Learning by Proxy | NFT

What is the value of a mere collectable? Also, what is its value when it is possible to make copies of it?

This is the 51st edition of Learning by Proxy.

I decided to make things a little more focused and therefore shorter from this edition forward. Covering only one topic in-depth gives readers something specific and it also limits the length of the blog which has on occasions got unwieldy.

If you like this format better or preferred the previous editions, let me know.

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NFT

An NFT of digital art was auctioned for $69 Million by Beeple. How much of that sentence made sense to you?

The first trade that took place was barter. It must have been difficult because you could only complete a trade when each wanted what the other had. If you were growing rice and I made stools, there were only so many stools that you may require. After a point as a rice planter, you would probably ask me to keep my stools to myself.

You must think, doesn’t money solve this problem? True. Money has a property that makes this possible.

Fungibility - (of goods contracted for without an individual specimen being specified) replaceable by another identical item; mutually interchangeable.

Money is fungible and exchangeable. This means that each copy of the currency note has the same value and is used interchangeably. Simple idea, with powerful consequences.

Money was not always exchangeable. As recently as the 16th century when the Portuguese found their way to Kerala, they were laughed out of the king’s court when their wares could not match up with the quality of the products that were being made in Kerala. Their money had no value outside of Portugal.

A blockchain is essentially a decentralised immutable chain of records. Whatever is being tracked by the blockchain is called a token. The token could be a currency such as bitcoin, or it could be your insurance documents, or ownership documents, or some other digital assets.

The decentralisation of a blockchain means that there are several copies of it on every system on the network. Each time the blockchain compares itself with its copies on other systems. If a transaction or change of ownership is genuine, it will reflect on all the systems. If not, the error is flagged, and the transaction is removed.

This brings us to Non-Fungible Tokens (NFT). Somebody just spent almost $70 Million on one. Or as New York Times more appropriately put it - “A jpeg file was sold for $69 Million.”

Until October, the most Mike Winkelmann — the digital artist known as Beeple — had ever sold a print for was $100.

Today, an NFT of his work sold for $69 million at Christie’s. The sale positions him “among the top three most valuable living artists,” according to the auction house.

The record-smashing NFT sale comes after months of increasingly valuable auctions. In October, Winkelmann sold his first series of NFTs, with a pair going for $66,666.66 each. In December, he sold a series of works for $3.5 million total. And last month, one of the NFTs that originally sold for $66,666.66 was resold for $6.6 million.

Source: Verge

It was this.

Non-Fungible Tokens (NFT) are digital artefacts of which there is only one original on a blockchain. This can include articles, tweets, art, images, pretty much anything. Much like trading cards, we used to collect as kids. Now here is the problem.

  1. The tweet above is proof that there are many copies of that image that was sold for $69 Million!

  2. There is not only ONE blockchain in the world, so I might create the same token on another blockchain and sell it to another person. Bitcoin or any other cryptocurrency has its own blockchain. This is not true for all digital tokens.

  3. If every human on the planet might have a copy of the same digital art, where is the value?

If you visit v.cent.co you can set up an account and sell your own tweet as an NFT. The trouble is that the tweet will still exist for everyone to see and if you delete the tweet, the other person has an image of the tweet and that is it.

While this sale has caused interest to peak in NFTs. NFTs have been around for over 3 years now. They first became a sensation with CryptoKitties.

CryptoKitties operates on Ethereum’s underlying blockchain network, as a non-fungible token (NFT), unique to each CryptoKitty. Each CryptoKitty is unique and owned by the user, validated through the blockchain, and its value can appreciate or depreciate based on the market. CryptoKitties cannot be replicated and cannot be transferred without the user’s permission even by the game developers.

Source: Wikipedia

CryptoKitties are collectables anyone can purchase, and they get stored on an Ethereum blockchain. Since this is attributable to a particular blockchain, it has some uniqueness. People spend crypto-currency to buy these artefacts.

Some of this just sounds like a pump and dump scheme to me. People who have a lot of cryptos that they acquired on the cheap in 2010, use it to generate stupid interest in a non-asset. They drive up the price, get others to commit a lot of money, get out and watch the whole thing come down.

While it is rather challenging to see why a jpeg file that is just as easily available to everyone else would be worth $69 Million. The positive is that for creators this might be a golden opportunity to monetise their creations. I hope many of them are able to take those with money for a ride and enrich themselves.

I don’t at all understand why anyone would pay so much for art! Especially one that can be easily replicated.

The man that bought it is a Singapore-based Tamil Indian. You can hear his interview if you wish to - here.

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Other News

Axis bank thinks you will pay using the watch you wear. Especially as contactless NFC Payments become more ubiquitous.

The private sector lender has launched a range of wearable contactless payment devices called ‘Wear N Pay’. The device will be directly linked to a customer’s bank account and can be used like a debit card while making a payment to any merchant who accepts contactless tap-and-go payments through a PoS device.

Source: Inc42


Elon Musk - who changed his designation to Technoking of Tesla. Not kidding, it was in the SEC filing; gave his employees COVID.

More than 400 workers at a Tesla plant in California tested positive for the coronavirus between May and December, according to public health data released by a transparency website.

The data provides the first glimpse into virus cases at Tesla, whose chief executive, Elon Musk, had downplayed the severity of the coronavirus crisis and reopened the plant in May, in defiance of guidelines issued by local public health officials.

Source: New York Times

Maybe he should have changed the title to Grim Reaper of Tesla.


Enemy of an enemy is a friend. China thought the change in administration in the US will bring about a change in approach; it did not. Russia is also at the receiving end with the Navalny arrest.

The heads of the Chinese and Russian space agencies signed an agreement on Tuesday to work together to build a “scientific” station on the Moon.

Under terms of a memorandum of understanding, the two countries will cooperate on creation of an “International Lunar Science Station” and plan to invite other countries to participate. The agreement was signed by Zhang Kejian, director of the China National Space Administration, and Dmitry Rogozin, the chief of Russia’s space corporation, Roscosmos. The agreement was announced by Roscosmos.

Source: Ars Technica


It is one thing to exaggerate and another thing to completely misreport. Looks like the food delivery companies have been misreporting their numbers.

In October 2020, Zomato and Swiggy, the two leading food delivery firms in India, had said the number of orders booked on their apps had gone back to pre-Covid levels reflecting that Indians were no longer hesitant about ordering-in.

However, independent research has shown that’s not the case. On March 10, market intelligence firm Kalagato said that as per its data, even until December, the two food tech players were inching towards recovery at a snail’s pace.

Source: Quartz

All the wrong coverage for Zomato prior to their IPO expected sometime this year.


If For-Profit Newspapers can force Google to pay up for their links Wikipedia is well within its rights to ask Google to pay up for using the data from their site to power their voice assistant, etc.

Today, the Wikimedia Foundation, which operates the Wikipedia project in more than 300 languages as well as other wiki-projects, is announcing the launch of a commercial product, Wikimedia Enterprise. The new service is designed for the sale and efficient delivery of Wikipedia’s content directly to these online behemoths (and eventually, to smaller companies too).

Conversations between the foundation’s newly created subsidiary, Wikimedia LLC, and Big Tech companies are already underway, point-people on the project said in an interview, but the next couple of months will be about seeking the reaction of Wikipedia’s thousands of volunteers. Agreements with the firms could be reached as soon as June.

Source: Wired

When you open a window during a storm, expect the house to be flooded!


You need not be really smart to excel at trading. Several studies have proved that the best traders are no better than monkeys. Now Rats join the party.

Mr. Lehman was part of “Rat Traders,” a project overseen by the Austrian conceptual artist Michael Marcovici, whose work often comments on business and the economy. For the project, Marcovici trained dozens of rats to detect patterns in the foreign-exchange futures market. To do this, he converted price fluctuations into a series of notes played on a piano—if a price went up, the next note was higher—and then left it up to the rat to predict the tone of the note that followed.With some prodding, the rats began forecasting price changes, and Marcovici says that they were outperforming human traders after a few months of training—a claim, though, that’d require testing more thorough than what was done here.

Source: The Atlantic

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Also

How the Black Box was created

Volcano reflecting on clouds!

We will need China grade AI for this.


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What we think, we become ~ Buddha