Live free

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Dreaming of a life of financial independence

Today I’ve occupied myself mainly by watching the price of Bitcoin on TradingView. I went to bed last night with the price having settled a bit above ten thousand, and woke this morning to find it up another three hundred dollars. It had been bouncing around a bit this morning before just blasting up and testing eleven thousand a few hours ago while I was out making a short trip out for work. Days like this I become obsessed with my IRA, checking in several times a day to see if I’ve breached another ATH in my retirement account.

We’ve got a dry erase magnet on our fridge, about the size of a sheet of paper. I’ve written “FIRE by 2024” on it, along with a list of debts: mortgage, student loans, and my car. At the bottom is the price that bitcoin needs to hit before we can wipe all of that out: $67K. Not that I have a solid plan to sell everything and just retire at that point, it’s more of a psychological reminder of freedom, where we’ll be secure, and be able to walk away from everything if we need to. Of course that doesn’t take into account for taxes and ongoing expenses, and selling all of our bitcoin would have the tremendous downside of well, not having any bitcoin, but it represents the promise of being secure in our future, not just for myself and my wife, but for my kids as well, who have their own accounts set aside on my cold wallet and with BlockFi.

I’m in a bit of competition with my wife, who took a very different track earlier than I did, going into grad school and getting her Masters’ and working hard to secure a government job with immense benefits such as healthcare and a pension. I spent much of my adult life under twenty five fucking around, honestly, getting by with life on easy mode, partying and boozing it up until our orbits came together. We’ve spent sixteen years together now, and I owe much to her for getting me out of my comfort zone these last few years. I credit becoming a dad as probably the biggest single factor in that equation.

We still have remarkably different approaches to life, I’ve always used the term complementary to describe how we mesh. She’s playing the safe, long game, intending to collect her government pension, socking away her contributions in whatever index fund offered to her, stacking a modest amount to the kids’ 529 college funds. Me, I’m buying bitcoin instead, running miners and picking stocks based on my knowledge of technology, trying to follow trends and carve out more aggressive gains from my more modest contributions. I’m hoping to win big, she tells me not to jump off of any buildings should the market crash.

Another example is a bet we have about autonomous vehicles. She told our daughter Elder that she’ll make sure that she gets a driver’s license when she turns sixteen, in about eight years. I bet her that Elder would never need one, since I expect autonomous taxis to be cheaper than private vehicle ownership. I hedged on whether manually driven cars would still be on the road, whether Elder could still get a license. I even did a book swap with her, giving her a copy of The Future Is Faster Than You Think to make my case, but she hated it so much that she didn’t even finish it.

And now our current COVID landscape has brought everything into question. Everything is up for re-examination, all of our assumptions up for debate. We’ve been reconsidering our jobs, our house, how we live, our relationships with friends and family, and what we want out of life. She’s always been focused on working for the future, and all of that has been called into question. Maybe part of it that the stability she’s cherished and sacrificed for has been called into question, while I’m finding myself in an environment where I’m thriving.

There’s a lot to suss out. Over the last day or so, my brain has started coalescing around an idea for my next longform newsletter. I had been focusing on the future of work, but I think this time I’ll branch out a bit more and look at the the future as it relates to these new possibilities. There are a lot of books that the two of us have been sharing recently and I want to explore some of the thoughts around stoicism, minimalism, and life design in a post. It’s going to be a challenge, and I want to put some notes together around them before I start writing.

I’ve never had a want for hobbies, and have basically lived my life as I could if I was retired. I won’t say that hermit is an apt term, but the lockdown hasn’t really affected my social life, if you know what I mean. I’ve been content, troubled only by the way I’ve allowed my temper to flare in response to the way the kids misbehave. For me, I’ve always found solace in reading books or blogs, or putting that knowledge to work in front of a keyboard. Missus has always relied on vacations or trip to the spas for rewards, and all that has been taken away by COVID, so it’s been more challenging for her. She’s been forced to adapt much more than I have, and is finding refuge in gardening, for one.

The kids are young enough that they’ve dealing fine. Younger will probably forget before the pandemic in a few years. All the local teachers unions have come out for virtual classes for the start of next year, which means we’ll probably just pull them completely and do homeschool. This furthers our desire to opt out. Choosing a school was one of the main reasons we bought this house that we did, and with the entire family effectively turning into digital nomads, we can effectively live and work anywhere with a fast internet connection. The fact that Americans are effectively restricted from entering most of the rest of the work is another problem entirely, but at least we have domestic options.

For now I will write, and teach the kids, work on our mini-homestead and learn how to function in a COVID world, all while waiting for $67,000 bitcoin, and dreaming about what we’ll do when we get there.

NYT article on Singularity University

Ray Kurzweil, who’s about the closest thing to a hero we’ve got these days, gets mentioned quite a lot in this New York Times writeup on The Singularity University, which was started by Google Founder Larry Page to introduce entrepreneurs to emerging technology in the areas of nanotechnology, artificial intelligence, energy, biotech, robotics and computing. The cost for the 10 week course that aims to prepare you for the future? $25,000. Looks like I won’t be going anytime soon.

Vice Interviews Ray Kurzweil

Vice Magazine has an interview with Ray Kurzweil, inventor, futurist, and prophet of the Singularity. For those of you who don’t know, Ray believes that we are nearing the a new age when robotics, genetics, and nanotechnology and superhuman machine intelligence will usher in a new age where the line between biological and machine, real and virtual will be no more. A lot of people think Kurzweil is a kook, but I eat this shit up. A lot of people derisively call this the Rapture of the Nerds because of all the talk of brain uploading, nanoswarms and other far out sci-fi sounding concepts, but Ray is a man of great reputation andΒ  has built his books around a lot of sound science, and I remain convinced that it’s not a question of if but of when.

The truth is computer continue to increase at an accelerated pace, and it doesn’t look like Moore’s law is slowing down yet. Projects to simulate a full scale human mind are in the works and should be successful in the next 20 years or so. Once we manage to simulate the mind on a scale faster than real time, things are going to change quickly. It will be the last invention we need make, as computers begin redesigning themselves and living the equivalent of a few days in mere hours. There’s no telling where things will go from there.

It may sound scary to some of you, but to me it sounds very exciting.