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Biohacking Internet Culture Startups

Day 1297 and Crypto Libertarians in the Age of Cyperpunk Anarcho-Tyranny

We are living in the past’s version of the future. The Cyperpunk I read in my youth is now the stuff of my daily life. It’s not as sleek as in fiction but it’s hard not to feel like it’s William Gibson’s world and I’m just living it.

The clubs looked a little sleazier as we escaped the aughts but we had a renaissance in technical tools for producing culture. Digital music and multimedia have exploded entire social media economies. Could Vernor Vinge be right and our economies will turn to creating data to train for the singularity?

We are only now getting Idoru but we are veering towards Burning Chrome. Half the anime avatars in accelerationist e/acc chats are wearing Mirror Shades and everyone watches for crypto rugs. But we are getting our Mt Gox Bitcoin back right?

What about borderless corporate worlds and mass scale surveillance identity? That’s here too. When William Gibson wrote “Disneyland with the Death Penalty” I wonder if he knew it would be the nexus of the network state debate?

I can turn on club kid techno from 2002 and look at a reality in 2024 and its aesthetic is pretty close to the details Jonny Mnemonic. A global pandemic that affects the nervous system of those infected which was accidentally released from a lab.

Johnny Mnemonic movie poster.

We’ve even got the LoTeks in a Luddite rebellion against a world connected by dubiously transparent artificial intelligence owned by actual Zaibatsu multinationals with more power than nation states. Fact and fiction spinning hyperstition better than Nick Land ever dreamed.

The vulnerability of our entire world to our digital networks was made dramatically apparent yesterday when Crowdstrike took a hot knife through the butter of corporate infrastructure and left us with blue screens of death.

It’s not real but it could be

Snowcrash and Crash Override? It’s better. We got amazing memes and elaborate fakes of the Blue Screen of Death. It actually did suck for airlines and banks because regulatory capture is the stuff of systemic risk.

And lest you think we’ve got no biohacking in this Cyperpunk world after the pandemic we have a renaissance in systemic & holistic approaches to medicine. Suddenly everyone is aware of the risk in agribusiness. Seed oils is normie stuff. Instead of turning Luddite the Danish invented advance metabolic medicine to cope. Everyone is on GLP-1 agonists.

Mix in the rise of nicotine and THC and you’ve got a national post prohibition bloom of folklore cures whose research has been suppressed by pharmaceutical companies and regulatory bodies alike. Conspiracy? Maybe but just the sludge of industry.

When I look at my own work I see the future arriving. We fund decentralized compute and marketplaces for inferences. We fund open source database software. We fund multi-sigs for hyper transactional blockchains. We fund nuclear fission that pulls its materials the sky.

And in that all of the is our founders are global citizens who have to manage anarcho-tyrannical borders with visas controlled by incompetent governments and live through the geopolitics of wars fought with drones and propaganda. The future is already here. It’s actually pretty cool. Just watch out for nervous system tics.

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Emotional Work Media

Day 1279 and Not The Whole Story

I have recently been prioritizing correcting mistaken impressions of the world. As the rationalist set say, I like to update my heuristics.

It’s just not all that uncommon to believe wrong things and for the wrong reasons. We find out with alarming about retracted studies, updates to long held beliefs about culture or politics, or simply something galling about reality. And so sometimes we have to adjust our priors. We never have the whole story.

I recently found myself comparing myself to another person only to get quickly reminded of a set of circumstances that made our situations basically incomparable. I simply didn’t have the whole picture.

My mother loved a hippie bumper sticker about the folly of sincere youthful knowledge.

Quick ask your teenage for advice while they still know everything

The best part of middle age is discovering just how little you know. It can feel paralyzing at times. I’m sure you can imagine how “I don’t know the whole story” can be interpreted in many ways. I hope to be on the sunny side of learning.

Two men sit on a bus. On the dark side facing a dark mountain we see scared sad man with a “I don’t know the whole story” thought bubble. On the bright side of the bus with a wide vista a man thinks “I don’t know the whole story!”
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Community Politics

Day 1277 and Don’t Lose Your Head

Everyone has their entertainment and mine is makes me a little bit of a stereotype. I hate podcasts but do most of my chores while listening to Bloomberg’s Odd Lots podcast.

I was catching up today with an interview with equities analyst Tom Lee. My attention got caught and stuck on his description of Bitcoin.

“Yes, Bitcoin is unlike other asset classes because there is a cooperative value. You know, the people who contribute to the network benefit from it. And that’s different than any other asset class.”

From Odd Lots: Why Tom Lee Thinks We Could See S&P 15,000 by 2030, Jun 24, 2024

Now I don’t think this is unique to Bitcoin. Cooperative value can be found in everything from nationalist politics to luxury handbag resale pricing. But I do this it’s important to have cooperative values be baked into a network for it accrue value.

We’ve traditionally mitigated concerns about market cooperation through clear property rights and legal protections. We’d backed up those claims with things as abstract as a monarch. We’ve evolved to it to the slightly more concrete full faith of the United States and Byzantine bodies of securities law. Fiduciary duty and all that.

But as we become less inclined to trust that the buck does in fact stop “anywhere” we are looking for ways to mitigate that risk. How to operate in a world without trust? You develop trustless protocols. Humans have plenty of intuitions about trust and many these intuitions struggle without a clear person with authority to act.

So I ask if we are heading into a “headless” age?

As distrust in institutional power struggles we are seeking out new ways to continue the business of life and civilization even if a high trust society is in question.

We’ve got networks like Bitcoin that work without a head. We have new corporate structures like decentralized autonomous organization (DAOs) that can operate strictly based on cooperative rules, and indeed now entire memetic cultures (like e/-cc) which hold power while being headless.

Lest you think this is some frontier tech idea that doesn’t apply to you we’ve headless content moderation systems & headless retail platforms. Huge swathes of financial tech is living above the API.

You could even argue that we’ve got headless political parties as the Democrats and Republicans both struggle with defacto heads nobody particular trusts. I don’t know if we can live in a headless democracy. Deciding who is a citizen is a very different matter than deciding who is a shareholder.

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Politics Preparedness

Day 1276 and Not Just A River in Egypt

I’m pretty comfortable with being embarrassed. I get stuff wrong and I have to come to terms with it even as my ego complains bitterly. The ego protects itself with denial but that doesn’t mean its conclusions are correct.

Being impartial about your reality is hard. Denial is such a normal part of catastrophic events the CDC even has handy public health explainers. I hope post pandemic everyone can enjoy the irony of that.

Taking an impartial view when approaching a problem is hard. If it’s an especially destructive situation (as most forms of crisis tend to be) wanting to put off action is a common coping mechanism. We do it as individuals and we do it within the meta-organisms that form the cultural and political systems we live within.

My suspicion is that some of our current political problems are a result of denialism. Seeing things as they are is impossible for some people. Avoidance, rationalization and minimization is practically a skill set.

I’d hope in a crisis I would attempt to solve a problem with whatever meager tools and skills I had at my disposal. I’ve done my best to take action on a few slow moving problems. And yet impartiality only arises when I can accept reality. And I wouldn’t blame anyone who finding the reality completely unacceptable.

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Internet Culture Preparedness

Day 1261 and the Jackpot

Dedicated roamers of the internet are people who like to notice things. Cyperpunk aesthetics made it romantic to experience global abstractions even as the reality of the power of oligarch, state and corporation blended into murky dystopian reality.

I said recently on this photo that we’ve got to stop hyperstitioning William Gibson. We keep finding ourselves further into the future. Just look at these anonymous accounts (so you can enjoy being a participant in the propaganda) joking about a drone operator in Ukraine.

We have netrunners. They’re autistic Ukrainian drone operators and their ice baths are niccy rushes

It’s hard to remember that real people exist on the other side of the abstractions. And yet here we are about to be those real people facing history. And it does seem like the time for taking action is now.

Venkatash Rao wrote an essay “many shoes are dropping” that gave me the kind of frisson of living in future, but as Gibson famously says, a bit unevenly. Across all narrative and technical arcs and and inside geopolitical realities we are starting to see the change.

In this I can’t help but see Gibson’s Jackpot. The elements that Rao calls out are multiple significant elections (not the least of which is the final installment of Biden vs Trump), the capital and nation state power consensus he calls “after Westphalia” and the intertwined fates of artificial intelligence and crypto.

A lot can change in a world where every form of power is being tested. I’ve written about this Jackpot energy before.

The fictional “jackpot” described in the novels is an “androgenic, systemic, multiplex” cluster of environmental, medical and economic crises that begins to emerge in the present day and eventually reduces world population by 80 percent over the second half of the 21st century

The Jackpot Trilogy.

I myself think it a privilege to even be a bit player in this moment in time. That I can allocate resources in any way feels high leverage in a way I didn’t anticipate experiencing.

We are the adults in the room. It may not be mich but we have agency. I feel good about putting my focus on crypto, AI and nuclear energy. Like Rao I can tie together past thoughts across a wide corpus by writing here every day and make decisions based on what has emerged.

Categories
Media

Day 1235 and Spin Doctors

Anytime I am outside of the bubble of American media algorithms, I feel like I see more clearly. It’s easier to spot “spin” when you see multiple narratives from competing supranational actors. When I’m in Europe, it’s much easier to see competing angles from Russia, China, and competing industrial interests.

The term “spin doctor” emerged during the Reagan-Mondale debates in the 1984 election.

A spin doctor is a person, typically a political aide or publicist, whose role is to present information or events in a way that favors a particular perspective or interpretation. Their goal is to influence public opinion by putting a favorable “spin” on the narrative.

It combines the meanings of “spin” (a biased interpretation or slant) and “doctor” (someone who repairs or fine-tunes things). Spin doctors aim to control the media’s portrayal of events by providing their own analysis and framing the story in a way that benefits their side.

Perplexity’s “Spin Doctor”

I’ve not heard “spin doctor” used recently even as we’ve gone further into cultural obsessions with media and its role in shaping opinion across the Internet age.

We’ve never had more awareness of how the news sausage gets made and it only drives interest. Filter bubbles are now written up in listicles. Publicists are the subject of profile treatments their clients typically receive.

We are in the golden age of propaganda and every single one of us competes in shifting alliances of attention and affiliation. We are all spin doctors now for our causes.

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Emotional Work Travel

Day 1203 and Flow

I don’t quite know how I managed to settle into a flow state but I’ve been listening to American classic rock from sixties & seventies and just being in my body today.

The excuse for focusing on chores and what is in front of me preparing for a spring print. I’m packing for some travel and doing spring cleaning.

What I’m really doing is as a form of physical somatic integration as I’ve been throwing back more information than I thought I could handle. Or to put it simply, I’m noodling on shit. My mind is compiling.

I do prioritize nervous system regulation but even with a full toolkit of techniques I could feel the strain before I hit this flow state. It was time to breakthrough or breakdown.

I feel as if I’ve broken through to flow. There was no breakdown. I leaned into the turn. And it feels great.

I am intaking as much information as I ever have in my professional adult life. Maybe university study is a close second but I have a foundation of knowledge now that obviously I didn’t have twenty years ago. That foundation has given me more mental agility that I expected to have in middle age candidly.

I expect whatever the end process of this synthesis will show itself when it’s ready and I shall cultivate this playful ease. I trust myself to find the way through.

Categories
Internet Culture Media Politics

1196 and Reality Crazed

Just when I think shit cannot get any crazier reality absolutely fucking mogs me.

“Surely” I say to myself. “It cannot get more weird, more brazen, more chaotic, more fucked up, more absolutely unreal.”

And then it absolutely fucking does.

What if I told you there was a funny movie about dysfunctional airlines?

Getting second passports is normal don’t you know? I guess us regular professional class moves to Montana because we stupidly believe in America but everyone else is splitsville.

But don’t worry Italy welcomes digital nomads. I’d personally go to Tallinn though. But if you like Riveras hit up Albania. Thank me later. Never too early to think about where you might find yourself as a refuge.

Looking for something a little more exotic? I got you. How about some drugs. No really.

Hack the planet! Hack the gut biome! Hack your cavities? It’s possible the effective altruists saving us from bad teeth with polyamorous sex parties? I learned about an experimental probiotic from a sex worked based Austin. No I am not kidding. Her name is Aella. Iff you don’t know what this means I’ll spare you. But I’ll leave you with this.

Unless you are an investor like Yishan here, the way to get it is to pay $5000 for an appointment at a clinic in Prospera, the libertarian-run ZEDE on the island of Roatan currently suing the Honduran government for a third of the countries GDP

True Anon Pod

Now to be fair this is excellent affinity marketing. Who else would know more mouth bacteria than a hooker right? Well actually you’d be more likely to get gets thrush from that sort of extracurricular which requires an anti-fungal not an antibiotic but I’m quibbling.

In even stupider news, control of the senate might be up for grabs and the control hinges on a dude who might have lied about shooting himself for reasons? I don’t fucking know. I’m not a mercenary. But I hear Erik Prince is a dope podcast interview.

Anyway, the Gen Xer didn’t shit about reality biting. But the rest of us might be getting an idea.

Categories
Media

Day 1186 and Return To Non-Normalcy

I first sensed it when I picked up a copy of the Financial Times going through Heathrow in February. I was behind the news cycle. I read through the pink paper and felt informed.

Normally I wouldn’t be satisfied with just one news source. No matter how much I overweight my personal preferences to business papers I wouldn’t limit myself to just those publications.

But then I realized I had neither the time nor the patience to get up on the nuances of the day. I love the news business and even I felt weary about wading through the firehouse.

If a new hound like me who loves reading reactionaries of all stripes couldn’t do more than scan some financial numbers how did everyone else feel? Not good, not good at all.

The Normie Restoration

We are reaching a fascinating moment in history in which you can be shockingly well informed about almost anything in real time.

Naturally this means we “know” less than we ever did. I can read propaganda from every viewpoint straight from the source straight on Telegram chats. The most informed know they getting just a fraction of the story.

During the Great Dislocation (roughly 2019-2023 though many of us went into much earlier), there was a new openness to seeing beyond institutional consensus. We saw a flourishing of open condemnation of all forms of institutional knowledge and media was at the epicenter of much of that rage.

Many groups did not do well with the newfound power they had found in the hands of shifting alliances and new attention.

My theory is that the lunatic fringes of both the left & right have handled their digital powers poorly. As they did not handle the attention with care we will see a return to mass media preferences as people return to “non-normalcy.” Our trust has been spread too thin and too far and everyone has to tend to their own.

Who, or even what, ends up being the mass media substitute going forward ks not yet settled as the waning days of cable television & national papers will not disappear until the Boomers move on.

We are starting to realize little value is accrued by sourcing news from many sources as more competing narratives spin out to Cray Cray Land. Everyone has become audience captured. And not all audiences are equal. Not all voices are equal either.

People may think I’m insinuating that it’s about control or truth or ideological niche. I want to disabuse you of this notion. Media is about attention. People with different goals want your attention focused on what they think is important.

Anyone with responsibility has an attention limit. People with responsibilities are the people with power. They can’t manage with endless attention conflicts. They can and do resolve these conflicts on their attention all the time.

And many of them are about to resolve that by not paying attention. So you have to ask yourself if you think they are wrong. The new non-normal isn’t very forgiving of distraction.

Categories
Internet Culture Politics

Day 1177 and Binge Monomyths

I spent the day on binging a monomyth in service of focusing some attention on where we might be going if this is in fact a Cambrian explosion era. If you need a synopsis I’ll extract it from Twitter if I can find the toolsets. If you know the toolset please share them.

The fellowship of the ring will not doom the hobbits to torment and death

My assumption that property rights underlined some of this still stands. If you’ve been holed up in Middle Earth (me too nice place unclear though unclear if I’m a Hobbit or an elf or a dwarf or a wizard or an orc Or Tom Bombadil) everyone thinks Mordor somehow their pet theory or sin. It is industrialism or fascism or some combination of horrors because history becomes legend and legend becomes myth. I don’t know. Ask an autist.

Hug a hippie. Be kind to a hipster. But fight to the death for the hackers. Or pick a princess who likes trade disputes in the galactic empire. I can’t translate all the monomyths in one day.