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My anxiety scale is hot. Meditation in virtual reality helped me focus

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“You should try meditation.”

I heard this a lot during the worst of the pandemic, when vaccines weren’t yet available, and I was afraid to open my apartment door. I heard it when I had previous bouts of stress or depression.

And for a long time, I got it wrong. I wrote these suggestions.

Meditation? not mine.

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The scale of my anxiety, especially when I’m stressed or depressed, is heating up. Anytime I sit in silence and try breathing exercises, my mind is racing. Suddenly, I’m thinking intently about the same thing that made me turn to meditation.

I told myself that I take comfort in doing—going to Disneyland, going to an art museum—anything that floods my mind with so much stimulation that I can’t go to places I’d rather avoid.

But it turns out that the ancient art of mindfulness, often traced back to early Buddhist traditions, is actually for me. Especially if I had a little tech to help.

Before I start my work day, I like to run Tripp, a guided meditation app that works with many virtual reality devices. After I’m greeted with a quote from Rumi, I record my mood on a scale from zero to 10. Some days I’m lucky if it’s four, but with Tripp, in moments, I’m immersed in a transparent blue world. Sometimes feathers form above me. Every once in a while, I’m in an ocean at the edge of the universe, where I seem to hover over a puddle of water. Here, she asked me to breathe as a trail of fairy-like dust floated toward my face. Then I exhale, watching those bright shapes dissipate, and focus on a light that takes me into a scenario where I gently guide the birds with the movement of my head.

How to save a life

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Pandemic stress, traumatic events, and economic uncertainty have turned our world upside down. This series aims to make it a little easier to manage the chain of threats to your mental health.

Sometimes I just want to take off the headset and go back to defocused reality. But I stick with it, and this virtual world is starting to feel like an outstretched hand. I started viewing Tripp as a how-to guide, his sweeping photos urging me to stay focused.

Meditation requires me to get over the moments of frustration – the moments when everyday stresses intrude. I focus on digital birds until the scenery changes, and I’m inside a scene, a distant mythical creature.

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Did you succeed? I’m not happy yet, but that’s not the point. The goal is to start the day with tools to stay centered.

Thanks to these day trips, I come to believe that meditation is for everyone. I also understood that before I started with VR, I was pretty much wrong about everything about meditation.

Scene for Virtual Reality Meditation Experience on Tripp

Scene for Virtual Reality Meditation Experience on Tripp

(Tripp Company)

“First, there is a misconception that in order to meditate, you have to somehow stop your thoughts and stop your attention from straying,” said Jack Kornfield, who taught meditation. Since 1974 and founded Spirit Rock Meditation Center in the Marin County community of Woodacre. Kornfield appears on Tripp in a section dedicated to teaching meditation.

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“There are some special ways of doing this for periods of time, but they don’t last, not the goal. So, if you think you’re supposed to do it, you’ll always feel like a failure, right? The point of meditation…is to start realizing what’s going on inside of you. “.

Virtual reality works for me like bumpers on a bowling alley. Anytime my mind races toward rock bottom, the imaginary world I’ve plugged into it rings me toward the center.

but me completely meditate? With Tripp, I live in a world full of wonders that is like games and not alone with my thoughts. I might play – any I find it helpful to reach a state of relaxation. But is it meditation?

Diana WinstonD., author and director of mindfulness education at the UCLA Mindful Awareness Research Center, is “cautiously optimistic” about the prospects for using VR for meditation, although she notes that the world of meditation is as broad as the world of sports. Virtual reality will be useful for some practices and less useful for others.

Tell her how she helped me, especially with depression. I look to it on a regular basis to start my day and curb my overthinking; When I’m frustrated, my craving is to sit, stare, and dive in.

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Winston says she is “old school” and prefers meditation without virtual reality. I ask her if I meditate with training wheels.

She said, “No, I wouldn’t say that.” “I think you’re using a tool to support you, and you’re meditating. Lots of people do that. And we encourage that. If people find it supportive, keep going. Then, if there’s a point where you feel like, ‘Oh, I actually just want to be in silence,’” Look for it. There are no rules here.”

There is not much searching.

This is what we are an act Know: While virtual reality has been lauded for decades as the next big thing, it’s only recently that home appliances have become more affordable for people with disposable incomes—expect to spend around $400—and reliably portable. The most famous, and perhaps the most accessible, is the Meta Quest 2 (analysts estimate that Meta has sold 15 million of them).

Nature gets a psychedelic makeover in the virtual reality meditation app Tripp.

Nature gets a psychedelic makeover in the virtual reality meditation app Tripp.

(Tripp Company)

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Tripp says that in the first two years of its release, users logged over 5.5 million meditation sessions with the app. VR social community EvolVR (now owned by Tripp) reports that more than 40,000 people attended online meditation sessions in the pandemic year.

These numbers indicate a booming market, and Tripp has competition.

In the Maloka app, users can build a virtual island by completing sessions, from breathing exercises to acoustic baths, many of which feature a fun twist. Guided Meditation VR runs it live, focusing on calming prospects and relieving workouts.

So is there any point in meditating in virtual reality instead of the old-fashioned way?

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“We don’t know” images of the world, said Jeff Tarrant, director of the NeuroMeditation Institute in Eugene, Oregon, and a contributor to Healium, a virtual reality meditation app that can pair with neurofeedback and biofeedback devices and prioritize interactive and enhanced visuals of the world. Introducing virtual reality, Tarrant says, is still very new; Very teenage search.

“This is where people can engage in philosophical discussions,” he said.

Join us for a relaxing morning at the beach. This VR180 video can be viewed on desktop devices, mobile phone or headphones. (Go to 0:38 seconds to watch without narration.)

Some wonder, for example, if virtual reality is useful for mindfulness meditation, which is designed to get a person in touch with thoughts and feelings rather than into complete, separate relaxation. the reason? The pictures are very large and very amazing. We will be aware that we are in a simulated environment, which makes it difficult to bring our full attention to the present moment. In other words, we are simply enjoying the world we live in, entering into a state of soothing fun but not necessarily wakefulness.

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Hui Qi Tong, a clinical assistant professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Stanford University, believes VR meditation is especially useful for those who have grown up with technology, as well as those who live in their own homes, but she is still trying to understand its potential and limitations.

“In mindfulness meditation, there is nothing that is distracting,” she said. Noise should not be a distraction. Thoughts should not be a distraction. Everything can be included in mindfulness meditation. [VR] It almost seems like a contradiction to mindfulness meditation, which is to see clearly what’s out there.”

or is he?

“It’s very difficult,” Tong continued. If I say that all reality is self-constructed, then what is reality? In Buddhist teachings, there is no reality. I think my office is real, but then 10 people said no. So it’s a philosophical question now. People who practice mindfulness meditation would probably say, “No, no no. It’s good for us.”

Meanwhile, there Small studies show that virtual reality Meditation can be helpful In reducing stress in certain situations – think of college students before the exam.

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“Virtual reality meditation” is “a facilitator/tool ​​for a better separation from the real world,” said Regina Kaplan-Rakowski, assistant professor in the Department of Learning Technologies at the University of North Texas. Kaplan-Rakowski is one of the authors of a study that found that virtual reality can promote relaxation before stressful academic situations.

Healium offers interactive worlds inspired by nature.

Healium offers interactive worlds inspired by nature.

(helium)

Sarah Hill, founder of Healium, points to early research showing that virtual reality can relax the mind in as little as four minutes. That’s why Healium is designed to be connected to wearable technology – it wants users to instantly see the effects of augmented reality or virtual reality on their heart rate, for example.

“What VR is really good at is slowing down the nervous system, like a fire extinguisher,” Hill said. “You can instantly trick the brain into thinking it’s not in its current reality, which can be stressful, and that’s a thing [VR] excel in. “

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I’m starting to think I’m excited to use apps like Tripp because it’s like games. I always thought that by playing – deep philosophical play – we Barriers can be broken and Get to know others. Rules, protective barriers, and boundaries can lead us to a state of safe curiosity, where we are given permission to be vulnerable.

“You live in the 21st century, not the 14th,” said Jeremy Nickell, the former Global Unitarian minister who founded EvolVR in 2016. . “

Prior to founding Tripp, Nanea Reeves held several high-profile roles in the gaming industry and became convinced that games have therapeutic power. This is why a lot of Tripp feels like a Y game sometimes. Those birds, for example, that I’ve been guiding with my head? They were collecting coins.

“I’ve found a lot of mental health benefits from playing video games as a younger person under stress,” Reeves said. “You feel a sense of power about the environment. That was the mindset that taught us. Can we capture your awareness through focus? This is a little different from depression, and it is about connecting with your breath and your innermost thoughts.”

Tripp tries to do both in her different modes, and I think that’s why she helped me focus. Games, after all, require one to be fully present – they are, in a way, a dialogue between the player and the creator. In the case of VR meditation’s application, some lifelong meditation scholars argue that play-like trappings – as well as a mixture of visual and audio cues – can give us the illusion of a teacher, a critical component of learning the art of meditation.

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“People learn in different ways,” Kornfield said. “People learn visually. Some people learn phonetically. Traditionally, it is said that listening is the direct line in your heart.” The “nice thing”, he added, is that we can learn simply, including with a VR headset. “The goal is not to reach a state of meditation but to invite you to walk down a beautiful country road or walk by the ocean. This is a metaphor for dropping your life’s busyness and life stress, and realizing that you can step back and hold it with wide love and attention. Then your body will begin to settle.”

I’ve thought about the contemplation of virtual reality as a new language, just one of the “sports” Winston of the University of California referred to. Still, Stanford’s Tong cautioned me, “It’s a useful tool, but I know it’s inescapable in real life.”

But who said anything about escaping from real life? What about regression into an alternate reality? Much meditative virtual reality, after all, depicts itself on images associated with psychedelic experiences, and is itself a form of therapy for some. Tong bow.

“Virtual reality is part of real life. It is really weird. This is reality. It is virtual reality. It is the other reality.”

And it’s cold here.

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Facebook almost sold its tech portal to Amazon Alexa devices

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In November, Meta announced that it was discontinuing Portal, its standalone video chat machine. The decision came as Meta The first mass layoffs Amid falling stock prices and worries about its ambitions in Metaverse.

Over the years, BuzzFeed News’ coverage of Meta and Facebook has been unwavering strict and sometimes hostile. our reviews The portal also spoke the truth: this was a really great product. we lovable He. She. I lovable He. She. Rest in power, Portal – you’ve been a fine little device.

The portal was born in a cruel world. released in fall 2018, Cambridge Analytica The bogus scandal — about Facebook’s botched user data handling and (in hindsight) exaggerated claims about its impact on the 2016 election — was still fresh in the public’s mind. It was also still fresh in the minds of the tech press who would review the devices. For many, the idea of ​​letting the always-on camera-powered Facebook device into your home was akin to sending your Pornhub history directly to the Kremlin.

Despite this, the portal has been selling well, Meta’s chief technology officer Andrew Bosworth told BuzzFeed News in an interview. (Meta declined to divulge exact sales figures, but Bosworth estimated the number of units sold in “the millions”) More importantly, Bosworth added, “This was a product that the people who bought it loved.” And it appealed to a different demographic than most devices: It sold a lot more with women and people over 40.

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Ultimately, the decision to pull the plug came about because executives didn’t see a path to Gateway becoming a huge company (rather than just a good business), and with changing priorities at Meta, it didn’t work out. “We’re very sad about it,” Bosworth said. “You know the saying, ‘There is no priority unless it hurts’? It hurts.” (Not a complete loss though: Existing gateway devices will continue to function and receive support.)

Bosworth said that “the whole smart home category has been undermining expectations for a while now.” He added, “I think if you go back to where we expected the smart home as an industry to be when Portal entered the market versus where it is today, it wasn’t as successful as we expected it to be.”

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Another satire of metaverse from the world of tech alum? It contains an error

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reconsidering

Please report your error here

Written by Josh Riddell
Holt: 288 pages, $28

If you purchase books linked to from our site, The Times may earn a commission from Bookshop.orgwhose fees are supported by independent bookstores.

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Josh Riddle”Please report your error herein Silicon Valley in the early 2010s. As the author was a very early employee of Instagram and his first novel, which comes embellished with connotations of Literary Tech Skeptics, framed as a diary show, we’re ready for some satire that’s both risky and close to the bone. However, this is not quite the world we know.

Technology, for one thing, is more advanced. One of the app’s best features, explains Ethan, a modern art history specialist who works on a junior dating app called DateDate, is its “mood sensing technology” that uses “your phone’s camera, microphone, and accelerometer to understand your current mood.” After Every Bite” and panels respond to the viewer’s emotions – so when a bemused Ethan looks at one, it turns from “horizontal to psychedelic swirls”.

In a world unlike our own, one of the most effective ways a novel can clue the reader into its logistics is through the characters’ reactions. When narrator Ethan encounters these technological wonders, he doesn’t bat an eye. To lend to this alternate universe, the technology described is not particularly Jetsons-like – flying cars and robot maids are not. But when Ethan makes an accidental discovery while trying to clean up bugs in DateDate’s code, the established rules are broken, exposing (and possibly creating) a flaw in the tone of the novel that never resolves itself.

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Here’s what I mean: The discovery Ethan makes is that when a user on a dating app sees him as his perfect match, Ethan is briefly transported to a strange world vaguely referred to as “Other Worlds.” Standing “in a field, with tall, wet grass” under a sky “full of birds”, he hears the hum of nearby ocean waves before suddenly appearing in his office. His boss asks if he’s alright, and Ethan spouts a popular sci-fi story, pretending he’s alright because he can’t explain what just happened, and because, fittingly enough, when he tries to explain, he loses “all memory of what happened, from where you went “. Then he went back to work.

But that is not what drove me away; Rather, it was the strange things that felt strangely normal. DateDate, like a lot of startups, the enterprise gets, and like an apple A company with a well-developed campus and endless resources that turns out to be responsible for Ethan’s teleportation accident. As a way to test a new product called Gates, “a standalone app that takes you to different vacation destinations,” the company “pushed beta code to DateDate” before purchasing it. Ethan’s “other world” is a glitch that the company has not fully caught.

Release portals are much anticipated – beta testers included Johnny Depp and Beyoncé — and no one seems bothered by the invention of teleportation, not to mention that it’s much more Jetsonian than any other extrapolation in the book of current technology. It takes a while for the Department of Homeland Security to get through the gates, but even then it’s only because a small fraction of the flights may have been “undocumented.” Why isn’t any of this being treated as the massive, world-altering development?

This reaction is made even more confusing in light of the rest of the novel, which is firmly rooted in the real world. references for lyrics the NationalPaintings by Matisse and Miro, two books by Adrienne Rich and Sofia Coppola”lost in translation(Ethan stayed at the signature Tokyo hotel there) – All of this grounds Ethan’s narrative in a recognizable reality. It is difficult to reconcile this familiarity, bordering on banality, with technological magic realism.

If that sounds like nitpicking, that’s because it is. But in stories like this, the meticulous cultivation of an invented scientist requires precision and nuance, and on such a perilous path, a slight stumble can lead to a major meltdown. Creating a believable setting—especially a semi-realistic setting that is important to the story—is just as important (and challenging) to the success of the novel as creating compelling characters and interesting narratives.

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In fact, the teleportation items are “please report a bug here” problems. The plot mechanics, which include A.J Lisbeth Salander– A species named Numa searches for a young girl trapped in “other worlds”, extending Naivety in similar ways. How did the girl survive for years in this fleeting, ephemeral place that is alternately described, hazyly, as a void, a personal inventory of memories or another dimension? Like, what did you do He eats? And why don’t any of the characters—including the girl’s father—ask these questions, just to let the reader know that such things were considered?

A generous reader might be tempted to write off this as a by-product of satire, which stretches the rules of plausibility in a way that hard science fiction might not be. But then, the satirical elements just aren’t blunt enough to justify it. The establishment is like all the giant conglomerates that discredit contemporary fiction, from Dave Eggers”CircleTo Hooli from Silicon Valley toWall E“buy from large to large”severanceLomon Industries. The founder of DateDate is literally called the Founder (capital F), and that’s how everyone refers to it, but there’s a figure who’s only referred to as the Engineer (lowercase e) – a jab, no doubt, in the tech hierarchy, where it’s handled Upper class only as proper nouns. But he also reduces these characters to tropes.

Riedel aims to use these high-concept ideas to explore existential questions about identity, art, and technology, and there are moments when his talk on these topics is effective, even insightful. But novels are not unlike a complex piece of programming: a bewildering number of hidden components must work in unison to make seemingly simple functions possible, and as it first appears to Riddell, even small errors in the code can bring down an entire project.

Clark is the author of “Oasis of Horror in the Desert of Boredom” and “Skateboard”.

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Did celebrities learn their lesson from the FTX debacle?

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While roaming off the soccer field, Tom Brady makes his home for the FTX cryptocurrency trading platform.

“It’s better,” said the esteemed quarterback Says As he reviews an investment portfolio looking skyward on his phone. “I like better.”

The ad posted on FTX’s Instagram account in September, was not It’s the first time Brady has thrown his massive weight behind a tech company — but it was likely the last.

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After a month and a half, the balance sheet leaked From Alameda Research, a trading firm co-founded by former FTX CEO Sam Bankman-Fried, it led to a crash of epic proportions.

FTX is now based in the Bahamas bustyand Bankman-Fried sits in Palo Alto under house arrest As faces fraud charges. Some of the alien world’s closest associates turned against him; begged Not guilty.

If Brady hadn’t been completely caught up in the meltdown, he wouldn’t have come out completely unscathed, either. The professional athlete is among several celebrities being sued in a class action alleging they helped promote the sale of unregistered securities in the form of yielding FTX accounts.

The lawsuit, filed in Miami, highlighted the important role played by high-profile athletes, actors, and other entertainers in promoting FTX. Although some legal experts believe it will be difficult to prove liability, the federal case forces a reconsideration of how celebrities interact with the controversial cryptocurrency industry.

“It is clear that FTX’s paid validator program is designed to use the positive reputation associated with specific celebrities to convince consumers that FTX is a safe place to buy and sell cryptocurrency,” the lawsuit says. “Celebrities have a moral and legal obligation to know that what they are promoting is not likely to cause physical or financial harm to customers.”

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Ahead of its extraordinary implosion, FTX pulled together a red carpet of celebrity sponsors, bringing glamor and glamor to the ill-fated House of Cards.

Larry David starred In an FTX Super Bowl ad that positioned cryptocurrency as a world-historic innovation on par with the wheel or the flashlight.

Shaquille O’Neal Requested Potential investors: “I’m in. Are you?”

Other Familiar Names – Steve Curry, David Ortiz, Shuhei Ohtani, Naomi Osaka, Kevin “Mr. Brilliant” O’Leary – also promoted the company. All defendants are listed.

“It’s a warning to these celebrities,” said Adam Moskovitz, one of the attorneys filing the lawsuit. “If you are going to take a risk, there will be consequences.”

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An attorney representing Brady and David declined to comment. Representatives for O’Neal, Curry, Ortiz, Otani, Osaka and O’Leary did not respond to requests for comment. O’Neal has far himself from the company, framing his role as a “paid spokesperson”. O’Leary, known for his role as a celebrity investor on “Shark Tank,” told CNBC’s “Squawk Box” that Involvement With FTX it was the result of “groupthink”.

In addition to any permanent reputational damage, Brady and his ex-wife, model Gisele Bundchen, will likely be involved Lost Most or all of the significant financial stake they own in FTX.

The crypto space has always been awash with A-listers. Matt Damon, LeBron James, Reese Witherspoon, Snoop Dogg, Steve Aoki, and Steven Seagal have all promoted various crypto products. A year ago, Jimmy Fallon and Paris Hilton were in an awkward position shilling Non-fungible tokens, a specific class of cryptocurrency, on “The Tonight Show”. Cryptocurrency trading is unique prominently In a 2021 music video posted by Post Malone and The Weeknd.

And with celebrities comes celebrity scandals, especially in an industry as unregulated as cryptocurrency. The Securities and Exchange Commission charged Floyd Mayweather Jr. and DJ Khaled in 2018 with failing to disclose that they were paid to promote crypto tokens; Kim kardashian She met a similar fate in October. (At the time, Kardashian’s lawyers said the socialite fully cooperated and was pleased to solve this issue.)

FTX’s downfall has affected others in the entertainment industry, including former CAA agent Michael Kives, whose fund earned $300 million. investment From Bankman-Fried, according to the info. The former CEO reportedly wanted to sign A.J financing deal With the never-fulfilling power of Taylor Swift’s music.

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It’s no accident that Hollywood’s star power frequently overlaps with what is otherwise a fairly niche financial vehicle, experts say.

“Celebrity endorsements have been extremely important to cryptocurrency for a very long time,” said Yesha Yadav, associate dean at Vanderbilt Law School whose work focuses on securities regulation. The sector has “relied on celebrities to popularize it; on celebrities to use their existing social networks, credibility and reputation to drive an asset class that many people were unfamiliar with.”

“They’re really using celebrity as a tool to convince unsuspecting consumers to invest,” said Bonnie Batten, executive director of consumer watchdog group Truth in Advertising.

Moskovitz, the attorney behind the class action lawsuit, said he has been following cryptocurrency fraud cases for a while: first with low-level scammers, like a Kazakh teenager, and then around more formal crypto platforms over the past two years.

Now the lawyer wants to hold several of the celebrities he says have allowed Bankman-Fried to be held accountable. Pursuing celebrity sponsors provides a faster path toward recouping what FTX victims owe, Moskovitz told The Times, rather than trying to get money from an embattled Bankman-Fried and his fractured empire.

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“We have people who have lost millions of dollars … because they were told at 8% interest that this was the safest investment,” said Moskovitz, who claims some of his clients lost their savings after being persuaded by celebrity FTX sponsors. A safe place to park their money.

He added, “People respect celebrities.” “Right or wrong, people respect them, and you kind of get acceptance in the community” by enlisting them as sponsors.

was established In 2019 and worth $18 billion by 2021, FTX was a poster child for the cryptocurrency industry in part because Bankman-Fried proactively nurtured political connections, including via campaign Donations, and sought to create an aura of respectability that is lacking in most of the cryptocurrency industry – riddled with fraud and price swings. This summer, with the sector suffering, FTX made buyout and acquisition bids for other crypto companies, even when ordered by Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. Stop suggesting That cryptocurrency investments were backed by the government.

The company’s reputation really began to unravel in November with the leak of Alameda Research’s balance sheet, setting off a domino chain reaction that led to bankruptcy, house arrest, and Moskowitz’s class action lawsuit.

In addition to this case, the attorney is also pursuing a case in Florida State Court v. Brady, Ortiz, and O’Leary, which he hopes will lead to a ruling on whether interest-bearing FTX accounts constitute unregistered securities.

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For Moskowitz, this question is straightforward: “These are unregistered securities, you promoted them, and you are responsible.”

But others aren’t so sure.

“We don’t know if these things will eventually be considered securities,” said Sheila Warren, CEO of the Crypto Council for Innovation trade group. There is a strong argument that they are not at all like that and never have been; There is an argument that they start out as stocks. … All these arguments are there, and they are unresolved.”

“Our regulatory framework for the broader cryptocurrency market hasn’t really caught up,” said Yadav, associate dean for Vanderbilt Law. “When we talk about certain financial institutions like FTX that deal in tokens, because the tokens themselves don’t have any consensus about what they are legally, the institutions they deal with don’t either.”

Yadav added that it is unlikely that the court will issue a regulatory issuance for cryptocurrency on its own; What’s more conceivable is that some of the celebrities named in the lawsuit chose to settle the case to protect their reputations.

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Class action cases are hard to win, Truth in Advertising’s Patten said, and it won’t be easy to prove that the celebrity sponsors named in this case caused investors harm.

“I wouldn’t bet on the consumer side,” she said.

Regardless, the reputational damage from FTX’s implosion may be more daunting for celebrity affiliates than any dollar amount. Brady and the rest lent their prestige to Bankman-Fried when he was on top of the world; Now they are caught up in the fallout.

This could precipitate a long-term shift in how listeners interact with cryptocurrencies.

“I think we’ll see more caution in terms of assessing what might be reputational issues if you go into something that… I might not understand,” said Warren, CEO of the Crypto Council. “Maybe we should think about what it means to be involved in something so new.”

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Yadav predicted that the cryptocurrency industry may now turn to sources of validation for non-celebrities — such as legitimacy through regulation, for example.

“I think now celebrities don’t do that anymore,” she said. “Certainly not the big names.”



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