15 May 2022
Welcome back to the Week That Was series highlighting things from the interwebs which are interesting, noteworthy and/or probably worth your time.
Articles📝, Tweet(s)📱, Videos🎥, Charts 📈 all fair game with or without attendant commentary.
A typogram is a word or a series of words written and disposed in such a manner that they illustrate what they mean. Artist Aaron Kuehn brings typograms to a new level, drawing complex systems depicted using only the names of their parts
🏦📉 Crypto Hyperinflation & Bankruns
The Breakdown’s NLW does a quick and dirty recap of the hyperinflationary death of the Terra ecosystem and the evisceration of it’s cryptocurrency LUNA.
A hyperinflationary event triggered by the digital asset equivalent of a bankrun - something with many parallels in the legacy monetary system.
Jake Chervinsky had one of many good threads both summarising the week’s events and their backdrop, as well as unpacking the regulatory implications.
1/ On algorithmic stablecoins & the UST collapse:— Jake Chervinsky (@jchervinsky) May 13, 2022
There’s no sugarcoating it, this is among the most painful weeks in crypto history & one we'll reckon with for a long time to come.
Some thoughts for policymakers as they consider the path forward for stablecoin regulation 🧵
Izabella Kaminska also wrote an interesting piece on 📝“why financial engineering has gone full circle with Terra”.
This ecosystem collapse has seen some $40Bn of value being wiped from crypto markets and a huge hit to confidence; certainly in the idea of algorithmic stablecoins specifically - and complex DeFi yield-generating protocols more generally.
Pseudonymous @0xHamz who is quite close to Don Kwon and the Terra team - including participating in several “war room” situations during the week as the collapse ensued - also has a good thread on the topic, particularly the governance side of things. A line that stuck out to me.
“If you don’t know where the yield comes from - you are the yield”
We are swayed by complexity when simplicity is the halmark of understanding— 0xHamZ (@0xHamz) May 13, 2022
The source of Anchor's 20% yield was a question that was dodged
Rationale included staking yields / borrow demand / it's temporary / etc
If you don't know where the yield comes from - you are the yield
What is also clear though is that there are certain actors who’ve made an extraordinary amounts of money in this speculative attack on the protocol - and they had access to huge sums of money to effect it and begin the bankrun.
Blackrock and Citadel were rumoured to have been actors, however they’ve 📰vehemently denied the rumours:
“Rumors that BlackRock had a role in the collapse of UST are categorically false,” said BlackRock spokesperson Logan Koffler. “In fact, BlackRock does not trade UST.”
Gemini who’d also been fingered as having provided the massive BTC loan to execute the large short denied any involvement.
We are aware of a recent story that suggested Gemini made a 100K BTC loan to large institutional counter-parties that reportedly resulted in a selloff in $LUNA. Gemini made no such loan.— Gemini (@Gemini) May 11, 2022
Many hands are being washed but what remains is that huge amounts of cash and collateral were needed and extremely sophisticated actors pursued the exploit adroitly and quickly. @OnChainWizard unpacked the mechanics of the attack - although given the denials above, you can discount their naming of the alleged actors.
How to make a >800 million dollars in crypto attacking the once 3rd largest stablecoin, Soros style:— Onchain Wizard (@OnChainWizard) May 10, 2022
Everyone is talking about the $UST attack right now, including Janet Yellen. But no one is talking about how much money the attacker made (or how brilliant it was). Lets dig in🧵 pic.twitter.com/nGVfqjpVJb
One part of this which tends to get lost in the noise are the people who’ve taken massive financial hits with both this collapse and the general correction which affected the broader crypto market to the tune of over $1trn and broader financial markets to the tune of tens of trillions - wiping all the gangbusters post-covid gains.
There are many many tweets, reddit posts, discord and telegram etc messages just like this though - including admissions of self-harm and worse.
ok guys, it seems i just had 90% of my net worth wiped out (which at peak was ~43 years of my salary 🤯)— larry - May '22 survivor (@larry0x) May 11, 2022
gotta restart from scratch
🎨 Futuristic Steel
“Girl with a futuristic steel earring”, rubiosworkshop, Digital, 2021
📹🌍🌡️ We WILL Fix Climate Change!
Our home is burning. Rapid climate change is destabilizing our world. It seems our emissions will not fall quickly enough to avoid runaway warming and we may soon hit tipping points that will lead to the collapse of ecosystems and our civilization.
While scientists, activists and much of the younger generation urge action, it appears most politicians are not committed to do anything meaningful while the fossil fuel industry still works actively against change. It seems humanity can’t overcome its greed and obsession with short term profit and personal gain to save itself.
And so for many the future looks grim and hopeless. Young people feel particularly anxious and depressed. Instead of looking ahead to a lifetime of opportunity they wonder if they will even have a future or if they should bring kids into this world. It’s an age of doom and hopelessness and giving up seems the only sensible thing to do.
But that’s not true. You are not doomed. Humanity is not doomed.
📊✏️ Selection Bias
📉🩸 Market Bloodletting
Per Cullen Roche, the market bloodletting continues:
$35 TRILLION in global market value erased since the beginning of the year. That’s 14% of all global wealth. Includes the $1T losses in crypto.
For reference - 2008 was a 19% decline (Doesn’t include non-financial assets such as housing)
A couple of symbols to reinforce the point - 2022 YTD returns:
- $TWTR: +7%
- $AAPL: -17%
- $GOOG: -22%
- $MSFT: -22%
- $TSLA: -31%
- $ADBE: -33%
- $NOW: -35%
- $AMZN: -37%
- $CRM: -37%
- $AMD: -39%
- $NVDA: -43%
- $FB: -44%
- $PINS: -48%
- $MRNA: -51%
- $SNAP: -54%
- $SQ: -56%
- $TEAM: -56%
- $PYPL: -60%
- $SPOT: -61%
- $SNOW: -61%
- $NFLX: -72%
- $SHOP: -77%
- $RIVN: -80%
Zooming into - pun intended - Zoom. In September 2020 the company traded at a bigger market cap than Exxon Mobil. Today Exxon is 13 times the size of Zoom…
Zoom shares are trading at the same price as they were in mid-February 2020 when there were a total of 14 confirmed COVID cases in the U.S. Down 81% from the peak put in October 2020. pic.twitter.com/614Oa4DOKK— Neil Cybart (@neilcybart) May 3, 2022
🤖🎨 Dept. of AI & ML
A couple of weeks ago OpenAI 📚announced DALLE-2 - a generative AI system that can create new images based on natural language requests. The demoes have frankly been stunning.
There have been plenty of examples circulating on social sites, however on the DALLE-2 site itself, they show a few examples of the language prompt inputs and the subsequent outputs. E.g.
An astronaut riding a horse:
- in a photorealistic style
- in the style of Andy Warhol
- as a pencil drawing
A bowl of soup that looks like a monster knitted out of wool:
DALL·E 2 can take an image and create different variations of it inspired by the original:
- ORIGINAL IMAGE
- DALL·E 2 VARIATIONS
Incidentally 📚researchers have shown how people appear to trust AI fake faces more than real ones which highlights the need for safeguards to prevent deep fakes, which have already been used for revenge porn, fraud and propaganda.
Another impressive model from DeepMind has been published, called 📚Gato which is a multi-modal, multi-task generalist agent - meaning the same model can play Atari, caption images, chat, stack blocks with a real robot arm and much more.
Gato🐈a scalable generalist agent that uses a single transformer with exactly the same weights to play Atari, follow text instructions, caption images, chat with people, control a real robot arm, and more: https://t.co/9Q7WsRBmIC— DeepMind (@DeepMind) May 12, 2022
Paper: https://t.co/ecHZqzCSAm 1/ pic.twitter.com/cC8ukhw4at
Gato creator Nando De Freitas posted this interaction with the model - showing an impressive case of it’s ability to decipher context and use natural language.
He fed that same interaction to it and it again impressed.
David Rogier is the CEO and founder of Masterclass, the online learning platform on which a host of global leaders and celebrities teach their craft. From Martin Scorsese offering tips on film-making to Malala Yousafzai discussing how to drive change, and Ringo Starr teaching you how to play the drums, the video lessons are created as a celebration of learning. Rogier spoke to Monocle’s Tomos Lewis about what they’ve discovered about the way in which people learn.
🗳️🗺️ Global Democracy in 2022
This year’s Democracy Index report by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU), is one such attempt to apply a score to countries based on how closely they measure up to democratic ideals.
According to EIU, the state of democracy is at its lowest point since the index began in 2006, blamed in part on the pandemic restrictions that saw many countries struggling to balance public health with personal freedom.
From Visual Capitalist
🌐📜 Oldest Search
Oldestsearch.com reverse-orders all Google search results so that you see the oldest webpages first. Top results in recent times definitely have massive repetition - interesting seeing the old original 2001-era pages (when they aren’t broken links).
🧪🥼 Science Distrust
In an interesting development which appeared to come to a head during the 2020 covid-19 pandemic and the challenges in communication which ensued, trust in science has become an increasingly partisan issue that splits down political party lines.
It’s doubtful this is a US-only phenomenon as I think anecdotally, distrust in mainstream reporting and so-called establishment narratives is split down political and other identatarian lines.
This graphic is from a 📰FiveThirtyEight article on the anti-science bifurcation. Also what is meant by “science” is likely part of the problem. Science and Scientism are not the same and their conflation is likely one of the vectors driving this cleavage, in my opinion.
⌚📝 Mechanical Watch
Extraordinary blog which goes to the nth degree of detail in fantastically clear and informative accounts of how particular gadgets or technology work - with interactive animations diving into the constituent parts.
This latest looks at the anatomy of the mechanical watch - springs, gears, balance wheels, clicks, minute wheels, date correctors etc.
Longread - 8000 words!
⚡🔋 Energy Usage
The amount of energy used by all humans and industries annually (~5.67 × 10²⁰ joules or ~567 exajoules) is equivalent to the amount of solar energy that strikes the earth in the span of only 90 minutes
Reference - 📚IEA Solar Energy Perspectives Paper
🎨 Sunset Gold
Sunset Gold, Anna Dawson, Soft Pastel, 2022
💬 Deep Cuts
“History teaches us nothing except that something will happen” - Lord Dacre
🌪️ One More Thing
Highest-res drone footage of the Andover, KS #tornado which has received a preliminary rating of EF3. Note how the tornado propagates via vortex dynamics and likely terrain. Incredibly, no lives were lost by this tornado pic.twitter.com/FJDBH8TAv6— Reed Timmer (@ReedTimmerAccu) April 30, 2022
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