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With so much misinformation out there and understandable concern regarding this disease (COVID-19), and the virus that causes it (SARS-CoV-2), the goal of this article is to help provide a scientific foundation to better process information and decide how to act. I’ll introduce the basics of epidemiology, how epidemiologists around the world are considering and responding to COVID-19, what SARS-CoV-2 is exactly and how it spreads, the status of vaccines and antiviral drug developments, and what cognitive biases are at play as we individually and collectively react to this global pandemic.

TL;DR

I’ve posted a 21-tweet summary here.

And a six-tweet update on March 14th, 2020 here. …


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As 2020 approaches, the market for raising your first round outside of friends and family — traditionally called a “seed” round — has changed dramatically. There are now a wide variety of financial products to fit early stages of your company (i.e. there are no longer standard amounts for “Pre-Seed”, “Seed”, “Series A”, etc.) and a maddeningly large number of accelerators and venture capitalists (VCs) are competing for your attention. In such an environment, the global noise of books, podcasts, videos, and blogs — i.e. marketing material — often steer founders in the wrong direction; i.e. …


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From https://hubble.figment.network

While the core promise of blockchain technology involves data security, decentralization, and transactional speed/reliability at scale, the main use cases we’ve seen thus far have been limited to long-term value storage (e.g. bitcoin) and programmatic transactions of digital tokens (e.g. ethereum). Understandably, to prove the initial usefulness of the technology, these early networks have optimized their protocols for decentralization and data integrity, rather than transaction speeds and fast finality.

However, to usher in the next generation of decentralized applications, blazing fast blockchains have arrived (e.g. Tezos, Cosmos, Livepeer, etc…). These new networks rely on a relatively small number of software and network engineers to maintain nodes on fast, secure, and reliable machines all over the world. (I’ll call these nodes “validators” in this article for simplicity, although many networks call them unique names to fit their use cases, i.e. …


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Well, it’s official: the lofty promises made during the 2017 crypto frenzy have come up dramatically short. The mad rush of teams raising insane amounts of money that year have not (yet) produced mass-adoption of decentralized applications. As every experienced startup investor and founder knows (especially in hindsight), raising a ton of money without a product — let alone a proven market that wants that product — is a recipe for disappointment.

All is not lost, however. While many have been struggling to find examples of decentralized protocols that solve real problems (and actually deliver value, are designed to scale well, etc…), it appears that at least one is in the works that everyone in the crypto-world should study carefully: Livepeer. …


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Besides the addition and subtraction of numbers on a distributed ledger (i.e. cryptocurrencies), blockchains hold the power to provide most — if not all — of the services that centralized computing can provide. Thus, as the community of builders continues to grow, we have seen the very beginning of not only decentralized money, but also decentralized file storage, computing services, financial services, real-life asset ownership records, supply-chain management, personal identity, energy distribution, health records, governance, and more.

Critical for the success of decentralized applications (dApps), however, is the ability for developers to efficiently control the input and output of the data being decentralized. To date, there have been a limited number of options available for developers to accomplish this, but at least two new blockchain projects I’m aware of are working on a fundamentally different approach. Below, I’ll briefly describe the ongoing evolution dApp development options and explain why application-specific blockchains hold tremendous promise for the future of the industry. …


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There is a reason why the earliest round of capital infusion into a startup is often called the “Friends, Family, and Fools” round: most founders at this stage usually take money from their own savings and/or inexperienced startup investors, burn through cash haphazardly, mess up their cap table by giving away too much equity (often to too many people), literally break the law by violating securities regulations, and/or fall victim to freelancers and agencies that are happy to work for money but don’t advocate for the best interest of the company.

In this article I’ll briefly discuss rules to follow when raising and spending friends and family money, and I’ll share an example (fictional) story of a founder going through this part of the startup journey to help illustrate how this rules can apply in practice. …


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Monitoring validator node voting power & uptime. Image from: https://figment.network/cosmos/hubble

Although the latest wave of blockchain hype has calmed down this year, the ferocity of teams working on the underlying technology continues to increase. The time is fast approaching when scalable, secure, and decentralized solutions for many core areas of technology (computing, file storage, payments, etc…) will be ready for application developers. When this collective tipping point occurs, there will likely be a rapid transition of user adoption from Web 2.0 apps (centralized) to Web 3.0 apps (decentralized).

Leading the way toward this transition are a collection of Proof-of-Stake (PoS) blockchain projects that are working on solving the scalability problems of Proof-of-Work without giving up too much security or decentralization. Even for the most tech-savvy blockchain users out there, however, navigating all the PoS variants, delegating/voting mechanics, lock-up periods, custody issues, etc… remains maddeningly complex. …


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While the scaling problem for blockchains is well understood and being addressed by many teams, what is often overlooked is the interoperability problem and why it matters for the future of crypto. Without protocols in place to enable automated communication between chains, our decentralized projects will continue to remain in silos and our overall ecosystem will remain fractured.

The reality today is that we live in a multi-chain world. It’s foolish (as Vitalik Buterin famously said in his 2016 white paper on chain interoperability) to believe that there will be “one blockchain to rule them all”, so unless we get serious about creating standards and engineering-friendly tools to enable inter-chain communication — and unless we properly incentivize entrepreneurs to make this happen —our fractured system will continue to hinder the development and mass adoption of decentralized applications. …


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There is a major, multi-faceted shift happening right now in the world of crypto. It’s difficult to see given how noisy, complex, disjointed, and interdisciplinary the information flow and topics are in the community; but new consensus protocols combined with a maturing regulatory landscape are setting the stage to unify four groups that are often in conflict within a blockchain project:

  1. Core developers
  2. People who operate the underlying nodes
  3. Users of a network
  4. Major token holders

In an ideal world these groups would have closely aligned incentives, but for a wide variety of reasons most blockchains have two or more of these groups in gridlock, slowing project evolution to a halt. (The massive speculation that occurred in 2017 turned up the volume and made the tension between these groups more prevalent across the board.)


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Acrylamide, C3H5NO

A judge in California ruled this week that Starbucks, 7-Eleven, and many other businesses that sell coffee need to warn consumers via food labels about the ingestion of acrylamide.

California’s Prop 65 states that businesses selling products that contain one or more of 65 chemicals shown by scientists to cause cancer and/or reproductive disease must give customers a “clear and reasonable” heads up.

The judge wrote regarding the lawsuit that, essentially, the defendants couldn’t prove that acrylamide levels in their coffee weren’t below the levels deemed dangerous according to Prop 65 (which, looking it up, appears to be 0.2 micrograms/day for cancer, and 140μg/day for reproductive disease, where a warning label is needed if more than 1/1000th of this — i.e. 0.14μg/day …

About

Will Little

Partner @ProtaVentures

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