Tech Firms Mine Minsk’s Minds

Belarus’s somber, sprawling capital sprouts a flourishing computing scene

3 min read
Tech Firms Mine Minsk’s Minds
Code On, Comrades! Artificial-intelligence experts program under the gaze of the father of Soviet communism. The headquarters of Invention Machine’s R&D operation is just one of many IT outfits in Minsk.
Photo: Michael Dumiak

In a quiet lane in Belarus’s capital, across from playgrounds and tower-block apartments, sits an old textile factory with a courtyard mural of a smiling Vladimir Lenin. Upstairs is something unexpected—60 programmers and artificial-intelligence researchers implementing algorithms and building databases for a sprawling semantic-search platform.

This is what Ken Klapproth calls the “factory” for the Invention Machine, a 20-year-old software firm in Boston (recently acquired by Colorado-based IHS) that specializes in natural-language processing. Klapproth leads product marketing for Invention Machine and is a solid supporter of Minsk’s IT scene.

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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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