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Archive for the ‘economics’ category

Jan 16, 2018

Cryptocurency: Thoughts on a “Korea Krash”

Posted by in categories: bitcoin, cryptocurrencies, economics

If you are reading this on January 16, 2018, then you are aware that Bitcoin (and the exchange rate of most other coins) fell by 20% today. Whenever I encounter a panic sell-off, the first thing that I do is try to ascertain if the fear that sparked the drop is rational.

But what is rational fear? How can you tell if this is the beginning of the end, or simply a transient dip? In my book, rational fears are fundamental facts like these:

  • A new technical flaw is discovered in the math or mining
  • A very major hack or theft has undermined confidence
  • The potential for applications that are fast, fluid and ubiquitous
    has dropped, based on new information*

Conspicuously missing from this list is “government bans” or any regulation that is unenforceable, because it fails to account for the design of what it attempts to regulate. Taxes, accounting guidelines, reporting regulations are all fine! These can be enforced. But banning something that cannot be banned is not a valid reason for instilling fear in those who have a stake in a new product, process, or technology.

Continue reading “Cryptocurency: Thoughts on a ‘Korea Krash’” »

Jan 15, 2018

Simply fix the Moon Treaty

Posted by in categories: economics, geopolitics, space, treaties

My article with Jeff Sommers (see “The emerging field of space economics: theoretical and practical considerations”, The Space Review, December 18, 2017) raised considerable criticism regarding the Moon Treaty, particularly, the inclusion of the Common Heritage of Mankind (CHM) doctrine. Leigh Ratiner, L5 attorney during the 1980 Senate ratification hearings, had identified CHM as the reason for rejecting ratification:

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Jan 14, 2018

Proof-of-Work Alternatives: Massive electric consumption by cryptocurrency mining

Posted by in categories: bitcoin, cryptocurrencies, economics, energy, environmental

Some blogs and news outlets eschew long titles. Publishers want readers to scan a list of topics that fit on one-line each. But, a better title for this article would be:

“Massive electric consumption by cryptocurrency mining:
An unfortunate environmental nightmare will soon pass!
… Proof-of-Work alternatives are on the horizon”

A considerable amount of electricity is used in the process of mining Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. Miners are effectively distributed bookkeepers, and this use of resources is part of a system called “proof-of-work”. It keeps the books fair, honest, and without an ability for the miners to collude (In other words, they cannot ‘cook the books’).

Continue reading “Proof-of-Work Alternatives: Massive electric consumption by cryptocurrency mining” »

Jan 14, 2018

Money for nothing: is Finland’s universal basic income trial too good to be true?

Posted by in categories: economics, government

One year on from its launch, the world remains fascinated by Finland’s groundbreaking universal basic income trial: Europe’s first national, government-backed experiment in giving citizens free cash.


Europe’s first national experiment in giving citizens free cash has attracted huge media attention. But one year in, what does this project really hope to prove?

Continue reading “Money for nothing: is Finland’s universal basic income trial too good to be true?” »

Jan 13, 2018

Y Combinator will give you $1 million to try to cure aging

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, economics, life extension, neuroscience

The famed startup incubator Y Combinator put out a call for companies that want to increase human longevity and “health span.”

Who they want: Founders with new ideas for treating old-age diseases like Alzheimer’s, “but we will also consider more radical anti-aging schemes,” YC president Sam Altman told MIT Technology Review.

Why longevity? Efforts to stop old age don’t actually get funded much. “My sense is that economic incentives of drugs companies are screwed up” says Altman. “I don’t think we have enough people saying, How can we make a lot of people a lot heathier?”

Continue reading “Y Combinator will give you $1 million to try to cure aging” »

Jan 11, 2018

Is Cryptocurrency Good for Government?

Posted by in categories: bitcoin, cryptocurrencies, economics

Today, editors at Quora asked me to answer a seemingly simple question:

“Is cryptocurrency good for government?

This is a terrific question, and one that I write about frequently. The question gives me a chance to summarize the key facets of widely mistaken fears. But, here, in the Lifeboat Blog, there is room to elaborate a bit.

In the first phase of cryptocurrency adoption (we are in the midst of this now), there is an abundance of skepticism: Misunderstanding, mistrust, historical comparisons that aren’t comparable, government bans & regulatory proposals—and a lot of questions about intrinsic value, lack of a redemption guaranty, risky open source platforms, tax treatment, etc, etc.

Continue reading “Is Cryptocurrency Good for Government?” »

Jan 11, 2018

Say it again, Bitcoin Investors: “Bad News is Good News”

Posted by in categories: bitcoin, cryptocurrencies, economics, government, policy

By now, every interested news-junkie is aware that Bitcoin plummeted from $15,000 to $13,000 (USD exchange rate) on January 11, 2018. This morning, every news outlet and armchair analyst attributes the drop to the Korean government signaling that it will ban Bitcoin trading among its citizens.

With Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un butting heads over nuclear missile tests and the upcoming Winter Olympics, you would think that South Korea has other priorities than banning Bitcoin.

As with all news—except accidents—the Korean plans were known by a few insiders (in this case, government bureaucrats), and so the influence on value was bigger than the drop that occurred after the news story. In the days before this “event”, it was probably responsible for a drop of about $4500 in exchange value.

Listen up Wild Ducks! We have heard this before. On Sept 11, China announced the exact same thing. I wrote about it in the most popular article of my 7 years as Blogger: Bad News is Good News for Bitcoin Investors.

Continue reading “Say it again, Bitcoin Investors: ‘Bad News is Good News’” »

Jan 9, 2018

Want faster data and a cleaner planet? Start mining asteroids

Posted by in categories: business, economics, habitats, space

Mining asteroids might seem like the stuff of science fiction, but there are companies and a few governments already working hard to make it real. This should not be surprising: compared with the breathtaking bridges that engineers build on Earth, asteroid-mining is a simple, small-scale operation requiring only modest technological advances. If anything is lacking, it is the imagination to see how plausible it has become. I am afraid only that it might not arrive soon enough to address the urgent resource challenges that the world is facing right now.

As an academic researcher, I work with several asteroid -mining companies to address that urgency. I depend on their funding, so there are trade secrets I cannot share. However, I can reveal the core reasons why I am optimistic about the business case for asteroid-mining, and what it will mean for our future.

Many people are skeptical of asteroid-mining because they imagine that the goal is to bring platinum back for sale in Earth’s metals market. Reporters repeatedly cite an irresistible statistic that the platinum in an asteroid can be worth trillions of US dollars, but anyone with an understanding of economics realises that bringing home a huge stash of precious metal would crash the market, reducing the valuation of the asteroid.

Continue reading “Want faster data and a cleaner planet? Start mining asteroids” »

Jan 9, 2018

What if you Send Bitcoin to a Non-Existent Address?

Posted by in categories: bitcoin, cryptocurrencies, economics

I get this question a lot. Today, I answered it at Quora.com. But, here, in the Lifeboat Blog, I have more bandwidth to elaborate.

Question:

What if I make a typo when sending Bitcoin. The recipient address
may be invalid or it may belong to another individual. —But there
is a third possibility. Couldn’t it be a valid address, but without any
wallet that can receive it? I bet the blockchain catches these errors
—Right? Will I always get my money back?

The short answer:Don’t worry, it cannot happen. That won’t happen either. Sure, it’s possible. That’s wrong, and You’re screwed!

Continue reading “What if you Send Bitcoin to a Non-Existent Address?” »

Jan 7, 2018

Revenue Neutral model reduces altcoin investment risk

Posted by in categories: bitcoin, cryptocurrencies, economics, finance, geopolitics, internet

Titles are chosen by editors and not journalists or experts. I fought my editor over the above title. Yes, I address the teaser—and I explain a solid altcoin investment model. But, that comes after the break. The first part of this article should be titled “Why would anyone quote cost or value in Bitcoin?”. The subjects are highly related, so bear with me…

Today, a reader asked this question:

Some financial sites discuss value in Bitcoin terms, rather
than dollars or Euros. Why would I calculate the value of a
new car, my rent or an investment in this way? It’s hard to
understand how much money I need!

Answer: Your right! It’s difficult to estimate the value of a car or your rent in terms of Bitcoin. You are paid in dollars or Euros—and your landlord quotes rent in the same currency.

Continue reading “Revenue Neutral model reduces altcoin investment risk” »

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