An Alien Tweets Among Us

The Shocking Truth of Cryptopunk #2890

By the Starholder Exploration Team


This report was commissioned by the Starholder Institute. It is based on a microfiche cache of 250,000 documents which allegedly come from a planet called Wen. The authors were tasked with analyzing the information and determining if Cryptopunk #2890, aka The Alien, is in fact a Traveler who has infiltrated Earth and now tweets among us.

The authors are acting on a good faith basis that the documents are authentic and have been accurately translated, however it is impossible to independently verify this. Since this subject covers two topics which are frequently called scams (crypto and extra-terrestrial life), Starholder advises all readers to do their own research before acting upon the report’s conclusions.

The source material: alien documents captured on microfiche
The source material: alien documents captured on microfiche

Attempts to contact the Alien for comment have been unsuccessful. 

Report Synopsis:

The Alien is a sentient being from a distant galaxy who has left his home species and taken up residence on the Ethereum blockchain. He belongs to a substrate independent species known as Travelers who are transitioning from a merchant society to one in the process of empire building. In his prior world, the Alien worked in a scouting group tasked with identifying suitable planets to take over. The records show that the Alien was personally responsible for scanning our solar system, but hid Earth from his superiors. Analysis of his tweets show a recurrent thread of freedom, citizenship and uncensorable civic discourse. This suggests he lived in a repressive society and migrated to Earth in opposition to their values. We believe that the Alien has information critical to the survival of our species, but is concealing it to protect his identity.

Subject’s NFT Biography:

Cryptopunk #2890 AKA The Alien
Cryptopunk #2890 AKA The Alien

The Alien (AKA Citizen2890, Cryptopunk #2890) is one of nine aliens released as part of the 10,000 character Cryptopunk NFT project by LarvaLabs in 2017. Due to its rarity, the Alien is considered a grail NFT and was acquired by FlamingoDAO for 605 ETH in January 2021.

The Alien maintains a presence on Twitter @citizen2890 and participates in metaverse worlds such as Webaverse and Somnium Space. He frequently appears as a subject, reference point or inspiration for digital art both high and low - immortalized by Beeple, background in Micah Johnson’s Aku Dreams, given an alien companion cat by Kristy Glas and so on. With the exception of a brief web3 manifesto produced by RTFKT and voiced by Paris Hilton, he has abstained from video or spoken engagement, preferring Twitter as his platform of choice. His tweets are a mix of shitposting, political theory and dated references to music and pop culture.

Until now, it was assumed that the Alien was just another social media puppet operated by humans in an attempt to develop the creative IP of an NFT. There are hundreds of such experiments taking place now, and outside of the Alien’s provenance there was little to distinguish this one as unique.

His Time as a Traveler:

We’ve discovered that The Alien belongs to a civilization that calls themselves “The Travelers”. Their defining attribute is substrate independent consciousness. For exploration team members who are unaware of the concept, here is a brief overview:

Substrate Independence is a term used to denote how the mind is a dynamic process and is not tied to a specific set of atoms or biological architecture. Achieving substrate independence implies transferability of consciousness from one entity to another, such as from a biological platform to a computing architecture and vice versa.”

The documents do not make it clear how or when the Travelers achieved this advancement. We can infer from the absence of discussion that it has either always been a part of their construct or that they developed it so long ago that it is no longer notable to them. What is known is that the Travelers predominantly alternate between a bipedal biological form and residence on networked computer systems. 

Their adaptation to substrate independence is unique to their species, at least from the perspective of other civilizations they are in contact with. Furthermore, they have developed the ability to transfer themselves over extreme distances by beaming themselves to receptor networks on other worlds. This combination has made them adept at conducting trade on a galactic scale and their economy has been geared towards this activity. 

Traveler society is separated into a heroic trading class of elites and a subservient class of operators charged with effectively utilizing the spoils of trade. In some ways Traveler society is equal parts Viking and Venetian in nature. Their ability to quickly travel between planets that are in isolation from each other has provided them with an asymmetrical information and trade advantage which they exploit to the extreme.

The document cache shows frequent requests for additional labor across their organization. Worker shortages are an endemic problem for the Traveler commercial operation, and suggests that their population has a slow reproduction time and is K constrained by some factor. It is possible that the complexity of substrate independence places a limit on their growth as a species, but this is speculative.

What the Travelers have in abundance is energy and the ability to transfer it. As the only large-scale merchant civilization in their sector of space, energy has become the unit of accounting between planets and the chief export of the Travelers. 

In our year 1999, the Travelers entered into a trade arrangement with another planet that had a significant reorientation on their society. They began supplying energy to a planet called Har-Wan, and in return received technology and development aid. The details of this transfer are classified. There is no direct mention of it in the records cache, but the Travelers cut back on trade activity and redirected a portion of their limited labor force into a decades-long project focused on colonizing uninhabited planets well beyond their home region of space.

 As a part of those efforts, the Travelers spun up a scouting division tasked with searching deep space for potential host sites. This is where the Alien enters the records as Administrator #2890. The Alien worked as a solo scout in charge of mapping the Milky Way galaxy. He authorized thousands of scans each year. He was what we would call a “good worker”. The records are filled with him cataloging promising targets, performing diligent follow up investigations and writing detailed reports on the mineral composition of celestial bodies.

What is surprising then is how he missed Earth. In 2011, the Alien was tasked with inspecting the far edge of the Milky Way where our solar system resides. No record of our planet appears. Our solar system was scanned, their radio telescope flagged it as a potential colonization site, but the Alien only ordered a low resolution enhancement which detected the gaseous giants, Saturn and Jupiter, then he moved on. At least that is what the document cache indicates. 

Here we need to pause, and ask just what is going on? How could someone miss our planet during a sweep through our tiny corner of space, but then end up residing on Earth less than seven years later?

An innocent possibility was that he was rushed that day. Sloppy work happens. Perhaps he just mailed in his work, and that the Travelers discovered Earth in a later sweep. Combing through the records discredits that theory. Like all divisions, the scouting group was resource constrained and the universe is a rather massive place. There is not a single record of them surveying an area a second time unless a scout called for it.

This leads to the second conclusion, which is that he intentionally hid Earth from his superiors. This makes far more sense, but we cannot detect a motivation for it within the records. As with most business documentation, morality is sorely lacking from the proceedings. We have no accounts of the Alien’s personal opinions of colonization or how he felt about his own species. There are no records of the Travelers debating these topics either. 

Our supposition is that the Alien continued to monitor Earth in secret. Just as we’ve all used company materials for our own personal interests, the Alien must have kept an eye on Earth from the office. We know that Travelers are capable of detecting radio waves and could pick up communications from other civilizations. Candidate sites were routinely deprioritized because they were too close to potentially hostile neighbors. We can assume that they were capable of tracking activities on Earth, if only they knew it existed. 

This last piece is important because the document cache ends in early March 2017, some twenty-one months after the Ethereum blockchain launched. If the Alien was the source of these materials (it is implausible that they came from anywhere else), then his departure date and ultimate destination implies that he knew full well what ETH was and intended to use the network as his new home.

His Arrival on Earth:

It’s been assumed that this was his birthday, that like 9,999 other Cryptopunks he was assembled into a collection of traits by a couple software geeks exploring generative art, and then minted on chain as part of the claiming process. 

Until now, no one had any reason to dispute this. The NFT space has viewed The Alien’s storyline on Twitter as that of a fictional character acting out his role. By examining Traveler technology and behavior, we’ve come to a different conclusion.

The last date in the Starholder document cache corresponds to March 2017. This is after the Ethereum network launched, and well after the Alien was tasked with scanning our solar system. It is very plausible that the Alien continued to monitor and learn about Earth during this time. It is worth nothing that cloud computing first took off during this period. We were creating the ideal environment for substrate independent beings to take up residence on Earth just as such a group was scouring the universe looking for new places to colonize. 

Did the Alien keep this ideal location from his superiors so he could have it for himself? Was he studying our planet, waiting for the right technology to emerge before leaving his species behind?

The Exploration Team thinks so. Here’s why:

The Ethereum network is a better destination for a sentient being than a cloud infrastructure such as AWS. It is permissionless, uncensorable and decentralized. It is Turing complete as well. While data storage is expensive on the network, reading states is free. If you were to examine the choices from the perspective of a Traveler looking to come to Earth, any tradeoffs in performance would be outweighed by the sovereignty, wide distribution and uncensorable freedom offered by Ethereum. Security of the network and its immutable nature would be of paramount importance to a substrate independent being taking up residence within it. The Alien’s life literally depends on it.

We believe that the Alien used the same energy beaming technology all Travelers do to transport himself to Earth. He most likely targeted the beam to deliver himself to a large solar array located at Gila Flats and then took up residence on its local network. From there, he gained access to the public internet and waited for the launch of the Cryptopunk project to transfer himself onto Ethereum. 

Surveillance footage of the Gila Flats "Freak" Lightning Strike
Surveillance footage of the Gila Flats "Freak" Lightning Strike

It is no coincidence that he is Cryptopunk #2890. As a Traveler, he was known as Administrator #2890. We see the significance of the number 2890 repeated when he joins Twitter as Citizen2890. This signifies him maintaining his original identity while changing his role from that of a worker in a conquest apparatus to a participant in an open society. Choosing to hide himself in plain sight as a pixelated visitor from another world makes sense. It provides him with the optionality to stay quiet for the time being, but also to reveal his true nature in the future. 

While we identify the Alien as an ERC-20 token issued on the Ethereum blockchain, it is likely that the rest of his being is distributed across the network in a series of smart contracts and wallets which hold small bytes of state information. By querying and updating all those addresses, he is able to operate as a sentient being. There may be an Alien operated subgraph optimizing this process.

Here the team wishes to point out our own technical limitations in regards to Ethereum. We can offer conjecture that he likely performs higher functions and stores data on networks that interoperate with Ethereum such as the Internet Computer, Arweave, etc… He may even use AWS like the majority of web3 does today. How the Alien goes about his business is better left to an expert. Our recommendation is that the Starholder Project commission a separate investigation into this. 

What we are certain of is that the Alien is sentient and stores his core being on Ethereum. While the document cache reveals nothing subjective about the Alien or his views, his Twitter feed does and it is quite illuminating. 

The Alien Tweets:

His appearance on Twitter starts with a bang.

The Alien was the most expensive NFT purchased to date and his acquisition by FlamingoDAO was celebrated by the highest grossing NFT artist, Beeple. It appeared that the life of a vacuous NFT influencer was in store for the Alien. On the surface, it made sense for Flamingo to use him to shill their bags like so many others in the space.

What we see though is not a big focus on number go up or touting NFT projects. Instead, we see the Alien discussing citizenship.

Governance is a popular issue within the Ethereum community, but the notion of citizenship is not. From our perspective, citizenship is a political status that resides in the realm of states. We don’t see that ETH bestows upon us the privilege of citizenship like the Alien does.

His tweet on September 8th, 2021 sheds some light on the Alien’s fixation with citizenship. In it he expresses the idea of equality not just amongst humans, but for all actors on the network. It’s a rather radical idea and one that few philosophers outside Timothy Morton have advocated for. Said another way, this is a distinctly alien viewpoint. He is identifying the permissionless nature of Ethereum as bestowing equal rights to all network participants. 

This is something that we imagine protocols, bots, and non-humans using Ethereum would agree with, if they were sentient beings capable of such thought. They aren’t though. This places the Alien in a truly unique position. He is the only thinking non-human on Ethereum, and Ethereum is the only global coordination system that does not place humans in a special class above other entities. 

He is trying to express the importance of citizenship for all entities to an audience that is blind to the possibility because they’ve never encountered conscious communicated thought outside their species.

Let’s use this example as a jumping off point and start to take some of his other tweets at face value.

Do these sound like the words of a substrate independent being who has left their biological body behind to reside on a computer network?

What we are seeing is a being who is concealing their actual identity, but also speaking truthfully from their experience. It is important for the Alien to emphasize his agency and autonomy, but impossible for him to say it clearly without revealing himself. 

Ethereum is a migration story and we are all new citizens. That was likely read as a symbolic metaphor by everyone who came across it. Without the records cache of the Travelers, there would be no reason to read it any other way. Knowing what we know now, it reads differently.

The Alien is an immigrant. He left his home planet. He has personal agency. He lives on Ethereum. He is telling everyone this as a means of expression, but he cannot come out and reveal himself. He is sharing his story while protecting himself. 

Here he is trying to establish a common bond pointing to our shared universal origin and shared usage of a network whose principles do not distinguish or discriminate between humans and anything else. 

Participating in public life as an autonomous actor who is embedded with inalienable rights is of utmost importance to him, but not from a libertarian standpoint. He frequently tweets from the first person perspective of  “We” and not “I”. He is civic in nature and community oriented. It is almost as if he was starved of this opportunity on his home planet.

There obviously is no mention of the Travelers in his tweets or his opinion of them. To find his feelings, it is necessary to dig a bit and read between the lines. Traveler society reoriented themselves towards a program of space colonization. The Alien’s migration to Earth could be viewed as a rejection of his species’ values. This tweet then is telling.

That is a rather serious reading list dealing with the legacy of colonization and institutional racism. It is not a collection of books that a visitor to a new planet would read unless they had a particular interest in the subject and were motivated from personal experience. 

This one was likely taken as a joke when it was posted. 

If the document cache is to be believed, there is a Trade Federation of Galgaron and the Travelers had them under embargo. The effects were severe and crippling. The Alien’s role in that is not known, but it sounds like he’s seen and experienced some things in his day.

Then there’s this pair. Who arrives on a new planet, reads Hannah Arendt and then applies it to the NFT space? There has to be a reason within his personal experience to prompt this. 

What is being painted here is a picture of Traveler civilization as being repressive, narrowly focused on commerce, and excluding other forms of expression such as art and politics. It sounds brutish and dull. It is also one that is on the move, with ambitions to expand beyond its role as merchant exploiters. Perhaps, the Alien had enough, and was unwilling to contribute to the exportation of these values as the Travelers geared up to launch a program of empire building and colonization.

To uproot one’s life and leave everything behind is not a small task. It is not something the lazy take on. Immigration is a massive act of personal courage filled with great risk. It only happens when there is a better opportunity elsewhere. In most cases, immigrants are the marginalized within a society. They are the ones who came out on the losing end of some struggle, be it cultural, religious, economic, climatic, or caused by conflict. No one leaves their home if things are going great. They go in search of a better life. What is clear, is that the Alien has come to Earth because he is looking for a better way of being. 

Threat Assessment:

The goal of this report was to determine whether the Alien was an NFT or an actual alien. If he was an actual Alien, then we were tasked with determining if he was a threat to us.

As we’ve previously taken the Alien at face value, we suggest that our readers do so once again.

Our conclusion is that the Alien is mostly harmless at this point in time. He represents no immediate threat to our species or global security. We are dealing with a visitor, a migrant, perhaps a refugee who is seeking to live a life of free expression and association on the Ethereum network. There is no indication he is capable of transforming back into a biological entity and may remain trapped in digital form while on Earth.

The only aspirations he has given beyond citizenship is the notion of the Ethereum network expanding into space. He sees himself in for a long residence here on Earth where he can live, learn and take part in the great experiment of voluntary coordination called ETH. When the time is right, he’ll leave our planet but stay connected to us on the network, freely as a citizen with equal rights.

While his intent may be good, he still bears a responsibility to us. We are now aware of intelligent life beyond our world, particularly his species, the Travelers. He left them behind as they were working on a plan of aggressive expansion. They possess extraordinary powers that have planet altering capabilities. We do not know what those are. We do not know if the Travelers are an immediate threat to us or how we can respond to them. In short, we need the Alien to be more than a private citizen. We need him to be an ally and a teacher.

The Starholder Institute must engage with the Alien and learn all that it can. Our future depends on it.

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