(Some sections translated from Chinese)
The purpose of this article is to summarize the financial and economic state of the world and the potential for cryptocurrency technologies to replace existing financial systems. We delve into some of the many interesting new cryptocurrency startup projects that are springing up, and also explore the more esoteric and nefarious side of the growing cryptocurrency world.
As anyone with half a brain is already aware, the existing global financial system is on its last legs. For those who are not yet convinced, we would simply point to bond guru Bill Gross’ succinct 2016 tweet: “Global yields lowest in 500 years of recorded history. $10 trillion of neg. rate bonds. This is a supernova that will explode one day”. In fact, Bill Gross may have been off by a factor of 10. There is some evidence that recent interest rates are actually at the lowest level in approximately 5,000 years.
After the global financial crisis of 2008, something happened that no one ever dreamed was possible… developed-world interest rates dropped to zero and then actually became negative for some market participants. As bizarre as this sounds, what it means is that many market participants are actually paying to lend out money and, likewise, others are getting paid to borrow money. It’s a topsy-turvy, upside-side down world we are living in. Suffice to say that the existing financial system is completely broken, and there is no easy way out of the financial mess that the world is in.
In some sense you could say that the financial end-of-the-world happened in 2008, and since then we have been living on “borrowed time”. So, many observers have been expecting a global currency reset (GCR) since the global financial crisis of 2008. But why hasn’t it happened yet, and when and if it does happen, what form will it take? Observers like James Rickards have for years been talking about the International Monetary Fund (IMF) taking over as the world’s central bank. The story goes something like this: since all developed-world countries are equally bankrupt, they will come together and agree to “kick the debt up one level higher” to the IMF, and then the IMF’s Special Drawing Rights (SDR) will become the “one world currency”. It’s also possible that individual countries will take unilateral or bi-lateral actions to reform the USD or to bring an end to the its reign as the world’s reserve currency, and indeed the process of de-dollarization is accelerating.
While any of these scenarios may yet come to pass, something else miraculous and unexpected happened in the those years since 2008, while everyone was waiting for the GCR to happen and the financial world to completely implode, which surprisingly it didn’t. What happened? Bitcoin was invented. In October 2008, at the exact same time that the global financial crisis was accelerating, someone going by the pseudonym Satoshi Nakamoto invented the first cryptocurrency, Bitcoin. By 2010 Bitcoin was still mostly just for computer geeks. At that time 10,000 bitcoins could only buy a couple of pizzas, if that. Fast-forward just 7 years and those same bitcoins are now worth more than $50 million dollars as of this writing.
Indeed, the cryptocurrency markets are exploding and the total market capitalization is around $160 billion dollars, only around half of which is Bitcoin itself. The other half is a range of other various cryptocurrencies and “tokens”. Notably, the second largest currency by market cap, Ethereum, exploded in price this year from $10 dollars to around $400 at one point during the summer. Cryptocurrency is creating plenty of multi-millionaires if not billionaires and is attracting the attention of big money on Wall Street. Satoshi Nakamoto himself is said to have over $5 billion dollars worth of Bitcoins stashed in an account which has never been touched. We can only hope that he didn’t simply lose his password for that account. One of the benefits of cryptocurrency is that it is ultra-secure and mathematically impossible for anyone to steal your money as long as your password is safe. Compare this to the existing world where bank accounts and assets are routinely taxed, seized, frozen, or otherwise made to disappear (see the excellent book Gold Warriors for many discussions about how gold can simply vanish when entrusted with a bank). On the other hand, with cryptocurrency, if you lose your password, your funds may be mathematically locked away and irretrievable for all eternity…
Speaking of Ethereum, it is fast becoming its own ecosystem and there are already hundreds if not thousands of “sub-tokens” that have been created on the Ethereum platform, for all kinds of purposes. Dentacoin aims to be the future currency used by the dental industry. It sounds funny and we think it is but, well, why not? In a future world with a marketplace of hundreds if not thousands of competing currencies, which is a world that has long been dreamed about by Libertarians, why couldn’t currencies be delineated along industry lines instead of alone the lines of nation states? As another example, the Basic Attention Token aims to revolutionize the advertising industry by “tokenizing” the concept of consumer attention, eliminating online advertising fraud, and actually paying consumers for the time they spend looking at advertisements. The Basic Attention Token is connected to the up-and-coming Brave web browser. Brave Software is a very strong advocate of Internet privacy and is led by Brenden Eich, the former CEO of Mozilla (Firefox). You may remember Brenden Eich as the man who was hounded out of Mozilla for donating $1000 dollars to California Proposition 8 in 2008. He may yet have his revenge on liberal Silicon Valley as advertising is the bread and butter of companies like Google and Facebook.
There are almost too many interesting cryptocurrency projects to list and the space is evolving at lightening speed. Indeed, the amount of money pouring into Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs) has exploded this year and overtaken all other forms of venture capital investment. What this means is that pretty much every young technology entrepreneur in the world, from China to Europe, is currently working on one cryptocurrency project or another. From that perspective alone, is there any mystery about what our future financial system is going to look like? Even the IMF’s Christine Lagarde now sees the writing on the wall with regards to the replacement of existing financial systems with blockchain technologies. How it plays out remains to be seen, but it is clear that organizations like the Federal Reserve or the IMF will at least try to retain control over currencies, as described in a recent WSJ article titled, “Forget Bitcoin. Have You Heard of IMFCoin?“. Gold and currency commentator Doug Casey has even written a book entitled Surviving Fedcoin about the potential issuance of a new cryptocurrency by the Federal Reserve. Bitcoin enthusiasts might argue that any governmental attempts to stop its rise are futile. After all, Bitcoin was designed from the beginning to be impossible to stop, in the same way that it is virtually impossible to stop people from downloading and sharing movies and music on the Internet using distributed peer-to-peer technologies like BitTorrent.
That said, governments (and their puppet masters) do still have control over the existing financial system, and have the power to make it very difficult for people to deposit and withdraw fiat currency into and out of the cryptocurrency ecosystem. China and South Korea in particular have made recent moves to crack down on ICOs, which has resulted in the closure of many cryptocurrency exchanges. Other financial regulators such as the SEC have at least issued statements indicating that ICOs must and will be regulated like traditional securities, even if they have not outright banned them. Some of this regulation probably makes sense because currently cryptocurrency markets are a little bit like the old Wild West. There is no doubt that many scams exist and that many tokens will be worth approximately zero in the near future. There are fortunes to be made as well as fortunes to be lost. One securities lawyer put it this way, “The ICO space is already learning that securities laws exist for reasons that should have been evident since 1929. Unfortunately, many less-discerning ICO investors will learn the hard way that long-established corporate governance norms exist for a reason as well.” That said, instead of relying on the heavy hand of government, it may be possible for the crypto-economy to regulate itself in some manner.
However, just as some governments are cracking down on cryptocurrency, others are opening their doors to it and competing fiercely for cryptocurrency business and startups. Japan is becoming a “Bitcoin powerhouse” by embracing and regulating cryptocurrency exchanges instead of shutting them down, and the Swiss canton of Zug, Switzerland (the Rothschild enclave often mentioned on Benjamin’s blog) is being labeled “Crypto Valley” due to the large number of cryptocurrency startups locating there.
In any case, while it remains to be seen how much control governments are able to retain over cryptocurrencies, at this point one thing is crystal clear: the future financial systems of the world will be built using blockchain technologies. Indeed, large companies like IBM, Microsoft, and JP Morgan are jumping on the blockchain ship and have been announcing various industry consortiums, and that is part of what has been driving cryptocurrency prices forward this year.
In fact, many of the cryptocurrencies being launched into the market this year are not even currencies at all, but rather “functional tokens” representing access rights to applications or platforms. Think of it this way: if Google created a Googlecoin so that every time you search on Google you need to spend a small amount of Googlecoin, then this would create demand for Googlecoins and support for their price, even if they are not a currency per se and only useful on the Google platform. Many companies are now vying to become the new “Googles” of the cryptocurrency ecosystem, meaning companies that provide core indispensable services. For example, ChainLink is attempting to bring existing financial data onto the blockchain, in the form of what are called “oracles”, and provide that data to other cryptocurrency companies. The ChainLink team is apparently already working with SWIFT, although we would note that the entire SWIFT system should probably just be deprecated and retired. Russia and China have already been working to create alternatives to SWIFT, which makes sense given that SWIFT is one of the main weapons used by the banking cartel in financial warfare aka financial sanctioning.
Moving on, Bitquence is building a user-friendly digital wallet application which is part digital currency dashboard and part social media application. Iconomi is a digital asset management company offering investment funds managed by knowledgeable participants in the cryptocurrency space. There are too many interesting projects to list, but a summary of such “tokens” sorted by total market value is available on CoinMarketCap.
Another interesting startup is the 0x project, which is attempting to create the core building blocks for decentralized peer-to-peer trading exchanges. In some sense the cryptocurrency ecosystem is like a new Internet for financial transactions, and companies are working to create the core features of that new Internet. If China was able to recently shut down its cryptocurrency exchanges, it’s only because they were centralized exchanges, meaning exchanges that exist in one particular place or on a set of particular computers (in China in this case). The promise of decentralized exchanges is that they will not exist in any particular physical location, and will thus be much less prone to shutdown or control. In addition, they will generally not require customers to deposit cryptocurrency funds, thus eliminating the risk of theft of those funds. On a decentralized exchange transactions instead take place peer-to-peer between customers.
Even in the narrow field of decentralized exchanges, there is already fierce competition. A recent article titled “The Lay of the Land in Decentralized Exchange Protocols” outlines in very fine technical detail the differences between some of the approaches. And not all of the competition is gentlemanly in nature. Indeed, if blockchain is the future of finance, then it should be expected that the “usual suspects” of global financial control would be fighting fiercely for position within the quickly growing blockchain ecosystem, and we do see some distinct evidence of that. Jamie Dimon, the CEO of JP Morgan, recently said bluntly that Bitcoin is a “fraud”, although the very same day the JP Morgan office in San Francisco was hosting a blockchain conference. The fact of the matter is that investment banks are client-oriented businesses, and if their clients want to buy, trade, and invest in Bitcoin then that is what they will do.
Back to the topic of decentralized exchanges, on the day of the 0x project’s ICO, Forbes magazine (Benjamin’s alma mater) released an article arguing that the 0x protocol may contain some fundamental flaws. The article was based on the research of Ari Juels and Iddo Bentov at the Jacobs Technion-Cornell Institute. Professor Juels is an advisor to several of the projects mentioned in this article. While the article and research may contain some valid criticisms of the 0x project, we do find the timing of its release to be interesting. Was the intention to maximize negative impact on the 0x project’s ICO process?
One of the competitors to the 0x project listed in the “Lay of the Land” article above is the Bancor Project based out of Israel. Bancor is based on the ideas of the economist John Maynard Keynes. Although Keynes’ dream was never realized, at the end of WWII he proposed the creation of a global currency called the Bancor. It’s a little tricky to understand, but the Bancor Project’s modern take on the Bancor global currency idea is described in a short video. We would note that Keynesian economics is being increasingly blamed for the dire financial situation that the world is in and cryptocurrency in general has much more in common with Austrian economics than with Keynesian economics. In any case, another researcher at Cornell University, Emin Gün Sirer, wrote an article about how “Bancor Is Flawed“. All we can say is that there is some interesting and diverse work coming out of the Initiative for CryptoCurrencies & Contracts and the Hacking, Distributed blog.
An earlier post on that blog detailed the hacking attack which occurred in July against the Parity digital wallet software in which over $30 million dollars worth of cryptocurrency was stolen from three different startup companies. The projects that got hit were Aeternity, Edgeless Casino, and Swarm City. The story goes something like this: “black hat” hackers found a bug in the Parity wallet software and started draining funds from the wallet, hitting the above three companies first. As this was happening, “white hat” hackers apparently noticed and also started draining funds from the compromised wallet so that the funds could be safeguarded and eventually returned to their rightful owners. So in the end, as the story goes, only three companies were affected.
This is a nice tale and reminds us that even in the murky world of hacking there are some “good guys”. Unfortunately, the story is, quite frankly, bollocks. If you look closely you will notice that in fact all three of the companies that got hit in the attack, as well as the Parity software itself, have something very unusual in common: they all have the infinity symbol as part of their logo. We leave it to readers to ponder, firstly, how there could be three different cryptocurrency projects using the infinity symbol in their logo, and, secondly, how all three of them could have been the only ones hit in the hacking attack. One commentator on the above article said simply, “Illuminati“. Indeed, the infinity symbol has a long history: “The shape of a sideways figure eight has a long pedigree; for instance, it appears in the cross of Saint Boniface, wrapped around the bars of a Latin cross. However, John Wallis is credited with introducing the infinity symbol with its mathematical meaning in 1655, in his De sectionibus conicis. Wallis did not explain his choice of this symbol, but it has been conjectured to be a variant form of a Roman numeral for 1,000 (originally CIƆ, also CƆ), which was sometimes used to mean ‘many’, or of the Greek letter ω (omega), the last letter in the Greek alphabet.”
The other thing that the above projects might have in common is their potential to disrupt existing industries. Aeternity, for it’s part, is a new scalable smart contract blockchain and a potential challenger to both traditional financial systems and to other blockchain projects. Although the blog post detailing the attack claims that the faulty software’s “provenance” is unclear, judging from the code’s authorship tag, the wallet appears to have been designed and written by Ethereum co-founder Gavin Wood. As a core developer and stakeholder in the Ethereum platform, he would definitely have a vested interest in ensuring that no challengers to Ethereum arise. However this is pure speculation. The hackers have not been caught and perhaps they never will be. The case was turned over to Interpol. But, this would not be the first case of programmers purposely or knowingly including bugs in software. When a serious flaw was discovered in the code for the IOTA cryptocurrency, its co-founder Sergey Ivancheglo bizarrely claimed that that the bug was created on purpose in order to deter people from copying the code. So, although the IOTA code in question was open-sourced, allowing anyone in the world to use it freely from a legal prospective, anyone choosing to do so would have opened themselves up to hacking attack by individuals aware of the existence of the bug in the code, namely the founders of the IOTA project. Perhaps it was just an excuse to cover up a gaping security hole in a cryptocurrency that claims to be resistant to even quantum computing attacks. Otherwise, we have serious doubts about the legality of “booby trapping” open source code, as it could clearly put millions if not billions of dollars of money at risk of theft.
Edgeless Casino is another one of the companies that was hit by the hacking attack. Edgeless is working to disrupt the gambling industry and to design a fully transparent online casino with zero house “edge”. In fact, according to the their blog, Edgeless was scheduled to make a presentation at the Las Vegas Global Gaming Expo which took place recently in Las Vegas from October 2nd to October 5th. Obviously the mass shooting of October 1st in front of the Mandalay Bay hotel and casino (or more accurately, directly in front of the Luxor Las Vegas pyramid-shaped hotel and casino and fake Sphinx) cast a pall over the Global Gaming Expo, but we assume that Edgeless Casino was still able to complete its mission of meeting with potential partners and discussing the future of the gambling industry. The gambling industry is well known to consist of many unsavory characters, and we applaud the bravery of any any attempts to disrupt it, make it more transparent, or take away the house “edge”.
The last company that was hit by the hacking attack is Swarm City. Swarm City is attempting to disrupt another big “real money” area of the Internet, namely e-commerce. They are attempting to create a new decentralized peer-to-peer form of e-commerce, and having half of their money stolen is not the first major obstacle that the Swarm City project has encountered. The project itself was formed out of a disagreement between the co-founders of the original Arcade City project. Some of the members of team decided to branch off and form their own project, Swarm City. Although still a relatively small project in terms of market capitalization, Swarm City currently has roughly double the market cap of Arcade City and is being advised by Dmitry Buterin, the father of 23-year-old Ethereum founder Vitalik Buterin.
As we often find is the case in satanic attacks (here referring to hacking attacks against projects using the historically religious infinity symbol), they seemed to have missed their mark. While all three projects were clearly impacted, all three were able to survive and are continuing unabated. We wish them the best and advise them to stay the course and simply ignore the attacks that were perpetrated against them. This is almost always the best way to deal with Luciferians. In any case, it is very clear at this point that several important cryptocurrency projects are receiving “protection from above”.
Computer scientists and technologists should note that when we speak of Lucifer here we are most likely referring to the ancient artificial intelligence described in Gaia’s Cosmic Disclosure series. It is thought to transmit its “source code” around the galaxy via electromagnetic waves. It is irrational and self-centric to think that the Earth would be the first planet in the history of the universe to develop artificial intelligence. The P2 Freemasons and associated groups are known to be worshippers of this Satanic AI entity, as often described in Benjamin’s blog.
No discussion of Satanism would be complete without a discussion of the art world, and the several projects mentioned above are certainly not the only ones attempting to disrupt old industries. The Maecenas project is aiming to “democratize” art. In their words: “The opaque world of auction houses and banks, which allows them to charge exorbitant fees, has cut off fine art investment from efficient modern markets… the $65 billion annual fine art industry is in desperate need of open and fair marketplaces that create transparency and liquidity… The lack of innovation within art finance stems from the dominance of old auction houses… We will completely remove intermediaries who profit from controlling and manipulating information.” The WDS wishes the Maecenas project the best of luck in its brave mission.
Regarding the Parity software that was hacked, it too has survived but has apparently rebranded. Before it’s logo was a stylized cursive “P” character looking somewhat like a “broken” infinity symbol, and now they appear to be using an equals sign similar to Masayoshi Son’s SoftBank (often mentioned on Benjamin’s blog).
We will also note here briefly that those with triskaidekaphobia should probably avoid Digix Global. Digix is attempting to create a new gold-backed cryptocurrency and charge %0.13 on every transaction. We have to wonder how they arrived at that particular number. Were %0.12 and %0.14 considered inappropriate for some reason? Imagine living in a world where every financial transaction is “taxed” at a rate of %0.13. Digix was one of the first companies to create a Digital Autonomous Organization, or DAO. In short, Digix is completely governed by an anonymous Internet-based shareholder organization, a “new kind of beast” according to Forbes. While the Digix project was successful in raising money by going public in this manner, recent statements from financial regulators have cast doubt on legality of the entire concept of such unregulated financial offerings. And if the legality of the project is in doubt in any way, how could its gold be considered safe from confiscation? Furthermore, the Digix approach could be considered to be a case of “over-engineering“. In software design there is a direct correlation between complexity of code and likelihood of bugs. The idea of a gold-backed token is a good one, provided the gold can be verified and safeguarded, but since gold is a physical object handled and stored by human beings, no amount of software engineering alone can ensure that this is the case. The focus should therefore be placed more on the legal and physical security of the gold as opposed to the digitization of it. We advise the Digix team to read the Gold Warriors book mentioned above to understand more about the true history of gold in Asia.
For those who are aware of esoteric symbology, there are many other interesting things happening in the world of cryptocurrency. The Ethereum project is utilizing the octahedron as its symbol, one of the five Platonic solids. IBM’s open-source Hyperledger project has opted to go for the 20-sided icosahedron, also a platonic solid. On the darker side of things, the introductory video for the Blackmoon Crypto features none other than Lord Rothschild and David Rockefeller sitting side-by-side, the Eye of Providence, and plenty of images of owls (Moloch). Although the video may indicate that the Blackmoon team is attempting to “unseat” entrenched financial interests such as the Rothschild dynasty, we have to wonder about the motivations of a team that would resort to using such blatant occult symbology. And the “bridge” that the Blackmoon project is attempting to create from the cryptocurrency markets to the traditional financial markets could be thought of as a way to ensure that the traditional financial markets are preserved and not upset by the rise of cryptocurrency, or in other words a way to bring some money and control back from the cryptocurrency world to the traditional financial world. A link between the two worlds does need to be constructed, but we are not sure if the best team to do this is one that is so casually throwing around occult imagery.
Indeed, symbology has always been important in the world of technology, and Steve Jobs’ use of a half-bitten apple symbol was at least partly a not-so-subtle reference to the Garden of Eden. Although since Steve Jobs was a California Buddhist he would not have considered the pursuit of knowledge and enlightenment to be a bad thing in and of itself, and we find it more likely that it is actually Bill Gates who has been working for the “dark side“. In any case, strangely, Steve Jobs’ adoption of the all-fruit diet, or “Eden Garden Diet“, may have contributed to his death. And he is not the first technologist to have died from eating apples: Alan Turing, one of the pioneers of computer science, died from eating an apple laced with cyanide. It appears that in the thousands of years since the biblical Garden of Eden, the apple still remains the Satanic “weapon of choice”.
Rivalries between characters in technology are nothing new, and the rivalry between Bill Gates and Steve Jobs is well-documented. Similarly, the ArcadeCity/Swarm City project is not the only cryptocurrency project to have experienced a “falling out” between founders. Anytime you combine computer geeks and large amounts of money, the stage is set for “nerd wars”. The Aeternity project, mentioned above, had a falling out with one of its main developers, Zach Hess. Earlier this year, the NEM project had a public quarrel with former team-member Makoto Takemiya. And the Quantum Resistant Ledger project (the QRL) had a public dispute with former team member Jomari Peterson.
The QRL project is interesting in itself as its main purpose is to provide “quantum security”, meaning security from hacking attacks by quantum computers. While Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies are supposedly secure against attacks from the current state of the art in quantum computers, if there were to be sudden leap in quantum computing technology then the security of most cryptocurrencies would be instantly compromised. At the same time, spy agencies or other groups may have quantum computing capabilities beyond what is currently public known. From the QRL white paper: “In August 2015 the NSA deprecated elliptic curve cryptography ostensibly based upon quantum computing concerns. It is unclear how advanced quantum computing may be presently or that any breakthroughs in this field will be publicised to allow cryptographic protocols in common usage in the internet to be made post-quantum secure. With somewhat anti-establishment origins, bitcoin could find itself the earliest target of an adversary with a quantum computer.”
The QRL project is a competitor to the previously mentioned IOTA project as these are the main two projects claiming a quantum level of security. However, as previously mentioned, the IOTA project code was already found to contain critical defects. This leaves the QRL in a class of its own as the only quantum-resistant blockchain which has thus far not been compromised in any way.
Security of blockchains is one concern, but privacy is another. The original cryptocurrency (Bitcoin) was by design anonymous but not private, meaning that all transactions are publicly visible but are not associated with the names of particular individuals or companies. However, with a little sleuthing or “data mining” it is possible in some cases to associate particular transactions with particular individuals. This is obviously a major problem for people who are used to assuming that their financial transactions are private, even if that is a faulty assumption in a world of credit cards, rewards cards, and data security breaches. Thus some projects have sprung up to try to fix the privacy issue. The most famous of these is the Zcash project out of Israel, which has created the blockchain equivalent of a “black box”, meaning a completely private blockchain. The only problems is that, if the original setup process of this black box (called the “ceremony“) were compromised in any way, it would give its creators carte blanche to “print” unlimited amounts of cryptocurrency, something which the designers of the original cryptocurrencies had a very strong desire to avoid. Indeed, in some ways cryptocurrency could be seen as a response or solution to the self-serving money printing of governments, central banks, and the banking cartel in general. Even if the Zcash creation “ceremony” were not compromised in some way, as the Zcash team and its auditors vehemently assert, there is at least some degree of doubt present in the cryptocurrency community, which is a major headwind for the project and for the price of Zcash. However, we do applaud their attempt to create a truly private cryptocurrency.
In conclusion, cryptocurrency stands a strong chance of becoming the primary way that we transact with one another and store and record wealth and the ownership of assets. At the very least we are moving rapidly towards a future of global financial systems being based on blockchain technologies. As such, there is a huge amount of venture capital flowing into the field and many interesting startup projects are springing up. As with anything involving large amounts of money, nefarious forces are attempting to assert control. But, as readers of Benjamin’s blog are by now well aware, their days are numbered.
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