Torn between "I think losing $100 million when someone beats you at security research is pretty much exactly what you signed up for doing yield farming" and "Maaaaaaaybe not the future of finance you were expecting, huh."

How to put this in regular finance terms...

Suppose hypothetically you have an account at a brokerage with some valuable asset in it. You take a margin loan against that asset to fund your normal spending, or pay a tax bill, or maybe buy something at another brokerage.
For reasons known only to the brokerage, they don't denominate your loan in dollars. They denominate it in shares of a money market fund, which are worth $1 +/- epsilon and basically never deviate from that.

And you think "Hmm, I have a large equity cushion against this loan."
One day, a computer system at the brokerage reports, sorta-kinda erroneously, that the value of the money market fund is actually $1.30 per share. The equity cushion is gone. Your valuable asset is sold, at timing you didn't choose, at wrong price, to pay an inflated phantom debt
And your recourse is... probably tweeting at patio11 saying he finds too much joy in this.

Which I don't; I just feel like this is why you don't trust a CPU built out of redstone to build reliable financial infrastructure on top of.
"Hey patio11 could this happen in traditional finance?"

Ill-timed liquidations can and do, but attacking someone doing something not-risky to force a liquidation is harder, because of many built in safeguards.
One, you can actually borrow in your unit of account (e.g. dollars), and $1 = $1, so you can't convince a brokerage that a $100k debt is actually $130k.

Two, if you regulated financial institution has a goof in your data feeds causes you to mechanically disadvantage retail...
... your most likely outcome is having an internal meeting and saying "Which do we dislike more, covering their losses out of our equity OR getting our knuckles rapped by the regulators, paying a fine, then covering the losses with our own equity?" and choose door #1.
Three, it is enormously hard to pervert the most popular real markets in the world and that is a game you actually don't want to win, because the first prize is frequently go-directly-to-jail.

This is not the consensus viewpoint among engineers, who do not have good calibration.
Like if you somehow did security research against e.g. the monthly Treasury auction and somehow caused it to invert expectations around reality, that would plausibly have $X0 billion in consequences and you could make out like a bandit.
And also literally everyone you had talked to for the last several years would be taken out for tea by friendly serious federal agents.
("Do you really think that would happen?"

For the treasury auction? Oh heck yes I do. Expect a turf war between the money people and the terrorism people over who gets to lead the investigation.)
Crypto enthusiasts would probably suggest me to disagree with them on this, and I actually do not at all:

The financial system is in part of broader systems of state control. Seriously attacking it at scale would be treated indistinguishably from "kinetic" war.
"So is the state going to seriously come after crypto people then?"

While they flatter themselves into thinking they materially challenge the government, following their own logic pretty closely, if this were actually true their conferences would attract precision munitions.

More from Patrick McKenzie

There are a *lot* of software shops in the world that would far rather have one more technical dependency than they'd like to pay for one of their 20 engineers to become the company's SPOF expert on the joys of e.g. HTTP file uploads, CSV parsing bugs, PDF generation, etc.

Every year at MicroConf I get surprised-not-surprised by the number of people I meet who are running "Does one thing reasonably well, ranks well for it, pulls down a full-time dev salary" out of a fun side project which obviates a frequent 1~5 engineer-day sprint horizontally.

"Who is the prototypical client here?"

A consulting shop delivering a $X00k engagement for an internal system, a SaaS company doing something custom for a large client or internally facing or deeply non-core to their business, etc.

(I feel like many of these businesses are good answers to the "how would you monetize OSS to make it sustainable?" fashion, since they often wrap a core OSS offering in the assorted infrastructure which makes it easily consumable.)

"But don't the customers get subscription fatigue?"

I think subscription fatigue is far more reported by people who are embarrassed to charge money for software than it is experienced by for-profit businesses, who don't seem to have gotten pay-biweekly-for-services fatigue.

More from Tech

THREAD: How is it possible to train a well-performing, advanced Computer Vision model 𝗼𝗻 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝗖𝗣𝗨? 🤔

At the heart of this lies the most important technique in modern deep learning - transfer learning.

Let's analyze how it

2/ For starters, let's look at what a neural network (NN for short) does.

An NN is like a stack of pancakes, with computation flowing up when we make predictions.

How does it all work?

3/ We show an image to our model.

An image is a collection of pixels. Each pixel is just a bunch of numbers describing its color.

Here is what it might look like for a black and white image

4/ The picture goes into the layer at the bottom.

Each layer performs computation on the image, transforming it and passing it upwards.

5/ By the time the image reaches the uppermost layer, it has been transformed to the point that it now consists of two numbers only.

The outputs of a layer are called activations, and the outputs of the last layer have a special meaning... they are the predictions!
One of the best decisions I made during a very turbulent 2020 was to leave conventional coding behind and embrace the #nocode movement. @bubble made this a reality. Although my own journey thus far is premature, I’ve learned a lot so here’s a power thread on....

‘How I created @buildcamp sales funnel landing page in under 2hours’.

Preview here 👇

Power thread here 👇

1. Started with a vanilla bubble app ensuring that all styles and UI elements were removed. Created a new page called funnel and set the page size to 960px as this allows the page to render proportionately on both web and mobile when hitting responsive breakpoints.

2. Began dropping elements onto the page to ‘find the style’. These had to be closely aligned to our @buildcamp branding so included text, buttons and groups - nothing too heavy. Played around with a few fonts, colors and gradients and thus pinned down the following style guide.

3. Started to map out sections using groups as my ‘containers’ to hold the relevant information and imagery needed to pad out the sales pitch. At this point, they were merely blocks of color #ff6600 with reduced opacity set to 5% to ease page flair.

You May Also Like