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What I’m reading this week

I’ve been traveling in Asia this week which affords me more time than usual to read. Either the other side of the world is asleep or I’m stuck in transit constantly without wifi so I write, and read. Here’s what I’m reading this week:

Superintelligence by Nick Bostrom

I had a unique opportunity to meet Nick in Munich not too long ago and didn’t realize that the man I met wrote this book until after I started reading it, and looked at the back cover.

Nick is pretty far out there. He writes and talks about the development of the digital or virtual mind as something that is already real. As someone described to me, it’s because in his mind it’s a guarantee these things exist in the future. The book is entirely about what happens when digital brains or AI start to develop in the world and the ramifications for the rest of us walking around in these organic suits, so to speak.

One of the things I truly appreciate about this book is the healthy use of the notes section in the back of the book. Nick repeatedly beats you over the head with facts and cites their source and meaning. I’d hate to get stuck in a debate with him about why what he believes may or may not be possible.

The book is written like a computer wrote it. The notes are referenced by what feels like a computer making sure that us humans aren’t confused by reading it since we don’t know as much as the computer.

On Immunity: An Inoculation by Eula Biss

I’ve been trying to finish this book for a while. The author writes so eloquently that I feel the need to re-read sentences quite frequently not because of the complexity but because of how thoughtful they are.

The book, is really what reads as a memoir and internal thoughts of whether or not vaccination is good written by an extremely eloquent and intelligent author.

The most intriguing sections to me are the parts of the book that consider the effects of that which we can’t know, describe, or measure yet. The things which medical science allows us to measure may actually be exceeded by the things which it can’t. It’s thoughtful.

The world we’ll all create, even if we do it by accident

There was a time when dynamic websites were interesting.

That time, for me, was when I was hardcoding hundreds of HTML pages at a time before a friend introduced me to CSS, then to Javascript, and then to PHP. That same friend introduced me to .NET when the idea that was Dwolla needed something more powerful.

It’s amazing the rabbit hole technology takes us down and the doors it can simultaneously open.

I was in my early 20s when I started to understand dynamic content and in my early 30s I can’t help but feel as though I’m beginning to understand dynamic infrastructures and automation. Continue Reading

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When the money finds its own way to where it has to go

A few months ago a small company presented me with something rather astonishing that I thought might be too good to be true.

That thing, was a major network issued card that settled against my Dwolla balance. Which means, everywhere that major card network is accepted, Dwolla is accepted.

With a mild amount of skepticism… I thought this sounded great but wasn’t sure what to make of it.

A few months of living with it though and I feel differently…

Since I got the card. I’ve used it at the Apple store, to get gas, and even to acquire foreign currency.

I did my first currency exchange with Dwolla this week ($ to €/£) and I had nothing to do with it. Developers did it.

I’m even typing this from Germany where I’ll use it to pay for my dinner.

Continue Reading

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Generally obvious things about real-time and $0 transactions.

The number of times a payment can be exchanged before it’s worth $0 assuming the service exchanging the money carries a 3% + 30 cent fee is pretty predictable.

If you start with $100 dollars in such a system you can exchange it 79 times before it’s worth $0.

With Dwolla’s network, as of last week, money retains value as it is exchanged regardless of how much is moved.

  • $1 sent is $1 received.
  • $1,000,000 sent is $1,000,000 received.

The number of times a dollar can be exchanged is only limited by the technical capabilities of the underlying system that is used to move that money.

As most of you know… Everyone in one form or another uses the batch based systems that drive our economy. Continue Reading

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EntreFEST

I tried do something extremely different for my EntreFest talk this year. I grabbed some GIFs from Gif Connoisseur that I thought made my point and put some sound effects in the background.

I had a lot of fun with it.

I always worry about being boring, so trying something new is important.

This as it was meant to be an experiment and thankfully Mariah tweeted along with the talk solving the timing issue.

The talk was called “Things I believe to be unarguably true” and focused around basic and simple things that I have a hard time arguing with.

Continue Reading

What I’m reading this week

Tomorrow’s Advance Man
Interesting profile on Andreessen Horowitz but more accurately, Marc Andreessen.

How secure will our data be in the post-quantum era?
A overture to what happens when computers get fast/smart enough to crack the digital locks that a generation of engineers put in place, using computers.

The New Atlantis
In short, a story of how the world probably should operate as written by a man who imagines the world being a better place.

 

Your grass looks like shit 

When I’m giving product feedback I always drop it off with good intentions. I give a lot of product feedback where I work and a lot of places I don’t.

However, it always confuses me when an obvious thing becomes trivial so I thought I’d try to put it into a different context…

Let’s say I have a yard full of grass.

It’s part of my home. It’s part of the product I take care of that my neighbors and the multitude of people who go past my home interact with, visually.

The yard is an important piece of my home. It’s full of grass and when my grass looks like shit, I look like shit.

If my grass looks like shit then I know it looks like shit and I know I need to water it, or mow it, or plant more of it.

I don’t need someone to stop over for a second opinion. I either water, mow it, or plant more of it and help it or I ignore it and it gets worse.

Continue Reading

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Realtime payments are actually real.

I posted this today and right after I had a bit of a… Moment.

All #realtime. All new rails. All @Dwolla. Here’s to ideas that become reality.

A few years ago this would have never been possible. 10 years ago, it absolutely wouldn’t have been possible.

When I say, possible… I don’t just mean real-time or faster payments in general because those are possible. VISA / Mastercard / The Fed / Shazam all have fast rails and there are no shortage of closed loop systems that are fast. I also don’t mean exchanging value in real-time on the internet.

I mean the real-time movement of government issued currency through regulated financial institutions without using anything but the internet.

No cards. No chips. No 16 digit numbers. Just the internet.

Financial Institutions have even become an active participate flipping the script.

What is so dramatically different in this next iteration of payment networks is:

  1. HTTPS first.
  2. Security as math.
  3. No 16 digit card numbers
  4. No abusable static account numbers.
  5. No physical card.
  6. Tokenization at the network and bank level.
  7. The network doesn’t live anywhere.
  8. Designed to be open and joinable.

Continue Reading

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