Notes from 17/6–23/6

Blockchain

I’m pretty sure this would be the first time a distributed network transitioned from permissioned to permissionless. Perhaps the network as a whole can switch to proof of stake, but in order for the stablecoin peg/basket to be maintained, some set of entities must keep a bridge open to the traditional financial system. This will be a persistent point of centralized control via the Libra Association.

Data is not actually stored in blocks, just a versioned state transition database.

You’ll need to pay for transaction fees.

Authenticated data structure stored in merkle trees

There were some references earlier to maintaining the ability for a validator to perform an initial sync from scratch, rather than trusting signed states from other validators. I expect that if Libra gets much use at all, it will quickly become highly impractical to perform such a sync, and as such, the node security model will be highly reliant upon trusting the validators.

Will have to see the exact specs, but probably run by large corporations that can also maintain liquidity

Apparently it’s not required at the protocol level, but the that all users will be verified via government-issued ID. It also sounds like the Calibra wallet will be the only available wallet for a while at least, so it’s unclear if developers and users can run apps on the Libra network that don’t abide by the same standards as Calibra.

Government-backing for legitimacy

So what’s probably going to happen is an ecosystem of developers might come up to build verified apps for Libra. Possibly it might help connect the world better but I doubt this builds on the decentralisation cause.

Libra -> the evolution of PayPal/banking/programmable assets

The Libra’s value is tied to a basket of bank deposits and short-term government securities for a slew of historically stable international currencies, including the dollar, pound, euro, Swiss franc and yen. The Libra Association maintains this basket of assets and can change the balance of its composition if necessary to offset major price fluctuations in any one foreign currency so that the value of a Libra stays consistent.

Eventually, Move developers will be able to create smart contracts for programmatic interactions with the Libra Blockchain. Until Move is ready, developers can create modules and transaction scripts for Libra using Move IR, which is high-level enough to be human-readable but low-level enough to be translatable into real Move bytecode that’s written to the blockchain.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg explained some of the philosophy behind Libra and Calibra in a . “It’s decentralized — meaning it’s run by many different organizations instead of just one, making the system fairer overall. It’s available to anyone with an internet connection and has low fees and costs. And it’s secured by cryptography which helps keep your money safe. This is an important part of our vision for a privacy-focused social platform — where you can interact in all the ways you’d want privately, from messaging to secure payments.”

That translates to “the minute we start responsibly verifying Libra app developers, things start to get expensive, complicated or agitating to cryptocurrency purists. That might hurt growth and adoption.” You know what will hurt growth of Libra a lot worse? A sob story about some migrant family or a small business getting all their Libra stolen. And that blame is going to land squarely on Facebook, not some amorphous Libra Association.

It’s the wild west again

That’s why as lawmakers confer about how to regulate Libra, I hope they remember what triggered the last round of Facebook execs having to appear before Congress and Parliament. A totally open, unvetted Libra developer platform in the name of “innovation” over safety is a ticking time bomb. Governments should insist the Libra Association thoroughly audit developers and maintain the power to ban bad actors. In this strange new crypto world, the public can’t be expected to perfectly protect itself from Cambridge Analytica 2.$.

And once again, regulators do as regulators do. However, in this case I think I would really agree. It’s not easy to put up such a system and not regulate it. It sounds really irresponsible.

The Libra Association may be governed democratically by its members under normal conditions, but legal entities can be ordered to take actions by courts. So it’s incorrect to think of the association’s governance mechanism as the only political structure that matters. If a powerful government can legally compel the association to take actions, then the future of the Libra protocol is up to that government, regardless of the official voting structure within the organization.

For a long time now the Reserve team has been arguing that fiatcoins will be forced to do KYC on all key-holders as soon as crypto gets big enough to matter. We couldn’t figure out exactly how long that would take. We’re pretty sure it’s going to happen much faster now that the world has been given the first easy-to-believe story for massive stablecoin adoption.

So on the one hand, Libra may catapult crypto into the minds of everyone on the planet, fuel the next big crypto bubble, inspire lots of effective competitors, and heck, maybe it will even work. On the other hand, the conversation with governments about building real economies on top of stable crypto may be led by — of all possible parties — Facebook 🤦🏻‍♂️. Let’s make damn sure they are working with Coin Center.

Whatever it is, this will be the next wave. A new architecture will be needed to build on top of this specific application.

Okay how does this actually work?!

Data Science

Kinda useful, but mostly for mathematical plotting.

Nothing really specific about R other than namespacing and following R’s conventions.

Great R coders seem to be coders nonetheless and ultimately hinges on whatever definition good code quality is defined to be.

Covers the entire gamut from data augmentation to model selection and dimension reduction

Really great example for non-technical technology writing. Though it seriously underplays the difficulty of each step and doesn’t really provide a springboard to learn more.

Development

Really interesting, I’ve never done anything remotely close to this… Probably really worth a read just out of interest.

i love it when people successfully codify wisdom into aphorisms.

Elegant,almost lazy way of displaying tables. Personally i don’t think web should be used for table displaying…

General

I wouldn’t describe it as ‘using tech’ but more of using the internet as a reverse hunting ground for people that show signs of being radicalised.

Fairly critical analysis of the typical war justification process. This same charade has been played out again and again, sacrificing millions of lives.

Rise of review sites to cut through decision fatigue/ decision paralysis. Wonder if there’s one we could build for internships… oh wait that’s glassdoor.

Life Optimisation

You think everyone else should quit, too.

You’re relieved when other people quit.

You get a promotion without a raise.

Your other boss emails you five times a day.

Your side hustle makes more than your real job.

Oh no maybe it’s time.

Basically adult show-and-tell

Open Source

Really amazing stuff there, also probably because a lot of these companies are now tech-based. Helping to rub shoulders with the crowd.

Product Management

I was really quite surprised. So it seems product managers’ key role is definingna and communicate the product vision to all stakeholders.

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