>Imagine that you can login from anywhere with one name and password.
>And when you do, your entire OS appears.
>Inside is your whole digital life. All of your communities, conversations, and connections. All of your biometric data and devices. Your entire personal archive in one place that’s secure, private, and designed to last forever.
What does this mean? My whole digital life? It sounds like I'm signing in to a VPS from which I access all of my digital life. Is that it? Do I get a VPS?
That seems kind of like what I'm getting. The first line on urbit.org is "Urbit is your last computer" - but I don't see how I'm buying a computer, for a one time fee, for life, without paying a ton of money.
I see this website  has an Urbit "Planet" available for .04 ETH, or about 6 USD. Could I get a life long VPS for 6 dollars? If so, I'd definitely be up for it. If not, what, exactly am I getting for 6 dollars?
The page "Understanding Urbit" also says that Urbit OS "can never show you ads". What does that even mean? It can't run Chrome? The OS can't show ads? Any image or text can be an ad. I don't get it.
What I would like to see is a simple explanation of what Urbit is. Maybe a video, where someone logs in to Urbit, and interacts with it in someway, doing something that can't easily be done in some other way. I'd like to know the difference between planets, stars, and galaxies.
There has to be a better way to explain this.
1 - https://opensea.io/assets/0x6ac07b7c4601b5ce11de8dfe6335b871...
The actual urbit is like docker with standard API for communication between all apps on different containers, but it runs on a lisp-machine like architecture, except instead of lisp there's a new esoteric language called Hoon.
If not for the scammy wealth extraction attempt with the name system, I would consider it to be in the same general category as TempleOS - a form of art.
> Urbit is a friendly network: a network on which you can assume that a stranger is nice until proven nasty. Friendliness is a direct consequence of scarce, individually owned identities. We're not changing human nature, just creating the right economic incentives.
> Most forms of network abuse are "Sybil attacks": they rely on an infinite supply of fresh identities. Scarcity makes reputation work. Spam is a business; if the cost of a new planet exceeds the amount of money you can make by spamming from that planet until its reputation is trashed, there will be no spam. 
While it's true an intent was selling the parts of the address space Tlon has to fund its development, its business model for consumers going forward isn't really to sell you planets; it's more about bootstrapping the project and offering hosting and support.
For investors, purchasing address space (i.e. a galaxy or star within Tlon's ownership) is a way of investing in an asset that could be a source of income while also having some influence over how the network changes in the future, in the way a stockholder would a company.
Essentially the address space is an attempt to create and maintain ideal incentives for the ICANN-esque players (galaxies), down to the ISP-esque players (stars) and the everyday user (planets), and their devices or additional users (moons) in a way that sustains the entire network.
Some lessons from neoliberalism are worth considering here. Sometimes people want to be fed trashy content. In those situations, planets offering trash will be popular enough to pay for the cost of (renting) the planet. (And make no mistake, rent and landlords are an inherent part of any real-estate offering!) So there will be spam, but it will look and taste like the offerings of Disney and Vicom, of Hasbro and Mattel, of Unilever and GSK.
Some lessons from other distributed systems are also worth considering. Technically, messages are always delivered by peers, despite the fact that the messages may have been composed by faraway unknown senders. This leads to local topological reasoning, and webs of trust based on peer-to-peer acquaintance. This can offer better performance and resiliency against attacks than Urbit's top-down neofeudal hierarchy of reputations.
I don't really want to support Tlon. If this is truly federated, then there ought not need be any corporate control over the system. History has shown that a few extremely ethical and competent hackers are more valuable in terms of software quality and usability than any sort of corporate planning.
I do appreciate that, by explicitly embracing blockchains, Urbit has demystified one part of its design: What makes Urbit property valuable? Only the hidden cryptographic keys at the base of Urbit's own signing system give any scarcity, and thus any value, to otherwise-uninteresting bitstrings. In other words, it's as valuable as ZCash or Bitcoin or any other digital gold; it's a Satoshi scheme.
u'i n'ae lojbo .i ku'i ka'eku https://zod.that.world/giveaway/
These decisions are arbitrary. You just make a bet that you can be attractive in a certain light, and you charge money in that light, and try to make every adjacent activity free.
From the practical standpoint, you have a linux process running from a data directory. You run it, and the you can access it via CLI and via web interface (which also has a terminal-like webapp). It then uses regular IP to talk to other urbits in P2P fashion.
From what I could find, the whole thing is full of magic and pretty opaque - you are only supposed to interact with it by running it and typing commands there. In particular, you’d probably want to back it up. The only instructions I could find is to stop it and tar it up, and back up manually. Better do it often if you want your “digital life” to be safe.
Just lost me.
> you are only supposed to interact with it by running it and typing commands
So, "the last computer you'll ever need" ... other than my phone, because the last time I wanted to type commands on a phone-sized device, was back when I was wet-dreaming over the Sharp Zaurus.
Given the artificial scarcity of the IDs and the semi-mystical woo describing the proposition, my spidey-sense is telling me some smart people have been busy devising an naivety-magnet, all the better to part people from their money ("buy a planet"...um, ok).
You can also generate a comet, which is effectively identified by the hash of its public key. Those are free; while eventually planets have some notional advantages, notably a default positive reputation, at the moment there are no downsides.
> This raw interface is vaguely modeled on the haskell aos-signature package, but is written in terms of ed25519 primitives instead of general ECC and changes how linkage tags are computed...
Re command line: I was based it off the public docs. Go to "https://urbit.org", click on "install". The very end of the instructions say:
> Type (add 2 2) into the Dojo.
Maybe "install" is wrong section? I went to "docs" instead, from that "operators manual" seems most user-friendly. But it is text only as well:
> Let's join the ~dopzod/urbit-help channel. Use ctrl-x to switch from the Dojo prompt to the Chat prompt. Then:
> ~sampel-palnet:chat-cli/ ;join ~dopzod/urbit-help
The only reference to web UI I found was in "Using Bridge" section, but that seems a pre-requisite to set up the system, not part of the system itself.
If there are web UIs, you really need to document them better. Some screenshots would be great, for example.
I think this is like half the problem
You can access your Urbit server by command line, or by web interface.
...for anyone who hasn't seen the hoon programming language, take a look (the top is all comments, scroll down a bit); I'll wait: https://github.com/cgyarvin/urbit/blob/master/aug/les/arvo/h...
I submit that the line between genius and insanity is sometimes so fine as to be invisible.
Other items of evidence:
1. Urbit was founded by Curtis Yarvin, who writes a blog under the pseudonym Mencius Moldbug. He espouses an extreme right-wing Ayn-Randian political philosophy. Go look him up and read some of his writing (he's quite prolific) and see for yourself. I suggest starting with .
2. Urbit makes extreme and unjustified claims about itself. The very first sentence on the web site is (as I write this) "Urbit is your last computer." Well, no, it's not. It's not even a computer at all. It's software. It's a badly designed, badly written, badly documented federated social network. And that's pretty much all it is.
3. Buried deep inside Urbit is a scam to take your money. The scam is quite well hidden, but it's pretty obvious once your attention is drawn to it. Part of the Urbit design is an address space analogous to IP addresses. The Urbit people call this address space "real estate" and they call Urbit "the biggest real estate platform in the world" . They claim that these addresses have value because they are scarce . Except that they aren't. The Urbit address space is 128 bits wide, meaning that there are vastly more Urbit addresses than there are elementary particles in the universe. But this fact is conveniently obscured in their documentation.
If you want what Urbit claims to provide, a computer that you control, just get a Linux machine. Gnu/Linux has its own political baggage attached to it, but it's not a scam. It has its obscure bits, but that obscurity is rooted in history rather than a deliberate attempt to mislead.
> I did a deep dive.
That was fast.
> brilliant people like Yarvin
I don't think he's all that brilliant. He does have one extraordinary skill, and that is to make himself appear brilliant by being prolific and obscure and using other psychological tactics. This is a very useful skill (Donald Trump used it to become president) but I think it is very important to distinguish it from actual brilliance. To my knowledge, Curtis has never done anything that is actually brilliant.
Here's a better link:
and another straight from the horse's mouth:
Is inaccessible but you dig into it, is obscure but are pieces of code written in C.
I don't understand this dogma that "ads = bad". At most, they're an annoyance. Not evil. They can influence purchases, but the final act of consumption is solely the individual's.
They're an easy target, but attacking them distracts from the much larger problem of government data collection and censorship.
> Urbit is a decentralized personal server platform. The platform seeks to deconstruct the client-server model in favour of a federated network of personal servers in a peer-to-peer network with a consistent digital identity.
> The Urbit software stack consists of a set of programming languages ("Hoon," a high-level functional programming language, and "Nock," its low-level compiled language); a single-function operating system built on those languages ("Arvo"); a personal address space, built on the Ethereum blockchain, for each instance of the operating system to participate in a decentralized network ("Azimuth"); and the decentralized network itself, an encrypted, peer-to-peer protocol running on top of the User Datagram Protocol.
"Urbit's internal opacity persists for two reasons, one good and one bad. The bad reason is just laziness. The good reason is justified fear of premature explanation, which like premature optimization ruins the annealing process.
When you don't know exactly what you're doing, preserve as much ambiguity as possible. For example, a name that means something is a commitment to one specific explanation; a name that means nothing is no commitment at all. A cryptic name is productive procrastination; it lets the hard problem of naming get solved later, and hence better."
Anyone ever finish those projects?
> We want everyone to own their own identity and wallet. One way to do this would be to build a MEGACORP or a Centralized Naming Authority of Urbit. But we prefer decentralized, collectively owned systems. So that’s what we built. Let’s look briefly at the basic mechanics of Urbit ID.
> Urbit IDs are distributed by a sponsorship tree. At the top of the tree are 2^8 (256) galaxies. Each galaxy issues 2^8 stars, making a total of 2^16 (65K). Stars then each can issue 2^16 planets, making for 2^32 (~4B). As you might expect, each planet issues 2^32 moons.
> Second, Urbit IDs are distributed by a sponsorship tree. Each sponsor issues a fixed number of addresses. Since there are lots of sponsors, there are lots of ways to get an Urbit ID — not just one central authority.
> Urbit IDs need a sponsor even after they’re issued, but you can always change sponsors and sponsors can always reject children. This means bad actors can be banned and abusive sponsors can be ignored. We think this strikes a nice balance between accountability and freedom.
> Finally, galaxies (the top of the sponsorship tree) form a senate that can upgrade the logic of the Urbit ID system by majority vote. We think Urbit ID should last for quite a long time, but if it ever needs to be changed, the galaxies can facilitate upgrades. Code may be law, but ultimately we acknowledge that human judgment can’t be factored out.
Prior to the current stellar analogy the founder described this using terms from feudalism.
> In one design sketch for Urbit, Yarvin made the link between monarchies and the platform more explicit, classifying users as “Lords,” “Dukes,” and “Earls.” The design behind the titles, he writes, “is standard Lockean libertarian homesteading theory.” At the end of the sketch, Yarvin indicates that he’s reserved a special title for himself: “The prince (because he spent 8 years working on this project, without being paid), has reserved 32 duchies for his exclusive personal benefit."The founder is an alt-right philosopher that believes we should replace democracy with a corporate structure in which some residents in a country are shareholders and have voting rights.
> And all organizations, big or small, public or private, military or civilian, are managed best when managed by a single executive. Hence: royalism. However he or she is selected, the title of such an executive, in a sovereign capacity, is King or Queen—or, at least, anything else is a euphemism.
Emphasis his: https://www.unqualified-reservations.org/2010/02/from-mises-...
If you mean to emphasize the ruler's gender, I don't think that is right. Moldbug is rather fond of Queen Victoria.
The Verge: "In one design sketch for Urbit ... has reserved 32 duchies for his exclusive personal benefit."
Me: "The founder is an alt-right philosopher... are shareholders and have voting rights."
If you search for the first sentence of the quote you'll find it.
Why for example in Urbit terms you may have "gates" and not functions, "battery" and "payload" instead of methods and objects, or functions and parameters, because these things do not work exactly like the familiar constructs from your well-known languages that you're perhaps already familiar with.
It would then also be tempting to make them work more like the things they are being called like, or "anthropomorphize" them into those things, for lack of a better word, giving them traits which they don't innately have in spite of being part of a perfectly workable functional system.
There is also certainly a difference in concept between an aircraft carrier and a galaxy (although both may invoke imagery of energetic nuclear processes powering them, it's hard to argue they are the same or even similar), or differences between a destroyer and a planet, submarine and comet, although it's true that the addressing math hasn't changed, ...
I think you'd be hard-pressed to make an argument that IPv4 and IPv6 are feudally inspired, and they both use very similar maths to pieces of Urbit that we're talking about.
First the names were feudal. Then the names were changed to not be feudal. This strongly suggests the design was feudal. Yarvin's other writing make it clear it's plausible he'd design a feudally inspired system, as he writes they are superior to democracy.
I'm arguing based on Yarvin's demonstrated intent.
(Citations not repeated because they're exactly the same as my original comment earlier in the tree)
Some of Yarvin's writings are at best eccentric, but as he has not been a part of the project for some time already, I think it's fair for today's contributors to the project to ask you to set aside his intent, or your impressions of it.
I don't want to make any enemies here, but I'm not sure how one can objectively establish that a design is feudal, or what that would mean. I'm going to take a stab at it, as I don't want to simply dismiss your argument out of hand.
Oxford defines feudalism as:
> The dominant social system in medieval Europe, in which the nobility held lands from the Crown in exchange for military service, and vassals were in turn tenants of the nobles, while the peasants (villeins or serfs) were obliged to live on their lord's land and give him homage, labour, and a share of the produce, notionally in exchange for military protection.
If that means: a system where we carve all the land up into /8 and dole them out, then divide those tracts into /16, and further into /24 and /32, and so on, then sure, Urbit is feudal. I think that's as far as the point can stretch, though. Planets are not "beholden" to their stars, as far as I understand it, they are mostly independent entities after the initial bootstrapping process is over. There's no planet tax or military organization, protection, etc.
Did you have a somehow different interpretation that you were trying for?
"Some time" is pretty vague. He left the project earlier this year, and the project is still named after his fascist blog. I asked one of the Tlon employees in this comment section why the project is still named after Unqualified Reservations (UR), and so far haven't gotten a response. I think it's fair to expect a project with this history to address it head on and actually denounce the views of Yarvin/Moldbug if they are trying to be viewed as non-fascist. A project can be apolitical, but a project with a political past doesn't get to act like it's apolitical just because the founder steps away on good terms and nobody else is blogging a racist and anti-democratic ideology. If the current contributors don't agree with Yarvin/Moldbug's intent, it seems fair to expect them to actually make that clear.
I don't want to mis-attribute anything, because I am light on details, I won't try to recall his name, or what it was over, being from the outside myself, but I distinctly remember some part of the controversy being about someone or other "refusing to put up [some kind or other] sign in their window," (I inferred that it was metaphorically speaking.)
It was a metaphor for something I didn't know, but I distinctly remember coming away with the feeling that I also didn't want to end up displaying that sign in my own window.
To restate what I'm dancing around, in no uncertain terms, it seems to me that you're asking for a sign in the window. "No Moldbugs Allowed."
Moldbug is not a fascist (and he'd make the claim that most folks like yourself have no idea what that even means). He's a neoreactionary, which seems to be a mostly dead movement usurped by traditional Catholics of all things these days. Moldbug himself moved on from Urbit a year ago.
It's time to stop evaluating the software (well, _all_ software) based on whether you're in some kind of complete ideological harmony with its authors. It's not like you apply that same rubric to the food you eat or the clothes you wear, at least some of which came from totalitarian regimes implemented in modern reality that are far harsher than anything Moldbug's internet commentary seems to be after.
The "denouncement" crap you're after never appeases people like yourself, anyway, so how about you move along with your life and stop preventing someone interested in the actual technology from potentially joining up based on your witch hunt?
I am a galaxy holder and, as the record may show if the record remains intact, all I did was show up and keep coming back, at a time when lots of people were not coming back due to technical issues or whatever other issues.
I'm also not sure what actual power I have as one of these senators, for whatever that's worth (it's not clear to you, it's not clear to us!) although I have heard these galaxies keep going up in value, I will note second that at least as of today, I have not benefited in any way financially from this notion of value that I received.
"[the Urbit] "senate" can do whatever they want to my data"
No. The urbit senate can do nothing with your data.
Your server holds your data.
It is not distributed on the block chain.
It is not mirrored by your peers.
No one has any access to your data, except where you give them permission.
Your final quote refers to the power the senate of galaxies has to manage the address space. (currently limited to 4b personal nodes. If scarcity becomes problem, galaxies can vote to increase availability.)
fwiw, I don't blame you for your misunderstanding.
The project is quite young and not quite stable/mature enough for the faint of heart.
Having said that, the water's fine for swimming. :)
To me, the most interesting thing about Urbit is the explicit design goal of (eventually) becoming so simple and straightforward that it needs no further updates, as described in Toward a Frozen Operating System.
So, urbit is supposed to be a safe place to store my precious files, right? I'm supposed to be able to put my blogs and my bitcoins in there, leave it running, and come back in five years or fifty, and they'll still be there, right? So, why not put that to a real test - publish the identity of a running urbit with a prize on its filesystem, and see what happens? If it gets cracked, you get valuable feedback about your product for a bargain price (albeit with egg on your face). If not, you get some hard evidence that urbit does what it claims to on the side of the tin.
"No one else can look at it without your permission, it can never show you ads.": These are only possible if it has no visual display or interface at all, or if it's so limited as to be useless.
"Your Urbit is a simple, durable computer ... Your Urbit isn’t a physical device: it lives in the cloud or your laptop.": Contradictory claims.
"Your Urbit is a permanent, private archive.": Until your laptop or server hard disk dies.
I think this is in contrast to Windows being the most popular OS in the world, an OS which does show you ads.
That is the point, they want it like that!
The crazy idea is that only those who have devoted significant time can understand it and should use it (and I suspect that it plays into some kind of non egalitarian idea about how society should be structured with only elite brainy people on top).
The problem, I think, is that there's a lot of inference gaps to clear in terms of how people understand computers and how they understand the internet that we simply dispose of. A lot of the project is an attempt to re-architect the entire stack to resist the flaws of the modern internet — everything we take for granted as 'the way it is,' from the annoyances all the way to the downright evil.
High level, start with the Wikipedia entry.  Then peek through some higher-level, overview docs. 
(note: I haven't actually that much on Urbit)
At first I thought you were talking about Yarvin himself. It's a bad sign when someone left a project due to their virulent racism and you have to be like "wait, which one of the two people related to this story who did that are we talking about?".
The departure announcement post seems at least somewhat amicable, since it contains an advertisement for Clark's new website.
The links to Clark's tweets in this post don't work because he since got kicked off of Twitter too.
I’m very interested to know how an operating system can be racist.
It’s a purely functional operating system, and it’s pretty neat. It’s also open-source. The author’s naughty blog posts play absolutely nothing into this.
I am curious about how an operating system project can be this political, but i'm reluctant to dig into it myself, because any time spent learning about Urbit is clearly absolutely wasted. But if you've already done that work, could you share your findings?
Who and what bits? I don't understand why you're being so stingy with information lol
Does this not break the guidelines?
If you want more explanation, I've written a lot about this in the past, such as at https://hn.algolia.com/?dateRange=all&page=0&prefix=true&que....
Just a heads up.
We interact with the software through representational interfaces, and just as we learn from it and re-program it, our interactions with the system color our experiences and may in turn also re-program us!
I do not work for Urbit, but I will gladly disclose that I am a stakeholder (galaxy owner) and so will probably have a greater than casual interest in this type of post.
Sounds awesome, in theory. Website had nothing I could find describing what has been built, instead of what theoretically could be built by other people on their platform.
To paraphrase Steve Yegge's platform rant, Facebook had an awesome platform, but that wasn't worth shit without the killer app they had from day: one Facebook the website.
If I signed up for Urbit today, would I get the "ability to create" applications or would I get applications? This is supposed to replace my computer. Can it run Firefox? Microsoft Word?
Urbit is a long-term project starting from the foundations and working up the stack. It'll be stable soon, but it probably won't be ready to run something as heavy as a modern web browser for a while. That being said, it does work, and it's fun to play with as-is.
The sheer amount of jargon you have to learn to do literally anything is insane. Nothing is intuitive, especially for someone used to a unix command line. I get upset every time I try and learn about it. All the videos about in on YouTube are 3+ years old.
I've seen in other comments here that it's both an "Overlay OS" and a VM that you can supposedly run in the cloud or on your laptop. First, what exactly is an "overlay OS"? Am I understanding correctly that this would be running "on top of" an existing OS? Maybe something like the "Seamless mode" in virtual box? Second, how is it being virtualized?
Ultimately though, it looks cool, but I think just putting some screenshots front and center instead of abstract graphics explaining metaphors about the design would go a long way.
Have to agree about the screenshots--if there's something useful here, why not show it off?
I've learned a bit more about it from these comments and I don't think it's snake oil, but it is 100% not what I was expecting from the language used in the copy.
So yeah, seems like a good project that foregoes familiarity in order to create something cool albeit niche. But anyone who isn't on board with the vague descriptions will definitely feel mislead.
I'm not helping, am I.
I was delighted to find that I still remembered the phonetic names after first reading of them back in 2013, though I got the exact result wrong.
Spoken programming languages FTW.
The pronunciations are no more exclusionary than learning Cyrillic, and the effort pays off.
Oddly, I have never been required to learn Cyrillic to use any of many, many other programming languages out there.
I think you’re right about making it concrete instead of metaphorical
It was called “overlay os” because it reimplements a bunch of things traditionally provided by OSes. There is a peer to peer network layer, and a storage layer, and a way to execute code.
The comments here are helping me figure out how it works, but it still leaves me with the question of what can I do with it that I can't accomplish with my good ol' OS or internet or (whatever the closest conventional analogue for Urbit is).
Any other peer to peer solution is partial, and therefore not able to compete with the internet as is. Urbit basically plans around an identity system that prevents spam and abuse; a hierarchical packet routing structure for those identities that doubles as a de facto governance model (due to having a vested interest in the network, the higher up you go); a kernel designed to freeze, and its entire OS on top a series of event logs that mark down computations and new states; a functional language for this "internet where every computer is a database", and the encrypted networking protocol that uses UDP while still ensuring packets always find you.
So if you wanted to, say, have a group of people set as a peer list that others can subscribe to or join, or build or use applications that lets that peer list join chats or see a set of files based upon some arbitrary marker (like giving you $5/mo?) ... you don't need a million services to spread the load, one task per service, each person joining each service. You can just use your own computer. It's a personal server platform for a peer to peer internet. It's an internet designed to resist bad actors, and to resist AOL, to resist Facebook and Google — an internet that facilitates and preserves a Usenet-esque model of small communities doing stuff together on their computers.
(Obvious disclosure that I work on the project, again.)
It also sounds similar to PGP’s web of trust model, which failed horribly. But you mention that you can get paid for renting out your resources. If you can somehow make that dream into a reality, then yes, it could be a big deal. Right now everyone tries to solve this partially: you can get paid to rent out your GPU (vast.ai) or your disk space (filecoin) but you seem to imply a more unified model, where payments can be continuous and effortless based on arbitrary metrics.
The whole “planet” and “galaxy” stuff is just confusing. Sure, metaphors are useful, but a basic explanation of the problem statement and the proposed solution would be better. Your explanation here has been the first time that someone put Urbit into terms that I could concretely go “okay, I see the point.”
It would help to have a condensed version of your comment on the website, as opposed to space metaphors and pictures of rocks ;)
This project has gone so deep into its own inner sanctum that they've lost tabs on wider reality. While the result may have glimmers of technical excellence for brave souls to excavate some day, the impact of the juxtaposition between latent expertise and overwhelming derangement is enough to scare away (literally scare away) basically everyone.
This style of issuing a large corpus of dicta that comprise "the One True Way" never works, not even in actual bona fide religion. Systems and protocols that last are built iteratively by collaborators across institutions, each piece finding immediate utility as it's integrated and deployed.
The big question around Urbit is not whether it will succeed -- rather, it's whether Yarvin will appreciate that he's rapidly disproved the nascent brand of proto-monarchist philosophy Urbit was meant to realize. 
See also: Pontormo at San Lorenzo , Xanadu 
It actually can be explained simply:
Cross platform deployed VMs with their own primitives that also have the ability to network with each other via a custom protocol.
That's interesting and potentially very valuable.
Keep in mind this whole Hacker News and Ycombinator paradigm is effectively an outworking of the same process. Some savant Lisper with their own dialect making in a unique way that over time was re-coded and made more accessible.
It works for Apple.
Jobs insisted on elegance and simplicity throughout, creating products that were instantly loved and admired, products that people would be proud to own and display. Technobabble was worthless to him and he did everything possible to keep it away from his customers. He expected his engineers to deliver something decent and real and trusted them to figure out the details, focusing exclusively on the vision of shipping usable, beautiful products that provided immediate value to every user, regardless of technical background.
Steve Jobs's devotion to elegance resulted in products so appealing and downright seductive that they fundamentally changed the public's expectations from computers and consumer electronics generally -- not just once (Mac), not just twice (iPod), but at least three times (iPhone; honorable mention: NeXT/OS X).
We lost him too soon.
Meanwhile, in Yarvin via Urbit, we are offered a ground-floor rate of only $512 per placard in The One True E-fief. Urbit is here to show us that they know best. That we'd be better off if we'd just raise our eyes out of the mud long enough to recognize our obvious inferiority, take our oaths of fealty, pay our taxes, and some day, when They've decided the time is Right, They'll bestow upon us The One True Network.
There could not be a starker contrast.
He was man that even his daughter despise for being inhuman with his own flesh and blood, for denying she was her child for years.
Having interacted with Apple users since 1984, the only common trait they have is exactly believing there is only one true way, not that their way is better thanks to the sum of well though technical factors, but because it's a faith, that, as any other faith, is impenetrable to critics and doubts.
The fact that the failure of Next is still told as a great success speaks volumes.
Another famous example is the Apple III, costed a fortune to build, sold poorly and the people who worked at it remember that
"The Apple III was designed by a committee headed by Steve Jobs, who would demand one thing one day then the opposite the next."
Jobs built a cult, not a technical revolution.
NeXT resulted in the web browser and the iPhone.
Adapt and embrace has worked _very_ well for Apple.
This is not only arrogant, but stupid approach to building things if you want to get adoption. To build things for the people, you should try your best to integrate into the existing world, not to replace the world itself.
Urbit is literally the opposite of Apple.
seems like the whole project has been mired in controversy because of the alt-right / anti-egalitarian political views of the founder https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Curtis_Yarvin
if urbit got $1.2m seed from thiel in 2013 (listed on wikipedia), they should be out of that money by now even if they had stretched it.
Typically, we 'log in' to 'our accounts' on some company's server and use whatever fuctions the company grants us.
They are not really our accounts in any meaningful way.
If one were to be banned by hackernew(or twitter), she would have no access to her data, social connections, et c.
In the urbit world, any data you have authored and any messages you have received are YOURS. They are forever available on your own server.
It is simply not possible for 3rd parties to ban/delete/control your conversation, when the model is peer to peer.
"How would one party prove they have the right data?"
Before two urbit servers communicate, they exchange and verify public signing keys.
Then, all messages are signed with verified public key.
If you mean what's stopping one party from changing their local copy of your data.... Nothing that I know of.
But they're the only ones who will see their local data.
It's not worth it to me, I'd rather do other things and this is almost absurd levels of exclusion but I like the obscurity-as-a-quality-control method approach in general for some projects.
The whole Urbit system could be described in terms of linked-lists and S-Expressions. Even languages as obscure as K, J or APL have better reasoning than Urbit.
Obscurity only leads to smaller number of people wanting to explore something. Only people who stays with it are "believers" and not experts.
It transparently uses UNIX APIs and implements the stack from bottom to top: it’s an OS in the sense that the web browser is called the OS.
This ‘OS’, or binary interacts with other computers and create an decentralized web.
The developers documentation & how to run part is clearer about what this is... but urbit really should document what it ‘really’ is...
Is it an OS? Will it affect any dev work I'm doing now? I understand that this is a huge and large project and support the fundamental ideas behind it, but maybe a super-distilled version of what exactly it is to the layman would be a bit better (in addition to what's already there).
Urbit is a program you can run on Linux or MacOS intended to provide a complete personal computing experience on its own. It runs as a virtual machine for now, although it could run as a unikernel on bare metal (good project for a contributor who's interested!).
This VM acts like an operating system, in the sense that it loads and runs other applications within itself, and in the sense that it presents an application switcher and overall system management tools to the user.
This VM is designed from scratch to be as simple as possible, based on the thesis that the reason everyone has thought of a personal server but nobody runs one is that it's too complicated to do your own sysadmin.
Why is it complicated to do your own sysadmin? Because Linux is 15 million lines of code, and then there are tons of layers on top of that. What percentage of programmers even know how the internet works? A fair number of programmers have a decent sense for some corner of the modern computing world, but even seasoned professionals don't usually know the full structure of the digital world. How does BGP interact with the IP protocol? How do you make sure fsync() actually did what you wanted it to do? How does Linux overcommit_memory work? etc.
Urbit is weird, but that's mostly because it's a parallel universe of computing, not because it's inherently crazier than the alternative. We all have Stockholm Syndrome about 'ls -alH', and don't tell me 'grep' is an intuitive name.
In fact, there are very few basic building blocks in Urbit: binary trees of integers, the idea of a persistent event-log-based computer, and cryptographic identities. Pretty much everything is constructed out of those components.
And it's designed for a modern world with billions of users who might not all be completely trustworthy, so whole categories of complexity go away -- such as NATs.
So there's no standard industry term for describing this system, because there are no direct analogs or competitors.
So what exactly makes it an OS? JVM is a virtual machine but we don't consider it an OS. So why not just call Urbit a virtual machine?
> What percentage of programmers even know how the internet works? A fair number of programmers have a decent sense for some corner of the modern computing world, but even seasoned professionals don't usually know the full structure of the digital world. How does BGP interact with the IP protocol? How do you make sure fsync() actually did what you wanted it to do? How does Linux overcommit_memory work? etc.
Seeing how Urbit runs on OS's such as Linux, uses TCP/IP for networking over the Internet, which itself relies on all those fun WAN protocols like BGP to make it work, it's not really solving those problems, just hiding it beneath another layer of complexity and terminology.
Is it like a visual VM?
Or is it like some docker container I can open up a shell for?
It’s ultimately a hosted OS (it resides on top of Linux) with an immutable file system with the additional purpose that you build applications distributed-first in a manner where clients store their own data. There’s also other stuff in there obviously with Hoon and Nock and all that.
The Ethereum stuff came after so obviously it’s not crucial to the idea. The planets and all that are just names so you can communicate. The names are anonymous but persistent, sort of like if Neal Stephenson’s PURDAH was just a name.
A small number of contributors, re-inventing the wheel, in systems where giants have struggled, and fell short of the mark. Hard pass.
Or, alternatively: Does anyone even actually use urbit? I tried once and it was so god damn slow it made me sad. It's so cool.
More specifically, what functionality does Urbit require that makes a bespoke VM necessary?
Essentially I want to scrape data from my own accounts and anything I'm interested in following, on a home server and push that data to a sort of "dashboard" interface. To watch either on my phone or laptop or, in theory, anywhere.
I've always hated current phone interface paradigm. I see a grid of app icons like having a wall full of TV's, one for each channel. I don't care about apps, I care about intent.
If I'm hungry I want my server to tell me what places I already like are nearby, whats in my budget by pulling data from bank account, and whats within my daily macros by hooking into MyFitnessPal.
Or if I want to catch up on news, have my server scrape full articles from RSS feed links... Default to an auto summary view, and highlight terms using named entity recognition to make things even more quickly skimmable.
If I want to catch up on sports, pull in football scores, my fantasy points, top sports news, and my sports groupchat in a single view.
If the stock market drops over 1% in an hour, take over my homescreen with data on how my current positions are doing, a muted Livestream of Bloomberg, and top financial headlines that are currently trending.
Not the most flushed out examples but one gets the idea. Server side processing of all the data I generate or consume, and present it in custom views based on intent.
I feel like a lot of the smartphone anxiety ppl have comes down to fear of missing out. You look at your grid off apps, each one a portal into its own separate world and you don't know what's going on in each one. What you're missing out in each world, so you go into each one trying to stay up to date with each. Vs having a system that pulls all that data in and you can trust will catch you up on anything important that happened on your own time.
Breaking the current app paradigm would also make foldable devices a much more practical class of device. Instead of Samsungs sad multitasking demo of trying to stuff 3 app ui's on a galaxy fold, one could have a much more dynamic single view if the data from the apps if the data from them could cross talk.
Right now I'm playing on an old desktop computer (hard drive died so this whole thing is on pause rn), but it would be cool to get something like this running on raspberry pis using elixir (just started learning, my current scraping experience is with Python and zmq but elixir seems like a much cleaner and resilient base to manage scraping and organizing data from various sources in a more hands off way). Power users could easily scale by adding more pis or even a specialized processor if you're doing something more unique like parsing video.
If every user could have their own cluster that pulls in their own data, it would be much easier to take control and sell that data, instead of current system where it gets gathered regardless. Or not sell it if that was their preference.
For instance, it would be cool if my "cluster" knew my route to work, and that there was a certain delay, and a more optimal route was available.... But beyond that, know what coffee places are on my way, and in an ad exchange kind of way, allow these locations to have agents that bid on my business by offering dynamic discounts. Like if my reroute traffic path brings me closer to their location, and I'm running late, maybe they offer less of a discount because they provide value thru more convenience. Maybe another location sees they're now more out of the way and decides to bid lower, or maybe they see that they're located next to my favorite donut place, and the automated agents of those two business negotiate something between each other in order to provide me with some sort of combo deal. >> All this happening behind the scenes and I see a unified view of my new map route and a pop-up pins on the map of the offers if I want to accept them.
Lots of other interesting scenarios could be thought up, especially with smart homes. But in order to make that leap, I feel like the first step is to aggregate all your data into one place in order to take back some control of it and open up new possibilities of it's use by combining it together. Maybe I'm misunderstanding what Urbit is, but it sounds like a cloud hosted version of this core first step.
> Curtis Guy Yarvin (born June 25, 1973), also known by the pen name Mencius Moldbug, is an American far-right political theorist, blogger, and computer scientist. He is known, along with fellow "neo-reactionary" thinker Nick Land, for developing the anti-egalitarian and anti-democratic ideas behind the Dark Enlightenment. Yarvin and his ideas are often associated with the alt-right.
I guess it's in your interest not to see/admit this, but it's pretty fundamental to the whole thing as far as I can tell.
The definition of "feudal" that I found when I went looking for it depends on the definition of feudalism, but also on subjective measures like "outdated" or "old-fashioned."
If you want to argue that scarcity is an outdated mode of thinking, then we can have a different conversation, and I think one that is perhaps not suited for this thread. But perhaps we can agree that if a fixed supply of 4.3 billion Urbit planets ever represents a true scarcity, we should be having a different conversation altogether, as it will have become a runaway success, surpassing far above either yours or my own expectations for it?
Other people would like to be able to judge for themselves.
Of course the extract is about the founder (who incidentally is not part of the project anymore), that's exactly why it's controversial and politically charged—i.e. the exact situation when Wikipedia is least reliable.
Edit: for instance, the linked article has "Semi-Protected" status because:
> "there is a significant amount of disruption or vandalism from new or unregistered users, or to prevent sockpuppets of blocked or banned users from editing, especially when it occurs on biographies of living persons who have had a recent high level of media interest."
Show me a software project modeled after liberal democracy.
I’m not prescribing anything here, like how you should treat him etc. just describing that he’s capable of talking tech reasonably despite the political stuff he posts.
Mencius Moldbug may be far right, but he may alternatively just be a thinker not afraid to challenge liberal received wisdom.
It's ok to disagree and fervently oppose but it's unfortunate when we descend into soundbite mud-slinging in service of that opposition.
And where does anyone do that? As far as I'm concerned your post is just concern trolling.
He seems pro-monarchy:
Was royalism a perfect system? It was not. But if we imagine a world in which the revolutions and civil wars of the last four centuries had never happened, it is hard not to imagine that world as happier, wealthier, freer, more civilized, and more pleasant.
When we look at the astounding violence of the democratic era, it strikes me as quite defensible to simply write off the whole idea as a disaster, and focus on correcting the many faults of monarchism:
He seems to regard political power as property, which makes a sort of sense with his monarchism:
Political power is a property right, however you slice it. It is owned, not deserved. It is not a natural or "human" right. And it has no more to do with freedom than brake fluid with fondue.
Here is yet another (idea for good government): restrict voting to homeowners. Note that this was widely practiced in Anglo-American history, and for very good reason.*
(He also favors property ownership as a requirement for voting, which aligns with Urbit's governance but seems... dated, politically.)
And he seems to view slavery as a potentially healthy relationship:
Modern Americans have enormous difficulty in grasping hierarchical social structures. We grew up steeped in "applied Christianity" pretty much the way the Hitler Youth grew up steeped in Hitler. The suggesting that slavery could ever be or have been, as Aristotle suggests, natural and healthy, is like suggesting to the Hitler Youth that it might be cool to make some Jewish friends… We think of the master-slave relationship as usually sick and twisted, and invariably adversarial. Parent-child relationships can be all three. But they are not normally so. If history (not to mention evolutionary biology) proves anything, it proves that humans fit into dominance-submission structures almost as easily as they fit into the nuclear family
It's hard to classify Yarvin anywhere politically, but given some very extreme views on slavery, democracy and dictatorship, I think "far right" is as accurate a label as any. His views are expounded upon in the Dark Enlightenment article in the summary.
(Sources are all from Wikiquotes)
As a counterpoint: take all countries today that have functioning (i.e. non-figurehead) monarchies and compare them with democratic, capitalist countries. You can use prosperity, GDP per capita, average literacy - whatever as a metric and monarchies will fail.
The article you’ve linked is banal. It talks about how monarchies are good at protecting established property rights. Duuuuuh. That’s their entire purpose.
Thinking that stability of property rights is equal to economic performance is moronic. So either you think that I am one or you are one.
Here’s a quick test you can do: look around you and count how many items around you are produced in the Kingdom of Lesotho? Or Kuwait? Or Madagascar? Or Bhutan?
Such post-industrial powerhouses of economy those must be.
Eg the first link:
Btw your jeering tone and determination to classify either of us as morons is unhelpful.
Obviously any U.K. style “monarchies” and republics with a figurehead. Your best bet therefore would be Middle East monarchies, which are obviously a product of the extraction industry. So even that is not an argument.
Remember how China realized that the communist system isn’t sustainable and introduced elements of monarchy? No? Me neither, because they went with (very light) democratization.
If you want to talk facts, here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_GDP_(nomi...
But my favorite part is when I suggest you to look for immediate evidence in the real world and you’re like: “No, here’s a cherry picked article”. This disregard for facts is just plain offensive.
At least half of those states in your own link are monarchies!
Placing quotes around the archetypal monarchy seems like an act of last resort tbh - as do the repeated insults; so I'll consider this particular micro-debate conceded to me.
This is why you are cherry picking. The original comment that you are replying to specified "actual monarchies, not figurehead states": https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=21674965
What's so difficult to understand? Does UK fall under that category? No. Material power is with the parliament and PM. You are disproving your own point, when you bring them in as an argument!
I even gave you a hint. Saudi Arabia might be a stronger argument. Monarchy has power and they have economical clout. I mean, their GDP is only slightly higher than Walmart's annual revenue, but hey - at least you would've had a fighting chance.
As for his categorisation as far right; I've already acknowledged he might be (I haven't read much by him), but being prepared to discuss right wing ideas and challenge mainstream thinking should not mean either him or his technological projects are classed as not to be dealt with.
It makes for interesting computing outsider art, I suppose, but being compared to TempleOS might not be too desirable.
- peer-to-peer networking for every node on the network
- secure networking as the default
- an identity system built in to the network layer (no more usernames and passwords)
- A functional programming language that doubles as a serialization layer (no more JSON/XML impedance mismatch)
- A simplification of the local software stack OS (<1% of the LOC of the linux kernel, though there is still functionality missing)
- Deterministic computing
The urbit developers imagine that in the future, things like twitter or hacker news will be peer-to-peer apps rather than giant mainframe computers controlled by a single entity
How can anyone take this seriously if there's not even a half attempt to describe the product and features honestly
A lot of people work at Tlon with a lot of different perspectives on the world. It's not a vehicle for one guy. This is sadly a frequently asked question in itself. 
Social communications yes, especially on smaller/more "local" scales.
Is it not "peer to peer network via blockchain focused on social communication."? If so feel free to explain why and what the website means when it talked about each of those things. If it's more then please talk about how it's more but please stick to why that means it's not the above and is instead designed to do something else (and what that something else is).
Sidenote: is there an internet law coined describing the inverse relationship between the size of the main landing page image and the actual amount of content in the landing page?
The OS itself runs as a VM on your machine (either a Linux or MacOS host, for now), and that is the only place your data lives.
Urbit does implement a peer-to-peer encrypted, authenticated network among these VMs. It's not solely socially focused, though.
It's also intended to be your personal archive for things like your personal financial data, pictures, nusic, notes, and private documents like tax records and medical histories.
And not only an archive, but also your personal "agent", in the sense that it's a program that's on all the time, on the network on your behalf, to serve your blog, for example.
You can access Urbit through the command-line or a webpage that it serves for you.
The state of an Urbit VM is a folder on the host OS. You can zip it up, move it to another computer, and restart it there seamlessly.
None of these features by themselves is particularly interesting. What's unique about Urbit is that all of this is accomplished using a very small set of primitives, making it easier to write applications that don't go through some huge company that tracks your every move and has a conflict of interest between serving you and serving advertisers.
If you're interested in learning more details of how it works, there is actually quite a bit of technical documentation at https://urbit.org/docs
We're obviously still trying to figure out how to describe this thing. It doesn't occupy a slot that people already have in their minds for a piece of software, except maybe "personal server", but even that is somewhat vague.
Because there's a different world of computing inside Urbit, with its own libraries, apps, languages, etc., it can take a while to wrap your head around.
What's funny about this is that the Urbit world is orders of magnitude simpler than a standard Unix-based stack. We've just spent so much time learning things like DNS A records vs. CNAMEs and what 'xzvf' do for tar, that a parallel universe of these constructs seems bewildering again.
So - why would I want to use Urbit? Which problems does it solve? How will it make my life easier? Does it have any features that will make me say "wow, this is so cool!"
Why would you want to use Urbit? The same reasons you want to use the modern consumer internet, which Urbit intends to pave over and replace with something better.
How is Urbit better? Because you'll have all your data and programs on one machine, which you control, using an open source operating system. You can build a peer-to-peer twitter or facebook clone on Urbit in a day or two, because the OS handles more of the distributed systems and identity problems that have killed most peer-to-peer projects in the past.
It's still in alpha, so it's a bit slow and buggy, and a lot more work has been put into kernelspace than userspace so far. What will make you way "wow this is cool" varies widely, but some good candidates are:
- an internet experience not predicated on surveillance capitalism
- no ads
- control over your UI
- a minimal aesthetic
- interesting people to talk to on the network
- lack of the twitter "thunderdome" feel
- if you like to write programs, the Urbit system is fascinating to work with; I've learned a lot more CS from working on it
The other thing that's cool is that this new world isn't yet fully settled. You can write a little talkbot or something and still have a big effect on the culture.
Which machine? The laptop I'm typing this on? It's too small and too unreliable to hold all my data. Some cloud server? Who owns it? How would this be different from storing my data on Google or Apple servers? Some network of machines BitTorrent style? Something else entirely?
What do you mean "no ads"? Internet is funded by ads. Do I pay some monthly fee? How much? How reliable will it be? Why should I trust you with my data? If no fees and no ads, how will this be funded?
This is at least your 4th, and potentially your 8th, comment on this story (at this point I can only tell what hour your posts were made in). Why did you wait so long to make this disclosure, and to the best of your knowledge who else in these comments works for this company?
> No one who condones Che, Stalin, Mao, or any other leftist murderer, has any right to ask anyone else to dissociate himself from a rightist who didn't even make triple digits. Anders Behring Breivik is a terrorist. Nelson Mandela is a terrorist. Nelson Mandela is the most revered living political figure on our beautiful blue planet… If you ask me to condemn Anders Breivik, but adore Nelson Mandela, perhaps you have a mother you'd like to fuck.
> Not all humans are born the same, of course, and the innate character and intelligence of some is more suited to mastery than slavery. For others, it is more suited to slavery. And others still are badly suited to either. These characteristics can be expected to group differently in human populations of different origins. Thus, Spaniards and Englishmen in the Americas in the 17th and earlier centuries, whose sense of political correctness was negligible, found that Africans tended to make good slaves and Indians did not. This broad pattern of observation is most parsimoniously explained by genetic differences.
> Political power is a property right, however you slice it. It is owned, not deserved. It is not a natural or "human" right. And it has no more to do with freedom than brake fluid with fondue.
Curtis Yarvin is a libertarian. As an anarchistic, I consider libertarians my non-committal brethren. I don't have a̶n̶y̶t̶h̶i̶n̶g̶ much against libertarians, but the weird thing about Curtis Yarvin is that he's a monarchist libertarian. He literally wants a strong man ruler who enforces libertarian policies through an iron grip. He also believes in binary genders, which is reflected in Urbit's requirement of the user to identify as a Lord or a Lady. His personal views aren't just an aside, they're reflected in the name and workings of this system.
Some more quotes, in case you're not yet convinced of how horrible Curtis Yarvin is:
> Was royalism a perfect system? It was not. But if we imagine a world in which the revolutions and civil wars of the last four centuries had never happened, it is hard not to imagine that world as happier, wealthier, freer, more civilized, and more pleasant.
> Modern Americans have enormous difficulty in grasping hierarchical social structures. We grew up steeped in "applied Christianity" pretty much the way the Hitler Youth grew up steeped in Hitler. The suggesting that slavery could ever be or have been, as Aristotle suggests, natural and healthy, is like suggesting to the Hitler Youth that it might be cool to make some Jewish friends… We think of the master-slave relationship as usually sick and twisted, and invariably adversarial. Parent-child relationships can be all three. But they are not normally so. If history (not to mention evolutionary biology) proves anything, it proves that humans fit into dominance-submission structures almost as easily as they fit into the nuclear family.
> In my opinion just about every country on earth today would benefit from a transition to military government…
> It's a reality of modern American life that race confers privilege. As a reactionary, how can I possibly object? A society without hereditary privilege is like a cheeseburger without cheese.
Again, none of this means that Urbit doesn't have interesting ideas that could be used/forked. But this is the context that this system was created in, and it is reflected in the system.
Particularly when the opinions are fairly defensible. (I.e. the only moral principle by which Breivik (whom I abhore) is worse than Che is "anything done in the service of left-wing causes is ok.")
Yes, he mentioned Che. He dwelled on Mandela. Is 1962 South Africa comparable to 2011 Norway? I feel like that excerpt has 2 purposes, arguing for political violence being equally valid no matter the circumstances of the state you're living in, and race-baiting. He didn't dwell on those examples at random. Do his lines about the natural predisposition of black people towards slavery seem "fairly defensible" to you? I tried to include enough absurd quotes that most folks could find something that would make them understand where this character is coming from, even if they agreed with some small part of his thinkings.
It has leaked over to the project WP page:
I personally choose not to run this software or support this project. YMMV.
I figured that if vinegar-drinking scolds hated him, he might have something interesting to say. Your post will probably have a similar effect for a couple lucky people.
If the only thing the Moldbug posts did was link to that material, that would be a service in itself.
To give Yarvin his due though, he does a good job synthesizing it all into a general theory of power being a necessary and sufficient explanation of motivations in most cases.
Met plenty of history grad students in grad school. Well-read but intellectually very limited, and very herd-minded. But, then, I did not go to an Ivy with a tradition of excellence in the humanities.
> Second, there is nothing new about his positions
Of course there is, it's just the nutty cypherpunk stuff like crypto-locked nukes.
> As someone who studied both physics and history in grad school
You're a member of an extremely small class. He does not write for people like you. It makes no sense to write for people like you if power is the goal.
Marx's writing was childish beyond belief. He did not even know calculus. Yet, look at how much has been unleashed on his behalf.
If you want to read a book about the struggle of Romanticism and Humanism, read Thomas Mann's The Magic Mountain.
For those interested in a direct response by a scholar to another, perhaps less extreme and more sophisticated, charlatan of Yarvin's general milieu, see: https://thebaffler.com/latest/peterson-ganz-klein
All simplified models are wrong. Some are useful. (And it's very hard to avoid 'appeal' being a critical factor in the popularity of any model or narrative. It acts as a single point of failure in any truth-seeking mechanism, including academia and the like. This of course explains much about the popularity of some contemporary ideas.)
Ancient Greece produced mechanical computers. Only recently did the great civilizations of China and India overcome Hellenic science & technology. Having Mandarins cataloging the Emperor's property is not a great use of human capital.
While the so-called European Miracle of the past 500 years is a fascinating and complex area of research that will undoubtedly be studied for generations and centuries to come, I wasn't aware that anyone considers modern (18th c. and beyond) romanticist ideology to be the major driving force of science and technology.
History grad students have to TA. They have to produce research. It's hard to consume as much as Moldbug when one has such demands on one's time.
More importantly, Moldbug almost certainly has more brainpower than the vast majority of history grad students. Whether he used such brainpower wisely is highly debatable.
- Julian S. Huxley (co-founder of UNESCO), 1936
Moldbug can preach his Carlyleism all he wants. In the end, the unleashing of energy will be due to people researching the genetic basis of intelligence and IVF. The pathological bloviators preach, the unsung soldiers and scientists make things happen.
I'm not so sure. There is a core problem here, and that is that intelligence is not all that it's made up to be. It takes no more than a glance at the current American president to see that. That intelligence (by which I mean relative intelligence) is some ultimate power is, itself, a myth perpetuated by people who consider themselves particularly intelligent. You'd hear similar things about beauty from beautiful people. Clearly, many great works were done by people who were not amazingly intelligent, and people who were amazingly intelligent have done some amazingly stupid things. Personally, I think charisma is far more important. I see no inherent reason why any discoveries regarding intelligence would have bigger consequences than discoveries about charisma.
In the end, it's a bit like playing roulette. A small edge and many bets will make you rich.
> I see no inherent reason why any discoveries regarding intelligence would have bigger consequences than discoveries about charisma.
It was not charisma that cracked Enigma and built the A-bomb. Better brains means better weapons, which means conquering and annihilating stupider tribes. It's the history of Mankind.
Charisma helps uniting tribes. But united tribes of many hunter-gatherers can be slaughtered by a handful of machine guns produced by boring industrialized societies.
Yeah, but I don't think intelligent people are better at predicting things (weighted by impact). Again, look at the current US president; or at stock traders.
> It was not charisma that cracked Enigma and built the A-bomb.
No, but arguably neither would have been done when they were done if it weren't for a war that started largely due to charisma.
> But united tribes of many hunter-gatherers can be slaughtered by a handful of machine guns produced by boring industrialized societies.
But it's not high relative intelligence that brought us industrialization. Those same people who were later industrialized had had hundreds of thousands of years of hunting-gathering.
How would you know if that's a dollar better-spent? All humans are pretty bad at flying, yet airplanes are pretty useful. All of technology is spending on the respective meaning of "educating morons." Military R&D is a great example. A weakling with a gun can easily beat a strong sword-wielding knight. In fact, the difference between a strong fighter with a sword and a weakling with a sword is pretty much erased by guns.
> Do you mean Napoleon? Or von Bismarck?
I meant Hitler. Napoleon was a different story, but WWI was also very much a product of Romanticism.
> you outed yourself as a non-European
Well, I'm Jewish.
> You're implying that a hunter-gatherer society, an agricultural society and an industrialized society select for the same traits.
Traits? Have we already established that natural selection in the past ~10000 years since the agricultural revolution has had any significant impact in shaping human society? (To be clear, that was a rhetorical question; no, we have not established that).
By the way, my great grandparents weren't elites so much as they were poor tradesmen, except maybe in the addled minds of the followers of ignorant "great men," armed with a romantic ideology of an imagined past and pseudo-science -- and, of course, guns -- who brutally murdered them. Apparently, my great-grandparent's "superior Ashkenazi cognition" wasn't enough to ensure their survival -- maybe because of some other "weaknesses associated with their race," but I think that the more plausible explanation is that it was because of racism, a force that seems to trump intelligence time and again.
They read like a text by a Reiki guru about quantum physics. It, too, can be surprising by pointing out that the Newtonian mechanics you learned in high-school is far from the whole story, except that the story they give is just... wrong. I'm not saying one couldn't come to the same position as him while actually knowing history, but he specifically certainly doesn't.
> Anyway. UR will reemerge, of course. But not here, and not soon—and probably not even in this form. I’ll also try to do something non-lame with the archives. Thanks for reading!
If the name alone isn't enough, I feel like this context makes it pretty obvious that he named Urbit after his racist blog.