Thursday, April 27, 2023

Crypto: My Part In Its Downfall

I was asked to talk about cryptocurrencies to the 49th Asilomar Microcomputer Workshop. I decided that my talk would take the form of a chronology, so I based the title on a book by the late, great comic Spike Milligan. It became Crypto: My Part In Its Downfall1.

Below the fold is the text, with links to the sources.

Thursday, April 20, 2023

Red Team Blues

Since I started my career as a Cassandra of Cryptocurrencies I haven't had much time to read novels; I have too much fun reading about the unfolding disasters. But I did enjoy Cory Doctorow's Little Brother and Homeland, so when he asked me to review Red Team Blues I sat down and read it.

The first thing to catch my eye was the dedication to the late, great Dan Kaminsky, a fellow attendee of the Asilomar Microcomputer Workshop and someone I admired.

It is an engrossing read. The action moves swiftly, the plot requires little suspension of disbelief and has plenty of twists to keep you thinking. The interesting parts are the details about how people and their money can be tracked, and how people with a lot can prevent it being tracked. Doctorow gets to cover many of his favorite themes in a fast-moving story about a character approaching retirement. I'm well past that stage, but I understand some of those issues.

The story ends happily because all the bodies that pile up are bad guys. This is necessary since this is apparently the first in a series. I'll definitely read the next one.

You don't need to understand blockchains and cryptocurrencies to enjoy the story, but I do so, below the fold, I can't resist picking some nits with the technical details.

Thursday, April 13, 2023

Compute In Storage

Tobias Mann's Los Alamos Taps Seagate To Put Compute On Spinning Rust describes progress in the concept of computational storage. I first discussed this in my 2010 JCDL keynote, based on 2009's FAWN, the Fast Array of Wimpy Nodes by David Anderson et al from Carnegie-Mellon. Their work started from the observation that moving data from storage to memory for processing by a CPU takes time and energy, and the faster you do it the more energy it takes. So the less of it you do, the better. Below the fold I start from FAWN and end up with the work under way at Los Alamos.

Tuesday, April 4, 2023

How Bubbles Are Blown

Last October I wrote Non-Fungible Token Bubble Lasted 10 Months. The NFT market is still dead, a fossil relic of a massive wave of typical cryptocurrency pump-and-dump schemes and wash trading. But the great thing is that this all happened on a public blockchain, so data palaeontologists have an unrivalled dataset with which to unearth the inner workings of a speculative bubble.

Bryce Elder's What NFT mania can tell us about market bubbles points us to NFT Bubbles in which Andrea Barbon and Angelo Ranaldo do just that. Their abstract states:
Our study reveals that agent-level variables, such as investor sophistication, heterogeneity, and wash trading, in addition to aggregate variables, such as volatility, price acceleration, and turnover, significantly predict bubble formation and price crashes. We find that sophisticated investors consistently outperform others and exhibit characteristics consistent with superior information and skills, supporting the narrative surrounding asset pricing bubbles.
Below the fold I discuss the details.