clout and capital.

Categories
Community Culture Politics

Day 1033 and Agency Explosion

I spent my entire day at The Network State conference in Amsterdam. I was impressed by just how many competing visions people had for how we might self organize into a modern sovereign societies.

Naturally people who aren’t sold on a traditional geographic nation state, as a philosophical or practical matter, are a very diverse lot. And most of them are some flavor of dissident. You don’t go looking to create a new state if you are happy with the current regimes. By the looks of the crowd, a lot of people are disappointed in their elites.

So diverse was the content that you could probably find both religious fascist reactionaries and collectivist post-rational atheists on the same floor.

You can find all of the content online and I would encourage you to watch it. You won’t agree with everyone (lord knows I didn’t) but you will see competing visions for how law, currency, education and information sharing can be structured. You will likely find arguments that strike you as morally repugnant. And probably a few that have you clapping in agreement.

It was actually a bit refreshing to see people take firm stances on their values and their limits. I’m not always thrilled to see where some people would place my personal rights (women’s rights somehow remains a hotly contested space) but the “grey tribe” crypto libertarians do their level best to accommodate everyone at the protocol level. Sometimes people you dislike use common infrastructure. Welcome to civilization.

What I saw, as Brook from Vibecamp put it, was an explosion of agency. The people gathered together believed that the future and the spaces they inhabit can be negotiated without intermediaries. Everyone believed they had agency in forming their own network states.

That’s a pretty revolutionary stance. I’m not surprised to find that we don’t all agree on how the revolution will play out. But it’s nice to see that people believe they can build a better a better world with the tools they have available to them.

Categories
Startups Travel

Day 1024 and Rate of Change

I had to slow down for two weeks to balance out my work, my circumstances, world events and my emotions. I always find myself disappointed at slowing down. There is a certain mood taking a hold in my circles. A certain “extropian enthusiasm” has taken root.

And I find myself looking to go faster. I see the need for momentum. I struggle to stumble at the pace I keep now. My heart variability chart, which shows a kind of adaptability stress, is jerky with dips and rises. But I am also certain I’m managing better.

Have you ever felt like it was easier to lean into more? That sometimes things feel smoother when they are faster. Control remains an illusion so why not let it go.

I am thinking of going to Amsterdam for the Network State conference at the end of the month. The flight from Tallinn isn’t too bad and I’m a believer in the need to build systems. I owe much to supranational connections of shared values. And I’d like to us to pursue financial and contractual systems that connect us globally. The state should not be a limiting factor for progress.

And so I am thinking of my own rate of change. What can I sustain in my own daily life and circumstances and how does it stack against the increased rate of change of a future that is arriving fast? I like to think I’ll meet the moment but I’m certain I’ll be humbled by its arrival.

Categories
Community Politics Preparedness

Day 939 and Culture Wins Not Culture Wars

You could be forgiven for losing faith in the American Dream. We’ve had a rough couple of years with bad vibes and culture wars. The Great Weirdening era was not easy.

I’ve been encouraging people to consider preparedness in the face of unrelenting uncertainty for a decade now. It’s time for us to move on from the “what if” of our current geopolitical, economic & climate dislocations to the “what now?”

I’m pleased and saddened to say the future is here. My revealed preferences tell you most of what you need to know. I live in an off grid capable homestead with well water and solar in Montana. I own Bitcoin. I think we are in for a bumpy decade or two.

But that doesn’t mean I’m not hopeful. I am optimistic about what a very different future will look like. I invest in technologies as varied as open source vector database software, multi sig wallets for DAO governance & network states, and psychedelic clinics for mental health. I clearly believe we can do future in the future. Orders of magnitude better. If you believe in the same you future you can become an LP in my fund chaotic.capital

Change is the only inevitable thing in life. I’m proud to have been raised in the Rocky Mountains because our history has been so crucial in the formation of the American mythos of a better future. We are the frontier. The future is a frontier just as surely as Star Trek was about space cowboys.

And on the frontier you have the freedom to make choices of your own. How things used to be done doesn’t matter as much here because “how things used to be” is barely more than century or two for most of us.

We take what works from our heritage and we use it to inform a better future. Because a frontier represents a better future for your family. That the next generation will have it better. It’s a commitment to our heirs.

We’ve seen what happens when people don’t believe the future will be better. The pandemic years were bleak. I’ve seen the despair in people’s eyes when I discuss the problems we have in front of us. I’ve happily worn the doomer mantle as I do not wish to convey that success is assured nor that the problems all have solutions. As without clear eyes we will remain in denial forever. But after accepting that we have problems we cannot remain frozen, we must act.

I’d like us all to wake up to our reality and resolve on the good we can achieve by believing the future can be improved by what we do in the now.

We need culture wins not culture wars.

The desire for clean and livable environment, a functional state, and the dignity of our life’s pursuits remain common cause for all humans. Resilience and adaptability remain our tools.

If you are one of my neighbors in Montana, I am hosting a get together on August 16th. I believe that America has a “dissident” middle who are tired of culture wars. We want the freedom to pursue the American dream without government interference. A dynamic future with growth and choice for everyone is the best path forward. And I like to walk that path with you. If you’d like that please come on by my place.