May 6 • 7M

My thoughts on NFTs

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Things got shuffled around a little bit and instead of hearing about, “Who still does ML tooling by hand?,” this week my attention shifted to writing down my thoughts on NFTs. This happened in part due to a lengthy conversation I had about the future of NFTs this week. Part of that conversation was distilled into this series of thoughts on the subject. This was almost an interview edition of the podcast. Given the length of my current topic backlog the topic being replaced may not surface again or will have to be incorporated into something else along the way as a sort of bonus topic. I’m on the lookout for the first mainstream use case for NFTs. To qualify that statement I’m going to describe mainstream as millions of users doing something (that something is the basis of what I would consider a use case) on a regular basis with NFTs facilitated by a marketplace. 

For those of you who wanted a quick primer on NFTs, then please consider watching the 8 minute video by The Verge team called, “NFTs and the $13B marketplace, explained,” from February 2, 2022 or reading the “NFTs, explained” post they have [1].

Earlier this month Mark Zuckerberg said that NFTs are coming to Instagram [2]. We are already seeing NFTs being added to Twitter profile pictures in a special way [3]. Both of these use cases for NFTs create a use case for the technology or the foundation for where a marketplace could exist with a sizable audience. That is the key element I have been waiting to see within the NFT space. People can 100% get non fungible tokens associated with a blockchain and keep that token in their cryptocurrency wallet. This whole process requires a bunch of things to work which is why I think having some of this background stuff  built into an application like Twitter or Instagram will help create a more mainstream experience. 

What exactly do you need to make an NFT work?

  1. Blockchain - You need a functioning blockchain that can be accessed to view and confirm ownership of the token. This is a really important thing as if the blockchain ceases to exist or becomes so slow from lack of operational activity your token could become worthless. It is a digital asset and is inherently ephemeral.

  2. Marketplace - The person needs a marketplace or some method of transacting the exchange of an NFT. This is where I think the mainstream social media applications getting involved will make this easier for everybody.

  3. Wallet - Somebody has to have a cryptocurrency wallet to be able to store the information related to the token and other elements for you. This is a collection of keys that are necessary to prove ownership of your token or cryptocurrency. 

  4. Minting - Within the process one of the parties has to be able to generate NFts and bring them to a marketplace or distribute them as gifts. I’m assuming that Instagram will give people the ability to make NFTs from pictures they upload. 

Right now as it stands somebody who is reasonably tech savvy could go out and buy, own, and trade NFTs right now. I don't believe that all of the blockchains being used for these NFTs will survive. I think a bunch of people are going to be disappointed when this happens. However, a bunch of people will probably have forgotten they have had the NFTs on that blockchain to begin with so they won’t be disappointed. Sure people are working on some interoperability between blockchains so you can move NFTs if you think your current blockchain might be on the path to ruin. All of that complexity will fade away when people are just using the ecosystem related to Instagram or Twitter to make the process frictionless. A process for NFTs that includes millions of people within the marketplace and zero barrier to entry in terms of technology will kickstart an actual economy around the content. It is also a lot less likely that Instagram will fade away. People will keep sharing photos in some form now and in the metaverse. 

Soon enough I’ll be focused on building out 8 sections of that machine learning syllabus. My plan for that effort is to really build out and potentially revise that syllabus into something really good. I’m talking about taking it from academic articles all the way to easy to consume lectures from other academics. My goal with that effort is to pull together the very best content from all over the place into a one stop shop for somebody to come up to speed on the subject of machine learning. I’ll put each one of them into a Jupyter notebook format and publish them on GitHub as well to allow people to do push and pull requests against the content. That seems like the most reasonable way to begin the sharing process in an open and earnest way. 

Links and thoughts:

1. You can watch this video about “NFTs and the $13B marketplace, explained” from the team over at The Verge. I enjoyed it and thought it was a good introduction. 

2. This episode of the Decoder podcast really digs into the possibility of what is going to happen with NFTs and crypto. Nilay Patel really gets into the future of things during the podcast, “Steve Aoki on why he’s a ‘crypto believer’” This was one of the most meta conversations I have listened to in some time.  

Top 5 Tweets of the week:

Footnotes:

[1] https://www.theverge.com/22310188/nft-explainer-what-is-blockchain-crypto-art-faq 

[2] https://www.engadget.com/mark-zuckerberg-confirms-nf-ts-are-coming-to-instagram-204435805.html 

[3] https://www.theverge.com/2022/1/20/22893502/nft-twitter-profile-picture-crypto-wallet-opensea-coinbase-right-click 

What’s next for The Lindahl Letter?

  • Week 68: Publishing a model or selling the API?

  • Week 69: A machine learning cookbook?

  • Week 70: ML and Web3 (decentralized internet)

  • Week 71: What are the best ML newsletters?

  • Week 72: Open source machine learning security

I’ll try to keep the what’s next list for The Lindahl Letter forward looking with at least five weeks of posts in planning or review. If you enjoyed this content, then please take a moment and share it with a friend. Thank you and enjoy the week ahead.