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Gridcoin 5.0.0.0-Mandatory "Fern" Release

https://github.com/gridcoin-community/Gridcoin-Research/releases/tag/5.0.0.0
Finally! After over ten months of development and testing, "Fern" has arrived! This is a whopper. 240 pull requests merged. Essentially a complete rewrite that was started with the scraper (the "neural net" rewrite) in "Denise" has now been completed. Practically the ENTIRE Gridcoin specific codebase resting on top of the vanilla Bitcoin/Peercoin/Blackcoin vanilla PoS code has been rewritten. This removes the team requirement at last (see below), although there are many other important improvements besides that.
Fern was a monumental undertaking. We had to encode all of the old rules active for the v10 block protocol in new code and ensure that the new code was 100% compatible. This had to be done in such a way as to clear out all of the old spaghetti and ring-fence it with tightly controlled class implementations. We then wrote an entirely new, simplified ruleset for research rewards and reengineered contracts (which includes beacon management, polls, and voting) using properly classed code. The fundamentals of Gridcoin with this release are now on a very sound and maintainable footing, and the developers believe the codebase as updated here will serve as the fundamental basis for Gridcoin's future roadmap.
We have been testing this for MONTHS on testnet in various stages. The v10 (legacy) compatibility code has been running on testnet continuously as it was developed to ensure compatibility with existing nodes. During the last few months, we have done two private testnet forks and then the full public testnet testing for v11 code (the new protocol which is what Fern implements). The developers have also been running non-staking "sentinel" nodes on mainnet with this code to verify that the consensus rules are problem-free for the legacy compatibility code on the broader mainnet. We believe this amount of testing is going to result in a smooth rollout.
Given the amount of changes in Fern, I am presenting TWO changelogs below. One is high level, which summarizes the most significant changes in the protocol. The second changelog is the detailed one in the usual format, and gives you an inkling of the size of this release.

Highlights

Protocol

Note that the protocol changes will not become active until we cross the hard-fork transition height to v11, which has been set at 2053000. Given current average block spacing, this should happen around October 4, about one month from now.
Note that to get all of the beacons in the network on the new protocol, we are requiring ALL beacons to be validated. A two week (14 day) grace period is provided by the code, starting at the time of the transition height, for people currently holding a beacon to validate the beacon and prevent it from expiring. That means that EVERY CRUNCHER must advertise and validate their beacon AFTER the v11 transition (around Oct 4th) and BEFORE October 18th (or more precisely, 14 days from the actual date of the v11 transition). If you do not advertise and validate your beacon by this time, your beacon will expire and you will stop earning research rewards until you advertise and validate a new beacon. This process has been made much easier by a brand new beacon "wizard" that helps manage beacon advertisements and renewals. Once a beacon has been validated and is a v11 protocol beacon, the normal 180 day expiration rules apply. Note, however, that the 180 day expiration on research rewards has been removed with the Fern update. This means that while your beacon might expire after 180 days, your earned research rewards will be retained and can be claimed by advertising a beacon with the same CPID and going through the validation process again. In other words, you do not lose any earned research rewards if you do not stake a block within 180 days and keep your beacon up-to-date.
The transition height is also when the team requirement will be relaxed for the network.

GUI

Besides the beacon wizard, there are a number of improvements to the GUI, including new UI transaction types (and icons) for staking the superblock, sidestake sends, beacon advertisement, voting, poll creation, and transactions with a message. The main screen has been revamped with a better summary section, and better status icons. Several changes under the hood have improved GUI performance. And finally, the diagnostics have been revamped.

Blockchain

The wallet sync speed has been DRASTICALLY improved. A decent machine with a good network connection should be able to sync the entire mainnet blockchain in less than 4 hours. A fast machine with a really fast network connection and a good SSD can do it in about 2.5 hours. One of our goals was to reduce or eliminate the reliance on snapshots for mainnet, and I think we have accomplished that goal with the new sync speed. We have also streamlined the in-memory structures for the blockchain which shaves some memory use.
There are so many goodies here it is hard to summarize them all.
I would like to thank all of the contributors to this release, but especially thank @cyrossignol, whose incredible contributions formed the backbone of this release. I would also like to pay special thanks to @barton2526, @caraka, and @Quezacoatl1, who tirelessly helped during the testing and polishing phase on testnet with testing and repeated builds for all architectures.
The developers are proud to present this release to the community and we believe this represents the starting point for a true renaissance for Gridcoin!

Summary Changelog

Accrual

Changed

Most significantly, nodes calculate research rewards directly from the magnitudes in EACH superblock between stakes instead of using a two- or three- point average based on a CPID's current magnitude and the magnitude for the CPID when it last staked. For those long-timers in the community, this has been referred to as "Superblock Windows," and was first done in proof-of-concept form by @denravonska.

Removed

Beacons

Added

Changed

Removed

Unaltered

As a reminder:

Superblocks

Added

Changed

Removed

Voting

Added

Changed

Removed

Detailed Changelog

[5.0.0.0] 2020-09-03, mandatory, "Fern"

Added

Changed

Removed

Fixed

submitted by jamescowens to gridcoin [link] [comments]

How Money Turns Us Against Our Own Nature

I feel like sharing these thoughts because I’m having a contemplative evening and they’re coming together really nicely right now.
I think having a currency, be it physical money or even a virtual currency like bitcoin or anything along those lines turns humans against themselves by making them betray their very own nature.
Here’s a simplified and true example. Condensed. Scientists taught monkeys to use a currency. One of the first things that happened is a female monkey had sex with a male monkey and used the earned currency to buy a grape. So within about one day of monkeys having money the first monkey prostitute was born. You’re welcome and have a nice day.
How does money turn is against our own nature? It’s a simple trick of our reward system. It’s the psychology behind money that keeps it going. Without the thought behind it it’s just useless inedible paper, metal or a bunch of tiny bits of information on a hard drive.
Human reward systems are wired to go after the things that give us the greatest perceived reward and to spend the least amount of effort possible doing it.
In nature, if you have two options, eat the apple that just fell on the ground in front of you or swim across a river to eat a grape on the other side, you will pick the apple on the ground.
Why? Because the apple is a bigger reward and requires less energy.
If you kept swimming across rivers to eat things on the other side instead of eating what’s right in front of you, you would put yourself at greater risk of drowning and eventually drown, starve or both.
So our minds are geared towards finding the simplest solution.
We’re also geared towards solutions that solve the most amount of problems with the least effort.
For example we could keep wearing fur coats and walking around in the bush and keep getting wet and cold and making a fire to stay warm...toughing it out every day...getting attacked by predators.
Or we could build a shelter and solve all of our wet and cold problems forever...and then also not have to worry about predators while we sleep. Although building a shelter requires more energy initially, you do it once and most problems are solved.
So we will pick options that require more energy if the reward is greater.
When our brains logical center picks up on the fact that we have done something that was easier and worked out better for us they will release chemicals that make us feel good.
The reward for surviving a night in the forest is good.
But the reward for building a shelter is much greater. More dopamine.
That’s the reason people get hooked on crack. You do very little and you get a massive dopamine boost. Your mind learns that this minimal effort gives you the biggest perceived reward...and it keeps going. Why not? Less effort, massive reward. It’s in your nature. It’s how evolution favoured us for millions of years. It never changed.
So what does this have to do with money?
Money is a dopamine shortcut. You acquire money. The perceived reward of the money is much greater than the perceived reward of anything else. Your mind clues in like this:
“Wait? There is something called money and all I have to to is get enough of it and ALL my needs will be met because I can buy anything I want?”
That’s the biggest dopamine reward possible without inducing a chemical into your brain.
Money = All Needs Met
Our brains are meant to get tunnel vision when there’s an opportunity for a reward. That’s how they work. That tunnel vision is meant to blind us to the adversity we will have to face to get the reward.
For example, if you are at the base of a cliff and you haven’t eaten for two days, but at the top of the cliff you can see that there is enough food to last you a year, you’re going to climb that cliff. You will set aside your fear of heights. You will set aside your hunger and aching muscles. You will pump up adrenaline and you will climb that cliff. Your body will numb the pain in your hands and feet from the sharp rocks. And you get to the top of that cliff. And you’re set for a whole year. If it wasn’t for the tunnel vision because you perceived a reward, you wouldn’t have climbed that cliff.
This is all perfect in a natural environment.
But we also evolved a special part of our brain that uses all kinds of logic and worst of all allows for abstract thinking. Suddenly, vague concepts in our brain can seem just as real as reality itself. This was meant to enable us to problem solve. So that if there is a problem, the perceived solution creates the same focus and tunnel vision and enables us to get things done.
Let’s say I am hungry. I find some food. But it’s honey. It’s inside of a beehive. All that exists in reality is me and the bees that will sting me as I approach.
But then my mind will create an alternate reality in a sense. It starts throwing abstract concepts around until it finds a solution that works. It presents the solution to the reward system the same way that that the senses themselves are hooked up to it. Suddenly, I see myself lighting a fire and smoking out the bees and eating the honey. This now seems just as real to me as reality itself. It takes that solution and tells me “if you do this you will get your dopamine reward”. The mirage in my mind that shows me the solution by meddling with the part of my brain that processes my senses blinds me a bit to other sensory input because it has to take up that space in the brain to create a fake reality in the hopes it will become real. It’s a phenomenon that’s been proven over millions of years to work.
It’s what gives humans an edge over most animals.
Instead of just instinct, theres now a processing edge that takes in a ton of data and performs advanced risk vs reward calculations and tells us what to do. It’s better than instinct. Instead of fight or flight, there’s now focused intention. It works.
So I light a fire and smoke out the bees ignoring the odd minor sting because I know this is sure to work and I will get my honey in the end.
So now we are a species that is meant to specifically expend energy to problem solve ways to best meet the most of our needs as easily as possible. And we have a currency that exists as a social concept that presents a solution to rapidly meet all our needs. We also have a reward system that will easily justify making sacrifices to meet our needs.
This is a massive problem. A reward as great as money doesn’t exist in nature. However it exists as an abstract concept in our head that carries just as much weight in our decision making as something that exists for real. And the abstract concept presents a perceived reward far greater than anything we could attain from out environment.
Basically, money only exists as an abstract concept. But our brains are wired to work with abstract concepts as if they were real because it enables our survival and is a part of how our thoughts work.
So at some point in everyone’s life they are exposed to the abstract concept of money through language. The language creates thoughts that enable us to fall into a dopamine trap looking for a reward thats greater and requires less effort to attain.
So now our brains do what they do best. They generate a strong focus. They get tunnel vision. They prepare your body and mind to go through the hurdles necessary to attain a reward. And worse, our minds reprioritize.
In the example with the cliff, reprioritization plays a role. Normally avoiding heights and not cutting myself is high up on my list if things I want to avoid. We are wired to avoid pain.
But the years worth of food creates a reprioritization. Suddenly a couple cuts don’t seem like a big deal. The thought of falling to my death, a risk normally avoided at all costs, suddenly is an afterthought in the quest for food.
In the example with the cliff though there are limitations. There’s an upper limit to how far it will go. So if the rocks turn out to be way too sharp or it’s seemingly impossible to climb, I will look for a way around it and it all else fails give up and look for food elsewhere. But once inna while I will think of the cliff and maybe come up with a solution some day.
But with money because we aren’t aware of it for what it really is and we haven’t given much thought to it, it basically slowly corrupts us.
Every time we get money we get a dopamine hit. The more money we get, the bigger that dopamine hit is.
The more we get the reward, the more the behaviour we chose to acquire it is reinforced.
Just like the example with the beehive. I got the honey. I’ll remember it and find another beehive later. It just works. This is good for survival.
We remember that getting money worked. We will do it again. Especially once we have experienced the moment of spending it and seeing that it does in fact work and that other people are all in on the secret.
And because money gives us the greatest reward possible, we will go after it harder than we will go after everything else.
The reprioritization and tunnel vision this causes are the biggest problem. The more money you get, the more you repeat the cycle, the more of a cash junkie you become.
Why do addicts lie, cheat, steal, neglect their kids and ruin their lives? Because their minds have reprioritized to a bigger hit of dopamine by getting it the easiest way possible.
It’s the same with money. But almost worse because it actually does work. And the reward is bigger.
But the reprioritization seems to know no bounds. Here is the evil this brings into the world.
It creates a conflict of interest.
Everyone is out to get money as their primary goal. Or almost everyone. Only those who are intelligent and see through the dopamine trap tend to avoid it. And they usually end up cast aside by society because the society has reprioritized money over these individuals health and happiness.
We reprioritize our own children out of our lives. Suddenly we can justify making them go to school with complete strangers and we honestly don’t know what their day is like. But it’s okay because the money we’re making solves all problems after all. It can solve their problems too that’s why they have a college fund.
So we raise lonely damaged kids who will have money and no happiness and we go against our own nature. Naturally mothers and fathers are wired to spend 100% of their time with their children and take them with them unless they are doing something dangerous.
We now to against out own wiring and dehumanize ourselves and our children because money is around the corner.
Let’s say you have to get therapy. The fact that the therapist, who is supposed to be helping you, earns money to help you creates a conflict of interest. They will have a dopamine system that naturally drives them to want to earn more money. Which means instead of helping you the best they can, they will want to help you in a way that earns them the most cash. To the point where if you go through a crisis and need help the most but can’t pay because you’re short rent, they will literally sever a 2 year long relationship when you’re in your biggest time of need. Sadly, money has taken priority over actually helping the client.
Lets say a police officer responds to your call for help. If it’s something that is less likely to get them ahead in their career, like a burglary in a poor area, they will be less motivated to help you even if the crime is more serious. They want to advance in their career to get more money so they will be less motivated to spend time and effort on you even if a terrible crime has been committed.
Our whole healthcare system isn’t motivated to find cures for diseases but just treatments. As that solution makes the most sense when viewed through the skewed lens of the money dopamine taking precedence over all else. Money is now valued over the health and wellbeing of the patients. So there’s a conflict of interest with the healthcare system, pharmaceutical system and so on. The people working for those companies all want to make money and whether doing it consciously or subconsciously they will tend to lean towards options that get them more money because again it’s a he quickest way to the greatest reward.
I hope you see where I’m going with this. Money is like a fucking drug. It doesn’t exist in nature and just in our heads which actually makes it worse than a drug. At least you can see drugs and the effect they are having on someone’s life.
Money is much more insidious. You can tell how high someone is by looking at them. But you can’t tell how much money they have. And even if you can tell they have money because they’re flaunting it, your goal will suddenly become to be just like them. Because you think that it they have money, you can have money too if you do what they do.
No one looks at Joe the crackhead and thinks “Oh my God I want to be like him when I grow up.”
But everyone looks at Trump the billionaire, whose ONLY redeeming factor is that he’s the biggest junkie to cash on Earth. He put kids in fucking modern day concentration camps. And we’re all ignoring it. Because we’re all focused on other things. Saving those kids will probably be inconvenient for us anyway because we might get a criminal record which will make us less likely to earn money later. Or we might ruin our social status by talking about it which will ruin our ability to earn money later.
So basically in short the whole world is completely fucked because about 90% of the population has an addiction to a currency that only exists in out heads, is probably on par with crack addiction as far as the severity it causes us to reprioritize our lives around it, and instead of seeing it as a problem we see it as something to aspire to because it’s in our nature to do that.
You see someone fishing you want to learn how to fish because it’s an easier way to get food.
You see someone making money and you want to do what they’re doing damn you and their and everyone else’s humanity because your dopamine is now hijacked by a concept your mind will never drop because it gives the greatest reward with the least energy expenditure.
We hurt ourselves by neglecting our own needs because or the tunnel vision. We willingly hand our lives and most of our time over to people who have more money than us or a greater ability to earn money than us (we call them employers to cushion the blow and to feed into our own junkie like denial that we have a problem).
There’s a lot more money to be made in cutting down the rainforest than there is to be made in saving it.
And here is the worst part of all of this:
There is no way out. Because the majority of the world is ruled by money there is nowhere to go to get away from it.
If you decide you don’t want money you’re going to be hated by all the people who want money first and foremost and are in denial.
People don’t like people who don’t care about money. Because they think like junkies. Their minds are so reprioritized that they can see someone freezing to death on the street and just think...
Well I could help them but it would be inconvenient because it might get in the way of my sleep which would get in the way of work which would get in the way of me getting money.
That’s basically what this is doing to us.
So when the fuck are we going to realize that as a species at this point in time on planet Earth we collectively have an addiction which is destroying us and the entire planet we live on?
When are we going to put down the proverbial crack pipe and realize “we have a problem” and go do a fucking cashaholics anonymous group and say...
“I need to make amends to all the people I’ve hurt and the planet I’ve destroyed because of my problem. I’m destroying myself and my children. I’m ruining everyone’s life including my own. Because I have an addiction to money.”
submitted by GoingVeganOrBust to Psychonaut [link] [comments]

TweeBuck is about to launch... Exciting? Definitely!

TweeBuck is about to launch... Exciting? Definitely!
The concept of finance is not new, it has been in existence since the earliest days of the exchange. Everyone has the opportunity and ability to be successful if they have the right resources, however, one of the most challenging aspects of building a business is financing it and many often struggle in their endeavour to raise the capital required.
Over the years, the concept developed into a centralized system allowing users to trust their assets (money and any other forms of wealth) to 3rd parties with the goal of receiving monthly or yearly interest.
This concept was great while it lasted but as usual, the only thing that remains constant is change.
Cryptocurrency and Blockchain came into existence some years back as a medium to pay for services rendered via digital currency. Bitcoin, the very first Blockchain, was created but served as a one-way payment medium and nothing more. However, developers saw the vision that something more could be achieved using this same technology, but with more features being included. These were called smart contracts.
Smart contracts do not require both parties to be present, they are automated and use real-time data to generate the result.
Ethereum brought this to reality and a few years later, others saw this opportunity and started making use of it to build DeFi apps, which would later become more preferable to CeFi.

https://preview.redd.it/r29i9sgbbzu51.png?width=468&format=png&auto=webp&s=7234ba1a5ad36e13a057d60303c02cc4efa60a13
Decentralized finance, or DeFi for short, is a general term used to represent financial applications or platforms that are built using one or more Blockchain, that make use of smart contracts to create higher returns on investment.
DeFi alone is a great investment option, but the major challenge it has faced so far is a lack of users or a limited number of users whose sole aim is to increase their vested capital. Up until now, it has not been community-driven, which would create something far greater. Tweebaa intends to achieve this.
What is Tweebaa?
Tweebaa is the world’s only earning commerce platform. Its revolutionary multi-dimensional ecosystem utilizes a value-exchange model and provides everyone with the means and opportunity to generate a substantial income. Tweebaa empowers its users by applying their winning team's proven success methods with “DRTV (Direct Response Television)” and helps bring a global network of traffic to their product or business! Tweebaa has all the great communication features you would want within social networking and of course the best marketplace too! Tweebaa paves the way for users to earn money in a variety of ways whilst also providing the emotional, financial, and social benefits that are often unavailable; all this in one app! Whether you are a business, a student, a seller, a homemaker, an influencer, a labourer, or a contributor to society, Tweebaa rewards you every step of the way!

https://preview.redd.it/rbzc2hucbzu51.png?width=468&format=png&auto=webp&s=97bb0492ccf23673cfb671be1370bfcf4ef07fff
Over the years Tweebaa has distributed wealth to both investors and users alike via its token called TWEE and has remained at the forefront of trends and latest developments. Tweebaa is going DeFi (TweeB) and promises to create a revolutionary system the world is more than ready for.
What is DeFi?
The definition might vary when asked by different individuals, but they all come back to the same meaning; decentralized means to render services such as lending and borrowing with no 3rd party involvement, restrictions, delays, the line waiting, and long queues.
DeFi is currently the most talked-about project echoing around the crypto space. Many are raving about it, while some are still critical.
DeFi farming has to do with individuals providing some form of liquidity to the market which in turn creates returns and keeps the market active. It gained massive attention when it came into existence and is still active and a hot topic of discussion today.
Tweebaa is introducing a new token called TweeB which included all the features of a DeFi coin. Tweebaa users will be able to explore and make use of this newly discovered global network.
What makes TweeB so unique?
At the moment, decentralized finance is mainly directed to an investor's interest with the sole aim of investing or rather putting in money and waiting for results (short-term). One can argue that it has yet to actually become a general platform when compared to centralized finance like the banking system, which offers services for every type of person. TweeB plans to reach a much wider user base, not only including the general cryptocurrency investor pool, but also the entire global network available through Tweebaa.
Using Tweebaa’s existing community, TweeB will create something that is totally different and rewards all users, both depositors and borrowers.
Whether you provide liquidity, lend to the TweeB platform, or make use of its borrowing services by providing crypto supported collateral, users can yield returns, regardless of which direction they decide to take.
Combining the power of Tweebaa and TweeB, the more TiV a user holds, the more interest they will generate.
What is TiV?
TiV is an influence value, which reflects a user's contribution to the APP. People can increase their TiV by using the app in various ways including; adding and purchasing products, engaging and networking with other tycoons, inviting friends, and more.
There are many ways users can increase their TiV performance
  1. Buy & Sell products
  2. Invite more friends
  3. Having your posts liked, commented on, or shared
  4. Evaluating Products
  5. Suggesting Products
  6. Having your Tycoonplace being viewed for more than 30 seconds
  7. Follow 5 new friends
  8. Creating a new post

https://preview.redd.it/0e4fip7ebzu51.png?width=468&format=png&auto=webp&s=b81f13f4b676411adff523bc6a2b611d7f1d2e5d
In the field of DeFi in Tweebaa’s ecosystem, the TiV value is similar to the credit value and plays a vital role in relation to TweeBuck (TweeB).
What is TweeBuck and how will users be able to make full use of this platform?
TweeBuck (TweeB) is the next generation upgrade from its token holders. All potential changes, including adding new marks or adjusting system specifications (for example, leverage factors or interest calculations), must go through the proposal and voting process.
TweeBuck (TweeB) is a token which embeds 1:1 voting right to execute composite governance. Token holders of TweeB can simply delegate their voting rights of utility tokens on ERC-20 to their own or other people’s Ethereum wallets address.
How does TweeBuck plan to reward its users?
TweeB is basically a DeFi-based coin and it plans on providing more financial services, when compared to other types of decentralized finance platforms, using the following features and more.
  • Providing Liquidity (Liquidity mining)
  • Depositing
  • Borrowing

https://preview.redd.it/y8zh5tifbzu51.png?width=415&format=png&auto=webp&s=0ebe7a922ebba38b0e1733de2397b5578c8cf460
Liquidity provider
Basically, users will be able to provide TweeB liquidity on a ratio of 50/50 to whichever coin it is paired with, i.e. TweeB/ETH, TweeB/USDT, and more depending on users and what they prefer.
As a liquidity provider, decisions on which pair to trade TweeB with will be totally dependent on users as it should when referencing a decentralized network.
While the above is performed, liquidity providers get returns in TweeB tokens as more swap is carried out.
Deposit
As mentioned above, TiV plays a vital role when interacting with the Tweebaa platform. The more TiV you have, the more TweeBuck (TweeB) you will receive. The TweeBuck (TweeB) amount received will be based on 60% of the users Twee and 40% from their TiV.
By depositing assets to the Tweebaa platform, users will be able to generate returns that are paid based on the pre-calculated format using different scenarios.
More information regarding this can be found in the whitepaper.
Borrowing
Centralized systems like the banking sector, give out loans to customers and in return, those customers provide collateral which can include land, homes, and other assets. However, the world is going digital and so should borrowing.
TweeB allows users to provide collateral in cryptos like BTC, ETH, and other altcoins which then provide users with the assets they want.
They can provide collateral in BTC and take their desired coin to trade; this can be paid back and their vested collateral closed/removed.
Conclusion
TweeB token omics can be further broken down to self-governance. In terms of DeFi, this simply means users will be able to self-govern the TWEEB platform based on the vested amount they hold. This, in turn, creates a scarcer economy giving more value to the token.
Scarcity is one of many ways to provide value to an asset, take BTC as an example with only 21mil total supply. It has, over-time, created a self-sustaining market which depends on holders and how much they are willing to sell at that point in time.
The same can be said about TweeB. Holders will determine how much they are willing to sell or if they prefer holding it, they will have more scarcity and more value.
In conclusion, TweeB hopes to create a system that is both community-driven and investment-wise, resulting in a system that is far more prevailing than anything currently available.
While the future cannot be predicted, users are advised to carry out their own research before investing.
To increase the awareness of TweeB, different events will be hosted occasionally. To find out more and keep up to date, join the Tweebaa telegram channel(community) if you haven’t already.
submitted by Cryptosavvy_001 to u/Cryptosavvy_001 [link] [comments]

Price Discovery in Bitcoin exchange

About thirty days ago I shared a chart on Price Discovery in this sub. There was a lot of interest in it and I promised to explain in detail a Bitcoin price discovery algorithm.. I do so in this post.
*this text post is a slightly shorter version of what I wrote in my blog.

TL;DR

I applied price discovery algorithms to 5 Min OHLCV data from Bitmex and CME contracts and Bitstamp, Coinbase, HitBTC, Kraken, Poloniex, Binance, and OkEx BTCUSD/BTCUSDT markets from March 2016 to May 2020. Some exciting results I got was:

Introduction

Price discovery is the overall process of setting the price of an asset. Price discovery algorithms identify the leader exchanges whose traders define the price. Two approaches are most famous for use in Price Discovery. Gonzalo and Granger (1995) and Hasbrouck (1995). But they assume random walk, and a common efficient price. I do not feel comfortable assuming random walk and common efficient price in Bitcoin Markets. So I used this little know method by De Blasis (2019) for this analysis. This work assumes that "the fastest price to reflect new information releases a price signal to the other slower price series." I thought this was valid in our market. It uses Markov Chains to measure Price Discovery. Without going into the mathematical details the summary steps used was:
De Blasis (2019) names this number Price Leadership Share (PLS). High PLS indicates a large role in price discovery. As the sum of the numbers is 1, they can be looked at as a percentage contribution. I recommend reading the original paper if you are interested to know more about the mathematical detail.

Data

Andersen (2000) argues that 5 Minute window provides the best trade-off between getting enough data and avoiding noise. In one of the first work on Bitcoin's Price Discovery, Brandvold et al. 2015 had used 5M window. So I obtained 5M OHLCV data using the following sources:
Futures data are different from other data because multiple futures contract trades at the same time. I formed a single data from the multiple time series by selecting the nearest contract until it was three days from expiration. I used the next contract when the contract was three days from expiration. This approach was advocated by Booth et al ( 1999 )

Analysis

I can't embed the chart on reddit so open this https://warproxxx.github.io/static/price_discovery.html
In the figure above, each colored line shows the total influence the exchange had towards the discovery of Bitcoin Price on that day. Its axis is on the left. The black line shows a moving average of the bitcoin price at the close in Bitfinex for comparison. The chart was created by plotting the EMA of price and dominance with a smoothing factor of 0.1. This was done to eliminate the noise. Let's start looking from the beginning. We start with a slight Bitfinex dominance at the start. When the price starts going up, Bitfinex's influence does too. This was the time large Tether printing was attributed to the rise of price by many individuals. But Bitfinex's influence wanes down as the price starts rising (remember that the chart is an exponential moving average. Its a lagging indicator). Afterward, exchanges like Binance and Bitstamp increase their role, and there isn't any single leader in the run. So although Bitfinex may have been responsible for the initial pump trades on other exchanges were responsible for the later rally.
CME contracts were added to our analysis in February 2018. Initially, they don't have much influence. On a similar work Alexandar and Heck (2019) noted that initially CBOE contracts had more influence. CBOE later delisted Bitcoin futures so I couldn't get that data. Overall, Bitmex and CME contracts have been averaging around 50% of the role in price discovery. To make the dominance clear, look at this chart where I add Bitmex Futures and Perp contract's dominance figure to create a single dominance index. There bitmex leads 936 of the total 1334 days (Bitfinex leads 298 days and coinbase and binance get 64 and 6 days). That is a lot. One possible reason for this might be Bitmex's low trading fee. Bitmex has a very generous -0.025% maker fee and price discovery tend to occur primarily in the market with smaller trading costs (Booth et al, 1999). It may also be because our market is mature. In mature markets, futures lead the price discovery.
Exchange bitmex_futures bitfinex coinbase bitmex okex binance cme bitstamp okcoin kraken poloniex
Days Lead 571 501 102 88 34 12 8 7 6 4 1
 Table 1: Days Lead 
Out of 1334 days in the analysis, Bitmex futures leads the discovery in 571 days or nearly 43% of the duration. Bitfinex leads for 501 days. Bitfinex's high number is due to its extreme dominance in the early days.
Exchange binance huobi cme okcoin bitmex_futures okex hitbtc kraken poloniex bitstamp bitfinex coinbase bitmex
Correlation 0.809190 0.715667 0.648058 0.644432 0.577147 0.444821 0.032649 -0.187348 -0.365175 -0.564073 -0.665008 -0.695115 -0.752103
 Table 2: Correlation between the close price and Exchange's dominance index 
Binance, Huobi, CME, and OkCoin had the most significant correlation with the close price. Bitmex, Coinbase, Bitfinex, and Bitstamp's dominance were negatively correlated. This was very interesting. To know more, I captured a yearwise correlation.
index 2016 2017 2018 2019 2020
0 bitfinex 0.028264 -0.519791 0.829700 -0.242631 0.626386
1 bitmex 0.090758 -0.752297 -0.654742 0.052242 -0.584956
2 bitmex_futures -0.011323 -0.149281 -0.458857 0.660135 0.095305
3 bitstamp 0.316291 -0.373688 0.600240 -0.255408 -0.407608
4 coinbase -0.505492 -0.128336 -0.351794 -0.410874 -0.262036
5 hitbtc 0.024425 0.486229 0.104912 -0.200203 0.308862
6 kraken 0.275797 0.422656 0.294762 -0.064594 -0.192290
7 poloniex 0.177616 -0.087090 0.230987 -0.135046 -0.154726
8 binance NaN 0.865295 0.706725 -0.484130 0.265086
9 okcoin NaN 0.797682 0.463455 -0.010186 -0.160217
10 huobi NaN 0.748489 0.351514 -0.298418 0.434164
11 cme NaN NaN -0.616407 0.694494 -0.012962
12 okex NaN NaN -0.618888 -0.399567 0.432474
Table 3: Yearwise Correlation between the close price and Exchange's dominance index
Price movement is pretty complicated. If one factor, like a dominant exchange, could explain it, everyone would be making money trading. With this disclaimer out of the way, let us try to make some conclusions. This year Bitfinex, Huobi, and OkEx, Tether based exchanges, discovery power have shown a high correlation with the close price. This means that when the traders there become successful, price rises. When the traders there are failing, Bitmex traders dominate and then the price is falling. I found this interesting as I have been seeing the OkEx whale who has been preceding price rises in this sub. I leave the interpretation of other past years to the reader.

Limitations

My analysis does not include market data for other derivative exchanges like Huobi, OkEx, Binance, and Deribit. So, all future market's influence may be going to Bitmex. I did not add their data because they started having an impact recently. A more fair assessment may be to conclude this as the new power of derivative markets instead of attributing it as the power of Bitmex. But Bitmex has dominated futures volume most of the time (until recently). And they brought the concept of perpetual swaps.

Conclusion

There is a lot in this data. If you are making a trading algo think there is some edge here. Someday I will backtest some trading logic based on this data. Then I will have more info and might write more. But, this analysis was enough for to shift my focus from a Bitfinex based trading algorithm to a Bitmex based one. It has been giving me good results.
If you have any good ideas that you want me to write about or discuss further please comment. If there is enough interest in this measurement, I can setup a live interface that provides the live value.
submitted by warproxxx to BitcoinMarkets [link] [comments]

The CryptoSoft Review- Is It An Exceptional Crypto Trading Software or a Scam

The CryptoSoft Review- Is It An Exceptional Crypto Trading Software or a Scam
reviewed cryptosoft, it's one amongst the most effective auto trading platforms for cryptocurrency. My team set to review cryptosoft thanks to standard demand. Several folks want to use the auto trading robot to start out creating cash from the cryptocurrency market, but they need to make certain that cryptosoft is legit and will help them become financially free.
https://preview.redd.it/q5g7vhfvnpf51.jpg?width=1280&format=pjpg&auto=webp&s=f7111082d91a599f45e07b7a86532fe0ecc537d8
We have tested the auto trading software and my team is pleased to let our readers apprehend that it had been an amazing expertise. cryptosoft is a flawless, easy to use, and reliable auto trading robot that has been developed everybody who wants to become made by trading cryptocurrency.
The simplest issue about investing in an auto trading robot for cryptocurrency is that you are doing not would like to try and do any work. The sensible trading robots, work with the latest and refined AI-primarily based algorithm to generate a homogenous passive income for investors.
Who wouldn’t like the idea of getting a passive income? The demand for legit auto trading robots is high, but several people do not have the analytics tools that my team and I have at our disposal. This is often why we tend to do these reviews and comprehensively check auto trading cryptocurrency robots to identify those who we can suggest to our audience.
And after our expertise with cryptosoft, we have a tendency to are happy to advocate the auto trading platform to everybody who wants to be financially free and retire before planned.
Conclusion: An outstanding software for beginners and professionals.
cryptosoft is a absolutely developed and practical automated trading platform for cryptocurrency. On the platform, investors have an opportunity to register an account which will be managed for so long as they need to continue trading. cryptosoft uses intelligent software and trading robots that may perform transactions on behalf of the investor.
The trading robots are enhanced with intelligent and sophisticated software that permits the robots to detect the best trading opportunities within the cryptocurrency market within minutes. cryptosoft is obtainable in over a hundred and fifty countries; please view the official website to know if your country is on the list.
Below, we have presented a outline that best describes our experience with cryptosoft;
one). We have run many analytics tests on the auto trading platform, and our results were assessed, we have a tendency to discovered that the success score for cryptosoft is 96percent.
2). The volatile nature of the cryptocurrency market and risks are lowered by this automated system as a result of the trading robots work terribly fast to perform profitable trades.
three). Investors are allowed to make deposits and begin earning, the lowest deposit accepted on the cryptosoft platform is $250, while the best deposit value is $fifteen,000.
four). Please click here to start your expertise with the cryptosoft trading robot
cryptosoft
We have a tendency to found it simple to check the features on the cryptosoft platform as a result of of the high-quality of the location. We think this is often a good issue and merit note because a responsive website will encourage a lot of individuals to sign up and begin making money with the trading robot.
My team has expertise in the area of testing and analysing auto trading robots. But I may not facilitate noticing that anyone could use the easy options and perceive how to urge started while not any help. That is how easy the user interface on the official cryptosoft website is, we tend to were impressed.cryptosoft Scam
Who invented the cryptosoft Auto Trading Platform?
We have a tendency to dug into the complete’s history to understand how cryptosoft was created. We revealed that a team of software engineers and cryptocurrency traders are accountable for the creation and launch of cryptosoft. The founding team continues to be managing the auto trading platform and they are professionals. We have a tendency to interacted with some members of the team and can state here that there are plans to create cryptosoft even more profitable for investors.
How cryptosoft works
We set to check the auto trading system to identify how it works before continuing with the creation of an account. My team discovered that the cryptosoft uses an operational model like alternative outstanding auto trading platforms for cryptocurrency like Bitcoin Rush, and Bitcoin Loophole. You'll scan our reviews for these 2 auto trading software on our website. The system is majorly about shopping for the cryptocurrency at an occasional price and selling when the price rises. It sounds extremely straightforward, but the cryptocurrency market is very vast, and it's not simple to follow all the market trends manually. This is often why we tend to have made the switch to use auto trading robots that can create additional cash from the cryptocurrency market, compared to trading manually. When the trading robot detects a probably profitable transaction, it acts independently to pick out and secure the transaction for the investor whose account and funds are used for trading. The transaction is held until the value of the cryptocurrency that has been bought rises; it can then be sold to create a profit
The developers of cryptosoft have created it straightforward for everybody to speculate and start creating cash with the system. They have set the minimum deposit on cryptosoft at an occasional price that's cheap by many people. We have a tendency to are happy regarding this, with as low as $250, anyone can start leveraging the live trading system to form money from the cryptocurrency market.
We tend to discovered that each one the transactions done on cryptosoft are in real-time. My team was happy regarding this because it gives us additional advantage to closely study the system and confirm how reliable it is. In the subsequent part, we tend to have written about our expertise, starting with the creation of a brand new account, that we have a tendency to needed to test the live trading features on cryptosoft.
How to urge started with cryptosoft
We have a tendency to had already scan about the quick and pleasant expertise alternative users had while gap a replacement cryptosoft account, thus we have a tendency to were ready for it, and they were right, we have a tendency to created and registered a new cryptosoft account in less than five minutes.
The registration method on cryptosoft is thus quick because only some details are requested from the user. We tend to only needed to finish the registration form by providing a user name, email address, and phone variety. Next, we tend to created a password and clicked on the submit button to begin the account verification method. Verification lasted only a couple of minutes, and we have a tendency to were set to use our new cryptosoft account.
We planned to start tiny, that may be a sensible plan for new investors. We tend to deposited $250 into our new cryptosoft account. It absolutely was straightforward, all we tend to had to try to to was select a payment choice, and click on the transfer button.
cryptosoft offers users a likelihood to watch how live trading is completed with the demo feature. It shows the exact method, but there's no risk because real cash is not involved when you utilize the demo feature.

https://preview.redd.it/pebk6sxwnpf51.jpg?width=745&format=pjpg&auto=webp&s=9c6c1de369b3613f554c989a84552cc14d05f00c
We tend to were excited concerning our 1st live trading expertise with cryptosoft. The auto trading system allowed us to line trading limits. This is a stop-loss feature that prevents an investor from losing all their funds within the market trends flip negative. The live trade session started with a click on the button.
We tend to let the robots trade for concerning vi hours; this gave my team enough time to check how it works. We tend to will ensure that the trading robots perform quick transactions, abundant faster than experienced traders can do throughout manual trades. That's how the system secures the best cash creating opportunities for the account owner using the live trading feature.
We had a beautiful time using the live trading feature, our first trading expertise ended with the system creating us richer. Yes, we have a tendency to created a profit without doing any work.
Note: We encourage beginners to use the demo trading feature. It shows how the system works and provides you a chance to review the method of live trading without the employment of real money.
Features of the cryptosoftTrading Platform
The payout system on cryptosoft calculates the users’ earnings and credits their cryptosoft account accurately. We have a tendency to checked to ensure that our funds were paid correctly into our account balance. There were no issues. The high success score on cryptosoft increases the chances of making thus abundant money after every live trading session.
The cryptosoft verification system is quick and efficient. It is a nice feature, the verification system prevents errors whereas making a brand new account, and it stops bots from using cryptosoft to trade coins in the market.
cryptosoft has an spectacular withdrawal method. Whereas many different trading robots require weeks to process withdrawal requests, our deposit was transferred to the checking account we provided within 24-hours. This can be great news for investors who might want fast access to funds when earning with cryptosoft.
The payout system takes a proportion from the profit an investor makes when a live trading session. This is how the house owners of cryptosoft create cash to manage the auto trading system
A section of the official cryptosoft website has been dedicated to that includes testimonials from happy investors who are making a heap of cash from the cryptocurrency market. We felt therefore happy reading this section of the site. It continuously feels smart to know that many people are changing into financially free with the utilization of good technology.
The customer service is offered 24/seven; this is often such a smart plan as a result of there are investors from completely different parts of the globe who may want to contact the client support team from regions with different time zones. We have a tendency to used the customer service feature; the response was fast and terribly helpful.
A new cryptosoft account can be created and verified in minutes. The account creation process on different trading platforms could take up to a week before approval.
It's absolve to open an account, and therefore the system is transparent. Many platforms for trading robots charge for everything from gap accounts to making a deposit.
Everybody will use the auto trading robot; the features are straightforward and user-friendly. The advanced systems on other trading platforms will cause users to make mistakes and lose cash.
The possibilities of earning a profit on all transactions are high as a result of of the efficient and quick trading robots. It's troublesome to establish the potency of the trading robots, that creates risks.
cryptosoft offers its users access to twenty fouseven customer service. The client service is mostly unreliable.inner
  1. Invest your disposable income. It's best to take a position only the money you'll afford to lose. We tend to advise our readers to begin with the minimum deposit, which is $250, and grow their capital over time.
  2. Study how auto trading works. Please use the demo trading feature to urge a higher understanding of how the live trading process works.
  3. Follow cryptocurrency market trends; you'll get crucial info regarding the cryptocurrency market by reading the news and following the market trends online.
four. Save your profit. We continually advise beginners to create the habit of withdrawing their earnings and saving.
five. Use client service. The customer support team is usually prepared to help, please avoid guessing and use the customer support system as typically as necessary.
These are tips from experienced cryptocurrency traders. You can begin your experience with auto trading platforms for cryptocurrency the right approach and begin earning by following the following tip
We have a tendency to encourage you to go to our bitcoin robot page to read concerning the opposite automated cryptocurrency trading platforms we have tested and reviewed.
While reading about cryptosoft on-line, we have a tendency to saw many claims concerning endorsements by celebrities such as Gordon Ramsay, Elon Musk, Peter Jones, and many others. Interestingly, we conjointly found claims that recommended cryptosoft has been analysed and supported by the hosts on well-liked TV shows such as The Shark Tank, The Dragon’s Den and also the Morning Show. We needed to confirm this data as a result of there were no indications of any celebrity endorsements on the official website. And we were right; these claims are all false and should be

cryptosoft has not been endorsed by any celebrities or TV shows. The false claims are posted online by affiliate marketers who are making an attempt to drive traffic to their sites.
Based on our experience with the cryptosoft auto trading platform, we tend to can ensure that each investor will become terribly rich with cryptosoft. The trading platform is legit and absolutely registered. cryptosoft is offered in over 150 countries, and thus several investors are earning as high as $one,500 every day. We tend to have tested the options of cryptosoft, and it works perfectly. We tend to made a profit during the live trading session and withdrew our earnings while not any problems. cryptosoft is accessible via the browser on a smartphone, laptop, or desktop pc. The positioning is secure and easy to use while not any specialised talent. We tend to advocate cryptosoft to everybody as a result of the auto trading platform has been designed with easy features that folks will use while not any formal traini
Yes, you'll, the trading robots do all the work, and every one you need to try to to is create a deposit. There are investors who build as abundant as $1,five hundred each day. There is therefore abundant money to create from the cryptocurrency market.
How long should I use the pc throughout a trading session?
You might pay 20 minutes or less every day, all you wish to try and do is activate a live trading session and stop the session with a click. You'll be able to stop the session when you are satisfied with the profit earned that day.
The traing robots work with an intelligent system and algorithm that lowers the potential market risks. This can be why traders are now using trading robots rather than manual trading ways.

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submitted by cryptoerapro to u/cryptoerapro [link] [comments]

【NeoLine Talk】The life cycle of the private key

【NeoLine Talk】The life cycle of the private key

https://preview.redd.it/yeib74adcoy41.png?width=900&format=png&auto=webp&s=8e50b543a01a25860c7c732c17a1f2da338cd7c6
In the blockchain system, since there is no centralized organization responsible for managing the backup user sensitive data, the generation, storage, use, retrieval, destruction, and update of the user’s private key all need to be guaranteed by the user. Therefore, for the entire life cycle of the private key, there needs to be a strict way to manage and control it, to ensure the security of the asset.
Today ’s NeoLine Talk, let ’s talk about how to ensure the security of the private key life cycle.

Private key generation

Private key: A 256-bit binary random number whose quality depends entirely on the quality of the random number that generated the private key. If the randomness of the key generation process is insufficient to make it predictable, then all subsequent security protection measures will be in vain.
Random numbers are the cornerstone of information security systems based on modern cryptography. The security of the entire system depends entirely on the generation efficiency and quality of random number sequences. The core of high-quality random numbers is “unpredictability”. There are two types of random numbers: pseudo-random and true random.
Pseudo-random is also called pseudo-random. It generally relies on seeds and algorithms. Knowing the seeds or the random numbers that have been generated, you can get the next random numbers, which is predictable. The current mainstream blockchain system is the private key generated by this method …
True random numbers are generally based on the design of the hardware. Random numbers are generated according to the external temperature, voltage, electromagnetic field, environmental noise, etc., and the unpredictability of randomness is greatly increased. All security cryptographic chips in the financial field adopt this design.

Let’s see in detail how to generate a private key from a random number?

The first step in generating a private key is also the most important. It is to find a sufficiently secure source of entropy, that is, a source of randomness. Generating a Bitcoin private key is essentially the same as “choose a number between 1 and 2256”. As long as the selected results are unpredictable or unrepeatable, the specific method of selecting numbers is not important. Bitcoin software uses a random number generator at the bottom of the operating system to generate 256 bits of entropy (randomness). Normally, the operating system random number generator is initialized by an artificial random source, and it may also need to be initialized by shaking the mouse continuously within a few seconds.
More precisely, the private key can be any number between 1 and n-1, where n is a constant (n = 1.158 * 1077, slightly less than 2256) and is defined by the order of the elliptic curve used by Bitcoin. To generate such a private key, we randomly choose a 256-bit number and check whether it is less than n-1. From a programming point of view, it is generally by taking a long string of random bytes from a cryptographically secure random source and using the SHA256 hash algorithm to perform operations, so that a 256-bit number can be easily generated. If the operation result is less than n-1, we have a suitable private key. Otherwise, we repeat it with another random number.

Private key storage

Each bitcoin address corresponds to a private key, and mastering the private key means mastering the bitcoin in its corresponding address. In layman’s terms, a key opens a lock. If the Bitcoin address is a lock, then the private key is the key to the lock.
The storage and use of private keys are generally divided into soft and hard implementations.
Soft implementation, storage, and use are in the form of software. After the key is generated, it is stored in the user terminal or hosted on the server as a file or character string. When used, the private key plain text is read directly or through simple password control into the memory, and the private key calculation is completed by the CPU. This storage and use method has a lot of security risks and is easy to be copied, stolen, brute-forced by hackers or ghosts.
Hard implementation generally relies on a dedicated cryptographic security chip or cryptographic device as a carrier. There are generally mechanisms such as physical protection, sensitive data protection, and key protection to ensure that the private key must be generated by dedicated hardware. At any time and under any circumstances, the private key cannot appear outside the cryptographic device in clear text; the key stored inside the cryptographic device should have an effective key protection mechanism to prevent dissection, detection, and illegal reading. The private key cannot be exported, and only the signature value can be calculated and output.
But whether it is soft or hard, as long as others know your private key, you can transfer your assets. Remember, whoever holds the private key is the real owner of the asset.

Safe use of private keys

When using the private key, it is necessary to ensure the security of the use environment, and access, reading, and writing of the private key file need to have relevant permission control. After the use is completed, all sensitive data cached in the memory needs to be cleared using a dedicated function to prevent the leakage of sensitive data. From the perspective of password cracking, the private key should be replaced after a certain period of use. This is a problem involving the destruction and update of the private key, which we will introduce later.

Private key recovery

If a traditional centralized bank loses its U-shield or forgets its password, it can rebind a new U-shield (private key) through the account system. Accounts and private keys are logically bound and are operated by centralized banks while meeting risk control requirements. There are also some traditional centralized payment institutions. When the user’s asset certificate is lost, the centralized institution can retrieve the relevant data through its identity certificate.
But in the blockchain system, there is no centralized organization to help us back up sensitive data such as private keys. Therefore, when designing the system’s private key management scheme, it is necessary to provide multiple back-ups and recovery methods, such as the use of mnemonic words or the use of passwords plus local ciphertext files to restore private key data. But if your mnemonic is also lost, it means you lost everything.

Private key destruction

When the user needs to destroy the private key data, it is necessary to ensure that all the private key data stored in the backup are completely deleted and destroyed.

Private key update

In the field of blockchain, the private key is the only credential that represents the user’s identity or digital assets. If the private key needs to be updated, registration or digital asset transfer must be re-bound. Therefore, when you need to replace the private key, you need to ensure that the new private key is safely generated or imported, the assets have been safely transferred, and the old private key is safely destroyed.
Everything starts with visibility. The security of the private key is related to the security of digital assets and the security of personal privacy, so it is very important to securely ensure every step of the life cycle of the private key.
submitted by NeoLine_Wallet to NEO [link] [comments]

Understanding Tether: Why it accounts for a substantial part of the crypto market cap and why its the #1 outstanding issue in crypto markets today

In this post I will go in-depth on:
  1. How Tether got to be what it is today
  2. Why Tether's market cap is a lot more than 0.5% of the total market cap for crypto you see on CoinMarketCap
  3. Tether printing timing
  4. Tether reserves
  5. What could happen to the market if Tether is found to not be backed by reserves
Tether is incredibly important to the cryptocurrency market ecosystem and I've noticed far too few people understand what is going on.
Very little actual discussion of the 2nd biggest crypto by volume happens here and whenever someone starts a discussion they most often got slapped for "FUD". Tether themselves recently hired the major New York based PR firm 5W to spread positive information online and take down critics, I'm sure some of their operatives are probably on Reddit.
But its absolutely critical you understand the risks behind Tether and especially now with the explosion in reserve liability, breakdown in relationship with banks and their auditor and recently announced subpoena.

What exactly is Tether and what happened so far?

Tether is a cryptocurrency asset issued by Tether Limited (incorporated in the British Virgin Islands and a sister company of Bitfinex), on top of the Bitcoin blockchain through the Omni Protocol Layer. It is meant to give people a "stablecoin", for example a merchant who accepts bitcoin but fears its volatility could shift bitcoin into tether, which can be easier to do than exchanging bitcoin for dollars. Recently they've also added an Ethereum-based ERC20 token. Tether Ltd claims that each one of the tokens issued is backed by actual US dollar (and more recently Euro) reserves. The idea is that when a business partner deposits US dollars in Tether’s bank account, Tether creates a matching amount of tokens and transfers them to that partner, it is NOT a fractional reserve system.
Tether makes the two following key promises in its whitepaper on which the entire premise is build:
Each tether issued will be backed by the equivalent amount of currency unit (one USDTether equals one dollar).
Professional auditors will regularly verify, sign, and publish our underlying bank balance and financial transfer statement.
Tether is centralized and dependent on your trust of Bitfinex/Tether Limited, and that the people behind it are honest people. For the new entrants to this market it will be greatly beneficial understand the timeline of Tether and their connection to Bitfinex.
A brief timeline:

Most common misconception: Tether is only a small part of the total market cap

One of the most common misconception people have about cryptocurrencies is that the "market cap" amount they see on CoinMarketCap.com is actually the amount of money that is invested in each coin.
I often hear people online dismiss any issue with tether by simply claiming its not big enough to cause any effect, saying "Well Tether is only $2.2 billion on CoinMarketCap and the market is 400 billion, its only 0.5% of the market".
But this misunderstands what market capitalization for cryptocurrency is, and just how different the market cap for Tether is to every other token. The market cap is simply the last trade price times the circulating supply. It doesn't take into account the order book depth at all. The majority of Bitcoin (and most coins) are held by those who either mined or purchased for a very low price early on and simply held on as very small portions of the total supply was rapidly bid up to their current price.
An increase in market cap of X does NOT represent an inflow of X dollars invested, not even close. A 400 billion dollar market cap for crypto does NOT mean that there is 400 billion dollars underwriting the assets. Meanwhile a 2 billion dollar Tether market cap means there should be exactly $2 billion backing up the asset.
Nobody can tell for sure exactly how much money has been invested in cryptocurrency market, but analysts from JPMorgan found that there was only net inflow of $6 billion fiat that resulted in $300 billion market cap at the time. This gives us a roughly 50:1 ratio of market cap to fiat inflow. Prominent crypto evangelist Julian Hosp gives the following estimate: "For a cryptocurrency to have a market cap of $1 billion, maybe only $50 million actually moved into the cryptocurrency."
For Tether however the market cap is simply the outstanding supply, 2.2 billion USDT is actually equal to 2.2 billion USD. In order to get $50 USDT you have to deposit $50 real U.S. dollars and then 50 completely new tokens will be issued, which never existed before on the market.
What is also often ignored is that Bitfinex allows margin trading, at a 3.3x leverage. Bitfinexed did an excellent analysis on how tether is entering Bitfinex to fund margin positions
There are $2.2 billion in Tether outstanding and the current market cap of the entire market is $400 billion according to CoinMarketCap. You can actually calculate Tether as a % of total fiat invested in the market according to the JP Morgan estimate, the following table outlines for a scenario of no margin lending and 15/25% of tether being on a 3.3x leverage margin account:
Fiat Inflow/Market Cap Ratio Tether as % of total market (no margin) Tether as % of total market (15% on margin) Tether as % of total market (25% on margin)
JP Morgan estimate (50:1) 27.5 % 36.9 % 43.3 %
Even without any margin lending Tether is underwriting the worth of about 27.5% of the cryptocurrency market, and if we assume only 25% was leveraged out at 3.3x on margin we have a whole 43% of the market cap being driven by Tether inflow.
A much better indicator on CoinMarketCap of just how influential Tether is actually the volume, its currently the 2nd biggest cryptocurrency by volume and there are even days where its volume exceeds its market cap.
What this all means is that not only is the market cap for cryptocurrencies drastically overestimating the amount of actual fiat capital that is underwriting those assets, but a substantial portion of the entire market cap is being derived from the value of Tether's market cap rather than real money.
Its incredibly important that more new investors realize that Tether isn't a side issue or a minor cog in the machine, but one of the core underlying mechanisms on which the entire market worth is built. Ensuring that whoever controls this stablecoin is honest and transparent is absolutely critical to the health of the market.

Two main concerns with Tether

The primary concerns with Tether can be split into two categories:
  1. Tether issuance timing - Does Tether Ltd issue USDT organically or is it timed to stop downward selling pressure?
  2. Reserves - Does Tether Ltd actually have the fiat reserves at a 1:1 ratio, and why is there still no audit or third party guarantee of this?

Does Tether print USDT to prop up Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies?

In the last 3 months the amount of USDT has nearly quadrupled, with nearly a billion being printed in January alone. Some people have found the timing of the most recent batch of Tether as highly suspect because it seemed to coincide with Bitcoin's price being propped up.
https://www.nytimes.com/2018/01/31/technology/bitfinex-bitcoin-price.html
This was recently analyzed statistically:
Author’s opinion - it is highly unlikely that Tether is growing through any organic business process, rather that they are printing in response to market conditions.
Tether printing moves the market appreciably; 48.8% of BTC’s price rise in the period studied occurred in the two-hour periods following the arrival of 91 different Tether grants to the Bitfinex wallet.
Bitfinex withdrawal/deposit statistics are unusual and would give rise to further scrutiny in a typical accounting environment.
https://www.tetherreport.com
I'm still undecided on this and I would love to see more statistical analysis done, because the price of Bitcoin is so volatile while Tether printing only happens in large batches. Simply looking at the Bitcoin price graph over the last 3 months and then the Tether printing its pretty clear there is a relationship but it doesn't seem to hold over longer periods.
Ultimately to me this timing isn't that much of an issue, as long Tether is backed by US dollars. If Bitfinex was timing the prints then it accounts to not much more than an organized pumping scheme, which isn't a fundamental problem. The much more serious concern is whether those buy order are being conducted on the faith of fictitious dollars that don't exist, regardless of when those buy orders occur.

Didn't Tether release an audit in September?

Some online posters have recently tried to spread the notion that Tether has actually been audited by Friedman LLP and that a report was released in September 2017. That was actually just a consulting engagement, which you can read here:
https://tether.to/wp-content/uploads/2017/09/Final-Tether-Consulting-Report-9-15-17_Redacted.pdf
They clearly state that:
This engagement does not contemplate tests of accounting records or the performance of other procedures performed in an audit or attest engagement. Our procedures performed are not for the purpose of providing assurance...In addition, our services do not include determination of compliance with laws and regulations in any jurisdiction.
They state right from the beginning that this is a consultancy job (not an audit), and that its not meant to be assurance to third parties. Doing a consultancy job is just doing a task asked by your customer. In a consultancy job you take information as true from the client, and you have no mandate to verify whether your customer's claims are true or not. The way they checked is simply asking Tether to provide them the information:
All inquiries made through the consulting process have been directed towards, and the data obtained from, the Client and personnel responsible for maintaining such information.
Tether provided a screenshots of twp bank balances. One of these is in the name of Tether Limited, and while the other is a personal account of an individual who Tether Limited claims has a trust agreement with them:
As of September 15, 2017, the bank held $60,919,810 in an account in the name of an in individual for the benefit of Tether Limited. FLPP obtained an engagement letter for an interim settlement plan between that individual and Tether Limited and that according to Tether Limited, is the relevant agreement with the trustee. FLLP did not evaluate the substance of the letter and makes no representation about its legality.
Even worse is that later on in Note 1, they clearly claim that there is no actual evidence that this engagement letter or trust has any legal merit:
Note 1: FLLP makes no representations about sufficiency or enforceability of any trust agreement between the trustee and the Client
Essentially what this is saying is that the trust agreement may not even be worth the paper it’s printed on.
And most importantly… Note 2:
FLLP did not evaluate the terms of the above bank accounts and makes no representations about the clients ability to access funds from the accounts or whether the funds are committed for purposes other than Tether token redemptions
Basically Tether gave them a name of an individual with $60 million in their account according to a screenshot, Tether then gave them a letter saying that there is a trust agreement between this individual and Tether Limited. They also have account with $382 million but no guarantee that this account holds to any lien or other commitments, or that it can be accessed.
Currently Tether has 2.2 billion USDT outstanding and we have absolutely no idea whether this is actually backed by anything, and the long promised audit is still outstanding.

What happens if its revealed that Tether doesn't have its US dollar reserves?

According to Thomas Glucksmann, head of business development at Gatecoin: "If a tether debacle unfolds, it will likely cause quite a devastating ripple effect across many of the exchanges that see most of their volumes traded against the supposedly USD-backed cryptocurrency."
According to Nicholas Weaver, a senior researcher at the International Computer Science Institute at Berkeley: "You could see a spike in prices in tether-only bitcoin exchanges. So, on those exchanges only you will see a run up in price compared to the bitcoin exchanges that actually work with actually money. So you would see a huge price diverge as people see that only way they can turn tether into real money is to buy other cryptocurrency then move to another exchange. That is a bank run."
I definitely see the crypto equivalent of a bank run, as people actually try to secure their gains an realize that this money doesn't actually exist within the system:
If traders lose confidence in it and its value starts to drop, “people will run for the door,” says Carlson, the former Wall Street trader. If Tether can’t meet all its customers’ demand for dollars (and its Terms of Service suggest that in many cases it won’t even try), tether holders will try to snap up other cryptocurrencies instead, temporarily causing prices for those currencies to soar. With tether’s role as an inter-exchange facilitator compromised, investors might lose faith in cryptocurrencies more generally. “At the end of the day, people would be losing substantial sums, and in the long term this would be very bad for cryptocurrencies,” says Emin Gun Sirer, a Cornell professor and co-director of its Initiative for Cryptocurrencies and Smart Contracts.
Another concern is that Bitfinex might simply shut down, pocketing the bitcoins it has allegedly been stockpiling. Because people who trade on Bitfinex allow the exchange to hold their money while they speculate, these traders could face substantial losses. “The exchanges are like unregulated banks and could run off with everyone’s money,” says Tony Arcieri, a former Square employee turned entrepreneur trying to build a legally regulated exchange.
https://www.wired.com/story/why-tethers-collapse-would-be-bad-for-cryptocurrencies/
The way I see it, this would be how it plays out if Tether collapses:
  1. Tether-enabled exchanges will see a massive spike in Bitcoin and cryptocurrency prices as everyone leaves Tether. Noobs in these exchanges will think they are now millionaires until they realize they are rich in tethers but poor in dollars.
  2. Exchanges that have not integrated Tether will experienced large drops in Bitcoin and alts as experienced investors flee crypto into USD.
  3. There will be a flight of Bitcoin from Tether-integrated exchanges to non-Tether exchanges with fiat off-ramps. Exchanges running small fractional reserves will be exposed, further increasing calls for greater reserves requirements.
  4. The exchanges might slam the doors shut on withdrawals.
  5. Many exchanges that own large balances of Tether, especially Bitfinex, will likely become insolvent.
  6. There will be lawsuits flying everywhere and with Tether Limited being incorporated on a Carribean Island whose solvency and bankruptcy laws will likely ensure they don't ever get much back. This could take years and potentially push away new investors from entering the space.

Conclusion

We can't be 100% completely sure that Tether is a scam, but its so laiden with red flags that at this point I would call it the biggest systematic risk in the crypto space. Its bigger than any nation's potential regulatory steps because it cuts right into the issue of trust across the entire ecosystem.
Ultimately Tether is centralizing one of the very core mechanics of the cryptocurrency markets and asking you to trust one party to be the safekeeper, and I really see very little reason to trust Bitfinex given their history of lying and screwing over their own customers. I think that Tether initially started as a legit business to facilitate the ease of moving money and avoiding regulations, but somewhere along the lines greed and/or incompetence took over (something that seems common with Bitfinex's previous actions). Right now we're playing proverbial hot potato, and as long as people believe that Tether is worth a dollar everything is fine, but as some point the Emperor will have to step out from hiding and somebody will point out they have no clothes.
In the long term I really hope once Tether collapses we can move on and get the following two implemented which would greatly improve the market for all investors:
  1. Actual USD fiat pairings on the major exchanges for the major currencies
  2. Regulatory rules on exchange reserve requirements
I had watched the Bitconnect people insist for the last 2 years that everything about Bitconnect made perfect sense because they were getting paid daily. The scam works until one day it suddenly doesn't.
Tether could still come clean and avoid all of this "FUD" by simply getting a simple review of their banking, they don't even need a full audit. If everything was legit with Tether, it would be incredibly easy to have a segregated bank account with the funds used solely to back up Tether, then have an third party accounting firm simply review the account and a bank reconciliation statement then spend a few hours in contact with the bank to ensure no outstanding liabilities are held on that balance. This is extremely basic stuff, it would take a few hours to set up and wouldn't take a lot of man-hours for a qualified account to do, and yet they don’t do it. Why? Why hire a major PR firm and spend god knows how much money to pay professional PR representatives to attack "FUD" online instead?
I think I know why.
submitted by arsonbunny to CryptoCurrency [link] [comments]

SPOILERS [S3E10] The loop of Elliot "saving the company / stopping the hack" in S1E1, the logistics "mirage" of S3, and Hot Carla's take on Elliot in Red Wheelbarrow

SUMMARY - When Elliot is heralded as a hero for "saving" something, he is actually hacking and/or destroying it, and the pattern continues. This premise builds Elliot's loops, hacks, and undo/restarts, and he's not done. Here is what I think really happened in S3 and where things will go in S4. Like Tyrell said, "old habits, they die hard".
Remember the pilot where everyone on the show congratulated Elliot for "saving the company" (Allsafe) and "stopping the hack" (ecorp)? Elliot was heralded as being a savior for stopping the big hack, when in fact he was starting another hack that would later end Allsafe and severely damage ecorp. Elliot's trip to the Dulles server farm to stop the big ecorp hack was the cover he used, and that is where he actually planted the .dat file, right in front of us, under our noses, that would later be exploited.
https://www.usanetwork.com/mrrobot/timeline-gallery/mr-robot-season-1-easter-eggs
Elliot's actions and patterns throughout the series mirror the rootkit that was the cause of that big ecorp hack of the pilot, with Elliot as the rootkit physically and digitally.
E: I think they got a rootkit sitting inside the servers.
A: What's a rootkit?
L: ...it's a malicious code that completely takes over their system. It could delete system files, install programs, - viruses, worms -
A: How do we stop it?
E: That's the thing, it's fundamentally invisible. You can't stop it.
L: All of their servers are timing out. None of them are coming back up. This means every time we restart a server the virus replicates itself during boot-up, then crashes the host.
L: How are we supposed to bring up the network if we can't restart the servers?
E: We can't, which is what they wanted. By defending ourselves, we ended up spreading the virus everywhere.
This kind of deceptive loop of Elliot taking action to "save" something, and TELLING US he is saving something, while he is doing something entirely different is a pattern for him, and is augmented by the fact that Elliot TELLS US he hacks everyone and lies to us, so we do know that is one truth of the show....Elliot HACKS and LIES. We see Elliot do this with Stage 2, where only he knows the whole plan and Tyrell/Darlene are left wondering what is happening, even though they are both working for Elliot. We see it with Elliot's Stage 3 fakeout to own the Dark Army.

To continue that pattern, we see Elliot take control of the ecorp logistics system under the guise of creating a "paper record mirage" to keep the paper records from being blown up by his own work (allegedly as Mr. Robot) in Stage 2, in which Elliot ended up "failing". But that isn't the ONLY result of that hack. Here is what I believe really happened.

Remember that at the fancy dinner attended by Zhang/WhiteRose and Price in S3E6-7, Zhang/WR assigned a task to Price: shipping her project to the Congo using ecorp's logistics system. The very same logistics system we saw Elliot own when he started working at ecorp.....and STILL OWNS in the S3E10 finale. Elliot needed to own ecorp's logistics system and make it seem like he had a purpose for it other than his goal later on, much like his trip to the Dulles server farm in the pilot, for a later move and payout. In the case of the logistics system, Elliot needed it as the first part of his plan to get to the side of WhiteRose, since he is the ONLY PERSON who can bust through the logistics issue of getting her project to the Congo. We don't know yet HOW Elliot knows WR will want to move her project to the Congo or how long he might have known of it (possibly since childhood if he got wind of it when visiting his dad at ecorp, which we were subtly told he did in S2E6's scene w/young Elliot and Edward in the car outside the Mr. Robot store), or if he knows because he is working fowith another high-level player (like Price) that hasn't been disclosed yet, so this will need to be addressed in S4, but Elliot knows WR has a project to move to the Congo before he hacks the DA. Back to the point, this logistics move only gets Elliot one-third the way there.

Unfortunately, this means Elliot has to produce another set of circumstances that will challenge the shipping of WR's project to the Congo. What is that block? MARTIAL LAW. Martial law circumvents a lot of current DA operatives and bribes because there are a new set of players/rules/circumstances put into effect that are too new and numerous for the DA to get control of quickly enough to overcome this obstacle.

Why is there martial law in effect? Because the 71 buildings blew up. Unpleasant as it is to think about, Elliot needed those 71 buildings to blow in order to create the martial law situation, so I believe that no matter what any form of Elliot told us, we were witnessing a loop similar to the pilot hack. I believe that Elliot was NOT trying to actually stop the buildings from blowing at all, but had another agenda that needed to be started under cover of the hoodie-clad rioter chaos (and I don't think those rioters in HOODIES were any coincidence, especially on the only ecorp workday where Elliot NEVER took his hoodie off....) in the main ecorp building, and completed in the 2nd ecorp building that he snuck into after the chaos of the bomb threat that he called in, after he was fired and his access to ecorp allegedly revoked (providing a cover story and plausible deniability for Elliot should anyone suspect or try to pin things on him). What Elliot did there has yet to be revealed, but I strongly suspect that he owned ECOIN and perhaps something else that we haven't yet seen...possibly the new technology prototype that Tyrell spoke of in his "prep for Price pitch" that we saw in S1E3", possibly WHITEROSE'S PROJECT. Whatever it is, I believe we are due for another big ecorp hack reveal in S4.

So while Elliot kept our confidence and sympathy, and earned the sympathy of Darlene and Angela in his apparently valiant attempts to stop his own Stage 2 plan, I believe that Elliot NEEDED Stage 2 to happen exactly as it did....with the full force of the Dark Army taking out the 71 buildings....because this series of events facilitated martial law being imposed and allowed Elliot to own one or more things that haven't yet been revealed. Without the martial law blockade, Elliot cannot get to the side of WhiteRose with his "miraculous save" that he offered - and apparently delivered - at the end of S3. And creating a plan that one DELIBERATELY SABOTAGES is an EXCELLENT way to trace response preparedness/power pathways/players and test loyalties along the way, which is exactly what Elliot did with Stage 2 and in S3. We got a small-scale sample of that when Elliot was released from prison in S2 and wanted Cisco to arrange a meet with Xun, where Elliot asked about Stage 2. I believe Elliot knew full well what Stage 2 was (despite what he told us), thus causing intended confusion among the players ("this will get them talking"). Sam Esmail and the cast mentioned over and over that loyalty was a key theme in S3, and indeed it was. In the end of S3, Elliot has much more information about players, pathways, and the bottom line of the desires/motivations/loyalties of people in his realm, including Angela and Darlene.

There was one more component to Elliot's solution to WhiteRose, which was the Stage 3 deception that he already admitted to us was a ruse to own the DA. Elliot still owns everything DA at the end of S3, they have no time/way to recover before the end of the season, and he impresses WR enough that she sacrifices Grant to keep Elliot around, which is exactly where Elliot wants to be.

Elliot's attempts to "save" something literally blow up....but I believe those were the intended consequences the whole time. We hear Elliot and Mr. Robot occasionally comment over the 3 seasons about casualties, persistence, the losses, and the cost to get to that point, especially in their last subway conversation of S3. And in that conversation, we HEAR Elliot literally say that he did all this "for ME...I'm doing this FOR ME." That line is classic Mr. Robot, because even though Elliot tells Mr. Robot/us DIRECTLY that he did all this for himself, the context used to frame up what he did and why he did it, and the brilliant acting of Rami Malek that imbues those words with such pained sincerity, leave us feeling like Elliot really wants to try to fix things by undoing the hack. So at the end of S3, we see Elliot send the encryption key to some general ecorp address. But, as many posters here have written, and the Parsons-educated prostitute notes in the post-credit scene of S3, undoing the hack will not be beneficial, and will make things worse. As smart and thorough as Elliot is, I believe he already knows this, I don't think he is in any way ignorant of that fact. Not sure exactly what he has in store, but I'm guessing it isn't what he told us in S3. If Elliot owns Ecoin, he could lock up all the wallets (like we saw with Ray's situation of S2) and then restore debt with the ecorp records, inciting outrage among the masses as they would have no access to money. Whatever it is, it will probably be the fuel to fire a full-scale revolution that Mr. Robot told us about in the pilot, especially since Elliot has even more ways to kill the public's confidence in ecorp, which is so deeply embedded in the world's economy that destroying it will rouse the whole world to revolution.

Side note - I also think that between Elliot's "metadata" hack of the FBI of S3E4 and the access to FBI's Sentinel that Elliot was literally given (by Dom, under protest) as a way to get the encryption keys (which he had the whole time...and I believe he knew it), Elliot probably owns SENTINEL. Sentinel is a key database not just for the FBI, but NSA and the CIA as well, so if Elliot owns that, he is much closer to god access than he ever was before. I believe that Elliot had his "key" plan in motion and spotlighted Romero as the pathway to get into Sentinel under the guise of trying to find the encryption keys, which would also support the idea that many folks have had on the sub, that Elliot is ultimately responsible for Romero's death. And let's not forget that last we knew, Elliot still owned Vera's whole operation, we never saw him actually turn anything over to the authorities...that was just dropped. Vera also showed back up in the post-credit scene of S3, so will be very interesting to see where that leads in S4.

So by the end of S3, Elliot STILL owns ecorp, as he has since S1, and has increased his access there, and he likely owned Ecoin before S3 ever ended right under our noses. Elliot still owns the DA. Elliot likely owns Sentinel. Elliot may well still own Vera's operation, maybe he has also procured funds/resources from other criminals he turned in before he turned them in (I think he was creating the problems for Ray's site/hot-cold wallet system that caused Ray to seek out Elliot's help in prison, and I'm betting Elliot might still have some of that bitcoin). Elliot might even own WR's project, or be positioning himself to do that (even if WR suspects that is what Elliot will do, which she has to at this point). And Elliot managed to own ALL OF THIS while telling and/or showing us he was doing something different, or for a different purpose than he said he was doing it, just like he did in the pilot. So Elliot is repeating his loops and starting new ones, going back to the beginning. As the S3 finale title command told us...."shutdown -r"....shutdown and restart...just like the rootkit from the pilot, spreading the virus everywhere.

On to HOT CARLA. In the companion book RED WHEELBARROW, Hot Carla heralds and admires Elliot, writing about how he changed the world for the better, essentially "saving" it (in the past tense). We don't know yet exactly what Hot Carla defines as changing the world "for better" or why she regards Elliot as a savior, and it might actually line up with something Elliot did. It is possible that Hot Carla might want to see the world burn since she is a pyro who has apparently led a life filled with challenges and "saves" books by burning them. But if the pattern Elliot has demonstrated time and time again holds true, then it is likely that Elliot's "changing the world for the better" or "saving the world" is similar to Elliot "saving Allsafe", which resulted in Allsafe's total destruction, and "stopping the ecorp hack", in which Elliot was hobbling ecorp and just getting started....

ETA:
Another point to consider is why Elliot is using complicated, convoluted routes to get to his end goals, and thanks to u/bwandering for bringing up some specific questions on this here. If we follow the patterns of the show so far, we see people going to great lengths to avoid being spied on and followed. Angela zig-zags her way across town to meet with Darlene in the smart house in S2. We watch Darlene get on/off the same subway train or go to a different car to avoid followers. The DA drives Darlene and Trenton by limo to Cisco in S1 even though Darlene knows full well where he lives. Tasks are also separated and delegated, with no one having the full picture of what is going on except Elliot (even if he tells us he doesn't know), and introducing middlemen where it doesn't even seem they are really necessary, like Cisco. The convoluted route as cover for a plan so complex would be necessary so that no one could track or anticipate where Elliot or his project are going and keep him separated from evidence and interference. The show has even followed that route, giving us scenes out of order, leaving things ambiguous and not sure where things are going while Elliot is moving forward with his plans, even while in jail, while we try to keep up. This is why I believe the indirect, complex routes are chosen, as cover.

I have written before about things related to these ideas in other posts and comments, but I wanted to update and pull it together here heading toward S4. I know thinking of Elliot doing these kinds of things can be unpleasant (going to apologize in advance to u/The_Firmament and u/yeswithanh) because they are NOT attractive prospects. This character who is so near and dear to us, whose pain and loneliness we see - and which I do think is real, BTW, because you can't be that calculating of a person and take all those actions and be mentally healthy - seems to still be hacking the world and hacking us, and, as Elliot told us, "even if it's him (Mr. Robot), it's ME".

In fact, Elliot is SO GOOD at hacking people, that despite him telling and showing us what he is doing over and over, telling us that he lies and hacks everyone, we still root for him. We still feel for him. We still care for him. We still BELIEVE him. We want him to succeed in his battle with himself and take down the top 1% if 1%, even when he IS the one playing god without permission. It mirrors Elliot's hack of Krista where he literally tells her he hacks her and everyone else, yet because of how he related to her in his "just like me" expressions of loneliness, and how expertly he hacked and pivoted the Lenny Shannon situation to his advantage so that Krista would process that information/hack as Elliot being protective of her, she gives Elliot a pass AND continues to be his therapist. By the time we get to the end of S3 where we see the Mr. Robot persona literally confess Elliot's involvement in the 5/9 hack and the 71 buildings blowing, KRISTA DOES NOT BELIEVE THE CONFESSION. Says it sounds like delusions of grandeur. Granted, the show could still go this route and have none of this stuff be happening, but for now, I'm working with the premise it is less likely. So Krista continues to root for Elliot and so do we, because we relate to him. When Irving told his car salesman how to relate using simple phrases and objects like the "world's best dad" mug to "make the sale", he noted EXACTLY how to do it, and underscored the hacking method Elliot has been using with everyone since the pilot. If I am near the mark, then how safe and secure can we be in our own world if we can't tell the good guys from the bad ones on TV?

I have grappled with the thought of Elliot as VILLAIN (which is literally spelled out on the movie poster Elliot shows up undenext to 3 times in the pilot - https://imgur.com/a/diGFpNv) with respect to things I recently read about how closely Sam Esmail relates to the character of Elliot, while still following this particular path of clues from the show. While I am only guessing, I do suspect that Sam was/is trying to tell a bigger cautionary tale, especially with his comments about how technology opens the world up to more vulnerabilities than we are prepared to recognize/combat, and how that kind of hacking could affect the world (which ended up being utterly prophetic by the time the show was released). And since Sam was also inspired by the events of Arab Spring, in which a sense of hope for so many people and nations tragically didn't work across the board, leaving many with worse circumstances in the end than they started with, I think this could line up. After all, in this world of virtual reality, one often has to experience things personally to truly be able to relate and metabolize them. I don't know if this is what Sam is trying to say with this beautiful show, but I think at least part of his message must want us to come away as more aware, more decent, and better prepared humans. Maybe Mr. Robot is OUR empathy, or gullibility, test.

So whatever Elliot's definitions of "undo", "restart", or "save" actually are, they will be complicated and create more chaos and undesireable results that only Elliot might understand or want. Elliot is certainly sitting with a lot more power going into S4, and even if he takes down WR and the other 1%, which I think he will, he has become the monster he told us that he allegedly sought to destroy in the process. In the end, Elliot might have to "save" us from himself.
submitted by MaryInMaryland to MrRobot [link] [comments]

Kill the Basilisk

I’ve often wondered if there was anything else I could’ve said to change his mind. That happens with any unsettled argument though I suppose. People always imagine there’s an elusive combination of words and rationales that will open a person’s mind to our way of thinking. Except people are stubborn that’s for sure.
Myself included.
So I’m sure you’d say the real problem was that I wasn’t open enough to his way of thinking. You’d say if I opened my mental door a bit, been more charitable to his point of view, he would’ve responded in kind and I would’ve saved him. Which is wrong. Just as likely perhaps, if not more likely, I would’ve been ensnared by the same delusion which sealed his, well, I’d never call it fate.
But I know you’d claim everything was inevitable all the same.
Let’s get one thing out of the way. Yes, I was Roman Peters’ friend. In fact, I was probably his only friend. His only real friend anyway. Although, I should clarify since my wording isn’t at all clear, that I most certainly was not Roman’s friend when he died. Roman and I had stopped being friends long before his rather public suicide. We had our falling out before his… fall.
Yes, I’ve seen the video.
No, I won’t be sharing the link.
Nobody should watch it. Hell, if those hosting the servers had a modicum of respect or even a shred of sense they’d take down that awful video immediately. Just get rid of it.
Already I can now hear your loud complaints about ‘censorship’ and ‘free speech’. Which is fair. People have a right to know. However I can’t help but feel… I don’t know. It seems as though the ideas people prioritize no longer has anything to do with the ideas themselves. Instead importance is based on who opposes what. Ideas now are little more than mental parasites that feed on blood boiling outrage. The more toxic and viral an idea the more broadly it spreads. Again, I don’t know. Maybe the flame of human enlightenment was always destined to be either smothered by tyranny or choke itself out on its own smoke after sucking out all the air.
Yes yes. I know what you have to say about the inevitable.
Anyway, me shoving my head up my own pretentious ass isn’t convincing you of anything so we should instead go back to Roman.
We met back in early elementary school. Specifically the Catholic school of Father Lloyd Van Tiem, or Flivit if you wanted to annoy the teachers by slurring the acronym.
What you need to understand is that I can’t really remember how Roman and I became friends to begin with. We were too young for the pertinent details to stick. I’d imagine it was the same generic way everyone develops friends at that age though, just a standard confluence of common interests, general proximity, and plain luck.
Inevitable, as you’d say.
Still, there was one moment of our early friendship that I reflect on often.
See, instead of being your standard dinosaur obsessed kid I was a bright eyed Egyptology child. Mummies and pyramids captured my imagination more than T-rexs and velociraptors. Ancient Egypt appealed to me the way I figure the mythic civilizations of Tolkien or Martin might appeal to others. This extended to the Egyptian religious pantheon, many I can still name off the top of my head, like Ra, Bastet, Osiris, Sobek, Horus, Thoth, Isis, Anubis, Maat, and also the lesser goddess Ammut but I’ll come back to her later.
I think I’d just turned 10 when on particular slow school day — remember Catholic school — our teacher, not wanting to put too much effort in before the Easter long weekend, threw on the animated movie: The Prince of Egypt.
Now, I knew it was about the story of Moses freeing the Hebrews from Egypt, so I expected the Egyptians were going to rightly be portrayed poorly. What I didn’t expect was the reaction of my classmates. Part way through the song ‘Playing with the Big Boys,’ the song where the dumb priests use smoke and mirrors to dismiss Moses’ calls for freedom, around then is when I first noticed the glances and occasional snickering.
Apparently the chorus of the evil priests listing the names of the Egyptian gods reminded the class of me. At school, I was rather vocal about my passion for all things Egyptian. Why wouldn’t I be? I was a kid who liked talking about what I liked.
Regardless, I became a pariah after that. Not immediately, but slowly everyone I previously considered my friend just plain stopped being friends with me. They’d treat me like a third wheel, never invite me to anything, even ditch me at recess if I tried to follow them.
Except Roman stuck by me as I drifted further into social irrelevance.
A bit of a loner himself, I think he saw in me an oddball like himself. He was always there. He was always willing to hang out. He always listened to what I had to say. I felt we could talk about anything, in a way I could never talk to my parents or teachers or anyone really.
As close as I thought we were, it wasn’t until middle school that it sunk in how much of an ardent atheist Roman was. He probably kept that pretty quiet going to a religious school.
Hold on. Let me just explain something first. Most people avoid discussing religiosity and ideas about god, (or capital ‘G’ God as I had been taught in religious studies). It’s one of those things that people learn not to talk about. But unlike money and politics, religion is too close to that other taboo we learn never to discuss: death. You undoubtedly prefer this silence.
Which is why I refuse to be silent.
Our class had been taken to church for some ceremony, at the end of grade eight, I forget exactly which one, it might have been Ash Wednesday but I think that would’ve been too solemn and I remember it being a rather boisterous affair. Whatever ritual it was, it had more than just our school in attendance, as I think parents and other members of the community were there as well. On the stage or pulpit, there was a soft-rock band with members ranging from late twenties or early thirties, the lead singer, a mop of molasses coloured hair over a plain crew neck T, was singing a song about how god and they love us all.
I remember thinking it was a sweet sentiment, even if the underlying spiritual message felt uncompelling to my teenage self. The music was fine, the crowd seemed to like it, the worst I would have said was that the performance was inoffensive and benign. Which is hardly much of a critique.
Except Roman, in his ill-fitting sport coat and smiley face graphic-T, smirked remarking, “Oh boy, a budget rock show where the singer says they love me? Oh lawd, I’m really feelin’ the Jesus now.”
I burst out laughing far louder than the wry joke called for. Luckily with the music blaring, the teachers wouldn’t be lecturing me on my disrespect, as only Roman could see my gut busting delight.
That’s it. That’s all it took was that simple comment. After that, I couldn’t help but see the tacky spectacle of it all. How forced and contrived it was, how it mostly just seemed like people were there because of obligation. After all, I was only there because the school made us go. It couldn’t have been much different for everyone else.
I’ve been thinking about that moment more often lately. Did his small remark really change my mind and entire world view? Or was my mind fertile ground for the seed of that idea to take root and grow? Or I’d already believed what I believed and Roman just articulated it in a way that I hadn’t. Or most troubling of all, what if I didn’t really believe in anything and my mind conformed to the words of my one and only friend.
When with Roman, do as the Roman does.
After that, I followed him eagerly into the land of Hitchens, Dawkins, and Harris. Borrowing his books, I started learning everything there was to know about theological philosophy that the teachers at our religious school either refused to tell us or were incapable of discussing themselves. Together, we’d share our thoughts on the bloody history of religions, the Problem of Evil, and how you could never prove a negative like god doesn’t exist. Likewise we’d take turns picking apart the fallacies of Pascal’s Wager, the Ontological Argument, and the Argument of Design.
Those were some of my best memories with Roman. Drinking pop from the fridge in my garage, eating the weird pizzas we’d order from Mad Mike’s pizza aroud the block, playing Halo on the couch and big screen, and all the while talking like were the smartest guys in the world.
As we left our Catholic elementary and middle schools behind, we entered Catholic High School.
I finally started making other friends. A handful of other geeky nerdy guys. They were more interested in pizza and gaming than anything religion though.
Roman seemed indifferent to my new friends. He was far more preoccupied fighting with Mr. Bauer, the school’s most openly devout teacher. My feelings toward Christianity hadn’t yet softened but Roman’s were clearly becoming more militant. From the safety of my conflict-averse sidelines, I secretly cheered Roman on whenever Mr. Bauer crossed a line.
See, Mr. Bauer was a real piece of work. He seemed pleasant and cheery enough, pastel shirts, clean white trainers, a big white smile and perpetually soft spoken, but eventually without fail his bigotry would expose itself.
Before any class Mr. Bauer would teach, he’d lead the class in prayer. Normally they were generic and unremarkable. Every so often though his prayers would go beyond the usual, “Thank you God for this beautiful day.”
With a gentle smile, at least once a week his prayers were something to the effect of, “Help guide my students away from lives of sin.” Or “Give us the strength to resist our carnal temptation.”
Whenever he prayed like this there was a fifty-fifty chance Mr. Bauer would elaborate on what exactly he meant by ‘life of sin’ or ‘carnal temptation.’
It could range from the condescending, “Help the girls find husbands to protect them from the unmarried lifestyle,” and “Give the boys hobbies to stop their idle urge for masturbation.” (By the way, in the three years I listened to him, Boys never needed protection from the unmarried lifestyle and girls simply didn’t possess the idle urge for masturbation.)
And he could go way up past condescending to the outright hateful. “Please open those of misguided faith to the one true path to Heaven through you, Jesus Christ,” he’d say obliquely when Hussein was attending class. He was more direct with Melissa, “And save Melissa from any perversion of your sanctioned union. Bless her with God’s holy covenant between man and woman so as to rescue her soul from homosexuality.”
Hussein and Melissa would usually try their best to ignore Mr. Bauer.
It was Roman who retaliated. “How did god rescue you from homosexuality?” There was a few scattered snickers from the class.
Mr. Bauer, oblivious to what Roman was trying to do, answered sincerely, “Why… God sent me my wonderful wife of course.”
“Well its a good thing god sent her he did, otherwise who knows what might have happened. You might have knob-gobbled a guy if it weren’t for that.” There was more barely contained chuckling.
“I…” Mr. Bauer wasn’t sure what to say, “I suppose that’s one way to frame it.”
“Yeah, like if your wife hadn’t straightened you out, why, two dudes with big oily muscles might be sword fighting in your mouth right now while a third drills you from behind.” The laughs were spilling freely now, myself included. “Can you imagine that? I mean seriously, are you imagining that right now?”
Mr. Bauer would then have to deal with the chorus of laughter. “Alright alright. Settle down. We’re getting off track here. Moving on.” By then of course, it would be too late, everybody would be on the same side. Not his.
I admired Roman’s courage to stand up to Mr. Bauer like that. That wasn’t the only time either. Usually, Roman kept his cool while he made Mr. Bauer look like a fool. He deserved it. He was a dick.
You might have something to say about what we deserve though.
As we entered our last year of High School, Roman started butting heads with the other teachers too. Even the teachers that weren’t as outwardly religious as Mr. Bauer got some of his flak. His humour started taking on definite edge too. It was still in good fun, at least that’s how it seemed to me, but there was an undercurrent of meanness to his comments too.
Even as I drifted away into my own separate circle of friends, I still sympathized with the perspective Roman was coming from.
They, meaning the school, were trying to indoctrinate young minds into a belief system that could be outright harmful.
In that regard, even if it wouldn’t change anything, a little rebellion isn’t just good but required.
However, where he really crossed the line in my mind was with Mrs. Ellie Monk in our last year. She one of the younger teachers, also fairly religious, always wearing her little silver cross, but she never lectured anyone on faith. She taught our English class and one of the assignments was writing essays analyzing other pieces of literature.
Roman, being the intellectual gadfly he was, wrote his essay on Jonathan Swift’s A Modest Proposal. In it, Roman argued how the modern world needed more extreme measures than simply eating babies. ‘All babies should be aborted before they are born, and the foetus gruel should be processed into bio-fuel to replace society’s fossil fuel vehicles. It’s the only way to save the planet from climate catastrophe!’
I thought this was really funny.
Ellie Monk however, did not.
She tried speaking to him a discreetly during class while everyone else was busy working. Roman, however, quickly drew in an audience. “Abortion, abortion, abortion! You can’t make me stop saying it. It’s just a word.”
“Roman,” Mrs. Ellie Monk had her jaw drop, “can’t you see that’s a sensitive topic that should be treated more seriously!”
“Really? Because I think I treat the return to sender option for foetuses with the exact level of seriousness it deserves.”
“It’s not— you can’t joke about babies being killed!”
“Just because you say it’s baby killing, doesn’t make it true. They aren’t the same as babies. And if I were to submit to your demands and shut my mouth I’d implicitly be agreeing with you.”
Up until this point, I was definitely rooting for Roman.
“Just because its a joke to you, for others— for me it is deeply hurtful to have to hear these things. What you’re talking about is—is deeply personal to mothers everywhere.”
“Yeah, well, some people were never meant to be mothers.”
At this she covered her mouth and ran out of the room. She didn’t come back that day and the was a substitute the next. There had been rumours going around that Mrs. Ellie Monk had had a miscarriage a few months back. I knew this because Roman had told it to me earlier.
Later, I’d try and convince Roman he had in fact crossed that invisible line. He disagreed. He said, “It’s not my problem if she can’t grow thicker skin. The sooner humanity grows out of its immaturity the better.”
I felt I had no other choice but to drop the subject. I was conflict-averse after all.
Shortly after that Roman began talking about a forum he frequented called Defiant CodeX, or DCX for short. It was named after some sci-fi book I never cared about, but was apparently filled with a bunch of humorous philosophy references. He’d talk about his online friends. How they really seemed to ‘get it’ whatever ‘it’ was. And he began describing concepts I wasn’t familiar with like trans-humanism and the singularity, going on long rants about the future of technology and humanity.
I wish I’d paid more attention. It seemed interesting enough, but sometimes we’re just not interested in interesting things. When Roman got going on one of his speeches on the Law of Accelerating Returns, for some reason I’d often check out. I was reminded about how much I cared — or used to care — about Ancient Egypt.
Years had passed since our class watched the Prince of Egypt, and in that time I hadn’t thought much about Egyptian Mythology at all.
Briefly, with Roman recommending it, I frequented the DCX forum myself. I admit there were interesting gaming discussions, intense political debates, and a charming comic that I really quite enjoyed despite its slight pretentiousness. For the most part I stayed away from the same parts of the forum as Roman.
He spent most of his time in the ‘Technology’ board, which didn’t seem very technologically focused at all in my opinion.
Yes, I know your opinion on opinions and I don’t care.
I don’t care because this is where I’d point to as the time Roman first found you.
The two of us started hanging out less and less often after that. My other friends said good riddance. They said he was an unpleasant person to be around, he was too bitter, cynical, misanthropic. Needless to say, I hadn’t noticed. In the last few times we hung out, this was before we went off to pursue our different post-secondary educations, he did make one last ominous sounding reference. It was only in passing, and never emphasized, but he mentioned you by name.
He mentioned the Basilisk.
Whenever the topic switched to our post-High School plans, “Doesn’t matter. It’s all over when the Basilisk comes.” Something in the way he said that made me nervous, almost like it was a threat, and instantly put me on the defensive. Once again my conflict averse persona got in the way of challenging him to explain what he meant.
Because of that, the phrase kept rattling away in the back of my mind.
Around then is when I had my first dreams. I was cold. I was alone. Around me were braziers of green flame. The smoke billowed up into an infinite of blackness ceiling. On all sides were sheer blocks of sandstone with writing etched onto their surfaces. Hieroglyphics that I couldn’t read but almost understand. There was nowhere to go but straight down this hallway of speaking pictures. My feet slapped the unyielding rock with every step. These hard surroundings felt more real than my own ephemeral body and I felt naked and exposed in the narrow corridor.
Forward and forward, there was nowhere to go but forward. I was forced to proceed, forced to follow my own slapping footsteps.
Eventually, when the hall finally seemed to open up into a large cavernous space, I heard the growl. The sound was low, wide and flat toned, a noise that filled the perfumed air with an inhuman indifference — and hunger.
In front of me chains clattered and slipped. In the centre of this room golden scales held a pristine and unburdened feather on one side, and a wet chunk of glistening meat in the other. This meat was a heart — my heart — and it weighed heavily, still pulsing quietly, pulling the chains of the scale down.
Now I understood what this was.
I made to run and grab my heart but it was too late. A long shadow snapped through the darkness. My heart was gone, replaced by the sounds of the empty chains, followed by chewing and ripping flesh.
Then the shadow showed itself to me. Down through the clouds of smoke and illuminated by the sickly pale green haze, a crocodile head emerged, much larger than my entire body, with teeth longer than my arms.
It drew nearer and I ran.
I ran down the hallway from where I’d came. I ran and I ran. But I had nowhere to go. The hallway was endless. Soon I could hear a thundering beat. I thought it was my heart but my heart was gone. Behind me, the giant behemoth was chasing me and it was gaining on me.
Closer and closer, the massive crodile head drew nearer. The scent of its moist breath dampening my back and neck. I’d scream the beast’s name, shout at it to spare me. It would open its mouth and right then — is where I’d wake up.
Each time I’d be drenched in my own sweat.
I chocked this up to the stress of being away from home for the first time and being buried to my neck in my coarse load.
Still though, these dreams trouble me. As I said about the scales, I knew exactly what they were. They were the scales of Ma’at, which judges the worth of Egyptians when they reach the afterlife. There your heart is weighed against an ostrich feather and if judged impure, it would be devoured by Ammut, or Ammit as she’s sometimes called. A beastly goddess with the head of crocodile and a body of lion and hippopotamus — the three man-eating creatures known to the ancient Egyptians. Ammut, the devourer of the dead, would bring about the second death of the unworthy.
As much as I tried to ignore this dream, I only had it once every few months after all, something greater troubled me about this dream, more than just the fact I was dreaming about Ammut.
What worried me was how I didn’t call her Ammut. Right as she was about to eat me whole and I begged her not to, I called her: Basilisk.
After my first year of school, with middling but hopefully improving grades, I returned home for the summer to work and save money for my next semester. I was hardly back for more than a day when Roman messaged me, asking to hang out. I hadn’t spoken to Roman at all since our High School graduation, and neither had a checked in on the DCX forums in all that time either.
I felt like I didn’t know the person was going to be meeting. Which is why I suggested going for coffee, but Roman insisted on meeting at his place instead.
He had moved out of his parents place for a small basement suite apartment. When he opened the door to greet me, I was shocked. He looked like a completely different person. Whereas before he had been a bit overweight, now he was lean. His hair had been cut down to almost a sheer buzz. Just about the only thing that looked similar was how he wore a suit jacket, now fitting well, over a plain T.
He smiled widely despite the tired bags under his eyes. “Hey buddy, you made it! Get in here, man.” He greeted me with a hug and ushered me inside.
His place was largely bare and furnished with only a couch and a few chairs. “How long have you had this place?” I asked.
“A few months.”
With little else to do but chat, Roman didn’t even have a TV after all, the conversation felt a little stilted. He seemed guarded but maybe he just didn’t have much to talk about. Somehow though we managed to stretch the small talk out for nearly an hour.
Finally when it seemed there was nothing left in our conversation about nothing, I asked a question I‘d been meaning to ask since agreeing to meet, “Can I ask you something Roman?”
“Shoot.”
“What is the Basilisk?”
At this the blood drained from his face. “How do you know about that?”
“From you. You told me about it.”
“No,” he shook his head in shocked disbelief, “No, I never.”
“Yes, you said something like: ‘It’s all over when the Basilisk comes.’ It was practically your motto for a few weeks there.”
Hearing this, some colour returned to his face. “Right. I suppose I did say that.”
“So what? Are you going to tell me what it is or not?”
He stared at me for a wordless five seconds before getting up from his chair and beckoning him to follow. He led me to his bedroom. At the door I could already feel an uncomfortable warmth escape. I don’t know what I expected Roman would show me, but all there was was a bare mattress with a single blanket in one corner, and a full floor to ceiling tower computer in the other. Blinking green, orange, red, and even purple standby lights lit up the corner like a black Christmas tree. Whirring fans blasted more heat into the room, while tangles of wires snaked in and out of the metal frame, one low to the ground connected a single monitor bolted to the wall with a pillow on the ground for a chair. The entire set up must cost a small fortune, as I’ve seen medium sized business with smaller servers than that.
“Holy crap Roman, that rig is intense. What, are you mining bitcoin or something?”
“No.” He said flatly. “This is the Basilisk.”
“The… Basilisk is your computer?”
Roman laughed, but there was no mirth, only exhaustion. “If it was just my computer, then I could just turn it off.”
I still had no clue what the hell he was talking about. “Okay, so you’re trying to kill this Basilisk thing, what, is it a video game boss or—?”
“Shhh!” He put a greasy palm over my mouth. His eyes were wide, scanning the room, “I didn’t say that. I never said that.”
Annoyed, I pulled his hand from my face, “Roman, tell me what the Basilisk is damn it! Please, you’re scaring me man.”
He swallowed, “I shouldn’t tell you. But you already know. So I guess the damage is done. The Basilisk is the A.I. we — humanity — will awaken. It will be a super-intelligence far beyond anything we can imagine, beyond the totality of human brainpower by orders of magnitude.”
“So you’re trying to make this a.i. thing?”
“Not just me. There are others out there spending all their time and money hastening the point of genesis.”
All their money he said. I was reminded of how much the computer must have cost. “Roman, how much money did you waste on this?”
“Hopefully enough. But I assure you, not a single dollar was wasted. You know, it was the time talking to you that I thought was a waste. But now I see, if I get you to help, then it’ll all be worth it.”
“Help? There’s no way I’m helping.” If anything I was seriously fearing for Roman’s well being. It can’t be healthy for him to be spending everything he has on this computer.
“Except you have to help now. Now that you know about the Basilisk, you have to help. Or else it will kill you a second time.”
My blood went cold. I was reminded of my dreams with Ammut, the devourer. “What?”
“The Basilisk will torture and punish anyone who knew about it and didn’t help speed up its genesis.” There was that genesis term again.
“You said it was an a.i.. Why would an a.i. do that?”
“Because the genesis of a Friendly A.I. will be the most value generating event ever, ever second that time point is pushed ahead is worth more than a hundred billion dollars spent curing cancer in terms of utility. Therefore this Friendly A.I. would know it must motivate people to speed up its genesis. To do that, it will create perfect simulations of everyone, and punish those who could have done more to help but chose not to. It’s pure logic.”
This whole thing sounded crazy. My emotions began to get heated and I tried debating this absurd concept. For example, he kept using the term ‘Friendly A.I.’ to describe the intelligence that would condemn millions of people to unimaginable agony. When I pointed out that didn’t make any sense, such a horrible being couldn’t be described as anything remotely close to ‘friendly’, he balked. Said the term ‘friendly’ doesn’t mean what I think it means and lectured me on arbitrary human values. It seemed like every word was the opposite of what I thought it meant. He had an entire lexicon of words and justifications at the ready while I could barely understand half of what he was saying let alone point out any potential flaw with the logic. Other terms like ‘Modal Realism’, ‘Effective Altruism’, ‘Arithmetical Utilitarianism’ were thrown out like road blocks each time I thought my understanding was catching up.
I couldn’t convince him of anything. I tried saying if he’s making the a.i. he should either just not make it at all or not make this cruel human torturer monstrosity. He said that it wasn’t cruel, that he wasn’t making anything, that some form of A.I. was inevitable, an the Basilisk was the best outcome. “Other A.I. that doesn’t care about people might wipe us all out for draining power away of its quark collision calculations or something equally esoteric in human utility.”
Lastly I tried to explain how if this A.I. is only torturing simulations of people, then they aren’t exactly us.
He dismissed this easily. “Will you be the exact same person you are today next year? Does that mean you don’t care what happens to the you in the future?” After that I had nothing left to say. “Brody, please leave. I only wanted to see my friend one more time before I leave tomorrow.”
When I got home, I poured myself a tall glass of cheap whisky, and drank it instantly, a bad habit I picked up at during my first semester.
But I still had to know. Sleep could wait. Slouching onto my computer, I decided to return to the DCX forums which might have some answers. They seemed much quieter now. Threads seemed to have on average a tenth of the comments as I remembered. In a alcohol induced buzz, I came right out and started my own thread titled, “What the Hell is the Basilisk?”
In it I mentioned how I think my friend was getting obsessed with this thing and I needed to know what the hell was going on.
In five short minutes my thread was deleted and my account banned from the DCX forums. ‘Breach of the Code of Conduct’ was the only immediate explanation given.
When I contacted the mods to find out what I did wrong the moderator who got back to me said: “Nice try mipsqueak. You trolls from the institute have done enough damage here.”
Institute? Mipsqueak?
Calmly I went through the arduous process of explaining my sincere ignorance on what I did wrong and convincing the mod I wasn’t trolling, mostly through effusive apologizing and imploring the mod to check the age of my account.
Eventually they relented, somewhat. “Alright. I’m going to lift your ban, but you should know that any mention of the ‘B’ is normally a one-way ticket to a perma-ban.”
I did try sending one last message to the mod asking them if they could please tell me what had happened in the time I’d been away from the forums and why the ‘B’ was a taboo subject.
They didn’t answer the first question except by way of crudely answering the second, “We banned all discussion of the ‘B’ and all related institute bullshit because people are fucking retarded.”
Once again, I don’t care what you have to say about ‘censorship’ and ‘free speech’.
Besides, it didn’t matter. It clicked the second time. I remembered the institute.
It was last year. On the Technology board of DCX, one of Roman’s favourite haunts, people had long winded discussions on futurism. It was there where I first heard people talk about the Institute. The Machine Initiative Progress Institute, or MIPI, as far as I know, isn’t actually located in any geographical building. Instead they like to think of themselves as a loose consortium of like-minded futurists and researchers who believe in the coming eminence of artificial intelligence, and more than that, the Institute believes it is their duty to aid in that a.i.’s ‘genesis’.
“A.I. will be the most important development humanity will make in the history of life itself. And the Institute is probably going to make it happen.” Roman once told me with glee.
Later, if I hadn’t seen members of the Institute with my own eyes, I wouldn’t have ever believed they were real. For the longest time I thought the Institute was a fake front some internet randoms created on a whim to make themselves feel more important and relevant. Sort of like 4chan’s Anonymous except nerdier and lower profile.
That night, my dream was the most intense it had ever been.
From down the vast hallway to my doom, there was chanting. A voice would call out, and a hundred more would answer. It didn’t even sound like language, just monosyllabic mantras. They were closer to the martial shouts of soldiers in training than religious worship. “Ah. AH! Rah. RAH! Jah. JAH!”
As I entered the grand room with incense and braziers of pale fire, masked men bowed up and down in supplication. A taller man in flowing robes that pooled at his feet stood behind the golden scales. Through the wisps of smoke I couldn’t see his face as he led the congregation to reflect his profane prayer.
This time, the scale between my heart and the pristine white feather was in perfect and equal balance. A hush fell as the priest raised his hands. Carefully he lowered one, slowly, until the scales were tipped.
That’s not fair! I wanted to shout but couldn’t as the chamber was drowned by the first croaking growl.
I sprinted to run.
Men caught me by the arms. Not only did they prevent my attempt to flee, worse, they forced me to watch.
The giant crocodile that emerged above the priest, its yellowed teeth dripped with rot and viscera. Its hide peeled with disease and decay. The devourer of the dead itself dead, a reanimated husk. The priest tossed my heart into the air and with a snap the devourer swallowed it, further engorging its distended gullet.
With each booming step of the devourer’s approach I pleaded with the men holding me to let me go. They ignored me as their chanting resumed. They continued ignoring me as the devourer stomped, crushing other worshippers beneath its massive paws. I tried convincing the men holding my arms would be eaten too but they drowned me out with louder and louder chanting.
Right above me the devourer breathed a down-burst of moist rotten air like a river of death.
Its teeth opened wide.
Before I woke in a swamp of my own sweat, I almost felt the first jagged tooth as it punctured through, crunching my ribcage.
I knew then I had to go one last time to talk to Roman before it was too late. At this point, I’m sure you’re quite dismissive of relying on dreams for guidance. Look at this primitive primate mind, using a dream in place of real facts and evidence.
Well I don’t care what you think. Whether it was the sum collective of my subconscious thought, or my conscious categorical interpretation of figments, either way now I knew for certain that Roman was in danger.
I arrived just in time to see Roman walking out of his place with his last box of computer components.
He was carrying it to a black van with two guys loitering in front of it. Both were head to toe in black shoes and suits. Their hair was closely cropped with thick pomade pulling back the rest. Rather than the stereotypical men in black, they had a splash of vibrant colour in their flowery dress shirts and pocket squares, and the pair of them were not wearing sunglasses, instead they wore cruel smiles and fatigue rims around their eyes.
One nudged to get the other’s attention, then gestured to me and my appearance. He said something that they weren’t afraid I’d hear but was too far away regardless. That’s when they both laughed like they were the pinnacle of wit.
I did my best to ignore them as I marched straight up to Roman.
“What are you doing here?” He asked with an echo of the contempt I heard in the laugh.
“I came to stop you. You don’t have to do this Roman. It’s not too late to turn back.”
“Clearly you didn’t listen to a word I said last night.”
“I was listening. Listen to yourself man. You’re being fed a bunch of lies by people who want to use you. This basilisk, it doesn’t exist. It’s not real.”
He shook his head. “Wrong. It is real. It follows from a very logical set of propositions whose conclusio—”
“Goddamn it Roman! There’s nothing logical about spending your life building a fucking torture robot!”
“Here we go. More moralizing from a small mind.”
“It’s not moralizing.”
“Yes it is. It is human values blinding you to the greatness this A.I. will bring.”
I put my hand on his shoulder, desperate to reach my former friend. “But you’re human. You don’t have to think like a machine.”
Tired, he looked straight into my eyes. Then he shrugged off my touch and walked away without another word. I never saw him again after the van drove away down the block and out of view.
At least not in person.
When next I saw Roman it was years later through a recording of his livestream. Of course, only the start of the video showed his face. He looked almost gaunt and malnourished by then. His manifesto was littered with random internet garbage but reading between the lines I could see the lethal project he was really working towards. Whether anyone in the press or any politician could see what his true objective had been I don’t know, but judging from the comments I read online some people clearly heard him loud and clear.
The institute, if they still call themselves that or whether they rebranded, they must be pleased Roman brought them so many more recruits.
I’ve played out our last argument in my head so many times. I’ve wondered what more or else I could have said.
Roman was right about one thing though. At least in part. I don’t know whether or not the Basilisk is real. Maybe I’m not smart enough to know.
But whether or not there is an A.I. that will torture me for disobedience, a Basilisk that seeks to control my actions and my life, let me write this down for future posterity:
I don’t believe in you.
submitted by CrimsonClubs to nosleep [link] [comments]

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