ȘȈǤƝȘ 68: Urbit Apocalypse

“To become imperceptible… A clandestine passenger on a motionless voyage. To become like everybody else; but this, precisely, is a becoming only for one who knows how to be nobody, to no longer be anybody. To paint oneself gray on gray.” ―Deleuze

Flam Railway in Norway
Photo by Phil, Flam Railway in Norway
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In this issue you'll learn about:

  • Why Urbit is the most interesting thing in the world right now
  • Parallels between the crypto revolution and the European Renaissance
  • A professional stuntman writing a book about René Girard
  • And more

I can’t think about anything other than Urbit

A few months ago, I sketched one bull case for Urbit, from the creator perspective.

Recently a few more data points and insights coalesced for me, and now I’m basically an unabashed Urbit maximalist. I’m now pretty much of the belief that Urbit is destined.

The future of the internet has been revealed, and yet it still remains a secret. How exhilarating...

Signs of Life for this week will be dedicated almost entirely to what I've recently determined about Urbit, and what I recently observed at Urbit Assembly in Austin.

“Urbit is web6.” — Overheard

A senior engineer at Tlon, Ted Blackman, explained to me:

“Urbit is a defensive construct in the information war.”

Channeling Deleuze, Logan from Tirrel said to me:

“Today’s internet is cybernetic entrapment. Urbit is the only way to restore human dignity.

First of all, how many engineers talk like this about the products they're building? Not in fundraising slide decks, but organically in their everyday life? Not many.

Deleuze was right about everything, so much more right than we know, so much more right than I’ve yet been able to articulate.

So let's try...

In a panel discussion at the recent Urbit Assembly, I speculated that eventually a QAnon-type actor will arise on Urbit, but then it would be unstoppable. This would then be game over for currently existing institutions, as full-throttle reality entrepreneurs gain political power non-linearly.

Hard Forking Reality (Part 1)
TLDR: Environmental complexity increases the cost of adjudicating interpersonal disagreements about the true model of reality, while information-processing power increases the payoffs (and decreases the costs) of organizing communities around one’s preferred model of reality. Given that the Informat…
On "reality entrepreneurship"

What I didn't have time to add is that, more importantly, there will be multiple QAnons battling for reality. Insofar as the blockchain is absolute time, this battle will be a battle for the past and the future.

The CCRU called this “K-war,” cybernetic war or time war.

It's no longer clear the past causes the future. Whether you're a Global Warming Activist oriented to climate eschatology, a Thomist Catholic oriented to ethical teleology, an Anti-Racist oriented to Equity Millenarianism, or a Qanon truther who believes “the storm is coming”—today we all know, if only behind closed doors, that the future causes the past no less than the past causes the future. With the arrival of synthetic block time, the low-status folk belief in non-linear causalities becomes the high-IQ belief. Among the most galaxy-brained, it will soon become both an engineering diagram and a military strategy.

There is a telos of Earth, just as there is a telos of human nature. The question is:

What must the future always have been?

This is the axis of conflict, to figure out what the future is telling us to do, and then to do it—before the enemy does.

It’s a race, and we’re currently losing. The entrepreneurs at the core of Big Tech were the first movers. What they’ve accomplished is extraordinary, but now they’ve been captured by their machines. That’s the cybernetic entrapment. Look at Jack. Jack is based, but he’s trapped. His candor is laudable, the Blue Sky initiative is laudable, but it's tragic rather than promising. Look at Elon. Full self-driving is laudable, but it’s already captured: Go too fast and your insurance score gets dinged, already! Mars is cool, sure, but at this rate it’s going to be a State Farm before we even get there. Why? Because all of these people built their operations within the cybernetic entrapment. Tragic heroism deserves respect, but it should not be confused with signs of life.

Starting soon, the businesses of the future will be built on the outside.

We will have a decentralized and censor-proof Twitter owned by everyone in the world, where all of the data and machine learning is federated within cryptographically sealed opt-in networks.

We will have full self-driving where all of the data and machine learning is federated within cryptographically sealed opt-in networks.

We will go to Mars but it will be via decentralized spacecraft-sharing, where all of the data and machine learning is federated within cryptographically sealed opt-in networks.

Dieter Rams retrospective by Biblioteque, London, 2011
Dieter Rams retrospective by Biblioteque, London, 2011

The network is called Urbit. It’s already here. It already works. As of this month, networked applications are now being shared—permissionless, private, ungovernable, networked applications. By the time it reaches your son or daughter, they’ll never even know the word Urbit, just like my niece and nephew don’t know the phrase “TCP/IP” even though they use it everyday.

At every turn, we’ll be evading institutional suppressor-agents running on legacy equipment linked to the boomer web. Until the day when there are no suppressor-agents left.

Your decentralized Twitter account will be “cancelled” by a journalist, but there won’t be any administrator to remove you from your job or from the network.

Your jailbroken Tesla running at 500mph will be “pulled over,” but the cop car won’t be able to catch you, if a cop even sees you (extreme governance decline and layoffs after USD hyperinflation). It's 2043 and Comma.ai has differentiated from Tesla by running on Urbit... Rogue Toyota Corollas start icing cucked Teslas with voice-activated Ghost-Guns strapped to the hood. The Corolla Gang, centered in Texas, triggers a national panic. The Galactic Senate agrees to sell one star for $50M to hire a small militia, to quell the Corolla Gang and restore peace to the state of Texas. The militia is immediately more powerful than all standing law enforcement and national guard in the state, becoming the de facto government. All speed limits are removed, all gun restrictions are removed, and Bitcoin is declared the sole legal tender, among other conditions laid out in the Texas New Deal. President Ocasio-Cortez calls for a meeting in the Situation Room...

The interstellar toll booth won’t even try to halt your personal Mars rover, in the same way that the American government exempts Native American tribes from federal taxes. Already more Martian than the feeble Mars government, we’ll just have our way...

I’ve never been more convinced that today’s boomer web is utterly demonic. 99% of accounts are literal demons. For confirmation, look inside yourself. Who do you become when you log in? What do you become when you log in? PSYOPs all the way down. PSYOPs within PSYOPs—as far as the eye can see.

Building any business on the boomer web is intrinsically predatory, we’ve just normalized it. So long as there’s no conceivable alternative, one doesn’t feel guilty. But now there is an alternative and I can’t unsee it.

With its unique model of scarce digital real estate, Urbit will allow me to build a company—as a “creator”—that is beautiful, careful, durable, slow, cool, ethically unimpeachable, and generally remarkable. It will also be profitable and my community will share in the upside, unlike the boomer web where creators are structurally forced to extract profit rather than share it.

This will all take time to unfurl, but I no longer doubt it. And I’m planning accordingly.

I’m guessing that within 3 years, all of OtherLife.co and IndieThinkers.org will live exclusively on Urbit. I’ll still publish to the boomer web, but all of the action will eventually be on Urbit. Everyone in my community will have their own private computer, which will last for more than 1,000 years each, they’ll be sovereign and censor-proof within their own sub-communities, but linked to the most interesting interstellar network in the world—around the Other Life star (which should be up and running soon).

I will no longer pay for a dozen SaaS apps to herd people from this app to that app, annoying people with constant emails, new logins, and event reminders; followers, friends, investors, and customers will all blur seamlessly into permissionless swarms of badass people doing badass things and worrying about nothing else. It will take time, but it’s the most exciting vision conceivable for independent writers, thinkers, creators, and humble solo builders. So I plan to be early, even if it turns out to be very early.

There is much more I could say about the current developments that make me the most bullish, but that’s enough for now.

I should disclose that I own a small amount of Urbit address space, but not nearly enough. If I could work exclusively for Urbit address space right now, I would. This is not financial advice but I personally think it’s perhaps the single most asymmetric bet in the world right now.

More updates soon.

If you’re interested in any of this, please hit reply. I can’t talk about it enough.


Other Life Podcast

Below are some recent highlights from the Other Life podcast. Subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, or Spotify.

  • The Crypto Reformation with Josh Rosenthal. Josh Rosenthal is a former academic historian and a specialist in the European Renaissance and Wars of Religion. He's now a serial founder and crypto investor. We discuss parallels between the crypto revolution today and the Renaissance, the Reformation, and the Wars of Religion. If you listened to Josh's recent appearance on the Bankless podcast, this is like a Part 2. Subscribe.
  • The Art of Violence with Girardian Stuntman Eric Jacobus. Eric Jacobus is a professional stuntman, motion designer, and independent philosopher. He is writing a book called the Art of Violence, about how mirror neurons and mimetic rivalry affect perceptions of violence. We talked about film, how to theorize cinematic violence, René Girard, how social crises change cinematic norms around violence, why mainstream cinema has degenerated so badly, and much more. Subscribe.
  • At the Urbit Assembly, I recorded 10 podcasts with leaders in the Urbit ecosystem, as well as some fascinating individuals on the outer edges. They’ll be dropping on the Other Life podcast shortly, subscribe now so you don’t miss them.

Have a head to lose

~dasfeb industries
~dasfeb industries
“He who has not lost his head over some things has no head to lose.” —Richter