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Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs)

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Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs) History
Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs) are a means of fundraising for the initial capital needed to get new projects off the ground within the cryptocurrency ecosystem. More often than not, Bitcoin and Ethereum, are used to buy a quantity of project tokens. However, new projects are also being launched on alternative Blockchain platforms such as NEO or WANchain, wherein the “parent” chain’s tokens will be used to fund these ICOs. Pre-launch, ICO tokens are endorsed as functional currency in the project ecosystem. After a project’s ICO, it is available on exchanges, and then the market determines the value of those tokens. The main benefit of using the ICO funding system is that it avoids the prohibitive amount of time and expense incurred by launching a startup in the conventional method, by way of Initial Public Offering (IPO). The lengthy and costly process of ensuring regulatory compliance in different jurisdictions often makes the IPO format unfeasible for small companies. Thus, the ICO method of fundraising is far more attractive as a means of crowd funding for the project. But at the same time, an ICO is certainly riskier for the investor.
It is important to note the different stages of the token sale. Token prices generally escalate the closer the token gets to its listing date. Projects often seek funding from angel investors even before the date of the private pre-sale is set, though some ICOs do go straight to pre-sale. After potential initial investment has been sought from angel investors, pre-sale begins. Usually there will be a 15–30% discount from the public sale price. The main-sale begins after the pre-sale has concluded. At that time, normal everyday crypto enthusiasts, with no connections to the team, may buy into the project at pretty close to the ground floor price. Angel investors and pre-sale investors sometimes receive quite large discounts from main sale prices, but their tokens are locked up for varying amounts of time, to prevent dumping, or selling all their tokens for a quick profit at the time of listing. Today the vast majority of ICOs make use of the Ethereum blockchain and the ERC-20 token. The very first token sale was arranged by Mastercoin, a Bitcoin fork, in July 2013. Ethereum soon followed in early 2014, raising 3700 BTC in only 12 hours (equivalent to $2.3 million at that time, and just under $35 million today). Before late 2015 there were sporadic ICOs, with Augur, NXT and Factom all successfully raising funds. 2016 was the year that the ICO format grew to truly disrupt the Venture Capital industry. There were 64 ICOs in 2016 which cumulatively raised $103 million USD.
Tremendous Success & Why Real World Case Study
The ICON (ICX) Initial coin offering is an example of a project that reaped the rewards of a token sale done with precision of execution and clarity of vision. The project promised to build a world-wide decentralized network that would allow Blockchains of different governances to transact with one another without a centralized authority, and with as few barriers as possible. ICX offered fair and clear tokenomics, with 1 Ether buying 2500 ICX, and with 1 ETH costing approximately 250 dollars when the ICO began on September 18th. 50% of the total amount of tokens were put up for public sale, 400,230,000 out of a total of 800,460,000, equating to a fundraising goal of 150,000 Ether. One of the core reasons for the project’s spectacular success was the incredibly distinguished background of those involved, and the foundation the project had in many years of stellar achievement. ICON was originally a project developed by “The Loop”, a joint venture between DAYLI financial group and three Korean Universities. They lead the Korea Financial Investment Blockchain Consortium, one of the largest organizations of its kind in the world, boasting members including Samsung Securities. The Loop had already implemented Blockchain solutions for high profile clients well before ICX was born, including completing a KYC/AML authentication smart contract platform for Korea Financial Investment Consortium.
Real World Example of Failure & Why Case Study
The risk involved in starting your own company is huge. Over 75% of startups eventually fail, according to the Harvard Business School study by Shikhar Ghosh. The study’s findings show the rate of failure for new companies is roughly 50% after 5 years, and over 75% after 10. Shikhar Ghosh identifies the following issues as the most common factors in start-up failure: -Insufficient Market Demand -Insolvency -Wrong Team -Got beat by competition -Pricing/Cost issues -Poor Product -Need for or Lack of business model -Ineffective Marketing -Disregarding Customer desires The statistics concerning rate of failure for conventional business startups pale in comparison to the number of crypto startups that fail according to Tokendata. They are one of the most rigorous ICO trackers, recording 46% of the 902 ICO crowdsale projects initiated in 2017 as failing by the time of writing. Of these 46%, 142 collapsed before the end of the funding stage, and a further 276 had either “exit scammed” (took the money and ran) or slowly faded into eventual obscurity. With no shortage of failed and abortive projects to look into, we thought it would be more helpful to look into an ICO that was mismanaged and unsuccessful in terms of its execution, rather than being fraudulent, or terminally mismanaged.
Real World Example of Failure & Why §3
Tezos was designed as a “new decentralized Blockchain that governs itself by establishing a true digital commonwealth”. The project was a partnership between the husband and wife team of Kathleen and Arthur Breitman, and a Swiss foundation run by Johann Gevers. They had a novel idea of “formal verification”, a technique that mathematically proves the veracity of code governing transactions and heightens security of smart contracts. That idea was wholeheartedly endorsed by investors, resulting in $232 million USD raised in the 2017 crowdsale. Trouble arose after the Breitmans asked the head of the Swiss foundation they were in partnership with to step down. In Gever’s words, the Breitman’s were attempting “to bypass Swiss legal structure and take over control of the foundation”. The resulting 6 class action lawsuits that were spawned from the wreckage of one of the most successful ICOs of all time have yet to be fully resolved at the time of writing, though Gevers has stepped down and a new leadership team is in place. The Tezos Network has a prospective launch date of somewhere around Q3 2018. The debacle, though not terminal to the prospects of the Tezos network, provides a cautionary tale about the need for a clearly defined leadership structure and plan for the allocation of funds after an ICO. It is entirely possible that the Tezos project could have ridden the late 2017 market euphoria to sit near the top of the cryptocurrency hierarchy if boardroom strife could have been avoided.
Real World Example of Failure & Why §4
Projects often also “pivot” from one focus or project to another. More often than not, teams change the project name entirely, even while retaining the same core team, to try for a successful venture one more time. One such project is Chain Trade Token (CTT) which, while technically speaking, not yet a “deadcoin”, shows all the signs of shutting down operations within a few months, and “pivoting” into a new project. The CTT project aimed to be the “first blockchain-based platform for the trading of futures and options on food and raw materials (aka commodity derivatives)”. But through a combination of a non-existent social media presence, and a distinct lack of urgency in securing listings beyond decentralized exchanges, the lofty ambitions of the top-level team were left unrealized. The team has supposedly split their operations from solely Chain Trade, to a former business endeavors, and the Nebula Decentralized Exchange. The project leaders then offered a 1-for-1 token swap which has been accepted by the vast majority of CTT holders.
The ICO Process
Before even researching the particular strengths and weaknesses of any specific project in which you may want to invest, it is important to know the overall processes of the ICO crowdfunding method. This will allow you to avoid any potential pitfalls if you do decide to move forward and invest money into a particular idea or project. How does an ICO happen? Stage One: Token sale details are set: This takes place usually after release of the whitepaper, and the presentation of a project to prospective investors in forums and on social media. Stage Two: Whitelisting for private sale begins: The vast majority of all ICOs have instituted KYC checks for investors which usually involve uploading a photograph of your passport or driving license along with a selfie holding the ID. Did you know? Participation in ICOs has proven to be a regulatory nightmare in some localities. Most token sales restrict contributions from investors in China and the USA entirely, though accredited investors may participate in the USA in some cases.
Stage Three: Private/Pre-sale states: Typically, 10% of tokens will be offered to early investors at a 10–30% discount. These select few investors will likely have a close association with the team. But not all projects have a pre-sale round, some go straight to public sale. Stage Four: Whitelisting for Public/Main sale starts: The same format used for pre-sale investors is used for public sale investors, though it is a regular occurrence to see main sale KYC checks closed early due to overwhelming demand. An investor must then register a contribution wallet address. That is the address used to send cryptocurrency from, to buy the ICO tokens, and then also into which you will receive your purchased tokens. This wallet address must be a non-exchange wallet, like Blockchain.info bitcoin wallet, or MyEtherWallet for ERC-20. You already understand from the prior lesson that making a mistake with your wallet address may mean you lose the tokens forever as well as the BTC or ETH you used to purchase them. Copying and pasting your cryptocurrency public key into the whitelist wallet form is the next task to complete. And then, as the investor, you wait for confirmation of successful ICO registration from the team.
Stage Five: Public sale starts: Commonly on a specific date, though sometimes for a specific period of time. If you are interested in participating in an ICO, it is important to make your contribution as quickly as possible, or you risk sending your ETH or BTC after the hard cap has been reached, resulting in your funds being sent back. This refund can sometimes take many days, or even weeks in times of high market activity. Did you know? In 2017 it was not unheard of to find ICOs that had originally scheduled their ICO period for many weeks, but then they met with such high demand that they could close their crowdsale in a matter of hours or even in just a few minutes!
Stage Six: Tokens are allocated to successful participant investor wallets, and trading can begin on some decentralized exchanges like IDEX, or EtherDelta in the case of Ethereum based tokens. Tokens will be sent to and received by the wallet addresses from which the investor contributions were made. Stage Seven: Tokens are listed on mainstream exchanges: The tokens will then be listed on the exchanges with which the teams have negotiated listing, prior to or during the sale. It can cost huge amounts of money to list on large exchanges like Bitfinex Bittrex, Huobi or Binance, so usually smaller projects will not be listed on top 10 exchanges so quickly. As tokens are listed on more and more exchanges, their price usually rises because more and more investors are exposed to opportunities to buy that particular token.
Evaluating a Blockchain Use Case
Evaluating a particular use case for Blockchain technology, and thus how successful an ICO project’s ambitions might be in a particular market, is not a simple endeavor. As demonstrated in the graphic below, Blockchain technology has nearly limitless potential to be applied to a great variety of business areas, but as an ICO investor, you are looking for projects that have the potential to deliver significant long-term success. In the currently saturated ICO environment, some use cases have more potential than others. Ascertaining which use case is likely to have long term success is a key distinction. Also, we must recognize that businesses and corporate entities may be overeager to experiment with this new Blockchain technology, whether or not usage of the technology is actually advisable or profitable for their particular purpose. The main questions to ask when analyzing specific solutions proposed by the project are: What are the problems posed and the solutions offered? Does this particular area of business need a Blockchain solution? That is, is a Blockchain solution in fact superior to the current way this particular business operates? Is the use of Blockchain in this specific instance feasible and applicable? What are competitors doing about Blockchain projects in this same area?
A Blockchain network provides a shared, replicated, secured, immutable and verifiable data ledger. The implication for use case analysis: Shared and replicated: participants have a copy of the ledger and many people can view it or work on it Secured: Secured through cryptography Verifiable: Business rules are associated with all interactions that occur on the network Immutable: Transactions (records) cannot be modified or deleted, therefore a verifiable audit trail is maintained by the network So, with all this considered, what should we look for with regard to a possible business use case that would be best solved using Blockchain technology? 1. Data exchange that has trust issues i.e. businesses transacting with one another. Trust must be established through a multitude of verification processes with regards to employees and products. These processes increase operational cost. Example: Digital voting. 2. Any potential business process involving data storage, or compliance and risk data that get audited. Blockchain solutions would provide the regulators a real-time view of information. Example: Supply chain solutions like VeChain or WaltonChain. The possibility of close to zero operational loss would of course be attractive to any business. 3. All kinds of asset transactions. A Blockchain network, with its tamper-proof ledger, validating traceable and trackable transactions, could save many different industries untold amounts of money. Example: Tokenization of assets e.g. Jibrel Network or Polymath
Purpose of Tokens
Within the cryptocurrency ecosystem, the definition and role of a token iswidely understood. They represent programmable units of currency that sit atop a particular Blockchain, and they are part of a smart contract “logic” specific to a certain application. In the business sphere, a token can be defined as a unit of value that a project or business venture creates to enable it to self-govern. And the business venture also allows token users to connect and collaborate with its business products, while facilitating the sharing of rewards to all of its stakeholders. A token can also be described in a more general sense as a type of privately issued currency. In the past it was solely within the purview of governments to issue currency and set the terms of its governance. With the advent of Blockchain technology we now have businesses and organizations offering forms of digital money over which they, not the government or central bank, have control of the terms of operations and issuance. Wide scale adoption of these mechanisms could fundamentally alter the global economy. This is like the creation of self-sustaining, mini-economies in any sector of business or life, via a specific token or currency.
Fun Fact: Tokens of the particular Blockchain upon which the project is launched will usually have to be bought in order to be exchanged for ICO tokens, hence it is important for traders and investors to be aware of the schedule for upcoming ICOs. ETH is usually the token used for exchange because the majority of ICOs launch on the Ethereum Blockchain. But this is not always the case. During January 2018, two NEO token ICOs, both the Key TKY and Ontology ICOs, were being carried out, and this caused the NEO cryptocurrency to spike to its all-time high in excess of $160 USD. Since the product or project is more often than not in its embryonic stage at the time of the ICO crowdfunding process, the ICO token’s true function and purpose is in most cases yet to be realized. At the ICO stage the tokens can usually be grouped together into one of three categories. Knowing how to distinguish these categories involves determining the specific nature and function of the token around which the project is centered. The main and crucial distinction, is whether or not a token is a security, and therefore subject to securities registration requirements.
ICO Stage Token Categories
Howey Test: This is the test created by the US Supreme Court to ascertain whether certain transactions qualify as “investment contracts”. If they are found to fall within this classification, then under the Securities Act of 1933 and the Exchange Act of 1934, those transactions are considered “securities” and participants must adhere to registration and disclosure requirements. One of the most important and amazing considerations of the effect of Blockchain technology is that normal people with a computer science background are now empowered to make decisions and offer products and services that previously only licensed financial institutions were able to do. This is a very complex and complicated situation with serious ramifications for anyone involved. One thing to note well is that ordinary participants and actors in this arena can easily commit white-collar crime, violating serious securities laws, without even realizing it. If a token falls within the US legal definition of “Investment Contract” then you must adhere to US regulations. For that reason, many ICOs simply do not want to sell to US based investors, perhaps until all the rules and regulations are clarified.
Security Tokens
The broad and varying definition of the term “security” is a regulatory minefield. This has always been true for traditional financial products, and now it is especially true for the as yet unregulated cryptocurrency market. In the case of SEC V. Howey, parameters were established to determine whether or not a particular financial arrangement could be classified as a security and thus be subject to securities regulations. Cooley LLP Fintech Team Leader Marco Santori has said, an arrangement is a security if it involves “an investment of money, and a common enterprise, with the expectation of profit, primarily from the efforts of others.” Investors have the option of accessing a huge range of security tokens through ICOs. Prime examples are the gold backed DigixDao (DGD) and CProp (still in crowd funding stage). A security token is fundamentally different from the currently available ICO project tokens in that it provides a legal and enforceable ownership of a company’s profits and voice in its governance much like common stock traded on any exchange. If security tokens are the next step in the evolution of crypto-finance, real estate, stocks, venture capital, and commodities can all be tokenized. The traditional markets could be fully connected to the Blockchain. Financial assets would available to anyone in the world, not just licensed or accredited investors. That is one aspect of Fintech, the financial revolution taking place today, as Blockchain technology clashes with traditional finance.
Equity Tokens
One exciting application of smart contracts on the Ethereum Network is the potential for startups to distribute equity tokens through initial coin offerings. That would reduce the hurdles that an average person has to face in order to take part in the early stages of a company’s development. And, democratic governance of a project could be conducted in a transparent manner through voting on the Blockchain. As of yet, few startups have attempted to conduct equity token sales for fear of falling afoul of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) in the US. But many Venture Capital insiders are bullish on the prospect of equity tokens taking a central role in the crypto finance industry, when and as the legal issues are resolved. For example, the Delaware State legislature recently passed a bill enabling companies to maintain shareholder lists on the Blockchain. That is one major step to enable Blockchain based stock trading. Lawyers also generally believe it is only a matter of time before the regulations are clarified. Did you know? Important consideration: The Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 made it unfeasibly expensive for smaller companies to be listed on exchanges, causing a halving in the number of IPOs between 1996 and 2016 (7322 to 3671). In 2017 there was an almost 5-fold increase in the number of ICOs, from 43 to 210, with the 2017 volume already being eclipsed in the first 5 months of 2018.
Utility Tokens
However, given that this area is still a regulatory nightmare for people planning to issue security and equity tokens, many projects attempt to ensure that the tokens within their specific model fall under the definition of Utility Tokens rather than securities, so as to avoid the SEC regulations altogether. If a token is imbued with a certain functionality and use within the Blockchain infrastructure of that particular project, the token can avoid being labelled as a security, and thus render SEC regulations inapplicable. Just this week in fact, the SEC made the long-awaited and momentous decision that Ether was not a security. In the words of William Hinman, director of the Securities and Exchange Commission division of corporate finance, “Putting aside the fundraising that accompanied the creation of Ether, based on my understanding of the present state of Ether, the Ethereum network and its decentralized structure, current offers and sales of Ether are not securities transactions.” This means that Ethereum, in fact, fails the Howey test, which is exactly the decision the crypto world wanted. Hinman said, “When the efforts of the third party are no longer a key factor for determining the enterprise’s success, material information asymmetries recede,” Hinman said. “The ability to identify an issuer or promoter to make the requisite disclosures becomes difficult, and less meaningful.” We will now cover various use cases that projects have been adopting up to now in order to get their tokens classified as utility tokens rather than securities.
Voting Rights
Some coins portray themselves as a company with tokens being held in a way that is analogous to voting shares of a stock. One coin held is equal to one vote. This form of token utility has a major flaw in that so-called whales (people with huge amounts of a particular cryptocurrency) can manipulate any poll conducted. The cryptocurrencies Aragon and Lykke are examples of projects that have written voting rights into the structure of their code. In-App Reward: Another common tactic to evade the security label has been the addition of in-app rewards to the functionality of a particular token. The Basic Attention Token (BAT) is the unit of currency for use with the project browser named “Brave”. The BAT is a unit of account for the advertisers, publishers and users of the platform. Filecoin, the cloud storage project that raised a record $257 million through their ICO, pays other people or companies for use of their spare storage space. Some of the many rights afforded to token holders in various Blockchain projects are described by the graphic below.
Token Roles Function
The token can be used as a mechanism through which user experience is enhanced, enabling such actions as connection with users, or joining a broader network. It may also be used as an incentive for beginning usage or for on-boarding. Examples include Dfinity and Steemit. Value Exchange: In its most basic usage, a token is a unit of value exchange within a specific app or market. This usually is made up of features that allow users to earn tokens through real work or passive work (sharing data, allowing use of storage space) and to spend them on services or internal functions within the specific market ecosystem created by that organization. Augur and KIK, amongst countless others, are projects that have implemented this functionality into their tokenomics. Toll: The token can also be used for getting onto the Blockchain infrastructure, or for powering decentralized applications run on that particular Blockchain. This ensures that users have “skin in the game”. Tolls can be derived from running smart contracts, paying a security deposit, or just usage fees. Examples include Bitcoin and Ethereum. Currency: Seeing as the particular platform or app is designed with a view towards functioning in synergy with a particular token, the token is an extremely efficient means of payment and transaction engine, resulting in frictionless transactions. This means that companies can become their own payment processors and no longer have to rely on the often unwieldy stages of conventional financial settlement involving trusted third parties in the form of banks and credit card companies.
Rights: Owning a token bequests certain rights upon the holder, such as product usage, voting, access to restricted markets, and dividends (e.g.: GAS for holding NEO). Though most businesses are trying to avoid fitting the definition of a security laid out in the Howey Test, the right to real ownership of a particular asset is sometimes granted as a result of holding a token, for example DigixDAO or Tezos.
Comparison to Traditional IPO and Equity Capital Raisings
Despite the similarity of the acronyms and the derivation of one from the other, Initial Coin Offerings and Initial Public Offerings are very different methods of fundraising. The distinction is not limited simply to the fact that IPOs are used in conventional business, and ICOs are associated with cryptocurrency. Through ICO’s, companies in their early stages issue digital tokens on a Blockchain and those tokens act as units of value for use within the ecosystem created by the project. They have many other uses, but it is also fair to say they are analogous to shares offered in an Initial Public offering.
In an IPO, shareholdings are distributed to investors through underwriters, usually investment banks. But in the case of ICO token sales, companies often do not even have an actual product to show. Often, all that there is a whitepaper, evidence of the partnerships involved and the particular social-media infrastructure they have established. IPO’s take place when a more well-established company floats shares on a stock exchange. The company would have a well-established history of success and significant reasons to expect a bright future. In the vast majority of cases, an ICO is used for a new company with no such history, just trying to get off the ground.
Another important difference is the expected return in exchange for the investment. Companies engaging in IPOs may offer participants dividend paying stocks which result in various levels of return depending on the success of the company after the shares are issued. An ICO however can offer no such guaranteed return. When buying tokens in an ICO, you do so with no promise of return. An investor who holds the tokens of a particular project does so with the promise, rather than an assurance, of future success. The main benefit to investors taking part in Initial Coin Offerings, compared to Initial Public Offerings, is the need for only basic Know Your Customer checks in the case of the ICO, compared to the costly, complex and time-consuming regulatory obstacles that must be traversed in an IPO. In the case of Initial Public Offerings, a business must obtain authorization from a number of entities before the act of “going public”. Prior to an IPO, companies are not obliged to disclose so much of their internal records or accounting. It is not so complicated to make a private company in the United States. But in the run up to going public, the company must form a board of directors, make their records auditable to the relevant authorities in one or more jurisdictions, and prepare to make quarterly reports to the SEC (or equivalent).
Relevant Factors to Consider in ICO process
When analyzing the chances of success for a specific project, and the likelihood of a favorable return on investment in the long term, it is essential to break down the project into its constituent parts, and evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of each part individually. An effective investigation and analysis would start with the team and white paper. Consider the stage the project is at,and VC investments in the project. That would lead to a good initial idea of the actual progress thus far. Next, evaluate the social media presence and the credentials of the community that has formed around the core team. If a compelling case is made by the team, (e.g.: via an in-depth dive into the use case), and the tokenomics, distribution schedule, potential competitors, as well as the team’s awareness of any future business or regulatory concerns all check out; then the ICO might present a good opportunity for investment. In the following slides we tackle each of these considerations in order so you will be able to evaluate an ICO’s worth and assign a grade for the success of each project.
Relevant Factors to Consider in ICO process
The Team First and most important, we need evaluate the background and experience of the team, the people involved in the project. Well-established developers, for example, will likely have LinkedIn profiles demonstrating their previous endeavors and occupations, from which we can judge their suitability to the project and the likelihood of the team’s success. The LinkedIn profile is a point of reference for professional accomplishments and official positions. But we can also learn more about a person from their personal accounts on Twitter, Facebook, and Medium etc. That is also a good way to follow along with the progress of the project. By investigating team members through as many means as possible, you will know how long they have been involved in cryptocurrency. If they have been around and active for a long time, they are that much more likely to be knowledgeable and capable of making better quality decisions in this business. It goes without saying that it is a huge red flag if it is too difficult to find information about the team members online, and worse still if the team members are anonymous.
Relevant Factors to Consider in ICO process
A good Whitepaper gives a detailed description of the project, the problems the team is going to solve, the timeframe projected, and methods to be used in the implementation of their ideas. If, in answering the question about what the project actually does, it seems the team is presenting ideas that are too complicated or advanced to understand, then you simply should not invest until you are satisfied you have been given the requisite level of insight to understand the concepts described. It is always possible that the whitepaper is nothing more than a salad of buzzwords and technical language intended to give the impression of competence while really doing nothing but obfuscate the truth. The whitepaper should clearly and concisely present the problems and the solutions needed. The whitepaper must give a solid and coherent answer as to who needs this project and why. Also, if the team have put no effort into explaining why a Blockchain solution is needed for this particular problem, or why such a solution is superior to its “real-world” equivalent, it is likely they are only in it for the money. We have more to say about red-flags later.
While 2016 raised a comparatively small amount in comparison to the proceeding years, there were a few specific projects that raised significant amounts of capital. These are respectable amounts of money, even by today’s standards, and especially impressive when contrasted with the immaturity of the ICO market at the time, and relative to amounts raised in traditional IPOs. Waves ($16.4mill), Iconomi ($10.6mill) and Golem ($8.6mill) were the three largest fundraisings of the year. 2017 was the year of the ICO whales. Hdac ($258mill), Filecoin ($257mill), EOS Stage 1 ($185mill) and Paragon ($183.16mill) were the largest that year. To be able to raise so much money, so quickly, in such a new market, using such a new mechanism is truly incredible. 2017 was the year that proved ICOs are for serious individuals and institutional investors as well. We have also had some phenomenal amounts raised so far in 2018. Telegram ($1.7bill), Dragon ($320mill), Huobi ($300mill) and Bankera ($150mill). Telegram might be the first mainstream example of an ICO, not only by raising close to $2billion, which would be beyond incredible and impressive even by traditional IPO standards; but also, because it is one of the first ICO companies to tangibly put a product in the hands of hundreds of millions of users, and successfully compete against traditional companies such as Facebook (MessengeWhatsApp), Microsoft (Skype) and Tencent (WeChat).
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The deconstruction of money: Prosperity when wealth ceases to exist

Here's a question to ponder: How do you conjure 300 billion dollar out of thin air? The answer, if you hadn't guessed it yet, is cryptocurrency. People used to laugh at this phenomenon, but they're not laughing anymore. They're feeling the same emotions about this phenomenon that I felt four years ago: They're worried and excited at the same time.
Bitcoin is a first, but not just in one domain. It's a first in most of its defining characteristics. We have witnessed the emergence of a means of exchange whose rate of inflation is predictable. Nobody can create more than 21 million Bitcoin, we can merely find ourselves disagreeing about the definition of a Bitcoin, which is starting to happen.
Despite its scarcity, Bitcoin has no intrinsic value. We're now beginning to discover that this doesn't matter, something most economists and academics had not anticipated. Just as an artist can earn money by shitting in a can, you can earn money by producing virtual currency. What we don't know yet is how far this phenomenon can grow. As of speaking, it gobbles up 0.1% of the world's electricity. As a means of doing anonymous transactions, it's pretty much useless compared to the alternatives that have succeeded Bitcoin.
In the worst case scenario, Bitcoin is like Microsoft or Facebook, in the sense that its network effect and early mover advantage allow it to eliminate all competition. This results in the dystopian scenarios I have frequently discussed before. In a more realistic scenario however, Bitcoin ceases to grow eventually. This makes more sense to me. Consider this: Would you invest in something that has grown in value 100-fold over the past two years? You would probably be wise enough to recognize that other investment options have more growth potential left. If enough people understand this, it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. If we assume that people buy Bitcoins to get rich quick, they'll stop buying them when it becomes clear it won't allow them to get rich. As a result, its value will eventually crash.
Note the difference between Bitcoin and Windows here. We're not using Windows because we think it has growth potential. We're using Windows because everyone else uses Windows and thus it's easier for us to communicate. You don't genuinely buy Bitcoin because you want to use it. You buy Bitcoin because you expect others will want to buy it from you at a higher price. To put this in simpler terms: If we use something merely because we expect its use will grow in the future, it can't come to dominate the market it's in.
To own Bitcoin means to forever have a sword of Damocles hanging over your head. You bought it because you expect its value to rise. At the same time, you are aware that it suffers from existential threats: Government intervention, a superior alternative taking over, a rush for the exit that the network can't process, a 51% attack, an unanticipated protocol flaw, an early adapter who wants to cash out. You're willing to take those risks when you expect its value may rise 100-fold. You're no longer willing to take those risks when you expect its value might double in the next ten years. The innate instability of Bitcoin ensures it will forever remain a niche phenomenon.
Here's a question to ponder: Why buy Bitcoin, if you and your friends can invent your own coin that you distribute among yourselves? If I had to choose between entering a country where all the land is owned by a small minority or entering a country where I can still freely stake a claim to my own land, I would choose the latter option. People throughout history have understood this principle, which is why small communities came up with their own currency systems.
The general trend throughout history has been that these alternative currency systems were destroyed by those who felt threatened by them. It's a little known fact that whenever local currencies emerge that seem to replace a government issued currency, governments tend to respond by shutting them down. It happened in Germany in 1931, it happened to the Liberty dollars in the United States and it happens in more situations, when the alternative currency becomes a threat.
Of course, alternative currencies rarely become a genuine threat to the status quo. The reason is because people can generally create new units out of thin air. Whatever institute issues the alternative currency has no means to prohibit you from doing so. Today, we know that this is no longer a valid issue, due to cryptocurrency. As a result, this controlled issuance allows people to interpret alternative currencies as having a genuine value, based on the expectation that they will be able to find someone to sell it to when they feel the need to.
What this means is a fantastic development for those of us who fear the extreme inequality we witness today. The nature of wealth is that it tends to accumulate. Those who are wealthy have the means to become wealthier, whereas those of us without wealth have no such means. Then eventually, when wealth has accumulated to extreme degrees, the elite has found itself in possession of most of the world's fertile land and natural resources. Then, those with their backs against the wall tend to rise up in revolt and exterminate the aristocracy.
Today, after the invention of cryptocurrency, revolutions work differently. When we see that the game is rigged against us, that you own everything there is to own, we cease acknowledging your protocol and set up our own. We don't participate in games that we can't win. We're unable to ignore land ownership, if you cling onto the land, you risk ending up beneath the guillotine. We're perfectly able however, to stop pretending that a Bitcoin is something more than a series of ones and zeros in a digital database. This outcome is already unfolding. Why is Bitcoin losing its dominant position in the ecosystem? Because people realize that the game is rigged against them. Most people are simply not dumb enough to spend 10,000 dollar to buy one bitcoin. Smart people look for other opportunities.
How does a revolution look? Consider what happened a few weeks ago, when Bitcoin ended up clogged and a competing protocol, Bitcoin Cash, suddenly grew enormously in value. This revolution was prematurely aborted, but the underlying issues have not been addressed. Bitcoin is still bumping up against its transaction capacity, wealth is still monopolized in the hands of a shrinking group, a single Bitcoin still has an intimidatingly high value to all but a small group of wealthy people who have no intention to actually use the currency. As a result, hedge-fund managers and trust fund kids are now buying first class tickets to board the Titanic.
Understand the following principle: The unequal distribution of a currency undermines its use value. A currency owned by a small group of wealthy people is subject to dramatic price fluctuations. The stock market suffered a sudden dramatic collapse in 1929, during an era when wealth inequality was at its most extreme. The reason is simple. If the distribution of an asset is extreme in its inequality, it becomes impossible to estimate the fair value of the asset.
This is the problem that Bitcoin inevitably suffers. The wealth inequality of Bitcoin increases over time, as hackers are able to steal Bitcoins, while those who find themselves wealthy all of a sudden tend to exit the scheme. As this unequal distribution grows worse, the instability of Bitcoin grows worse too. Economists have long known that wealth inequality and speculative bubbles go hand in hand. We see high prices right now for Bitcoin, but this is merely because nobody wants to exit at the moment. As soon as people want to leave the scheme, they'll find it's simply not possible at current prices. I expect that Bitcoin could see its price drop by 90% or more, over a period of days. People will find themselves unable to leave the scheme during such a period, because the transaction capacity on the network is limited.
When Bitcoin falls apart, people will see that the underlying technology has more genuine potential than this particular faulty implementation. As a result, another redistribution of wealth will take place. One important thing to understand is that currencies gain value because of broad use. Broad use is accomplished, by broad distribution. In its early days, everyone could mine bitcoins and everyone could use faucets where they were handed out for free. As a result, a core community emerged.
Note that the broad distribution that creates value does not have to contradict the unequal distribution that creates its high price. Value and price are not always well correlated. In regards to Bitcoin however, the more important point is that the currency grew in price by inheriting both characteristics: It's widely distributed, but most of the coins are actually held by a small minority. This small minority thus has a lot of wealth, on paper. They won't be able to actualize their wealth, if they tried to cash out the value of Bitcoin would take a plunge.
You will find that Bitcoin's role as a speculative bubble will be replaced by various competing technologies, but its role as a digital currency will be replaced by currencies that are broadly distributed. As an example of how this will work in the future, consider Clams. Clams are a digital currency with an egalitarian and wide distribution. Anyone who owned a range of currencies ended up owning Clams. This has proved to be free money, for people who paid attention. The project was abandoned by its developer, but it demonstrated the way forward for others. There are now various Bitcoin forks, that hand out their coins to entire swathes of the population, while handing out extra coins to its own developers. Those developers do end up profiting off their invention, simply because the wide distribution creates interest in the coin.
In contrast to what you might think, these various new currencies don't have to die out. In contrast to offline currencies, digital currencies can be extremely easily exchanged for one another. Merchants are able to accept coins they have never heard of for products they sell, simply because the underlying infrastructure is managed for them by third parties. So, what credible reason do people have to put their trust entirely in Bitcoin? The answer is simple: None. The herd has discovered Bitcoin, but the herd will consume it and bring about its demise, as the protocol can't scale.
But what if I'm wrong? What if Bitcoin can scale? Well, the answer to that question is simple: Bitcoin can't scale. A form of Bitcoin that can scale ceases to be Bitcoin. Bitcoin is characterized by 1 MB blocks, which limits transaction capacity to 3 transactions per second, which is a fraction of what credit card companies can handle per second. If Bitcoin increases its block size, a new currency comes into existence, that needs new software and would leave users who fail to update their software at risk of losing their coins. What about off-chain scaling? Off-chain scaling requires settlement on the 1 MB blockchain. As a result, those who plan to develop off-chain scaling methods admit that Bitcoin would need 133 MB blocks, simply to accomplish the goals they have set for it. The system can't function under those conditions.
What happens if Bitcoin does somehow develop off-chain scaling and starts to use 133 Mb blocks? The energy needed to mine Bitcoins increases dramatically. As a result, the number of people who can mine Bitcoin goes down, mining Bitcoin will only be an option for people in places with dramatically low energy prices. In addition, governments would be unlikely to accept having 90% of their national electricity use be devoted to mining Bitcoins. A currency that requires solving pointless computer problems to distribute it is a currency that remains forever a niche phenomenon. There will be no consensus around how to change the protocol, it will endlessly fracture until it renders itself obsolete.
Important to understand is that cryptocurrencies don't allow you to hold onto extreme wealth. Consider Bitcoin. In its early days, there were plenty of smart people who saw its potential. But if you're a billionaire, how would you use a currency worth less than your own net worth, to increase your own wealth? The answer is that you can't. Small projects grow the most, but small projects can't fit your wealth inside of them. The effect this has is that the extremely unequal global distribution of wealth we witness today will be rectified. The habit that extreme wealth has is that it doesn't survive dramatic changes to the status quo.
Until a few years ago, Bitcoin was the domain of basement dwelling NEETs and angry libertarian gun-nuts. But what we can do, anyone can do. If you live in a community that suffers poverty, you can set up your own currency that you use among each other and by virtue of the fact that you use it, it grows in value. What we have done with Bitcoin, has been done by other people too. If you don't think you can win under our rules, you change the rules and play your own game. There are now numerous currencies out there that have given birth to anonymous millionaires, while many more like me have made smaller fortunes.
As I have mentioned before, technology is a self-limiting phenomenon. Technology in its most advanced stages consumes its own niche and as a result leaves us off without the technology. With self-driving cars, the car starts to die out. With lab-grown meat, meat dies out. The Internet, destroyed the concept of possession. Why should I buy a car, if it idles 95% of the time? Why should I visit a hotel, if people can rent out their room to me? Why should I own a book, if the information I seek is accessible under my fingertips? Why should I even own anything? In Sillicon Valley, digital nomads live without any genuine possessions, other than a smartphone, a laptop and the clothing they wear.
What has remained off-limits so far, is the concept of wealth itself. The idea of wealth has survived the digital transition, even as everything else has been rendered obsolete. This is now coming to an end. We live in an era, where the concept of wealth is being deconstructed. One important principle in this observation is the issue of scarcity. Things have value, because demand for them is higher than their supply. In Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, houses are practically for sale for free, because the population has declined by a quarter since the fall of the Soviet Union. How can physical space have a price when there is more of it than anyone needs? It can't. It can only have a price when a small elite is allowed to keep it off limits to the rest of us, without making use of it themselves.
But now, we face the finalization of the deconstruction of wealth. What does it mean to own anything? How can anything have value, if it is not scarce? Are you still wealthy, if your wealth must remain a secret? If you can't flaunt the fact that you're a millionaire, you can't genuinely be thought of as rich. Cryptomillionaires are men who have wealth they can't genuinely use. Under those conditions, the illusion of power begins to die. We see today that money is a joke. You can print money in your parents' basement and people will treat it as genuine money. The next step is the recognition that wealth is a joke. The society we are entering is one where wealth loses its relevance, until it eventually can't be defined. The very concept itself is ceasing to make sense. It is a nightmare we imposed upon ourselves and now we will no longer believe in it.
The history of civilization is the exchange of wealth for fertility. The man accumulates resources, passes those on to his male descendants and the men monopolize young women to disproportionately pass on their own genes to the next generation. This became possible, when the concept of ownership became possible. There exists no inequality, among hunter-gatherers who have no ability to press a claim to resources. In primitive communities where everyone lives near a river dense with fish, some men end up claiming "ownership" over the river and soon enough we witness hereditary castes, monarchs and inherited wealth. In the Kalahari desert, where people depend on animals that run around and Mongongo nuts that can be consumed, there is no property, as there is nothing to claim ownership over. You might claim ownership over a plot of desert, sure, but how will you enforce it? You can't and thus everyone is equal.
The concept of wealth had a nice run. It survived from the Neolithic revolution until the digital revolution, when it was rendered obsolete. It transformed young sturdy women with bows in their hands and hair on their legs into airbrushed trophy wives who sell their bodies to the highest bidders. What we know as a human being today is entirely corrupted by thousands of years of civilization, during which a corrupt aristocracy disproportionately passed on its genes and turned life itself into a cynical pursuit of material wealth. Today we are saying farewell to them.
Have you ever thought about what we are leaving behind us? In a society where social status is inherited, like in India, you eventually end up with hereditary underclasses who are made to carry around leaking baskets with human excrement on their heads. Alexandra Kollontai became a Marxist after her aristocratic parents prohibited her from marrying a man she met at university, an engineering student of modest means. In the society we are giving birth to, everyone is free to pursue his deepest passions and to make use of his full potential, with no noble birthright standing in between him and his vision.
Does this sound absurd to you? Over the top? Ridiculously optimistic? Well consider this: We have already gotten rid of the aristocracy. Western civilization used to be ruled by a hereditary caste that had complete control over society. The mechanization of agriculture in the 19th century and the abolition of the corn laws led to the demise of the aristocracies. The status quo could simply not be maintained. The concept of a republic, a nation not ruled by a king, was once utterly absurd. Books about the future written in the 18th century, like Samuel Madden's "Memoirs of the Twentieth Century", feature tall tales about religious theocracies in Italy and absolute monarchies in France. What none of them anticipated is that the kind of authoritarian systems they were familiar with could not sustain itself under modern conditions. It seemed as absurd to them that people could be ruled by anything other than inbred aristocrats, as it seems to you when I suggest to you that the concept of wealth itself is in the process of being rendered obsolete.
Eventually we will develop a form of society, where money and financial transactions themselves are an outdated nuisance, an inefficiency. Consider this: You're traveling by train and find out that you don't have a public transport card. As a result, the automated gates that stay closed unless you check in with a card won't open for you. You're hesitant to jump over them, because a camera records anyone who tries to sneak in. You walk to a machine that allows you to buy a card, then you charge the card with money and check in at the gates before entering the train.
Upon entering the train, you notice a man walks around who is tasked with ensuring that everyone bought a card. This is his job, his raison d'être. After the train arrives at its destination, you walk out, forget to check out and hurry back home, here you realize that you forgot to check out and money was automatically deducted from your account. You call the train company, wait ten minutes before someone picks up the phone and ask the lady on the other side of the line to send back the money that was excessively deducted from your card because you failed to check out. Does this sound like an efficient society to you?
Consider a simple fact: In most of Western civilization, we house the homeless and provide them medical care because it's cheaper than to have emaciated people wander around in shopping malls who scare off the tourists, steal bicycles and spread tuberculosis. People find themselves wealthier, by sharing some of their wealth with those who are worst off. It's a more efficient manner of running society, that happens to be in everyone's best interest. Economic inequality, is an economic inefficiency. We live in a non-zero sum game. That is, our current situation is unoptimal, the economy as a whole can benefit from having less economic inequality.
Now hear another plain fact: Your society punitively taxes your income, because you're not benefiting society by working a lot. If you work a 9 to 5 job, as most of us do, you get up, leave your house, get stuck in traffic, sit for 8 hours, which ensures chronic health problems down the line, then head back home during rush hour again. The reason you end up with a similar amount of money if you worked 32 hours, is because it happens to be in everyone's benefit. If you worked eight hours less every week, long-term unemployment would be prevented, because more people would be able to participate in the labor market. You would be able to pick up your kids from school, rather than sending them to daycare. Unless you're a genius, nobody benefits from you "working hard". That's why you're not earning more money from it.
So now you have to ask yourself another question: If society doesn't benefit from your "work", then it's time for you to plan ahead for a future in which it renders your work obsolete. What will you do with your life, when the rat race comes to a stop? What will you do, if the neighbor who watches TV for fourteen hours a day ends up driving the same kind of car as you? If you can't spend your time "getting ahead", then what will you do with your life? That's a question that I want you to ponder.
"Life will lose its meaning" You might say. But that's what all weak men believe who can't think outside of the paradigm they were born into. I live in a society where we no longer fight trench wars with neighboring countries or build colonial empires. My life doesn't feel less meaningful as a consequence. I live in a society where I'm not encouraged to go out and fight in defense of some fundamentalist cult. My life does not feel less meaningful. If I won't have to work to sustain myself, I will quite readily find the means to make my life meaningful. If anything, it would become easier for me to have a meaningful life.
There's always something that can be done. We don't get to it, because we're forced to earn a living for ourselves. All geniuses begin their career with an excessive amount of free time. How could Darwin come up with the theory of evolution? Because he was free to visit the Galapagos islands. Why do we have seaweed that tastes like bacon in the supermarket here in the Netherlands? Because a guy had it served on his platter while he was on vacation abroad. Steve Jobs spent his twenties sleeping on people's floors, smoking pot, dropping acid and visiting guru's in India. People are not creative when they have hoops held in front of them. Innovation happens when people are left free to fool around.
Most people are passionate about something. Even white working class men in early 20th century Western Europe who worked in factories had pigeons they trained and bred for races. When people have free time and more resources than they need to sustain themselves, wonderful things are produced. Those who think we need to be kept busy, have insufficient faith in man's ability to find meaning for himself. If people are nurtered well and treated with kindness, they are able to blossom and begin to improve the world they inhabit.
If people turn into television addicted zombies when their chains are removed, it is because they were left injured by society. Dogs used for medical experiments who have their cages opened are hesitant to step out onto the green grass too. I prefer to look at the examples I know, of people who do understand how to deal with this transition. I think back to a woman I knew, who was granted a small fortune because she survived a plane crash unscathed. She travels across Europe in an old Volkswagen van with her boyfriend, I ran into her at a party held by her friends at a squatted countryside manor. She dances in the night and loves without hesitation and her eyes radiate pure joy. It is clear to me that most people are not ready for the transformations that are upon us. They don't want to live at the end of history. They want to head back to what they knew. But at the end of the day, what you are looking at is nothing to be afraid of. It's just green grass.
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Sixteen ideas to save Western civilization

Idea one

Rather than funding a Darwinian triathlon that leaves thousands of people dead every year, in which those young men who are best capable of jumping fences, swimming through rivers and crossing deserts are given a ticket to paradise, we declare today that no more refugees will be given entrance into Europe. Instead, every Euro that is currently spent on providing shelter and care for refugees in Europe, will be used for refugees in their country of origin. With a guarantee that there is not a snowball's chance in hell of being granted asylum in Europe, the refugee stream to our continent will plummet. This will allow those NGO's who currently spend their money transporting people from Libya to Italy, to spend their scarce resources on helping refugees where they actually live. The cost of providing for one refugee in the Netherlands is 20 to 40 times higher than providing for the same refugee in his country of origin.
The moment we change our policy towards refugees, towards one based on rational sanity, is the moment we can start taking care of twenty to forty times as many of them. This will be necessary in the years ahead, as climate change, soil erosion and overpopulation will create a refugee crisis the likes of which humanity has never seen before. How about highly skilled refugees? You might ask. The thing is, those refugees will be the people who will be needed to rebuild the countries they fled from. If they live here, they can't help rebuild the communities that were destroyed.

Idea two

Europe is faced with a demographic crisis, as our fertility rates are very low. There are many different solutions to this, but one solution I have not heard before is as following: Let the height of our child benefits payments depend on the average age of the population of a municipality. The government should be paying people in rural communities to have children. Many of these communities have conservative Christians, who would be quite willing to have more children if they could afford to raise them. What we don't want, are child benefit payments going to overpopulated cities. What we need is for people to migrate from cities to our dying villages and for people living in those villages to have more children.
Our cities are home to our underclass, people who are unable to make something out of their life, often due to hereditary problems. Schizophrenia is twice as common in the cities for example. The people who live in cities tend to be descended from the rural peasants who were unable to make a living in the countryside. This is unfortunate, but it is the reality we have to deal with. What we want is for children to be born in the best possible conditions to guarantee a happy life. This is a conclusion I have reached, by virtue of the fact that I was born into the urban underclass myself. I want children to be born with more opportunities than I had. This tends to be very difficult to understand if you're born into a wealthy or middle class family.

Idea three

We don't just have to implement repatriation subsidies for migrants who live in Europe. In fact, we should implement broader emigration subsidies. We have more young men than young women, while Russia, Ukraine and the Baltic states have more young women than young men. The fertility rates of Europe as well as Russia would go up if we sent men to Russia. Ideally, Russian would be a language that's taught in high school here.
We also have millions of citizens in our continent, who yearn for more diversity and feel disgusted by the sight of a homogeneous European community. Europe to them is a racist monolithic continent and they worry greatly about the plight of Africans. What better way to help them achieve their dreams, than by paying them to migrate to Africa, a continent full of multicultural countries, where everyone speaks a different language and has unique customs? Everyone benefits from this. Africa desperately needs skilled people, while Southern Europe is full of young unemployed people. A gender studies, sociology or cultural anthropology degree is useless here in Europe. I'm sure it can be quite useful in Africa however.

Idea four

When it comes to income, women want to marry up, men want to marry down. If women can't find a man to marry with higher status than themselves, many simply refuse to marry and never reproduce. This is a big problem, because young women right now tend to earn more money than young men. There's a reason for this: Discrimination. White working class boys are least likely to go to university. These boys are not all stupid, but the culture they live in makes it difficult for them to succeed in life. In fact, the kind of long-term investment that college represents, is one that these boys who grew up in unpredictable insecure circumstances do not find appealing. In addition, white working class boys are not very interested in listening to long tirades about how they are guilty of everyone else's long history of suffering.
The problem we need to understand, is that education is now not used by employers as a requirement because the skills taught are relevant. No, educational requirements are used by employers to filter out dumb and unreliable people. The effect this has is to favor women over men, giving women an unfair advantage on the labor market. Neither women nor men benefit from women having an unfair advantage on the labor market. Besides the fact that a woman might not be better suited to the particular job she got by virtue of her college degree, women don't benefit from living in a society where there are no men whose salary can deliver them a similar standard of living as their own.
If we were to make it illegal to discriminate against the uneducated, we take away the unfair advantage women have over men. Certainly, we don't want uneducated people to become doctors, nuclear power plant operators or air pilots, but we really don't need people with four year college degrees to carry out mid-level office work for us. Another good measure to use is to hide the gender and name of a candidate for a position. Studies show that people prefer to hire women over men. In practice, being a good looking young woman is an enormous unfair advantage on the job market, for the simple reason that middle-aged men in management positions think with their dick.
What happens when college education can no longer be used as a status indicator by employers, is that a big part of the incentive to go to college disappears. As a result, eighteen year old boys and girls can simply apply for a white-collar job, rather than first having to spend four years studying some particular subject they'll never make practical use of again. What this means is that people are able to become mature much faster than they do today. A person aged 25 might feel ready to have children because they have been saving money for years, whereas today a 25 year old is still paying off their college debt and feel frightened by the thought of having children.

Idea five

Implement a big progressive tax on private land ownership, unless the land is covered in trees. Most of the land in Scotland is owned by a few private individuals, who just have massive herds of animals that eat the land bare. Scotland used to be covered with trees, all that's necessary for the trees to grow back is for the herds of animals to be removed. When we implement progressive taxes on land ownership, farmers who produce a lot of food with little land will find their business more profitable, while farmers who waste a lot of land will find their business to be costly. As an example, mushrooms farms use very little land, to produce a lot of food. Cattle pastures on the other hand, use a lot of land to produce hardly any food. When land ownership costs money, land can no longer be used for blind speculation. As a result, the property bubble should start to deflate. This is highly needed, because the young are now unable to buy houses because of the ridiculous prices we're dealing with. Those of us who can buy houses are afraid to do so, because prices could crash fifty percent and we would become prisoners in our own homes. If you're 65 or older, a decline in prices might suck, but you don't have a strong need to relocate anymore. Because we're unable to buy houses, we're unable to start families.

Idea six

Most of the people in our prisons have double passports. A simple wise solution would be to give prisoners a choice: Renounce your citizenship of our country, in exchange for release from prison. Let Morocco, Turkey and other countries handle these people. When these people choose to move back to their country of origin, it creates an incentive for their families to move back too. What about those prisoners who have just a single passport? Offer them a reduced sentence, depending on where they're willing to sit out their sentence. As an example, you could cut a prison sentence by 25%, if the prisoner is willing to be imprisoned in French Guyana. By the time they are released, they might simply stay there.
Another option that is very important is euthanasia. Prisoners need to have the right to choose to end their lives. Some people consider the death penalty inhumane. I consider sticking someone in a concrete box for twenty years to be far more inhumane myself. Most have no real chance of building up a meaningful life after they're released. There are actually a large number of prisoners and former prisoners who insist that the death penalty is more humane than a prison sentence, because our society treats former prisoners as second class citizens.

Idea seven

Implement a big tax on the use of our air space. Any plane that passes through our air space will have to cough up large amounts of money. This is great, because air travel has to be disincentivized. Most importantly, it increases the expenses of people who own private jets, which are a complete waste of our society's scarce resources. Currently, Americans charge roughly 30 dollar per 100 kilometer to people passing over their land surface. This is negligible. Try multiplying that rate by ten and see how much people still travel by airplane.

Idea eight

The Netherlands has the highest petrol taxes in the world. This is fantastic. The whole world needs to follow our example. Why? Because oil eventually runs out, so it's better that we prepare for it by encouraging a transitioning away from cars, rather than being caught by surprise. "But China and India!" Joe Sixpack proclaims. I don't care. Let them do what they want to do. If they want to create a big fossil fuel dependent economy, let them go ahead. By the time we run out of fossil fuels, their economies will implode. I think we similarly need a big tax on anyone who has more than a single car registered on his name.

Idea nine

Implement a constitutional amendment, requiring elected heads of state to have children. Why? Most of our political elite doesn't have children. If you don't bother to provide your own contribution to the future of our society at an individual level, why should I expect you will manage to do it at a collective level? What if our head of state is gay? He needs to find himself a wife who doesn't shave her legs, use his imagination, lie back and think of England. People used to make sacrifices for their community.
What investment in the future does a childless leader have? He's a parasite, who ultimately expects other people's children to pay for his retirement. Donald Trump is forced to listen to his daughter, who understands that climate change will prove to be a real problem. If you raised children, your interests align more closely with the interests of the next generation, who are ultimately the people who are carrying the torch of civilization forward. If physiological problems prohibit you from having children, adopted children count too. The kind of person who doesn't want to raise children is the kind of person I don't trust ruling over a country.

Idea ten

Charles Galton Darwin was probably first to propose this, but it can't be said enough: We need to make foreign aid dependent upon a nation's population control efforts. Look at this map of abortion laws to understand what's going to cause us problems in the years ahead. Countries that legalize abortion should receive priority in all of our dealings with them.

Idea eleven

We need to bring this new cold war with Russia to an end. I know, they don't allow gay pride parades. Deal with it. If the people of the world are going to have a place to live, it's going to have to be Russia. Russia, Greenland, Canada, Alaska, these are the kind of places where humans will survive a century from now. We need to be planning ahead for that future, rather than fighting each other over petty cultural differences. Why have we been fueling a bloody civil war in Syria since 2011? It's the greatest waste of human potential in recent history.

Idea twelve

We can simultaneously improve our diet, reduce climate change, heal the ocean and give most of the world's land surface back to nature. It's explained here. China, Korea and Japan produce 88% of the world's seaweed right now. Why are we, in Europe, North America and Oceania not contributing? The solutions exist to our problems, but we're not applying them.
Throw subsidies at mushrooms, seaweed and shellfish. Eventually, you'll get the public to switch their diet and you can begin abandoning most of the world's surface.

Idea thirteen

Happy societies are societies with plenty of young people and few old people. Particularly, it's important to have more young women than mature men. When the population is growing, war is common and life expectancies are low, this is easy. The fact of the matter is, that it's simply not a lot of fun to be old. In addition, old people have to be cared for by young people. We could kill all the old people, but I don't think anyone's looking forward to that.
What I would suggest instead is that we work on getting rid of aging. "What, are you suggesting immortality?" No, I'm suggesting we've got our priorities wrong. Life expectancy at age 65 was 13 years for women in 1930, 21 years in 2010. So, the average retired woman will have eight extra years of life. This is fine, but why is so much money spent on keeping people alive longer? How about we shift our priorities towards keeping people young longer? It's possible to increase the number of eggs a woman has. Dehydroepiandrosterone is effectively used to gradually increase a woman's egg count over the months, until a woman who was infertile is fertile again. This was discovered, not in a state of the art laboratory. It was discovered by a woman who had difficulty conceiving and decided to start experimenting on herself.
What kind of quality of life do you have as an 80 year old? Not a lot. What kind of quality of life do you have as a youthful looking fertile woman? Quite a lot. I know that I'm eventually going to die, so dragging it out doesn't matter much to me. If you can increase the percentage of time that I spend youthful on the other hand, I'm all ears. The best method we have to accomplish this currently seems to be the use of senolytics, substances that kill senescent cells, which are cells that have grown old and prohibit younger cells from reproducing (kind of like the babyboomers). The senescent cells do this by creating speculative housing bubble- err secreting substances that cause inflammation. Senolytics are the equivalent of a suicide bomber who only targets golf courses and cruise ships.

Idea fourteen

Why do we have massive office complexes everywhere? Most people can do their work from home. We soon won't need all the roads we have today either, because we will have self-driving cars. Self-driving cars don't need vast distances between vehicles due to our mediocre human reflexes. In addition, they can more easily share multiple passengers. We won't need all this parking space we have now either. Because people will be able to work from home and order products from home, we will need far less travel too. It's thought we can reduce the number of cars needed from 245 million, to just 2.4 million, through self-driving cars. That's not a typo, it's a 99% reduction.
Technology renders humans obsolete, we say. I think we're not thinking this through clearly enough: Technology renders technology obsolete. If we can use Bitcoin as a store of value, demand for gold declines. If demand for gold declines, we don't need gold mines. We don't need televisions anymore, we're using our computers now for that. Most people don't need a desktop computer, they can do just about everything with a smartphone or a laptop. Paper production has peaked, most of it is now used for packaging. If our population peaks, we don't need to build new houses. Colleges? You can study from home.
The city is full of space we won't need in the future. Parking garages are a thing of the past, companies will rent an office for two hours a week to hold a meetup. What are we going to do with all of that space? We can use it to grow food. A Dutch company grows mushrooms of the non-magical variety in an old swimming pool. If we grow food locally, it won't need packaging.
So what happens next? Minimalism. If we're wise we will live like Sadhus. What else will we not need? Houses. If you can work from home and video-conference your colleagues if you don't want to show up to a meeting, or receive a basic income and don't really have a formal job, why would you want to own a house? You can simply rent a house for a night through AirBnB. You don't really need to own anything. A lawnmower? There's always someone in your street who has one and you can earn money online by renting yours out. Ideally, you wouldn't even have your own clothing. At any moment, 90+% of my clothing goes unused, just like most cars go unused.
What do you think this is? Fully automated communism. What causes it? The free market. It's American free market capitalism, run by right-wing libertarians like Peter Thiel, that destroyed the taxi companies and the hotels. Some of the Silicon Valley tech startup guru's don't own anything other than a smartphone. Isn't it ironic? The Chinese and the Russians pursued communism and accidentally ended up with capitalism. We pursued capitalism and accidentally gave birth to communism.

Idea fifteen

What's the biggest problem in the Middle East today? Endless pointless violence. What causes this endless pointless violence? A small minority of men who monopolize the women and indoctrinate everyone with hateful ideologies. This is sufficient to get the young men to sign up for whatever idiotic millenarian group happens to run their town. The only reason the Middle East can function the way it does, is because everyone is sober. Alcohol and other psychoactive substances are forbidden. There's a simple reason for this. Sexual repression is difficult to sustain in a culture with access to alcohol. Alcohol makes people promiscuous, because it reduces inhibition. Psychedelics can make people promiscuous too, because psychedelics make you lose faith in authoritarian structures altogether and reduce your fear of death.
But how do you keep those substances away from people, in a world where you can order them anonymously on the internet? The government looks for heat from the light used when it wants to find indoor cannabis plants. But how will that work, when you have yeast that can produce THC? Don't even get me started on Psilocybe mushrooms, which you can grow in your own house using little other than a glass jar and some wheat bran. And what do you think happens when people can order abortion pills and euthanasia drugs off the internet? These authoritarian structures have no future. Islamist fundamentalism is a temporary blip on the radar, that will be followed by an implosion of Islam. The bloodshed of ISIS has alienated an entire generation of young Muslims, who now realize that consistently applying Islamic laws doesn't solve anything but merely makes the misery worse.
Studies show that Psilocybin mushrooms are increasingly commonly consumed, because the information on how to grow them is available everywhere. And those who take the mushrooms, report improved mental health. We haven't even begun to scratch the surface of the various substances out there and how they interact. How long do you think the taboo on cannabis will last when it becomes indisputable that use by the elderly prevents dementia? How long do you think the taboo on Salvia will last? Salvia treats opioid addiction, Americans can't afford to maintain the taboo.
What I am proposing here, is a psychedelic renaissance. Our culture is on the verge of shifting towards one where people will have no desire to dominate, but merely yearn to spread love, happiness and compassion. This is a cultural state shift, the likes of which we haven't seen in centuries. It can happen and it won't have to be limited just to the Western world. It can spread around the globe in the same manner as most of our great cultural innovations have.

Idea sixteen

When do we begin to comprehend that we're eating the wrong things? When you're staring with your microscope at the particular genes of a piece of lettuce so that you can geneticaly engineer it to be resistant against a common mold, does it never occur to you that if your crop is plagued by an endless list of pests, you might need to consider eating something else? Why do we have factory farms when the Southern United States are plagued by feral pigs? Why can't rednecks make a living selling the feral hogs they shot? Why do we eat chickens who can't walk, when our pastures are plagued by millions of geese?
"It's not cost-effective" Your government will say. And the reason it's not cost-effective is because you won't let it be cost effective. You create legislation that favors the big guy over the small guy and allow supermarket conglomerates to conquer the globe. Only big farms in England that own sufficient land can apply for farm subsidies, while small farms that make efficient use of their land can't qualify. You force people to leave their small towns and migrate to massive cities. You place subsidies on animal fodder like corn and allow people to bottom trawl the oceans and feed the fish to factory farm animals because they harvest so much fish they have no idea what to do with it. You artificially destroy oyster reefs that people use to gather wild oysters, because the oyster farmers feel threatened. It's not cost-effective because you're scared to death of what happens when it does become cost-effective!
Sunchokes grow like weeds here in the Netherlands, I grow them in a bucket as I can't plant them in my soil as they'd take over everything. And yet, our diet is built around potatoes. The average Dutch potato has residue of 36 different pesticides. People think we're innovative, but that's nonsense. We have change forced upon us, but we refuse to adapt to nature. We'd rather watch everything go to hell than to adjust to the conditions we live in. We seem to insist on having the most bland unhealthy diet imaginable, produced in the most inefficient method imaginable. Now that it's becoming difficult to sustain, we're planning on the next insanity: GMO crops. Rather than adjusting to nature, we'll come up with a crop of our own that produces its own pesticides. Whatever genetic diversity still remains in a crop is lost when the farmers switch to GMO crops. As a result, GMO crops don't solve anything, because the real problem we're dealing with is a lack of genetic diversity in our crops.
I envision a future where everyone grows his own food, not as sterile monocultures but a variety of crops grown together, while mushrooms grow in office towers and seaweed is brought in from the ocean. You'll live in a tent and travel around, following the feral pigs, deer and camels. When people tell you civilization has collapsed, you wouldn't notice the difference. You'd be too happy to care either way.
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