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I appreciate the genuine engagement!

To preface these comments, I actually do some professional work on crypto economics and I think that almost no one appreciates just how high the bar is for crypto to truly challenge traditional currencies. So my comments below should be taken in the context that I'd love to see a world where crypto can play a role in opening up particular kinds of economic opportunity that currently aren't really possible, and I'm actively trying to build such a world - but I think there's a very long way to go!


L2 networks and such will certainly improve over prior crypto systems. I do still see a challenge of doing a "trustless" crypto exchange (i.e., massively non-centralized) without it being relatively costly/slow compared to a credible centralized system. But I don't see this as a major factor either way.

Now think about the world adopting a single currency. It would remove so much friction that currently exists due to foreign exchange. This currency would necessarily have to be politically neutral, inclusive,  permissionless and censorship resistant ;)

See the impossible trinity for a sense of why this is unlikely to happen. Domestic policy autonomy is reeeeeealy important to countries. And crypto is not going to straight-up beat all the countries. States have too many advantages, so this isn't even a contest.

Any new emerging monetary asset would necessarily have massive volatility on its path to reaching full adoption. I don't think this disqualifies bitcoin just yet.

This is only for speculative assets. Note that credible centralized institutions issue value-stable things all the time (currencies, bonds, coupons, reward cards, etc.). This is a major problem for the crypto world, but trustworthy centralized institutions can (and do) regularly do this.

I'd add that no credible stablecoin plan exists. National currencies can easily handle an economic downturn, even a prolonged one. All existing stablecoin plans will simply collapse if a sustained downturn is expected. (I'd love to see a plan that doesn't fail in this way if one exists!)

I think you may be confused about the potential lessons offered by the de-pegging of gold. The de-pegging was caused by a political (and economic) need for an expansionary monetary system, but the supply of gold could not increase. This meant that the relative value of dollars vs gold was decreasing, so it became insane to keep the peg, since those who hold dollars (like foreign governments) could just get all the gold. (And this was happening before the depegging.) So when the peg is released, of course the dollar devalues! That was the point of the de-pegging. That was the direction of the pressure that caused the de-pegging in the first place. This isn't evidence that gold is somehow more "valuable" because it isn't being used as much as a currency. It's a correction that happened because gold wasn't fit for purpose as a global currency.

The Venezuelan example is a straw man. Instead, I challenge you to convince me of why I should trust the stable true-real-world-value of any crypto token that currently exists anywhere near as much as I trust the USD, Euro, Yen, GBP, or CAD (to name just a few).

The currency's value is based on trust but also because institutional commitments and designs can be more or less trustworthy. Independent central banks in the West are pretty trustworthy. Their design, political independence, and history of action are pretty impressive. This is an extremely high bar to beat. I think most pro-crypto people don't realize just how high this bar is.

Bitcoin's fixed supply doesn't address the speculation problem I raised. In fact, it is the cause of it. With limited supply and no way to control inflation/deflation, bitcoin will absolutely cycle up and down in value in a purely speculative way. It isn't even as anchored in value as gold; you can't use bitcoins to make jewelry or electronics for example. Bitcoin is not a reliable store of value for precisely this reason. If I put X euro into USD and X euro into bitcoin, which one do you think will be closer in value to what I put in when I check back in on it a few years later (or even seconds later)? This is what being a "reliable store of value" means. Traditional currencies are better at this than bitcoin and stablecoins.

My impression is that cryptocurrencies face some major challenges in achieving some of the basic functions of money. For example, check out Bitcoin – The Promise and Limits of Private Innovation in Monetary and Payment Systems by Beer and Weber. They argue (persuasively in my opinion) that traditional currencies have three functions that cryptocurrencies would have significant challenges in achieving, replicating, or challenging:

  1. unit of account
  2. means of payment
  3. store of value

Based on the Beer and Weber paper, here's my brief expansion of these problems as they relate to Bitcoin: 

  • Having prices in one currency is more efficient than having them in many. Thus, having just one currency (e.g., a national currency) is more efficient than having multiple. Also, having just one currency facilitates trade. Bitcoin in particular struggles to achieve this because a) it introduces a separate unit of account, b) is has no single and identified issuer, and c) its quantity is fixed. 
  • If prices in the cryptocurrency change dramatically and unpredictably compared to standard currencies, then measuring prices in the cryptocurrency don’t make sense.  It’s hard to imagine this asymmetry being overcome entirely unless a single cryptocurrency became so widespread and dominant that it achieved more stability than reserve currencies. 
  • Since there is no institution guaranteeing that the currency will be a reliable store of value, the currency is not a reliable store of value. Bitcoin in particular is a speculative asset.

See also the Impossible Trinity in international political economy to get a sense of yet another problem that cryptocurrencies do not yet have a solution for. 

I have not yet seen solutions to these problems and there appear to be good reasons to believe that a system similar to Bitcoin cannot solve them. Future cryptocurrencies may put a serious dent in these problems, but I remain skeptical of their near-term (within a few decades) potential to "fix money".

A few months later, I want to note that my impression is that the Red Cross is indeed quite ineffective in this regard (helping Ukraine in the war). Other options are better. I came to this conclusion soon after writing the above comment, but I didn't come back here (till now) to correct myself. I still think that the original comment in this thread was made in good faith, and thus I wouldn't downvote it. I did, however, want to make clear that my thoughts had evolved significantly after writing the above comment.

Convergence also does a lot of work on the strategic level.

This is a legit suggestion, so I'm going to strongly upvote the comment. Not sure why the downvotes are coming in, other than, as you say, perhaps indicating that people think that the Red Cross is ineffective, or that Canadian-specific multipliers aren't highly relevant for this discussion.

Most of these are pithy statements that serve as reminders of much more complicated and nuanced ideas. This is a mix of recitation types, only some of which are explicitly related to motivation. I've summarized, rephrased, and expanded most of these for clarity, and cut entire sections that are too esoteric. Also, something I'd love to try, but haven't, is putting some of these into a spaced repetition practice (I use Anki), since I've heard surprisingly positive things about how well that works.

  1. Be ruthlessly efficient today
  2. <Specific reminder about a habit that I'm seeking to break>
  3. Brainstorm, then execute
  4. If you don't have a plan for it, it isn't going to happen.
  5. A long list of things that you want to do is no excuse for not doing any of them.
  6. Make an extraordinary effort.
  7. <Reminders about particular physical/emotional needs that are not adequately covered by existing habits>
  8. Remember the spheres of control: Total control. Some control. No control. For more info, see here:
  9. Every problem is an opportunity
  10. What you do today is important because you are exchanging a day of your life for it. (might be from Heartsill Wilson)
  11. Think about what isn't being said, but needs to be.
  12. Get results
  13. Life is finite; pursue your cares.
  14. The opposite of play is not work. The opposite of play is depression. (paraphrased from Simon Sutton-Smith)
  15. Move gently
  16. Weighted version of "shortest processing time" scheduling algorithm is close to optimal on all metrics. (from "Algorithms to live by")
  17. Exponential backoff for relationships: finite investment, infinite patience. (from "Algorithms to live by")
  18. Doing things right vs doing the right thing.
  19. 10-10-10. (Reference to the technique of thinking about how a decision would be viewed 10 minutes, 10 months, and 10 years in the future. Modify at your discretion.)
  20. Bookending (think of extreme cases of what you are trying to predict)
  21. Triage - nowadays I'd tell people to go read Holly Elmore's writeup on this, with an emphasis on "We are always in triage. I fervently hope that one day we will be able to save everyone. In the meantime, it is irresponsible to pretend that we aren’t making life and death decisions with the allocation of our resources. Pretending there is no choice only makes our decisions worse."
  22. <several reminders about how I want to act in my relationships>
  23. Change expectations and you change people, including yourself.
  24. What you see is all there is. (Fallacy explained by Philip Tetlock)
  25. The bait and switch - replacing a hard question with an easy one. (Fallacy explained by Philip Tetlock)
  26. Reverse the phrasing of questions and statements (a standard technique for testing the credibility / reasonableness / usefulness of statements or questions)
  27. Destroy your fear of criticism.
  28. Constructive critiques are precious.
  29. <Various personal techniques for de-stressing>
  30. Use counterfactuals.
  31. Mental parliament. (Also see related Moral Parliament or "personal board of directors" ideas.)
  32. Try hard for five minutes. (Reference to Yudkowsky's techniques of this sort.)
  33. The 80-20 rule. Focus on doing 80% of the good.
  34. Deep work.
  35. Every moment is practice. What are you practicing?
  36. Murphyjitsu.
  37. Remember that it is the "experiencing self" who has to execute any plan you make.
  38. Do your work in a way that allows other people to follow you.
  39. Clairvoyance test (Another Tetlock idea: if you passed the question to someone who could see the future, they could give you the answer without having to come back for a re-specification of what the question actually is.)
  40. When you reach the end of what you can comprehend, you probably haven't found nature's limits, but your own.
  41. Wittgenstein's ruler (Unless you have confidence in the ruler's reliability, if you use a ruler to measure a table you may also be using the table to measure the ruler.)

For me what leaps to mind is all of the in-between stuff, like proofreading, LateX issues, graphics, plots, etc. Of course, I've also tried to hire help on some of these fronts with very mixed results (generally negative). So I guess I'd say that fundamentally, independent work can really suffer from its independence (not having various supports and connections that would make it better). Building relationships and collaborations that alleviate these problems is part of being an effective independent researcher.

Prioritize ruthlessly. Very few ideas can even be examined, let alone pursued.

Productivity + meta: Learn to be an effective Red Team, and use this ability on your own ideas and plans. 

Motivation: Find a way to remind yourself about what you care about (and if needed, why you care about it). This could manifest in any way that works for your. A post-it could be useful. A calendar notification. A standing meeting with colleagues where you do a moment of reflection (a technique that I've seen used to great effect at the Human Diagnosis Project). A list of recitations embedded among TODO list items (my personal technique). 

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