The impact of these technologies can be measured in the number of people affected. More than a billion people in China are now exposed to the virus for the first time; 335 million on Twitter watching Musk’s antics; and fentanyl killed 70,000 in the US. In all of this mess, there are important lessons about why technology fails. Read more.
The FTX meltdown
Night falls on made-up money
Imagine a world where you can earn new kinds of money and other people will pay you, well, real money to get some. Let’s call what they buy cryptocurrency tokens. But since there are so many types of tokens and they are difficult to buy and sell, imagine an entrepreneur creating a private stock market to trade them. Let’s call that a “cryptocurrency exchange”. Since the tokens have no intrinsic value and other exchanges have gone bust, you would have to make sure yours was ultra-secure and well-regulated.
That was the concept behind FTX Trading, a crypto exchange started by Sam Bankman-Fried, a twenty-something who touted advanced technology such as a 24/7 “automated risk engine” that would check every 30 seconds to see if depositors had enough real money to cover their crypto gambling. Technology would provide “full transparency”.
However, behind the facade, FTX was seemingly old-fashioned obfuscation. According to US investigators, Bankman-Fried took clients’ money and used it to buy posh homes, make political donations and amass huge stakes in illiquid crypto tokens. In November it all came crashing down. John Ray, appointed to oversee the bankrupt company, said FTX’s technology was “not advanced at all”. Nor was the alleged fraud, “This is simply taking money from customers and using it for our own purposes.”
Bankman-Fried, an MIT graduate whose parents are both Stanford University law professors, was arrested in December in the Bahamas and faces multiple charges of conspiracy, fraud and money laundering.
For more information on cryptocurrency promoters, we recommend if Wolf of Wall Street were about cryptoa satirical video by Joma Tech.
From drugs to murder
How fentanyl became a killer
In 1953, Belgian physician and chemist Paul Janssen began making the strongest painkiller he could. He believed he could improve morphine by designing a molecule 100 times more potent but short-lived. His discovery, the synthetic opioid fentanyl, would become the most commonly used pain reliever during surgery.
Today, fentanyl is setting grim records – it’s implicated in the accidental deaths of about 70,000 people each year in the US, or about two-thirds of all fatal drug overdoses. It is the leading cause of death in US adults under 50, killing more than car accidents, guns and covid combined.