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Web3 Galaxy Brain

Pete Horne, Founder of 4th.Energy

24 April 2024

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Nicholas: Welcome to Web3 Galaxy Brain. My name is Nicholas. Each week I sit down with some of the brightest people building Web3 to talk about what they're working on right now. My guest today is Pete Horn, founder of 4th Energy. Pete is a veteran programmer who thinks deeply about the EVM and computation. With 4th Energy, Pete is exploring how the EVM can be used to serve applications directly from the blockchain. In this vision, application data is verifiably stored on one or multiple of the EVMs connected to L1 Ethereum. With this technology, programmers and users would be able to permissionlessly distribute and run user-facing applications without the gatekeeping limitations of app stores or centralized cloud providers. By transforming the EVM into a dynamic application server, 4th Energy threatens to truly deliver on censorship-resistant dApps, a substantial step beyond the more limited horizons of today's smart contracts. This conversation was recorded shortly after Pete announced that he would be discontinuing the project. However, for listeners who enjoy the conversation, I have great news. I've since heard from Pete that he is resuscitating the project and continuing the journey. Visit 4th.Energy for the latest news. It was wonderful getting to learn more about Pete and his mind-expanding project. I hope you enjoy the show. As always, this show is provided as entertainment and does not constitute legal, financial, or tax advice or any form of endorsement or suggestion. Crypto has risks, and you alone are responsible for doing your research and making your own decisions. Pete, welcome to Web3 Galaxy Brain. Thanks for coming on the show.

Pete Horne: Nicholas, thanks for having me.

Nicholas: It's really a normal thing to do, to announce someone's name at the beginning of a sentence. Just make sure the tokens are clear about which speaker is which speaker for the transcribers later. Right, right. Okay, the first question I have for you is real simple. What was the first computer you ever fell in love with?

Pete Horne: Oh, the first one I fell in love with? Well, I mean, the first one I got my hands on, obviously. But probably it was an original 19... 84, probably built in 85, 86 IBM XT. And it had a fancy EGA graphics card in it. So I actually could get a color monitor for it, which weighed a ton because they were made of glass. And yeah, so that was the one that I probably spent the most time on.

Nicholas: Wow. Color monitor at the time. Yeah. And so this was, I mean, that must have felt pretty cool.

Pete Horne: Yeah. It was better than the PDP. Well, whatever it was, the deck terminals that we had at university, that's for sure. But I mean, that was actually when the university labs, the computer science departments only had very fancy, you know, sun and those sort of things. Actually, I think they were HP terminals. And they only just started to have PCs because they were sort of frowned upon. And you used to have to carry your own floppy disk to the lab when you were going to use the computer. So, and then when I was actually doing my post-grad Which I did not finish because I had a baby, also known as Jacob, which I didn't finish. We used to have to actually line up at four o'clock in the morning because at the end of the session when everyone was trying to finish their assignments, the lab used to have to actually be open at night so that you could get your time. So I did not like that computer. You had to wait. You had to wait. Yeah. Yeah.

Nicholas: Wow. Incredible. I guess that's one difference. I mean, we're going to talk about this essay you wrote, this CryptoCore essay, and just generally about some of the ideas you have about – I guess I'm curious about what big ideas in computing you always come back to. And I think this is one of them, the personal computer.

Pete Horne: Yeah. Well, yeah, because I'm just a bit of a grumpy car muggin when it comes to someone telling me what to do.

Nicholas: A healthy impulse, I think. Yeah.

Pete Horne: I was sort of brought up in a really strict sort of – Puritan environment, and once I left that, I never went back, never wanted to be told what to do ever again. So whenever someone says, do this, I go, no, even if it's a good thing.

Nicholas: Yeah. I mean, there is this tension. So, okay. So this essay is great. You say so many things. I mean, one of them that comes up is that the personal computer is dead. What makes you say that?

Pete Horne: Well, because, I mean, I just think this is one of the big ironies of our time when we talk about crypto, which is everyone talks about crypto as being the savior. But crypto is actually the jailer. So every device that we have now is – You know, in the old days, you used to have the BIOS load sequence. Now you've got the UFE one, and then that's all got the keys of the manufacturer and the keys of the software. And, you know, Apple chooses to use that exactly without any way of jailbreaking it. I mean, PCs still let you do it, but that's only because of history. But they make it so hard to break by the time you finish. You've nearly bricked your machine. And then, I mean, ironically, Google Chrome actually lets you still do it. You just switch it to developer mode, and you get full control. And I'm actually talking to you on a Chromebook. So I guess to answer your question, it's like the personal is gone. It's just another corporate time machine, and I don't have to wait for it at 4 o'clock in the morning to use it. But nevertheless, it's the same thing, which is that someone else controls the device, and it's not mine.

Nicholas: The cloud is a multi-tenant computer at the end of the day. Well.

Pete Horne: I mean, I've, like, at the level that I work at in terms of my normal life, like, you know, big, serious systems and all that sort of stuff. I mean, all of these apps are actually done with agreements with the cloud providers, and it's like a bank. You know, like, if the bank says, oh, we don't like your account anymore, you're gone. And the cloud is the same thing. It's just a computer bank. It's like, if they don't like your app anymore, you're gone. So, you know, all of these, I call them pantomimes. All these pantomimes of freedom are just that. They're not real acts. They're just pantomimes they're pretending to be. And so, saying that our PC is our personal computer or saying that the cloud is actually, you know, free and uncontrolled and all those sort of things, I just don't believe it's true.

Nicholas: What's the Facebook thing? Make the world more open and connected?

Pete Horne: Within Facebook.

Nicholas: Exactly. I mean, you mentioned this in the essay, too, but the establishing of these, what do you call them? Splinternets?

Pete Horne: Yeah, splinternets.

Nicholas: I think in business, they're thought of as, like, walled gardens. Yeah. But splinternet's great, too. Yeah.

Pete Horne: I mean, well, because they literally become their own internet. So, you think you're on the public internet, but you're really inside. Mostly, you're inside one. I mean, if you open up the Google app on your phone and search, you know, it actually takes a while to get out of there now. Like, it's so busy promoting things to you and, you know, showing you other links. And, you know, it's even taking a long time since the new cookie settings and that came out because it's doing so much work to try and track you while it's not trying to track you. that, you know, you're stuck in there for a while. I guess is what I'm saying.

Nicholas: Kills the battery. Exactly.

Pete Horne: So, you know, you've got the Google splinternet, you've got the Facebook splinternet, you know, and you've got the Apple one. If you're in a corporate environment, you're in the Microsoft one, most likely.

Nicholas: And even if you just get a VPN or something, you're barred from, I can't get on Reddit anymore with a VPN. They just, you cannot access Reddit. Right.

Pete Horne: So, there you go. I could probably help you get around that, by the way. Oh, yeah. Very well.

Nicholas: We'll talk about that after. But, you know, or another one I use is, you know, email anonymization, like free infinite aliases for email so that you're not giving the same identifier to everybody. And these are screened out. A lot of things require phone numbers. So, even when you're not inside of strictly one, you're still located within the matrix of identity. that is sort of this undergirding. So, you know, there's a social enforcement layer that's even underneath and shared by Apple, Google, Facebook, et cetera.

Pete Horne: Sure. But we don't talk wave division multiplexing. I mean, that's the layer that they're sort of sharing at and open amongst the comms people. But, you know, when it comes to actually the user experience, it's all tied together.

Nicholas: But, I mean. But, I mean, they're not safe either. They don't belong to us either is all I'm trying to say. Oh, yeah. None of us. Within the literal internet networks. So, the infrastructure they interact with is all alternately centralized along different fault lines.

Pete Horne: Exactly. But, I mean, don't get me wrong. I don't have a problem with this. Like, I have a problem with the way rules are applied to social media and all that sort of stuff. But I don't have a problem with companies making money out of providing us services. And I just don't want to pretend that we're not trapped in it. So… And it is basically impossible.

Nicholas: There's no opt-out.

Pete Horne: Yeah. Well, this comes to another one of my points, which is – well, I've got many points. I mean, tell me when to stop. But one of my other points is that, you know, I call it a pantomime because people are literally just doing a Punch and Judy show mostly when they're doing their crypto behavior and pretending that they're getting away with things. Like, if you actually work with security systems that are highly secured, then there's a whole lot of behaviors and they call it field craft, which you need to adopt. But I think it's really important to manage the threat that, you know, is documented and specific. And so, you're actually trying to achieve a very specific thing and you have very specific processes to it. So, this whole idea of having some sort of magical invisibility cloak like Harry Potter has where you can just pull that over yourself and then go off to the sweet store is just like not – it's just not possible. And so, I guess, as I said, like I'm an upbeat kind of guy, but I get – Yeah. I get sort of a little bit grumpy when people pretend. And that was sort of like my critique of crypto for the longest time, which is like, you know, like. if you say now that crypto is anonymous, everyone will go, yeah, right. Or if you say crypto is going to be controlled at Fiat Bridges, they go, oh, yeah, sure. You know, oh, no, it's magic. It's magic. But of course, now everyone goes, that's not true. But try and say that in 2015.

Nicholas: But you actually got into crypto very early. I did. To that. In 2009, right? I mean, even earlier, but officially in 2009.

Pete Horne: Yes. So, that's where – well, I didn't – I got into crypto probably seriously around 2013, 2012, 2013. I remember. I remember. It's a funny story. Jacob and I were sitting in a cafe and he was still at school, I think, but no, he was just ending school. Oh, sorry. I'm hopeless with dates. I can't even remember my own birthday. But anyway, we were talking about how we could get into Bitcoin, right? Because we would just – we'd go, oh, we've got to get into this. We've got to try this. It's really cool. And we're sitting in this cafe every now and then like, well, how do we get some? – anyway, the only way we could get some was basically to go to a Satoshi Square out in a place that you didn't want to go to and hand over some cash to some people that you didn't want to hand cash to. And so, we were sort of peripherally involved in it.

Nicholas: You didn't mind? Or it was too late to mind already?

Pete Horne: Yeah, it was too late. Well, in Australia anyway, it was like you couldn't get the kit. Like, you know, we don't have stores.

Nicholas: You're so close.

Pete Horne: Yeah, so close. It's so far. So, that's a different story. But anyway, so we didn't really participate, but we watched. And then I actually moved up to Hong Kong just before Ethereum. I was living in Boston for five and a half years. It was the world's biggest fly-in, fly-out job. I'd spend six weeks there and then five weeks at home in Australia while the kids were at school. And then I got sick of Boston. And had the opportunity to move halfway. So, I went to Hong Kong. And then I got involved in the Bitcoin Association of Hong Kong. Oh, wow.

Nicholas: And then the, you know... Is that an important institution? I'm not familiar.

Pete Horne: Oh, it was back then. They were the ones that sort of brokered the deal with that when Bitcoin was sort of self-immolating around block size and all that sort of stuff. And they were sort of an important part of the Bitcoin ecosystem at that time. And anyway, so, you know, my offices were in Wanchai. And there's just some really awesome... Little computer shops there. And so, that's when I started to build miners when I was in Hong Kong.

Nicholas: So cool. Is electricity expensive there?

Pete Horne: In Hong Kong, yeah, it is. Not as expensive in Australia. But as... And so, then we actually... I brought it back to Australia. And Jacob was... Uni had a mate who was really good at doing BIOS stuff. And so, yeah, we had, you know, like all of these racks of GPUs downstairs in the basement. And we were, you know, customizing it and getting all the juice out of them. And that's... When we really got into it was really through the Ethereum ecosystem.

Nicholas: So cool. So cool. Wow. I didn't realize both of you go back quite so far with Ethereum. That's cool.

Pete Horne: Well, I remember being on the Bitcoin side with all the maximalists going, Boo! And Ethereum was being done. And I actually went to... I saw Vitalik speak at Hong Kong just when it was launched, when Slocket was launched. So, this is before that, you know, self-immolation. I think I was down the back going, Boo! Too. But anyway, I swung around. I always used to talk about Bitcoin people and Ethereum people being woodpeckers in different tree. And they're both hammering on their tree. You're all wrong. You're all wrong. But, you know, they were both good trees.

Nicholas: Okay. But slight divergence. But have there continued to be more good trees pop up? Or are these two different for you?

Pete Horne: Yeah, that's a really good question. I mean, I'm... I mean, I'm... Like, I think about technology as being work and technology as being play, right? And so, like, in my day job, I do serious work. I do what needs to be done. And it's heavy lifting. And I love it, but it's work. Whereas, you know, crypto to me has been play. And, like, you know, it's like the 13-year-old kid who got this basic computer and he's just like, Oh, wow. How does that work? All that sort of stuff. And, I mean, it does cross over into my professional life, of course. But, you know, to me... Crypto is play. So, when Bitcoin came along, that didn't really start as play, actually. I mean, like, people idolized the old cypherpunks, but they were car marginally old pricks, basically. And, you know, like, I was in those newsgroups and never posted anything because I just thought, Ugh! Like, you know, it was just mean. And they just pile on each other all the time. And, you know, even the Satoshi paper was sort of written from hate. It wasn't written from love. And, you know... It's just like, I hate the American government. I hate this. I hate that. And it was all just hate, hate, hate. Whereas, I was more pragmatic and just like the tech. And so, for me, it was play. So, like, Bitcoin was never really fun, but it was interesting. And it was never really allowed to get fun. I mean, the one thing that Ethereum did was, that Vitalik did was... I mean, I haven't met Vitalik other than shook his hand once. But, I mean, what I really credit him with was, you know, he was just an optimist, an optimistic kid at the time. And he's just like, well, hey, what if we actually extended the... Fourth type language on the Bitcoin blockchain? We could actually do little programs. And they went, no, no, burn him at the stake. Shibboleth, Shibboleth. So, and he went, oh, all right, well, I'll go start another one. And to say... And off he went and he did it. And then, you know, that sort of had its own little high priests and ceremonies around it that formed up. But, you know, that sort of started to fall away and people started to just see it for what it was, which was just a good place to have fun. If you're a nerd. And you like to try out ideas. I mean, I thought the whole DeFi thing was just a turn down the wrong path. But that's a different story. But, you know, to answer your question, to me, it's just fun. So, I think the tree that's called Bitcoin is this big old gnarly oak that, you know, all the warlocks dance around under it and it's never going to change. And the Ethereum one is sort of like, you know, who knows, that tree could just as likely pick itself up and dance and go off to another continent. I mean, it'll... It'll do whatever it needs to do. It'll do whatever it needs to be done to kind of move that space forward. Does that make sense? Yeah, definitely.

Nicholas: It's interesting that both of them have their ideological attachments are not strictly to mainstreaming the technology they have. Maybe those are parts of their elements that are interested in that. And maybe that's the long term vision for many people. But they have ideological commitments that are more significant than mainstreaming. Yeah.

Pete Horne: Yeah. Okay. Let me think.

Nicholas: I would say...

Pete Horne: So, I mean, Bitcoin got frozen in time, right? Like, Satoshi appeared and then disappeared. And then no one really had the mantle. And it got locked up and it's never going to change.

Nicholas: Is it never going to change? I don't know. That sounds like the first act of writing the Bible over a thousand years.

Pete Horne: Well, maybe there'll be the second coming of Satoshi and we'll get the New Testament. But right now, we're stuck with the Old Testament.

Nicholas: Or just apostles or, you know, just others who reinterpret it, you know?

Pete Horne: Well, that's true. I'm just saying, if you look at what's happened, that's where it is.

Nicholas: Yeah, for now. But it's early innings yet, you know?

Pete Horne: That's true. But I only make that point to make the counterpoint about Ethereum. Which is that, like, Ethereum... Sorry. Ethereum, Satoshi is Vitalik, right? And he's still around. So, wherever his mind wanders is sort of like where Ethereum is going to wander with it. And I think... Which is fine. I mean, I think that's great. Because, you know, that makes the experiment continue to evolve. Yeah. I would say, though, that I think Ethereum is actually making the changes it needs to to try and go mainstream now.

Nicholas: So... Agreed. But maybe I even bring it up in contrast to maybe things that have come after Ethereum. Where their, maybe, primary axis of differentiation for many of them is, but we're going to... But actually, this technology is retrograde because its commitments are overburdened and unrealistic. And perhaps if we compromise on some of those in different ways, we might... Or they go in other directions. And I do want to get to 4th Energy eventually. But ideas of using that core technology and building upon it to build different things, take it in a different direction. Before we leave the essay, though, I mean, you do talk about how app stores, all these other sort of gatekeepers of personal computing sort of grind your gears. And that maybe there is a... That maybe even the financial side of crypto, as it's... Come to manifest thus far, maybe allows for some kinds of this optimistic organizing that is a counterpoint to the surveillance state control machine, the alternative. Yeah.

Pete Horne: Well, there are two idealists. Sorry, there's one idealist in our family, and it's not me. I think the... No, that's not fair. Because, I mean, your question is the gatekeepers. What's the best way to phrase the question?

Nicholas: I guess the real... The real question I'm driving at is what you think this kind of optimistic, maybe it's called DAOs sometimes, but this sort of ways of community organizing or individual organizing on blockchain seems to offer something that is kind of different than what you get inside of the other system, even though the cryptographic tools are the same.

Pete Horne: Well, I mean, if I look back at my writing, because I was writing for a commercial audience in those two papers I published, and I wrote a lot of it tongue-in-cheek because I was trying to explain things I just didn't believe in. So I didn't believe in crypto as money, and I still don't, because money isn't an asset, right? And because I work in asset management, right? And, like, you don't sit there and you don't look at... Well, I mean, unless you're doing cross-rates in currencies, like, you know, the average person sitting in the cafe is not worrying about whether their Australian dollar is going up or down in the moment, right? They're worried about their shares and their bonds, but they're not worried about their cash, right? Because...

Nicholas: Depends where you live, I guess.

Pete Horne: Yeah, it depends where you live. But in America, like, a dollar is a dollar, right?

Nicholas: Sort of. Depends who you ask.

Pete Horne: Well, that's what I said. I mean, you're right. I'll go with the flow. I mean, to some degree, crypto has made people aware of the fact that currency is volatile. So, yeah, no, I mean, it's a good point. So, yeah, I'm coming from the old way of looking at things, which is cash is the risk-free asset, which is stable, right? Because if you don't have a risk-free stable asset, then you've got no anchor, right? So, if your definition of cash is the risk-free asset with no volatility against which everything else is measured, then crypto is not cash.

Nicholas: Right. I mean, it continues to be the US dollar for now. Yeah.

Pete Horne: So, it continues to be more like a risk asset. Like, people think its value goes up and down, relative to whatever they think crypto value is defined on.

Nicholas: Right, right, right. But it's measured in US dollars. US dollars is our home base.

Pete Horne: Well, the risk-free asset in America is the US dollar. The risk-free asset in Australia is Australian dollars. Depends on what you're exposed to when you spend it. So, anyway, I mean, so this is my day job creeping in, right? Which is that? your risk-free asset is like, if you're an Australian and you're going to retire in Australia, your risk-free asset is the Australian dollar because that's what you're going to spend. And that's what you're going to rely on for retirement. And so, you're worried about, you need to have a certain amount of that given inflation assumptions for your retirement. And so, that becomes your risk-free thing. So, without going too much into the theory of money, I just never thought crypto, I thought crypto was supposed to be, you know, can I buy a beer? Can I buy a coffee? You know, can I do an exchange at the counter like an FPOS machine or a credit card machine? I never saw it as something that like you put in the bank and you'd worried about whether it had gone up or down today. And so, I think crypto failed as cash. And I don't see it necessarily, I don't see Ethereum and Bitcoin ever actually achieving cash status.

Nicholas: But nevertheless, you are kind of hopeful or there is at least a twinge of hopefulness.

Pete Horne: Well, I am hopeful that crypto type cash equivalents will emerge. So, I actually think, because I think the technology is awesome, right? But it's just technology. And it's a human technology. And I think we've only just started. And so, it's really exciting. But I just don't think the first two things are actually achieving their stated crypto goals. And I don't think they're achieving their financial goals. But I definitely want to keep riding along with the technology because I think it's going to find new ways of actually achieving those things.

Nicholas: I think that makes sense. if you look at history of technology, the way things are pitched, the things that they claim that they'll replace or improve often are not really the applications that people end up caring about mostly. But even many times, they don't do any replacing at all. They just add new – I mean, some things do get replaced. I don't know how many faxes people send anymore in sort of efficient bureaucracies anyway. But many things also just get added on. E-books didn't kill books and so on. Yeah.

Pete Horne: So, I mean, you'll get used to me. I'm sort of like a grump in the moment, but I'm always an optimist.

Nicholas: I understand. Okay. So, you recently announced that you're retiring Forth Energy. Yeah. So, now, but before we get to the retirement, let's go back. What was the idea for Forth Energy in the very first place?

Pete Horne: Well, so, Forth has got nothing to do with crypto in my world. Like I started using Forth as lab control equipment in the 1990s, right? And it was built in the 1980s. So, my first job, I actually worked in AI. I was a research assistant in an AI program at University of New South Wales when I graduated. And, you know, AI today is not the AI that we were working with then. There were actually two types of AI back then. There was the mathematical one, which is, you know, can we create algorithms? And we sort of use neurons as our muse. So, no one ever thought it was going to be a brain. That was just the muse, the metaphor, like genetic algorithms. So, you had both neural networks and genetic algorithms at the same time. But then there was actual work going on. And the biological sciences, which I was working in, which was we were actually trying to trace neural pathways and actually model them in computer systems. So, we weren't trying to make the computer look smart. We were actually trying to get the computer to do what the brain was doing. And the professor I was working with, he was an expert in classical conditioning in the nictitating membrane of the rabbit, also known as the eye blink. And there was about 25 years of hard data, of conditioned reality. And so, he was working on a project to actually map these pathways in the rabbit's brain. How did they work, actually?

Nicholas: And you used FORTH as language? Maybe you can describe it. I've never used it.

Pete Horne: So, anyway, so FORTH was a programming language that was used to control the lab equipment. And so, it's a... I mean, Ethereum and Java and C-sharp and all those languages are FORTH-based virtual machines. So, because FORTH was the first of that virtual machine type stack-based programming model. And so, if you think about the Ethereum virtual machine as being a set of opcodes which operate on a stack, then FORTH is actually a language that starts as opcodes on a stack, but then it lets you build a language on top of it. Using what's called words, which sort of look like functions. And so, anyway, so this was on this... Let me see. It was an Apple IIe. It had this homemade math coprocessor in it that was sort of like... Looked like a brain blowing out of the thing. It was plugged into a rack of dials for gain control on the measuring equipment. And then the rabbits would be in the room going through the learning trials. And the... These, you know, black and white CRT monitors would do a blip and all that sort of stuff. And so, my job was just learn how to set the parameters of the experiments based on what the professor wanted to do. So, I learned to do FORTH to set those parameters. And it was just such an intuitive sort of language, but very arcane. And those were the days when you used to build your own cards to plug into the PCs and you'd be writing assembly language to talk to the cards, to talk to the equipment. And so, my job in the morning was running the experiments with the animals. And then in the afternoon, I'd be writing the computer programs to try and actually model what was actually done. I did that two and a half years before I went to finance. Anyway, so that was my exposure to FORTH. And that was sort of my exposure to really, really, really deep assembly language in terms of control. And I just loved it. But then, you know, I moved over into finance and plus all that stuff just got turned into data acquisition software. And, you know, it's all back in the past now. It's like liking steam engines, but I liked FORTH. So, then I...

Nicholas: What about it?

Pete Horne: Well, I just, it was sort of like this intermediary language between the assembly language and the human. Like, it's a toolkit basically for engineers to say, all right, well, I've built this card, I plug it in. I've got all the bits and bytes in the opcode, right? And I need to put some sort of rapid sort of language over the top. So, I can get my experiment to do what I want my experiment to do. And so, that was... And it's interpretive as well. So, it's sort of like an interpretive assembly language. So, it was just a really, really cool way for getting up to the abstract where you could write programs to control equipment, but also being down in the gubbins as well at the assembly language level. So, I just liked it. But as I said, it's a little bit like liking steam engines. And then, so... You know, I've been programming my whole life and I moved over into the Java world. And, you know, I knew underneath that. I was actually on the beta program of Java. And when Mr. Gosling came to Australia on the Java tour, he actually took me and another guy out for lunch because we'd been working on the beta. That's a funny story. Anyway, I'll keep going. So, then I knew that Java was a stack-based virtual machine. And even James Gosling said it's a fourth-based machine. And so, you know, there was fourth. And then I used Java to great success in commercial development. And then I was working on my own project in 2009, which I'll come back to. But then it wasn't really until I got to. Bitcoin came out and, you know, there was this little thing going like, oh, you know, it's little fourth-based scripts on the blockchain. And I went, oh, that's fourth.

Nicholas: It's back. It's back. You're not the only one who likes steam engines.

Pete Horne: Yeah, exactly. So, if I was – if Vitalik had had his way with changing Bitcoin, we'd all be using fourth because the language of the blockchain was these little fourth scripts, right? So, because, I mean, the way Bitcoin works is, you know, when you send a transaction, you're actually just sending a tiny little fragment of fourth instructions, which get evaluated. So, it's just like Ethereum, but using fourth. So, I mean, oh, fourth. I remember my first love. So, I sort of then thought, oh, fourth. Well, what am I going to do with it? Nothing. But then Ethereum came along and then I didn't really have time. And then I started this project, a proof of concept to scan what was happening on the blockchain with NFTs. I was showing Jacob. I was saying, oh, you could do this. I mean, hi, son. Anyway, I was saying, oh, you know, you can get into the assembly and you can see what's going on here. And you can pull so much more information out. And Solidity is just a horrible language. And, you know, it could be done so much better and you'd be able to distribute it and all that sort of stuff. And so, I got into the assembly language and I went, oh, you could actually put this program into an NFT. And so, that was when, why can't you put it in an NFT? So, I actually wrote a fourth interpreter, which I embedded in an NFT. And I put that up as my first proof of concept. And then that sort of like got the ball rolling where I'm going. Going like, oh, what if we could put, actually make computer programs, ownable NFTs. And they, you know, and what if they're actually integrated into the blockchain process? So, rather than having to be written in Solidity or whatever, what if you could just have, in the same way that I would use Forth to talk natively to the hardware. Why can't I use Forth at the user level to talk natively to the blockchain and sort of bring the blockchain programming. And the. The user programming sort of into the same space and then, and then that way you get a more distributed computer. So that, that was where the idea came from.

Nicholas: Just to be clear, when you did the NFT project, when you say you wrote a Forth interpreter in, in Solidity, in JavaScript, when you say it's inside the NFT, in what sense?

Pete Horne: Yeah. I mean, it was compiled JavaScript.

Nicholas: Okay.

Pete Horne: So, it was a proof of concept where I wrote a Forth interpreter in JavaScript. I put that program on the chain. And so you could then download. The, the NFT from chain. at that time as well, I was, I was involved with the math castles guys and everything they were doing on chain and one 13 and I actually met one day and we were talking about it and, and yeah. And so I was just trying to jam this little Forth interpreter into an NFT on chain, which I did. And then, but then I realized.

Nicholas: To spell it out for, to spell it out for people who haven't, you know, no IPFS dependency, we're talking about serve directly from the chain.

Pete Horne: Exactly. Exactly.

Nicholas: I guess the stickiest part in that is, I guess, getting to an RPC maybe, or how do you, you know, you, or I guess in the browser, you need a browser, you need some kind of frame to, how do you connect to the, to the chain in the first place, the nodes in the first place?

Pete Horne: Well, I did this, I did this other proof of concept, which was basically I showed how that if you opened a Chrome, like you could go to Google's homepage, the search page, right? And then you could open up your terminal, right? And then you could pay some JavaScript into the console and then a noun would appear on the Java homes page, right? And what, and what that was actually doing, it was actually calling to a open Ethereum node that I had, which just meant that the, the, the, what do you call it? The cause rules were just unrestricted.

Nicholas: Okay. You just changed it.

Pete Horne: And that little, that little JavaScript thing that was running in the console next to the window of the, the Google browser. It was using the Google page context to actually go call my server, pull the nouns image off it, and then display it over the top of the Google page. So I proved that you could basically load assets from directly from the blockchain without an intermediary web two server. And, and so.

Nicholas: As long as Pete keeps hosting his course unrestricted RPC.

Pete Horne: Oh, well, well, so this is a really good point. I mean, so web three servers are web two servers, right? Okay. So. It's a node on the network is an RPC adjacent web service on the web two network, right? It just happens to talk the web three language. And so to me, so also all I had to do was literally put a little script in front of the server that basically said, except a call. And then instead of returning the gibberish text line of bite data, just convert that back to text because it's just hexified data, right? So I just basically had a simple server, which was an Ethereum node. And also did was pass things through directly to web three, get the data off the chain. And then on the way back, if it was hexified text, it just converted it back to text. And by just doing that one little thing, right? Then you could basically turn a, an Ethereum node into a web server from content on chain, right? Right. And so I got that working in the proof of concept as well. And so then I went, all right, well, if you're going to get serious about this, then you need to be. You need to have a programming language. You need to have a proper fourth compiler. You need to, you need to have asset management, you know, like libraries and all that sort of stuff. Like you need to create this whole environment.

Nicholas: So is the fourth, is it just your interest in fourth? or is it something about, I mean, you said solidity is not a great language. Is there something about fourth that you feel is more than just a curiosity from your past, but actually like a pragmatic.

Pete Horne: Oh yeah. Yeah, pragmatically.

Nicholas: Empowering thing.

Pete Horne: It's, it's not a, people who use solidity wouldn't use what I was doing, right? They would still use what I was doing. But this was sort of like, fourth was sort of like that intermediary between assembly language and user, right? Sort of like. call it the, the device driver programmer. So a device driver, in fact, Apple still use fourth for their device driving, for their device drivers. It's still in use commercially, right? It's used in satellites. Anywhere where you, you have engineers that are getting new hardware and they need it, get it up into user space, you'll often find fourth.

Nicholas: So it might make sense then for this new architecture that you're kind of staking out.

Pete Horne: Yeah, so I was just looking at it as the, the, the language that device driver type engineers would use to go between, to create methods between the libraries on the blockchain and the end user app, which could have been written in solidity and hosted in JavaScript. So that, that was the vision. And then, and.

Nicholas: So turning, turning, turning the EVM into a web server.

Pete Horne: Yeah, basically.

Nicholas: By kind of figuring out the bits of glue required to make that possible.

Pete Horne: It was more like turning it into like MPM. Okay, MPM. So it was like turning the blockchain into a package manager where you could do assembly of apps at the browser. So the, the browser would be the point of assembly and the blockchain would be the, the repository of apps. And there'd be nothing in between just your browser talking to an Ethereum node.

Nicholas: Can you walk me from, from one to the other? I know we kind of just did it, but can we do it again from the browser to Ethereum? What are the steps that I take to assemble an application?

Pete Horne: I had a whole lot of proof of concepts, which I've pulled down now, but I went through them one by one.

Nicholas: I can't believe you did that. You got to put them back. Well. The internet archive, something, I don't know.

Pete Horne: If I, if I was to do it in reverse, like, I mean, everyone knows that. You know, like if you go to OpenSea or Zora or whatever, and you get an NFT, it's, it's in a, it's in a jail.

Nicholas: Right. It's cached. Yeah.

Pete Horne: Yeah. Well, it's yes and no.

Nicholas: Oh, it's sandbox JavaScript execution.

Pete Horne: Yeah. Sandbox.

Nicholas: Or XML.

Pete Horne: Yeah. So, yeah. So there's all these sort of behaviors.

Nicholas: For good reason. I mean, it's similar to your essay. It's, you know, you talk about sort of app stores being these censoring gatekeepers that kill a PC, but at the same time, they're also kind of the reason that they're popular in some way. Yeah. Because the, the censorship sort of makes it a safe space for people who don't understand how it works to, I mean, you wouldn't really want OpenSea constantly hacking your wallet.

Pete Horne: So, so, so let's drop a pin in that and we'll come back to that. as to why I'm not doing it anymore. All right. Okay. So, I mean, I, so I basically treated it like a research project, which was, you know, what, what are all the problems that I need to solve so that I can basically open up a web browser, which is only pointing to an Ethereum node. And then I can get on with my, my life with no intermediaries. So that was, that was my vision. And, and of course there's all these things in, in the, in the ecosystem, which are there, as you say, for good reason, which is, you know, sandboxing things and all that sort of stuff. And so I just systematically went through and said, well, all right, well, if something's sandboxed, how does it talk to the wallet? Okay. Okay. Well, you can actually do that. If the host, if the hosting application provides an API. Right. So, so you can have an intermediary API, like a device driver that say Azora or OpenSea could have installed and said, if you call this from your sandbox, you can still get to the browser, to the, to the. To the wallet. To the wallet or whatever. Right. And, and so, and so there was, there was a way of doing that. And then there was a way of getting rid of web two intermediary service by just making a small change to. Okay. The way that the, the node sends its data out. And, and then the other thing was you needed a file system, which is where DOS4 came in, which is how do we actually, how can we store blobs on the, on the blockchain? And so I did some work there. You know, there's the 22 K limit of contract code size and all that sort of stuff. So I faffed about with looking at how you could do a store to start type data set. And I did that. So I basically had the whole fourth energy was running off chain before I pulled it down. So when you went to fourth energy there was no web server. It was just coming off my Ethereum server.

Nicholas: Oh, you're saying off chain. in the, in the opposite sense, you're running off the chain. We're fully on chain.

Pete Horne: Yeah, it was, it was running off the chain cause all the data was on chain.

Nicholas: Very, very, very cool. So you just need this one dependency, which is that there be nodes that are configured that way.

Pete Horne: Yeah. Yeah.

Nicholas: Right. Which is conceivable that there could be, you know, why not? That's not an impossible.

Pete Horne: Now that Nginx, for example, has Node.js embedded in it. You can literally put like five lines of JavaScript into your Nginx config and just that fixes your server straight away.

Nicholas: Pete, you gotta put this stuff out. You can't, you can't, you gotta let the people know.

Pete Horne: Well, I did. I did. But then, so.

Nicholas: You were going to talk about DOS4. I think DOS4, we should get into DOS4.

Pete Horne: So then DOS4 was. Yeah. You can probably tell I work a lot because I managed to raise a family. And so I program a lot, my long suffering wife. Anyway, but so DOS4 was all right. Well, if you're going to have an NPM type system, then you have to have a dependency tree based file system. Right. So how do you do that with smart contracts? And so then it was like, all right, well, a contract is just a program. You can make it do anything. But I couldn't do it in Solidity or Yule. And so then I, that's, that's when I started to just write in assembly language. And that's when I wrote my own assembler because I just wanted the assembler to, to do what I wanted to do without someone else's version of language syntax put over the top of it. So that was when I wrote my own assembler using Lisp style notation, which worked. And then I did that to make the disc, which was under the website as well. And that worked. So I basically had, I was, I basically created a, you know, using the 32 byte words. I divided it into, I mean, that's actually four 64 bit spaces, which is basically the same as having an address space of four computers inside one 32 byte word. So I just use that basically as a whole set of pointer arithmetic to be able to create a file system inside a single contract pointing to S store two type blobs. And so by then I'm like, ah, man, this is getting heavy.

Nicholas: Okay.

Pete Horne: And I'm dragging it all along behind me. And then I was like, I probably need some resources. Uh, but I didn't want to, um, uh, you know, I, I have my day job and all that stuff and I didn't want to go out and raise money and create that.

Nicholas: I mean, I'm tempted to say if you're in the audience, I mean, someone gave Pete $20 million to make this thing happen because it's, it's, it's rare. You hear an interesting idea that doesn't have, well, this isn't the actual real idea.

Pete Horne: Wait till I get to that.

Nicholas: Oh, geez. So DOS four, you describe as an on-chain disc operating system. Yeah. That provides a verifiable ROM boot image for full functioning dapps.

Pete Horne: That's right. So if you think about like the computer, if you like, we, we reinvented all the words for the Ethereum virtual machine, but it's got a ROM, which is where you boot the program from. It's got a RAM, which is the operating space of the program on the, on the, um, the web three host. It's got a hard disk drive, which is basically a store operations. Um, and it's got a CPU, um, and it's got instructions. And, you know, like, it's just a computer, so we can just treat it like a computer. I could put forth on top of it.

Nicholas: But the CPU is not EVM. Yeah.

Pete Horne: The CPU is EVM on, on, um, that the EVM is the CPU on the, in a, in a smart contract.

Nicholas: But it's not, uh, necessarily a smart contract that is being executed. Uh, To fetch the data. Yes. But ultimately you're not executing, uh, strictly as something written in solidity. Oh, no.

Pete Horne: Well, if that's your definition of a smart contract, yes. I'm not using smart contracts. No, no, no. I'm just using EVM native, uh, The actual smart contracts. Yes. That's a really good point. Like it's a, it's a space that's overburdened with, um, uh, metaphors. Mm. Mm. So I just threw them all.

Nicholas: So can you describe a little bit what the difference is in terms of horizons of programmability? How can we disabuse ourself of the, uh, metaphors of solidity or Viper and understand what the true capacity is? Mm-hmm. I mean, you were describing four, like four machines inside of one 32 byte. Mm-hmm. How can we understand that if, for those of us who are, um, still looking at, uh, the, the, the shadows cast on the Plato's cave wall?

Pete Horne: That's a good question. Let's see if I can answer it. Okay. So the Intel chip, right. Wasn't born to run windows. It was just a chip. Okay. And it started out with an operating system called DOS. Uh, right. Uh, or a couple of operating systems called DOS and it can run, it could run, um, Unix. So the chip is just a chip, right. But then windows came along, um, and, uh, created the windows SDK, right. Which was a whole set of libraries and functions and features and, and patterns and, um, C headers, right. Which sort of turned this thing into a package that people could relate to and could use to it. So it became Wintel. Right. So the Intel disc with windows on top of it became Wintel. Right. So to me, ERC is just win and EVM is tell. Right. So the, so the, so the blockchain and the, uh, the, uh, EVM that's in it, which is just a, you know, it's a, it's a virtual assembly language chip, right. That's, that's the, the chip. And. Uh, solidity is the windows of the theory of space. It defines all the rules interfaces and how people talk to each other, but you can toss that out and use another way of doing it. So, so there's no reason why a Linux version of, um, uh, could come along and say, oh, use the Linux way instead of the windows way. There's no reason why the, um, Ethereum blockchain couldn't support that as well.

Nicholas: Willpower. It's the only limiter.

Pete Horne: So just forget all, forget all the ERCs and the, you know, the ways that you've done your tokens and all that sort of stuff. We're, we're going to actually just use it as a, as a chip and we're going to do something else with it. So that, that, that would be how I would explain that. Does that work?

Nicholas: That does work. Uh, and it's pretty exciting. I don't hear a lot of people talking that way. It reminds me a little bit of eigen layer almost in terms of sort of zooming out. Um, uh, but, but, but more committed to the VM that is EVM.

Pete Horne: More, more committed to the blockchain based, uh, virtual machine than the concept of smart contracts. And, and because I mean, I, and I've written about this, which is, I just think everyone, uh, sort of money and the pantomime of money and securities and all that sort of stuff on the blockchain was the thing that got people's attention and got it started. But there's a whole, um, like, you know, computers aren't only used in banks, you know, they're used in other places as well. So if you think about the blockchain as being a general purpose computer that has multiple uses, then it should have ways, it should have tools and it should have languages or um, not just finance based.

Nicholas: So DOS4 is almost an argument that, or a experiment in saying we could be hosting decentralized package manager or application manager. I mean, you say NPM, but NPM to me conjures like quite centralized. Um, but this is fully decentralized software distribution.

Pete Horne: Yeah. Well, I mean, over the web, it might be a better example because if you think about, uh, Git as a, as a, um, a content management system using crypto hashes and versioning and, and everything that gets put into Git never gets deleted. It, it just gets linked, uh, uh, differently based on upgrades, you know, based on the process of, um, the developer moving their code base forward, but they never lose the old code. So Git is a better example, which is like, if you think about a hash in Git as being a hash on the blockchain pointing forward. Then you could start to build that, um, content defined network with, um, uh, with all of the, um, interdependencies managed and it's all there and, you know, never, never lost. It's, it's just composed differently as new things are added and, and move forward. So I saw, I saw DOS4 as basically just being a, you kind of make me feel bad that I'm not doing it now, but, um.

Nicholas: Good. That's the point of this episode.

Pete Horne: So, so to me it was, uh, DOS4 was, uh, sort of like a gateway. Uh, Git, which is if you loaded something up, it would get a unique address, um, because it was a content, content specific rather than, you know, hierarchy specific, but then you could put any arbitrary hierarchy over the top of it and that would become your program. And then your server would be able to, um, call that contact, pull it all together. And then voila, you have your, um, your program in your browser.

Nicholas: So basically from the browser, you're compiling from source, uh, Git repo history that's stored on the EVM.

Pete Horne: Uh, no, from your browser, you're asking, you're basically just making a function call to, uh, a smart contract. Let's call it a smart contract. Let's call it a DOS4 smart contract. You're making a, you're making a, a parameterized call to a, a DOS4 smart contract. And then on chain, it would do all that aggregation for you and bringing back the resources the way that they're supposed to be presented to you.

Nicholas: And I guess you might even need to increase the view function gas limit on these modified nodes.

Pete Horne: Oh, don't get me started about gas. I think stupidest thing on the planet because, because who, who actually provides the computation? I mean, it's not the miner. I mean, the miner doesn't provide the computation. It's the, uh, the person who serves the data that does the competition computation in the execution node, not in the beacon node. But I mean, I can understand why they did it, but this whole idea of actually playing gas golf just drives me nuts. And I refuse to think about it. So I just said like when, um, L2 networks came along and went, oh, thank God, I don't have to worry about gas anymore.

Nicholas: Can you imagine an alternate scenario that would be better where gas is sort of attached, attached to the correct, uh, agent in the system?

Pete Horne: Well, I mean, I think L2 is basically, which is like the, uh, execution domain is separate from the money domain and you don't have the two, um, economics tied to each other. Right. So, so the problem that I have, if I use main chain, is it, I mean, Ethereum fundamentally is an Ethereum value management system, right? And I could literally see, uh, a future where it's all L2s and the only smart contracts that ever get installed onto the Ethereum blockchain again is basically just a bridge, bridge contracts. And then everything else will be done in L2s. And so L2s to me, um, separate the economics of, um, man, the, the, the, the heavy cost of, um, of consensus among, uh, a value managing chain. Versus the, the low cost of, um, providing services, um, using the blockchain, um, in L2s. Does that make sense?

Nicholas: It does make sense. Although there is something lost in the, I guess it depends how solid the, uh, roll up mechanism is for it to be equivalent to the base chain in terms of security or near, near enough equivalent that it doesn't matter.

Pete Horne: I agree a hundred percent. But see, once again, this comes down to it just sort of all being a pantomime of whether it's. You know, uh, I mean, to me, we're getting into the territory about why I stopped. Um, why I stopped, right. Is, uh, because, uh, firstly the, the ecosystem sort of went through a sort of, um, uh, bear market for want of a better word. Um, which basically meant that that phase ran out of puff and then it was looking for a new phase and the new phase is L2s and, um, and community, which, which I'd love to talk about. Um, but, um, the, uh, what's my point. My point is that pretending that you've got this super robust bank, um, type system that governments can't control and you're going to get all your freedom and all that sort of stuff. I mean, it's, and you can have L1s and L2s. I mean, in, in 2018 and L2 probably would have been as, um, offensive to the Ethereum community as an, as, uh. Ethereum was to the Bitcoin community in 2015, right? Like these were, these were things that you just weren't allowed to do, but then as, as, um, as reality caught up or, you know, um, people, more people needed to use it or it needed to get, um, more accessible to more people, then these things start to fall away. And, and we're starting to see that fall away now with account abstraction, which is basically, you know, they call them all mem pools, but really what you're saying is some web two company is going to actually manage your wallet for you. Right. And so all of these things fall away. So, so I relate to all of this is like, you know, forget all the hand waving about the, um, these crypto sort of, um, uh, values of making sure that this can't be, um, censored or this can't be controlled or this will last forever. It just doesn't work that way, but let's just get on with rolling out the technology, um, and leave all that sort of, um, stuff for, you know, other places. And so the reason why.

Nicholas: Other places.

Pete Horne: Exactly. I don't think it started yet.

Nicholas: Uh, but you, you were talking about separating execution, like the gas should be the, the, the burden of gas relates more to execution than to, I guess, what, what is the, what is the role of L1 in this configuration? If not execution data availability?

Pete Horne: Uh, no L. the role of L1 is value management. It's the bank. Value management. It's the bank. And, and so it has to have a very heavy. Expensive, robust, you know, uh, and to some degree not have waste, like let's not put rubbish on that one. Um, you know, it, it needs, it's finding its value is what I'm saying. And, uh, and then L2s is basically the, the sunlit upland of low gas for me.

Nicholas: Application layer. Yeah.

Pete Horne: The application layer. But I mean, let's not kid ourselves about what L2s are. I mean, whoever controls a bridge is basically controlling a, um. A, uh, algorithmic exchange and, uh, an L2 is effectively a web two type service coming from a branded, um, provider. And I have zero problem with that. I mean, I think that's, what's needed to scale, but these are things that we wouldn't have even considered five years ago.

Nicholas: And you don't think that peer to peer, uh, bundlers at the, for the AA, uh, layer or, uh, shared sequencing potentially. These are not. These seem like bells and whistles that are not fundamental. And the real gesture as you perceive it is that the centralization that an L2 provides is its killer app.

Pete Horne: Um, I don't want to sound grumpy and critical because I'm not, I'm what I'm actually saying is I think fly be free. Um, you know what I mean? Like, let's like all those things are great things. And I mean, there's so many smart people out there and there's zero knowledge proofs and all that stuff. Like, I'm not saying that, like, who am I to judge? Like I like go forth and multiply. I mean, I think what the community does is. Just extraordinary.

Nicholas: It is.

Pete Horne: But, and so just keep going into whatever it takes to, um, you know, increase adoption, uh, around this space because the community is the asset, not the technology and, um, and, you know, keep going to grow the community. And, and if a few things, you know, if we have to turn some sacred cows into burgers, then let's do that on the way through. Um, let's just focus on making the, the growing the utility to the community of what's really good about the technology and let's not let the, um, let's not let the dogma get in the way.

Nicholas: But, but my impression is that you don't think that it's a foregone conclusion that the, that the cypherpunk values are gone forever. Instead, maybe it's just not the season for them to emerge and their reappearance will happen later. Once it's time to be disabused of the, uh, what is it? The thing in, in Silicon Valley, like, uh, there's only two ways to make money in the Valley, um, aggregation and disaggregation. Yeah. Maybe, maybe this is the pendulum for us between more. More centralized options and then recognizing the values of the more decentralized options that are uncensorable.

Pete Horne: And I think the us will change.

Nicholas: Hmm.

Pete Horne: So I, I like, like, I don't think the Ethereum community can go after a billion people and also be the, you know, meet all the goals of, you know, um, becoming the sunlit uplands where everyone dances around in bare feet, singing songs, saying, look, we're free. I mean, I just think, um, that it's about technology for a community. The community doing things that the community love, love to do around the technology, the play, you know, like this is, this is play tech, not work tech and people love it. Um, and I think, um, I just don't think that the hardcore freedom type technology, um, and the, the practices that, uh, need to be adopted for people who want that freedom and all those sort of things. I just don't think that's going to happen in the crypto space.

Nicholas: Freedom doesn't scale.

Pete Horne: No, that's right. Neither the heroes. But, um. Um, so yeah, so, uh, so I'm, uh, so the reason why I shut down DOS4 was I was dragging this thing along behind me and I, and, and like I was, I, um.

Nicholas: Quite capably, I might say.

Pete Horne: Yeah. Well, anyway, thank you. I appreciate that. But I was, but it takes a lot of concentration. and then a family event happened and I had to, um, put it down for a month. And, um, and so then I, I, uh, I was looking at it, I'm going like, hmm. Okay. So time to get back to it. Um, put the concentration cap back on. But then I was, I was talking to some, um, people. Uh, I was talking to my people about crypto and what was going on and all that sort of stuff. And, and I just, I just thought like, I, to be truly committed to that sort of freedom experiment, like you've got to be a grump. Right. Like you have, because you're fighting them, you're fighting them, you're fighting the man. Right. Like you, you've got to be a grump. You're in a fight.

Nicholas: Right. You need to be an iconoclast. You need to be truly committed to the mission.

Pete Horne: But you're in a fight and you have to have a fight mentality. Like you've got an enemy and you're trying to beat your enemy. Right. And I've, I've been in that situation many times. What sort of happened with Farcaster and, um, what I was seeing with NFTs and all that sort of stuff was I just went, you know what, like this tech, it's just, it's, it's collected a community. Right. And they're really, really, really good people. Right. And they've, they've got different behaviors and mores and values and all that sort of stuff. And it's, it's nice. Right. Like this is nice. And that's not grumpy.

Nicholas: Right. It's not militant. Yeah.

Pete Horne: It's not like, you know, um, it's, it's not like a bunch of curmudgeonly old men. And they were men mostly in the, um, cypherpunk space, just sitting around having a bitch and a moan about everything and, and, and saying everything's shit and wanting to go off.

Nicholas: Channeling their energy into a holy war. Yeah. Against centralized power.

Pete Horne: I mean, and now we just see the billionaires behaving like that, you know, like they're the ones who talk like that, um, which I just find incredibly ironic, but anyway, that's for another day. But, um, the, you know, like Peter Thiel and, um, all the heroes of, um, Silicon Valley, like Marc Andreessen and all that stuff, they're just raving lunatics when it comes to, um, sorry, Jacob, uh, when, um, they're just lunatics, uh, when it comes to. To libertarianism and all that sort of stuff. You know, like, like, you know, like the world doesn't work that way, you know, like only.

Nicholas: Well, also to, to, to create a economic empire, you dependent upon the enforcement of contract law, et cetera, all kinds of institutional dependencies.

Pete Horne: Schools need to work. Police need to work. Bridges need to work. Roads need to work. Planes need to work. Everything needs to work. Like, you know, like you, anyway, so, um, and, and trust me, I'm no lefty, but I just think that, that sort of, that's, I, I don't, I don't call that left or right. I just call that just being a grump. So I just didn't want to be grump. So, um.

Nicholas: But there's also, I think there is also another thing going on there with, with that, just what you were just talking about, that the social media diffusion of messages also kind of, uh, contorts the discursive style and people say things all the time. There's that old Foucault thing about, um, I don't say things because I believe them. I say them to not have to believe them anymore. Yeah. And it feels like a lot of social media amplification of a message is not even necessarily because, you know, I don't know. I don't, I don't believe that everybody means what they're saying, but they're saying it in a way that it gets traction and then maybe, maybe eventually the mask eats into the face a bit.

Pete Horne: Yeah. Well, so I, I have a commercial life as well. Like I, like I work in finance and I, I have a product there, so I've always used crypto and, and my hacking as a way of keeping in, in advance of what I work on commercially because we have to make a living. Um, but, um, I, I guess I just had this switch while I was away, you know, like I, I had to put it down. I, um, I was playing with my grandson. I was thinking about, um, you know, Farcaster and going to Farcon or whatever. And, and I just thought, you know, this is nice. These people are nice. And, and there's something sort of, um, intrinsically grumpy about, um, you know, being a car magician. I'm going to beat the man and all that sort of stuff. And so I just thought, well, I've got a project that I could do that would be more on the, on the data side, the community side, you know, just understanding what's going on with this community dynamic. And I genuinely think that like there's, um, uh, uh, the, the technology is, um, really proving itself to be useful, uh, as a way of building community in a much more positive way than, um, a traditional social media like Twitter and Instagram and all that sort of stuff. Yeah. Because I mean, just the simple thing, which is like, um, you know, actually having good attribution of who created something through cryptographic techniques or provenance can be proven or, um, uh, you know, like, um, uh, what else really do I like? the, um, the values like, um, you know, uh, people behave differently around data when, when they can tip it using NFTs or whatever. And, you know, you can actually show your appreciation. I'm going to see who appreciates things. And it's, it's, it seems to me to be that, uh, all the behaviors of social media, but on the positive dimension, on the negative dimension. So I'm a huge fan of, um, of the crypto community.

Nicholas: Just you wait. Yeah. I'm a huge fan. Of all the people.

Pete Horne: But even just the diversity and the inclusion and the way that people talk to each other and what's acceptable and, you know, like this is cool stuff and this is rare in this shouty screaming world. And so I just thought, oh, I'd like to just get involved on the community side. Um, and what I mean by that is, um. Firstly, not being a grump talking about like that doesn't work and you know, that's not, um, that's not the way the crypto would work. Yeah, exactly. That's a good way to put it. So I wanted to get away from that and then, um, and I thought, well, if I can, I'll come back to the freedom stuff, but I think that will probably be outside of this community and another one will form. And I, I'd like to see where that, cause I'm, you know, I'm, I'm old enough to know that these things always come back, but they come back differently.

Nicholas: When you say another community or previously said, maybe it's not inside of crypto that this will happen.

Pete Horne: Or a branch of it. Um, you know, there'll be, there'll be some group of, for want of a better word, Puritans that go off and start, you know, um, working in a different space, using the same tech, but with a different focus, I mean, account abstraction is not that place. I mean, account abstraction is basically just, you know, recognizing that humans are humans and they can't do crypto field craft and they need people and companies to help them. And so I'm fine with that. I'd rather help with that right now because it grows the community. Hmm.

Nicholas: I, I'm hoping that, uh, there are some, um, people listening to this who are inspired by the vision that you're, uh, retiring and get into your DMs.

Pete Horne: Do you want me to tell you why I'm not retiring it? Because this was never the dream.

Nicholas: What was the dream?

Pete Horne: The dream was from way back when, when I was working on, um, AI research and brains and all that sort of stuff, which was it. I, I always said like, why? Why could we use the brain as a metaphor, but why aren't we using life as a metaphor? Right? Like, like let's, let's lift the metaphor. And so I've, I've, I've had, and I even did this presentation, um, once about digital life. And I came up with, um, you know, what is life? I'm just going to have a look at my notes here. I mean, the, the three rules of life, uh, it needs to be independent and self-sustaining and needs to be signaling and it needs to be reproducing. Right. And so I went, well, you know, instead of saying, we're going to make a brain, we're going to, why don't we say we're going to make some, something that's alive, that is self-sustaining signaling and reproducing and, and, and why can't we have a computer system, which we based on the concept of life, which is a seed, which you plant, and then it grows into the network, um, and adapts that way. And so that was sort of like my, that was my main muse. And in fact, when I started in 2009 with my own stuff, the whole concept of a seed of an application, actually all of the DNA of the application being in one package that could deploy itself in different, different environments based on environmental settings actually worked. And that's what gave me my start. And what I'm doing today, which is that we've got, I work with, uh, one, two, three colleagues and we manage, uh, um, there's only three of us and some cloud servers and we manage, uh, we can do a risk record for almost any asset in the world within 30 seconds at about 99% accuracy now. So it's a big system, you know, it's, it's, it, it processes lots of assets and, and my contribution to that was to be the member of the team that could actually do that heavy lifting without having to have a whole horde of 20 people and all that sort of stuff to do it. And so that, that idea did work though. And so when I was looking at the EVM and all that sort of stuff, it was more like I was thinking about more like of what the mechanics of a cell would be in digital life. So that sounds a bit crazy, but anyway, so.

Nicholas: No, I mean, an autonomous agent. This reminds me of earlier. Yeah. One of the early metaphors I was hearing in, you know, an Uber car that owns itself, uh, comes to mind. Exactly.

Pete Horne: Yeah. But, but if, what, what, what is the network that controls all those things and how does it respond? And so I think the thing's there. So if you think about a academia, academia network where you have like a distributed routing table, uh, I mean, if you've got, uh, and let's say you're using a 32 byte address space for your K table, then that gives you basically a global address space of cryptographic size. You've got an EVM. That's got a 32 byte address space. So then that means that your, your computer space is aligned with your data space and you know, and then, all right, then how do you actually turn that big thing into, um, that distributed system with the distributive computational power into something that can actually do work. And then that would become unstoppable because you know, it's, it's so distributed. So that, that, that, like if I, if I was retired and just tinkering, I'd be working on that idea and, um, and, and.

Nicholas: We got to retire you to retirement as soon as possible.

Pete Horne: So I, because I just think that like, uh, in, in a, in a, in an environment of an adversary, the adversary is going to see everything, right. But um, uh, they, but if you can distribute it the way the world's organized with, um, different, um, jurisdictions, you can still distribute everything so that even if they can see it, they can't stop it. So that, and you could do that at scale. But anyway, these are my crazy dreams.

Nicholas: Even just existing on, uh, let's say Ethereum is not enough to be unstoppable.

Pete Horne: No, I actually think Ethereum, uh, taught me, I mean, I thought, I thought the 32 byte, I mean, I'm sounding like a total nerd now. People are wondering who is this lunatic, but, um, uh, I thought the 32 byte address space was sort of like a revelation to me, um, because aligned data and memory address spaces with this case space, you know, like, yeah, tell me more about this. I will. Well, I mean, if you think about the Cademlia network as being, do you, do you understand Kate? Okay. So Ethereum is built on a Cademlia network. It's a way a peer to peer, like if you have, um, uh, if you have a whole lot of peer to peer nodes around the world, how do you link them together and how do they become aware of each other? And how do they, they tie into each other? Cademlia is the, the way that peers discover each other and then they build a routing table, which is basically so that it's only three holes. to anything within that total network. Right?

Nicholas: This is a gossip protocol, uh, gossip, protocol, or is it built on top of this?

Pete Horne: It's built on top of the gossip protocol. Um, this is actually a Cademlia table as a routing table. So it's, it's, it's, it's like the, it's the Meta routing table that node C's of the network.

Nicholas: I see. And this is what, maybe like something like torrents lack.

Pete Horne: No torrents and IPFS use K tables. So, also, it's how they basically find out which computers they have. got what bit of data for what hash? right but what. but what i was thinking was and i'm going to sound like a total lunatic. but what i was thinking was well if you can do it for data blobs why can't you also do it for memory addresses? so if you have like a there's no reason why you can't have a chip that processes across uh totally distributed memory space as well. so um and then that way everything would be observable. but because the computer is everywhere it would be unstoppable. so that that was that was the idea.

Nicholas: but anyway no no no not anyway.

Pete Horne: so you're you distribute the memory across a network. so each instruction. so that okay. so this is where we come back to. fourth okay because remember you need to have a you need to have an intermediary between the hardware and the user space and so as a stack-based virtual machine language which was not just assembly system then those little programs would be able to distribute themselves across the network as well. So fourth became the way that you could actually program this thing. So it was a little bit like the problem of, you know, you can make a quantum chip but what's the calculus of the algebra that you can do to actually program the thing? I don't know that yet. I was trying to think of, you know, okay, so you can make this theoretical super distributed computer where everyone may be able to see it all but no one can stop any of it because it just helps self-heals and it just keeps processing. Then anyway, I've been thinking about this for a long time.

Nicholas: I'm probably sounding like – But where is it sourcing the? – how is this any different? This is a separate software. This is not something – this would be a new kind of – A new network entirely.

Pete Horne: A new network entirely, yeah.

Nicholas: Not borrowing, not necessarily interconnected with any EVM. At all.

Pete Horne: No, no. It would have its own virtual machine in it and the EVM taught me a lot about how I would do that virtual machine in a cryptographic environment but no, it wouldn't be using Ethereum. So as I said, like I was dragging this thing along behind me and it was starting to get really heavy and I thought, oh, like, you know, this just – this needs some resources. so I'll go and solve that problem. And – but in the meantime, I'll focus on community and get involved in that, so.

Nicholas: Well, I do encourage anyone who's inspired by these ideas to reach out to you because, I mean, I think there's a lot of froth, you know, and people are very swept up in – I agree with you about community. I mean, to me, Ethereum is the prime example. Maybe something like Polygon is another one. Zora is maybe another one where the community, the community survived completely changing the engine, the technical engine underneath several times. I mean, Polygon, for example, from a plasma research project to a POS chain to sooner or later a ZK roll-up. And it kind of reminds me a little bit of what – something I think about with blockchains also, which is that the immutability of smart contracts, for example, is – cannot be understood as – the naive – sort of the first galaxy brain level is to think of it as, oh, I write once, deploy once, I'm done. But actually, the lesson of the most successful projects is that they – the communities survive various complete rewrites, pivots of the underlying technology, even the purpose of what the community is trying to build together changes. And that layer zero is actually much more important than any one technological sample of their – their output at any point. So I don't deny the power of the communities, but the ideas you're talking about in terms of really enabling very interesting and deeply technically informed visions of decentralized computation are the kinds of tools that these kinds of communities – that inspire these communities, and that they're also able to deliver, ideally, in a mode that is different.

Pete Horne: I mean, I guess, like, I'm not running away from it. I mean, I suppose one of the things I should say is, like, well, give me an example of how I would use this thing, Pete, okay? Well, I mean, so imagine you're in a – you're in a hostile government environment, right, and you're worried about reading the news, right? Well, if you think about – and sorry, don't get me wrong, I'm not moving away from Ethereum. I still see the Ethereum protocol as being a good way to distribute data around the place. blockchain is a good blockchain. So I'm happy to use that blockchain. But, I mean, imagine you have – people can have a node in their house, inside their own network, right? And it's part of this distributed computer. And – and a publishing company publishes their news, right, into a channel on this computer, right? And it's everywhere and nowhere all at once. And because the person's node is in their house and they're part of that network, in a little bit – in a Tor-type fashion, but at the network layer, they could be reading that article and no one can observe them reading that article, right? Because it's – it's at their own node, inside their own network. They could even turn their computer off from the network if they wanted to to read it or whatever because the – the system actually works to perfectly distribute the data and some of the computation so that the content's not observable.

Nicholas: So that's – that's what I was – But is – is – is replicated on every node?

Pete Horne: No. Yes. Because what – I mean, short answer is no, not everything, but yes to the particular channels that you would subscribe to, which would be their own little mini blockchains inside the bigger blockchain, hence the – I see, I see. But that's also not the computation thing. That's something different, but we can – but I was just trying to – someone was saying to me, like, what the? – what are you talking about? How could you use this? I said, well, you know, I think you could use it to actually let people read things and get content, and their user experience would be as if they were on the web but no one could observe it.

Nicholas: But yeah, I mean, much more than content because we were just talking about applications as well. Mm-hmm.

Pete Horne: Yeah. And so – so if I wanted to send you a message, how do I send you a message through that network without observing the path? Well, if the whole network is the computer and it's doing a bit of the calculation here, a bit of it there, a bit of it everywhere, you know, so anyway. So yeah, it was receiving data and sending data.

Nicholas: When you say distributing the computation across nodes, for example, Mm-hmm. I mean, if I can go offline and read my blockchain newspaper Mm-hmm. offline, then the computation to render the data is not distributed. But if I'm going to write to the network, that would be distributed?

Pete Horne: Well, so there's discovery and then there's usage. So discovery would be distributed. But if you're using the same protocol like the Ethereum protocol, who's going to tell the difference between a financial transaction and a piece of newspaper transaction? Like it's all – you're also looking at hiding in networks.

Nicholas: I guess flashbots?

Pete Horne: Hiding in noise and all that sort of stuff. But no, I mean, the simple concept is instead of just using the 32-byte address space to store blobs, you also use the 32-byte address space to store the actual operating memory of the computer as well. And so that, you know, the RAM is not in one place. The RAM is everywhere, broadly speaking. But anyway, I'm sounding a little bit crazy. Everyone's probably going, "What?"?

Nicholas: No, no, no. Everyone's like, "What's it called? What's the name of the company, Pete?".

Pete Horne: So, so, yeah, anyway, so that was my.

Nicholas: So it's not entirely – this is the real drive behind Forth Energy, all the research that you've done.

Pete Horne: It's a bigger vision than just – it's just been this vision of how to use this concept of life, independent, self-sustaining, signaling and reproducing software within a network environment. And then what can you do with that?

Nicholas: Well, it's funny to me that you're drawn to your perspective on the timing and this historical moment is to turn to communities because it strikes me that the definition – I mean, I don't know what you're referencing there, but I'm reminded of the Selfish Gene chapter on memes that this self-reproducing – I mean, it maps to both of your interests.

Pete Horne: Yeah, but I mean, there's only one of me and I've had some responsibilities outside of just my work. where my life got sort of, you know, anchored for a while and you know, doing a startup and all that sort of stuff was – we've got one of those in the family, so that'll that'll do for now.

Nicholas: Understandable, understandable. But I wonder if a more decentralized open source angle on this might make sense because it is the kind of thing that passionate, brilliant people are drawn to.

Pete Horne: I mean, I have mixed emotions about that. I mean, obviously I've been involved in open source projects like Tomcat – the Tomcat web browser way back when that started up and all that sort of stuff. I was deeply involved in that in the late 90s because I was using that for my work. I was involved in SSL open source and my goal would be to be chief scientist of someone rather than, you know, because I'm – I've got a lot of battle scars from those sort of things. I just go, ugh, like I don't want to close my eyes and climb back into that breach again. You spend your whole life defending yourself.

Nicholas: But perhaps there are other people interested. But okay, so back to communities, but you taught me over DM last year in a brief DM thread that we had that L2s are a convention for talking to L1. If I understood you correctly. And I think there are these kinds of perspectives you have on the technology today that the people in these happy communities that you're excited to participate in, maybe it's hard to hear, hard to perceive these things from inside the wave of excitement about I don't know, right now it's maybe meme coins or whatnot. And it can be difficult to even perceive that there is any possible applications outside of what has seeming you know, seems to be approaching some kind of product market fit in terms of attention can really distract us from what the actual I mean, maybe not infinite, but huge horizon of potential is for the underlying technology here. So I think it's interesting that you can have these perspectives based on your deep technical understanding of and hands-on understanding. And you mentioned this thing in one of the articles about, what is it, Cypherpunks code? Something like that, Cypherpunks write code. And I think there is a little bit of a taking the foot off the gas when we lean too much into kind of attention-based hype. It's a part of the quote-unquote community.

Pete Horne: I think it's the culture. And it's an American-led culture as well. You know, like it's you got to push. I mean, like if I was to look at my career, the reason why I'm not a billionaire having a moan about everything is because the people who make that money, they just double down and double down and double down into whatever the wave is. And I'm sitting there going like, yeah, it's not going to last.

Nicholas: Yeah, being a hater doesn't pay.

Pete Horne: It doesn't pay, exactly. So if I've learned anything as I've learned to be a happier older person is that by you know, by just embracing it. And so like as I said, like right now we're in that community stage and we're in that adoption phase and having people sitting around going, oh yeah, but that's not crypto. You know, that's not pure. I mean, that's just not constructive.

Nicholas: I wonder if there's a way to do it that's more optimistic and not negative.

Pete Horne: Well, yeah, if you're fighting with nation-state actors or you have this boogeyman that you're trying to slay or you know, the troll under the bridge, it's just inherently a negative thing. But you know, and for good reason. I mean, I got politicized in the 90s when the Americans wouldn't let 120-bit, 128-bit SSL out of the country. Like the internet in Australia where I was working, like we couldn't do what was being done in the US because America wouldn't, we'd only get the 44-bit keys, right? And we couldn't use them. And so that gave me the shits, frankly. And I go like, who are you to stop me from doing this stuff? And you know, that's when all the SSL work started, all this stuff. So you know, this stuff can get real. And I can remember when, even before that, like I was working for an American investment bank. And we used to get audited by the Fed because it had an American banking license in Australia. And these guys in blue suits would come out. And the companies, all the banks used to have munitions licenses because to actually export keys to their foreign subsidiaries, which Australia was one, they had to have a license to export munitions because crypto keys were munitions. So, oh hang on, Hugo's having a say. But the famous Hugo. So yeah, so I've seen this stuff. And I've been to, let's not mention countries by name, but where you go there and you put your notepad in an envelope and then you seal it with tape and then you put an X on it and then you put it in the safe. And then you go off and you have your dinners or whatever and you come back and the seal's broken on your computer. Like these things can get real. So I can get grumpy if you want me to.

Nicholas: Who are your foils in thinking through computing, now or in the past? Foils.

Pete Horne: You mean, who are the people who tell me I'm barking mad?

Nicholas: I just don't think that thinkers exist in a vacuum. I think they always, we all exist in a relationship.

Pete Horne: I mean, I was really blessed when I was in back, you know, Gartner and Forrester and those research groups. So it used to be Gartner, Forrester and Sebald. And Patty Sebald who ran the Sebald group met me when I was about 25 just after my first child was born. Yeah, and this is, she wrote a book called Customers.com and you know, that was when they used to distribute tech publishing through Lotus Notes, like all the companies would have big Lotus Notes databases. And that was basically how the tech world got started before the internet. And she invited me to be on a, she had a group of, she called the pioneers, which was basically just people she thought were interesting doing interesting things. And so I became involved with her group. I mean, they're all sold and retired and wrapped up now. Hi Patty, if you're listening. And, but yeah, she gave me, she took this, you know, boy from Australia who, you know, just seemed to run at the mouth and gave me an opportunity to be on a advisory board. And I met, I met so many awesome people like, you know, this is people who were developing the systems at Cisco and Wells Fargo when they were doing the first online bank and all that sort of stuff. And so I met a community of people through that and that's how I learned to write and all that sort of stuff. So yeah, I was just really lucky. So that, that was sort of like the people who showed me, I learned in Australia, which was go overseas and find out what's happening and then bring it back because you just don't know what's happening unless you go and find out. I mean, now all my kids live around the world because, so it's sort of bit me in the bum now, but we're a distributed family. now because you said do it.

Nicholas: Do you have a canon of thinkers, be it computation thinkers or otherwise that you fit yourself within?

Pete Horne: If I was to, well that's interesting. I mean, I would, if I was to say what I spent most of my time thinking about, I would think about things like, you know, stoic philosophy and like I was, I was into that before it was popular. Consciousness and meditation. Like that's probably what I would, like. that's how I calm my mind.

Nicholas: Which also had, I think, a big role in talking of American computer thinking, at least in terms of the personal computer tendency. Yeah. A lot of attachments to that as well.

Pete Horne: Well, I mean, Steve Jobes and, you know, he's you know, LSD, consciousness, all that sort of stuff. I mean, that was all, that's all part of the culture. And so, so to me, yeah, I just, I just like to think probably too much.

Nicholas: You're also a great writer. You mentioned getting to learn to write through some of those experiences. How did you become, how did you become a good writer, a great writer, and and how did you, I guess, is writing a part of thinking for you?

Pete Horne: I write a lot now, but I do commercial work. So anything that pops out might be someone just asked me to write a newsletter or I was doing a deep dive on a journal thing. But I just like to write. I like, I was fascinated with Churchill. When I was in my 20s and I was trying to learn how to speak, I read this book called it wasn't the Witt and Winston of Winston Churchill, but it was basically write like Churchill. It was something really simple like that. And it was sort of like this reveal to me, which is like, oh, wow, you can actually write and speak like most people just get up and go blah, but I learned how to think about my audience and think about what I was trying to achieve and think about how. it's not about me and it's not about my ego and it's not about how I look. It's about like, what's that one thing that I want people to remember or what do these people really care about? And how do I actually, and so I just really love the art of saying, well, who you asked me to talk to and what would be the most meaningful thing that you want me to say to them and then to try and find a way to do that. And so I've I do some shadow writing for some people. Because I just love the writing and I don't need the ego side of it really because it comes back to bite you.

Nicholas: What are you thinking about now? Now that you've taken this step away? What do you mean by approaching community or spending more time in the Farcaster space or Ethereum communities? What does that mean to you?

Pete Horne: So I'm fascinated with the data. Well, I mean, I have a pragmatic thing that I'm doing, which is that I'm trying to actually look at some of the. I'm interested in the relationship that are forming between, say, minting behaviour and casting behaviour. and you know, like when an artist turns up, you know, is there a way of predicting whether they're going to be successful or not? Because I mean I think one of the things is Jacob's, like the Zorro team have just done so well. I mean, people I probably should say, I mean, yes, I'm Jacob's dad, not his brother. People often think that I'm, you know, an old man shouldn't be able to talk like this. But anyway, so when we talk about it, we he's yeah, I learned so much from him about because he is that generation. Like my kids are that generation. I'm not that generation and I'm just in awe of their. there is a collegiateness and politeness and, you know, people really pound on millennials and all that sort of stuff. I go, no, no, no, that's a boomer view of the world. If you actually look at these people, if you look at the way they think about the environment and you think they think about diversity and inclusion and all those sort of things and you can disagree with them and, you know, there's all the moral discussions and I'm happy, you know, I'm not happy with everything either. But nevertheless, this is a whole generation that is actually into this new version of community and crypto with DAOs and, you know, minting and helping people to come in to make into the ecosystem by minting and all that sort of stuff. I mean, I just thought that was really cool. And so I thought, well, I can do some math. I can do some data analytics. And so I've got, I'm trying to pull together all of the networks into my own nodes so that I've got fast access so that I can actually, and I've got the skills now in terms of being able to disassemble code and see what's going on and get a greater level of detail of what's actually being done on chain to try and get some relationships to see whether or not, you know, we could meaningfully predict and help someone who turns up as an artist to say, well, maybe if you twist it this way, you'll get more minting and you'll get into the ecosystem a bit faster or, you know, that sort of stuff and just have a look at the data basically.

Nicholas: That harkens a bit to your day job. You were talking about risk profiles earlier. This is for what, like for a investment application or insurance?

Pete Horne: I mean, it's not, I work with a company called Northfield started by a guy called Dan who's a good friend of mine. It's a small boutique in Boston that does quant risk models. He's a genius physicist that does math. that, you know, I kind of only dream of. But I can, I call myself the plumber. So I can take those models and I can make the data flow and keep it safe and do all that sort of stuff. So we're a small group and we work with asset owners, not asset managers. So that's basically the math that large funds like sovereign wealth funds and those sort of people use to whether the pools of money are so big that you can't make decisions with anything other than mathematics. And Dan has this really successful company and I, that does this work. And so my job is to sort of gather data move around and provide the analytics in as fast as real time as possible so that these large asset owners can actually, you know, see where their money is, see where their financial risk is and make their decisions based on that. And risk in our world is a mathematical measure of the mean variance using, you know, regression and principal component analysis and all that sort of stuff to actually quantify and manage large amounts of money through the prism of mathematical risk.

Nicholas: But you think that some of those concepts can be applied to even help bootstrap an artist's career in on-chain media space?

Pete Horne: Yeah, well, I mean, you know, how do we, yeah, I'm just interested in the numbers. I just want to have a look and see, like, because with AI tools and all that sort of stuff now you can classify images, you can look at something and and, you know, there's some features in Zorro where you know, first mint rewards and all that sort of something. Oh, I can have a look at that with math. So I'm just, I just thought I'd have a look at that. That's great.

Nicholas: You're also a grandfather recently. Has that changed your perspective or priorities or interests?

Pete Horne: It's certainly changed my carbon footprint. So I have two more on the way, actually. So it's all coming in a rush, which is sort of like how we do it in our family because we had four kids under five, me and my wife. And so, I mean, I love it. What can I say? I mean, just these little, I love kids. I've had kids. I love grandkids. I like not having to change the nappies. I can just hand them back. So I like that part of it. But no, it's just wonderful. It's just wonderful.

Nicholas: It'll be interesting to see because you've made this observation about, I guess, I mean, it seems like the chain native generation, if you might say, they're not actually the youngest generation. It's 20s, 30s, even 40s. I don't think it's particularly early 20s, even.

Pete Horne: Well, it was when I started observing it. You've all grown up.

Nicholas: Yeah, grown up and there hasn't been, I guess, relative to other consumer electronics trends and cultural trends of the last several decades. It's not the teenagers that really figured this one out for the most part. There are many outliers, but it appealed to a bit older than typical generation. Although maybe even some iPhones and iPods and things do also perhaps appeal to an older generation than the absolute youngest tweens or teens or something like that. But, actually, the youngest generations are quite alienated from the inner workings of computers. I know this having worked with grade school, high school kids in a Fab Lab context that they don't know anything about computers. They don't know, they don't really know what a browser is. They, and yet they have all kinds of other intuitions from having grown up under social media and Roblox and Minecraft and such that someone older doesn't. But, there is a kind of, you know, they're fish in water and the water is iOS or something like that.

Pete Horne: Yeah, the fish in water is a good way of putting it. I mean, I grew up in a little country town in Barrow, called Barrow in the southern highlands of New South Wales. This was not a tech center. And my first computer I plugged into a black and white tube television where two-thirds of the you know, the tube was starting to fail. and you know, and so to me and you know, I was a tinkerer and you know, I used to fix lawn mowers and mow lawns and you know, we'd build our own BMX bikes after from our previous dragster bikes or whatever. I mean, I was just that from that generation of sort of like hands-on doers. Hands-on. And so I've kept that. But it's really funny, you know, like because with my own kids, I used to I spent so much time trying to get them to, you know, I'd buy the Meccano sets or I'd buy the Lego sets or I'd get them all the things that I thought they would be interested in and they just wouldn't touch them. But then they'd still go and find their own thing. So I think that as long as the resources are in the environment for them to find their natural curiosity, then they'll go find it. But they won't do it the way that you did it or the way that you think they should do it. It's sort of like, you know, people are going to find their way to it, but you can't really necessarily show them the path. You can only just try and give them the most stimulating environment that you can. And don't be a helicopter parent and try and force it because that just builds resentment. So you've just got to have faith. I mean, I'm not a religious man, but when it comes to raising kids, you've just got to have faith that it's going to work out. And it does.

Nicholas: I guess that's what parents learn over having multiple children. As you go through it, it seems people sort of loosen their grip.

Pete Horne: The ultimate powerlessness. And it never stops. It never stops. So, yeah. It never stops. You're always learning. Always. So, I don't know. I just try and be happy.

Nicholas: Well, on that note, if people want to get in touch with you, Farcaster are the best place?

Pete Horne: Yeah, I'm there. And, yeah, I'm sorry. Sorry if I sounded a little bit crazy. I am a little bit crazy. You probably worked that out, but I'm friendly. crazy.

Nicholas: Not at all. You might be the only sane one around. It's horn with an E-P-S, is your username?

Pete Horne: Horn E-P-S. Hornips.

Nicholas: Yes. And hornips.eth, even, maybe?

Pete Horne: Yeah. Yeah. I've got hornips.eth. Gosh. Can you use that to find someone?

Nicholas: I'm not sure. Some people have it set up. I mean, I think Dojo might actually...

Pete Horne: Anyway. That's another story. But, of course, on community, I was just going to say, without restarting the conversation, was the Bitcoin community at the start was horrible. I mean, you know, that was all the peppy, right-wing, lunatic nut job. So, to see the Ethereum community actually turn into something nice with Farcaster and all that sort of stuff is actually... Again, bring it all on. Pump the love In Hong Kong, I did. I haven't been to the Ethereum one.

Nicholas: You should try the ETH Global ones, which are a great vibe as well. If you like the Farcaster community, you might enjoy those.

Pete Horne: I had my wings clipped a little bit with COVID and then some family things. So, I've only really just started to travel again this year. So, yeah. I think I'm going to go to Farcon, actually.

Nicholas: Oh, that's great. I don't have tickets yet, but more and more interesting people are going, or telling me they're going.

Pete Horne: Well, I don't know if I have a ticket either. I just said I'd go. I just do as I'm told. I do as I'm told.

Nicholas: Alrighty. Alright, Pete. Thanks so much. This was a great conversation. Thank you for sharing all your wisdom and experience.

Pete Horne: Oh, thank you. And I hope I didn't sound too crazy.

Nicholas: Hey, thanks for listening to this episode of Web3 Galaxy Brain. To keep up with everything Web3, follow me on Twitter @Nicholas with four leading N's. You can find links to the topics discussed on today's episode in the show notes. Podcast feed links are available at Web3GalaxyBrain.com. Web3 Galaxy Brain airs live most Friday afternoons at 5 p.m. Eastern Time, 2200 UTC on Twitter Spaces. I look forward to seeing you there.

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Pete Horne, Founder of 4th.Energy