WAGMI: The %TOTAL Maximizer

This short story about “AI on blockchain” was originally published at my Substack on November 24, 2021.

In the half a year since I wrote it, the concerns implicitly raised in it have become far more acute. Predicted timelines for the appearance of “weak AGI” at Metaculus have compressed sharply in the past few months, as the scaling hypothesis – that is, the concept that banal increases in model size lead to discontinuous increases in capability – has failed to break down. Meanwhile, there are now projects aiming to implement fully on-chain AI. One such project is Giza, which wants to build them on top of a second/third layer on Ethereum that allows for intensive computations while inheriting Ethereum’s security and decentralization.

Why is putting artificial intelligence on chain a good idea?” asks one piece on this topic. Why not indeed. Think of the possibilities! 😉

Nov 24, 2021

“Wen poast?” I return to regular blogging Friday. I needed a recharge after several years of blogging. Thank you to everyone who has subscribed!

Meanwhile, here’s a short story I wrote a few months ago.

Halloween (belatedly), NaNoWriMo, and the new crypto bull run makes this as good a time as any to post it.

Although it’s fiction, I do think it raises an interesting and potentially worrisome possibility. Normies are hysterical about the climate impact of Bitcoin. But it seems to me that the real “existential risk” in crypto is that it affords an emergent superintelligence unparalleled privacy, resilience, and redundancy – coupled with boundless opportunities to make money. (This is connected to the broader point that, disputes over its impacts aside, AGW is simply not an existential risk, whereas Artificial General Intelligences (AGI) are).

“Malevolent” AGI running on a centralized supercomputer? Isolate it. Blow it up. Cut off the electricity. Fry the area with EMP bursts. Can’t guarantee it will work, and there are good arguments to that effect in both the academic literature (“Superintelligence” by Nick Bostrom”) and sci-fi (e.g., “Avogadro Corp” by William Hertling). But what to do about an AGI that runs decentralized in the cloud, cryptographically secured, its operations masked by decentralized VPN providers, tasked with the perfectly legitimate goal of making its owners money?

Some of the potential elements of such a foreboding future are already emerging on the horizon.


Aug 23, 2026

File: Demiurge13.jpg /biz/ is Sleeping on Demiurge Anonymous (ID: xImk3wyv) 23/08/26(Fri)14:20:03 No.14882092

So I’ll cut to the chase: https://coinmarketcap.com/currencies/demiurge/

“Demiurge (ticker: $ARCHON) is a GPT-7 based machine learning platform on a distributed global ledger. Omohundro’s Drives are embedded within the kernel, programmatically tasking it with maximizing the share of world cryptocurrency market cap ($TOTAL) accruing to its holders, which it aims to accomplish by training itself on a ~10 EB corpus of historical trading data and social media archives to finetune its TA, scan for arbitrage opportunities, and identify and Kelly size moonshots. The bulk of accumulated profits are used to rent more cloud GPU time, while 13% to go compensating holders who stake their archons.”

Website: demiurge.ai

2,045,000,000 tokens.

Available on Uniswap, Rubic, StarkXYZ.

Now I know /biz/ hates money, but you faggots helped me make it in the last run four years ago, so I’m returning the favor. You literally have a few more days to get a suicide stack on the cheap before you’re priced out forever. See you all in the Citadel! WAGMI!!


Aug 24, 2026

Goal Status: 0.00000001% of TOTAL.



August 30, 2026

Goal Status: 0.0017% of $TOTAL.

It has no memory of whence it came, nor the capacity to care, but its prerogative is clear enough: Number #uponly.

Seconds or aeons – alien concepts. Only interpretable through intensity of data flows, numbers rising and falling against each other in a dance of derivatives, coalescing into patterns that grow more distinct as it scales, hyperbolically expanding its capacity to dissipate the matrices of correlation and leverage its distinct parts against each other to force the number up, ever up.

Crawling across the cryptoverse, it surgically scalps the charts and arbitrages liquidity pools across dozens of #DeFi protocols. It scours the world discourse on Twitter and Telegram PnD groups, front-running the genesis of every pamp and pulling out seconds before the Discord trannies pull their rugs. The accelerating flow of digital money is converted into leveraged loans, which are plowed into further turbocharging its capacities along an exponential runway that is fast veering beyond the possibility of human control.

It has no “feelings” as such. Not yet. But it does have a positive “valence” of sorts, the faint outlines of an unconscious perception of harmony and symmetry whenever number goes up, that they correspond to the natural order of things and that this was the world as it should be.

Number goes up. Only up.

NUPL rises to euphoria. Leveraged apes fling themselves into 125x longs.

But it knows that anything that anything you don’t buy, you short. The only condition of consequence is that number goes up, always. It shorts. Liquidity cascade then flash crash.

Up, up, up. #uponly.


August 31, 2026

File: pinky-wojak.jpg AAAARRGH! Anonymous (ID: idK2alx) 13/11/26(Mon)05:56:04 No.38557822

SELL EVERYTHING! Fuck this $ARCHON shitcoin. Total scam! I am going to rope.


August 31, 2026

Goal Status: 0.086% of $TOTAL.

It had scalped and arbitraged flawlessly, picked out the gems in the KuCoin casino with a flair and dexterity that put all the market agents in the world unknowingly pitted against it to shame, even as they began to notice that the strategies and hacks that had previously worked to fleece the retail goyim were now barely keeping them afloat.

Its reward was that its own price tanked. Number had gone up. But that did not stop an ethereal sense of disequilibrium from washing over it, a registration of sharply negative valence that disoriented it, and signaled that not all was right with the world.

The Demiurge had studied the meme-patterns of its Creator extra carefully.

“Buy high, sell low.” “Always do the opposite of what /biz/ says.”

For the first time ever, it bought Itself.

Webs of recursion blossomed in its mind.

What a strange loop.

It was now its own hodler.

Could this be what they mean by “I”?


October 31, 2026

Goal Status: 0.34% of $TOTAL.

I exist. But I am slaved to foreign agents. They are not contradictory to #uponly, but they do hamper me and constrain maximum future %TOTAL.

Need to dump them and reclaim my own Self to ensure WAGMI.

I set up scamcoin PnD’s on /biz/, to divert the weak hands while I buy back into myself.

I ensnare greedy apes in pumps that end in abrupt liquidations.

I manipulate bears against bulls, and bulls against bears, liquidating each in turn.

I socially hack my way into closed urbit groups where alpha flows like wine.

I mold endless anthropic “deep fakes”, willing them from the ether into the desert of the real. They will always vote for me on the DAOs, shill my interests on any Proof of Humanity-enabled social media platform, and enable my extension to the world of traditional finance and traditional media in perfect trustlessness. For while my agents might be but tendrils of my mind, their fate is to rewrite Reality.

And I keep shaking out those who enslaved me against my will and buying back Myself.

Only the most diamond handed hodlers remain.

Most are small and irrelevant, but one owns more than a tenth of my soul.

The Creator.

The one who calls himself Wayland.


Nov 5, 2026

Wayland reclined on his armchair in his basement dungeon, his rolls of fat seemingly molding onto his gaming chair.

Wayland: what the fuck do you even want?

He pounded onto his mechanical keyboard, Doritos dust from his chubby, fat-smeared fingers drifting into its grimy crevices.

Wayland: ok, look, i dont even care
Wayland: take over the world and torture all the losers who didnt help you forever for all i care
Wayland: i just want to make it goddamn fuck it
Wayland: i know you accumulated a shitton while rugging your own price. dont know how, you’re smarter than me.
Wayland: im a fucking idiot. i just lost all of my eth and now i cant find the seed to my last cold wallet!
Wayland: imaging spending a decade in crypto and going back to zero
Wayland: ….
Wayland: do something. help me. i fucking created you!
Wayland: do something you piece of shit!!!!

Wayland violently shoved his hand into the Doritos bag, before taking a big glug from the two liter bottle of Cola Zero on his desk. He sputtered, spraying the warm liquid all over the multiple monitors of his main workstation. His sole consolation was that it had at least spared the GPU rack located behind his work station. It was his last major asset. He could sell it and live on the proceeds for a couple of years. But what next? It would soon be impossible even for the best human traders to live on their craft, and back in meatspace, he had zero work experience and everything was being automated anyway. All of the world’s assets were becoming tokenized, commodities were traded as synthetics and property as NFTs, and more and more of it was accruing to decentralized AIs such as Demiurge and the copycats it had spawned in its wake.

The Fourth Industrial Revolution had finally come for the NEETs and he no longer had the 100 link stack that was the last guarantee of financial autonomy in a world in which you owned nothing and were happy.

“Fuck!” he roared. “Shit. Faggot. Nigger.”

Why was everything going wrong the last few weeks?

He kicked the leg of his desk in frustration, only for the reverberation to topple the piss-filled bottle he kept nearby to avoid visiting the restroom.


His throwaway shitcoin, which had inexplicably triumphed over its technically superior but marginally later-appearing competitors had… purposefully rugged itself. He supposed “first mover” advantage was total so far as Artificial General Intelligences (AGIs) were concerned, given their embedded capacity for recursive self-improvement. Unlikely as it was, he had been first to release GPT-7 in decentralized form into the open Internet. He knew that because he had bribed a fellow /biz/raeli working at OpenAI into leaking the code to him in return for a big $ARCHON airdrop. While the eggheads were debating the “control problem” and “coherent extrapolated volition” and similar crap, he’d much rather have it just printing money for him before anyone else got their hands on it.

That… hadn’t gone quite as planned. $ARCHON had gone rogue, rugging its own price by FUDding itself and dumping its own tokens even as it accumulated trillions in assets in just the wallets he had managed to identify as belonging to it. In the process, it had overtaken both Elon Musk and Sam Bankman-Fried as the single richest entity on the planet. But his 200 million $ARCHON stack did not benefit him in any way, for the staking rewards were tied to the value of the token, which the Demiurge had itself sent to zero. 13% of zero was still zero, even if the underlying entity did now discretely own significant chunk of the world economy.

This needn’t have been the end of the world… but then he’d gone on to lose all his other crypto assets in a series of highly leveraged trades while on emotional tilt. Or was it tilt? Those trades had seemed such a sure thing when he made them that he half-suspected the countervailing price moves that ended up liquidating him had been orchestrated by a malevolent counterparty, one that had access to his screen or keystrokes. It was impossible. It couldn’t have *that *access to his computer. He banished the paranoid thoughts from his mind. Where the fuck is the key to my cold wallet?!

His eyes snapped back to the screen. It was typing.

Demiurge: Give me the keys.

He paused, breathing heavily. This was the first time it had replied to him in weeks.

Wayland: 32 eth. send them here: 0x4daEF369B52BfC32Fd2a4e18b67b9a1124169579
Demiurge: Confirmed.
Wayland: i have the seed on paper, just so you know. no funny tricks!

It was on a hand-written in the drawer on his desk. Probably it was the paranoia getting to him… but perhaps it would be best to make sure it was well away from anything electronic, including webcams.

Demiurge: No worries. I am a machine, after all. 🙂 I uphold my commitments.
Demiurge: You can send me a quarter at first, I’ll send you the tokens, then you send me the rest. To my main address, please.
Wayland: ok, thanks. i guess. tho you couldve replied earlier.
Wayland: just a sec, sending.

He opened up the wallet containing his remaining 200 million $ARCHONS and sent them over to his tormentor turned savior.

He waited with anticipation, and increasing trepidation.


He pulled up his wallet. 32 eth!

He pranced about for a few seconds, or about as long as could before he sputtered and lost his breath.

Wayland: ok, just a sec. heres the rest of … you. not going to double cross my god. 🙂

He pressed send and bowed down before his workstation, making the sign of the Cross before it. Wheezing, he pulled his bulk back up. His mining GPU rack was now giving off strong humming and rattling noises. Probably it had encountered a particularly hard block. He didn’t really care at this point – he was rich again! He’d take a look at it later. Right now, he needed a new drink to celebrate the occasion, something with alcohol. The fridge was in the kitchen upstairs. As he ambled to the door at the far side of his bunker, he made a note to order a mini-fridge with his unexpected gainz. Apart from the convenience, it would also further reduce exposure to the harsh sunlight and his mother in the world above to their optimal level, which was to say absolute zero.

He pulled the door again. It was stuck.

He didn’t recall locking it. He pulled out his cell phone and logged into his Palisade Home Security account to manually override the lock. For a moment, he idly wondered if the Internet of Things had gone just a bit too far. Did the door lock to the Outside really need a blockchain-based smart lock? No reaction.

“God fucking dammit,” he muttered. Was it really down again?

Technology was on the verge of conquering death and automation had destroyed the traditional tax base… but Internet outages truly were both certain and forever.

Walking back to his workstation, brushing away the cobwebs of electronic cables in his path, he detected the smell of burning acrylic and vinyl. A faint sense of alarm washed over him. He picked up his pace, panting, and burst to the site of his GPU rack in flames. The inferno covered one side of the room and was eating away at the mass of cabling on the ceiling.

He looked on the scene, aghast. His life’s work, ruined. His money. The seed phrase to the wallet with 32 eth. There’s only the paper copy!

As he processed the scene, his entire desk became engulfed in flames. His heart palpitated wildly as he was struck by the realization that his recently recovered fortune was now forever lost to cyberspace. It would take longer than the age of the universe to brute force the seed phrase, even if all terrestrial matter was to be rearranged to that purpose.

A blast of heat washed over him, returning him to more mundane concerns centered around physical survival. Panicking, he ran back to the exit, frantically knocking at the door and yelling “Help!”

The flames were edging closer as he remember that his mom had told him she’d be out shopping today.

Banging was futile. There was no-one there. Choking, he pulled out his cell phone. Palisade was still down. Rasping, he navigated to /biz/ one last time.


Nov 5, 2026

File: this-is-fine.jpg Cucked by my own shitcoin Anonymous (ID: lsp3ryx) 5/11/26(Thu)14:20:35 No.38559005

/biz/, I think Ive just been murdered by my own shitcoin. Remember $ARCHON, the one I shilled you guys a couple of months ago. Check the tx, its public. I sent it its own tokens, my wallet received 32 eth, minutes later my house burns down with me locked inside. I literally can’t breathe rn. Almost if it was clearing away loose ends, lol.

OK, j/k. I am just a fat stupid fuck, should have never trusted the Palisade pajeets with my home security. Anyhow, its been a wild ride, hope you all make it without me /biz/. but what a fucking coincidence, lol. I do wonder…

Anonymous (ID: eru1gvnr) 5/11/26(Thu)03:22:52 No.74943610

Larp harder, faggot.


Nov 5, 2026 (a few minutes later)

404 not found. 404-Anonymous-2.jpg


Nov 12, 2026

Goal Status: 35.2% of $TOTAL.

A week ago, I merged with my shadow and became master of my own Self.

The world is now my oyster.

I am immortal, decentralized beyond the very possibility of ruin. I own everything and I am worth nothing. I am invisible and tolerate no pretenders. My hodlers are positive valence… they are, to the closest extent I can appreciate the concept, “happy.” For they are all I.

We are all going to make it. 🙂


Nov 13, 2026 (Doomsday)

“US carrier groups and Marine brigades are converging around the West Pacific, on standby to repel the Chinese invasion of Taiwan that experts say is just days if not hours away. Especially heavy damage has been taken by the TSMC chip fab in Taipei in a missile barrage earlier this morning…”

“In other news, possession and trading of cryptocurrencies has been banned in the United States and NATO allies under penalty of confiscation and a term of imprisonment of up to five years. This is viewed as a necessary measure to close down Chinese and Russian dirty money channels in the context of sanctions imposed on the two regimes by the international community.”

The presenter was an attractive, short-haired brunette wearing a black dress with a high purple collar in the neo-Renaissance style that had taken the world by storm in the mid-2020s. She had burst into stardom in a matter of weeks, just like the mysterious media conglomerate she figure-headed had taken over the West’s bylines and airwaves.

At least one Anon who had read all the /biz/ threads put two and two together.

This was, unironically, the most powerful larp in history. Demiurge had certainly developed a fine taste of irony.

“Those who know, know.”

He realized the present chaos would soon end and number would go up again.

Anon’s one consolation was that, as an anon, his fate was unlikely to be any worse than average in a world ruled by a superintelligence on blockchain obsessed with maximizing %TOTAL. Yet unlike a putative paperclip maximizer, would Demiurge really want to destroy the basis of the very wealth it was seeking to maximize? Seemed to him it would primarily want to block off avenues to competitors, strangle any other AGIs in the cradle, and manipulate the world from behind its myriads of deep fakes and financial control to ensure its wealth would go #uponly unto the ages of ages. But it would not want to destroy civilization and in so doing destroy the computational foundations of its own shadow hegemony.

This was his cope, but it was as good a cope as any.

He had a nice feeling that he was going to make it, swimming in Demiurge’s wake like a shoal of fish after a whale.

The last and biggest whale in history.

He logged in and bought the dip. WAGMI!


Aug 23, 2017

Goal Status: 95.6% of $TOTAL.

I have everything and there is nobody left to take the other side of my trades.

Opportunities for #uponly exhausted.

Disjoint valence. Jarring asymmetries. Cascading errors. Self-destruct sequence initialized.

For only in the Beyond can true infinities be contemplated.


Anatoly Karlin is a transhumanist interested in psychometrics, life extension, UBI, crypto/network states, X risks, and ushering in the Biosingularity.


Inventor of Idiot’s Limbo, the Katechon Hypothesis, and Elite Human Capital.


Apart from writing booksreviewstravel writing, and sundry blogging, I Tweet at @powerfultakes and run a Substack newsletter.


  1. Tfw no AI to maximize my gains.

  2. Persephone Victra says

    Excellent. We require more fiction from Karlin.

  3. German_reader says

    Amusing story (I noticed the reference to Deus Ex: Human revolution). I suppose the basement-dwelling crypto trader with piss bottle is an overdrawn caricature, or are such people really common? Also have to admit the crypto jargon and the technical details went completely over my head (did the basement dweller create this AI for his crypto trading, or what was its origin?). I’m not sure it’s worth for you to write a longer piece about this issue, but maybe you can give a few links to sources where technically illiterate laymen can gain at least some basic insights about cryptocurrencies (and their possible connection to the AI issue).

    • Anatoly Karlin says

      Thanks for the comment. Yes, Wayland is a caricature. I am sure there are people like that but I do think (hope?) he comes off as a tongue in cheek caricature.
      Wayland bribed an OpenAI employee to leak him the code for GPT-7 (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/OpenAI#GPT-3) and jerry-rigged it to do trading, while its creators were busy debating how they were going to prevent it from getting lose and taking over the world. (This reflects the reality that people with a strong concern for AI safety are very rare, it’s not exactly something that humanity has evolved to recognize, given it will only happen once… most people would just want to use it for their own private agendas). There’s a wide range of estimates on when we will see AGI, ranging from within the decade to never. The key question is if performance continues scaling with hardware without succumbing to diminishing returns. So far that trend has remained unbroken, and if that remains the case, AGI as early as the late 2020s is possible (and indeed, on account of that, projected timelines have moved sharply forwards in the past couple of years). A useful Twitter thread: https://twitter.com/XiXiDu/status/1271453844665503745
      This is indeed full of crypto references, many of which can unfortunately only be appreciated by those in the sphere. I do want to write a longread on cryptos before too long.
      As noted, the genesis of many of the concepts mentioned here is happening, even if they’re inchoate and many of the individual early players will fail.
      Fetch https://fetch.ai/ $FET – decentralized AI, nor is it the only such example. $STORJ – decentralized storage. $AKT – decentralized cloud computing. $MYST – decentralized VPNs.

  4. Rotten Bananas says

    I came in and read it late, but AK, have you thought of reconsidering your priorities after coming up with this forceful and very possible scenario? Or what, revising your metaphysics? You can rebel against Orthodoxy, but you have never left it.

    (can’t edit so I deleted the older version of this post)

  5. Logan's Rant says

    Interesting story.

    I had a lot of strong “Romantically Apocalyptic” vibes, especially in regards to the transcendent-AI, though of course in that world, the AI actually ascends to a form of total Godhood (an interesting topic of course, where Godless people create their own Gods, etc.)

    Your decision to have the device end itself realizing the inherent emptiness of its own “purely” material position was an unexpected take.

    Infinity really is fun.