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Remembrance of Everything Past

More information could enhance cognition and lead to better decision making—or drown us in a deluge of data points

3 min read
Remembrance of Everything Past
Illustration: Greg Mably

The pursuit of enhanced cognition—from sharper recall to more lucid reasoning—is now the greatest animating impulse behind innovative computer engineering. Across the world, clever designers are leveraging ever-expanding storage, processing power, and communications networks to build personalized encyclopedias that document all aspects of an individual’s inner and outer lives. If the engineers have their way, every idea, memory, and feeling—the recorded consciousness of a single lifetime—will be stored in the cloud.

“What’s in this for me?” you may ask. For starters, you might very well benefit from retracing your past steps at key junctures of your personal or professional life—perhaps experiencing the breakthrough insight that eluded you the first time around but that can help you the next time you arrive at a similar juncture. Even after you die, your digital files would confer a new kind of immortality that others could inherit, permitting them to traverse the associative trails that made up your life’s work.

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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
Mountains and cresting waves made of cartoon cats and large green coins.
Frank Stockton

On 4 September 2018, someone known only as Rabono bought an angry cartoon cat named Dragon for 600 ether—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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