Bits and stuff: clarity, overviews and deeper questions – Oct 15, 2017

I’m sure that Jamie Dimon is a very smart man… for last decade’s banking.

According to Vanity Fair, he told an audience on Friday:

“The blockchain is a technology which is a good technology. We actually use it… Gold bless the blockchain. Cryptocurrencies, digital currencies, I think are also fine.”

The term “cryptocurrencies”, however, apparently does not include bitcoin. It’s not clear why. Dimon’s explanation:

“I don’t personally understand the value of something that has no actual value.”

Without even going into the intrinsic value of fiat currencies (and, for that matter, gold – it’s nice and shiny, but so are sequins – it can be argued that it has value because we’re used to thinking it has value), I’m confused as to why other cryptocurrencies are ok but bitcoin not.

Bloomberg reported on Friday that JP Morgan’s CFO Marianne Lake said on a conference call earlier this week that the bank was “open minded” about the potential uses of cryptocurrencies.

Including bitcoin?

It’s getting annoying hearing a big bank CEO talk publicly about a subject he does not seem to truly understand. It’s ok to not understand. Just stop talking about it publicly.

Surely it’s the mark of a good leader to recognize what he does not know, and lean on those in his team who do?

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Check out Josh Nussbaum’s market map – hours of painstaking work to give us a visual overview of what sort of work is going on in various sectors. Plus, he offers his top-down comment on what to look out for.

Josh Nussbaum market map
click to go to original article, with more detail and insightful comment

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This article on Quartz about moral philosophy makes compelling reading.

“Why bother with moral philosophy when common sense serves most of us perfectly well? The simple answer is that, as history shows, commonsensical beliefs are very often wrong.”

It’s also disturbing – is it productive to question your values? How much ethical discomfort should we encourage? When is tradition helpful, and when does it slow us down?

“Though our intuitions are very often wrong, they’re nevertheless necessary to give morality its meaning. If we have no emotive response, if no one cares at all when an act of evil is committed, then morality does not exist… And so rational thinking and moral instinct are in a constant state of slippery conflict.”

This would make a great subject for teenagers to think about. If we learn to question our parents’ beliefs more thoroughly (rather than just rejecting them because they’re old fashioned), we might end up with a generation more open to change, and more willing to look for solutions to tough problems rather than assume (hope) they’ll go away.

The main problem will be deciding what the problems are. Perhaps they’re not what we assume. (And like most of you, what I have is not so much answers as more questions, which lead to more questions – how many layers down should the questions go?)

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I used to love doll houses when I was little. There was a time I even dreamed of becoming a curator for museum dioramas. So of course I am mesmerized by these little scenes of gloom and portent. Gazing at them, I feel drawn into a hypnotic story that won’t have a happy ending but from which I can’t tear myself away. And, I find them utterly beautiful.

Give me this over VR any day.

By Andy Acres, founder of Chimerical Reveries. Via MyModernMet.

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