TED talk notes #2, Jill Tarter: Why the search for alien intelligence matters

“we live on a fragile island of life”

“if we’re alone…incredible waste of space”

discovering other cultured civilizations could enhance humanity’s bonds with each other

“we’re a billion year lineage of wandering stardust”

SETI began 50 years ago

sun is one of 400 billion stars in Milky Way, among 100 billion other galaxies (!)

the more we learn the wider our “livable space” becomes (eg, the more habitable stars we’ve discovered, the more species we’ve discovered here on Earth that live in extreme environments)

SETI is the archaeology of the future (when we look into the night sky, we’re looking into our past)

on Earth, life happened quickly, Earth spent majority of its time (90+%) developing life, not waiting for it to arise

Copernican revolution changed our thinking in many areas (astronomy, physics, theology), discovery of ETI would be comparable

Drake conducted first SETI observation of distant stars

“we all belong to one tribe, Earthlings”

Here’s my ongoing list of TED talk notes. I’m now adding some old unpublished notes. #1 was a James Cameron talk.

Finally some unemployment numbers that reflect reality

A short and highly recommended read: America’s true unemployment rate

To this day, to be officially counted as unemployed you need to be earning no money at all, and you need to be actively looking for work.

Only 46.1% of white Americans over the age of 16 — and a mere 40.8% of Black Americans — now have a full-time job paying more than $20,000 per year.

Your eyes and your intuition aren’t lying to you. Real unemployment is much, much higher than the official stats. Because the number crunchers simply ignore people who’ve given up looking for jobs, and also ignore people who earn a few dollars delivering groceries on Instacart.

I’m so sick of this shit.

Interesting excerpts from the CFTC case against Bitmex

Below are some excerpts from the CFTC case against Bitmex, which is separate from the DOJ case, whose indictment I haven’t read yet.

Excerpts copied verbatim:

BitMEX accepted bitcoin deposits worth more than $11 billion from at least 85,000 user accounts with a U.S. nexus.

Despite being incorporated in the Seychelles, HDR does not have, and never has had, any operations or employees in the Seychelles. HDR operates, or has operated during the Relevant Period, out of various locations and offices throughout the world, including in New York, San Francisco, Milwaukee, Hong Kong, Singapore, and Bermuda.

BitMEX allows customers to open accounts with an anonymous email and password, and a deposit of bitcoin. BitMEX does not collect any documents to verify the identity or location of the vast majority of its users.

Between November 22, 2014 and February 9, 2020, BitMEX has had over 2.5 trillion contracts traded on its platform. Most of that volume—more than two trillion contracts— has been in the XBTUSD swap.

…BitMEX has failed to maintain required records, and in fact has actively deleted required records including critical customer identification information. Further, BitMEX has failed to establish rules to minimize conflicts of interest. This is apparent because Hayes, Delo, Reed, and numerous other BitMEX employees trade on the platform, and BitMEX’s own internal “market-making” desk has at times been one of the largest traders on the platform.

BitMEX has employed approximately half of its workforce in the U.S., including at least 9 in New York and 56 in San Francisco.

For example, in August 2014, shortly before the launch of the platform, Hayes wrote to Delo that BitMEX would not do any KYC, saying “Basically just valid email address until we feel significant pressure to do otherwise.”

As of July 27, 2018, at least 1,100 U.S. affiliate program customers received affiliate payments from BitMEX for soliciting customers to trade on BitMEX. In 2019, BitMEX paid out $66 million to customers in affiliate commissions.

For example, YouTube contains videos of U.S. customers trading on BitMEX, along with instructions on how to access BitMEX from the U.S. Messaging applications Discord and Telegram have chat groups that instruct U.S. residents to use a VPN to access BitMEX if trading from the U.S.

BitMEX has also “deleted” records for numerous accounts, in certain cases explicitly because a user was found to be located in the U.S. or another “restricted jurisdiction.” In a December 2018 chat involving BitMEX Customer Support personnel, a BitMEX supervisor describes the policy: “At the moment we are deleting people’s accounts once they have withdrawn if they are from a restricted jurisdiction.”

BitMEX even maintained an internal dashboard of open accounts from supposedly restricted jurisdictions. 90. Delo altered a U.S. resident’s (and prominent BitMEX user) account location to Canada for a user that brought in 1,336 user accounts through BitMEX’s affiliate program.

Hayes regularly filled out KYC forms for himself and BitMEX’s various corporate entities at other exchanges and with BitMEX trading partners, often noting BitMEX’s own decision not to implement any KYC or AML procedures.

Michael Saylor is a bull bull bull – a bunch of notes from his podcast appearances

Here are some news stories if you’re not familiar with Saylor’s background and recent actions:

He’s even re-directed one of his domains, hope.com, to Microstrategy’s list of curated resources to learn more about bitcoin.

NOTES below.

Michael Saylor on the Bitcoin Audible podcast

  • Bitcoin is first closed energy system, monetary energy network
  • Try to send power from LA to Tokyo, you lose 20-40% in shipping costs or 2% per month if stored in a battery
  • Shipping 3K pounds of gold from NY to Tokyo would cost $250K and take a week; to send $100M in bitcoin costs $5 and one hour
  • Electricity was a tech platform
  • Penicillin probably greatest technology for mankind, extended lifespans 20 years, but gets little credit and attention
  • Money supply inflating 7% a year
  • Gold losing guaranteed 2% per year or more due to supply expansion
  • “There’s gonna be fracking equivalent for gold”
  • Inflation is a vector but CPI is an arbitrary scalar that doesn’t reflect the assets you really want (eg, a nice house, a university education)
  • Negative real yield on cash is 20% range this year
  • Long bond right now is saying, give us all your money and we’ll give you 2% back per year and at the end, return just 30-40% of your principle
  • Choices came down to, is it gold silver or bitcoin?
  • Commercial real estate, equities are too expensive
  • Focused on Bitcoin’s market dominance in PoW coins that are doing decentralized SoV
  • Believes a dominant network that dematerializes something, when it gets valued at $100B has “won”, and will go to $1T, $2T, like Apple, Amazon. In this sense Bitcoin already won
  • “There isn’t any winning investment strategy other than technology!”
  • When a company stops growing, that means their tech isn’t cutting edge anymore
  • Rockefeller did everything Bezos did, 100 years earlier, Bezos basically copied Rockefeller’s playbook
  • Stock-2-flow for bitcoin is actually infinite if you look out 100 years
  • Other bitcoin benefits: Liquidate anytime, audit anytime, ship anywhere anytime, now tell me how gold is gonna do that?
  • Looks for “paradigm shifts driven by elemental inventions”
  • When we used wood, we could build 2 stories; with masonry, that became 5 stories; but steel let us build 100 story buildings
  • “Steel is elemental to civil engineering. Take it away, all of modern architecture collapses”
  • “Without aluminum, there’s no aviation industry”
  • Rockefeller drove down energy prices by 1000x
  • Crypto gold is bedrock of modern digital economy
  • If you build your (corporate) treasury with gold, it’s like taking a voyage in a wood ship, bitcoin is a steel haul freighter

Michael Saylor on the Saifedean podcast

  • “A bank is a fiat miner” – Saifedean
  • Saylor says main reason to position bitcoin as SoV / asset like an Apple or Google stock or gold is because it won’t threaten governments, but if you market as privacy and better currency then you’re inviting regulation or banning
  • “Destiny of money is to be encrypted” – Saylor, fiat is easier to print and steal

Saylor on Pomp’s podcast

  • Microstrategy stock went from $330 to 42c after dotcom bubble
  • Forgot he even tweeted about bitcoin dying until the recent purchase
  • Would never buy 30yr bond at 2%
  • Maybe the longest tenured public tech co CEO
  • risk free rate used to be 5%!
  • asset inflation ~7% but now 25-30%
  • Microstrategy biz model got better thru covid, reduced cost structure (no travel, no conferences) and customers stuck around (govts, big biz)
  • Limit to how much stock buyback you can do without moving price, would take Microstrategy 4 years
  • Hated remote work, but adjusted now
  • Went thru all asset options for the $500M cash on their balance sheet:
  • Commercial RE isn’t fairly priced right now, impaired asset
  • FANG tech stocks overpriced now
  • Considered precious metals but bitcoin better
  • Wants something that can be cut in half but also go up 10x
  • All winning cos were tech cos in their time from Nestle to Boeing
  • Looked at defi and other coins but thinks bitcoin’s focus on PoW and SoV and all this energy invested means it’s got best chance
  • “It’s already won”; Believes $100B is this threshold after which you win
  • Vetted bitcoin institutional exchanges, custodians, got to know teams well, then did 1000s or more transactions every day over period of time
  • Confident he didn’t materially move the market, “let the market come to you”
  • “Every CEO had a lot of assumptions shaken this year” from TikTok to remote work to macroeconomy
  • Putting bitcoin in corporate treasury “It’s like the 4 minute mile”. Didn’t think it could be done, now someone has done it and next year dozens will do it
  • To copy his move, a nimble public co takes 6 mos to do this, a rational big public co takes 9-12 mos, expects more to follow late this year and into next
  • It’s not 10x better than gold, 100-1000x better
  • 3500 publicly traded cos, $5T in their treasuries
  • Asset inflation went from 6-7% to 25-30% (that’s where he gets the 2-3% loss each month for holding cash), love his metaphor of melting ice cube
  • “There’s a negative real yield on anything else I can buy”
  • $200T or more of negative real yield on treasuries, precious metals, etc, bitcoin’s upside is not just gold mcap
  • Wonders why Dorsey with $10B between Square and Twitter doesn’t buy $500M?
  • Pomp believes Dorsey has more pressing problems eg, dealing with activist investors
  • Amazed at the community ethos of bitcoin

Some excerpts from his book, The Mobile Wave [Amazon]

  • Whenever teenage girls and corporate CEOs covet the same new technology, something extraordinary is happening.
    -And the adult population will be impacted just as much, and perhaps more, as many physical objects we find in our pockets and purses today—like keys, wallets, credit cards, calendars, cameras, recorders, maps, and mirrors—become software, too,
  • “You may not be interested in war, but war is interested in you.” This quote is loosely attributed to Trotsky and its idea applies to our situation today. Your business might not be interested in software, but software is interested in your business.
  • The Agricultural Revolution took thousands of years to run its course. The Industrial Revolution required a few centuries. The Information Revolution, propelled by mobile technology will likely reshape our world on the order of decades.

Saylor’s 3 hour podcast with Peter McCormack is also great, but I didn’t take notes for it.

Oh…he also did a good long podcast on domain names with DomainSherpa:

  • Majored in aeronautics/astronautics, history of science
  • Domains: Shorter is better, easier to spell, English
  • Parallels to vanity phone numbers and license plates which are still an active market
  • By 1995 it was clear to him how valuable domains would be, bot a bunch like Angel.com and Alarm.com etc
  • Spent $100-200K for voice.com (me: later sold to BlockOne for $30M)
  • Started businesses with Alarm.com (home automation) and Strategy.com (personalized intelligence)
  • Missing piece is creative thing, fantastical thinking, references fantasy fiction a lot
  • English has most words in world (is this true?)
  • Enormous value to learning English, 2-3x multiplier or more in earnings
  • Lives in Miami Beach
  • In domain industry an English domain is worth 100x more than comparable in Spanish
  • Domain names = Commercial real estate
  • The commercial RE value will move to domains as world dematerializes
  • Virtual wave comes after mobile wave
  • People have rediscovered criticality of owning own domain
  • Thinks voice.com is actually worth $1B
  • Compares to art, rather own and lease or license it instead of selling the asset outright (similar to real estate, bitcoin)
  • “Domains are new digital asset class”
  • Podcast host: believes there are ~50K domain names with truly premium value (host owns pristine.com)

Dropping this here…because, well…*shrugs*. Never a dull moment in 2020:

TED talk notes #1, James Cameron: Before Avatar…a curious boy

I’m adding more TED talk notes to my master list. The talks themselves are rather dated by TED standards (circa 2015 and earlier), but I just discovered them while going through some old files…so they’re new to the blog :)


grew up in Canada, then California

as a boy, he liked to draw, loved sci-fi, wanted to scuba dive

lifelong love of the ocean

got into filmmaking to put pictures and stories together

Arthur Clarke: “any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic”

wrote Avatar to push film state of art (with tech as lead, instead of the story/narrative), but when he first wrote it, it was too early and so he shelved it to make Titanic!

…which he also made because he secretly wanted to dive to wreck

fell in love with deep sea exploration, combining science and discovery

the most important bond between people is a respect that’s earned through tough times