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The era of artificial intelligence: how robots manage capital

The era of artificial intelligence: how robots manage capital
Interview with Alexander Tatarsky, creator of the quantum fund
How well do you know artificial intelligence? Perhaps you have never heard of it, or maybe it’s quite the opposite and robots are already managing your capital.
We were able to interview Alexander Tatarsky — an experienced trader, co-founder and financial director of the Mercury Foundation — a fund that manages capital through A.I.! Alexander introduced us to the concept of his organization and explained the unique idea behind the project.

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Alexander, why did you start trading? How did you start and why did you decide to choose this particular field?
Many people know that the Chinese word “crisis” consists of two hieroglyphs. One means “danger”, and the other one — “opportunity.” I considered a global financial crisis of 2008 an opportunity. That’s when I began my professional career in the financial markets. Before those events, I was always very interested in economics (thanks to my economic education!) and financial markets, but I focused on 2 aspects: first is financial markets as an instrument of global management of peoples and their well-being, second — financial markets as an example of the fundamental laws of nature. I always wanted to get closer to understanding the essence of these processes.
However, until 2008, I was just a curious observer. I read books, watched major events, learned to compare facts. I was running a business that had nothing to do with the markets. The events of 2008 encouraged me to make my first profitable deals. And then I realized that this field is not only about self-development and curiosity — it could also become a source of permanent income. With the right approach, this income can be much higher than in other sectors of the economy. So the choice was made.
What were the reasons for creating an Investment Foundation managed by artificial intelligence?
Anyone who is professionally engaged in money management considers automation at some point. Computers are much more efficient than human when it comes to assets management. Robots are taking over, so it was a logical step for us. From the very beginning, we realized the inferiority of the ready-made solutions on the market and did not even consider using other people’s services. We could use the A.I, and we did. It was actually not even a question, it’s like asking an artist — why are you painting? Because we are the best at managing money.
What is the market share (in particular, on cryptocurrency market) of the investment funds (including funds managed by artificial intelligence) and how do you handle the demand?
If we talk about traditional financial markets, then, according to the latest data, the share of investment funds in the total volume of transactions amounts to 70%. At the same time, quantum funds account for at least 27% of all transactions on US exchanges. As for the cryptocurrency market, they are so riddled with fraud and unrealized projects that we have long since ceased to care about the competitors.
There are many ordinary funds, but 80% of them close in a year and 95% of them — in three. We do not consider them competitors, as we are focused on long-term work. All their clients will eventually come to us. In long-term, the manual traders do not stand a chance against the robot.
Are there any companies similar to yours in the world?
Yes, sure. In our industry, only a few succeeded in achieving the degree of automation that we have. The most successful of our colleagues use qualitatively different algorithms that still require regular manual testing and customization. In most cases, those “algorithm factories” constantly have to adapt to the new market conditions. Our algorithms require human participation only at the development stage. Simply put, in most cases, operators with remote controls always follow their robots, but our robot can walk on its own.
The market offers a huge number of different robots that promise to increase your capital in Forex, binary options, cryptocurrency. How are you different from them? Is it possible to earn money with such robots?
Yes, certainly. If you are good at trading and investing. If you have clear money management rules backed by math. If not, you can only lose. And robots have one more limitation — they cannot bring you the profit all the time. Such robots offer a huge number of strategies, half of which is profitable, and the other half is not. Because a person is ultimately responsible for choosing strategies. That is, it is not the robot that makes the decisions, but the user who sets the trading rules. In some cases, it helps to earn quickly, and in others — to lose quickly. Such robots do not guarantee earnings, they only ensure fast trading. We have a radically different approach. Bruce Lee said: “I fear not the man who has practiced 10,000 kicks once, but I fear the man who had practiced one kick 10,000 times”. Therefore, instead of ten thousand strategies, we have been developing only one strategy for several years.
The robots you are talking about are the first level. There are many of them and to me they are useless. Among our competitors, there are funds that trade in traditional markets using second-level robots. There are not many of them, but they all deliver consistently good results. One of the leaders in our industry is the Medallion Foundation, created by Renaissance Technologies. For several decades, their mathematical model has been continuously multiplying their capital.
We consistently implement the same model of asset management, completely removing a person from decision-making process. Development will take a few more years, but even now, our robot is already trading at the professional level. The robot needs a person only for controlling and learning new functions.
Some believe that technical analysis does not apply to cryptocurrency, what do you think about this statement?
I actually do not care; it is rather a question of how competent is the person who said this. If it works for you, you can use it. I think you will agree that a professional can play even on one string, and the amateur can find a thousand reasons to give up. The only thing I can do is ask in return — what can the market offer instead of technical analysis? Intuitive news trading? Fundamental analysis? Neural network?
Technical analysis is a complex discipline and it takes a lot of time and mental strength to fully master it. It could take a trader 10 years to learn it. Not everyone succeeds, so technical analysis does not work for everyone.
I favor a more specific approach: if it doesn’t work for someone, they should figure out why, because it is working for us quite well.
Where does your Foundation operate?
We advertise ourselves as a global foundation. In today’s world, good business has to be global. Among our clients are representatives of the Russian Federation, the European Union, Great Britain and China. We continue to expand our reach. As for trade, over the next 6 months we will be able to manage capital on all largest exchanges of the world.
Why is there a minimum deposit amount of $ 10,000?
There are several reasons. First, we need funds to maintain client accounts. We do not charge a monthly fee, only a percentage of the profits. Therefore, the size of the deposit has a lower limit.
Second, $10k is not much for our target audience. It also acts as a filter that shows the solvency and how serious the intentions of a potential client are. We do not target the mass market and do not deal with dumping. On the contrary, we provide long-term, high-quality services for those who can afford it.
Third, the robot independently manages risks and simultaneously controls all portfolios. We don’t like it if someone can’t enter the position because the share calculated for him by the robot is not allowed on the exchange due to restrictions.
Are there any differences in the management of different amounts of investment? If yes, what are they and are there any similarities in the management of investments of one quantitative segment?
Our job is to describe all the differences with strict mathematical formulas and test them thousands of times under all possible conditions. Therefore, there is no big difference for us between a 5 mln purchase or 5k purchase. Everything is described, tested, calculated, everything works.
Differences in the management of large capital are even more drastic. The psychological factor in this case becomes critical. The same trader managing a demo account or a million dollar account will behave like two completely different people and make fundamentally different decisions. Our task is to completely eliminate the human factor from the money management process.
What are the chances for new instruments to get into the Foundation’s portfolio? What is the basis of the selection of certain tools? Are there any common priority tools for different segments of investors?
Any promising liquid instrument can be included in the portfolio of the Foundation, and the choice depends on many factors. The robot evaluates and filters the instrument on the basis of special algorithms and determines the share of an asset in the portfolio based on the results of the evaluation. All decisions must be mathematically justified, taking into account the analysis of the maximum possible amount of data. The more data on the instrument we have, the higher the quality of the decisions made and the share of the instrument in the portfolio. The choice does not depend on the category of investor. If the instrument is promising and liquid, all our clients will get profit.
Can you tell more about the terms of settlements between the Foundations and investors?
If someone in our market guarantees you a good profit and even specifies when you could get it, then I in turn guarantee that this is a fraud. We are most interested in customer profits, as this is the only way to offset the costs of managing his account. Imagine the following situation:
The new client opened a 10k deposit and a month later, he had a total of 12k in his account. At the beginning of next month, we will ask you to transfer us 1k as a fee. 11k remains on his account, but a month later, suppose, unsuccessful deals were made and there is 10k on his account again. In this case, we do not require any payments until the deposit exceeds 11k.
Suppose a month later he has 12k again. Then we will charge 50% of the difference between 11k and 12k, i.e. $500. The fact that the entire team of our foundation has long transferred the management of all its assets to our robot could also count as a guarantee. We have a direct motivation to make trading as successful as possible. We do not use the services of other funds or managers. And the second fact is that the portfolios of all clients, including our personal ones, are managed simultaneously.
Can you share the success stories of the Foundation?
We want to implement a demo account for this purpose. We plan to fill it with transactions and statistics from 2017, copied from real accounts, but without disclosing personal data. The demo-account will include a history of the average client from the beginning of 2017.
It will explain how the robot trades and what profit you can expect from it.
Do you believe that private investors, to some extent, are competitors to investment funds? What, in your opinion, is it more efficient and profitable: being a private investor or investing with funds?
No, we consider them not competitors, but clients. The vast majority of our clients already have experience in investing. Beginners often think they are the smartest, that they don’t need to pay someone 50% of the income when they can easily buy and sell themselves. I admit that in the short run a private investor can earn more than a robot — but definitely not over a long period. The robot ensures a stable result day after day, year after year, while people are prone to stress, illness and psychological weakness.
Also, funds, compared with private investors, have more compelling ratio of risk and return. At some time, a private investor may gain the same profit as a fund. However, the fund will achieve the same profit with much less risk. My money is controlled by a robot, although I believe in my capabilities as a trader.
Does the Foundation have an affiliate program?
Yes, we have an affiliate program, and at the same time, we are interested in collaborating with specialists for mutually beneficial cooperation. For example, we could consider providing service for the service for really good experts in design, advertising and marketing. If you have such specialists, let them send me their proposals and CVs. See contact details on our website.
What kind of future do you see for ordinary investment funds and funds like the Mercury Foundation?
It is clear to me that the share of funds managed by robots will grow steadily. Most likely, in a couple of decades only old-timers will manage money manually.
Robotization applies to all spheres of life and investment has already come into play. For example, the head of Japan’s Government Pension Investment Fund — the world’s largest pension fund — believes that artificial intelligence will soon completely replace asset managers. And I fully agree with him.
And the largest hedge fund Bridgewater Associates is developing a decision-making algorithm that can replace all management personnel over time.
How do you look at the cryptocurrency market from a global perspective? Will the Bitcoin climb to 20,000$ again? And what will happen to the altcoins?
If we talk about the long term prospect, like 3–5–7–10 years, then I’ll say that today we see the early stage of the cryptocurrency market. Over time, its capitalization will be measured in trillions of dollars. The best projects of this field will become an integral part of our lives. Many of them will become new Google, Facebook, Apple and Amazon.
However, this will happen gradually. In order to become a mature sector of the economy, this market will have to go through many challenges. It will face issues of legislative regulation and technical problems. The scaling and bandwidth issues of most networks are still relevant, as well as legal issues. Most states are just beginning to explore the risks and opportunities associated with these technologies. And the promotion of such technologies is still very dependent on states and supranational bodies. If we talk about the short and medium terms, the prospects are not very bright.
I think that in the near future the bitcoin will certainly not reach the 20,000$ mark. We are witnessing the strongest bear market and must act accordingly. The time for positive medium-term forecasts has not yet come. The industry was severely overcrowded in 2017. There was too much hot money, many economically unfeasible projects and excessively high expectations. The market will need time to stabilize and consolidate. Most likely, we are in for a rather complicated and dangerous period of instability in the market. Obviously, this will be accompanied by some cleansing of the market from weak, incompetent and unclaimed participants.
This is a necessary stage on the path towards development. I think that 80% of altcoins known to us will depreciate and disappear in the next year or two for objective reasons. It will be a time of natural selection. However, strong players will only strengthen their positions in the market. Unfortunately, there will not be many of them. Therefore, in the near future, all investors will need to take a good care of the management of their portfolios. Despite the rather grim short-term and medium-term expectations, there will be some positive developments on the market. Some cryptocurrencies are likely to exceed their all-time peaks next year. And some will just look stronger than the market. This will be enough to generate profitability even under such difficult conditions. Therefore, the main task for the near future is to manage risks in a competent and very conservative manner and select the best ones on the market for investments.
From a professional point of view, what would you wish to partners of our club?
Depends on their goals. If they invest for the sake of emotions, then I wish them good luck and health. If they do it to earn money, I advise you to consult with professionals. This applies not only to investments, but also to any area of life. If you want the task to be solved as accurately as possible — always contact the best professionals available. And always keep learning. Your knowledge is your most reliable asset.
What books would you recommend for beginner traders?
If you decide that you are ready to turn trading into your profession, then start eagerly exploring everything available to you. Everything about financial markets, about macroeconomics, about psychology, about analysis and forecasting. Do not forget that money management skills play a huge role here. Ralph Vince will help you figure it out. Even if your analysis of the markets is very good, you will lose everything eventually if your money management skills are subpar. Now is a great time to learn, you have hundreds and thousands of books available on all aspects of this profession. Someone will enjoy the works of John J. Murphy or Jack Schwager, someone will learn from William D. Gann or Robert Prechter. And remember: knowledge is more important than capital!
We thank Alexander for such a detailed story about the Foundation, as well as for his sincere desire to share his opinions and forecasts. If you want to entrust the management of your funds to the Mercury Foundation, type “I want to invest in the Mercury Foundation” in the personal messages of the group.
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[Table] IAmA: We Are the Hosts of the Let's Talk Bitcoin! Show! We just spent 4 days at Bitcoin2013, Ask Us Anything!

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Date: 2013-05-24
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Questions Answers
Hi all! I was wondering, what do you think it would take to get bitcoin from a niche currency used mainly by internet denizens to go mainstraim? I know the slow creep of more small companies accepting bitcoin helps, but what do you think that final cusp will be, and will it ever come to that? Thanks for taking the time to do this! There are several potential tipping points, but my favorite one is a large corporation accepting Bitcoin.
Amazon has an incredibly small operating margin, less than 1% - They have more than that in transaction costs, so if they were to accept Bitcoins for product and offer Bitcoins as payment to their affiliates it would cause a rush of other companies to jump onboard for the same reasons.
Once that happens with one large company, it sets a precedent. Doing something new is scary, and when the regulatory environment is uncertain like it is with Bitcoin the choice to accept could potentially cost you a lot of money later if it's retroactively made not OK and the value of the currency plummets.
But once a company like Amazon or Google jumps in, they have enough political swing and momentum that attacking Bitcoin becomes attacking them, and they'll fight that tooth and nail if it's saving them money.
Another example of a tipping point would be a country, ANY country, adopting it as their formal currency OR issuing a new currency with Bitcoins as the transparent backing of it. With bitcoin you can have a functional gold standard, because the gold doesn't need to be hidden from sight.
It is the hiding that makes gold standards dangerous - The people who issue currency with the gold as backing have no reason to issue the correct amount when only they know how much is out there, and how much gold they have.
I guess the Supreme Court has decided this does not apply to taxes, which is crap. Or are you talking about other countries? Thank you :) I actually mean something along the lines of "It is illegal to trade dollars for any cryptocurrency that does not have a real name and social security associated with it"
Will bitcoins ever be able to be traded like other recognized currencies in similar ways to Forex? More specifically, will there ever be retail brokers offering margin trading accounts that allow you to buy and sell bitcoin with leverage? There are already really small niche sites you can trade Bitcoin at leverage with, but it's just a bad idea. With a "normal" commodity market, like say chickens, if you think chickens are undervalued and want to profit from them you can buy forward production of say, a million chickens. Then when the option comes due, if you're on the profitable side of the trade you can essentially sell it for cash and the chickens never need to be delivered. In that way, it almost doesn't matter if the chickens ever existed to begin with because you never intended to take posession. With Bitcoin, it's different - Converting a bitcoin options contract into US dollars, yen, whatever actually is more expensive and time consuming than just "accepting delivery" of the bitcoins themselves. You can still sell them for whatever currency you want, but it is at the time of your choosing rather than at the point of settlement. What that means is that if you sell an option and the Bitcoins don't really exist, you could be screwed. You either default or buy them at market price which can be very painful given how volatile the pricing is right now. It is a bad idea to play with leverage in Bitcoin because if you lose, you potentially lose very big. Additionally, it's bad to buy an option because you introduce the possibility of the counterparty (supply) not being able to deliver, whereas if you just bought Bitcoins you have the Bitcoins.
Do you believe bitcoin is important locally as well as on the internet? If so, how are you promoting bitcoin in your local communities? Cryptocurrencies (of which Bitcoin is the most prominent) are the first real competition to the types of money we've used all our lives. With Dollars, Yen, Whatever - Ultimately there are a handful of people who get to decide how and why the currency should be managed.
If they did a good job, it might be fine - But the reality is the decision made affecting all users of the currency are to the benefit of a very few , at the cost of the many.
Bitcoin is different - The rules that govern it, are the rules that govern it. Nobody can break them, and if they're ever broken it's because more than 51% of the distributed power in the system (anyone can buy a mining rig and join this group). For me, that's incredibly important. Rules should apply evenly to everyone because otherwise they're not rules at all.
Local communities can benefit because it removes payment processors from merchant relationships, removes chargeback risk, and basically acts like Cash on the internet.
What are some of the more exciting things you (each of you?) envision for Bitcoin in the short to medium term? Discounts :) We've been talking about the deflationary business model, and during this period where the value is going to go up pretty fast (over the next several years) as adoption ramps up, businesses are going to be giving major discounts to those who choose to spend them.
From the merchants perspective, this is actually a huge win - They get to have lower prices than their US Dollar (or local currency) competitors, and the value of the Bitcoins they receive goes up over time instead of going down with printed currencies. Once this becomes pervasive in the Bitcoin economy, it will mean that even at those discounted prices they are STILL profitable because their suppliers are also offering them discounts to pay in Bitcoin.
Right now we're at the beginning of this cycle, you can see BitcoinStore.com is attempting it (Disclosure - They have sponsored us in the past, we run a 30s advertisement for them per show) but it's hard to be the first one doing it because it looks like you're sacrificing yourself when really it's just the model that makes the most sense.
Not to be the doom and gloom person but in the future what do you think will/would be the "last nail in the coffin" for Bitcoin? It depends what you mean by "last nail in the coffin"
How did you meet/find Andreas and Stephanie and how did you persuade them to be part of your show? I put out a call for staff several months ago, Andreas found me through that and joined the team initially as a correspondent providing expertise and commentary while Mt.Gox was having a lot of problems. Once we re-started the show as a twice-weekly, he graciously offered to join the hosting staff and gladly took him up on it.
I found Stephanie through her show Porc therapy, and a listener named Justus - He mentioned she did voicework, and I hired her to do some of our early introductions and advertising spots. When we went through the re-organization I offered her an occasional hosting role, and never bothered finding other hosts because I was so happy with our dynamic and varied viewpoints.
Both of the other hosts on the show are real professionals, and it's been my distinct pleasure to work with them.
Thanks for responding! Andreas is my fave (though I enjoy yours and Stephanie's comments too). Everybody has their favorite :) I think the fact that we all have people disagreeing with us at times means we're doing the job, and providing multiple and varied perspectives.
What recording tools are you using? We started off using Skype, Virtual Audio Cables (VAC) and Adobe Audition (creative suite)
Now we use Mumble instead of Skype, but the rest is the same.
I edit the host segments for content (sometimes we go on and on and on) and I edit the interviews for presentation, rarely removing any content. Many times the skillset that enables you to have a really smart idea is not the same skillset that lets you present that idea, perfectly, the first time. Our interview subjects tell me all the time "I love how smart I sound" and I get to say "You are smart, I just removed the brain processing noises"
Assuming bitcoin reaches critical mass, how does bitcoin cope with the criticism of rewarding early adopters? Do you see a potential uproar about inequity? Is there outrage against people who bought Apple stock at $30? Bitcoin is a currency that right now, and for the next few years, acting like an IPO. People who got in early got in cheap, but there was a whole lot of risk because people weren't using it much, there wern't vendors accepting it, so the use case is much more speculative.
We're very much still in the early adoption phase right now - Less than %.01 of internet users are Bitcoin users, as that number grows while the number of coins being added to the total pool grows at a much slower rate, the price per coin has to go up. If Bitcoin fails and everybody abandons it, this works the opposite way - but it actually solves a number of problems (microtransactions, fees, international money transfers, automated payment systems) so I'm not super concerned about that.
One of my favorite quotes, by Douglas Adams.
>It is a rare mind indeed that can render the hitherto non-existent >blindingly obvious. The cry 'I could have thought of that' is a very >popular and misleading one, for the fact is that they didn't, and a very >significant and revealing fact it is too.
What do you make of the download trend of the bitcoin client software in China? Isn't this a big story? China has lots of restrictive controls on their local currency, so Bitcoin has a real use case there. This is one of many scenarios where given even 1% adoption, the price must go very much above where it is now.
You commented on a recent episode about how Satochi Dice was going to block US traffic to the site due to uncertain regulations. Can't bitcoin work around that? If you send bitcoin to the addresses of the various bets - it still works right? Thanks for your show - I await each new podcast. Yes, if you already have the specific betting addresses it doesn't matter where you are in the world. It is only the website that does not allow US IPs, they did this to be very clear they were trying to respect the US gambling laws.
I spoke with Erik Voorhees about this among other things at the conference, you can find that interview here Link to letstalkbitcoin.com
I'd like to thank all three of you for doing this podcast, it's always thought provoking and fun to listen to. Plus, Stephanie does have a very sexy voice... But I do have a question, Right now, I don't know the answer to that question.
How do miners determine which transactions will be confirmed first and which get put to the back of the line? Shouldn't they be confirmed in a 'first come, first serve' basis? But the development team has made it clear they're moving towards a market-based mechanism where Miners set the minimum transaction fee they will accept, and process on a first-come/highest-fee model. People who want their transaction to process fast will put a higher fee and it will be prioritized, while people who don't care about delivery time will be able to send no fee and be subsidized by those paying higher fees.
*edit: As well, do you still plan on using some time on the show to go into more detail about mining? I think it was mentioned a few weeks ago that the topic might be explored in further detail. There will be fewer miners who accept free or very low fee transactions, so there you go.
How would Bitcoin change our financial system as we know it? In the same way the automobile changed the horse-and-buggy system as they knew it. If you play out the logic, one functionally obsoletes the other. I was talking with a financial reporter the other day who has been coming around to bitcoin, and he said to me "You know, if they were building the banking system from scratch today I think this is pretty close to what it would look like"
Andreas answered a question below about bitcoin and self driving cars, fixing spam on the internet by using Bitcoin addresses with tiny amounts of BTC in them to prove you're a real person and not a single-use bot, there are so many crazy and impossible things that become actually probable when you're talking in the context of a world built on decentralized, rules-based, cryptographically secured, instantly transmittable, person to person internet cash.
I have never been so hopeful for our future as I am now that I've thrown my days into bitcoin. Bitcoin 2013 was a fine conference and a wonderful experiance, so many very smart people have quit their jobs or left their studies to do the same thing I have.
We know we're building the future, and it's a better one than we have today.
Have any of you heard about how in Africa much of the exchange in value is done with mobile phone minutes? It seems to me - whatever the US attempts to do with Bitcoin - there will be other places that it will bubble up in. What about Argentina and other places where they actually understand what damage a desperate government can do to a currency? I would agree with you. Until recently it's been impossible to use Bitcoins on a "dumb cell phone" - That changed recently with Link to phoneacoin.com and others.
Bitcoin solves problems that the world has had for decades, it takes the power to destroy the currency away from government so they cannot do it no matter how much they want to, or how desperately they think they need to.
No government wants to destroy a currency, they just don't want to acknowledge they've trapped themselves with debt and have no way out.
Who invented Bitcoin? What is to stop whoever did so initially issuing themselves the equivalent of $79 zillion in Bitcoin currency prior to it taking off? Is there commission charged on each transaction that occurs? If so, how much, and who receives this? The true creator is not known, he went by a false name "Satoshi".
He actually holds about 250,000 coins if I recall correctly because he was the first miner. Bitcoin is a protocol, a set of rules. It's open source, and anyone who wants to look at it can see that there is not a mechanism to just create more coins by typing in a magic word. There are no commissions, although there are fees that go to the miners who process and verify transactions.
Great podcast, can't wait for the next one! It depends on the mesh. If the mesh was never connected to the internet, it would be a parralel Bitcoin network able to transact with itself but if it was ever connected to the larger network any conflicting transactions would be "lost" as the two ledgers (the big one, and the disconnected one) try to reckon their differences. Only one winner, so that means there is a loser.
You discussed mesh networks in 3rd world countries and how bitcoin could be used in such a scenario. If the [mesh] network is disconnected from the internet, how would transactions on the blockchain be verified? Couldn't the time the mesh network was disconnected make it vulnerable to hacking the [mesh network's] blockchain? More interesting might be disconnected communities running their own fork or version of Bitcoin, that way if they're ever connected it can be an exchange process (trading their coins for "bitcoins" rather than a reckoning (Seeing who has a bigger network and canceling out transactions on the smaller one that conflict)
1) The price for one Bitcoin seems to fluctuate quite a bit. The most successful currencies remain relatively stable over time (e.g. the Dollar). Will Bitcoin ever need to reach a certain level of stability to be a successful unit of trade? and if so, what do you think needs to happen before then? 1 - Yes! Once everyone who has purchased Bitcoin has purchased them, the price will stabilize. In practice this will start happening long before absolute stability, and as soon as people start thinking about prices in terms of BTC instead of their local currency it almost doesn't matter.
2) If Bitcoin ever becomes a widely accepted form of payment (seems a lot of businesses already accept it), how do you think the US government will proceed/react/regulate/etc. considering that technically only the feds can issue currency? 2 - "The Feds" are not the only ones who can issue currency - They have legal tender laws which mean people MUST accept their money, but nothing prevents you from circulating a voluntary currency like Bitcoin.
Do you foresee companies like paypal incorporating bitcoin into their businesses in the future as a more credible exchange than these ones that are currently running? No. Paypal again is the proverbial horse-drawn-buggy manufacturer- Sure they might go to the worlds faire and while observing the new fangled automobiles say to themselves 'we might integrate this into our existing machines!' when the fact is that it obsoletes those existing machines.
Paypal makes their money by standing in the middle of transactions collecting fees, Bitcoin serves its function by connecting people who want to do commerce directly to one-another, and what fees are paid are a tiny fraction of what Paypal does. If paypal accepted Bitcoin, it would not be Bitcoin any more because they would have mechanisms to freeze accounts at the very least to mitigate risk. That is not possible with Bitcoin by itself.
Thanks for the well thought out response, I genuinely appreciated that you took the time for this! I do have a follow up question, how does one get bit coin in an easy way? Lets say I have 300$ that I want in bit coin.. whats the best way to approach this? Probably a company like bitinstant.com, bitstamp.com, or btcquick.com - For larger amounts they don't make too much sense but at that level its your best bet.
Not to be rude, but how do you expect for a currency without a standard like gold silver etc. to not crash down in a blaze of glory? What standard is your currency backed by?
Hi There. I was at the San Jose convention hall last weekend attending Big Wow Comicfest and that's where I saw Bitcoin2013! Mostly Bitcoin 2013 was an opportunity for people building the future of Bitcoin to meet each other and network. There were speakers talking about a wide variety of issues, and vendors of Bitcoin services who were showing their latest innovations and systems.
What information was presented at this event that couldn't be done justice disseminated over the internet? The information will eventually be online, but the probably 200 people I got to meet in real life will not (in real life)
What resources do you think I should review as a total newbie to bitcoin? Or if possible, what's the one sentence pitch to get a newb involved? For people brand new, www.weusecoins.com is a good place to start For people who want to learn how it works, www.letstalkbitcoin.com/learn will direct you to the Bitcoin Education Project, which is a series of free and very high quality lectures that will tell you everything you ever wanted to know and more about Bitcoin, How it works, and all the little sub-topics that you'll eventually want to learn about.
The pitch is "It's like cash that lives on the internet, and is as easy to spend on the internet as buying a candybar in a store with a dollar"
Would any of you hazard a guess at the bitcoin exchange rate at the end of 2013? Sure, i'll make a wild guess.
$1000.
If and when a large user comes onboard, I think thats the next price at which we'll bounce around for a while, just like 100 became the sticky point after the last major bout of adoption.
How do bitcoins relate to the law? For example, what would be the crime if somone hacked your account and stole your bitcoins? It's not exactly theft of money, or is it? Bitcoins are your property, it's illegal for someone to steal your property whether it is money or not. Right now there is little that can be done about theft, but eventually I expect a class of "Blockchain Forensic Investigators" to emerge who will track down your stolen coins for a % based fee.
On your last show you mentioned the diversity of the Bitcoiners who attended BitCoin2013 - which nation was most represented in your opinion? Were there any Chinese nationals present (we've heard that they've suddenly gotten the bitcoin bug in the last month)? Did the other nations talk about regulatory problems or is that just a US concern? I met the gentleman from BTC-China, but other than that I actually didn't see any obvious chinese nationals. We saw lots of eastern europeans and south americans.
Other nations are not talking about the regulatory issue as far as I can tell, it seems like everyone is waiting to see what the US does, which is not abnormal in a very new situation like this.
Isn't having an inherently deflationary currency a terrible idea? How is bitcoin different from geeky goldbuggery? Because you can't divide a gold coin into .0001 without incurring cost and expense. That's not the case with Bitcoin, so the deflationary aspect of it is largely moot.
There is a tendency to listen to modern "economics" which makes this arguement, saying that the money supply must expand because otherwise it drives down profitability in a race to the bottom.
I think in practice we'll find that people don't work against their own best interest, and while during the initial adoptions stages of Bitcoin there will be significant discounts offered to those who pay with Bitcoin vs. legacy currency, once the market becomes saturated and the price levels out those discounts will be scaled way back.
Right now it makes sense to heavily discount, because the expectation is that the value of the Bitcoins will go up during this period of adoption, that won't always be true and the discount is a reflection of anticipated future returns.
Was it bad when people saved money in banks that paid 10% interest? No, that's called capital formation. There is a thought that given a deflationary currency nobody will spend any money, that's nonsense. Just because your currency gains value over time doesn't mean that you no longer have costs that must be paid for. What Deflationary currencies do is say "Ok, you could spend it on that, but is it worth it relative to what you'll gain by not?"
That's a good thing. Our system right now works on the opposite theory - Spend money NOW because if you're dumb enough to keep it in the bank it will actually lose value over time between the couple points of "official" inflation and less than 1% artifical interest rates. The situation is like this now because the fed is trying to make people spend as much money as possible with the hope that the flows will "restart the economic engine"
Too bad this isn't how things work, not that it'll stop us from trying it over and over again.
In the 2008 financial crash, govts bailed out the banks because there was no other way to maintain the whole financial ecosystems of payrolls, invoices and trade, all of which go through the banking system. Honestly? No. Bitcoin would be great in this role, but governments around the world rely on their ability to expand the money supply (print money, or sell debt) in order to fund their deficits. They also manipulate interest rates to be low so that debt is very inexpensive.
Can you envisage another financial crash in the future where govt says, "We don't need to do a bailout, as we've got this alternative payment system" and then instructs businesses and employees to just get themselves a bitcoin address and work through the Bitcoin system? Bitcoin doesn't have a central control mechanism, so there is no group or person who can say "OK - the interest rate is 1%" - If that's really what the interest rate wants to be based on market forces, it'll be that - But if not, there isn't much anyone can do to stop it.
What type of notes and agenda does the team coordinate on before a show? We use Basecamp, and it really depends. Right now we have a show prep thread that has 30+ posts in it for episode 11, we'll probably use 5 of those.
The agenda is really basic - As we get near recording time topics are selected (generally by me, but I like to get the other hosts to do it since they provide most of the commentary in Host segments) and I form a schedule, then we run through the recording session hitting each topic.
Over the last weeks we've brought two researchers onto the team, so that has helped a TON.
I first learned about Bitcoins on an episode of The Good Wife. The one with Jason Biggs as the creator of BitCoin. Have you watched that episode and how accurate does that episode portray what's happening with Bitcoin in terms of legal stuff? Not having seen it but knowing TV, I'm gonna go out on a limb and say "not very well" Satoshi has not been identified, was a throw-away identity that was cryptographically secured, so probably never will.
Are there any conferences in Chicago anytime soon? I think a Q&A in public would be helpful for your show as well as bitcoin. I'll be speaking at an event in NYC on July 30, there will be one or two meetups while I'm there. There is also an event in October in Atlanta. I remember talking with a guy at Bitcoin2013 wearing a shirt that said "BitcoinChicago" so I'd suggest looking for a user-group.
We're planning on doing Q&As often, but none of us are really near Chicago so it's tough. Happy to do virtual Q&As over skype, live or recorded.
Oh dear. You're not all perfectly grammatical orators on the first try? I'm crushed! I really value my own time, and I know other people out there do too. I try to make the show as information dense as possible, thats the criteria we've been operating under from really day one.
We're actually talking about cutting the show in half and releasing it more often (still recording the same amount) because people can get tired of listening to such dense content for an hour or more.
US Treasury recently issued a directive stating they would be monitoring any entity attempting to exchange virtual currency for USD (or any other currency, goods, or services), indicating that federal authorities take a dim view of what amounts to private coinage. Do you anticipate a Supreme Court case here defining what is and is not private coinage? 2.And given bitcoin's noted extra-legal uses, do you have any indication it is being decrypted by NSA? 3.Taking it a step further, do you think it could be a national security-sponsored international sieve for money laundering? It may eventually go to Supreme Court.
I think the market has done fine for bitcoin so far. I think the market will continue to take care of bitcoin. The idea of giving in willingly to regulation makes me cringe. There are two camps. Some people think that regulation is inevitable, and since it's going to happen anyways it's better to participate in the process and try to make it less bad. The other side thinks that by participating, you accept their authority to regulate it when really they have no right to regulate money and have proven to do a very bad job at it now for quite a number of years.
Thanks so much for doing this, I love the Bitcoin system, but hate the volatility. How do you recommend dealing with that? I've heard to convert it quickly to the currency of choice after any exchange has been made to avoid any more changes to the price. The easy solution is just buy and hold - If you need to buy something, do it when you need to and not before. Do not pre-order anything.
What is your prediction of the price for 1 btc in USD, exactly one year from now? Just for fun, since I know it is impossible to even guess the day to day price swings. As a wild guess number I'd say $1000 or less than a dollar. Very little middleground because if it's regulated out of existence it will still exist, but be hard to find and cheap - If adoption continues to path the price should accelerate with wild spikes up and down.
My partner is buying into bitcoin as well as litecoin. Any advice for him? (I personally don't understand it) Don't panic, invest for the long term, and don't buy any more than you can afford to lose 100% of because there are still things that could dramatically reduce the price of bitcoin (mostly regulatory stuff, I answered this elsewhere in the thread)
Hello, I just wrote a long post about the functions of using BTC to facilitate a 'free bank' using the principals of free money, similar to the WIR bank. Link to en.wikipedia.org Do you think that something like this would be possible using Bitcoin? Probably. Not really my area of expertise.
Why did bits take a dive at the same time gold took a tank? I don't pay attention to price, sorry.
We take full credit for any rise and blame others for any decline. Feel free to tip us from your gains! Lol.
Just wanted to say I love your show. I encourage you to please continue making high-quality podcast episodes. Thank you. I'm really excited to be able to be a journalist in such an exciting field in a time when journalism is under attack. Not sure if you've been following the so-called "AP scandal" but now is a weird time to be trying to report the truth in this world, and we couldn't have picked a more controversial topic to the global macro picture.
Bitcoins are the stupidest investment anyone could ever make. Pass. Link to static.quickmeme.com
Unfortunately, quickmeme doesn't let you copy image urls directly. Link to i.qkme.me
Yes, but they started being worth a set value. bitcoin was never backed by anything so its value was kind of made up. how do you expect to make a non goverment currency anybody with a computer can print to retain value? Because the pie is only so large, the more people who have computers devoted to the work just each get a smaller and smaller piece.
The rate of issuance for Bitcoin is currently 25 bitcoins every 10 minutes. Only one person or pool gets the whole 25 bitcoins, it's a race to find them. If there are 10 people looking, chances are pretty good you'll find some. If there are 100,000,000 people looking, chances are much less good that you'll find them first, but if there are that many people looking those 25 coins are probably worth a whole lot more.
The system is self balancing in this way, unlike the government currency system where they create 65 billion USD worth of new value every month to buy mortgage backed securities for face value to try and prop up the market. With more than a trillion USD being added in this way each year, how can a government currency retain its value?
Because the governments "pie" does infact have limits to making it, and only dropped gold standard after over 150 years of the doller having a defined worth, unlike bitcoin, where a random hacker can just print endless money. I'd direct you to security researcher Dan Kaminsky. Link to www.businessinsider.com
You'll find it's a little harder than you're describing. Like, impossible.
Last updated: 2013-05-29 11:06 UTC
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