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AI needs guardrails; enterprise blockchain has a role to play

In an astonishingly brief period, artificial intelligence (AI) has gone from the stuff of science fiction to a very real presence in the here and now, with significant ramifications for the world as we know it.

Not a day goes by without fresh reports of AI making further inroads—welcome or unwelcome—into different avenues of society. These reports illustrate AI’s capacity to disrupt any number of sectors, everything from business, the arts, science, government operations… few sectors appear immune.

All disruptive technologies spark similar concerns, stretching back to the original Luddites following the introduction of machinery into English textile mills in the early 1800s. I’m not yet convinced that AI must inevitably lead to the kind of malevolent ‘self-aware’ systems envisioned in the Terminator movies—although James Cameron is already making the rounds warning of the dangers of AI’s weaponization—but there will definitely be people who’ll need to retrain for different skills as AI’s capacities grow.

The growing awareness of AI’s capabilities followed the public being granted access to a number of programs that create text, images, videos, and musical compositions based on text prompts. The resulting creations left a lot of users slack-jawed after reading, seeing, or hearing the seemingly impossible.

As might be expected, some AI-generated images, videos, and music are better than others. The image software can struggle to render things like hands, while many of the singers belting out other people’s songs are easily detectable as bogus.

There are concerns regarding AI text generators’ tendency to sound authoritative even when they’re talking utter bullshit—potentially fatal bullshit. A New Zealand grocery chain recently found itself doing damage control after its in-house chatbot responded to a customer prompt for making an economical meal from water, ammonia, and bleach. The resulting ‘Aromatic Water Mix’ suggestion was, in reality, a recipe for chlorine gas, which hasn’t been popular since World War I.

The need for adult supervision

Public opinion may be split on whether AI will be our savior or our downfall, but one thing is clear: it can’t be the former without some technological guardrails, which is where enterprise blockchain comes in.

The basic problem with large language model (LLM) text generators is a formula as old as time: garbage in = garbage out. Simply put, randomly ingesting all available online information will invariably suck in as much bogus data as verifiable truth.

There are also occasions when AI makes up what it doesn’t know. Consider the lazy lawyers who submitted an AI-generated court filing rather than spend time doing their own research. Their failure to abide by the ‘trust but verify’ maxim led to their being sanctioned by a court for attributing fake opinions to real judges. (The court of public opinion may yet leave these attorneys without a practice.)

The situation will get progressively worse as AI models reabsorb AI-generated ‘alternative facts,’ making each new iteration that much further from the truth. Conversely, an AI model trained purely on authentic data from publicly verifiable sources would be a world-beater.

Research groups would benefit from a blockchain-backed AI system by allowing end users to confirm that reports and studies do, in fact, represent the legitimate output of these entities.

Blockchain-based AI could also ensure artists of all sorts (verbal, visual, aural, etc.) are properly compensated for derivative works based on their creations, assuming that ownership of those original creations is registered on the blockchain.

One chain to rule them all

Which is where the BSV Blockchain comes in. BSV is the only blockchain that has proven its ability to scale unbounded, making it the only blockchain capable of handling the immense data management needs of enterprises and governments. (BSV also stands alone as the only digital asset that doesn’t have to worry about financial regulators classifying it as a security rather than a currency.)

BSV is also the only blockchain capable of completing the internet’s development. It’s the only chain capable of handling the immense volume of new addresses possible under IPv6. The only chain that’s also economically equipped to handle all this data, thanks to transaction fees measured in fractions of a penny.

For a while, all you heard from ‘crypto’-focused VCs was the promise of Web3, but that roar has since become a whisper. It wasn’t because Web3 was a bad idea; it was because none of the blockchains that these VCs supported could scale to the level necessary to take Web3 beyond the theoretical.

Web3 is about reversing the transfer of power that occurred between the internet’s early days and the Web2 centralized data-harvesting model that followed. Returning control over personal data to the end user will allow individuals to effectively negotiate who has access to their data, how much of that data can be accessed, how often and for what purpose.

The role that an infinitely scalable blockchain will play in realizing all of the above was all the justification Ayre Ventures needed when it recently made the single-largest blockchain IP investment to date. The CHF500 million ($549.2 million) equity acquisition of nChain was based on its patent library, which Forbes described as impacting “everything from the US$1 trillion cryptocurrency market to corporate implementations built by some of the largest companies in the world.”

Technological advances can (and do) inspire both optimism and fear, but it’s up to us to determine how these technologies impact society. With a little help from blockchain, AI doesn’t present any challenges that we can’t meet while offering opportunities too good to pass up.

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Observations on Sam Bankman-Fried, philanthropy and fishing

As a prominent backer of the BSV Blockchain and its legion of utility-focused and legally-compliant applications, the criminal escapades of the ‘crypto casino’ community never cease to amaze me. Even senior citizens with no blockchain experience whatsoever are now familiar with FTX and its mop-headed ringleader Sam Bankman-Fried (SBF), who presided over one of the largest frauds in American history.

For this article, I want to focus on SBF’s efforts to mask his mendacity through philanthropy. Specifically, his highly public embrace of the so-called Effective Altruism (EA) movement. Like most things about SBF, his preferred version of altruism appears to be both self-aggrandizing and seriously suspect.

I’ll say right off the top that my understanding of EA is in no way encyclopedic. EA purports to be ‘utility-based,’ so given my focus on BSV’s utility, EA should be right up my alley. But from where I sit, a lot of EA proponents seem to spend more time philosophizing about how to help others rather than actually helping, i.e., engaging in interminable debates over the most optimal solution rather than just getting on with it.

In SBF’s case, his efforts were all the more suspect in that he appears to have used other people’s money to fund his charitable charade. Also, I don’t quite get how buying a multi-million-dollar castle as a retreat for EA big shots was supposed to benefit anyone other than these individuals.

SBF is hardly the first public figure to be accused of using philanthropy as a form of reputation-washing. For public figures, even the most noble intentions can be misconstrued. Like Bruce Lee said—and yes, I know he wasn’t the first to say it—you’re pointing at the moon, but everyone’s staring at your finger.

This has always been the subject of some debate, namely, whether it’s better to publicize one’s philanthropic efforts in the hopes of drawing attention to a problem and motivating others to give/help, or to do it quietly with no reward other than the satisfaction of having identified a problem and done what you could to make the situation better.

I was raised with the understanding that if you were fortunate enough to experience great success in your life, you had a duty to give something back to those who hadn’t been as fortunate. As a broke-ass student at university, my charitable efforts were limited to making donations to large organizations such as Greenpeace. This made me feel like I was doing something, but I soon grew disenchanted with this approach.

For one thing, these groups would regularly inundate me with fancy four-color brochures asking me to buy hats or shirts emblazoned with their logos. In time, I started to wonder what portion of my donations was funding all these revenue-generating/publicity-seeking efforts instead of the actual causes I was hoping to support.

When I finally started making some real money, my philanthropic options expanded. Along the way, I’d met a few individuals with the intelligence and energy to make something of themselves, but lacking the wherewithal to pay for the education they needed to take that next step. Providing them with the funds they needed, then having them reward my faith by excelling in their studies reaffirmed my view that education is a great way to help individuals. Like the old adage about teaching a man to fish, education gives people the tools with which to overcome their current limitations.

Sometimes its entire institutions that need a leg up. Years ago, when I was living in Costa Rica, I decided to formalize my philanthropic efforts by launching the Calvin Ayre Foundation. One of its first actions was what we called our Adopt-a-School program, based on one of my local employees detailing the dire conditions of many of the region’s smaller schools.

We solicited some feedback from principals on what we could do to help their particular schools. While some asked for new computers or athletic equipment, we ultimately chose a school where the principal asked for a simple meal program so that the impoverished kids—many of whom went to school without much more than a cup of coffee and a tortilla in their bellies—would be able to focus on their studies. We felt this principal truly had his students’ interests at heart, and so this is where we decided to plant our flag. Later, when I moved to Antigua, the Foundation brought these education-focused efforts with us.

In 2017, Antigua’s sister island of Barbuda was nearly flattened by Hurricane Irma, and the Foundation embarked on a relief effort, as it had following natural disasters in a number of other locations, including Haiti and the Philippines. In these situations, it’s sometimes better to provide money and supplies and let experienced relief organizations handle the logistics, but we still try to exert some oversight of how our donations are allocated.

Most recipients of charity are proud people who, while welcoming help in times of need, would nonetheless prefer to do something in return for the assistance they receive. Accordingly, philanthropy doesn’t have to involve pure handouts. It can be as simple as expressing confidence that individuals already have what it takes to improve their situation, provided they’re presented with the right opportunities.

I was born in Canada, a nation with a long history of welcoming immigrants. As a transplanted citizen of Antigua, which has been my principal residence for nearly two decades, I have some understanding of what it’s like to be a guest in someone else’s land.

I’ve launched some major real estate development projects in recent years and have primarily chosen Antigua as the place where shovels meet Earth. There are any number of places that I could have chosen to locate these operations, but the Antiguan people—from government representatives to the guys selling fruit on the side of the road and everyone in between—have always made me feel right at home and I’ve never doubted their ability to help make my projects successful.

Later this year, we’ll start work on a new $250 million Nikki Beach resort property in Antigua’s Jolly Harbour area. The project will require the efforts of a significant number of local workers, and it’s my hope that the finished resort will serve as a beacon for both international tourists and foreign companies eager to explore all that Antigua has to offer.

If we can retrace our steps back to SBF for a moment, I would humbly suggest that empowering others is by far the most effective form of altruism. The time spent in my adopted homeland has left me with no doubt that the Antiguan and Barbudan people are sharp, capable, and eager to make the most of any and all opportunities that come their way.

I was fortunate enough to catch the odd break here and there along my entrepreneurial journey. I hope that my commercial endeavors will offer not only jobs during construction and operation, but also similar breaks to budding entrepreneurs looking to gain valuable on-the-job experience as they reach for the next rung up this ladder.

Who knows? Maybe I’ll even make some new fishing buddies.

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Liar, liar, banks on fire

Venture capital’s desperate pursuit of a government bailout of tech-focused Silicon Valley Bank (SVB) not only exposed the lies behind VC’s libertarian pose, it offered lessons on how they conned the public into believing the neutered BTC protocol was Bitcoin.

SVB’s recent near-death experience sent a shiver down the spine of many a tech exec, that is, until the federal government stepped in with their don’t-call-it-a-bailout-bailout. Employees of tech start-ups will continue to be paid after the feds agreed to guarantee all SVB deposits, even those above the FDIC’s $250,000 insured maximum.

SVB’s major crime was seriously misjudging the Federal Reserve’s willingness to raise interest rates. SVB plowed a bunch of capital into long-term bonds that lost value as interest rates spiked. When too many of SVB’s tech-focused customers began dipping into their savings, the bank was forced to redeem these bonds at a loss, leaving a nearly $2 billion hole in its balance sheet.

But SVB also relied far too heavily on a single business sector, with predictable results. Many of its tech clients were equally at fault for putting too much of their capital – in some cases, all of their capital – into a single financial institution.

Some VCs reportedly pressed their portfolio companies to bank exclusively with SVB, apparently because that made the companies more likely to qualify for SVB loans, thereby alleviating the need for the VCs to pony up additional cash themselves.

Prior to Sunday’s bailout news, panic-stricken pleas were issued on social media by prominent VCs, all of whom had apparently undergone a 180-degree conversion from staunch Randian objectivists to enthusiastic Keynesian interventionists. The minute they feared their funds were in danger, these rugged individualists began crying for their federal mommies to save them.

Perhaps the most galling element of this campaign was the VCs’ apocalyptic warnings that failing to make them whole would cause SVB’s woes to spread to other banks. It wasn’t for their sake that a bailout had to happen, but to protect society. Without immediate intervention, America would resemble something out of Cormac McCarthy’s The Road (minus the mitigating presence of Charlize Theron).

They calmed down once the grown-ups reassured them that the monsters under the bed were all gone. But while these VCs might now claim they were never, like, really worried, their ‘get government off our backs and let us innovate’ schtick won’t play anymore. As countless others have observed over the past week, there are no atheists in a foxhole and even fewer libertarians in a bank run. And the feds definitely aren’t helping by turning moral hazards into mulligans.

Yeah, but what have you done for me lately?

Before the feds stepped in, many VCs had signed a joint statement of support for SVB, claiming that if the bank were “purchased and appropriately capitalized, we would be strongly supportive and encourage our portfolio companies to resume their banking relationship with them.”

Notably absent from the hundreds of VC names appearing on this statement were prominent crypto investors a16z (Andreessen Horowitz), Paradigm and Pantera Capital. Presumably, they were among the lucky few who managed to get their cash out of SVB before the doors were locked.

Also absent was Founders Fund, whose partner Peter Thiel reportedly helped spark the single-day $42 billion bank run that brought SVB to its knees. Founders Fund withdrew the entirety of its deposits from SVB before it shut and urged its portfolio companies to do likewise. Since then, neither Thiel nor Founders has spoken publicly about SVB.

But Thiel’s escape – and his pulling up the drawbridge behind him – didn’t go unnoticed. G Squared founder Larry Aschebrook called it “truly unfortunate that several GPs and companies are making a tough situation for SVB worse by pressing the panic button. SVB has supported entrepreneurs and GPs at all stages of their businesses and that partnership should run both ways.”

Following SVB’s collapse, Upfront Ventures’ Mark Suster expressed annoyance at certain VCs who were “telling people to run for the door and congratulating themselves for it … I’m seeing emails from VCs to their [limited partners] – of which I am in some firms – and they are forwarding these things like ‘Aren’t I super smart?’”

You get the heroes you deserve

Unlike the faux libertarian VCs who got out their begging bowls, Thiel’s actions are the epitome of Randian self-interest. That Thiel would act to preserve his own interests at others’ expense isn’t illegal. It’s arguably not even unethical. But his selfish actions did shift the worst-case scenario from theoretical possibility to guaranteed outcome.

Not that Thiel’s ethics weren’t already suspect. As detailed in Max Chafkin’s book, Thiel’s early stint as PayPal CEO included him urging the board of directors to turn over the company’s cash so that he could invest it with his Thiel Capital hedge fund. The board reportedly viewed this as evidence of Thiel’s ‘lack of a moral compass.’

Thiel’s PayPal tenure also demonstrated a willingness – if not eagerness – to ignore ‘know your customer’ regulations in order to rapidly grow the company. Thiel called his more compliant competitors “insane” for following the rules. In other words, Thiel was a perfect match for crypto.

Thiel’s crypto involvement has focused primarily on BTC, although the Founders Fund portfolio includes crypto-friendly payment processor Stripe and Paxos, which until recently issued the BUSD stablecoin. Thiel is also a founder of Valar Ventures, whose portfolio included the crypto exchanges Bitpanda and (now bankrupt) Vauld, as well as the XanPool fiat-crypto gateway.

In January, the Financial Post revealed that Founders Fund netted $1.8 billion after selling its BTC holdings in March 2022. Just one week after that sale, Thiel gave a speech at a BTC conference in Miami in which he held up several hundred-dollar bills, declaring them to be “probably not very good as toilet paper. It’s not good as wallpaper. It’s sort of this crappy fiat money.” He then tossed the bills into the audience and openly mocked those who scrambled to pick them up.

YouTube video

Thiel justified his stunt by declaring that BTC “is telling us that the central banks are bankrupt, that we are at the end of the fiat money regime.” Thiel neglected to inform the audience that he’d recently traded his massive BTC holdings for that archaic, crappy fiat money.

Why the subterfuge? Perhaps Thiel is just a fame whore and can’t live without occasionally basking in the adulation of a room full of sycophants who haven’t yet realized that he thinks they’re rubes. Thiel also might have been aware of the furious tongue-lashing his former PayPal partner Elon Musk received in absentia at the 2021 conference from Max Keiser, who repeatedly yelled ‘Fuck Elon!’ after Musk’s own massive BTC sell-off was revealed.

Thiel would also have been all too aware that fiat money might be crappy but BTC will never be money, because BTC in no way resembles the vision of peer-to-peer electronic cash described in Satoshi Nakamoto’s 2008 Bitcoin white paper. BTC transactions simply cost too much for it ever to serve as a currency. What’s more, its transaction capacity is so constrained, BTC could change to a ‘proof of carrier pigeon’ consensus mechanism and few would notice.

Thiel’s Miami speech declared that BTC “is a movement, and it’s a political question whether this movement is going to succeed, or whether the enemies of the movement will succeed in stopping us.” That is, unless the enemies are already inside the castle walls and secretly sniggering at the peasants still lining up to trade their filthy fiat for magic BTC beans.

Just like yesterday

A long time ago, Bitcoin was electronic cash, until some greedy grifter types realized there was an opportunity to fence in the financial commons that Satoshi had gifted the world. The BTC Core developers did the rest, kneecapping Bitcoin in order to force transactions off Layer 1 and onto proprietary sidechains.

The Frankenstein’s monster that emerged – forget ‘digital gold,’ it’s a digital gelding – became known as BTC. Many of the same opportunistic swindlers cited above would have you believe that BTC is Bitcoin. Don’t buy their bullshit. They were lying then and they’re lying now.

Which makes it all the more ironic that some of BTC’s biggest advocates love to hurl the word ‘fraud’ at Dr. Craig Wright, the man behind the Satoshi Nakamoto pseudonym. All because, with the help of myself and others like Stefan Matthews, Wright set about to restore Bitcoin’s original capabilities. The result was the Bitcoin SV (BSV) protocol, which remains true to Satoshi’s vision of a theoretically unlimited capacity blockchain that can handle whatever number of low-cost transactions users can throw at it.

I’m dating myself here, but The Who’s Won’t Get Fooled Again was part of the soundtrack of my youth. The line about how “the morals that they worship will be gone” kept popping in my head as the SVB debacle played out. Just like the Core developers’ enforced dogma that ‘BTC = Bitcoin’ always brings to mind the line “they decide and the shotgun sings the song.”

Me? I’ll get on my knees and pray that we don’t get fooled again. Meet the new boss. Same as the old boss. BSV is Bitcoin.

YouTube video

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It didn’t have to be this way

Later this year, we’ll mark the 15th anniversary of the release of Satoshi Nakamoto’s Bitcoin white paper. There will be celebrations marking the occasion, but critics will likely focus on how little progress Bitcoin has made in terms of real inroads into public life. At least, when compared to other ground-breaking technologies at similar points of their history.

For instance, Steve Jobs announced the iPhone in January 2007 and the first products were released that July. It was an instant hit and is more or less ubiquitous nowadays.

But imagine when Steve first showed the iPhone to Apple’s board of directors, and let’s imagine that many of these directors also served on the board of the old AT&T phone monopoly. Now imagine these directors told Steve the iPhone was too small and too light. It should be the size of a brick and weigh 20 pounds. Steve would have said that was insane because no one’s going to carry something that bulky around with them all day. To which the directors would have replied: ‘exactly.’

Sound silly? Well, Bitcoin – after being bastardized into the BTC protocol – has become that unwieldy brick. Find anyone with BTC experience and ask them how closely it resembles the white paper’s “peer-to-peer electronic cash system.” When’s the last time anyone used the digital pet rocks in their BTC wallets to actually pay for goods and services?

It didn’t have to be this way.

The road to ruin

Just a few years following Bitcoin’s debut, Satoshi’s vision was betrayed by the developers known as Bitcoin Core, with the able assistance of companies such as Blockstream and Digital Currency Group (DCG). They had varying motivations but shared the common goal of manipulating Bitcoin for their own selfish ends.

DCG was birthed in part by funding from Mastercard, who clearly didn’t fancy Satoshi’s vision of a network that could handle a ‘Visa-level’ volume of transactions at a fraction of the fees charged by the credit card giants. Among DCG’s many ‘crypto’ investments was Blockstream, which wanted Bitcoin crippled to force users onto ‘sidechains’ under its control.

Bitcoin Core’s leaders – some of whom co-founded Blockstream – imposed radical alterations on the Bitcoin source code to achieve this goal. Developers who attempted to resist these changes were ousted. This included Gavin Andresen, whose capital crime was stating publicly that he believed Dr. Craig Wright – who also opposed the Bitcoin Core camp’s radical revisions – was Satoshi Nakamoto.

The result of Bitcoin Core’s tinkering was BTC. With BTC came a 180-degree shift from ‘peer-to-peer electronic cash’ to ‘digital gold.’ But, as demonstrated by the endless cycles of boom and bust that alternately enrich and impoverish countless individuals, BTC is anything but a reliable store of value. BTC’s artificial block-size limits also make it useless as an immutable data storehouse, as the recent uproar over the Ordinals project has shown.

Through the Core camp’s relentless promotion, the ‘digital gold’ meme took root, leading to an endless parade of copycat tokens. These tokens were all supposed to go to the moon, but most struggled to achieve ignition, let alone liftoff.

The sector soon became a grifter’s paradise. Promoters got paid to stoke public interest, exchanges got rich off trading commissions, venture capital funds backing crypto projects got rich by dumping the tokens they’d pumped, etc.

As someone who long ago ran an online gambling company – a highly successful company with a well-deserved reputation for treating customers how I’d want to be treated – I know an online casino when I see one. Exchanges use tokens instead of chips, but at least in a casino you stand a chance of winning. Once an exchange has sold you its chips, you’ve already lost, unless you can find another sucker willing to take these digital Beanie Babies off your hands.

Even those BTC holders who aren’t the gambling kind find little to do with their tokens. Out of desperation – or boredom – they end up ‘staking’ them on platforms that offer impossibly high and unsustainable rates of return. With predictable results.

All this predatory speculation has been catastrophic for millions of retail customers who’d been led to believe that financial freedom was at hand. Sadly, many of the grifters who orchestrated these scams have yet to be brought to justice.

It didn’t have to be this way.

Viel feind, viel ehr

In addition to harming countless financial victims, the grifters’ antics tarnished the Bitcoin brand itself. That’s why supporters of Bitcoin Satoshi Vision use the term ‘BSV Blockchain’ when discussing the protocol with enterprises, government and media. BSV is the polar opposite of this grifter mindset but we have to work harder than ever to prove that.

Dr. Wright’s many critics like to call him a fraud, but he had no hand in creating the fraudulent casino mentality that led so many to ruin over the past few years. Craig didn’t lead the crypto lambs to fiscal slaughter, unlike those in the Bitcoin Core/Blockstream/DCG camps.

Craig’s support for the rule of law, as opposed to the gibberish of ‘code is law,’ made him a target of those who would prefer to go on grifting. His support for the return of the original Bitcoin protocol – in the form of BSV – has produced a vast army of antagonists determined to see BSV fail.

BSV’s opponents have always played fast and loose with the truth. We got a prime example of that recently when Bitcoin Core developer Peter Todd accidentally confirmed that Gavin Andresen was “ejected from Bitcoin” for his public support of Wright = Satoshi. By admitting this, Todd directly contradicted the Core camp’s long-held mantra that Andresen’s access to the Bitcoin source code on GitHub was revoked because he’d been hacked.

Of course, they lied. They lied when they said Bitcoin was digital gold, not electronic cash. They lied when they said Bitcoin couldn’t securely scale on its base layer, expanding to meet whatever volume of transactions users could throw at it. They lied when they said Bitcoin couldn’t serve as a universal source of truth through immutable data storage.

But the truth will always win out. Which is why I remain convinced that BSV will ultimately break through the noise, the deceptions and the roadblocks thrown up by those with self-serving agendas.

I invite all companies – at whatever stage of their development – interested in exploring the possibilities BSV has to offer to contact Ayre Ventures and let us know what you’re up to. As an entrepreneur with a proven track record across a variety of sectors, I have a well-documented affinity for those with the savvy, the determination and the desire to shake up the status quo.

It didn’t have to be this way. And it doesn’t have to stay this way. The revolution that started 15 years ago is not over. It’s just beginning. So get on board and let’s make disruptive history together.

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Calvin Ayre’s 2023 predictions: Innovation on BSV Blockchain will win

This article was originally published on CoinGeek on December 31, 2022.

2023 will be the year that politicians, regulators and law enforcement agencies finally slay the ‘layer 1’ fraud at the heart of ‘crypto,’ after which they’ll target the deeper, more insidious ‘layer 2’ fraud that threatens far greater harm.

Tis the season for dusting off one’s crystal ball and playing prognosticator on the year to come. Compared with this time last year, you’ll find far fewer bulls predicting tokens topping $100,000 in 2023. Those few diehards still braying ‘to the moon’ are predominantly bottom-feeding influencers whose credulous audiences don’t handle pessimism all that well.

Someone who definitely doesn’t fall into this evergreen optimism camp is John Reed Stark, former chief of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) Office of Internet Enforcement. Stark’s 2023 predictions read like a doctor delivering a Stage 4 cancer diagnosis: more regulatory investigations, more enforcement of existing securities laws, more targeting of tax dodgers and the collapse of crypto crooks such as Binance and Tether (possibly thanks to damning revelations from Sam Bankman Fried).

The lobbying campaign that SBF deployed over the past two years made U.S. politicians, regulators and law enforcement agencies look downright foolish and asleep at the switch. The embarrassed pols aren’t likely to forget this insult. But taking revenge on SBF and his FTX/Alameda cronies won’t be enough to quench their thirst for revenge—and their desire to at least appear to be taking their oversight and consumer protection roles seriously.

Binance seems the logical place for them to start their revenge tour, particularly given the pre-Christmas revelation that Binance US—the allegedly independent, regulatory compliant U.S.-facing operation—was routinely transferring billions in customer funds to and from wallets associated with Binance’s international operations. Tether’s role in propping up the crypto frauds that target consumers will likely come under even greater scrutiny in markets across the globe, leading to demands for actual audits that inevitably expose its reserves as so much vaporware.

Stark is right in his belief that a regulatory tsunami is about to crash over crypto, but he’s so focused on the ‘layer 1’ fraud that he misses the far more damaging ‘layer 2’ fraud perpetrated by the mainstream payment companies and the Silicon Valley tech-bros who support them. Only when this fraud is exposed and mitigated will the true promise of the Bitcoin white paper be realized.

Mastercard of puppets

Crypto’s 2022 downfall was inevitable, given the laws of gravity and the reckless speculation that has plagued the sector ever since the Bitcoin block-size wars. Intended as a low-fee peer-to-peer electronic cash system, Bitcoin had its limbs amputated by Bitcoin Core developers and their Blockstream partners. The resulting crippled protocol known as BTC was thus forever condemned to sit there, inert, under a sign declaring ‘Digital Gold!’ The rampant speculation and get-rich-quick schemes began in earnest shortly thereafter.

Satoshi envisioned Bitcoin handling a level of transactions that would surpass Visa, which at the time was handling around 15 million online transactions per day. Instead, BTC maxed out at several hundred thousand per day. This forced mutation from Bitcoin to BTC served Blockstream’s interests, most notably through its ‘sidechain’ projects such as the Lightning and Liquid networks.

But there were higher powers at work here with their own agendas. As Kurt Wuckert Jr. has so meticulously documented on this site, Barry Silbert’s Digital Currency Group (DCG)—an early Blockstream investor—was birthed in 2015 by a group of major financial institutions, with Mastercard taking the lead role in DCG’s initial funding.

Satoshi may have only referenced Visa in his transaction forecasts, but Mastercard clearly recognized the threat that the original Bitcoin model posed to the credit giants’ comfortable duopoly. A function-free, speculative digital Beanie Baby they could live with; what they couldn’t live with was a low-fee payment rival that promised serious benefits for both merchants and customers.

The credit giants have tried to mask their bad intentions by partnering with exchanges like Binance to allow users to use crypto assets in retail transactions via special debit cards. But this is simply a middleman earning fees for converting crypto to fiat before the transaction is concluded. On their own, BTC and other ‘digital pet rocks’ are still as useless as ever for conducting transactions.

BSV: the mortal threat

When Dr. Craig Wright was doxxed as Satoshi in 2015, the groups that conspired to hobble Bitcoin entered into a new conspiracy to denigrate Wright in the eyes of the public. It simply wouldn’t do for Satoshi to reappear and wreak havoc on those who’d tampered with his vision, like an irate Odysseus returning to Ithaca after 20 years and discovering Penelope’s would-be suitors had turned his home into a Dionysian kegger.

That effort to diminish Wright’s influence gained a new urgency in 2018 with the debut of Bitcoin SV (BSV), which honored the original Bitcoin protocol through an unbounded capacity to scale the blocks on the blockchain. In short order, BSV began processing millions of transactions in a single block, handling tens of millions of transactions per day—just as Satoshi promised.

The Mastercard/DCG/Blockstream cabal soon unleashed an army of keyboard warriors, with the active support of the deep-pocketed founders of Twitter and Facebook, to paint Wright as a fraud and, by extension, BSV as the product of a fraud. Make no mistake: this was an organized, concerted effort to strangle BSV in its crib before its promise of realizing Satoshi’s vision could catch hold in the public consciousness.

This is the ‘layer 2’ fraud I spoke of earlier. While the ‘layer 1’ fraudsters have done significant damage to millions of retail investors around the globe, the damage is insignificant compared to the damage done to society as a whole from the ‘layer 2’ fraud. Because this larger fraud threatens to hold back progress in the form of Web3 projects that will allow individuals to wrest control of their online data from today’s Web2 giants and the payment infrastructure that supports them.

BSV’s demonstrated capacity to enable millions of nanopayments with fees measured in fractions of a cent make BSV the only blockchain capable of taking advantage of the exponential growth in IP addresses that the introduction of the IPv6 standard will bring.

The fact that BSV is the only blockchain capable of handling all this extra internet traffic is why the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) is welcoming Dr. Wright’s input and why the IPv6 Hall of Fame recently inducted Dr. Wright for having made a valuable contribution to the development and deployment of IPv6.

The financial giants and their Web2 allies don’t want you to know any of this. Which is why they’re trying to use the courts to keep Wright off-balance and tarnish his reputation. Thankfully, Wright and BSV are made of sterner stuff.

All rise

The success of the attacks on Wright is reflected in the widely held perception that Wright is the instigator of the legal cases he’s involved in. But with rare exception, Wright has been the defendant in these legal fights, starting with the suit brought in 2018 by Ira Kleiman, brother of Wright’s deceased friend/colleague Dave Kleiman. Ira (unsuccessfully) sought to enrich himself off the sweat of others, specifically, staking a claim to Bitcoin mined by Wright in the period immediately following the technology’s debut in 2009.

Wright is/was involved in two defamation cases, one brought against Wright by Norwegian Twitter troll Magnus ‘Hodlonaut’ Granath. Wright was the plaintiff in a defamation suit against U.K. podcaster Peter McCormack, but Wright only filed suit after McCormack quite literally begged him to do so via a series of inflammatory Twitter posts.

Wright was the (successful) plaintiff in a Bitcoin white paper copyright case against the anonymous Twitter troll Cøbra. Wright is the defendant in a suit brought by the Crypto Open Patent Alliance (COPA), which seeks to deny Wright’s authorship of the white paper. COPA consists of Blockstream, Mark Zuckerberg’s Meta, Jack Dorsey’s Block, Michael Saylor’s Microstrategy, the Coinbase and Kraken exchanges, amongst countless others determined to keep the speculative token-flipping model alive by crushing BSV.

I find it incredibly ironic that the ‘not your keys, not your coins’ crowd that so enthusiastically preaches the doctrine of self-ownership is so eager to condemn Wright for defending his authorship of the white paper. Or that they would be surprised that he would vigorously defend himself against scurrilous public attacks on his character.

Wright is the plaintiff in a suit brought against the developers of numerous blockchains to retrieve over 111,000 Bitcoin, the private keys to which were stolen from him in a 2020 hack of his computer. But his suit is intended to compel these developers to acknowledge the “high level of power and control” that they exercise over their respective chains, and that they have a fiduciary duty to assist victims of theft in recovering their stolen property (provided a court is sufficiently convinced by evidence of the theft to issue a court order).

In other words, Wright is trying to establish precedent that those who would wield control over blockchains have obligations similar to those required of mainstream financial entities. Bitcoin’s original design included an ‘alert key’ intended to notify Bitcoin miners to freeze stolen assets but this was permanently disabled by the BTC Core developers.

Here again, I find it incredible that Wright is being dragged through the mud simply because he’s attempting to drag this industry screaming and kicking toward something resembling compliance with common law. I strongly suspect that governments around the globe, if forced to choose between ‘code is law’ and ‘law is law,’ will side with Wright’s view every time.

The road ahead

The declining fortunes of yesterday’s crypto kings means they will have fewer discretionary funds to funnel to minnows such as Granath and McCormack, so I assume Wright will be forced to endure fewer of these nuisance suits in 2023. COPA will also struggle to maintain a united front as their respective businesses struggle to survive the ‘crypto winter’ (which isn’t ending anytime soon).

The days of ‘number go up’ seem well and truly behind us. The 2022 exposure of so much criminality at the heart of this grifter economy has virtually guaranteed there won’t be another influx of public (i.e., sucker) money anytime soon. And without a steady stream of fresh funds, Ponzi schemes can’t—and won’t—survive. Good riddance.

The current crypto model, which has held sway ever since Bitcoin’s forced conversion to BTC, is a centralized exchange serving as a casino, encouraging ‘gamblers’ to endlessly flip function-free tokens generated by non-scalable platforms. BSV’s scaling capacity enables both fractionalized real-world utility and security tokens, all on-chain, thereby rendering most of the current crypto industry utterly redundant. Small wonder that all these forces have aligned to denigrate Wright and reduce BSV’s visibility.

With regulators, politicians and law enforcement finally awake to the scammers preying on consumers, the downfall of these long-running frauds is nigh. Better still, the thinning of this herd will allow the market to see BSV for what it is: a regulatory friendly and legally compliant blockchain that can serve as both the backbone of the Web3 revolution and an environmentally friendly data storehouse without peer. A little late, in my opinion, but better late than never.

Buckle up, people. 2023 will be a year you won’t forget.

P.S.: If you want to argue any of the above with me, I’ll be at London’s QE II Centre from May 31 to June 2, 2023 for the London Blockchain Conference. I’ll spring for a pint and regale you with the story of how Craig Wright, Stefan Matthews and I saved Bitcoin over a three-day strategy session in 2015. (It’s not quite Lord of the Rings but it does involve one chain to rule them all.)

Watch: London Blockchain Conference 2023 brings government enterprise onto the blockchain

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Get ready for big things in 2023: Calvin Ayre’s end-of-year message to BSV

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This article was originally published on CoinGeek on December 22, 2022.

2023: “A new year beckons, and with it the promise of a fresh start. An opportunity to put the past behind us and chart a new course,” says Calvin Ayre, founder of CoinGeek, Ayre Group, and LondonBlockchain.net, in his video message to wrap up 2022 and ring in the year to come. The new year will see the first unicorn startup on the BSV blockchain, and a charge led by gaming and remittances to harness its benefits.

This year, Calvin gets straight down to business in his traditional season’s greeting. BSV is the original Bitcoin protocol on the original Bitcoin chain, and it’s ready to meet the scaling demands of a truly global transaction network.

Anyone that touches Big Data should pay attention to BSV, which has “left other blockchains in the dust in terms of transaction volume,” he says. It’s the largest proof-of-work blockchain by all relevant scaling metrics, and 2023 will be the year transaction value follows volume.

Streaming multimedia will also be a focus, with the benefits of nChain’s impressive intellectual property portfolio. Calvin calls out to Ayre Ventures Managing Director Paul Rajchgod, recently appointed to the board of movie streaming service Row8. Row8 just acquired BSV Metaverse and Web3 streaming platform Rad and will soon announce a technology licensing deal with nChain.

“I anticipate a flurry of similar announcements in 2023,” he says.

Another exciting area is IPv6, and the promise of an exponential rise in unique internet addresses. BSV is the only blockchain capable of handling this growth, something the IPv6 community and IEEE has begun to notice.

Keep on fighting for the real Bitcoin

It hasn’t been an easy ride for BSV and Bitcoin’s original protocol over the years. Calvin goes through some of the struggles as he, Dr. Craig Wright and his colleagues have faced in their efforts to keep Bitcoin from being perverted by external forces who “used it to feather their own nests.”

He harks back to the summer of 2015, when Stefan Matthews first introduced him to Dr. Craig S. Wright. This was followed by a three-day meeting in Vancouver as the trio made plans to save Bitcoin and give BSV its “sense of purpose.”

“Were it not for that meeting, three men pouring over documents and Craig Wright whiteboarding himself into a frenzy, there would be no BSV. Bitcoin as we know it would’ve been limited to the bastardized protocol known as BTC.”

Calvin wraps up the message with a reference to Dr. Wright’s anti-cyberbullying case in Norway, “a fight he is destined to win” as it heads to the more-experienced appeal judges there. 2023 will also mark the end of negative cancel-culture campaigns by fake free-speech absolutists at “pretender protocols” who have tried to stop BSV’s message getting to the public, he says.

Watch the video message to hear it all for yourself and, as Calvin says, see you at the London Blockchain Conference in May 2023!

Watch: London Blockchain Conference 2023: Bringing government and enterprise onto the blockchain

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