Planetary Resources’ New Owner Seems a Bit Flaky

Forbes takes a critical look at cryptocurrency/block chain guru Joe Lubin, whose ConsenSys company purchased asteroid mining company Planetary Resources. (Although given the headline, critical seems polite: Cryptopia In Crisis: Joe Lubin’s Ethereum Experiment Is A Mess. How Long Will He Prop It Up?)

So, how does asteroid mining fit into Lubin’s master plan?

Lubin insists ConsenSys is getting more selective in picking projects. But old habits die hard. In October it bought a nine-year-old asteroid-mining company called Planetary Resources. “We see it as a group of amazingly capable people who are interested in exploring how blockchain could ramify on space operations,” Lubin says abstrusely.

Ramify? Huh…

I like to say that half of what I hear in NewSpace is complete bullshit, the other half are schedules — most of which have no connection to reality. Lubin’s cryptocurrency block chain work seems to tilt significantly toward the former.

In October 2016, Jared Pereira, an 18-year-old high school graduate living in Dubai, pitched Lubin on Fathom, which aims to somehow disrupt the higher-education business by crowdsourcing academic evaluations and grading. Lubin gave the go-ahead, but two years later the project has six people working on it and no launchable prototype. Its website is nothing more than a few pages stating high-minded ideals: “If individuals were free to build their experiences tailored to their unique aims, and were able to communicate those experiences reliably to any entity in the world, there would be an order of magnitude shift in the efficacy of social organization at every scale.”

Other projects that have been staked by Lubin seem even flakier. Cellarius, a spoke that Lubin often promotes by wearing an eponymous T-shirt, is a “transmedia cyberpunk franchise” aimed at collaborative storytelling on the blockchain. What exactly is collaborative storytelling, and why will the blockchain make it better or more profitable? Its website’s explanation is far from clear….,

Civil, a spoke that aims to put journalism on the blockchain and is supposed to somehow increase the level of trust in news, recently had to cancel its ICO because it failed to raise its minimum target of $8 million. Some of the journalists in Civil’s 18 newsrooms say they have yet to receive compensation in the form of tokens they were promised. (Disclosure: Forbes recently announced a partnership with Civil.)

Great. Lubin seems determined to screw up not only space, but what’s left of serious journalism.

  • Robert Sutton

    Well maybe he can use some of that $20trillion+ from DOD

  • Jeff2Space

    But blockchain!

    Good investors can tell the difference between this sort of b.s. and a New Space company that actually has the potential to do something useful.

  • duheagle

    And the non sequitur award for today goes to…

  • duheagle

    Blockchain seems to be the digital equivalent of what Laetrile and DMSO were touted to be back in the day – good for whatever ails you. And Mr. Lubin’s enterprises all look to be peddling various flavors of blockchainy snake oil. But Planetary Resources went broke and got its bones acquired. Beggars, as the old saw would have it, rarely get to be choosers. Planetary Resources is guilty only of its own sins, not those of the mook who bought their body parts at the liquidation sale.

    As for Mr. Lubin having any malign effect on “serious journalism,” the vast majority of what still regards itself as the latter did itself in a long time ago by choosing to explicitly pimp for the progressive left cause. As Theodore Sturgeon said, they “sold their birthright for a pot of message.”

  • Andrew Tubbiolo

    You’re right of course that the press should not pimp. But it seems you only disapprove when it makes a turn to the left. Do I presume correctly that you have no problems when the press pimps for the political right? Surely if you don’t like CNN, you must also disapprove of Fox as well?

  • duheagle

    False equivalence. The pimping is all on the left.

    MSNBC, for example, like Fox, has a lot of commentary shows that don’t pretend to be journalism. CNN seems to have fewer of these. The problem is that the CNN and MSNBC “news” segments, and those of CBS, NBC, CNBC and ABC, are essentially the same as their commentary shows – all Trump-bashing all the time and “reporting” with straight faces whatever the daily DNC “talking points – i.e., lies – are. I can see the “logic” in this, at least by lefty standards. After all, it’s you guys who insist that reality is socially constructed, not my lot. If you really believe that – and many of you seem to – then lying as loudly and frequently as possible makes a wacky kind of sense.

    Many events one might reasonably assume to be of general interest go unreported entirely on left-dominated outlets because they are politically anathema to the progressive management of the MSM. If all one watches is left-wing media, for example, one would never know that hundreds of thousands of people turn up in DC once a year for The March for Life. This event is entirely memory-holed on all the MSM outlets for purely ideological reasons.

    Any tiny handful of lefties incensed about pretty much anything, though, will not only get coverage, but be shot from carefully selected vantage points to make the “crowd” look much larger than it really is.

    Fox leans right editorially, but it doesn’t attempt to keep news that will not be pleasing to those on the right a secret from its audience. The fact that Fox routinely has better ratings than MSNBC, CNN or even both in combination suggests that a significant number of lefties, who’ve been made to appear foolish by being unaware of something the rest of the country knew about due to MSM censorship, tune in to Fox at least part of the time by way of prophylaxis.

    If one watches Fox, one will hear all about Trump’s travails, but also get some actual reportage anent the validity of charges against him. On MSM outlets, one simply gets recitations of charges against Trump from “journalists” who treat every accusation as if canonically true. Watching CNN and MSNBC is – not surprisingly – a lot like watching footage of “news reports” from totalitarian nations, present or past. At times the MSM can be as “out there” as some of those aliens-and-Bigfoot late night shows on talk radio – people speaking utter nonsense in well-modulated tones.

  • Andrew Tubbiolo

    Fox leans as far right as CNN does left. And it’s commentator cadre are the same animal as what you see on MSNBC. Fox also uses more propaganda techniques I watch on Russian new programming employing serial filler, sound effects, anchors promoting anger and disgust, promotion of loyalty to authority figures. They also don’t cover many stories that go against their story trajectory until much later and even bury them behind fluff.

    That said there are not neutral new sources left. Real news is boring and conflating emotion with the news and news with emotion ensures an audience. That’s what share holders want.

  • Andrew Tubbiolo

    PR is probably an experiment. Can you construct a means of investing in a company with a currency and contracting scheme that bypasses SEC regulations and limits by requiring qualified investors. My conjecture is they want to use the blockchain as a means of transferring money and establishing ownership of shares without that information being publicly known while at the same time having it out in the public’s ownership via the blockchain. They’re asking for a court case, or a series of court cases. My bet is PR is a patsi and will suffer the consequence of a loss in court. As well as testing the world’s governments means of decrypting encrypted data.

  • duheagle

    As this whole PR purchase deal seems to have no obvious objective, your notion seems as likely as any. If what you suggest is actually the case, I hope for success in the endeavor.

    Governments try to decrypt data all the time. How successful each is at what it attempts, though, is generally held at a “burn before reading” level of classification. The NSA isn’t exactly in the habit of erecting billboards in Times Square to announce its latest cryptographic accomplishments.

  • duheagle

    As both MSNBC and CNN have recently let go some of their genuinely wackadoodle erstwhile talking heads, their cadre of commentators has certainly gotten less obviously deranged. It seems that foaming at the mouth and snapping at sticks is not, after all, a good approach to building an audience, even among lefties. Al Sharpton remains, though, so it’s not like there’s been anything like a clean sweep of professional liars and crazies from the ranks.

    About “propaganda techniques,” can you define “serial filler?” I have no clue what you mean by that. As an avoider of dietary carbohydrates I, of course, oppose the use of “cereal fillers,” but I think you had something else in mind.

    Sound effects? As opposed to just sound recorded at the sites of covered news events? Any examples you can provide?

    Anchors promoting anger and disgust? Seriously? I think you must have been watching CNN or MSNBC where that sort of thing is endemic. Or have cute and twinkly Shannon Bream or the voluptuous Martha MacCallum been leading raised-fist chants on-air that I have somehow missed?

    Promotion of loyalty to authority figures? Whom? Trump? Fox was certainly no hotbed of Trump enthusiasts during the 2016 campaign or the early days of his administration. Even now, his biggest fans at Fox seem to be mostly on the Fox Business Network.

    As for “buried stories,” can you provide an example of such? I gave you the example of The March for Life anent leftist media.

    Contra you, real news is often riveting and provoking – no hyping required. Murrow in London during The Blitz comes to mind. Or those CNN guys on the roof of their Baghdad hotel during Coalition air raids during Operation Desert Storm.

    Artificial whipping up of one’s audience tends to be more characteristic of “stories” that are either genuine nothingburgers or are out and out false. CNN and MSNBC have been doing this sort of thing anent Trump – and claiming he’s imminently going to be indicted, impeached, etc. – for so long that even their core audience no longer seems to really believe this official line of crap anymore. Boys (and girls) crying “Wolf!” and all htat.

  • Robert Sutton

    Though it claims this link is suspicious it may depend on the truth of it.
    And if the 1st shall be last I wonder about those late night alien and Bigfoot shows having read those that follow me.
    This thread did seem to stray from the subject of the article but it turns out in a rather intriguing way.
    After all if Lubin didn’t acquire Planetary Resources who would
    The Forbes connection of course Keeps watching the Hawks.

  • Robert Sutton

    But at least FNC has FNC Extra

  • Robert Sutton

    It’s been said that Public Relations is often an experiment.

  • duheagle

    PR in this case is short for Planetary Resources, the subject of this story, not Public Relations.

  • duheagle

    Off our meds again are we?