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Do Autonomous Trucks dream of C.W. McCall? Part 9- a new home
Tran was a shitty gambler, Chi mused. He played poker like he was sure the next hand would save him. It didn’t. He overpromised and underpaid. Chi planned on kicking his ass to send a message, but Tran ran that line of shit about millions in bitcoin. Against his better judgment, Chi settled Tran’s debts with every other loan-shark in town and fronted another stack of cash. And all that ended with Tran gambling that away, talking a load of shit and ending up in this dumpster with a trash-bag tied around his neck. Chi looked at Tran’s phone and wondered if the money was ever real. Considering it might point back at him, he smashed it against the corner of the dumpster a few times before dropping it and walking back to his car. He had some debts to pay. Falstaff looked at the paper maps in the motel’s office. He followed the Interstate southeast to the desert and what used to be the California- Arizona border. He looked for places he hadn’t heard of being associated with edgy festivals. Even better, motels with chain-sounding names. That’s the place nobody’d look for him. He packed his car, coaxed Hank back in the carrier and got in his car. Before he got going, he booted his laptop and put the memory card back in. Evidence wasn’t a problem any more, it was getting found. He copied the contents to his laptop and poked around. Ten minutes later, he had set up a password cracker against the accounts, hoping that Tran would choose something easier to remember and therefore guessable. He plugged the laptop’s power supply into the car’s cigarette lighter, then put the laptop on a bag on the back seat. East he went. Geoff had the night shift on another Internet giant’s campus. This meant he drove a golf cart around once or twice, then parked himself in the camera room and tried not to sleep. Sleeping would cut his hourly wage and get him kicked back to dangerous, dirty jobs like protecting rail yards from motivated thieves. He used to pick a skill and research it. He learned to get basic vocabulary in Spanish, Mandarin, Fujianese and was trying Tagalog. He could carry a conversation as long as it revolved around simple topics, like where the bathroom, parking lot and reception desk were, or that he wanted to purchase something. Tonight he picked at that truck thing again. He used a map application to virtually drive between Phoenix and San Diego. After a few hours, he found the spot on the Interstate that looked like the right landscape from the cameras on the pinball machine. He looked at the street view and the camera view over the older man’s shoulder. Motherfucker. Spot dab in the withdrawn zone. Who travels to the middle of nowhere to steal from a truck and only take some stuff? Couldn’t be locals. Locals would strip the truck bare. He watched the video again. Looks like they took plain grocery shipping boxes. Inside job? And steal boxes of fresh pasta and imported wine? He scrolled back and took a few screengrabs. When he worked security at the shiny new headquarters, they had some wild surveillance tools. Real time tracking using AI image enhancement and they taught you how to use it. Geoff got pretty good at it. He looked over at his phone and opened the scheduling application for his employer. He underbid a few other people and picked up the next shift. Which got him reinstated access to the HQ’s slick surveillance system. He uploaded the images and asked it to clean it up. He expected this to take a bit of time, so he cleaned up and got ready for his shift. And his phone dinged. A match. That he didn’t ask for. Ten seconds later, he saw a corporate ID card. With that bored look of middle aged techie. Falstaff. Huh. Dumb name. Looked familiar, but so did every other techie from where he stood. Probably had more money in options than he’d ever earn. As he drove to work, he wondered why a techie would be robbing trucks in the middle of nowhere instead of getting rich or dying fat here. He parked, took the shuttle and made it a few minutes early for shift change. He expected a slow night. Five minutes into the shift, he was sipping good coffee and watching the camera feeds when someone asked for him by name at the desk. He looked up and saw one of the muscular internal security people smiling at him. Close cropped hair, clear coiled earpiece and the look of someone who worked out at an actual gym instead of lifting five gallon buckets filled with water in a rest stop parking lot. Looked like internal security, maybe even VIP protection. Guy probably had pretty good benefits. Geoff would love to get a job like that. Geoff pushed his coffee to the side and stood up to greet the guy asking about him. Enzokuhle gave Geoff a broad smile and introduced himself as Enzo. The two men were pleasant with one another, but Geoff seemed wary. Enzo didn’t know why he was there either. He was scheduled to do driving and personal protection for a senior exec working in his office, but he got tasked with asking a contract security guard some questions about something very hush-hush. Whatever. He was good with people. Perhaps he’d learn something. “Geoff, may we speak outside? This is a sensitive matter, requiring some discretion” Geoff motioned to his puzzled co-worker by holding up his hand, splaying his fingers and mouthing the word “Five”. The two men walked through the stark but stylish lobby onto a manicured park-like field. “So, what do you want from me? Not too often we get you guys involved” “An hour ago, you performed a lookup for a company employee. Have you been in contact with that employee?” “No. I had an image I wanted processed” There was an uncomfortable silence as the walked. Geoff realized that Enzo was listening to his ear-piece. Enzo was nodding as he listened. “I see. So you haven’t seen this person outside the picture you uploaded” “No, but I have an idea where he might be” Enzokuhle put his hand up. He wanted to end this transaction as quickly as possible. “Thank you. Please do not speak of this to anybody else. Your discretion is most important here. Return to your post and we will contact you if we need more from you”. He pointed Geoff back to the lobby without making eye contact. Galina Ivanova spent a few more minutes talking to Enzo, then thanked him. This was a false lead. AI must be glitchy. No chance that the developer who stole almost a billion dollars was unloading trucks instead of moving that big pile of money somewhere. Any additional time logged to this goose chase would make her metrics worse. She took off her headset and tried to go back go sleep. Geoff sat back in his chair. He remembered a video of a scuba diver diving under a moving container ship, looking up at the moving propeller and how close they almost came to a gruesome death. Why was that guy important enough to throw an alert to internal security? He looked at his phone and the email with Falstaff’s ID photo. He couldn’t do any lookups to see the last time he was in any of the buildings, since that fed into whatever alerts that brought Internal Security down on his head. But he remembered something. Employee parking wasn’t owned by Corporate. It was a separate company, which required him to remind annoyed techies when their photo ID wouldn’t trip the gate when some absent-minded developer forgot their garage access card. Last time this Falstaff guy used the garage was almost two months ago. Such a stereotype. Silver Porsche. Now he knew why the guy looked familiar. He left the day that big brouhaha happened. Rumors flew about the security and custodial staff- some developers stole the next phone design or a treasure trove of celebrity nude photos or something else of value to these people. Anybody too vocal with their opinions got fired and walked out, which Geoff wanted to avoid. Whatever it was, it was valuable and embarrassing. Made sense to go hide in the desert. And he had an idea where Falstaff was. Maybe, if he brought him back, there’d be a big enough reward to let him to leave the Valley and go back to Ohio. Pay off debts and raise his family. It wasn’t like he was making any headway here anyway. He was going on a road trip. Falstaff was driving slower now. He needed better fuel economy and to take the time to scout out his next stop. Some towns had plain dried up and others still too connected. The last place looked promising. The gas station was a weatherbeaten Sinclair, with a repainted dinosaur. They only took cash. The chain restaurant was burned out and there was a motel “a few miles up”. Hank was sleeping, but Falstaff’s laptop dinged with the results of his attempt to crack Tran’s big blob of data. He had passwords for the handful of accounts Tran had dumped on that chip. They weren’t for the financial application he and Tran were working on. Instead, they were for the store’s production environment. He didn’t have a billion dollars in untraceable currency, but he could send almost any consumer good to anybody on the planet and clean up afterwards. He had some investigating to do, and he preferred a cheap motel to do it from rather than his car. He rented a room for a few days from a surprised old man and tried to ignore the curious stares from a few permanent residents of the motel. At least Hank enjoyed exploring the room and this motel would not get the camera friendly festival crowd.
READ THIS NOW: My life of SHOULD'VE, WOULD'VE, COULD'VE until I discovered Crypto.
Mostly all here are invested into Crypto. We all have our own reasons, methods, values of how we invest our money. One thing in common is we all have one main goal. That is to get as much money as possible out of this with the time, and money we can spare.
That's the dam truth##.
We are all here together, and since we are all here on our own will , I want to tell you why you should be proud to hold all your crypto. I'm 40 years old. At 18 after I graduated HS I had about $7800. $1400 from my graduation party, and $6400 selling my MTG collection on EBay. I also managed a small arcade for about $350 a week. Back to my MTG collection... I sold it because it changed. The designs on the new series looked too modern. The original designs were a work of art. Anyway, I seriously wanted to hold those magic cards but I kept telling myself... "I can get them back if I want. The price isn't going to move anytime soon. The market is in slight decline. Some of these have been the same price for 2 years now." I was right, the price of my two Lotus's stayed the same for 5 more years. Not budging . 12 years later after that , those same two cards value at over $60,000ea I believe. If I held untill a few years ago or now, I would've been able to do a quick sale at $400,000. Yes at a discount. The same goes for all the first edition garbage pail kids I had.
So, what did I do with all $7800##?
I told myself I want to invest it into Microsoft. But I talked myself out of it by saying "Some people told me the market was a risk, and I had to prepare myself to lose it all" So I didn't do it. I was close, but I didn't. I could've had OVER A MILLION! I instead used that money for a school. Business computer programming. It was a waste because 90% of what they taught me came natural. I was doing basic programming at 13 for fun. I regret not going with my initial FOMO on Microsoft , I regret listening to my own FUD with the MTG cards. 7 years later, I repeated the same mistake... I had about $15,000 in the bank. I wanted to invest $10,000 in apple after I read about the release of the iphone. Instead opted to do 5k over FUD I read. It was FUD about the risk since they never made phones, and alot of people were ridiculing their idea. Then I said to myself... "Fuck that, I don't want to do this. I could do so much more with this 5k" I instead used the 15k turbocharge my transam, add a racing transmission, tires, rims, new stero system, and I took a 2 week vacation ...GONE! I got what I wanted. Got laid a bunch of times, went to car shows. That could of been $500k by now. To top this off, I missed out on a quick $78,000 win at the racetrack because if my own FUD. Horses. I lost $200, and was left with only I $5 that night. I decided, "you know what, fuck it, I'm going to do a completely off the wall wild bet. I did a completely wild bet for $5. I picked all longshots in what they call a "Superfecta"(4 horses in that exact order 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th place prediction. 1 minute before the race started, I Cancelled the bet. I told myself ... "this is stupid, 99:1, 78:1, 56:1, 38:1 long shots coming out in this order? THATS INSANE...Why am I blowing 5 away? Fuck that, I instead put $5 on the 10:1 to win hopefully my to maybe get $50 back " Well. Guess what? The 3nd largest superfecta payout in history. No body won it! It came out in the original order I out it in that's to a series of freak disqualifications in the race. I hate myself for cancelling that. But hey, maybe that happened for a reason. Maybe I wouldn't have ended up living on another country for 2 years. Learning another language. You see So many times in my life I had the perfect opportunity, and I didn't take it. I let Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt make my Choices for me. Then came crypto currency. In late 2016, a client of mine told me he got rich off Bitcoin. He raved about it . He told me about ripple, ETH etc. I invested in his recommendation about XRP when it was $0.005. it FLEW UP from there. I took some of that massive gain and bought other things, and those FLEW. For someone like me, it was LOTS of money off my original $500. Sure this was a "lucky time" to get in but that's not the point I'm trying to make here. The point is that I finally did it! I didn't let FUD fuck with my head. I just did it. I cashed out already in late 2017. About 90% of what I gained. Payed off all my debt, and my truck, and had another $30k or so to put a down payment on a house. If I didn't just stick with my guns and let the FUD get to me, then I would still be in a whole bunch of debt. Especially with this whole lockdown bullshit. But now.... NOW ,I never again I will tell myself... "IF ONLY I DID THAT WHEN I HAD THE CHANCE" NOW I NEVER HAVE TO SAY THAT AGAIN! I DONT GIVE A SHIT IF IT TANKS ANOTHER 50% FROM HERE because it's all house money. I NOW NEVER HAVE TO SAY ... "IF ONLY I DID IT" NOW I DID! Crypto Currency is severely undervalued. Its manipulated down right now. This about this logic, how can something increasingly popular with more and more support by the day drop in price? Crypto isn't human. Bitcoin isnt getting fired over sexual harrassement, there isn't a corporate takeover. Its manipulation. I don't care if this shit takes 5 years to recover. I'm holding . I don't care if BTC dips to $1000. I'm holding till this MCAP tops 10 trillion. so if you love your crypto, hold that F#%KING SHIT! The lesson here is never let FUD make choices for you. Stick to your original beliefs. If there's a voice in the back of your head telling you "I want to do this", then Listen to that voice. That's you! Listen to yourself, not the new voice that intrudes after your choice.
Fanboyism, maximalism, interoperabilty, working with others and division of time transcript
Hi everybody, this is Charles Hoskinson broadcasting live from warm sunny Colorado. I wanted to make a video about division of time. I've been recently making a lot of commentary on the ETC ecosystem. I've also reached out to other ecosystems like the Bitcoin Cash ecosystem, the Litecoin ecosystem for a variety of reasons and I noticed that there are some people in the comments and then telegram and twitter and other places say "oh no" focus 100% of your effort on Cardano! Why are you talking to ETC, why are you doing this and doing that? So first off I run a big company. I we have over 250 people. About half of those people wake up every day and they're involved in Cardano. The other half are not so. As the CEO of a company where you have that kind of division there's non-Cardano things I do. Cardano's our largest project, we're heavily involved in it and obviously we wake up every day and we want Cardano to be successful and have billions of users and this is why we are following the process we're following. We're building the technology we're building. It's why we work very hard trying to commercialize it. Every deal we do in Africa, every deal we do in eastern Europe, every deal we do in Asia, we have a Cardano first policy of deploying those deals on that platform and we built that platform to service those deals and as that platform evolves you'll see more use and utility from our sales channels in that respect. That said, one of the pillars of a third generation cryptocurrency is interoperability. It's kind of a silly thing to be a maximalist but then also talk about interoperability. What the hell is the point that? Either you want one chain to rule them all and therefore you don't care at all about talking to other systems or you put your money where your mouth is and you work on those other systems. You build expertise in those systems, you affect changes in those systems so that those systems can partner with our systems and work with our systems. You know the Samsung CEO? He has a division that every day gets up and works with Apple and they work on the motherboards of the iPhone and build memory for them. Do all kinds of cool things and Samsung's division knows what the iPhone is going to look like before any of us knows. At the same time, there's another division at Samsung that wakes up every day and works on phones like the Galaxy to compete with the iPhone. Great companies have the capacity to do these things and we are a great company in that respect we have different and dedicated teams for different products and projects. Now, we will never work on overlapping systems. It's not the case that we're going to have developers go and work on Cardano and something that's a direct competitor of Cardano because it makes no competitive sense for that to happen and I do not view ETC as a competitor of Cardano. It's a proof-of-work system, not a proof-of-stake system. It's a code-is-law system, not a world-financial operating system. It's a system that will always have a smaller group of people in it and always have a smaller set of things to do so time spent there with a completely separate team has no bearing or impact on our ability to deliver things with Cardano. I can't accelerate things above and beyond what the teams can do, for example, today. I'm waiting for Daedalus flight to come out. There is nothing I can do. I can't pick up the phone and call the engineers and say can you ship it 15 minutes faster. The plan, it's been set, the release manager is there, the QA, team's there, everybody knows what to do. There's consensus amongst that team. They're going off to the mountain top, get it done and when it's done they'll let me know and then I'll tweet "new Daedalus is out guys" go play with it and it gives me some work to do of course but until they finish their job there's nothing to do in that respect. The Cardano plans we have are well set , we know exactly what we need to do. Those teams are working hard and I do everything in my power to accelerate things where and when it's safe to do so and everything in my power to get things done. Shelley, for example. We worked so hard to get that out on July 29th, we had almost unlimited overtime. Everyone worked the weekend. Some people worked over 40 days straight to get that release done. Meanwhile half of the company was doing other things in other capacities and working on those projects. None of their work or the other cryptocurrencies we tend to work with had any bearing or impact on our ability to accelerate or decelerate the Shelley work stream. I just want to make sure everybody understands that and for people who have developed a maximalist mindset to get out of that maximalist mindset. There's a place for maximalism, it's called Bitcoin maximalism. If you live there, go there, okay and go believe in that project, in that chain but this is the Cardano ecosystem. It's going to literally work with hundreds if not thousands of different standards over its life. From central banks to other cryptocurrencies to legacy financial operators from the Chases of the world to the Goldman Sachs' of the world. Provisions will be made to build special hooks for these systems including interoperability with permission systems. It's very likely in the next 24 months Cardano will be talking to an instance of Hyperledger Fabric from IBM. Very likely that that's going to happen. It's very likely that we'll consult on a project that does that and no way does this diminish the road map or somehow make Cardano less competitive. It's actually quite the opposite. The fact that we can work with those systems, the fact that we can do things with those systems means that the platform as a whole is intrinsically more valuable. It's easier to sell to Fortune 500 companies. It's easier to get use utility and adoption because people understand that they're not being led down the road of vendor lock-in and regressing back to the old days of internet explorer or what ConsenSys is trying to do with Ethereum, trying to lock everybody into one standard, one system, rather the value proposition we offer. Is true interoperability the ability to move in and out? Furthermore, when you create partnerships with other ecosystems then their success is our success. For example, if the treasury system proposal succeeds in ETC they will be in the market for a permanent treasury system in 2021. We as a community can make the case that we've constructed with Voltaire is a great choice for them and of course we'll try to make that case and if it's successful we provide mutual value and benefit more volume and transactions and activity on the Cardano network, and for ETC they have a best-in-class treasury system that meets the values of that community. The exact same argument can be made for Litecoin, or for Bitcoin cash or for other systems and if you want to see the wrapped Litecoin video that I did earlier in the year it gives a great road map for a potential push there. Furthermore, what if we turn Daedalus into a multi-currency wallet? That's already going to happen because we have a multi-asset standard and so when people issue tokens on Cardano Daedalus will support those tokens sometime in the future. It would be very easy for us to pull Ethereum classic and Litecoin and Bitcoin cash and other ecosystems into the Daedalus wallet. What does that mean? It means that people who live in that ecosystem will be using our technology as their day-to-day experience in hosting for their token! What does that mean if we have a DEX built into that thing? It potentially could create more adoption in use and utility for ada and this is the point we accomplish so much more working together than beating each other down. I am damn tired of the cryptocurrency markets as they are. The fanboys, the trolls, the FUD, the maximalism, the relentless allegations that people you disagree with or hold different tokens are scammers or criminals or bad human beings. It's time we as an industry set this aside and grow up. Just grow up or else what's the point? Why would anybody looking from the outside at all of this chaos and noise and insanity and maximalism want to come play in this pool? It's like you're about to enter a bar and you see a bar fight. Do you keep going in or you turn around and walk away and say I don't want that trouble. I'm going to go down the street somewhere else that's safer and so how will we ever get mainstream adoption, how will we ever make the argument to governments that they should trust their elections, their property, perhaps even the money of their people on our systems if we're incapable of entertaining other ideas, other philosophies and other ecosystems? We don't deserve the right for that responsibility if we're not mature enough to have differences of opinion and be able to welcome other ecosystems into our own. So this video is a call against maximalism first and foremost and second it's a realization that the duties of an executive officer are extensive meaning that there are days I wake up and there are Ethereum days and, by the way, working in that ecosystem gives me and my company exhaustive knowledge on how Ethereum works which allows me then to build a better product than they have and understand where all the bodies are buried: all the flaws in the protocols, the security issues, the performance issues, the smart contract development experience. That intimacy is extremely important to be able to predict, react and also plan a competitive strategy that can take you in a different and better direction. You just don't live in a mono-culture. It's a bad deal, that's the second point. You have many projects. When you have a larger company, some of those projects are completely separate from each other. Some of those projects may have a bit of overlap. We have a philosophy that we don't work on competing products. For example we have done work with horizon (Horizon2020?) and as a consequence of doing work with them we're probably not going to work on zcash at the same time. As long as we have that relationship there we, for example, work on Cardano so we're not going to go work on another proof-of-stake system that wants to be a financial operating system. That would be a direct competitor. For example, Tezos would be happy to jointly author papers and coordinate collaboration but there needs to be a Cardano benefit in that relationship whereas ETC as I've mentioned is a totally different system and it's something that we have as a company historically worked on for years. We started our participation in 2016. We built a full client in that process. Did that have any impact on our ability to deliver Cardano? We had a completely separate engineering team. That team was actually sourced from external companies. Scalac and Atix Labs to begin with and then we built on top of it and it had different product and project management and it was completely written with a different group. So it might as well have been a different company for that matter and I just talked to the team but the Cardano team was doing its own thing so I I think we need to just cut it out. Cut out the maximalism, cut out this idea that there is only one truth. We live in a nuanced world and we live in a world of interoperability. We have to embrace that if we wish to be successful and let us be the adults in the room. Let's be the place where this isn't the bar fight and let's be the place that welcomes everybody. Furthermore, I've noticed some criticism from my own community. When people criticize us and they go to the politics of destruction or personal attacks or yield on criticizing people's intelligence or whatever have you... Cut that out too. Let's be a better community. I repeatedly call upon the Tezos foundation to tell its community to stop criticizing Cardano and calling it's "a scam project". So, I'll call upon my own community, I have seen things that shouldn't have happened. Certain members of Cardano community replying to people over twitter, replying to people who criticize us have resorted to personal attacks and so forth. Again, just ignore them , mute, let's embrace unity, let's embrace being better, yes, occasionally you got to kick people in the teeth especially when people are lying and what you do is you call them out on the lies that they've made. You specifically point out where they have done things that are a bit crazy or disingenuous and dishonest. For example, we had a meeting today with Ethereum classic and it was blatantly apparent to me that this process has been set up to fail and be exclusive and prevent alternative ideas from a certain power structure from being held. So, I made a 30-minute whiteboard video where I not only called it out but I proposed an alternative and said this is how we're going to transcend that process and get to a much more productive way of doing things. Some of the criticism we have is justified because of product delays or because people don't fully understand who we are and what we're trying to do and obviously there's history there. So, first and foremost, let's reply with facts. First and foremost let's reply with dignity and respect and empathy for the other person's position and you know what? If they continue to push forward then you kick him in the teeth and you say it's obvious you don't want to have a conversation. You're a troll, but to my community please do this and please have this level of respect and dignity with others and with each other. For example, we right now have a lot of debates with small stake pools versus large stake pools, there's plenty of people floating around with differences of opinion and our mantra should always be disagree without being disagreeable. People are going to have other values people, are gonna have differences of opinion and people are gonna have different perspectives. You can't change that reality nor should you. We all have the right to think and have differences of opinion but we also should expect a dialog that's fair and has empathy in it and so I call upon everybody to preserve that decorum as we move forward and also understand that some days we wake up we have to do things that are non-Cardano related in order for us all to be successful because not all the world will ever be Cardano related. We always need partners whether it be great pieces of hardware like Ledger and Trezor or exchanges to work with different wallets and sometimes those partners do stuff with us and sometimes those partners do things with other people. We have friends, we have projects we admire and respect. For example, I've expressed repeatedly great admiration for the Algorand project. I think they're doing a phenomenal job and they have great leadership with Silvio Micali. I think the research and the engineering there is top notch. I personally believe Cardano is better. That's because we built it and that's because we think we have a better strategy to market and ultimately the market's going to decide which standards to go with and whether it's going to be many standards or a consolidation. That's not my decision. I just have to wake up every day and fight for the things I believe in. That said, never once have we ever criticized Algorand because they are in essence the model of empathy and dignity and good communication and being very proactive at focusing on solutions when they make announcements. They make announcements about new things that they're doing and new partners that they have and never once have they ever criticized another project or engaged in fanboyism. That's a great community, that's a great project and it's a model for where the space should go and I admire that deeply and greatly especially when you contrast it with other projects that have been less empathetic in their history. We all have our problems, we all have our issues. I know that we all can be better and so that's my final point. Let's do that. Let's be better as an industry. Let's be a bit friendlier and let's invest the time and effort necessary to really understand and listen to each other because ultimately I think that's going to get us where we need to go and be able to get us to a point where we have that adoption of millions and billions of people and fundamentally change the fabric of society. Otherwise we will be victims of our own success and descend into tribalism and descend into sectarian violence and then ultimately destroy the entire industry because it will become co-opted by large companies who use a surface-level marketing to take the brand, take the notion of a blockchain but then install centralized authorities behind them and in which case we've lost. I don't want that to happen I want the movement to succeed. I want us to understand each other and I enjoy having great competitors sometimes working with them sometimes fighting them in the battle of the markets, in the markets of ideas and ultimately I think we as a community have a chance to also be a model for everyone else. So, let's do that. Thank you... Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RXQrm18XhQ8
[Table] IAmA dark web expert, investigative journalist and true crime author. I’ve met dark web kingpins in far flung prisons and delved the murky depths of child predator forums. I’ve written six books and over a dozen Casefile podcast episodes. AMA (part 2/2)
Around here nobody talks about the argument that increased regulation of the internet would help stop child predators. Is that true, and if so where do you fall on the Net Neutrality vs law enforcement spectrum?
No I don't think that's true at all. Child predators have been around much longer than the internet, and I would argue child abuse was more prevalent 50+ years ago when children were seen and not heard and it wasn't talked about. The dark web hasn't created more predators, it has just given them a new place to gather and hang out.
The one thing I found really interesting when I was lurking the forums of the child predators was their frustration about how children are now taught from a very young age that certain touching and acts are wrong and that they shouldn't keep certain secrets. It came up over and over again that they could not abuse certain children because they knew those children had someone they would tell. It was pretty clear that education was a child's best defence against getting abused.
the below is a reply to the above
That's so interesting, thanks for the AMA! Can you remember any other thing that a child could do in order to protect himself from being abused? What other characteristics do the abusers hate in potential victims?
That seems to be the main one. Kids who speak up and who have close relationships with one or more people they are likely to confide in
What do folks talk about in the child predator forums? Do they like give each other advice on how to improve their craft?
Yes, quite literally. The give each other tips on how not to get caught, how to edit out incriminating details in videos, how to drug children, techniques for convincing kids not to tell etc
the below is a reply to the above
Given your insight into how predators operate, do you have any advice for parents on protecting their kids?
I'll cut'n'paste a response i gave to someone else about this, because it was something that really stuck out to me:
The one thing I found really interesting when I was lurking the forums of the child predators was their frustration about how children are now taught from a very young age that certain touching and acts are wrong and that they shouldn't keep certain secrets. It came up over and over again that they could not abuse certain children because they knew those children had someone they would tell. It was pretty clear that education was a child's best defence against getting abused. Kids who speak up and who have close relationships with one or more people they are likely to confide in
Has the exponential increase in Bitcoin value affected darknet dealers in any profound way? I can imagine that some drug dealers were sitting on quite a large sum of Bitcoin when the value shot up.
Crypto purists hate to admit it, but bitcoin would not be where it is today without Silk Road. It was sitting at less than a dollar when Silk Road began and the markets showed a robust use case for cryptocurrency and as the markets grew, so did the demand for bitcoin. It also provided real-life use data for those who were not interested in drugs but who weren't sure if it had practical application. When SR went down, Bitcoin was at about $650 and it continued to grow as adoption became more mainstream. There are many many stories of drug dealers (and at least one faux-hitman!) who gained most of their wealth not by selling the drugs, but by the growth in value of their bitcoin holdings
Since you have a lot of experience with them online. Do you think pedophiles(not child abusers) should be treated as criminals, or as people suffering from a mental illness?
Contact offenders should be treated as criminals, because they are criminals. They have abused or hurt someone. Same with those who support the creation and dissemination of child abuse materials.
Pedophiles who do not act on their urges should be given as much help as humanly possible.
Are there any mysterious or suspicious pages or communities that you haven’t been able to access? Anything that seems especially weird?
there are a lot of Russian communities that I can't access, mostly because I don't speak Russian. Some of the more technical hacking communities have entry barriers that I'm not technical enough to score an invite to
How much these bad people really exist out there? Hundreds? Thousands? More?
It depends what you mean by bad. If you mean people who use the dark web to buy drugs (who I do not consider bad) then there are many many thousands. There are also thousands of people who deal in stolen information to make money.
Unfortunately there are also thousands of child predators and the dark web has provided a "safe space" for them to come together to share materials and "tips". I hope this is where most of the resources of law enforcement are concentrated
Ehy mine is a rare question: what do you know about art on dark web? I'm talking about the black market made of stolen important pieces from museums, art used as value to money laundry and other criminal affairs I'm an artist and what I know is people don't think too much about the dark side of art and probably they need to open their eyes about
I really haven't come across much in the way of that. Some of the markets have an "art" section, but that is mostly blotter art
How accurate are the legends?
Any legends in particular? For a lowdown copied from a post I made in another forum:
1Red Rooms ￼ The one that is most persistent is the myth of the "Red Room" - live streaming of torture/rape that ends in the murder of the victim and which people can pay to watch, or even bid to type in commands for the torturer to carry out (highest bid wins!). The most famous was the “ISIS Red Room” pictured above, where people could provide instructions to torture captured terrorists - you can read what happened here.
People have this idea of Hostel with webcams exist all over the dark web, but you just need an invite to get into them. It's ridiculous. They don't exist. They certainly wouldn't exist on Tor. But people are desperate to believe and they always come back with "You can't prove they don't exist, people are crazy, therefore they must exist." Picture my eyes rolling here.
I don't think many people are taken in by the hitmen sites anymore, though the press loves playing up the fact that there are sites offering up hitman services. But every single one of them has turned out to be a scam, especially Besa Mafia, the one that did the most marketing. Again, you can read about it at the same link as above.
3.Exotic animals ￼ People are always asking where they can find markets for exotic animals. Obviously the illegal trade in exotic animals exists, and some communications and transactions may well take place over Tor, but there are no markets like the drug markets where you can go and look at a picture and then put a tiger or ocelot or something into your basket and buy it with bitcoin.
SO WHAT DOES HAPPEN ON THE DARK WEB?
1.People buy and sell drugs.
The drug markets are more busy than ever. You have probably heard of Silk Road, the most famous online drug market that got busted a few years ago and the owner sent to prison for two consecutive life terms? A lot of people thought that was the end of drugs being sold on the dark web. In fact, dark web sales of drugs have tripled since the shutdown of Silk Road.
The reason people buy drugs this way is that for many they offer a safer alternative for people who are going to do drugs anyway. There is no possibility of any violence. The vast majority of the time a buyer knows exactly what they are getting, because of the feedback and rating system. That's not the case in a nightclub, or even friends-of-friends, where you just blindly accept that the pill, powder or tab is what the seller says it is.
2.People buy and sell other illegal things
Mostly they buy and sell stolen credit cards and financial information, fake IDs (though lots of these are scams), personal information, “dumps” of hacked data and fraud-related items. For a long time, a seller was making a fortune selling fake discount coupons that really worked.
3.People access and create childporn ￼ Unlike the other markets, the CP market is generally not for money, but rather they are groups who swap vile images and videos for free. The worst of the worst is called “hurtcore’. Thankfully, most of the people behind the worst sites have been arrested and put in jail.
4.People talk about stuff
There are plenty of sites, forums and chatrooms where people talk about all sorts of things - conspiracies, aliens, weird stuff. They take advantage of the anonymity.
5.People anonymously release information
Whistleblowers use the dark web to release information and make sure their identities won't be compromised. You will find Wikileaks, for example, on the dark web.
6.People surf the web anonymously
The number 1 thing people use the dark web for is just to surf the web completely anonymously. Not everybody wants to be tracked by advertisers.
I have a question: what are the odds of the casual Darkweb drug buyer - not buying mega loads all the time - the occasional purchase - what are the risks of being busted? Kinda figuring pretty low. But you’re the expert. What do you think?
Obviously there is always a risk, but the risk is very low. It is rare for personal amounts to be seized. Even if a package is seized, there's usually no resources to follow it up. Many people report simply receiving a letter from Customs saying they have seized what they believe is contraband and the person has a choice of going to claim it or it will be destroyed. Even if LE does knock on the door there is plausible deniability: "I don't know who sent that stuff to me".
So yeah, rare, but it does happen. You might be the unlucky one
How do you find things on the dark web without search engines?
There are a lot of entry sites, set up with links to the most popular places. You can generally get a link to one of them by browsing places like reddit. From there it is a matter of checking out different places, people will put links in forums etc.
I also use a Pastebin where people paste sites they have made/found, and a Fresh Onion site, which crawls all the newly-populated .onion addresses
Hi. there!! Thank you for answering questions. Mine is very simple. How do sellers get the drugs to people? Regular mail? That's always puzzled me bc I'd assume USPS, UPS, fedEx or any other mail carrier would catch at least some goods.
If people are ordering drugs, particularly in powder form, for personal use, they can be flattened, sealed in MBB (moisture barrier baggies) and sent in a regular business envelope, indistinguishable from billions of other envelopes going through the postal system every day. The chances of a particular package being intercepted is very low.
Some people take the extra precaution of having the person taking delivery of the drugs different to the person/household that is ordering them.
How did you move from being a corporate lawyer to researching and writing about dark web?
I was in London, working for one of the most conservative law firms in the world when the Global Financial Crisis hit. I liked the job but it struck me when people were losing their livelihoods that I was working for the bad guys. I'd always wanted to be a writer so when I came back to Australia I quit law and enrolled in a writing course planning to be a novelist, but I discovered I was better at journalism. I first wrote for newspapers here about Silk Road and it grew from there
I've always wanted to check out the dark web, what is a normal day for you look like on there? Can you give me any tips on how to safely surf the dark web?
A normal day looks like me sitting at my desk writing things on my computer. When I'm researching a book or a case I venture away from my computer to trials and to interview people (at least I did pre-COVID)
There is nothing inherently unsafe in surfing the dark web. All the usual precautions you take surfing the clearweb apply. Don't visit any child exploitation sites - it will be pretty obvious that's what they are by the names/descriptions before you log in.
It is only when you want to do more than surfing - e.g. buying drugs etc - that you need to do a LOT of homework or you will absolutely get scammed
Is there anything good about the dark web?
It depends what you are into. A lot of academic research has concluded that the darknet markets provide a safer way for people to buy and use drugs, due to the ratings of vendors, services that independently test and report back on batches of drugs, doctor on staff ready to answer questions, no violence in transactions etc.
News sites provide a dark web option so that whistleblowers can safety provide information and upload documents that get stripped of any identifying metadata before being available.
It bypasses firewalls and allows for secure communications under hostile regimes
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How does this make you feel about the idea of the decriminalization of drugs?
I've always been for full legalization of drugs, and studying the darknet markets just proved I was right.
I was invited to an experts roundtable in Portugal about drugs and cybercrime a few years ago and the Portugal model of decriminalisation has been a great success
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Hey, you are still answering. Been reading this thread for 1-2 hours now. Thank you so much for all the good work and info! Always been intrigued by this topic, downloaded tor once to explore a bit but couldn’t and deleted it right away, to be on the safer side. Great insights. Thanks!
I've been writing it for about 14 hours. Going a bit loopy
How was working on Casefile? What's the production process like? Which episodes did u do?? I have listened to... all of them....
I absolutely LOVE working for Casefile. I am a freelancer, so I source and write my own cases and then sell the scripts to Casefile. I've done at least a dozen, but some of my most popular are Amy Allwine, Mark & John, Ella Tundra, Leigh Leigh, Rebecca Schaeffer...
As for the production process, once I have sold the script to them, a staff member edits them and then they are passed on to Casey to narrate. After that, they go to Mike for sound editing, music etc. They are the best team ever
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Oh, Leigh Leigh was so well written!! How do you choose which stories to write? Do you just pick true crime you're interested in?
Thank you! I have a huge list of potential episodes. Any time I come across an interesting crime on reddit, or in the news or wherever I make a note of it. Then I just pick one when it comes time to write a new script.
Sometimes I've been personally involved (e.g. Amy Allwine), gone to trials etc. Those are always the best ones
Hi Eiley, your twitter just reminded me of this AMA :) What are your thoughts on bitcoin? And would you prefer to be paid in crypto or fiat?
OOOOH, I know that name! Love & Light to you!
I like Bitcoin and I wish I had a whole lot of it and like many many people, I wish I had kept the first crypto I bought at something like $4 a coin :D I do not have a whole lot of it but I do have a little bit. I like the philosophy behind it and in theory it should change the world. However the reality is that the vast majority of it is concentrated in a very few hands which allows for market manipulation and stops it being useful as a post-fiat currency.
As long as I'm getting paid, I'm pretty happy!
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I too remember your name Pluto! Such a decent human ❤
he is!! True OG right there <3
Is the dark web subject to more racism than its counterpart, the world wide web?
There are some white power sites and that sort of thing and the chans are even more uncensored than the clearweb ones (4chan, 8chan) but to be honest they are the same cesspools in different spots. Drug forums don't seem to be very racist. I've seen worse on Twitter
Have you seen any consequential political or social organizing being carried out on the dark web?
Not directly, but the dark web helped facilitate the Arab Spring uprising in 2010 by allowing activists to remain anonymous and to access blocked websites and social media. Wikileaks, obviously. Some white supremacy organizations seem to use it to coordinate attacks, but they are not places I'm keen to hang out in.
What’s the most expensive thing for sale you’ve seen on the dark web? What was surprisingly inexpensive?
I can't remember specific listings, but there were sometimes sales of things like coke by the kilo, so that sort of thing I guess.
LSD could easily be found for $1/tab and one huge dealer gave it away for free if it was for personal use
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1. I’m going to ask a couple in hopes that one will catch your interest! I know you’re anonymous on the dark web, but even so, have you ever felt worried about your safety?
I actually made the decision to be upfront and honest about who I am on the dark web, so I use the name OzFreelancer (which is easily traceable to my real name) on all the dark web sites where i went looking for interviews. The people there had the option of talking to me or not, so they had no reason to want to harm me.
2. I’ve found your comments about your relationship with Yura fascinating. Did y’all develop a friendship? Did you build any other relationships that stand out in your mind? Since you were straightforward about being on the dark web for stories, did people seem reluctant to communicate, or were they excited for the opportunity to divulge a secret?
We do have a friendship of sorts, it is really quite weird. I do hope to met him one day. I met all of the senior staff of Silk Road other than the Dread Pirate Roberts himself and keep in touch with some. Some people wanted nothing to do with me of course, but many more were happy to talk to me. i think sometimes it was a relief to them to be able to talk to one person who they knew was who they said they were.
3. On violent forums, did users ever express remorse, guilt, shame, or anything indicative of some recognition that what they were viewing/seeking was awful? Do you see doxxing teams on the dark web working together to uncover info, or is the info already there through previous hacks/breaches, and someone just accesses and releases it? Sorry if any of those don’t make sense! I’m not familiar with the dark web lingo but am so intrigued by your work.
Not really. I think if they were contributing to the forums, they were comfortable with who they were and what they were doing. Many of the "regular" pedophiles expressed revulsion about Lux and hurtcore sites though
these have probably been asked before but has there ever been a time where you where genuinely been scared for your life and whats the most messed up thing you've witnessed did you have any help?
Yeah both things have been answered in this thread, so I'll cut'n'paste
The only time I've felt even slightly in danger despite all this nosing around in there was when I helped uncover a hitman scam. The owner of Besa Mafia, the most profitable murder-for-hire site in history, came after me when I started writing about him. He made loads of threats ("you don't know who I am, but I know who you are and where you live") but that wasnt scary, as I had access to the backdoor of his site thanks to a friendly hacker and knew he didn't really want to hurt anybody.
It took a bit of a darker turn when he told the people who had signed up to work as hitmen on his site - and who he made video themselves burning cars with signs on them to advertise how legit his site was, then never sent them the promised money for doing so - that I was the owner of the site who had ripped them off. That could have become ugly, but luckily even the thugs weren't dumb enough to believe him.
The only other time I've been a bit nervous was when Homeland Security wanted to have a "friendly" meeting with me on one of my trips to the US to attend a trial. They were friendly, but scary too.
The most frightening experience I've ever had is coming face to face with Lux, the owner of Pedoempire and Hurt2theCore, the most evil and reviled person on the entire dark web. He was responsible for procuring and hosting Daisy's Destruction, the most repulsive video ever made, created by Peter Scully, whose crimes were so bad, the Philippines are considering reinstating the death penalty especially for him.
It wasn't frightening because Lux was frightening - he was anything but. It was frightening because he looked so inoffensive and normal.
It was frightening because he was living proof that monsters walk among us and we never know.
It is absolute crap for browsing the clearweb, and a lot of sites detect that it is odd traffic and you have to solve their CAPTCHAs before doing the most basic things
I’m sure you’ve seen some really bad stuff, do you regularly talk to a therapist to help?
I've never seen a therapist (they don't really seem to be a thing in Australia they way they are in the US), but I have been known to unload on my partner and my dog
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Yo, speaking as an Aussie, they absolutely are a thing, you can get them covered thru medicare, and I recommend it if you possibly can! Bro, therapy is awesome.
I'm not against therapy as a thing, but I've honestly never been so traumatised that I feel I need it. Also I had a bad experience with a psychologist after I watched my partner die in an accident - they suggested I find God, and I noped out of there
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Therapist is an American term- we call them psychs. And the one who told you to find God was terrible and out of line.
Yeah she didn't last long before I was over it. Also a doctor decided I needed Xanax, which was also a bad move, because what I really needed was to grieve and Xanax doesn't let you do that properly
Do you find any good things on the dark web? Happy stuff that gives people hope? Or just the trash?
I like the psychonaut communities. They just want peace, love and mungbeans for everybody
Have you heard of "The Primarch System" rumor of the dark web? Sounds downright silly to me. But I'm curious if anyone who spends time on the deep web actually takes it seriously, or if as an idea it is connected to anything serious at all.
Nah, up there with the Shadow Web and Mariana's Web. There's always people who want to find out where the "deeper" "more secret" "really dark" stuff is. To them I say what, hurtcore isn't dark enough for you?
Doesn't delving the murky depths of child predator forums categorize you with the child predators in the eyes of an investigating law enforcement agency? Do you have some sort of amnesty due to your journalism, or is that something you worry about having to explain away? Has your presence there ever caused some sort of a scare?
No, I never went into any of the sites that had actual photos or videos (you can't un-see that shit), but did spend a lot of time in pedophile discussion forums. I also went to a hurtcore hearing and saw screenshots in the police files, as well as listening for two days to videos being described frame-by-frame and private communications between the site owner and the sadists.
Besides drugs and sex crimes, what else is going on in the dark web? Are there other interesting nooks and crannies?
I often post screenshots of bizarre sites I find on my Twitter. However, the main uses for the dark web are drugs, digital/fraud goods and child exploitation
I have one, it might be rather boring though, but here goes. On these "child predator forums" are they actually forums devoted to stalking children and do they share social media profiles of children among themselves? That would be kik ids, snapchat and facebook ids, instagram, stuff like that, info that would allow online access and that may have been chosen for suitability? Creepy question I know, but anyway I would be interested to hear your answer. I came here from TrueCrime, you referred to these things in your post on that sub. I suspect I already know the answer yet would like to hear your take on it.
Yes, they provide information and tips on how to approach children, how to ensure they won't tell, how to sedate them in some instances, where to find child exploitation material, how to remove metadata and any identifying characteristics in photos and videos before sharing and so on.
They don't tend to share socia media, as that is the sort of thing that can be traced easily. They do talk about how to approach kids on social media and on the worst forums how to blackmail children into stripping/meeting etc
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So you're saying they have a more general approach rather than identifying individual children on the internet? Again a creepy question because what I suggest is that a child's social media could be used and circulated on the dark web as potential information to gain access by anonymity, even if it was just online access only. I actually wonder as I have recently read of the anonymity of apps like ''kik messenger'' and how the police are often unable to get any information from the communications as they remain encrypted and off the server and require little if any valid ID to make an account.
No doubt photos from social media are uploaded as part of the materials they have. I haven't seen anything where they get together and try to track down a specific child, but I'm sure some predators do this. Most are more likely to abuse children in their orbit - family, kids of friends, or they work where they have access to children
I heard there are forums to download books but it was really dangerous, Is it true? I'm just a poor guy who wants to finish the young Jack sparrow series
Whenever you download anything from a pirate site you run the risk of infection
What do you think of QAnon?
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Who should the conspiracy theorists actually be worried about if they actually care about thwarting pedophilia?
The vast, vast majority of child abuse takes place within the child's personal orbit - relatives, family friends, parents of their own friends, people involved in their activities (coaches, leaders, etc)
So, those people
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Also how to we get people to stop believing in QAnon?
Outside my area of expertise, sorry
do you personally believe there was/is any truth to the "defense" (story) that DPR was a title handed down to different admins for the original silk road, or was it just a convenient defense? do you have any theories as to who satoshi nakamoto is? besides the original SR, are there any other darkweb markets that you think have a good enough story to turn into a book? eg sheep market? i've seen you talk a little about the child predator forums, and (as with h2tc) noted are mainly populated by males. i'm curious if you've ever encountered females on such forums/websites (eg. btfk)
No. There was a time that I believed the person posting on the forums as DPR changed, but the ownership and administration of the market I believe never changed hands. Variety Jones is claiming a part ownership (which may or may not be true) but I believe that is so he can run a Fourth Amendment argument
So many theories have some credibility to them, but no one theory ticks all the boxes. Highly recommend the 3-part youtube deep dive by Barely Sociable
I'm not sure any one market has the story that Silk Road had, but I would like to write a definitive history that encompasses the most compelling features of all the markets. Backopy of BMR apparently got away clean. The admins of Atlantis got wind of a security issue and closed shop, trying to warn DPR. AlphaBay ended in Alexander Cazes death in a Bangkok prison cell. Then everyone flocked to Hansa, which by that time was being run by law enforcement. Evolution ended in the most brazen exit scam, followed by a bizarre cloak'n'dagger situation played out right here on reddit. The WSM/DDW follow-the-money case. And these are just some that come right off the top of my head. I just need a publisher to provide me an advance I can live off while I write it!
There were a very few people on the forums who identified as female (obvs anyone can be anyone on a dark web forum) and there have been one or two arrests of women in relation to dark web child pornography. Peter Scully's female assistant who carried out some of the torture was originally one of his victims, turned into a sadist.
What’s the one lingering unanswered question you have about SR?
I am hanging out for Joel Ellingson to go to trial so that I can find out once and for all whether redandwhite, lucydrop and Tony76 are one and the same person.
There are several people who I got to "know" by their handles who I wonder about from time to time, but mostly I hope they are safe and well and i don't want to track them down or expose them
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Eileen, I am fangirling PRE-TTY hard right now. Talking SR and Tony76 with you is how I imagine it feels to talk to a royal correspondent about Prince Andrew 😅 Ellingson being all three would be a very neat end to an otherwise insane story. Part of me wants to pin Oracle in with that trio too but that’s mostly a desperate attempt from me to add another layer to the madness. I miss the twists and turns that came with the rise and fall of SR. From your own experience - would you agree with the idea that more than one person staffed the DPR account? Thanks for the reply!
Ha! You have no idea what it is like when I find someone who really knows about this stuff and can have informed conversations about it. I latch onto them and don't let go. The very BEST was meeting up with DPR's three deputies (SSBD in Australia, Inigo in US and Libertas in Ireland) so I could actually have conversations with people who knew more than I did! Variety Jones was cool too, but the conversation couldn't flow too freely thanks to him being incarcerated in Bangkok prison at the time.
I think others sometimes posted from the forum account, but Ulbricht kept a vice-like grip on his market account
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I can imagine it’s so satisfying and exciting to get those tidbits of info that piece the jigsaw together. The bedlam that played out over the forum in the aftermath was a cloud of paranoia and adrenaline that kept me refreshing pages for days. Would love to hear accounts from SSBD, Inigo and Libertas from this time. One last question: what were your thoughts when the Chloe Ayling story first broke?
I assumed it was a publicity stunt. I don't think that any more. I guess I can't blame her for milking her kidnapping for publicity in the aftermath, though I don't think she does herself any favors the way she goes about it sometimes
Sorry if this has been covered before but in your research, mainly related to child abuse, where are these children coming from? Children in their care/ family? Kidnapped?
The vast majority of child abuse is carried out by someone within their social circle - family and acquaintances. However, the hurtcore stuff was often carried out in third world countries on orphans or where desperate families gave up their children to "benefactors" who they believed were going to provide food an education
What Casefile episodes have you written? I became obsessed with it and ripped through all the episodes and now nothing will fill that void. Thanks for your efforts!
Casefile – the murder of Amy Allwine
Casefile – Blue Skies, Black Death
Casefile – Ella Tundra
Casefile – Dnepropetrovsk Maniacs
Casefile – Motown Murders
Casefile – Rebecca Schaeffer
Casefile – Sian Kingi
Casefile – John & Mark
Casefile – Shauna Howe
Casefile – Chloe Ayling
Casefile – Johnny Altinger
Casefile – Killer Petey
Casefile – The Santa Claus Bank Robbery
Casefile – Martha Puebla
Casefile – Leigh Leigh
Is there any way parents can keep their kids safe from this without being helicopter parents?
I'll cut'n'paste a response i gave to someone else about this, because it was something that really stuck out to me:
The one thing I found really interesting when I was lurking the forums of the child predators was their frustration about how children are now taught from a very young age that certain touching and acts are wrong and that they shouldn't keep certain secrets. It came up over and over again that they could not abuse certain children because they knew those children had someone they would tell. It was pretty clear that education was a child's best defence against getting abused. Kids who speak up and who have close relationships with one or more people they are likely to confide in
What does it take in terms of degrees and experience to get into this business?
Nothing official. I was a lawyer, but that had no bearing on what I do now (I did corporate law). I didn't have any official credentials when I began as a freelance journalist, though later I got a diploma of professional writing and editing. Anyone can be an author, provided they can write
If you could take a guess from your findings, what would be some speculative statistics on these abuse/torture sites? How many people (tens of thousands?) are involved? Do they generally come from the same places in the world or are they seemingly geographically random (based on victim ethnicity, or language spoken, perhaps)... what are some quantifying stats to wrap our heads around how prevalent this shit is?
Most dark web users come from western countries, just because infrastructure supports it. The sites often have tens of thousands of registered users, but a lot of them would be people for whom curiosity got the better of them and who signed up then left. Active users more like in the thousands, hyper-active users the hundreds.
One of the things that makes life difficult for law enforcement is that most of these sites don't operate on a commercial basis - people aren't making money from them, so there is no cryptocurrency chain to follow. They operate on a sharing basis and to get access to the more private parts of the sites, a user has to upload "fresh" material and/or prove they are actively abusing a child. Hurt2theCore used to get users to have the children hold up signs or have the site name or a username written on their bodies with a marker. This stopped law enforcement from getting access to those parts (like the "producers lounge") of the sites unless they were able to take over an account of a user who already had access. Even then, the rules of the hurtcore sites would require constant new proof in order to maintain access.
Some sites allowed people to buy access, such as one called "Welcome to Video" and then were taken down by law enforcement carrying out blockchain analysis of the Bitcoin transaction that led to the owner when they cashed out to fiat without moneylaundering precautions
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Do you think LE uses deep fakes to simulate a picture to gain access? Is that possible?
It is definitely possible, but I don't know whether they are doing it as they are understandably secretive about their methods. I know it is deeply problematic, as even fake child porn is still illegal (even cartoon stuff, including some Hentai in some countries). But they have used questionable methods before, most notably running the dark web's largest site, Playpen, for over a year in order to identify contact offenders
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Am I hearing you that many people are NOT doing this for financial gain? Just to do it and share it??
Child exploitation, yes, it is mostly a sharing community. Some people make some money out of it, but it is not like drugs where a lot of people are making a LOT of money
On the subject of abused kids... did you ever help the kids in any way?
I never met any of the kids. I never saw any of the photos and videos. I don't know who any of the kids are.
Daisy has been taken into care and her identity changed. I hope she is doing okay
What exactly does the dark web look like? You hear about it often, but don’t know if it looks like Google Chrome, Safari, or just a page full of code.
It looks like a normal browser and operates just like a normal browser. It's just that it can access sites that your normal browser can't.
How do you keep yourself from hating all humanity?
I am happy to report that, even on the dark web, the good people outnumber the bad
Hi! First off I'd like to say that I find what you do quite fascinating and would love to do something like that in the future. My question is in regards to art and other forms of artistic expression on the dark web. Is it true that the dark web is a place where you can also find awesome things such as art and literature?
Not really, because all that stuff is readily available on the clearweb. There are sites like the Imperial Library of Trantor, which is a pirate site for books, where you can read thousands of books for free, but that's really no different to The Pirate Bay. Some people share their LSD art, but again, nothing you won't find on the clearweb
How to Explain Bitcoin: 3 Tips to Have Better Bitcoin Conversations
BTC Friends, Let’s be honest, Bitcoin is confusing. Not to you (you are on this / after all), but to the people who have no idea what it is. Trying to explain Bitcoin is even harder. I’m sure we’ve all had those long, complicated, drawn-out conversations which leave people more confused than when it started. To aid its adoption WE HAVE TO GET BETTER AT EXPLAINING WHAT BITCOIN IS. Here are a few tips that should, hopefully, help you manage a simple and easy to understand discussion about Bitcoin. Before we get to that, a few things to remember: Bitcoin is afundamentalchange from what most people believe. An explanation about Bitcoin shouldn’t be about “being right” or “winning the argument.” Instead, it should be about helping someone explore a new idea and begin to understand that there are actually different alternatives to the only “money” they’ve ever known. Bitcoin is complicated. It’s important to remember that this is as much of an emotion transformation for someone as it is a logical one. A CONFUSED MIND ALWAYS SAYS NO. If you leave a person confused or frustrated about what Bitcoin is, they are more likely to build up a resistance to it and become close-minded because “it’s just too complicated.” Adoption is a marathon, not a sprint. Don’t feel the need to word vomit all of your intense 1337 cypto-knowledge in a single conversation. Slow and steady. Like a good story-teller, keep them wanting more. Now, some tips to consider: 1. Start with ‘WHAT is Bitcoin?,’ not ‘WHY is Bitcoin?’ A fundamental mistake that people make is to try to justify WHY something exists before even explaining WHAT something is. Your explanations need to act as a building blocks of knowledge which means you have to have a very clear, very easily understood, fundamental premise: Bitcoin is…: Digital coins that exist on the internet that you can spend and save just like the paper money in your wallet. An alternative form of money than what you are given by your local government. That's it. That's Bitcoin. While I’m sure we can, and probably will, argue about what that base, fundamental definition is, it’s important to start with WHAT, not WHY. While hyperinflation, store of value, scarcity, the Federal Reserve, and how the printing of fiat devalues currency are all important, it does not answer the question of WHAT is Bitcoin. If you start with WHY, you are skipping a major building block in the mind of the listener and are on your way to creating confusion. And remember, a confused mind always says no! Here is an example. (Now, don’t go full-internet on me. I’m not degrading this person or this video THANK YOU PERSON FOR MAKING THIS VIDEO. This video is awesome! I only bring it up because it is a recent video that got some attention. It also demonstrates this point.) When asked to explain Bitcoin, here is the opening line: “The FED…is out of control with printing money…” This is a ‘WHY is Bitcoin’ response. Already, the listener is probably thinking, ‘what the heck does the FED have to do with anything? I just wanted to know what Bitcoin was…’ and you may just lose your listener right there. Furthermore, this video never actually says “Bitcoin IS…” While there is an implied comparison to gold, there is never a fundamental definition of WHAT Bitcoin is. Start with a clear, concise definition of WHAT Bitcoin is before moving on to WHY Bitcoin is. 2. Let Them Lead / Gauge Their Interest / Know When To Stop When explaining any topic to someone who doesn’t understand it, there is a very strong temptation to TELL everything you know. This is human nature. We are proud of what we know. We want to display knowledge and proficiency. We must, however, understand that it is counter-productive to the learning process. Imagine that certain math teacher going over that certain math problem. They explain it. They are enthusiastic about it. They write it on the chalkboard. Yet your eyes glaze over. It’s too much too fast. You are just waiting until the end when they finally tell you the answer. All logic and reasoning and understanding is gone. This is similar. Instead of telling them everything you know, LET THEM ASK! Allowing your listener to ASK demonstrates two things: an understanding of the last thing you said and, more importantly, interest! Ultimately, that’s what we want and need; their interest. Believe me, just like that little kid asking, ‘why, why, why…?’ They will give you every opportunity to share a little bit more, and a little bit more. For example: Bitcoiner – “Bitcoin are digital coins that exist on the internet that you can spend and save just like the paper money in your wallet.” (STOP TALKING AND LEAVE SPACE FOR THEM TO ASK!!!) Noob – “Oh…ok…well…why do we need that? What's wrong with the money I have now?” Bitcoiner – “Well, there is a risk that, over time, the money that you keep in your wallet or bank account will actually be worth less and be able to buy less stuff.” (STOP TALKING AND LEAVE SPACE FOR THEM TO ASK!!!) Noob – “Wait, what do you mean?” And we are now on our way to a discussion about these messy and intense concepts of inflation vs deflation, printing of fiat currency, fractional reserve lending, etc. And through it all, LET THEM LEAD. Now this is the tough part. If their eyes glaze over, YOU HAVE TO STOP! When the questions stop, YOU HAVE TO STOP! The last thing you want to do is ramble on once they’ve stopped listening. Instead, ASK them a question: “I’m sorry, did you not understand something I said?” “Did I answer your question?” “Is this interesting to you?” By doing this, you will give them an opportunity to ASK you another question: “…back up…what did you mean when you said ‘store of value’?” Or maybe even make a comment: “…wow…this stuff is pretty complicated…” In either case, this actually helps keep the conversation going. Just back up, explain it again, keeping in mind your base concepts and definitions, and see if you can talk them past where they got stuck. Maybe they shut you down entirely: “you know what, this is crazy, it can’t be true, let’s change the subject…” To which the ONLY correct response is, “Ok!” (we’ll get to this later). Keep in mind that letting your listener lead will allow you to carry the conversation much further than you trying to push it along on your own. 3. Know Your Role / A Little at a Time / Don’t Overcorrect So, what’s the end goal? Is it to have them whip out their phone, download an exchange, and make their first Bitcoin purchase right then and there?! No, of course not. The role of these conversations is to LEAVE THEM WANTING MORE. Your goal should be to spark interest and curiosity. If after talking with you they end up on The Google or The YouTube looking for more information, then you’ve done your part! Movies and TV condition us to want the big payoff at the end: the parade, the teary embrace, the triumphant symphony. That is not real life. Really, the best ending to a Bitcoin conversation might just be your listener making an audible, but clearly deeply contemplative, “…huh…”. You’ve done your job. You’ve got them noodling something they have never noodled before. Even once you understand Bitcoin, there is still an entirely different conversation about what the technology is, how it works, and how people interact with it. And let’s be honest, it’s complex and confusing. Exchanges, blockchain, forks, difficulty adjustments, miners, cold storage… More complicated ideas. More jargon. Make sure you throttle yourself back and explain just A LITTLE AT A TIME. It’s ok to have one conversation about the fundamentals of Bitcoin and then an entirely different conversation about blockchain technology or how people acquire BTC or the difference between storing Bitcoin on an exchange versus a cold wallet. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking you have to tackle all of this at once. While all this is happening, BE CAREFUL NOT TO OVERCORRECT. People know what they know, right? And what people know is always correct, right?? Be sensitive. If your listener makes a comment that isn’t true or is off track, don’t scold them or forcefully correct them. If your listener feels attacked or threatened, conflict will arise, and once that happens, their minds will be completely shut off. No one listens during an argument. Don’t attack. Explain. For example: Noob – “Well, the USD is backed by gold, so that will prevent it from ever devaluing!” Bitcoiner – “You know, it’s pretty interesting, a lot of people think the same thing. The truth is that while the USD was backed by gold for a long period of time, it isn’t anymore. You see, back in 1971…” Keep it simple, factual, and non-confrontational. Going back to our example from before, even if your listener shuts you down entirely, THAT’S OK! They have now experienced a Bitcoin conversation that will percolate around in their brain. And perhaps next time they hear the word Bitcoin, whether on the news or on the internet, they’ll think back to your conversation and what you shared with them. Hopefully you didn’t over-press and their memory of your conversation isn't a negative one which leaves them feeling negative about Bitcoin: “Bitcoin is stupid and people who believe in Bitcoin are arrogant and rude.” Finally, ENCOURAGE THEM TO DO THEIR OWN RESEARCH. The journey doesn’t start and end with you. You are simply a stepping stone along their path. Know that you are playing a part in their story; you are not the main character. Adoption of Bitcoin will occur over a long period of time. The conversations we have with our friends and family will create the buzz, attention, and understanding that is needed, but please be mindful that you are doing it in a helpful and productive way that leaves people wanting to know more. Oh, and step 4: Stack Sats and HODL!
“Repeat a lie often enough and it becomes the truth”- Nazi Propagandists, Joseph Goebbels.
Axioms are our base assumptions about the world. They act as filters for new information coming into our consciousness. In classic philosophy, an axiom is a statement that is so evident or well-established, that it is accepted without controversy or question. As used in modern logic, an axiom is a premise or starting point for reasoning. We use these axiomatic assumptions to build our internal models of the world around us. They allow us to compare new information we receive from the outside with our internal narratives, which helps us to decide whether to reject or accept that new information. They are, for want of a better world, your "common sense" beliefs. So how do you go about changing a relatively normal person's core beliefs and base assumptions to the point of rejecting their fellow citizens as traitors, committing acts of murderous terrorist or vigilante violence like Fascist white supremacists running down protesters in acts of terror, ISIS beheadings or mass genocide?
Shock Treatment and Slow Repetition
When I was a child I was subjected to regular mental and physical abuse from my dad. I would also see my mother repeatedly beaten up and then flee to a women's refuge where I would stay with her. Each time my mom left, whenever I visited my dad at weekends, he would constantly try to pressure and manipulate me into convincing my mom to get back together with him. This never worked of course. But what it did do, is make me highly sensitive to manipulation techniques. I was fascinated by people like the magician Derren Brown and the economist Naomi Klein - who both reveal the tricks of the trade used in the advertising and marketing industries to convince people. One way of changing people into killing machines or obedient sheep is through a big shock to the system, like how electroshock therapy allows for a clean slate to rebuild peoples intern mental models. Psychedelics are another way, having a similar effect in the brain. Encouraged by the alt right and alt-light influencers like Jordan Peterson and Rebel Wisdom as they try to “Red Pill” people (an expression taken from the film The Matrix as a metaphor for revealing revealing the truth about the world). They use this shock and disorientation as a way to prepare a “blank-slate” in order to rebuild peoples internal axiomatic models with different core beliefs. Remaking people by shocking them into obedience and gas-lighting them about their existing internal models, making them seem irrational, silly or outdated. Reducing them to a mental state of a child and then rebuilding them with a new ideology and worldview, known as “shock therapy”. As Naomi Klein explains in The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism, these techniques work on larger scales with use of trauma and shock to influence political outcomes has been used since at least Milton Friedman coined the term “Economic Shock Treatment”. He advised that politicians push through painful and unpopular policies all at once during a time of crisis, before people could regain their footing. The technique is used in economic markets on the large scale, and also against individuals on a small scale with individuals too. Economics and politics is just human interaction on a larger scale, after all. Regular repetition and gentle suggestions of ideas can also instil new axiomatic models and core beliefs into people's minds. As Derren Brown demonstrates how powerful subtly suggestions can be alone, without the need for hypnosis, shocks or drugs. But used in combination, shock and repetition can shift people until they have moved their positions, perceptions and beliefs about the world, to a place they could never have imagined. But luckily once you deconstruct the deception and understand how the trick works, the illusion falls apart.
Defining and Deconstructing Modern Fascism
Firstly, we must define Modern Fascism. Modern Fascism ticks every box of the traditional definitions in Umberto Eco’s essay Ur-Fascism, and not only does it fulfil every criteria, it reveals other motivational forces and has evolved to include new aspects, and has changed into something worse, while it’s main weakness remain the same - the fact that it is primarily motivated by weakness. As General Franco said in a 1938 interview with Henri Massis: "Fascism presents, wherever it manifests itself, characteristics which are varied to the extent that countries and national temperaments vary. It is essentially a defensive reaction of the organism, a manifestation of the desire to live, of the desire not to die, which at certain times seizes a whole people. So each people reacts in its own way, according to its conception of life… What can it have in common with Hitlerism, which was, above all, a reaction against the state of things created by the defeat, and by the abdication and the despair that followed it?" This quote perfectly illustrates the transient nature of the ideology, but also the core motivations of Fascism. It is an ideology based on the assumption of weakness which yearns for restoration of a past greatness or to get revenge and recognition. But the way that it manifests itself is different in each place it takes hold. Therefore the aim of this isn’t to make the case that any particular party or country has embraced out-right fascism (plenty of other people have made that case already), the aim is to reveal the underlying motivations, highlight threats and weaknesses and analyse the less obvious negative effects of Modern Fascism.
History Doesn’t Repeat, But It Rhymes
A false equivalence that is often used is that Liberal Imperialism is just the same as Fascism. And while it is true that imperialists use fascist dictators to extract cheap labour and resources and also dominate smaller counties in a similar way to how fascist empires aspire to rule, the key difference is that the populations of those countries are not gripped by the same fear based delusions. And therefore more Liberal democracies are better equipped to hold their imperial position of power long term because they are better able to assess risks and react accordingly, rather than over-react based on paranoia and competing egos under excessive pressure. This false equivalence was also used in 1930’s Germany, because far-left Communists had been co opted and infiltrated by Fascists. They would repeat the mantra that “the Social Democrats were the real racists”. Contrary to the assumptions of most people, Fascism, as an ideology and political system of government is very distinct to white supremacy. It does of course include white supremecists, but In fact includes many other groups who have been co-opted by Fascist propaganda, or who implicitly support and enable their agenda. Examples of modern opposition which has been repeatedly infiltrated or just simply made up by Fascists include innumerable conspiracy theories, police groups like Blue Lives Matter, militant Black nationalists, the Boogaloo movement who call for a race war, the “Proud Boys” and even sometimes supposed Anarchists, far-left Communists and Left Accelerationists.
Motivations of Fascism
Fascism distilled down to its core reason for existing is the suppression of opposition who represent workers rights and economic justice. So they patently DON’T look after their own people. They con them into submission of the state by generating jingoistic fear of “the other” - whoever is convenient on that day to blame for their problems. Fascism is is an economic shock doctrine upon the inhabitants of the country. We don't spread fascist propaganda in tip-pot dictators because we care about the indiginous people there. We install Fascist dictators in order to remove workers rights and open up access to their natural resources. Artificial moral panics can be engineered and real disasters used to allow corrupt oligarchs and financial predators to consolidate power further by buying up small innovative businesses who don’t have the excess capital to survive the turmoil on their own without external support. Or as a way to eradicate public services by sabotaging them and building mistrust. They are used to erode faith in public services and institutions by rich people who simply want to pay less tax and don’t see why they should subsidise other human beings who haven’t had the same luck as them. So a major motivation of fascism is to suppress the opposition left-wing party who represent workers rights and egalitarian freedoms. Populists claim to be against free trade and to some extent they are, but whatever they do will fail because they are interfering with the markets, so they will retreat to the power of market domination. They use their threats of trade barriers as more just more shock treatment for markets, rather than protecting actual jobs or industries. This is a trick that has been played by Neoliberals too. But while Neoliberals use fascism as a tool for opening markets to Imperialism, they differ from Libertarians, not only because they embrace guns and weed, but they are starting from different positions to achieve the same goal; Neoliberals seek to remove already existing public services and workers rights that lift bargaining power. But Libertarians want to STOP the government from ever providing those services and investments into the poor or enshrining workers rights.
Modern Fascist Ideology has TWO Core Reasons to Exist; Fear and Freed.
I have been researching and analysing how economic systems differ, using a SWOT analysis (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threads). For each economic system I tried to be as neutral, fair and balanced as possible - which included Fascism. I might seem strange that someone who is anti-Fascist would want to explore the strenghts and opportunities of Fascist ideologies, but in doing so it reveals the real weaknesses and threats which are too important for us to ignore. So what exactly IS Fascism? Is it just an economic doctrine or a personal philosophy about the world? The answer is both. The ideology has TWO core reasons to exist, and TWO distinct audiences types - with one based primarily on fear and the other greed, with each having a malignant and symbiotic relationship with each other. Fear - Authoritarian/Conservative Fascists Greed - Libertarian Fascists There are very few people who actually buy into full Fascist ideology, most believe a watered down version of which resembles Conservatism or right-wing populism or accelerationism, and most of them genuinely believe they aren’t fascist, even though they are being constantly fed subtle suggestions fascist ideology or that align with their plans. But the most ironic thing is that these groups are mostly being used by the second group of rich Libertarians globalist elites pulling a confidence trick on the host nation. Often posing “anti-establishment” conspiracists who actually uphold the establishment through misinformation. See: Russia Today and Youtube Bitcoin and Gold shills who subtly suggest fascist talking points. With those rich Libertarians at the top more than happy for those below them, who they deem less worthy, living in even more delusional ideologies with fake enemies to fear, often resembling traditional Christian but values wrapped in modern conspiracies with added elements of “satanic panic”. Modern Fascism has clearly inspired the modern day equivalents of Brownshirts and Blackshirts, self-styled vigilantes like QAnon, The Proud Boys and “The Boogaloo” - white nationalist violent extremists who want to accelerate towards a full-on race war. It has also infiltrated numerous alternative groups, such as hyper-evangelical “end times” cults, alternative health scenes, internet conspiracy scenes like flat earth and occult magic.
A commonly missing hallmark of fascism that is present in history during the rise of fascism is a controlled opposition and explicit suppression of opposition. This distorts a healthy society and has unforeseen consequences and blowback. Fantasies and political thought bubbles are self delusional custom realities resembling an episode of Black Mirror. They act as coping and escape mechanisms. Especially during the Covid 19 lock-down, these tendencies have gone into overdrive with massive events entering the real world featuring David Ike leading protesters alongside fascists as people ignore rising Fascism, climate change destruction and Covid deaths tolls. Using disasters like Covid or irrational scare tactics such as the "Satanic Panic" style Fascist propaganda from QAnon, can shock people using their fear and disgust response, while making them distrust the news - allowing the government to evade valid criticism from experts while suggesting to people that government public services are inherently evil or Communist. This type of propaganda is a Libertarians wet dream - making a population not only give up on tax funded public services, but actively fear them. An example is Trump trying to discredit and defund the US Postal Service and other public institutions and regulatory bodies. Anti Semitism has been used throughout history by those in power to provoke an “us vs. them” mentality, leading to today's establishment still sanctioning and allowing Qanon on major media platforms, provoking and agitating terrorist attackers from the far-left and the far-right. Those in power in fascist regimes allow and encourage mistrust in the mainstream media, while the long-tail niche political and interest groups keep people separated from each other, who each live in their own custom realities while the real elites continue to dominate and increase their power. With each bubble framing realities based of identity, race, class, nationality, or even subculture special interests like alternative medicine and “gamer bro” culture, so that when they interact in real life or online, they are speaking past each other because they don’t even agree on the basic principles of how they view society.
The Fatal Flaws of Living in a Fantasy
While the main flaws and weaknesses of Fascism remain the same, they are in-fact exacerbated by this new hybrid model. It’s main weakness is the very fact that it is motivated by weaknesses, fear and greed - rather than true strength, self-confidence or heroic benevolent power, as their adherents like to believe. A misconception of fascists themselves that it is based on strength, when it is actually based on weakness - even when the driving force is greed rather than fear. Libertarian fascists want to extract labour and materials at cheaper prices, while inflating their own asset values. In other words; international financiers with little allegiance to any country. Ironically the very type of people who Conservative fascists claim to be opposed to. Fascism claims to make society more successful, but it actually accelerates the destruction of the culture, country or people, rather than preserving and conserving it, because it betrays a fundamental weakness of insecurity. Competitors and rivals can easily see through the charade of and take advantage. If anything does the exact opposite. Russian and China are clearly goading Western nations into becoming more divided and totalitarian, as they themselves benefit from becoming more Liberal and open and reap the competitive advantages that brings. See Kraut’s excellent video about Trump on China as an example. Keynesian investment in the country and people, giving workers more rights, opportunities and a more bargaining power is what makes a country successful and innovative, rather than the faux Keynesian policy of giving kickbacks to corrupt officials for government contracts and widening inequality by supporting the already rich, rather than the ordinary people.
Who Benefits in This Memetic War?
Who is going to war with who? Who is winning? A modern adage is that tankies are just fascists because of their support of authoritarian proto-fascist leaders and regimes who often claim to be Communist. But from my experience talking to actual fascists, they crave a more multi-polar world where other strong leaders rise up as competition and form alliances with dictators. So to me, it looks like Fascists are the real Tankies; wishing our enemies be stronger and wanting to accelerate towards race war or civil war that weakens the society. Not only did Donald Trump have knowledge of Russia allowing ISIS bounties on US troops and withhold that from the public while courting Putin, I have personally heard white supremacists backing extremists Islamists in Discord servers. Trump jumped to the defense of the people who put a 17 year old with a gun against civil rights protesters and assumed the intent before saying that the outcome should be decided by the legal system. They share common values and beliefs like Anti Semitism, accelerationist end-times fantasies, patriarchal traditional values and a fear of outside progressive cultures. In fact modern extremists white supremecist groups share recruitment and terrorist strategies and tactics with militant islamists. You could argue that it was inflicted by Russian or Imperialist propagandists onto the German people in order to take control of larger areas of Europe after the destabilisation of war. Hitler and Stalin came to a non agression truce called The Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact, which as was a secret non-aggression pact between Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union that enabled those two powers to partition Poland between them. The pact, signed in Moscow on 23 August 1939 by German Foreign Minister Joachim von Ribbentrop and Soviet Foreign Minister Vyacheslav Molotov was officially known as the Treaty of Non-Aggression between Germany and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. They divided Poland under the banner of fighting “Polish Fascism” nearly a century ago with both sides ultimately lying to their own people about spreading freedom while being authoritarian to their core and being able to blame “the other” as being the cause of all their problems. But these days fascism seems to be a rogue meme that no longer serves any particular group. It is pathologically damaging to any society that it happens to grip. Even the aforementioned Libertarians and accelerationists who think they are benefiting are only temporarily gaining by market price volatility. They ultimately lose through the blowback effect of the whirlpool they create.
Psychopathy, Alienation Nihilism and Insecurity
It is well established that Fascist dictators are driven by psychopathic characters and tendencies. They either don’t care about the truth, or disregard it if it’s not convenient to their narrative. In totalitarian despotic societies facts are reversed. As George Orwell proclaimed throughout his writings; “War is peace. Freedom is slavery. Ignorance is strength.”. Similar to how authoritarian Starlinist Communists harnessed people’s alienation and tricked them into thinking that it’s possible for the state to fully decommodify everything without having markets, money to account for things, domination or hierarchy or try to convince people that a revolution is just around the corner. But of course, a council representative is still the head of an organisation, for all intents and purposes, because they wield executive power over others, even if the name has changed. Markets are emergent properties when groups of humans want or need a certain commodity when it becomes available. But while both Communist and Fascist ideologies are based on lies that harness peoples alienation, fear and envy, Fascism is also especially to the weak. It is attractive to those who want to be strong again (or were never to begin with), or those who want to have a strong leader to help them. Fascism betrays to others the inherent weakness. Like the insecure kid in school who lashes out - others around can see that it is because of their own insecurity which makes them appear even weaker. Fascism is a psychopathy driven by insecurity. When people become so absorbed in an ideology there is a phenomena of people to self identify as an actual ideology? This produces a phenomena called Identity Protective Cognition, where people's self worth becomes attached to a belief system or ideology. So that when new information contradicts their worldview it is seen as an attack on the person themselves. Therefore irrational, emotional quick fix thinking is the default when there is too much pressure and they feel attacked. They no longer use their slow effortful reflective thinking. (See Daniel Kahneman - Thinking, Fast and Slow) This approach has parallels in evolutionary biology, in which a central issue is the ability to adapt to changing environments. Competency - over-competitiveness in management causes chaos which STOPS hierarchies of competence. (Insert video clips of Sapolsky on Chaos vs Reductionism etc. timestamps linked). Fascists try to reduce variability in culture and outcomes - causes weakness of less adaptability - because as Sapolsky explains, the variability is not just noise in that type of system CAS (Complex Adaptive Systems) - the variability IS the system. It is fractal and scale free. The noise and variability is an intrinsic part of the system. But the system doesn’t function properly when the agreed-upon parameters that individuals believe to be true aren’t universal enough to have any form of group coherence. Birds and swarms of animals can produce amazing complex phenomena, which are greater than the sum of their individual parts. There is a “network effect” once a certain threshold and certain conditions and rules are met. These rules can be very simple, like repulsion or attraction, or staying a certain distance apart while traveling in a similar direction, but collectively they create patterns that emerge with complexity and I dear say, a certain amount of beauty. So what happens when millions of people are being brainwashed and misled by cults that are leaving them with a reduced ability to make decisions? Giving them shit-for-brains just so that some rich people at the top can pay a few percentage less tax? That is the sign of a deeply sick system that cannot continue to function effectively. It is sick on so many levels.
Emergence, Complexity and Human Evolution - A Social-Biological Analysis
The problem with viewing the world through only one lens of analysis (or bucket of knowledge) is that you can fall into unnecessarily reductive thinking. (Sapolsky clips) I describe myself as a philosophical anarchist. Which does NOT mean I want total chaos and disorder - it means I want the optimal solution to emerge - including the influences and experiences from the bottom-up. I also think that a bottom-up (or anarchist) lens of analysis is necessary for society to run cohesively in an optimal state. If it is repressed it distorts the overall picture of reality for everyone - similar to a CEO that doesn’t listen to employees and workers on the ground. I interpret as constantly holding authority to account - to justify its existence and reason for dominating others. I also believe it is every citizen's responsibility to hold authority to account. This would be necessary under ANY economic system or society. Anarchists also believe in stigmenric, rhizomatic action to make the world better, organically, not from a top-down authority, which fascism seeks to instill on society. Human beings are collectively parts of a bigger chaotic but stable system known as a CAS (Complex Adaptive System). CAS’s are chaotic systems that can reach periodic steady states of equilibrium. As Professor Sapolsky explains, humans uniquely exist with a mixture of both communal and individualistic tendencies; known in the scientific world as Tournament vs. pair bonding. All the evidence suggests that this tendency has greatly improved our success as a species. But those tendencies distorted too far one way or another lead to pathologies and the worst collective misdeeds and wars. Because as Professor Sapolsky also explains in his brilliant lecture series (which I have condensed the pertinent parts of into a 4 part YouTube video) about CAS; the signals coming from the randomness is being suppressed or repressed, it interferes with the functioning of the system. Pressure in the system makes the patterns more complex but at a certain point of increasing pressure in the complex system, it stops being linear and the doubling of patterns and periodicity totally stops. Order completely begins to break down because of the butterfly effect. Fascist regimes fettishise order and rigidity but in a complex adaptive system, the noise IS the phenomena, not a byproduct to be discarded, ignored or repressed. The majority of people on the right genuinely want to help society by bringing order, using top-down draconian measures if necessary. Whereas the left generally wants to help society by proactively building from the bottom up. I think both of these approaches are necessary to be balanced properly for a healthy functioning society to emerge. It seems our tendency to harness both traits and to focus intently on one or the other is our greatest collective strength, while also being our greatest weakness. And similarly, on an individual level I believe our greatest strengths and weakness are the fact that our brains work efficiently by categorising information to filter out the unimportant bits that slow us down. As the book by Daniel Kahneman - Thinking, Fast and Slow, brilliantly explains, slow deliberate, consideration thinking takes energy and time, so our brains developed filters which come out as biases. This is an inherent weakness of the human brain. Now imagine the butterfly effect on the life of just one person who is influenced by the brainworms of QAnon cults or conspiracies which distorts their internal models of the world which they use to filter information about the world The sad and shocking stories on forums like QanonCasualties show the devastating effects on their close friends, family and work life - amplified by their ever increasingly disconnected lives. (insert Flat earther clip - zoom in on idiot rolling head) Now scale that up to the level of a whole of a society, a country, or the world? This is a collective madness to cope with and avoid the reality facing us as a species. Only collective action with agreed basic facts to work from will do to avoid the total descent into actual chaos and destruction.
TLDR; Conclusion and Final Thoughts
In this essay I will have put forward the case for the following four key arguments being true and I have present supporting evidence to explain the logical reasoning for why our current definitions need updating and the threat levels reassed, from a non-hysterical but critical perspective. The overall claims I made are:
Modern Fascism has taken over right-wing populism and bears all the hallmarks of early 20th Century Fascist ideologies.
The ideology has two main reasons to exist, and two distinct audiences which both have a symbiotic, pathological relationship with each other.
The main flaws and weaknesses of fascist ideology remain the same as ever - that fascism is motivated by irrational fears, greed and self deception.
Modern Fascism has major unforeseen damaging consequences for individuals, governments, organisational dynamics, and society at large.
This reality is something I think a lot of fascists, ultra-nationalists and people who have been influenced by the propaganda know deep down on some level already - that they are avoiding the realities of pandemics and ecological harms of ignoring science and reality as it is. They ignore it because fantasies are simpler to understand. And a narrative based on fear of the other is a simpler way to to process a complex world. It is also attractive to the part of us that is drawn to conflict and drama - that hunger for something genuinely interesting to happen. But I would argue from my experience that the beautiful complexity of life in all it’s shades of grey is much more interesting, fun and genuinely fulfilling to understand and engage in, even if it might be harder to deal with and even harder to explain. I believe doing so is also vital for the very survival of our species - we can no longer afford to live in a fantasy, we need to collectively take responsibility for the world as it exists in reality. Thank you to my two Patrons: Carmen Jongepier E.V. Roske Original Script on Patreon
Hey all, I've been researching coins since 2017 and have gone through 100s of them in the last 3 years. I got introduced to blockchain via Bitcoin of course, analyzed Ethereum thereafter and from that moment I have a keen interest in smart contact platforms. I’m passionate about Ethereum but I find Zilliqa to have a better risk-reward ratio. Especially because Zilliqa has found an elegant balance between being secure, decentralized and scalable in my opinion.
Below I post my analysis of why from all the coins I went through I’m most bullish on Zilliqa (yes I went through Tezos, EOS, NEO, VeChain, Harmony, Algorand, Cardano etc.). Note that this is not investment advice and although it's a thorough analysis there is obviously some bias involved. Looking forward to what you all think!
Fun fact: the name Zilliqa is a play on ‘silica’ silicon dioxide which means “Silicon for the high-throughput consensus computer.”
This post is divided into (i) Technology, (ii) Business & Partnerships, and (iii) Marketing & Community. I’ve tried to make the technology part readable for a broad audience. If you’ve ever tried understanding the inner workings of Bitcoin and Ethereum you should be able to grasp most parts. Otherwise, just skim through and once you are zoning out head to the next part.
Technology and some more:
The technology is one of the main reasons why I’m so bullish on Zilliqa. First thing you see on their website is: “Zilliqa is a high-performance, high-security blockchain platform for enterprises and next-generation applications.” These are some bold statements.
Before we deep dive into the technology let’s take a step back in time first as they have quite the history. The initial research paper from which Zilliqa originated dates back to August 2016: Elastico: A Secure Sharding Protocol For Open Blockchains where Loi Luu (Kyber Network) is one of the co-authors. Other ideas that led to the development of what Zilliqa has become today are: Bitcoin-NG, collective signing CoSi, ByzCoin and Omniledger.
The technical white paper was made public in August 2017 and since then they have achieved everything stated in the white paper and also created their own open source intermediate level smart contract language called Scilla (functional programming language similar to OCaml) too.
Mainnet is live since the end of January 2019 with daily transaction rates growing continuously. About a week ago mainnet reached 5 million transactions, 500.000+ addresses in total along with 2400 nodes keeping the network decentralized and secure. Circulating supply is nearing 11 billion and currently only mining rewards are left. The maximum supply is 21 billion with annual inflation being 7.13% currently and will only decrease with time.
Zilliqa realized early on that the usage of public cryptocurrencies and smart contracts were increasing but decentralized, secure, and scalable alternatives were lacking in the crypto space. They proposed to apply sharding onto a public smart contract blockchain where the transaction rate increases almost linear with the increase in the amount of nodes. More nodes = higher transaction throughput and increased decentralization. Sharding comes in many forms and Zilliqa uses network-, transaction- and computational sharding. Network sharding opens up the possibility of using transaction- and computational sharding on top. Zilliqa does not use state sharding for now. We’ll come back to this later.
Before we continue dissecting how Zilliqa achieves such from a technological standpoint it’s good to keep in mind that a blockchain being decentralised and secure and scalable is still one of the main hurdles in allowing widespread usage of decentralised networks. In my opinion this needs to be solved first before blockchains can get to the point where they can create and add large scale value. So I invite you to read the next section to grasp the underlying fundamentals. Because after all these premises need to be true otherwise there isn’t a fundamental case to be bullish on Zilliqa, right?
Down the rabbit hole
How have they achieved this? Let’s define the basics first: key players on Zilliqa are the users and the miners. A user is anybody who uses the blockchain to transfer funds or run smart contracts. Miners are the (shard) nodes in the network who run the consensus protocol and get rewarded for their service in Zillings (ZIL). The mining network is divided into several smaller networks called shards, which is also referred to as ‘network sharding’. Miners subsequently are randomly assigned to a shard by another set of miners called DS (Directory Service) nodes. The regular shards process transactions and the outputs of these shards are eventually combined by the DS shard as they reach consensus on the final state. More on how these DS shards reach consensus (via pBFT) will be explained later on.
The Zilliqa network produces two types of blocks: DS blocks and Tx blocks. One DS Block consists of 100 Tx Blocks. And as previously mentioned there are two types of nodes concerned with reaching consensus: shard nodes and DS nodes. Becoming a shard node or DS node is being defined by the result of a PoW cycle (Ethash) at the beginning of the DS Block. All candidate mining nodes compete with each other and run the PoW (Proof-of-Work) cycle for 60 seconds and the submissions achieving the highest difficulty will be allowed on the network. And to put it in perspective: the average difficulty for one DS node is ~ 2 Th/s equaling 2.000.000 Mh/s or 55 thousand+ GeForce GTX 1070 / 8 GB GPUs at 35.4 Mh/s. Each DS Block 10 new DS nodes are allowed. And a shard node needs to provide around 8.53 GH/s currently (around 240 GTX 1070s). Dual mining ETH/ETC and ZIL is possible and can be done via mining software such as Phoenix and Claymore. There are pools and if you have large amounts of hashing power (Ethash) available you could mine solo.
The PoW cycle of 60 seconds is a peak performance and acts as an entry ticket to the network. The entry ticket is called a sybil resistance mechanism and makes it incredibly hard for adversaries to spawn lots of identities and manipulate the network with these identities. And after every 100 Tx Blocks which corresponds to roughly 1,5 hour this PoW process repeats. In between these 1,5 hour, no PoW needs to be done meaning Zilliqa’s energy consumption to keep the network secure is low. For more detailed information on how mining works click here. Okay, hats off to you. You have made it this far. Before we go any deeper down the rabbit hole we first must understand why Zilliqa goes through all of the above technicalities and understand a bit more what a blockchain on a more fundamental level is. Because the core of Zilliqa’s consensus protocol relies on the usage of pBFT (practical Byzantine Fault Tolerance) we need to know more about state machines and their function. Navigate to Viewblock, a Zilliqa block explorer, and just come back to this article. We will use this site to navigate through a few concepts.
We have established that Zilliqa is a public and distributed blockchain. Meaning that everyone with an internet connection can send ZILs, trigger smart contracts, etc. and there is no central authority who fully controls the network. Zilliqa and other public and distributed blockchains (like Bitcoin and Ethereum) can also be defined as state machines.
Taking the liberty of paraphrasing examples and definitions given by Samuel Brooks’ medium article, he describes the definition of a blockchain (like Zilliqa) as: “A peer-to-peer, append-only datastore that uses consensus to synchronize cryptographically-secure data”.
Next, he states that: "blockchains are fundamentally systems for managing valid state transitions”. For some more context, I recommend reading the whole medium article to get a better grasp of the definitions and understanding of state machines. Nevertheless, let’s try to simplify and compile it into a single paragraph. Take traffic lights as an example: all its states (red, amber, and green) are predefined, all possible outcomes are known and it doesn’t matter if you encounter the traffic light today or tomorrow. It will still behave the same. Managing the states of a traffic light can be done by triggering a sensor on the road or pushing a button resulting in one traffic lights’ state going from green to red (via amber) and another light from red to green.
With public blockchains like Zilliqa, this isn’t so straightforward and simple. It started with block #1 almost 1,5 years ago and every 45 seconds or so a new block linked to the previous block is being added. Resulting in a chain of blocks with transactions in it that everyone can verify from block #1 to the current #647.000+ block. The state is ever changing and the states it can find itself in are infinite. And while the traffic light might work together in tandem with various other traffic lights, it’s rather insignificant comparing it to a public blockchain. Because Zilliqa consists of 2400 nodes who need to work together to achieve consensus on what the latest valid state is while some of these nodes may have latency or broadcast issues, drop offline or are deliberately trying to attack the network, etc.
Now go back to the Viewblock page take a look at the amount of transaction, addresses, block and DS height and then hit refresh. Obviously as expected you see new incremented values on one or all parameters. And how did the Zilliqa blockchain manage to transition from a previous valid state to the latest valid state? By using pBFT to reach consensus on the latest valid state.
After having obtained the entry ticket, miners execute pBFT to reach consensus on the ever-changing state of the blockchain. pBFT requires a series of network communication between nodes, and as such there is no GPU involved (but CPU). Resulting in the total energy consumed to keep the blockchain secure, decentralized and scalable being low.
pBFT stands for practical Byzantine Fault Tolerance and is an optimization on the Byzantine Fault Tolerant algorithm. To quote Blockonomi: “In the context of distributed systems, Byzantine Fault Tolerance is the ability of a distributed computer network to function as desired and correctly reach a sufficient consensus despite malicious components (nodes) of the system failing or propagating incorrect information to other peers.” Zilliqa is such a distributed computer network and depends on the honesty of the nodes (shard and DS) to reach consensus and to continuously update the state with the latest block. If pBFT is a new term for you I can highly recommend the Blockonomi article.
The idea of pBFT was introduced in 1999 - one of the authors even won a Turing award for it - and it is well researched and applied in various blockchains and distributed systems nowadays. If you want more advanced information than the Blockonomi link provides click here. And if you’re in between Blockonomi and the University of Singapore read the Zilliqa Design Story Part 2 dating from October 2017. Quoting from the Zilliqa tech whitepaper: “pBFT relies upon a correct leader (which is randomly selected) to begin each phase and proceed when the sufficient majority exists. In case the leader is byzantine it can stall the entire consensus protocol. To address this challenge, pBFT offers a view change protocol to replace the byzantine leader with another one.”
pBFT can tolerate ⅓ of the nodes being dishonest (offline counts as Byzantine = dishonest) and the consensus protocol will function without stalling or hiccups. Once there are more than ⅓ of dishonest nodes but no more than ⅔ the network will be stalled and a view change will be triggered to elect a new DS leader. Only when more than ⅔ of the nodes are dishonest (66%) double-spend attacks become possible.
If the network stalls no transactions can be processed and one has to wait until a new honest leader has been elected. When the mainnet was just launched and in its early phases, view changes happened regularly. As of today the last stalling of the network - and view change being triggered - was at the end of October 2019.
Another benefit of using pBFT for consensus besides low energy is the immediate finality it provides. Once your transaction is included in a block and the block is added to the chain it’s done. Lastly, take a look at this article where three types of finality are being defined: probabilistic, absolute and economic finality. Zilliqa falls under the absolute finality (just like Tendermint for example). Although lengthy already we skipped through some of the inner workings from Zilliqa’s consensus: read the Zilliqa Design Story Part 3 and you will be close to having a complete picture on it. Enough about PoW, sybil resistance mechanism, pBFT, etc. Another thing we haven’t looked at yet is the amount of decentralization.
Currently, there are four shards, each one of them consisting of 600 nodes. 1 shard with 600 so-called DS nodes (Directory Service - they need to achieve a higher difficulty than shard nodes) and 1800 shard nodes of which 250 are shard guards (centralized nodes controlled by the team). The amount of shard guards has been steadily declining from 1200 in January 2019 to 250 as of May 2020. On the Viewblock statistics, you can see that many of the nodes are being located in the US but those are only the (CPU parts of the) shard nodes who perform pBFT. There is no data from where the PoW sources are coming. And when the Zilliqa blockchain starts reaching its transaction capacity limit, a network upgrade needs to be executed to lift the current cap of maximum 2400 nodes to allow more nodes and formation of more shards which will allow to network to keep on scaling according to demand. Besides shard nodes there are also seed nodes. The main role of seed nodes is to serve as direct access points (for end-users and clients) to the core Zilliqa network that validates transactions. Seed nodes consolidate transaction requests and forward these to the lookup nodes (another type of nodes) for distribution to the shards in the network. Seed nodes also maintain the entire transaction history and the global state of the blockchain which is needed to provide services such as block explorers. Seed nodes in the Zilliqa network are comparable to Infura on Ethereum.
The seed nodes were first only operated by Zilliqa themselves, exchanges and Viewblock. Operators of seed nodes like exchanges had no incentive to open them for the greater public. They were centralised at first. Decentralisation at the seed nodes level has been steadily rolled out since March 2020 ( Zilliqa Improvement Proposal 3 ). Currently the amount of seed nodes is being increased, they are public-facing and at the same time PoS is applied to incentivize seed node operators and make it possible for ZIL holders to stake and earn passive yields. Important distinction: seed nodes are not involved with consensus! That is still PoW as entry ticket and pBFT for the actual consensus.
5% of the block rewards are being assigned to seed nodes (from the beginning in 2019) and those are being used to pay out ZIL stakers. The 5% block rewards with an annual yield of 10.03% translate to roughly 610 MM ZILs in total that can be staked. Exchanges use the custodial variant of staking and wallets like Moonlet will use the non-custodial version (starting in Q3 2020). Staking is being done by sending ZILs to a smart contract created by Zilliqa and audited by Quantstamp.
With a high amount of DS; shard nodes and seed nodes becoming more decentralized too, Zilliqa qualifies for the label of decentralized in my opinion.
Generalized: programming languages can be divided into being ‘object-oriented’ or ‘functional’. Here is an ELI5 given by software development academy: * “all programs have two basic components, data – what the program knows – and behavior – what the program can do with that data. So object-oriented programming states that combining data and related behaviors in one place, is called “object”, which makes it easier to understand how a particular program works. On the other hand, functional programming argues that data and behavior are different things and should be separated to ensure their clarity.” *
Scilla is on the functional side and shares similarities with OCaml: OCaml is a general-purpose programming language with an emphasis on expressiveness and safety. It has an advanced type system that helps catch your mistakes without getting in your way. It's used in environments where a single mistake can cost millions and speed matters, is supported by an active community, and has a rich set of libraries and development tools. For all its power, OCaml is also pretty simple, which is one reason it's often used as a teaching language.
Scilla is blockchain agnostic, can be implemented onto other blockchains as well, is recognized by academics and won a so-called Distinguished Artifact Award award at the end of last year.
One of the reasons why the Zilliqa team decided to create their own programming language focused on preventing smart contract vulnerabilities is that adding logic on a blockchain, programming, means that you cannot afford to make mistakes. Otherwise, it could cost you. It’s all great and fun blockchains being immutable but updating your code because you found a bug isn’t the same as with a regular web application for example. And with smart contracts, it inherently involves cryptocurrencies in some form thus value.
Another difference with programming languages on a blockchain is gas. Every transaction you do on a smart contract platform like Zilliqa or Ethereum costs gas. With gas you basically pay for computational costs. Sending a ZIL from address A to address B costs 0.001 ZIL currently. Smart contracts are more complex, often involve various functions and require more gas (if gas is a new concept click here ).
So with Scilla, similar to Solidity, you need to make sure that “every function in your smart contract will run as expected without hitting gas limits. An improper resource analysis may lead to situations where funds may get stuck simply because a part of the smart contract code cannot be executed due to gas limits. Such constraints are not present in traditional software systems”.Scilla design story part 1
Some examples of smart contract issues you’d want to avoid are: leaking funds, ‘unexpected changes to critical state variables’ (example: someone other than you setting his or her address as the owner of the smart contract after creation) or simply killing a contract.
Scilla also allows for formal verification. Wikipedia to the rescue: In the context of hardware and software systems, formal verification is the act of proving or disproving the correctness of intended algorithms underlying a system with respect to a certain formal specification or property, using formal methods of mathematics.
Formal verification can be helpful in proving the correctness of systems such as: cryptographic protocols, combinational circuits, digital circuits with internal memory, and software expressed as source code.
“Scilla is being developed hand-in-hand with formalization of its semantics and its embedding into the Coq proof assistant — a state-of-the art tool for mechanized proofs about properties of programs.”
Simply put, with Scilla and accompanying tooling developers can be mathematically sure and proof that the smart contract they’ve written does what he or she intends it to do.
Smart contract on a sharded environment and state sharding
There is one more topic I’d like to touch on: smart contract execution in a sharded environment (and what is the effect of state sharding). This is a complex topic. I’m not able to explain it any easier than what is posted here. But I will try to compress the post into something easy to digest.
Earlier on we have established that Zilliqa can process transactions in parallel due to network sharding. This is where the linear scalability comes from. We can define simple transactions: a transaction from address A to B (Category 1), a transaction where a user interacts with one smart contract (Category 2) and the most complex ones where triggering a transaction results in multiple smart contracts being involved (Category 3). The shards are able to process transactions on their own without interference of the other shards. With Category 1 transactions that is doable, with Category 2 transactions sometimes if that address is in the same shard as the smart contract but with Category 3 you definitely need communication between the shards. Solving that requires to make a set of communication rules the protocol needs to follow in order to process all transactions in a generalised fashion.
There is no strict defined roadmap but here are topics being worked on. And via the Zilliqa website there is also more information on the projects they are working on.
Business & Partnerships
It’s not only technology in which Zilliqa seems to be excelling as their ecosystem has been expanding and starting to grow rapidly. The project is on a mission to provide OpenFinance (OpFi) to the world and Singapore is the right place to be due to its progressive regulations and futuristic thinking. Singapore has taken a proactive approach towards cryptocurrencies by introducing the Payment Services Act 2019 (PS Act). Among other things, the PS Act will regulate intermediaries dealing with certain cryptocurrencies, with a particular focus on consumer protection and anti-money laundering. It will also provide a stable regulatory licensing and operating framework for cryptocurrency entities, effectively covering all crypto businesses and exchanges based in Singapore. According to PWC 82% of the surveyed executives in Singapore reported blockchain initiatives underway and 13% of them have already brought the initiatives live to the market. There is also an increasing list of organizations that are starting to provide digital payment services. Moreover, Singaporean blockchain developers Building Cities Beyond has recently created an innovation $15 million grant to encourage development on its ecosystem. This all suggests that Singapore tries to position itself as (one of) the leading blockchain hubs in the world.
Zilliqa seems to already take advantage of this and recently helped launch Hg Exchange on their platform, together with financial institutions PhillipCapital, PrimePartners and Fundnel. Hg Exchange, which is now approved by the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS), uses smart contracts to represent digital assets. Through Hg Exchange financial institutions worldwide can use Zilliqa's safe-by-design smart contracts to enable the trading of private equities. For example, think of companies such as Grab, Airbnb, SpaceX that are not available for public trading right now. Hg Exchange will allow investors to buy shares of private companies & unicorns and capture their value before an IPO. Anquan, the main company behind Zilliqa, has also recently announced that they became a partner and shareholder in TEN31 Bank, which is a fully regulated bank allowing for tokenization of assets and is aiming to bridge the gap between conventional banking and the blockchain world. If STOs, the tokenization of assets, and equity trading will continue to increase, then Zilliqa’s public blockchain would be the ideal candidate due to its strategic positioning, partnerships, regulatory compliance and the technology that is being built on top of it.
What is also very encouraging is their focus on banking the un(der)banked. They are launching a stablecoin basket starting with XSGD. As many of you know, stablecoins are currently mostly used for trading. However, Zilliqa is actively trying to broaden the use case of stablecoins. I recommend everybody to read this text that Amrit Kumar wrote (one of the co-founders). These stablecoins will be integrated in the traditional markets and bridge the gap between the crypto world and the traditional world. This could potentially revolutionize and legitimise the crypto space if retailers and companies will for example start to use stablecoins for payments or remittances, instead of it solely being used for trading.
Zilliqa also released their DeFi strategic roadmap (dating November 2019) which seems to be aligning well with their OpFi strategy. A non-custodial DEX is coming to Zilliqa made by Switcheo which allows cross-chain trading (atomic swaps) between ETH, EOS and ZIL based tokens. They also signed a Memorandum of Understanding for a (soon to be announced) USD stablecoin. And as Zilliqa is all about regulations and being compliant, I’m speculating on it to be a regulated USD stablecoin. Furthermore, XSGD is already created and visible on block explorer and XIDR (Indonesian Stablecoin) is also coming soon via StraitsX. Here also an overview of the Tech Stack for Financial Applications from September 2019. Further quoting Amrit Kumar on this:
There are two basic building blocks in DeFi/OpFi though: 1) stablecoins as you need a non-volatile currency to get access to this market and 2) a dex to be able to trade all these financial assets. The rest are built on top of these blocks.
So far, together with our partners and community, we have worked on developing these building blocks with XSGD as a stablecoin. We are working on bringing a USD-backed stablecoin as well. We will soon have a decentralised exchange developed by Switcheo. And with HGX going live, we are also venturing into the tokenization space. More to come in the future.”
Additionally, they also have this ZILHive initiative that injects capital into projects. There have been already 6 waves of various teams working on infrastructure, innovation and research, and they are not from ASEAN or Singapore only but global: see Grantees breakdown by country. Over 60 project teams from over 20 countries have contributed to Zilliqa's ecosystem. This includes individuals and teams developing wallets, explorers, developer toolkits, smart contract testing frameworks, dapps, etc. As some of you may know, Unstoppable Domains (UD) blew up when they launched on Zilliqa. UD aims to replace cryptocurrency addresses with a human-readable name and allows for uncensorable websites. Zilliqa will probably be the only one able to handle all these transactions onchain due to ability to scale and its resulting low fees which is why the UD team launched this on Zilliqa in the first place. Furthermore, Zilliqa also has a strong emphasis on security, compliance, and privacy, which is why they partnered with companies like Elliptic, ChainSecurity (part of PwC Switzerland), and Incognito. Their sister company Aqilliz (Zilliqa spelled backwards) focuses on revolutionizing the digital advertising space and is doing interesting things like using Zilliqa to track outdoor digital ads with companies like Foodpanda.
Zilliqa is listed on nearly all major exchanges, having several different fiat-gateways and recently have been added to Binance’s margin trading and futures trading with really good volume. They also have a very impressive team with good credentials and experience. They don't just have “tech people”. They have a mix of tech people, business people, marketeers, scientists, and more. Naturally, it's good to have a mix of people with different skill sets if you work in the crypto space.
Marketing & Community
Zilliqa has a very strong community. If you just follow their Twitter their engagement is much higher for a coin that has approximately 80k followers. They also have been ‘coin of the day’ by LunarCrush many times. LunarCrush tracks real-time cryptocurrency value and social data. According to their data, it seems Zilliqa has a more fundamental and deeper understanding of marketing and community engagement than almost all other coins. While almost all coins have been a bit frozen in the last months, Zilliqa seems to be on its own bull run. It was somewhere in the 100s a few months ago and is currently ranked #46 on CoinGecko. Their official Telegram also has over 20k people and is very active, and their community channel which is over 7k now is more active and larger than many other official channels. Their local communities also seem to be growing.
Moreover, their community started ‘Zillacracy’ together with the Zilliqa core team ( see www.zillacracy.com ). It’s a community-run initiative where people from all over the world are now helping with marketing and development on Zilliqa. Since its launch in February 2020 they have been doing a lot and will also run their own non-custodial seed node for staking. This seed node will also allow them to start generating revenue for them to become a self sustaining entity that could potentially scale up to become a decentralized company working in parallel with the Zilliqa core team. Comparing it to all the other smart contract platforms (e.g. Cardano, EOS, Tezos etc.) they don't seem to have started a similar initiative (correct me if I’m wrong though). This suggests in my opinion that these other smart contract platforms do not fully understand how to utilize the ‘power of the community’. This is something you cannot ‘buy with money’ and gives many projects in the space a disadvantage.
Zilliqa also released two social products called SocialPay and Zeeves. SocialPay allows users to earn ZILs while tweeting with a specific hashtag. They have recently used it in partnership with the Singapore Red Cross for a marketing campaign after their initial pilot program. It seems like a very valuable social product with a good use case. I can see a lot of traditional companies entering the space through this product, which they seem to suggest will happen. Tokenizing hashtags with smart contracts to get network effect is a very smart and innovative idea.
Regarding Zeeves, this is a tipping bot for Telegram. They already have 1000s of signups and they plan to keep upgrading it for more and more people to use it (e.g. they recently have added a quiz features). They also use it during AMAs to reward people in real-time. It’s a very smart approach to grow their communities and get familiar with ZIL. I can see this becoming very big on Telegram. This tool suggests, again, that the Zilliqa team has a deeper understanding of what the crypto space and community needs and is good at finding the right innovative tools to grow and scale.
To be honest, I haven’t covered everything (i’m also reaching the character limited haha). So many updates happening lately that it's hard to keep up, such as the International Monetary Fund mentioning Zilliqa in their report, custodial and non-custodial Staking, Binance Margin, Futures, Widget, entering the Indian market, and more. The Head of Marketing Colin Miles has also released this as an overview of what is coming next. And last but not least, Vitalik Buterin has been mentioning Zilliqa lately acknowledging Zilliqa and mentioning that both projects have a lot of room to grow. There is much more info of course and a good part of it has been served to you on a silver platter. I invite you to continue researching by yourself :-) And if you have any comments or questions please post here!
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