The AI ‘Pause’ Proposal Is Deceptive and Alarmingly Hazardous

As originally published in CoinDesk

Last month, several tech giants signed a letter calling for a six-month pause on training artificial intelligence (AI) models more powerful than GPT-4.

This letter is dangerous and should provoke thoughtful citizens. In it, the signatories claim that a pause will allow humanity more time to understand and respond to the potential risks of AI. The letter itself serves to rally public support for OpenAI and its allies as they consolidate their dominance, build an extended innovation lead and secure their advantage over a technology of fundamental importance to the future. If this occurs, it will irreparably harm Americans – our economy and our people.

Read more: The AI ‘Pause’ Proposal Is Deceptive and Alarmingly Hazardous

GPT-4 and similar foundation models promise to increase human capacity by 1,000 times, driving social change in many arenas of life. The industry as currently structured is likely to solidify a cabal deciding who benefits from this technology.

Imagine if, in 1997, Microsoft and Dell had issued a similar “pause” letter, urging a halt to browser innovation and a ban on new e-commerce sites for six months, citing their own research that the internet would destroy brick-and-mortar stores and aid terrorist finance. Today we’d recognize this as self-serving alarmism and a regulatory capture attempt.

The “pause” letter is no different. A few outspoken, charming leaders are making a power grab in the guise of protecting us from AI dangers. They have positioned themselves as the sole arbiters of what tech the world gets to see and use, and deciders of what makes an AI “accurate, safe, interpretable, transparent, robust, aligned, trustworthy and loyal.”

It’s wrong for a handful of billionaires to decide what’s good and safe for the world. Even well-intentioned AI leaders should not hold such power. Absolute power corrupts absolutely.

The world is in a race toward next-generation foundation models. Nobody racing will halt or even slow research and development. Independent AI labs and foreign rivals, eager to integrate advanced AI into their systems, won’t pause; they will continue relentlessly.

How can we ensure all humans benefit from the 1,000x improvement AI offers us? The only way is through free and open development, including sharing capabilities, methodologies and network checkpoints. For example, for years, EleutherAI has been leading the way, resisting scam warnings that GPT-2 and GPT-3 were “too dangerous” for the public, fearlessly releasing research and models. We need 100 to 1,000x the scale of EleutherAI, globally. (Note: This author is not affiliated with EleutherAI.)

We should not pause. Right now we all must prioritize, invest in, contribute to and broadly publish genuinely open AI models. We must remain on guard against those who seek to control humanity’s destiny.

Eleven years ago, early pioneers in the blockchain space pulled together and formed the Bitcoin Foundation, a model for crypto-industry organization balancing out the needs and goals of private individuals with those of the companies that would make crypto thrive. The Foundation encompassed many kinds of people and many goals, but we were united in wanting Bitcoin to thrive outside the control of any single group or cabal. I believe something similar is needed for AI technology, taking the best lessons from the last decade and more of decentralized technology and matching it with a fierce commitment to independence, humanity and openness.

The proposed pause would consolidate control of AI development among the wealthy and powerful. Instead, let us race forward together and in the open. I invite the like-minded, the skeptical and the curious to discuss how we can achieve a better future. Connect with others who are committed to keeping AI free and open for all at

L1EF is a Rolling Fund Investing in Everything You Want to Do in the Metaverse

I’m very pleased to announce the launch of the LAMINA1 Ecosystem Fund (L1EF) on AngelList. Unlike other crypto ecosystem funds, L1EF is a rolling fund—the first layer-1 blockchain rolling fund in history.

Ecosystem funds are the second great invention in blockchain ecosystem development. The first was the idea of the Foundation — a not-for-profit entity that organizes capital, dreamers, thinkers, and operators, and focuses them on building the underlying value of the chain’s assets, balancing the need for coordination against the need for quality decentralization.

Read more: L1EF is a Rolling Fund Investing in Everything You Want to Do in the Metaverse

Sometimes launching takes a while. Building a vibrant community and ecosystem always takes time — even when the core chain launches quickly. Post-launch, a Foundation can bring its entire balance sheet resources to bear, but it usually can’t use its token before mainnet. Ecosystem funds bridge this gap with “hard” fiat currency deployable ahead of mainnet launch. In exchange, they usually achieve broad macro-market access to an entire ecosystem at early-stage prices.

I launched the first layer-1 foundation, the Bitcoin Foundation, with Gavin Andresen in 2012 and we raised Bitcoin from Bitcoin holders; today, foundations raise fiat capital from investors and use that money to get the chain launched.

As layer-1 investors and operators have become more sophisticated, they have concluded that the equity-value companies building on chain have different capitalization and cap table dynamics than the chain itself; that’s where the ecosystem fund fits in. It’s a professionally managed investment fund devoted to making high-quality investments with the leverage that comes from partnering with a nascent fast-growing blockchain.

We’ll be investing in games, fashion, music, art, NFT projects, emergent AI, Defi, Gamefi, DeSoc, virtual machines, layer-2 protocols, identity, data storage, data availability, privacy, payments, DAOs, marketplaces, bridges, applications, and immersive experiences.

I’m honored to be joined by some incredible partners for L1EF’s inception—Neal Stephenson is my cofounder at LAMINA1, a well-known visionary. Rebecca Barkin runs LAMINA1 operations, is fiercely effective, and will oversee content and transmedia-related investments. Music industry and arts exec, Jessica Toon, will head up our music investments. Christine Keung is here to keep us in line and ensure we can execute.

Investors should be aware that most L1EF partners work on LAMINA1 and will own LAMINA1 tokens, and plan to continue to own them. We will likely encourage portfolio companies to hold Lamina1 tokens as part of their business operations, and likely require most portfolio companies to have a clear use case for the LAMINA1 blockchain, and an integration path with the chain. I own a venture studio, Studio6, which launched LAMINA1, and the studio will launch other LAMINA1 ecosystem companies.

Read more details at Apply to Invest Now to set up your subscription. If you’d like to get in touch with the partners, email us at

If you’re a builder and want to apply for an investment from the L1EF fund, please submit an application at

Thirty Years Ago, Neal Stephenson Imagined the Metaverse. Now We’re Building It Together.

A little over ten years ago, I convened the first board meeting of The Bitcoin Foundation. At the time, Bitcoin was a loose agglomeration of people working on whatever interested them. It was the first serious (and we now know, successful) attempt at creating a decentralized digital currency — something Satoshi called “a blow for freedom” in his original whitepaper. The Bitcoin Foundation was an experiment, an attempt to provide some support for the chain, community, and core team. Despite detractors, the foundation model is a vital tool for effective governance in our industry today.

Read more: Thirty Years Ago, Neal Stephenson Imagined the Metaverse. Now We’re Building It Together.

Twenty years before that, Neal Stephenson was just about to publish Snow Crash, the book that literally defined the Metaverse and in the process inspired a generation of technologists. I’m from a generation of technologists inspired by Neal as well — the slightly later 1999-era Cryptonomicon reading group.

Cryptonomicon included Neal’s musings on how a group of nerds might start the first online bank; it inspired PayPal, and I would argue created what we call “FinTech” as an industry in its current incarnation. Bitcoiners now include many of the early PayPal founders and investors.

Much of the 3D/VR/AR world: Neal helped us see what was possible, and imagine what could be possible. Much of today’s $trillion+ decentralized economy: Neal pointed us to the idea that cryptographers could be the future’s bankers.

I’m a fan.

Like many of you, I’ve been curious what Neal thought about the world’s sudden adoption of his term “metaverse” last year. Luckily for me, that curiosity turned into a deep series of conversations. From those conversations came our conviction that it is time to found a new layer-1 blockchain, and so today I am super pleased to announce that we are co-founding LAMINA1.

There’s a lot to say about LAMINA1, and we’ll be talking about it a lot this year. In brief, I think of it as the base layer for the Open Metaverse: a place to build something a bit closer to Neal’s vision — one that privileges creators, technical and artistic, one that provides support, spatial computing tech, and a community to support those who are building out the metaverse. It feels like coming full circle to my early foundation instincts — make space for and support the people doing the work, and good things will happen.

I’m also humbled to announce an extraordinary and visionary group of initial investors — all people who took a risk on Neal and me in our recent friends and family investment round. Some of the names will be known to anyone reading; some are a window into the pre-history of Bitcoin. I encourage you to look into them — their own stories will reward the research. For a taste: In 2010, one of our investors beat me bidding on; he bid $5,000 and I only bid $2,000. The seller refused to let me up my bid. For many years, I had the better end of the deal, because Bitcoin’s underlying price rise was faster than the value of This is no consolation — I’m still salty about it.

So, about the founding team — Neal brings his vision, wisdom, experience, and some core goals: helping get artists and other value creators paid properly for their work, helping the environment (LAMINA1 will be provably carbon negative), and seeing a truly Open Metaverse get built instead of seeing the metaverse vision co-opted by monopolies.

I bring 12 years of thinking deeply about Bitcoin and crypto every day, informed by a ringside seat at the most significant events in our industry. I still carry a desire to fulfill the core dreams of Satoshi in his original whitepaper (high-grade crypto “striking a blow for freedom”). I hope to bring economic and technology design that will help Neal’s vision get built sustainably, and I have a raft of plans to implement Lamina1 quickly as we get the necessary governance, technology, node operators, IP partners, artists, business partners, and funds up and running.

LAMINA1 will be a company bridging the spatial/metaverse world with the crypto world, and we will need help. You can join our Discord at and get engaged with us in the ‘traditional’ crypto manner or you can drop us a line at We’re hiring engineers, technologists, business development people, and spatial industry veterans — if you’re interested, please email us at

I hope you’ll join me and Neal as we try to build this together.

Happy Birthday, Bitcoin! You’re Still Killing It

As originally published in Forkast News

Bitcoin’s original white paper, which I first read in early 2010, is a bit of incandescent fire from the gods. I didn’t know it at the time, but Bitcoin would permanently alter the course of my life, introducing me to some of the most interesting people in the world — world leaders, intellectuals, iconoclasts, friends, and rivals. The force of Satoshi Nakamoto’s vision and invention — which came into existence with the mining of Bitcoin’s genesis block 13 years ago today — sucked me in from the moment I read the Bitcoin white paper, and I have loved every minute it brought me since.

Read more: Happy Birthday, Bitcoin! You’re Still Killing It

Bitcoin’s demise is predicted just about as frequently as a Bitcoin bull market hits, and its said demise is trumpeted when there is a Bitcoin bear market (or “winter,” as we sadly call it). Crypto market dynamics mean Bitcoin bear markets can last a lot longer than traditional markets — up to two years in one instance, so longtime Bitcoiners get to hear a lot of scoffing, naysaying, and sneering. We all say exactly the same thing to each other when we meet though: “I should have bought more.”

This kind of thinking is more religious than it is rational; every Bitcoin participant in 2010 did just fine economically, but we can’t help thinking it and can’t help saying it. To quote an early Bitcoiner: “I said I believed, but I clearly didn’t, because I acted like losing 5,000 BTC [at US$0.50] wasn’t a big deal.”

I, too, acted that way out of a desire to not look foolish if there was some sort of existential threat that wiped out Bitcoin. Bad decision. But, I’m still young enough to change my ways, and I hope that I’ll encourage someone reading this to proceed with an open mind as they think about the true value of cryptocurrencies and open financial markets.

I’m often asked about the underlying value of Bitcoin, usually as a thinly veiled request for trading advice or point-scoring from MBA students. The underlying value of Bitcoin is this: It’s everywhere, it cannot be regulated out of existence, and it is truly open digital financial infrastructure — the first the world has ever seen.

Love it or hate it (because you think it’s dumb, because you think it destroys the world economy or because you should have bought more). However you feel about Bitcoin, it exists, it “strikes a blow for freedom” on the side of digital natives everywhere, and it will continue to exist for a very long time.

Bitcoin changes the fundamental assumptions nation-states can make about money and citizenry: With every state-sanctioned solution, citizens “apply” for an account. With Bitcoin, anyone can create an address. This isn’t just semantics. The United States has a large body of law around banking inclusion (seriously, WTF? Over here, all are welcome), and culturally the neoliberal idea that financial overlords should choose what’s right for the people pervades discourse and politics to the extent that it’s the water we fish swim in.

Instead, Bitcoin’s permanent openness and the permissionless innovation it allows is a powerful force for good for people around the world. Crypto projects that ignore this key feature of Bitcoin tend to be regulated out of existence — the ICO boom of 2016-17 is a prime example — and the architects and managers of Bitcoin’s protocol understand this lesson well, for which we are all grateful.

On Bitcoin’s 13th birthday, I think it’s appropriate to remember that a small, excellent idea in the hands of believers really can change the world. There’s still time to get in on the fun, and create a more open financial world. I hope you’ll join us.