Crypto Prices Crashed, But True Believers Are Holding On
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Crypto Prices Crashed, But True Believers Are Holding On

A divide is growing between investors looking to make money and those who believe in crypto’s mission.

By PIA SINGH
Tue, Aug 16, 2022 11:30amGrey Clock 4 min

Crypto prices plunged this year, but Drew Larsen says that is no concern.

Over the past two years, Mr. Larsen, 54, has poured about 10% of his savings into cryptocurrencies like bitcoin, Ethereum and solana. He believes it is a smart hedge for his investment portfolio, the rest of which is in real estate, stocks and bonds. But more than that, he feels a deep connection to the idea of digital assets, which makes the pain of bitcoin’s plunge this year a lot more bearable.

“I actually do think it has the potential to save the world,” said Mr. Larsen, a founder of two software companies who now lives in Colorado with his family. So far, his crypto holdings have lost about 40% in value this year.

With the crypto market crashing, there is a growing divide between investors who are looking to make money and those who believe in its mission. Some true believers, like Mr. Larsen, tout crypto as a way to replace, or at least push back against, big banks and the traditional fiat-money system. Others are more enthusiastic about blockchain, a kind of digital ledger underpinning cryptocurrencies, that could be used to change how records are tracked and stored in areas as varied as medicine and real estate.

Some of the traders knuckling down on crypto are fairly well off, which means they have money to lose—and a higher tolerance for risk. Many, including Mr. Larsen, didn’t have their investments tied up in lending platforms like Celsius Network LLC and Voyager Digital Ltd., both of which have frozen withdrawals and filed for bankruptcy protection. Customers there haven’t been able to access their money for weeks.

Some investors buy cryptocurrencies as if they are stocks, holding them in a crypto exchange and hoping prices rise so they can make a profit. Others deposit their crypto into yield-earning accounts with firms that then invest those digital assets or lend them out to others for a fee. Bitcoin, the biggest cryptocurrency, is riding the wave of July’s market rally. It is up about 28% in July, but is still down about 65% from its November record high.

Maria Saavedra, a 31-year-old software test engineer in California, said she views most cryptocurrencies as hyped-up assets with little legitimate value. But in March, after the crypto market had already endured a rough few months, she started buying the two biggest cryptocurrencies, bitcoin and Ethereum. She has invested about US$8,000 total.

Ms. Saavedra says the plunge in prices makes it a great time to buy on the cheap. She bought $1,000 in Ethereum on Thursday when leading cryptocurrencies rallied after the Federal Reserve’s interest-rate increase.

Like Mr. Larsen, she said she supports stricter regulation for the crypto market. She thinks it would give the industry more legitimacy—and probably give a boost to her holdings.

Her other long-term investment strategy? Handbags. Ms. Saavedra recently paid $10,000 for a black Hermès Kelly bag and plans to cash out the investment when she nears retirement. Until then, the gold-plated bag sits in her closet, resting in its original cloth bag and stuffed to keep its shape.

Zachary Bertucci, a 25-year-old real-estate investment analyst in Chicago, has put about 10% of his investment portfolio in Ethereum and lesser-known cryptocurrencies like chainlink and polygon. Mr. Bertucci started buying crypto in September, when prices were still on the way up. His holdings have lost about half their value,but he plans to keep buying more each month and hopes to eventually rake in enough gains to buy an investment property.

“That money you’re investing, it could go away or it could triple,” Mr. Bertucci said. “As long as you’re willing to accept that risk, then you’re OK.” The other 90% of his investment portfolio is in stocks and an ETF that mirrors the S&P 500.

Not all crypto believers are loading up.

Tyler Lahti began investing in crypto in 2014, adding about $5,000 total in bitcoin and Ethereum up until early this year. After the recent downturn, he doesn’t plan to add more.

Still, Mr. Lahti said he is bullish on the sector. As an accountant, he has high hopes for smart contracts, which are software programs on the blockchain that automatically execute transactions between parties.

“If it does work out, it’s beneficial to the world and I’ll make money,” said Mr. Lahti, who is 31 and lives in Georgia.

Mr. Larsen, the Colorado entrepreneur, has experience dealing with risk. He co-founded a sales-related tech company in 1999, shortly before the dot-com bubble burst, then exited in 2009. He sold another venture, a software-based workout platform, in 2019. The following year, he got into crypto, partly because he didn’t want to “sit around doing nothing.”

Mr. Larsen attends a monthly crypto happy hour, where topics of conversation can range from the price of bitcoin to how to persuade your spouse to invest in it. Still, he said he doesn’t believe most cryptocurrencies are for the average investor, likening crypto to investing in early-stage startups.

The exception, in his mind, is bitcoin. He views it as a long-term savings method, and he thinks he might one day hand down his bitcoin holdings to his children.

“I guess I would say I came for the money,” Mr. Larsen said, “but stayed because of the philosophy.”

Reprinted by permission of The Wall Street Journal, Copyright 2021 Dow Jones & Company. Inc. All Rights Reserved Worldwide. Original date of publication: July 30, 2022.



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Should AI Have Access to Your Medical Records? What if It Can Save Many Lives?

We asked readers: Is it worth giving up some potential privacy if the public benefit could be great? Here’s what they said.

By DEMETRIA GALLEGOS
Tue, May 28, 2024 4 min

We’re constantly told that one of the potentially biggest benefits of artificial intelligence is in the area of health. By collecting large amounts of data, AI can create all sorts of drugs for diseases that have been resistant to treatment.

But the price of that could be that we have to share more of our medical information. After all, researchers can’t collect large amounts of data if people aren’t willing to part with that data.

We wanted to see where our readers stand on the balance of privacy versus public-health gains as part of our series on ethical dilemmas created by the advent of AI.

Here are the questions we posed…

AI may be able to discover new medical treatments if it can scan large volumes of health records. Should our personal health records be made available for this purpose, if it has the potential to improve or save millions of lives? How would we guard privacy in that case?

…and some of the answers we received. undefined

Rely on nonpartisan overseers

While my own recent experience with a data breach highlights the importance of robust data security, I recognise the potential for AI to revolutionise healthcare. To ensure privacy, I would be more comfortable if an independent, nonpartisan body—overseen by medical professionals, data-security experts, and citizen representatives—managed a secure database.

Anonymity cuts both ways

Yes. Simply sanitise the health records of any identifying information, which is quite doable. Although there is an argument to be made that AI may discover something that an individual needs or wants to know.

Executive-level oversight

I think we can make AI scanning of health records available with strict privacy controls. Create an AI-CEO position at medical facilities with extreme vetting of that individual before hiring them.

Well worth it

This actually sounds like a very GOOD use of AI. There are several methods for anonymising data which would allow for studies over massive cross-sections of the population without compromising individuals’ privacy. The AI would just be doing the same things meta-studies do now, only faster and maybe better.

Human touch

My concern is that the next generations of doctors will rely more heavily, maybe exclusively, on AI and lose the ability or even the desire to respect the art of medicine which demands one-on-one interaction with a patient for discussion and examination (already a dying skill).

Postmortem

People should be able to sign over rights to their complete “anonymised” health record upon death just as they can sign over rights to their organs. Waiting for death for such access does temporarily slow down the pace of such research, but ultimately will make the research better. Data sets will be more complete, too. Before signing over such rights, however, a person would have to be fully informed on how their relatives’ privacy may also be affected.

Pay me or make it free for all

As long as this is open-source and free, they can use my records. I have a problem with people using my data to make a profit without compensation.

Privacy above all

As a free society, we value freedoms and privacy, often over greater utilitarian benefits that could come. AI does not get any greater right to infringe on that liberty than anything else does.

Opt-in only

You should be able to opt in and choose a plan that protects your privacy.

Privacy doesn’t exist anyway

If it is decided to extend human lives indefinitely, then by all means, scan all health records. As for privacy, there is no such thing. All databases, once established, will eventually, if not immediately, be accessed or hacked by both the good and bad guys.

The data’s already out there

I think it should be made available. We already sign our rights for information over to large insurance companies. Making health records in the aggregate available for helping AI spot potential ways to improve medical care makes sense to me.

Overarching benefit

Of course they should be made available. Privacy is no serious concern when the benefits are so huge for so many.

Compensation for breakthroughs

We should be given the choice to release our records and compensated if our particular genome creates a pathway to treatment and medications.

Too risky

I like the idea of improving healthcare by accessing health records. However, as great as that potential is, the risks outweigh it. Access to the information would not be controlled. Too many would see personal opportunity in it for personal gain.

Nothing personal

The personal info should never be available to anyone who is not specifically authorised by the patient to have it. Medical information can be used to deny people employment or licenses!

No guarantee, but go ahead

This should be allowed on an anonymous basis, without question. But how to provide that anonymity?

Anonymously isolating the information is probably easy, but that information probably contains enough information to identify you if someone had access to the data and was strongly motivated. So the answer lies in restricting access to the raw data to trusted individuals.

Take my records, please

As a person with multiple medical conditions taking 28 medications a day, I highly endorse the use of my records. It is an area where I have found AI particularly valuable. With no medical educational background, I find it very helpful when AI describes in layman’s terms both my conditions and medications. In one instance, while interpreting a CT scan, AI noted a growth on my kidney that looked suspiciously like cancer and had not been disclosed to me by any of the four doctors examining the chart.

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