Back Story: What's Your Superpower?

Google engineers debate the best superhuman abilities

2 min read

On a typically cloudless day in Mountain View, Calif., Google engineers are brainstorming feverishly, making emphatic notations on a whiteboard. Arcane tech problem? New business plan? Latest twist in the plot to rule cyberspace? No, these engineers are arguing the relative merits of superhuman powers. The choices? Invisibility versus flight, invisibility versus teleportation, flight versus teleportation, and the power to kill from 200 meters versus the power to move people with your mind.

The engineering mind-set knows no boundaries. Therefore, a traditionally short conversation ("Would you rather have the power of invisibility or the power of flight?") rapidly spins off new and philosophical threads enumerating hidden caveats and analyzing cost-benefit scenarios. Under the black-markered "The power to move you," someone uses a blue marker to replace "you" with "anyone." "What do you mean by move?" asks a red marker. "You made this no fun anymore," complains a blue marker, underscoring that point with a frowning face.

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The Spectacular Collapse of CryptoKitties, the First Big Blockchain Game

A cautionary tale of NFTs, Ethereum, and cryptocurrency security

8 min read
Vertical
Mountains and cresting waves made of cartoon cats and large green coins.
Frank Stockton
Pink

On 4 September 2018, someone known only as Rabono bought an angry cartoon cat named Dragon for 600 Ethers—an amount of Ethereum cryptocurrency worth about US $170,000 at the time, or $745,000 at the cryptocurrency’s value in July 2022.

It was by far the highest transaction yet for a nonfungible token (NFT), the then-new concept of a unique digital asset. And it was a headline-grabbing opportunity for CryptoKitties, the world’s first blockchain gaming hit. But the sky-high transaction obscured a more difficult truth: CryptoKitties was dying, and it had been for some time.

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